In our quest for freedom from our codependent thinking and behavior, it is important to remember that the codependent seeks to control others while those in recovery seek to control themselves. The shift from other control to self control is a signal of true growth.
Other factors critical in our healing are:
HONEST ACKNOWLEDGEMENT All healing starts here, with truth. We must lay aside our excuses, fear and rationalizations and with honesty and courage accept the truth about ourselves. You can’t heal what you continue to hide or deny.
UNDERSTANDING OUR RELATIONAL HISTORY – We also must understand the origins of our codependent behavior; gain a new perspective and move on. Through forgiveness and grief work we can heal, instead of numbing our souls from the pain of the past.
LEARNING TO DETACH – Letting go of control is not abandonment of a person. It is, however, humble acceptance of your need to let others decide for themselves. We must learn to create physical, financial and emotional boundaries that are consistent and healthy. A level of emotional detachment is key. None of this work is easy, but like the butterfly emerging from a cocoon, the more the wings flap the stronger the butterfly becomes.
LEAVING HOME EMOTIONALLY – If we are to grow up and leave behind old patterns we must “leave home.” The homing instinct (the tendency to recreate what we are familiar with) keeps us repeating the same self-defeating behavior. Leaving home, creating a new way of thinking and finding a new approach to relationships, frees us to experience new possibilities.
COMMITMENT TO CARING FOR SELF – Through our unhealthy focus on the addict, we often find our own lives in disrepair. Our health, finances, marriages, etc. are all impacted. We must learn to care for our needs and do what’s best for us, without feeling guilty. Remember! Proper care of self allows you to care correctly for others!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this series on codependency. As always, please use this material as a stepping stone for further discussion in your homes and in your PAL groups.
On the recovery path with you,
Ron Paterik is a practicing psychotherapist in Phoenix, Arizona with over 20 years’ experience. He is a Licensed Independent Substance Abuse Counselor and a Whole Life Leadership Mentor at Grand Canyon Counseling.