Codependency is a well-known term used in the substance use disorder recovery arena. It is defined as a pattern of dependency of habitual actions and the approval of others in an effort to find a sense of self-worth, validation, protection and personal identity.
Codependency can be complicated in that one may not be aware of it. If they are, one may be in denial about the extent of the issue. This can negatively affect one’s recovery by not making themselves a priority which is paramount to healing and moving forward.
This article will detail 7 signs that codependency is negatively affecting your recovery.
Trying to “Fix” or Help Others
As an addiction counselor, I meet many people that are involved in relationships in which they are the caretakers trying to help or change other people’s behaviors/values/attitudes. They minimize these issues and want to “fix” the other person. This is nearly impossible as the only person who can elicit a change is the person who is changing themselves. If the other person who is displaying unacceptable behaviors is not willing to address those behaviors, then it is outside of your control.
Difficulty Saying No
Have you ever been asked to do something for someone else and in your mind you’re saying “no,” but you go ahead and do it anyway? This is an example of not having strong and healthy boundaries. It’s hard to say no to others especially if you want to please others all the time. However, realistically in recovery you must focus on yourself and listen to your intuition. If it appears like the request should be a “no”, then it more than likely should be a “no.”
When you start setting healthy boundaries, the other person may first get upset, but sticking to your principles will help them respect you for it later. If the other person doesn’t respect you, it may be time to cut ties with them because it could increase your risk of relapse.
Believing Self-Care is Selfish
This one is tough for people new to recovery because they truly have been led to believe that it is selfish to put themselves first. The people that have told you that you are selfish are the manipulators in your life. Don’t believe the lies.
Self-care is mandatory and essential to a strong recovery. For years during your addiction, you did not take care of yourself. Remember if your mind, body and soul are not healthy, it is easier to relapse down that slippery slope.
Feeling Bad Asking for Help
Addiction recovery is not for the faint at heart. Sobriety is tough, but you have to dig deep and ask for help. There are professionals as well as sober support groups that can help you along the way. It’s okay to ask for help when you need it. We all need help from others from time to time – which is apart of being human.
Feeling Uncomfortable Talking to People in Authority
This comes back to effective communication and confidence. People in places of authority whether it be the legal system, physicians or even the family matriarch will respect you if you communicate your wants and needs effectively. Acknowledge the uncomfortable feeling and remind yourself that everyone is a person like you and me. We all put our pants on the same way.
Building confidence takes one step at a time but you have to practice it even if you do not feel confident. Authority figures can intimidate anyone but typically boil down to respect. In that I mean if you show respect to someone else they typically will mirror that back to you. If they don’t, it shows they have work to do.
Not Liking Being Alone
In recovery, learning how to be alone is crucial, and real personal growth occurs when were by ourselves. It’s an exciting time actually. When you are alone, it’s a break from the world where you can dream, set goals for whatever you would like and not have to worry about anyone else’s comments or opinions.
It’s a blessing to enjoy time with yourself because there is nothing worse than being a crowded room feeling alone. If you are in recovery, I know you know that feeling. During active addiction, most relationships are dysfunctional and therefore, you were alone but just high or drunk numbing your feelings. Embrace alone time and use it to journal and plan your exciting future of being alcohol and drug free. Alone time is a blessing and not a curse.
Being Unable to Leave an Unhealthy Relationship
It’s about that time to discuss the number one reason people relapse and that is inability to manage stress which is mostly caused by dysfunctional relationships.
Most of these relationships have been in your life for some time or maybe even years. However, in the essence of self-preservation, recovery is about saving your life from a life-threatening disease. In sobriety, one must examine their personal and sometimes professional relationships.
If the relationship is unhealthy, it can be scary to leave the known and go into the unknown – whether it be bad or good for you. Change is scary. With that being said, to be successful in recovery, unhealthy relationships need to leave your life or at the very least have very minimal contact. At times, we outgrow people, and some people are only meant to be in our lives for a season not a lifetime.
Move Away from Codependency
There are other signs of codependency that have not been discussed in this article. However, I chose to discuss the ones that I see most frequently in my counseling practice. If you recognize these signs in your own life, it would be my recommendation to pursue counseling to identify strategies that you can utilize to help you move away of a life of codependency and into a peaceful life of independence. Being able to clearly identify these negative actions or mindsets will help you increase your sense of self-worth and move forward to freedom and peace.