Enmeshed Codependency or Healthy Identity

Enmeshed Codependency or Healthy Identity

October Newsletter by Charity Simpson

“You alone are enough. You have nothing to prove to anybody.”
Maya Angelou

I recently began a young women’s group with an emphasis on personal wellness and recovering from patterns of codependency. As I conceived of the group and thought about the many people with whom I’ve worked, I realized that so often, our struggles with healthy identity development are centered in patterns of codependency. Therefore, I find it hard to separate the topics from one another when it comes to recovery.

When I first heard the term codependent, the images that came to mind were a stage 5 clinger as depicted in the comedic film WeddingCrashers or the stereotypical overbearing mother who intrusively intervened in the dating life of her adult son. The more I learned, the more I thought of people in my own life. The more I reflected, the more I saw my own patterns of codependency and realized this would be my personal lifelong recovery work.

For those unfamiliar with the expression, the term codependency was originally used to describe the spouses of severe alcoholics. In the early days of Alcoholics Anonymous, which consisted primarily of males at the time, it was observed that their wives often enabled their chemically dependent spouse by covering for them or protecting them from the natural consequences of their actions, thereby themselves becoming codependent. Over time, as people have studied relationship and family patterns, particularly those when there is at least one chemically dependent adult in the family, the term codependency has expanded and now refers to any person who has a preoccupation or extreme dependence on another.

If someone is described as being codependent, it typically means they behave in ways that are driven by and contingent upon the expectations and approval of others. The idea is that the codependent person does not have an adequately developed sense of self, or a significantly devalued sense of self, and therefore lacks the internal resources to make decisions independently. For those of you who recall the patterns of dysfunctional families in last month’s newsletter, it is easy to see how an environment that has rigid rules and little room for the expression of individuality or emotions would stifle the development of a healthy identity and therefore contribute to someone developing codependent patterns.

In order to recover from unhealthy patterns, the first step is to recognize the ways in which our current behaviors are problematic. Though many reading this may not identify as codependent, we can always benefit from assessing our relationship dynamics and how we show up in those exchanges. Remember, the key to healthy relationships is that they involve healthy individuals. So take a look below and see where you have room to be a healthier you.  

How Codependent or Healthy is Your Identity?

Codependent Identity

  • Minimize, deny, or dismiss my feelings
  • Inability to make decisions on my own
  • Mask pain through humor, anger, and isolation
  • Value others’ opinions over my own
  • Perceive others to be superior or inferior
  • Attempt to convince others what to think, feel, or do
  • Judge self harshly, as never good enough
  • Label others by their negative traits

Healthy Identity

  • Acknowledge and embrace my feelings as valid
  • Make informed decisions with appropriate input from trusted sources
  • Aware of pain and express difficult feelings openly, directly, and calmly
  • Value opinions of those I trust without needing their approval
  • Perceive all people as equal and of inherent value
  • Accept the thoughts, feelings, and decisions of others, even when I disagree
  • Accept myself as I am, emphasizing progress not perfection
  • Acknowledge that I may possess the negative traits I perceive in others 

“Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It’s about befriending who we already are.”

Pema Chodron

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

Carl Rogers

Upcoming Groups

The counselors at Compass are constantly assessing the needs of our community in order to facilitate groups that speak to the lives of those we care about.

Coffee, Tea, and Codependency – Women
Group for women in their 40s+ forming to begin the week of October 14th. There’s still room!
6 weeks/$50 per meeting 

Facilitator: Charity Simpson
Ladies: Are you tired of feeling empty? Is your self-worth dependent on what people think of you? You’re not alone. Coffee, Tea, and Codependency provides a space where women in all stages of life can express their struggle and frustration without judgment, receive support from others who can relate, and develop skills to navigate such daily obstacles.

Challenges – Teens
Now forming for Fall 2019! $50/session
Facilitator: Charity Simpson
For teens experiencing difficulty with life transitions, struggling with making poor choices, as well as those with low self-esteem or social anxiety. Challenges will provide a space for your teen to share their experiences with peers with the guidance of a counselor specializing in adolescent/teen development and struggles.

Choices – Addiction, Anger, Recovery
Thursdays, 5:45pm, $60/session
Ongoing ASAM level 1 recovery group for persons dealing with substance abuse or problematic behaviors. State-approved DUI treatment program. The curriculum is designed to look at the root causes of substance abuse, anger, and more instead of merely addressing the symptoms. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *