I don't need fixing | I don't need your codependency

At church there is a program called Celebrate Recovery and several in my small groups have been through the program.  In discussions during small group, I listen to them catch themselves and smile, indicating they 'can't go there' because it is a symptom of codependency.  Most often it is because they begin discussing how to "fix" someone.  I admit.  I am most curious about how people personalities who tend to "fix you" relate to me.  I'm told that the majority of people who attend CR are codependent personalities.

I understand there are a lot of good books on the subject and I need to get one.  I think I've written down a name to a book somewhere.

I am going to blog while I search online.

Searching online, I find a definition of "excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically a partner who requires support due to an illness or addiction."  That does not really help me, as this article points out that drug and alcohol was the initial definition, but now there is a much broader range and types of codependent people.  In the sense of drug and alcohol addiction, codependents are "enablers."  That seems to me to be the opposite of "fix you" people. People who try to fix try to stop a behavior. Enablers try to smooth it over which allows a behavior to continue. So what's up with this?  I need to learn more.  I'm confused.

From that same article, a book "Understanding Co-Dependency, “Signs of codependency include excessive caretaking, controlling, and preoccupation with people and things ‘outside of ourselves.’”  Okay.  I get that.  It's a better definition.

From that same article, "Enabling is rarely seen in healthy relationships — these behaviors include bailing the partner out, giving him another chance, ignoring the problem, accepting excuses, trying to fix the problem, or constantly coming to the rescue."

For me personally, I do give people second chances and I do go out of my way to bail them out (even one time quite literally bailed someone out of jail).  However, I almost never accept excuses, ignore the problem, or continue to come to the rescue.  I may give them a third chance, but after that, I give up and just let them know I am available and leave it. I don't think they've ever come back to ask for more help.  So I really do not feel I am an enabler.  I have a strong desire to help and make a difference, but not necessarily fix.  I set boundaries and limitations on my helping.

Of course, I do say often that I seem to spend my life fixing the things my hubby screws up.  I think that is different though because I do not try to fix him, I just have to follow behind him and repair everything he breaks, to undo what he does wrong.  They key is that I accept him and do not try to change him.

Instead, my first inclination is that I get tired of people trying to fix me!  I don't need fixing!  I don't need your codependency!  What does this mean for me?  It means I need to learn how to react to codependent people trying to fix me.  I think that is what I really want to learn from this study of codependency.

I already know about my problems and I've been on a many year journey of learning and growing regarding them.  Just like the other people in my small group who recognize they are "fixing people" personalities who stop themselves and continue to work on the problem they are aware of, I do the same thing. It's okay to take a lifetime to continue to resist.  Just because you recognize a problem does not mean it is magically fixed.  I do not believe that ever happens.  It takes time and growth and a journey.  Sure, we recover and move on, but the tendency and temptation is always there and must always be resisted.  I'm not going to beat myself up about not being instantly fixed just because I know my problems.

The above article also has a list of eight signs of codependency, which I feel may be lacking in count, but a good review nonetheless.

Continuing my online study, from Wikipedia, "Some codependents often find themselves in relationships where their primary role is that of rescuer, supporter, and confidante. These helper types are often dependent on the other person's poor functioning to satisfy their own emotional needs. Many codependents place a lower priority on their own needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others. Codependency can occur in any type of relationship, including family, work, friendship, and also romantic, peer or community relationships."

I like the last sentence which clarifies the co-dependency personalities can try to fix people of any relationship, even people they meet online would be included.

I do tend to place a lower priority on my own needs, but that's because I feel God tells me in the Bible to be the "least" and to do just that, put others above myself.  So life is complicated and we see that although this is the right thing to do, sometimes if there is no balance, it can be a detriment.  I think the key word in the description is "excessive."  

Continuing my study, from this page it says, "people with codependency often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided."  Yep, I've said that before that I feel some of my relationships are one-sided in that I spend all my time listening because people just seem to need someone to listen, and try to express care, and that those same people never seem to care about what is going on in my life.  I've been suckered into that more times that I care to admit.

I have recognized this in recent years and have taken steps to learn to recognize it and to stop feeding those relationships. I don't break them off or reject the person, but I am careful in my response to "feed" it.  Of course, caring and listening is what friendships are all about, so I have to venture into relationships in this way.  The key for me is to recognize when it is one-sided earlier and stop putting effort into the relationship sooner.

I will always be a listener and a caring person, but my goal would be not to "maintain" those relationships which don't reciprocate.  One of my shoulders though says, "that's selfish, yourself shouldn't matter, it only matters what you do for others," while the other shoulder says "God wants you to protect yourself so you can have energy to do His work."

So why have I always put boundaries on helping people when it is a physical kind of help, but not when it is a communication and listening kind of help?  That is a good question for me to ponder.

That same page has a great list of codependency characteristics and the one that stands out for me personally is "The co-dependent will do anything to hold on to a relationship; to avoid the feeling of abandonment."  Yeah, I do that.  I value relationships.  I have always said "family is important" and have had the mindset to never give up on them.  So when I am "rejected," it is hard for me to get over.  I do not think it is so much as the need for the relationship, but my philosophy in life not to give up on people, and 'where there is a will, there is a way,' and my own dedication and loyalty to people.  So when I am rejected and do not receive that same dedication back, it hurts.  Thanks be to God that He is always dedicated and loyal to me!  That should be all that matters.

So with such a broad range of codependency characteristics and conditions in these lists I've reviewed so far, I can see how many people fall into this category of codependency.  It is almost as if there needs to be sub-categories formed.  For instance, I consider myself as a "people-fixer with healthy boundaries," so those aspects do not apply to me.  However, other aspects of needing acceptance and a dedicated friendship long-term are my problems.

I don't feel I need other's approval, but rather just not their rejection. I don't care if you like what I've done or my accomplishment. I do it for my own pleasure.  I do care, however, if you judge my character as such that I am not.  I suppose it all goes back to what we value and I do value my character and get offended when it is attacked.

I do care if I've invested into our relationship and you throw it away because of a circumstance.  Oh me! Yes, I know I only need to worry about acceptance from God and not people and that it is a sin to not consider God first and only, but I am human and this is my life-long journey, as I said above.  So for those codependent people trying to fix me, don't.  God's doing that.

On the same page is a questionnaire to identify signs of codependency.  Here are the ones I would say 'yes' to:  1, 2, 4, 14, 18, 19.  Six out of twenty is surely not that bad, right?

Leave a comment and let me know which ones you would say 'yes' to.  I going to guess most people can say 'yes' to at least a few, as I did.


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