Some Codependents Don’t Mind A Little Mistreatment From OthersBack in the mid-1980’s, a friend of mine who had a 12 Step perspective on addiction recovery, shared his belief that underneath overeating and all other addictions exists the real addiction that needed to be treated: codependency. Overeating, underexercising, indeed addictive/compulsive behaviors of every sort can all be traced back to this one common denominator.

To this day I believe my friend was on target with his theory. Yes, most addictive behaviors do seem to have some underlying biological connection/cause (e.g., physical addictions to substance like booze, mood-altering drugs, sex, food, compulsive spending, etc.). Yet, pardon my codependent observation here (Isn’t it codependent of me to speak for others?), but aren’t most of us addicts “flamingly codependent” — even as we experience recovery from other addictions?

OK. Maybe it’s just me who should self-identify as being a flaming codpendent (sometimes less flamingly, other times more flamingly). Then again, if you’ve ever observed fellow 12 Steppers interactive with each other, you might be inclined to believe that I’m not the lone codependent in 12 Step recovery. 🙂

Here’s an example of codependency amongst 12 Steppers: Have you ever heard the saying that “The only requirements for starting a new A.A./O.A./N.A./etc.-A. meeting are two members, a coffee pot and a resentment”? My experience is that most resentments are caused when one 12 Steppers can’t control another — can’t have their way, can’t win a group conscious vote, can’t succeed at shoving their approach to recovery down the throats of other group members, etc.

If you’ve read Melody Beattie’s self-help bestseller, CoDependent No More, then you might be skeptical (as I used to be) about whether codependency really is a legitimate problem since (based on her book’s all-encompasing definition) surely 99% of ALL persons — not just us addicts — are codependent, while the other 1% must be in denial.

Beattie seems to suggest that viritually any imperfection in how we deal with others makes one a codependent. Yet who can honestly claim to act with perfect relationship skills all the time? Not moi.

If, on the other hand, I focus my definition of codependency on just the major relationship problems/issues, then codependency makes more sense and can explain most of the “triggers” for most of my addictive behaviors.

Some of the relationship issues that appear to be legimate symptoms of codependency include: controlling behaviors (either we attempt to control others or we allow others to control us), distrust of ourselves and others, perfectionism, stuffling/avoidance of feelings, problems with emotional and sexual intimacy and excessive caretaking of others. We also tend to judge ourselves without mercy.

Many of the codependents in my life (including myself) end up experiencing megaloads of anxiety (and even panic attacks), depression and ftustration as those we care about often appear to be “spinning out of control” (Heck, no wonder they need us to contol them! HA!). A name for those individuals spinning out of control that I like is “crazymakers”.

We now interrupt this otherwise serious blog entry (some of us codependents overdose big time on being SERIOUS, so a hmor break is certainly in order!) for some Codependency Humor:

You might be a codependent if you refer to your friends as being a “caseload”.

— Am I a codependent? Depends what you think…Do you think I’m codependent?

— Why do codependents always flunk Geography class? Because they can’t distinguish any boundaries.

Now back to more serious blogging about codependency as the underlying cause for addictions.

Perhaps codependency is the underlying cause for the 12 Step reminder to “H.A.L.T.” — In our lack of caring for ourselves we too easily forget to keep from getting “toooooooo” Hungry, Angry, Lonely and/or Tired.

Perhaps codependency is at the cause for some of us having UNhealthy expectations of others. A member of Alcoholics Anonymous shares the how he overcomes the stress caused by his codependent thinking: “I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.”

Perhaps codependency is addressed in the line from the Serenity Prayer that asks God to give us the “Serenity to accept the things we cannot change…”.

Agree or disagree with my friend’s theory that codependency is the addiction that exists underneath all other addictions (therefore is the ultimate trigger for other addictive behaviors), what I know for sure is that the pain caused by my codependent behaviors have lead me to acting out with food (and other substances and things as well). So I personally see a great value in working on my codependency issues along with my food and other addiction issues.