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Question: Which of these characteristics have you had periodically throughout your life?  Source: Diagnostic Criteria for Codependencym Cermak, Timmen L. , Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, Vol 18(1), Jan-Mar 1986, 15-20.
Control Issues Excessive need to influence/control feelings and behavior in self and others (think carefully about this one)
Responsibility Issues Assumption of responsibility for meeting other's needs to the exclusion of acknowledging one's own needs;
Boundary Issues Anxiety and boundary distortions in situations of intimacy and separation;
Realtionship Issues Enmeshment in relationships with personality disordered, drug dependent and impulse disordered individuals
Relationship A dysfunctional primary relationship for 2+ years without seeking outside support
Three or more :  a) containment of emotions, b) depression, c) hypervigilance, d) compulsions, e) anxiety, f) excessive reliance on denial, g) substance abuse, h) physical or sexual abuse, i) stress-related medical illness

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Author Topic: SELF ASSESSMENT | Are you codependent?  (Read 11474 times)
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« Reply #30 on: June 03, 2010, 05:36:45 PM »

No, not at all.  At least in my experience.  Everyone has been quite welcoming and gentle.

It's mostly people just sitting around saying whatever they want (how they're currently feeling, what happened recently, a story from childhood, etc) - although it does often revolve around a certain topic.  You don't actually work the 12 steps in the meeting (sometimes a step is talked about though) - but at the start, they go around the room just reading the list.

If anyone knows how tough it is to start something like this and how everyone is at different points of their journey, it's the people in these groups.  They are also quite open and non-judgmental.

Good luck!

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« Reply #31 on: June 04, 2010, 05:17:37 AM »

Hi,

Firstly, no worries, you aren't expected to know/understand/the steps when you go to a 12-step meeting.  I've been going to 12 step meetings and I still can't remember most of the steps off the top of my head. 

People don't expect you to know anything when you are new, they normally will realize that you are there, seeking help and possibly fragile.  They've been in the same place, at their first meeting, unsure of what to expect, feeling nervous, intimidated, scared, you name it, so people get that and may go out of there way to help you feel more comfortable. 

If you decide to go to an al-anon meeting, you can look to see if they have any that say beginners meetings.  These are specifically for newcomers and don't vary much from a regular meeting, but make sure to welcome newcomers.   

There will always be variations from each group.  I mean I've gone to all different ones in my area, which they advise to see where I feel most comfortable.  The format is mostly the same, but each meeting does have a different feel to it.  I've talked to people that moved here from other parts of the country and they say meetings are totally different here.  There's always going to be different people, different vibes, so you have to try it and see.   

I go to NA meetings, so I don't know if al-anon follows the same format, maybe trying2heal can say.  Na meetings have a chairperson leading the meeting, they open the meeting, there are a bunch of lengthy readings on laminated cards that random people read out loud to the group one at a time.  That takes about 10mins.  Some of the meetings will be open for discussion, and the chair will ask if anyone has a topic they want to discuss.   Someone speaks about a topic.  Then other people follow, taking about 5 mins (depending on size of group how long they should take so that everyone can have a chance to speak if they would like).  People will follow on the topic, but also kind of talk about whatever it is they need to talk about b/c the topic can lead them to other thoughts.  The person finishes, and someone else will start talking and say what they need to say.  So, there isn't supposed to be cross talk.  It isn't having a conversation back and forth.  There's no interrupting when someone is talking.  Although, many times, one person talks, and people that talk after will reference things that the person before them said or made them think about, so in an indirect way.  For example sometimes a person speaks about something and they are very upset, then many of the people that follow will show support by talking about how they had the same issue, how they dealt with it.  Before I went I thought the inability to cross talk would make it feel disconnected, but it works out well.  (I don't know about al-anon, but with NA there are some meetings where they will read out loud a chapter on a single step, then the discussion goes from there.  Or they will read from a book that has a daily meditation for everyday of the year, then the discussion goes from there.)  Sometimes there will be someone who shares and they don't talk on the topic at all, they just have tons of stuff going on and they need to get it all out.  I don't share often, but it is a good feeling when you do, gives a big relief in a way that's different from talking to a friend.

You are not expected to speak, that's your choice, so no pressure there.  I find it helpful to go early and/or stay later so I can talk more with people one on one. 

I'm not sure how that would work going to al-anon when your focus is on codependency.  But, since trying2heal has done and says it works for him, might as well try it out.  Trying2heal, do you share at al-anon?  Do you think they understand?   Is there some focus on codependency issues?  I guess there would be?   

I can see how the same basics can be applied either way. 

I was looking at support groups and I found another 12-step called Emotions Anonymous.  They seem to focus on a variety of emotional issues with goal of achieving emotional health.  Sounds interesting, maybe they will have a close meeting www.emotionsanonymous.org/   

Heres a link to list of 12-step meetings, interesting : www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_twelve-step_groups

This is another support group meeting I found using CBT, Seems possibly helpful (looks like they want you to buy their books, not that it's unusual)-

Basic explanation--  www.lowselfhelpsystems.org/system/our-method.asp

Search4meeting near you--  www.lowselfhelpsystems.org/meetings/find-a-meeting.asp

Compatible with 12-step programs--  www.lowselfhelpsystems.org/system/our-method-vs-12-step-programs.asp

NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness  (you can search by your state, I had to poke around a bit, but ended up finding a lot of support groups in my area for all sorts of things.  After clicking on your state, at the top is your stateNAMI and at bottom is your local NAMIs.  I was looking at my local NAMI links, but the state link on top is what brought me to lots of support options. )

www.nami.org/Template.cfm?Section=Your_Local_NAMI&Template=/CustomSource/AffiliateFinder.cfm


Let me know if you think of more 12step program questions.  It's definitely worth checking out, I think.

Take Care Smiling (click to insert in post)

 
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« Reply #32 on: June 04, 2010, 08:50:01 AM »

Thanks to both of you for the great info!
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« Reply #33 on: June 16, 2010, 07:47:50 PM »

One of the things I am thankful about regarding my relationship with my stbxBPDh and its subsequent fallout, is that I have learned how codependent I am, and am trying to work on healthier way of relating to those close to me.

I am unsure how to get truly past this codependency I seem to have with... .well, everyone! 

Honestly, I truly did not realize I had this problem until disengaging from this relationship.  Looking back, I have always had somewhat poor boundaries in romantic relationships, but my codependency tendencies went into overdrive with my BPDh.  I have frequently chosen partners who seemed like genuinely good people who just needed a little "saving."  My problems started in my FOO, as my dad was virtually nonexistent, and my mother was overly controlling/enmeshed with us kids.  She grew up being abused by an alcoholic dad, and did the best she could, but I honestly wonder if she has BPD herself.  She definitely has zero boundaries with anyone and is very emotionally abusive to everyone.  Growing up as the oldest, I was parentified at a very young age.  I also became very enmeshed with my sibs, and we all continue to be that way to a certain extent.  I have taken steps back over the years, and have been working on this more in recent months.  But, it's still really hard for me to not equate needing, controlling, or poor boundaries with love.  I think all this mess in my FOO is what sort of set me up to be in this relationship with a pwBPD.  Codependency and enmeshment felt pretty normal to me... .felt like love.

I bought Beyond Codependency and Codependent No More, and read much of them, and then re-read parts... .but I feel like it's so hard to fully get past this.  Plus, I feel like in some ways I genuinely like this part about myself-well, in moderation.  I like being helpful and nice.  How do I know when I'm crossing that threshold of too much?

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« Reply #34 on: June 17, 2010, 10:50:50 AM »

I, too, wonder about this, 28 paws.  I genuinely enjoy doing things for people and helping them (which explains why I am a healthcare professional), but don't know where the line is between being a nice, compassionate person and being co-dependent.  I'm reading the Lessons and trying to figure out the difference between what I WANT to do and what I feel OBLIGATED to do.

God bless,

JDoe
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« Reply #35 on: June 19, 2010, 12:29:16 AM »

I, too, wonder about this, 28 paws.  I genuinely enjoy doing things for people and helping them (which explains why I am a healthcare professional), but don't know where the line is between being a nice, compassionate person and being co-dependent. 

I can completely relate to this!  As long as I can remember, I have loved helping people.  That's why I became a school psychologist.  (Yeah, I have 3 degrees in psychology, which would be amusing considering I'm married to someone with BPD, if it weren't so dang sad)

Excerpt
I'm reading the Lessons and trying to figure out the difference between what I WANT to do and what I feel OBLIGATED to do.

God bless,

JDoe

This is something I have a really hard time with too. 
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« Reply #36 on: April 18, 2011, 10:20:33 PM »

 I'm really looking to own my part in the dysfunctional relationship I've just gotten out of, and I identify with descriptions of codependency- being a fixer when it came to BPDex's emotional issues, getting my self worth from doing things for him and other people,  feeling entitled to repayment around this sort of behavior... .but I'm realizing I see these as good things, see codependents as the good guys, the heros.  :)efinitely the way my mom always taught me to be.  It seems askew cause the term is the description of a dysfunction, but I guess I don't really get why its so bad.

I do see having let myself down in THIS relationship, in participating in my own emotional abuse by always giving him the benefit of the doubt and doubting my own sense of being wronged. I can see that I cannot continue to be a codependent with a BPD, and that is my guiding light.  But wouldn't the world be a better place if ex and  everyone else were codependent?

I need clarification. I would like to hear how others see codependency and maybe get a clearer sense of how its not a good thing.  
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« Reply #37 on: April 19, 2011, 08:23:12 AM »

Dear StrongEnough,

  I don't know about your childhood, but mine included a uBPD/NPD sister for whom the entire family walked on eggshells.  So it seemed normal.  Also, being raised a conservative Christian, I was taught to turn the other cheek, forgive 70 x's 7, be the bigger person, etc.  While following Jesus and being in relationship with Him is still something I desire, I have a hard time knowing where the line should have been drawn between doing "the right thing" and NOT allowing my stbxH oppress, abuse, and diminish me for the past 20 years.

  Still working on that, so that IF I participate in any future r/s, I will not fall into that rut again of being a "good girl" and letting a bad boy run me over.  Probably didn't help that I am in the medical profession, saw H's childhood abuse and subsequent broken-ness, and wanted to heal his heart with my love and nurturing care.  Nurses make people feel better.  Unless the person WANTS to be sick.

  Good thread!  I'll be interested to see how others respond.  I have not felt that I was codependent, but my emotions did ride the roller-coaster of how H was feeling, so maybe I was.

JDoe
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« Reply #38 on: April 19, 2011, 08:42:09 AM »

I am like JDoe in my religious beliefs, and from the pulpit I heard that the husband/father is not only the head of the household, but also the servant. While this is a noble role in the family structure, it also is music to the ears of a BPD wife. Even during those times when she occasionally made dinner for the family, it seemed so unnatural.  Somebody else had to set the table, somebody else had to clean up and wash the dishes.

Do I see the act of servitude being a bad trait? No. We are the first to offer help to others. However, there are a lot more people without this trait than with this trait, BPD or not. I think it is natural to take advantage of the givers, not just because they give their time and efforts, but also because they tend to be reliable and care about the quality of the work they do. Being that the codependant has trouble saying No, we assume more responsibility than what we should, which ultimately leads to resentment and feeling used.

I know now that having the attitude of "Me First" does not mean I become a taker and have to quench my giving nature. It does give me the strength to say No when I feel my giving is starting to encroach upon the time that I reserve for me and the activities that I want to do.
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« Reply #39 on: April 19, 2011, 09:03:55 AM »

Here's the deal for me... .it's all about balance.  Co-dependency has gotten such a bad rap over the years in terms of being negative and "the one at fault for enabling them."  when i read about it in conjuction with my role and BPD i was offended, honestly... .at first.  Then i realized that i was enabling her to continue to abuse me, i was trying to cover it all up, i was neglecting my self physically, emotionally, .  Sure, I felt good about what I did that was good for her and the kids... .of course.  but, i kept doing it when it wasn't helping, financially ruining me... .etc... .so, yes, I have some similarities to codepency, not all of them.

and yes, it was dysfunctional for me.   But the thing about the word dysfunction... .is that it's not really a word.  I'll explain... .I got into this relationship because of my nuclear family dynamics and my childhood role.  I behaved that way as a child to survive... .so it was "functional at that time for me."  HOWEVER,  i clearly don't have to do that now, I realized, after looking at my entire history thus far,  it is obviously not fuctional for my adult life, it is actually damaging... .and i am working on changing it.(which is a lot more colorful Smiling (click to insert in post) than one may think... .But... .hopefully,... .soon I will know that  I am enough just as i am.

Basically, we are all co-dependent on some levels, the nature of relationships... .but the term, is when it is so off balance it is creating a problem for YOU.

hope i'm not too wordy here ... .great post.

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« Reply #40 on: April 19, 2011, 10:13:46 AM »

I would like to hear how others see codependency and maybe get a clearer sense of how its not a good thing.  

https://bpdfamily.com/content/codependency-codependent-relationships

Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse, describes co-dependency as"a specific condition that is characterized by preoccupation and extreme dependence — emotionally, socially and sometimes physically — on a person or object. Eventually, this dependency on another person [or object] becomes a pathological condition that affects the co-dependent in all other relationships"

Codependents are the ultimate example of a persecution complex. They always feel victimized, oppressed, and self-sacrificial. Although codependents may feel they give an inordinate amount of responsibility, obligation, and worry for another and mistakenly feel like they are giving, in reality they are actually taking. The only thing a codependent person wants to hear from his unappreciative (of course, this is usually in his imagination) spouse is the words "I feel so guilty about everything you do for me".

However, in reality, codependents do very little for the healthy betterment of their relationships, or the wholeness and completeness of their lives. Whereas they think they are doing for everyone, they are actually doing for themselves. Every time they can feel over-giving and under-appreciated (their main goal), they climb higher up in their Ivory-Tower and feel justified in hugging themselves while they hang from their self-imposed crucifix. Codependents appear to be very poor givers, so wrapped up in their imagined glories and self-sacrifices that they never really, truly give genuine love and care just for the simple reason of giving it and not for the real reason behind why they do give and give. And what is that reason you ask? Codependents give only for two causes and one reason; to cause 'self-pity', and to cause 'manipulation' of those around him, for the reason of being able to embrace, nurture, and love themselves, and to feel safe and secure.


Although there are many, many books out there that attempt to explain the motives of codependent people, I have never found one that actually describes the reason behind what they do to my satisfaction! Soo, let me explain my theory (shut up and bear with me here!)... .Smiling (click to insert in post)

As pack animals we are all somewhat codependent. But when codependency becomes the overriding force in a person's life they begin to do the exact opposite of what they honestly believe their goal is. Where most codependents think they are sacrificing themselves for everyone around them, what they are actually doing is distancing themselves and emotionally withdrawing from those around them, so coccooned they are in themselves and their own feelings of injustice. To contradict a lot of codependent books I am going to go out on a limb here and give my analysis of codependency: A codependent person—although it may appear that they are over-conscious and over-aware of others—in reality are only conscious of their own role in other's lives and not with the actual other person themselves. They only need to pre-occupy themselves with other's emotional well-being and feelings to see what their own status is to that other person, and how they fit in that person's life. Although the experts seem to claim that a codependent person is overly involved in other's moods, feelings, and emotional being, they actually are more astute to another's moods, feelings, and emotions only when it directly relates back to themselves so that they may analyze the role they play in that person's life. Many codependents have an intense need for acceptance and validation of who they are. They can be more selfish and self-involved then fiercely independent people are, as they are so engrossed in the role they play in other people's lives that they become obsessed with others' moods and well-being only as it relates to themselves.

Codependents lack in self-perception and can only identify who they are through that of a second person. They manifest 'who they are' only through another's eyes, thoughts, or views of them... .and without another they are unable to find their own identity. Codependents tend to latch onto partners because of this lack of being able to self-identify through themselves.

Thus, codependents become 'emotionally unavailable' or 'uncaring' to others, unless it is for the selfish reason of improving their own role in that person's life. Everything they do they do to pity themselves or to applaud themselves... .nothing is done out of voluntary loving or freely given for the mere fact of truly caring for another. Everything that a codependent person does is done to further establish their self-pitying thoughts of 'overdoing' and of being taken advantage of and for granted, "I am so unappreciated around here, they treat me like their slave... .", or their self-worshipping thoughts that they are perfect and well-respected for the 'good' or 'right things' that they do unto others. "I am a great person, see how I saved the day!" These thoughts are based on the fact that because they are overly concerned with the role they play in other's lives that they become more acutely aware of how others do or do not acknowledge what they do.

Basically, the codependents motives are all about gaining self-pity or gaining self-respect enough so that they can feel safe and comfortable enough to embrace their own inner soul and give much needed self-love to themselves. Just below the surface of every codependent is a lost and rejected child that doesn't feel that who they are themselves is worthy of love.

A codependent is so caught up in their own little "I am a self-sacrificing hero" fantasy that they have no idea that they have no real identity of their own, and are actually (and ironically) never really fully available to another (although they believe just the opposite). Codependents spend an inordinate amount of time hugging themselves and finding new ways to feel like they are abandoned and unappreciated, or acclaimed and heralded. They spend an elaborate amount of time planning ways to feel more damaged and martyred (so they can heroize themselves), and to do this they must worry more about making everyone but himself happy. They must be self-sacrificial. Although they feel that they are over-giving and over-doing, they actually do very little real emotional loving, or make themselves truly available to the people in their life. (It is hard to be there for somebody in an honest and genuine sense, when you are being bitter and indignant about the fact that you are there for them.) You can never love a codependent person enough, for they will not feel your love, they will only feel all the drummed up sacrifices they have done for others. A codependent person will not hear, "thank you, I appreciate that" but will seek out and concentrate his focus on all the non-acknowledged things that he does do, whereas most non-codependents will hear the "thank you" and not really get to worried over the fact that occasionally someone didn't acknowledge something they did for them. A codependent person very rarely recognizes genuine acts of true love and caring from their spouses, but rather is hypervigilant to their spouses negativities or requests (which the codependent person takes to mean 'more demands' on, and 'belittlement' of, them).

Codependent people have a huge hole in them that needs to be fixed. They find temporary relief via another person's redemption through them, as it allows them to redeem themselves when they see themselves through the other's eyes. This may possibly be the reason why codependents almost always choose mates that have 'problems'. They can find a temporary patch for their own 'hole' by fixing others'.

The simple fact is, the codependent person is an unavailable partner. He becomes this way in three respects:

1. He becomes self-absorbed: It is hard to be really there for someone else when your arms are always around yourself in feelings of grandeur, heroism, self-sacrificial claims, self pity, and indignation.

2. He feeds off his partner's character and subsequently develops none of his own: When one creates in themselves a codependent inner nature they lose much of their own identity, taking on the emotions and feelings of their partner. Although a healthy amount of codependency is good for a relationship, an overly codependent person becomes a 'non-person', and teaches his partner to not recognize him, for 'he' really, truly doesn't exist! This means that, as a codependent, one loses their own identity—and without an "I"dentity you are essentially a nobody, and how can 'nobody' be anywhere, let alone in a relationship and by their wife's side? How can one love 'nobody'?

3. He unknowingly teaches his partner that everything is about 'her': Another thing a codependent person does is to teach their partner to be selfish and self-serving. Since, to a codependent person everything is about the act of doing for the other person (remember, this is his illusion), and that nothing is about them (again, his illusion), they subconsciously condition the other person to come to expect all their needs to be met by the codependent person, in as much as the codependent person, themselves, does focus on meeting all their partner's needs—but carrying resentment about it. They subconsciously train their partner's to become selfish, expectant, and self-gratifying.

On the flipside of that, when the wife is codependent she spends an excessive amount of time feeling like her actions aren't appreciated, that she is unnoticed and unacknowledged, and that she is sacrificing herself for her husband and family and not being appreciated or acknowledged for it in return. When she feels she is not getting the appreciation at home that she feels she deserves, she becomes more vulnerable to an affair. She may mistakenly believe that only another lover will understand her and appreciate her and all that she does. You can spend years trying to make a codependent person feel appreciated and loved. However, it's like filling a bucket with holes in the bottom. Codependents have this empty hole that only they can fill up. Sometimes you may be able to get it a quarter full, or even halfway full, but no matter how much you put in this bucket, it keeps falling right out the bottom.

To sum it up, a codependent person unknowingly pushes their spouse into the arms of another, AND a codependent person, themselves, will willingly rush into the arms of another when they feel lonely, unappreciated, and not respected in their home life.

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« Reply #41 on: April 19, 2011, 11:53:39 AM »

I'm definitely codependent, but I never heard of the term until my relationship with my uBPDxbf.  Being aware of it is allowing me to connect various pieces of my life and issues that have come up over the years.  I've started working on it intensly with my T.  The last few sessions have been painful revisiting childhood and how it developed... .learned it... .was forced into it... .(?)   Lots of questions to be answered to move forward in a healthy way. 

I think it's interesting that codependency never came up for me prior ~ even with MC, going through T my divorce, etc.  It certainly was there, but it didn't get 'highlighted' as much as with my uBPDxbf.  Great thread.
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« Reply #42 on: April 19, 2011, 12:05:42 PM »

Thanks for your reponses. @JDoe: being in a caregiving profession can complicate things- you have a tendency to see rescuing people as your job... .maybe figuring this stuff out can end up taking unneeded stresses out of work. As a substitute teacher this year I am enjoying dropping my concerns for school drama at the end of the day- something I used to handle with a sixpack.  Letting go of other people's problems is such a relief  Smiling (click to insert in post)

@Walrus:  
Being that the codependant has trouble saying No, we assume more responsibility than what we should, which ultimately leads to resentment and feeling used.

I know now that having the attitude of "Me First" does not mean I become a taker and have to quench my giving nature. It does give me the strength to say No when I feel my giving is starting to encroach upon the time that I reserve for me and the activities that I want to do.

I am still working on saying "no." It is such an ingrained reaction to agree to any request made of me- connected to social anxiety for me, for the need to prove that I'm a good guy. Fear of ostracization.  

@Flashcard:

I like that you are balancing your sense of enabling your own abuse with some skepticism about how much this is your responsibility.  We may fall into codependent patterns in these relationships, but if our partners really are emotionally dysregulated, then we can't take responsibility for that (so are we not codependent?)  Its a little paradoxical (if we are taking too much responsibility, does that mean we really are codependent ?), and that requires a balanced assessment instead of a black and white self-diagnosis.  

I have a lot of problems with the article Skip reposted here, I will have to give it its own post to go into that.

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« Reply #43 on: April 19, 2011, 12:58:24 PM »

From Skip's post, I don't believe I am codependent!  Yay!  The only thing that struck a chord was
Excerpt
Just below the surface of every codependent is a lost and rejected child that doesn't feel that who they are themselves is worthy of love.

  As the good/compliant oldest child of a conservative Christian mom/emotionally unavailable dad (huge childhood scars, himself), with a uBPD/NPD sister just 19 months younger, I did always feel a need to be good, to not disappoint, to excel in order to be worthy or lovable.   I now see my worth as a daughter of The King of Kings, so I do not have to be enough, it is enough that I am.

SE: fortunately, I am mostly able to leave my work on my desk at the end of the day and don't stress needlessly.  As the office manager, I have come to embrace the fact that I am one person, doing the job of about 3 and it will never get all done.  The doc sometimes asks when the piles of work will get smaller and I tell him, "As soon as you retire, and nobody is piling it up!"

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« Reply #44 on: April 20, 2011, 10:13:33 AM »

I can see some of the traits Skip described in myself, like lack of a strong identity.  But other traits remind me more of my BPDh.  The self sacrifyicing part sounds more like him.  It's one of his major themes- that he does everything for everyone and is not appreciated for it.  In reality, I see him putting up boundaries (borders?) that tell everyone he won't dope anything for them.  Once in awhile he does get involved in someone else's project and then he can be very helpful.  He is particularly bad about his 86 year old mother - complains constantly about how she always tries to control everything and asks him to do everything.  I find this very difficult.  IMO, when you are 86 you deserve some respect, some tolerance, and some help.

Could this be my codependence coming out in a way that I can't recognize it, or can PwBPD also have codependent traits?  Or could are there some similarities in BPD and codependency that we normally do not recognize?  Like the hole in ones selve that cannot be fooled, selfishness and self-centeredness, inability to truly love, etc.  Ugh, so depressing. ?
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« Reply #45 on: April 20, 2011, 10:21:49 AM »

The article Skip posted is a little confusing- for one thing it should be noted it was written by "Tigress Luv" a web-book author who doesn't seem to have any expert credentials... .but then again codependency itself isn't in the DSM-IV, it seems to have been generated from the alcoholics anonymous community, so I'm not sure what the expert credential would be.

I think there are a lot of insights there if you are not expecting it to be authoritative, but still there are a lot of unsupported claims (see her final paragraph), and overall seems to blame the codependent for conditioning their partner and creating the problem, which is not the case in this community.  

I think the wikipedia article is a better resource for those of us that want to use this concept to understand our part in the BPD dance.

www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codependency
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« Reply #46 on: April 20, 2011, 10:36:59 AM »

There are different 'levels" of being codependent just like with anything else.  After reading that article, I'm not 1/2 of what it describes, but I definitely do have some of the traits.  I pull what applies to me from these articles/workshops, etc. and work on that with my T.  It opens our discussions to places I don't think we'd hit on without direct questions which arise from these resources/posts.
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« Reply #47 on: April 21, 2011, 09:16:07 AM »

Skip, that description really rings true to me, and really seems to describe my mother's behavior to a T.  But I am on this site because I thought she was BPD.  She does some of the classic BPD behaviors, too - splitting, impulsivity, unstable sense of self and unstable relationships - but I think at core, it was this pretending to always do for others and be a martyr while really only caring about stroking her own ego, that was the core of the problem.  

What is the relationship between co-dependency and BPD?  Can a person be both?

On the note that this is supposed to be about taking personal inventory, I came to this realization a while ago - that excessive interest in solving others' problems is really a way of avoiding your own pain and your own insecurity, and I found it really helpful.  Now when I feel driven to do something altruistic, I ask myself, am I really doing it for THEM, or am I doing it for ME?  And that is a pretty good guide to making sure that acts of kindness are really that, rather than using others to solve my psychological challenges.  BOTH my parents I think fit this profile, so I've definitely picked up some of the behaviors and assumptions, especially the need for validation from others.  I have a really hard time with "tough love," even when I know it's the right thing to do.  I am just scared on some level that without constant validation and approval, people will leave or turn on me.  It's a stressful way to live!  I'm working on it.  
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« Reply #48 on: April 21, 2011, 09:49:02 AM »

The article Skip posted is a little confusing- for one thing it should be noted it was written by "Tigress Luv" a web-book author who doesn't seem to have any expert credentials... .but then again codependency itself isn't in the DSM-IV, it seems to have been generated from the alcoholics anonymous community, so I'm not sure what the expert credential would be.

I think there are a lot of insights there if you are not expecting it to be authoritative... .

All fair criticisms, StrongEnough.  I struggle with the very same points - including the credentials of the author. 

Codependency (or relaionship addiction) is oddly not a DSM IV category but commonly diagnosed.  Its an anomaly for sure.

The concept of co-dependency was developed years ago as the result of studying interpersonal relationships in families of alcoholics.  However Melody Beattie's work (non-professional) expanded the definition in 1984 with her best selling Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself.

The National Mental Health Association states that co-dependency is a learned behavior that can be passed down from one generation to another. It is an emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. It is also known as “relationship addiction” because people with codependency often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive.

Here is information from Mental Health America - a more credentialed resource (www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/board)

Co-dependents have low self-esteem and look for anything outside of themselves to make them feel better... .They have good intentions. They try to take care of a person who is experiencing difficulty, but the caretaking becomes compulsive and defeating. Co-dependents often take on a martyr’s role and become “benefactors” to an individual in need. A wife may cover for her alcoholic husband; a mother may make excuses for a truant child; or a father may “pull some strings” to keep his child from suffering the consequences of delinquent behavior.

The problem is that these repeated rescue attempts allow the needy individual to continue on a destructive course and to become even more dependent on the unhealthy caretaking of the “benefactor.” As this reliance increases, the co-dependent develops a sense of reward and satisfaction from “being needed.” When the caretaking becomes compulsive, the co-dependent feels choiceless and helpless in the relationship, but is unable to break away from the cycle of behavior that causes it. Co-dependents view themselves as victims and are attracted to that same weakness in the love and friendship relationships.

Characteristics of Co-dependent People Are:

    * An exaggerated sense of responsibility for the actions of others

    * A tendency to confuse love and pity, with the tendency to “love” people they can pity and rescue

    * A tendency to do more than their share, all of the time

    * A tendency to become hurt when people don’t recognize their efforts

    * An unhealthy dependence on relationships. The co-dependent will do anything to hold on to a relationship; to avoid the feeling of abandonment

    * An extreme need for approval and recognition

    * A sense of guilt when asserting themselves

    * A compelling need to control others

    * Lack of trust in self and/or others

    * Fear of being abandoned or alone

    * Difficulty identifying feelings

    * Rigidity/difficulty adjusting to change

    * Problems with intimacy/boundaries

    * Chronic anger

    * Lying/dishonesty

    * Poor communications

    * Difficulty making decisions

Questionnaire To Identify Signs Of Co-dependency

This condition appears to run in different degrees, whereby the intensity of symptoms are on a spectrum of severity, as opposed to an all or nothing scale. Please note that only a qualified professional can make a diagnosis of co-dependency; not everyone experiencing these symptoms suffers from co-dependency.

1. Do you keep quiet to avoid arguments?

2. Are you always worried about others’ opinions of you?

3. Have you ever lived with someone with an alcohol or drug problem?

4. Have you ever lived with someone who hits or belittles you?

5. Are the opinions of others more important than your own?

6. Do you have difficulty adjusting to changes at work or home?

7. Do you feel rejected when significant others spend time with friends?

8. Do you doubt your ability to be who you want to be?

9. Are you uncomfortable expressing your true feelings to others?

10. Have you ever felt inadequate?

11. Do you feel like a “bad person” when you make a mistake?

12. Do you have difficulty taking compliments or gifts?

13. Do you feel humiliation when your child or spouse makes a mistake?

14. Do you think people in your life would go downhill without your constant efforts?

15. Do you frequently wish someone could help you get things done?

16. Do you have difficulty talking to people in authority, such as the police or your boss?

17. Are you confused about who you are or where you are going with your life?

18. Do you have trouble saying “no” when asked for help?

19. Do you have trouble asking for help?

20. Do you have so many things going at once that you can’t do justice to any of them?

If you identify with several of these symptoms; are dissatisfied with yourself or your relationships; you should consider seeking professional help. Arrange for a diagnostic evaluation with a licensed physician or psychologist experienced in treating co-dependency.

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« Reply #49 on: April 21, 2011, 08:51:24 PM »

Thanks Skip, this article is a lot easier to relate to and harder to discount.  Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)  I definitely have some moments of discomfort recognizing some of these qualities in myself. I like that it makes it pretty clear why codependency is not good without blaming codependents for abuse they may endure.

Nothing evil nor heroic about these qualities: lack of trust in self and others, fear of rejection and abandonment, compulsive helping behavior towards others, self-doubt. The more time I take with the idea, the easier it is to see how I need healing in this area, how I've actually been working towards these things even prior to the r/s. 

BPD has definitely aggravated my codependent traits- keeping quiet to avoid arguments for example.  I did that on some level, but not like this. I lost a lot of trust in myself and others, too.  At least I can articulate it now. My boundaries are more clear, I hope. A lot of things on this list are have become apparent to me as they happen or shortly after- difficulty saying no, anxiety over making mistakes. So much better to know I have a problem that causes anxiety than to just experience anxiety unconsciously.
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« Reply #50 on: April 21, 2011, 09:48:50 PM »

I preferred the first article Skip shared.  Now I feel like a big ol' codependent.  Will have to check out some resources to learn more about why I'm defective.

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« Reply #51 on: April 22, 2011, 12:05:42 AM »

I feel ya, JDoe.  I read the Tigress Luv article when I first joined this board and didn't see myself reflected so it took a while to come around to seeing codependency as relevant. 

I think its important to recognize that codependency, like addiction, is a process and not a personality disorder. It is not a disease and a lot of people question think it is wrongly pathologized by the self-help community (see controversies section of the wikipedia article.)

If you do find it relevant, there is a guide to recovery from codependence among other resources at Codependents Anonymous:

www.coda.org/tools4recovery/patterns2.htm
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« Reply #52 on: April 22, 2011, 12:22:35 AM »

The National Mental Health Association states that co-dependency is a learned behavior that can be passed down from one generation to another. It is an emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. It is also known as “relationship addiction” because people with codependency often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive.

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Just read this again- I'm definitely guilty of maintaining a one-sided emotionally destructive relationship. As soon as I stopped being the full time maintenance man, the r/s collapsed under its own weight!
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« Reply #53 on: April 22, 2011, 09:05:20 AM »


Nice chart.  I like the simplicity.  Thank you!  xoxox
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« Reply #54 on: April 22, 2011, 12:30:31 PM »

As soon as I stopped being the full time maintenance man, the r/s collapsed under its own weight!

I think the phrase "full time maintenance man" is clever and true.

After our divorce plans was announced and before stbxw moved out, several members of my family dropped her from FB. Heaven forbid!   My stbxw immediately recognized it, accused me of defaming her to them (which I didn't... they just never liked her), and demanding that I find out why they did so. I told her that I cannot control what people do and they acted on their own volition. I am not going to "fix" it. If she wonders why, she can contact them herself and find out why (she never did).

There was a 22 year pattern of her breaking relationships then turning to me to fix them, and I did to keep the peace. I considered it a positive step forward for me to take my maintenance hat off finally and lets the chips fall where they may.
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« Reply #55 on: April 22, 2011, 08:38:12 PM »

Good news!  I took the list of 20 questions and discussed it at great lengths with my mom, the person who knows me best, and we decided that while we share some weaknesses, like having trouble saying no, most of my "yeah, I've done that" responses were coping mechanisms from living with H for 20 years.

I did not keep quiet to avoid arguments, but rages.  I felt inadequate and "bad" after hearing that I was those things for so long.  I did not ask for help because I was in the FOG.  So, other than needing to get better at boundaries, I'm gonna be okay!  And walking out was a pretty clear demonstration of a huge boundary that I have been enforcing quite nicely for 9 weeks now, including NC.
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« Reply #56 on: April 23, 2011, 12:29:33 AM »

Nothing evil nor heroic about these qualities: lack of trust in self and others, fear of rejection and abandonment, compulsive helping behavior towards others, self-doubt. The more time I take with the idea, the easier it is to see how I need healing in this area, how I've actually been working towards these things even prior to the r/s.  

If you take out "compulsive helping behavior toward others" and replace it with "rages and projects", doesn't this sound like BPD?  I feel like codependency might be just a slightly nicer version of BPD.  And maybe I have just as much dysfunction as my BPD SO, but can't see it anymore than he can. 

I've always known I had some problems functioning comfortably in this life, but I've worked pretty hard just to accept myself.  It's kind of hard to think about trying to "fix" myself now.  Anyone else feel like this?     
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« Reply #57 on: April 24, 2011, 02:36:41 AM »

I went through a period where I wondered if I was the one with BPD, and I think a lot of people on this board do.  We talk about being in a FOG, which sounds a lot like what BPDs live their lives in- an emotional cloud that resists reason.  Then, there's the concept of "fleas" my-issueswhere the BPD traits are contagious to nons while they are in the relationship. Maybe another way of saying these things is that being in a BPD relationship creates or aggravates codependent tendencies, which Salut rightly says is a lot like BPD.

The Codependents anonymous site divides codependent behaviors into:

Denial Patterns-  "I minimize, alter, or deny how I truly feel."

Low Self-Esteem Patterns- "I value others’ approval of my thinking, feelings, and behavior over my own."

Compliance Patterns-    "I compromise my own values and integrity to avoid rejection or others’ anger. "

and Control Patterns- "I attempt to convince others of what they “should” think and how they “truly” feel."

I can see how all of these were conditioned in our relationship.

It took me 5 years to see that I was in an abusive situation. I'm an optimist. I'd keep trying to put a good spin on everything, including HIS ego. My job became to whistle past the graveyard of our breakup (which would come up regularly for no discernible reason)  to soothe his worries, cater to his needs, cheer him up, talk him down.  Gradually, my positive, "fixing" response was automatic and had nothing to do with my own feelings, more with keeping his feelings under control. Even after a "victory" I'd feel very dissatisfied, since my own needs never got addressed.   As I kept my laser focus on invalidating his crazy talk, I was also being dishonest with myself (and him!) about how unsatisfactory things were becoming for me , and this was reinforced when he would lash out at me if I did express myself honestly. He would also criticize me for not being open and vulnerable enough. Smiling (click to insert in post)

ug.  It was never his worth and trustworthiness under fire, why would I  set him off by suggesting he had imperfections? It was never him trying to win my approval, I was giving that away (sometimes through gritted teeth) in order to manage him.  Hello Compliance and Control.  My worth and trustworthiness were questioned a lot, and between defending and questioning myself, I discovered self esteem problems I never had before.  Hi! Unfortunately I stayed in this relationship long enough for those codependent dynamics to grow, barely aware of what was happening. To the best of my ability to see it, I will never let that happen again.  So I want to see it clearly.

Codependent behavior hasn't been a feature in all my relationships, but I have a predisposition, something that might have been part of the attraction for him, definitely in my comfort zone, too. I've always worked caregiving jobs where it was my responsibility to fix things, to put my feelings second, to assume a degree of compliance with unreasonable people (autistics and alzheimers, at different points in my career.) These jobs made me strong, and I like being strong.  He liked me being strong, and I'll bet he liked being taken care of like I was being paid to do it even more. 

I was also primed by my parents. My dad was an alcoholic, and my mom managed/enabled him with a few codependent behaviors of her own. Made everything in my relationship seem normal.  Nothing out of the ordinary about having different roles to play. And why worry? uBPDex wasn't an alcoholic!

When I first found out about BPD my first reaction was to stay and be a heroic figure like my mother.  I still think people who go into it fully aware of what is up are to be supported and commended, not denigrated as codependents or blamed for creating the dynamic. But the more honest I became with myself (thank you NC!) I realized staying wasn't for me.  I don't need another caregiving job, -I already know I am strong enough to do that.  At this point its much more important to take care of MYSELF. Smiling (click to insert in post)

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« Reply #58 on: May 03, 2011, 05:14:44 PM »

I was really struck by the concept of the codependent needing to define themselves through others - I'm becoming more and more aware that I don't believe that I really exist unless someone else reflects me back to myself.  So I take people's reactions to me as the substance of what I am; obviously, I am ok as long as those responses are positive, and crushed when they are negative.  I have a great deal of difficulty separating a negative external reaction from the thought "I am a bad person."

Need to think about this some more.
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« Reply #59 on: May 27, 2011, 06:27:40 AM »

Wow... .that article set of some triggers for me to the point where I got little sleep last night thinking about it. I think I just got some insight into what a pwBPD might think stumbling onto this board. I'm horrified, because I'm very codependent, and the tone of that article is so negative. 

I can't deny my codependency - I totally am and am working on it. I was basically raised to be codependent; from childhood was told I was responsible for both of my parents' problems. Now I have a BPDsister and a nephew with special needs who is not being adequately parented, so you can only imagine my reaction.

I suppose codependents do have the characteristics noted in the article. And it can be incredibly annoyed. Maybe damaging, I don't know. But I just need to say that a lot of the time (most? all?) those feelings are rooted in fact.  I just feel a little awful after reading it  :'(
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