I am a recovering codependent and survivor of a narcissistic abuse. See my story here. I believe this problem is widespread in the homeschool movement. I want to share some of the resources that have really helped me.
Codependents have a tendency to get involved in abusive painful relationships with people who are unreliable and emotionally unavailable. My situation is described in The Christian Codependence Recovery Workbook perfectly:
We became a catalyst to the needs of those around us and in some ways our sense of self was entirely dissolved. Unable to identify this pattern or the reasons behind it, we were caught in a viscous cycle of attempting to help, fix, change, and please others, while at the same time feeling empty, angry, disappointed, and disconnected.
Once you understand the pattern, you can break it; once the light bulb is turned on, it stays on and gets brighter, revealing more and more truth. The Christian Codependence Recovery Workbook is an excellent read, from a Christian worldview, to help codependents break free from bondage. Excerpts from the book are below.
What is a Codependent?
The definition of codependency is a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (typically narcissism, alcoholism, or drug addiction); and in broader terms, it refers to the dependence on the needs of, or control of, another. The codependent in the relationship thinks “If the addict loves me enough they will change.”
Codependency can develop or exist wherever relationships (past or current) are love-deficient. It also occurs when we look for something from the outside to fill the “inner void” on the inside. Since that inner void can only be filled by God, a codependent unknowingly attempts to put a person, situation, or thing in God’s place. Before we get overwhelmed by that definition, recognize that by default all human beings do this. Therefore, it would be technically correct to say that all people are at one point “codependent.”
17 Characteristics of a Codependent
These patterns and characteristics are offered as a tool to aid in self-evaluation.
- Believing a relationship with a significant other will fill the ultimate need for love
- Depending on relationships with emotionally unavailable people to meet one’s own needs
- Bound in relationships by performance (what I do) rather than core value and worth (who I am)
- Obsession with other people’s problems and needs
- Overly caring for other people to the neglect of self needs. Feeling victimized and “used” as a result
- Inability to say “NO”
- Tolerating mistreatment or abuse from people while justifying their behavior and trying to defend them
- Avoiding conflict with other people to the point of being unable to speak true feelings or ask for valid needs, oftentimes countered by fits of anger or rage
- Covering up for irresponsible people in life by lying or “filling in the gaps” to “help” them
- Doing for others what they should be doing for themselves
- Attempting to protect a person from emotional pain or consequences of unhealthy behaviors, such as using drugs and alcohol. Unaware that doing so creates enablement of the problem rather than solution
- Directly or indirectly attempt to fix, manage or control another person’s problems, even if meant in a loving way
- Trying to please people in life by going out of the way to be helpful, thoughtful or caring, and then becoming angry or discouraged if the desired response does not help (Motives were to get the person to respond rather than to try to bless them.)
- Migrating toward people that need help, yet having a difficult time receiving help from others
- Being willing to compromise personal belief systems or morals to please another person or to have emotional needs met
- Worrying about other people’s feelings so much that it has a direct effect on one’s own feelings. Being bound to another person’s emotions (happy when they are happy, upset when they are upset)
- Losing one’s own interests and identity in close relationships. Believing that the people in one’s life are a direct reflection of self. Fear of being alone or isolating out of fear of close relationships
The Christian Codependence Recovery Workbook starts you on a journey toward awareness, understanding, application and genuine recovery from the destructive emotions and behaviors of codependence. It also challenges you to engage in new relationship and love styles based on God’s truth and guiding principles. You will:
- Understand codependence from a biblical perspective
- Learn defining core issues associated with codependent tendencies
- Embrace application points to overcome root issues and emotional strongholds
- Find genuine freedom in God’s purpose and identity for your life
- Apply God’s healing principles in relationship issues
In The Christian Codependence Recovery Workbook we confronted the distorted patterns of codependence and faced the lies that held us back from seeing God, ourselves and others accurately. This next book will move beyond the lifestyle of codependence and self-sufficiency to embrace God’s plan for love, intimacy and wholeness.
A House that Grace Built Moving Beyond Codependence to Embrace God’s Design for Love, Intimacy and Wholeness is another excellent workbook that leads us beyond codependence to discover a life empowered and led by our Creator.
God gave us all the resources necessary to rebuild and redesign a future that aligns with His established purposes. A House that Grace Built offers the blueprint of how God desires to grow us through His grace, redeem our human relationships and carry out our life calling. This process includes:
- Learning to embrace healthy coping mechanisms to replace and permanently eliminate the destructive emotions and behaviors of codependence
- Allowing the process of true change and growth to be developed in and through us in our mind, emotions and decision-making capabilities.
- Detaching from unhealthy relationship styles while embracing God-given methods of intimacy and love
- Cleansing and purifying each relationship using the resources of grace and redemption
- Developing healthy tools of defense based on God’s weapons, not our human methods of self-protection
- Gaining an unshakable foundation of hope and security in the eternal promises and reality of who God is, and who we are through Him—both now and throughout eternity
This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who draws strength from mere flesh
and whose heart turns away from the LORD.