The term codependency has been around for almost four decades. It was first first identified as the result of years of studying interpersonal relationships in families of alcoholics. However, we know now that co-dependency is really about keeping a dysfunctional status quo. In other words a person who is relationship with someone who has bad behavior or even a chronic illness can become “co-dependent” upon the moods, behaviors, feelings, and habits of the other person. When they are angry, you walk on eggshells. When they are happy, you are happy (with some fear of when it will change usually). When they are in a bad mood, your mood follows. There is generally a sense of orbit around the “main” character by the co-dependent person. Being in this type of relationship or being raised with these roles can include (but is not limited to):
Low self esteem
Stilted communication – afraid to say what you mean
Fear of abandonment and at the same time feeling trapped
Codependency creates stress and leads to painful emotions. Shame and low self-esteem create anxiety and fear about being judged, rejected or abandoned; making mistakes; being a failure; feeling trapped by being close or being alone. The other symptoms lead to feelings of anger and resentment, anxiety, depression, hopelessness, and despair. When the feelings are too much you may feel numb.