Sunday, June 24, 2012

Am I Codependent?

I read a few BPD blogs so I can see how I relate to people with the same thing as me. My therapist has been on about my codependency lately, and I was having a problem distinguishing between what the differences really are between BPD and codependency. I happened to find a blog posting that addresses exactly that, and it seems to me that they overlap considerably, but each one also causes its own set of problems as well. Some of us get the luck of being both. Part one of the original blog entry can be read here, but I decided to take part 2 and do a little something with it. The original poster listed the symptoms of codependency and then followed each one with a synopsis of how it related to her. It seemed both educational and cathartic, so I'm going to do that very thing today. Her original posting will be in the standard color, and I removed her relation and replaced it with mine in blue. Here goes nothing... :)
Apparently she originally found the list of symptoms here. So I guess I should add that in there.


Care taking: the codependent individual feels responsible for other people. S/He feels anxious and even guilty when another has a problem. S/He feels compelled to help that person solve their problem. S/He anticipates the other's needs and feels angry when his help is not effective or rebuffed. At the same time, the codependent feels slighted that others won't help her/him out when s/he needs help. However, this same individual who is constantly doing way too much for others, and not getting "any" help from anyone, will usually answer when asked what is wrong or what do you need, responds, "Oh, nothing." The codependent minimizes his/her own worth. The codependent is his/her own worst enemy.

I definitely do this. I was actually just having a conversation with my therapist the other day where I came to the realization that so many of the people I've slept with (or anything of the like) has been out of guilt. I get people to the point of wanting it because it makes me feel so good to be wanted, then I don't actually want to follow through. But I feel so guilty about it that I do anyway. Also, like with my husband. He keeps making me feel guilty about the fact that he can't pay his bills. The logical part of me says "fuck him, maybe he'll get a beter job," but the bigger part feels bad and like I should help. I'm even paying for daycare completely by myself to help him out. Even when it somes to other relationships. Like my mom. She's living with me now, and even though she drives me up the wall and has screwed me over one time after another after another, I still keep taking it.

The codependent is over committed, harried, pressured, feels safe when giving, but insecure when someone gives to him/her, goes out of her/his way to help others, and believes deep inside that other people are responsible for the way they are and will blame others for the "spot" they are in. Others make them feel the way they feel, they are victimized, angry, unappreciated, and used. Others are driving them crazy.

Insecure when receiving? Absolutely. I feel weird about someone buying me a meal, much less anything more than that. The only way I will accept something more than that really is if my son is related and I know it will affect him. I even feel uncomfortable when I get more out of sex than the other person. I can't say that I really blame others for their misfortunes. Well, not usually. I mean, I guess it depends on the situation. I know that shit happens. Trust me, I'm there now. I also know that some people want to do nothing and expect everything, and that does drive me nuts. I will admit that the last two sentences are true. I have only come to terms with this in my last few years in therapy, but I like to be the victim. I am the type of person that will be an absolute bitch or psycho or whatever it takes to make someone leave me rather than man (or woman) it up and leave him. I am also always feeling sorry for myself, but then I never do anything about it. And someone can ask me what's wrong, and I don't tell them. It's like I need to feel crappy about myself, but I'm not allowed to let anyone else know

Low Self Worth: codependents tend to come from troubled, dysfunctional families, and will deny this to the very end. They blame themselves for their family's shortcomings. They blame themselves for everything. They pick on themselves constantly: not intelligent enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough, not athletic enough, not good enough. But if another criticizes them, boy do they get defensive and angry, not to mention self-righteous. Don't try to give a codependent a compliment; they reject all compliments and praise, even though they get depressed from lack of compliments and praise. They feel "different" from the rest of the world. They reject themselves, but fear rejection. Everything is taken personally, they love being the victim (though will deny it with their last breath). They have been victims of sexual, physical, or emotional abuse, abandonment, neglect, and/or alcoholism. They feel like victims, carry lots of guilt and shame, and think their lives are not worth living. They should have done this, should have done that. They "should" themselves to death. Codependents say, "Why me?" on the outside, and know "why me" on the inside. While trying to prove to others that they are good enough, to themselves they feel worthless and empty.

I definitely came from a dysfunctional family, but I don't deny it. I don't even think it's my fault. I mean, I might have when I was younger, but it didn't take long to realize where the problem was. I definitely have the poor self-esteem and thoughts about myself mentioned. I think really terrible things about myself all of the time. And the thing with the defensive statement is that I can take jokes about a lot of things, but really makes me mad/hurts me are thngs that I already think about myself. For instance, you can say I'm an idiot, and I can laugh it off. I know that I'm an intelligent person. But if you start calling me a bad parent, or crazy (unless you're like one of three people who I know don't actually feel that way) then I actually get hurt and get defensive and pissed off. And yeah, I have a hard time accepting compliments. It's weird for me to think that people think good things about me when I think such horrible things about myself. I can usually accept compliments in regards to academics/intelligence or in regards to how awesome of a kid I have (which may not even count as a compliment towards me), but that's about it. It's right, though. I probably give the idea that I don't like compliments when I say "nuh uh" to every one, but in actuality, that's the only time I hear positive thoughts about myself, so too long without any can be a bad thing for me. I was the victim of some verbal, emotional, and even a little physical abuse from my parents, and I also have memories of some sexual abuse by an older child in my younger years. So that applies. And yeah, I feel like I am constantly trying to prove myself, that's probably why I have always done so well in school. I got attention from teachers and other students for being so bright. What would anyone expect from some of the stuff I've been through?

Repression: most codependents repress their own needs, their own desires. They are afraid to let themselves be who they are and often appear rigid and controlled. They repress all thoughts of self-worth out of their awareness and they are full of guilt. Codependents cannot have fun.

I don't think that I can't have fun. I just think that it's difficult to completely let go and enjoy myself fully. I can have fun, I just always have negative stuff going on in my head, too. It's a balancing act. Sometimes having a little bit to drink helps me loosen up, but generally, I just kind of try to enjoy myself without completely losing control of the situation. I have such control issues as it is, though, that it's hard for me to not be in control of anything. That's probably why I am so interested in being dominated in a sexual manner. I have never been able to submit control fully to anyone. Even with my husband when I was completely at his will at all times, I still felt like I was in control because me doing those things kept him around. So I was in control of the relationship in my mind.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: codependents worry. They worry about the slightest and silliest things (True): they worry that people are talking about them (True); they worry that people are not talking about them (True); they lose sleep over little things (True); they check up on others (True); they try to catch people in the act (True); they never find any answers (False), they focus on other's problems (True); they spend money compulsively (True); eat or drink compulsively (True) ; and wonder why they have no energy and why they never get anything done (True!).

So apparently almost all of these apply to me. As far as people talking about me. I do worry constantly that everone I like/trust and even those who don't are trash talking me on a regular basis. And then I also get worried if I think people are just too concerned with other things or just don't care me enough to not talk about me. Especially concerning romantic relationships. I have this crazy notion where I think my significant other should spend every moment thinking about me. Logically and realistically, I know that's not true, but it doesn't stop the pain when I know it's not true. I check up on others. Yes, I admit it. I'm nosy as all get out. But I have good reason (or at least I think so...). I've been cheated on and lied to so many times, that I have a hard time thinking that I may actually be able to fully trust anyone ever again. Even with this new guy, he went off on this whole thing about how important honesty was, and he couldn't even tell me that he had been reconsidering us. If he can keep such a small thing so easily, why not something larger?
Controlling Behaviors: codependents try to control events and people through helplessness, guilt, coercion, threats, advice-giving, manipulation, or domination. They are afraid to let people be who they are or let events happen naturally. They've lived in so many situations in which they had no control (abuse, alcoholism, etc) that they now try to control everything and get frustrated and angry when they cannot. They end up feeling controlled by events. They feel controlled by others. They resist change as if change were a contagion.

I'm manipulative. I'll admit it. Most of the time, I don't mean to be (at least not consciously), but it happens. It's like my automatic reaction when I don't get what I want is to do something manipulative without even thinking about it. It's like my feelings/reactions are still stuck in toddler more. Toddler doesn't get his way, and he yells, cries, and probably says something like, "I no love you mama" to make you feel like crap and want to make everything better. I get hurt, and I do pretty much the same thing. Someone tells me something I don't like or want, and I automatically start with the passive agressiveness. Like, "Oh, that's fine. I'll just go home and sit alone." or "Okay, as long as you're happy, I guess." As I said before, I am a terrible control freak. I feel like if something doesn't go by the rigid structured plan I have, the world will end. Now, that's not to say I can't be spontaneous. I can, but I just have to be the one calling the shots. And then obviously there's the change thing. Anyone who knows me knows that this is true. I spend every moment of every day trying to resist change. I can handle small changes, but certain things throw me completely off. For instance, my best friend is about to move to another state for school, and I am freaking out because I am scared we won't be friends anymore. I should also throw out there that when she graduated high school and I still had a year left that I felt the same way, and it worked out okay. Once again, I know that logically. It's just hard to register on an emotional level.

Denial: codependents ignore problems or pretend they do not exist. They pretend things are not as bad as they are; they tell themselves it will get better; they stay busy to avoid thinking about things; they get confused, sick, depressed and visit doctors for a prescription. Many are workaholics. They lie to themselves and others. They believe their lies. And most of all, codependents will leave a healthy situation (by lying to themselves that it was an unhealthy situation) and get back into an unhealthy situation; though for the most part, most codependents either never leave an unhealthy situation/relationship, or they go from one unhealthy situation/relationship to another.

This is a big one for me, although I can happily say that I've made leaps and bounds with it since my diagnosis in 2010. One thing about therapy is that it requires you to admit a lot of stuff to yourself and out loud that you would probably never come to terms with on your own. I am even to the point now that I usually know exactly what I'm doing that is unhealthy, I just don't have the power/skills/whatever to stop it. But G.I. Joe says knowing is half the battle, so that must be good for something, right?
Dependency: codependents do not feel happy or content with themselves. They look to others to supply them their happiness or their needs. They are threatened by the loss of anything or any person that provides them with their happiness.

They do NOT love themselves. They did not feel loved by their parents. They equate love with pain and believe others are never, ever there for them. They need people more than they want them; their lives revolve around someone else's life; they tolerate abuse; feel trapped; leave one bad relationship and jump into another bad relationship. They wonder if they will ever find true love. And if they do find true love, they will leave that and find a loveless relationship because deep inside (often beneath consciousness) they feel unworthy of love.

Who really feels happy or content with themself, actually? My wager would be not many people. It takes a lot to be that person. I think the key here that points out the BPD/Codependency is the second part: where they do find their happiness. I can honestly admit that, yes, this is me to a tee. This is probably one of the biggest challenges I face in my recovery. I honetly don't know how to not do this. I have been this person my whole life. I honestly think most of the time that I don't even know who I really am. I can literally take almost every facet of my likes/desires/personality and appoint it to someone I picked it up from. Like, "oh, well so and so liked this, so I decided I did, too." Or is that normal? Is that just how everyone learns things that they like? I don't know. I do know that I will pretend to like something for someone else to the point that I forget I ever didn't like it. A lot of things are that way. It makes me think of this episode of Gilmore Girls, where Lorelai is sitting staring at a pop tart until Rory finally asks her what's up. She admits that she loves pop tarts so much and always eats them, but now she's questioning if she really loves pop tarts, or if she just loved them because her mother hated them. I mean, I know that's kind of opposite, but the principle applies.
I don't know that I equate love with pain, per say. I'll admit that I feel most comfortable in one of those relationships where you love hard and fight harder, but I always thought that was more the exilaration than anything else. And, you know, starting a fight just so you'll feel something. Yes, I need people, yes I make people the center of my universe. I also want them to do the same for me. Apparently that's unhealthy. That's going to be hard as hell to break. I've been like this as long as I can remember. How do you even change something so ingrained into your head? Yes, I worry I'll never find true love, once again, who doesn't? I don't even know if I believe in love half of the time. I have told anyone I've ever actually dated that I love them, but I doubt that was true for most of them. I mean, I believe in love as in I love my son, and my best friend. But being in love? Sounds like bullshit to be honest.
Poor Communication Skills: codependents blame, threaten, coerce, beg, bribe, and advise others. They don't mean what they say and don't say what they mean. They don't take themselves seriously and expect others to do the same. They avoid getting to the point, asking indirectly for attention by sighing, crying, or moping around. They say everything is their fault. They say nothing is their fault. They can't get to the point, and if pressed, they're not sure what the point really is. They believe their opinions do not matter and have difficulties asserting their rights or expressing honest emotions, openly and appropriately. They apologize for bothering people.

Check, check, check, etc... I think this is just summing up being passive agressive for the most part, and that is defintiely what I am. This is just a woman thing, though. I mean, mine may be to the extreme nth degree, but the fact remains. I have a hard time saying what I need (although I am improving), and I think it's because I usually feel like I don't deserve it. Otherwise, it can usually be attributed to the thought process of "I don't want someone to do something because I want them to do it. I want them to do it because they want to. If I tell them what I want/need, then they will only do it because of that." I know that sounds silly, but it has a lot to do with testing whether someone actually cares about you or not.
Poor Boundaries: codependents say they won't tolerate something from anyone, and then engage themselves in exactly that. Then they gradually increase their tolerance levels until they can tolerate most anything others do to them. They allow others to hurt them, over and over and over again. They stay in bad relationships for all the wrong reasons: to fix the other; for the kids (like kids need to grow up in a loveless relationship); because things will get better; and worst of all: because they feel they deserve to live in hell. They complain and blame but far too many never get away from their abuser. Then they finally get angry and become totally intolerant and the cycle begins all over again.

Actually, my therapist had me reading a book called boundaries, and I think it was helping at least a little. I do tend to let people run me over and treat me like crap. I can also proudly say that I got out of the worst of my situation, and that's filing for divorce. If that's not a boundary, then I don't know what it is. Now the key is to create (and hold to) boundaries with other people.
Lack of Trust: codependents do not trust themselves, their feelings, their decisions, other people, or even God. And then, right out of the blue, they'll trust someone who is totally untrustworthy.

Um...I...okay...yeah... Unfortunately that's true. I honestly can't think of any person I 100% trust. I guess that's sad, but what can you do? I don't even know that I believe in God at this point, I definitely don't trust myself with how fucked up I am, and everyone else has screwed me over at some point.
Sexual Problems: codependents go through cycles in the bedroom. They are caretakers there too. They have sex when they don't want to or withdraw sex to punish their partner. They try to have sex when they are hurt or angry, and refuse to enjoy it. They withdraw emotionally from their partner, feel revulsion toward their partner, and don't want to talk about it. They reduce sex to a technical act, wonder why they don't enjoy it; lose interest; make up reasons to abstain, wish their partner would die, go away, or guess what is wrong with them; they have strong sexual fantasies about others and consider having affairs.

Yes. I have sex when I don't want to. Actually, 9 out of 10 times I don't really want to, per se, I just want to feel wanted and/or loved. I have never withdrawn it to hurt anyone, but that's probably out of fear and guilt more than anything else. I have been able to genuinely enjoy sex with very very few people, and even then, it's hit and miss. It's got to feel emotionally right. I think a lot of my problem is that I equate sex with love and have a really hard time separating the two. After my promiscuous period, I got better at being able to have sex with someone without thinking I'm in love (as long as it falls within a short period of time and I don't spend too much time with the person outside of that), but once I (think I) am in love with someone, any time I get rejected for sex, I feel like it's a rejection of me as a person or my love.
codependents can be extremely responsible or irresponsible, they become martyrs, sacrificing their own happiness. They find it difficult to be happy, feel close to others, or have fun and be spontaneous. They are passive aggressive, feeling passive, hurt, helpless yet violent and angry. They laugh when they want to cry. They are ashamed of their families, of their relationships. They cover up, lie, and protect their family from their problems. They don't seek help because they don't feel the problem is all that bad. And then they wonder why the problems never go away.
Over-responsibility – is taking responsibility for someone else’s problems. A person who is over-responsible will blame themselves for the actions, feelings, and thoughts of others. This can make them a victim of the problems other people have regardless of whether or not those problems have anything to do with them.

Eh. I guess I do this to a point. Especially when it concerns someone directly related to me. Like my son, or maybe my husband or someone I'm dating, maybe even my best friend. But not quite to the extreme here.


In I am very responsible in a lot of aspects: working full time and being damn good at my job, making sure my son is taken care of, focusing on school (for the most part). I am also irresponsible in areas, though: I have a hard time managing money. I make sure my son has what he needs, but from there I have trouble. I also go into modes where I am very self-damaging with things such as alcohol, promiscuity, etc... I am good at faking happiness, but I rarely actually feel happy. When I do, it is almost always attributed to a guy making me feel good or, occassionally, something my son does (which is definitely the more healthy of the two.) I have already addressed that I'm passive agressive. I absolutely have a problem with lying. I lie to almost everyone I know all the time. The only reason I haven't lied to the current guy (except for maybe a "nothing" or "I'm okay" is because I promised him from the very beginning that I wouldn't. It's really hard, though. I lie to my best friend (probably the most), my family, work, whoever to keep me out of trouble mainly, but also to get my way. I have spent my whole life thinking (or maybe pretending) that nothing was wrong and that I am normal, but at least I finally have made the step of finding out what's wrong and trying to get help. It's hard. It's going to get way worse, but in the end, I hope it will be worth it.
All I want for myself is to be able to be happy and in a normal healthy relationship.
I want my son to grow up seeing what a relationship is and how to be happy.
Even if it takes me so long to fix this that I don't get to enjoy it, hopefully he will get to.

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