Are You Losing Yourself To The Needs Of Someone You Love?
- Do you feel helplessly bound to the needs and behavior of an addict or alcoholic?
- Are you so busy caring for your partner or a loved one that you neglect yourself?
- Is your sense of identity dependent upon someone else’s values, beliefs, or expectations?
- Perhaps you’re unable to control your own life or make decisions that benefit your well-being.
- Or maybe you feel used or taken advantage of in every aspect of life, but you don’t know why.
If you are living with an addict or an alcoholic, caring for a loved one with exceptional needs, or struggling to establish an identity independent of a spouse or family member, you could be struggling with emotional codependency. You may wake up in the mornings and dread getting out of bed, asking yourself again, How did I get here? You likely spend the day distracted at work, wondering whether your partner is at their job or if they’re really drinking at a bar or using with friends.
If you’re in an enmeshed relationship, you may struggle to assert your individuality or distinguish your emotions from those of your partner or loved one. And if you are caring for a parent, child, or family member with medical issues, you probably feel like your whole world, including your identity, revolves around their needs.
The truth is that you genuinely care and your heart is in the right place, but learning to separate yourself from the needs of others is key to your own well-being. Fortunately, at The Davis Group, we have therapists specializing in codependency who can help you discover the strength and confidence within to live your life on your own terms.
We All Want To Help The Ones We Love—Even When It Hurts
If you’re struggling to navigate a codependent relationship, it is not your fault. In many cases, codependency is directly attributed to substance abuse. And when a loved one falls victim to addiction, every person in their network of family and friends feels the impact, thus creating the potential codependency. That’s why support groups for families of addicts, such as Al-Anon and Alateen, are so prevalent—and beneficial.
However, substance abuse isn’t the only precursor for codependency issues. For instance, some people are bound by cultural norms that prioritize the family over the individual and emphasize personal sacrifice. Gender roles and social messaging can cultivate a misplaced sense of altruistic support that elevates the needs of others above one’s own. Parents will often inadvertently teach their children unhealthy patterns of communication that later contribute to codependent behaviors.
Some couples will place the health of the relationship before their individual emotional and psychological well-being. Other individuals become so enmeshed in their relationships that they feel obligated to mirror their partner’s thoughts, beliefs, and/or emotions. And the demands of caring for a sick child, parent, or family member can quickly consume a person’s sense of self. Even being raised by a codependent parent or guardian can pass on harmful behaviors that are reproduced in adulthood.
One of the biggest obstacles people face when dealing with these issues is the tendency to confuse interdependency with codependency. Self-sacrifice, compromise, thinking of others, and being supportive—these all can look like typical aspects of a healthy relationship. So it’s not until people get into therapy that they recognize what codependent behaviors look like.
At the Davis Group, we understand that codependency comes from a good, well-intentioned place. And with our help, you can get to the core of what’s really going on and learn how to separate your needs and desires from the demands of others so you can live with greater independence and confidence.
Codependency Counseling Can Help You Discover Who You Are And What You Need To Thrive
A lot of times, people come into therapy thinking that if they could just change “one thing” about their partner or loved one, everything else would be fine. But therapy is really about identifying the underlying forces at the root of your codependent behaviors. Rather than merely addressing symptoms, codependency counseling enables you to focus on and fix the real issue at hand. In time, you can learn how to set healthy boundaries, prioritize your own well-being, and take control of your life.
In our first session, we’ll spend some time getting to know you and the nature of your concerns. We’ll discuss how long this issue has been a problem, what finally broke the camel’s back, as well as what you want your life to look like after therapy is over.
In subsequent sessions, we always start off by looking at what is going on at the moment. We regard those 50 minutes as a chance for you to tackle whatever concerns you feel are the most important at that time. If there’s nothing pressing, we’ll focus on exploring your family history and early relationships, looking at the origins of any personal dynamics that may be contributing to your situation.
Almost anything we discuss in counseling sessions can be viewed through the lens of codependency. So even while we are setting goals for long-term healing and growth, we can still prioritize anything that comes up between sessions to provide relief in the short term.
Codependency can be a complicated subject, so one of the first things we will do in therapy is provide you literature to act as a foundation for understanding and identifying codependent behaviors. If you are in Al-Anon, we can take anything that resonates with you in a meeting or the book and incorporate it into sessions as well.
Because codependency can manifest differently for everyone, we offer a range of treatment options. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for codependency identifies how you think about particular situations, where you learned to think that way, and what you need to do to challenge those negative thought patterns. We may mix in a little psychodynamic relational work to help us pinpoint any unproductive behaviors you learned when young and how they may be playing out in your life now. We can also use parts work to isolate the inner critic, locate where it manifests in the body, and to help you understand its function. And experiential interventions, such as role-play, art therapy, or letter-writing, can help create tangible healing experiences in sessions.
Throughout the process, you’ll gain the self-awareness and skills to set healthy boundaries, take care of yourself, and feel good enough to take control of your life.
Let’s face it: caring for a loved one or dealing with the unpredictability of an addict means placing all the attention on them, which can make life overwhelming and unmanageable. But therapy allows you to concentrate on what you need to heal and grow as a person so that you can be more assertive and live the life you want. All you need to do is give yourself permission to believe in yourself and the possibility of being happier and more in control of your life.
Perhaps you are considering codependency counseling but still have some concerns…
I’m scared of what my life will be like after codependency therapy.
Our goal is to empower you to be a person who loves and lives life on your own terms. We want to show you how to separate yourself from the needs of others without guilt while still being there as a friend, a parent, spouse, partner, etc. You’ll be someone who knows how to advocate for yourself—how to say and do things you want in a way that reveals who you truly are and what you need to find joy again.
I’m worried that you’ll make me leave my partner.
The direction that codependency counseling takes is completely up to you and where you want your life and relationship to be. Our purpose is not to put you on any particular trajectory; rather, we want to help you trust yourself and feel confident in your ability to navigate codependent behaviors and make the healthiest decision possible for you and you alone.
How is counseling going to help if I’m not the one with the codependency problem?
You are one-half of any experience you have with someone. So, as painful as it sounds, it’s important to look at how your own thoughts, behaviors, or feelings may be adding to the issue. Even if a partner stops drinking, using, or behaving compulsively, you’ll still be dealing with whatever unaddressed issue that remains lurking beneath the surface. We are all part of a system—and by looking inward and working on yourself, you will inevitably change the system and feel happier and more capable.