What is Codependence
Somewhere along this road we learn about codependence. We hear it from a friend or a therapist. We see it mentioned in the news. Many of us wonder if codependence describes who we are.
Codependence is a disease that deteriorates the souls. It affects our personal lives; our families, children, friends, and relatives; our businesses and careers; our health; and our spiritual growth. It is debilitating and, if left untreated, causes us to become more destructive to ourselves and others. Many of us come to a point when we must look beyond ourselves for help. When we attend our first meeting of Co-dependents Anonymous, many of us find a source for help. Each of us arrives here from different directions. Some of us are urged by family members or friends. Some of us come to CoDA when our physicians, psychiatrists, or therapists see the need. Many of us reach CoDA’s doorstep after treatment for codependence or other addictions.
Whether it’s crisis or curiosity that brings us to CoDA, many of us learn about the characteristics of codependence at our first meeting. These characteristics help us determine what unhealthy patterns weave in and out of our lives. Do we live in extremes instead of balance? How do we, our mates, children and friends suffer because of our behaviours? Do our codependent behaviors cause our relationships to stagnate, deteriorate or destruct? If the answers to these soul-searching questions cause us to admit, “I am codependent and I need help.’ then we’re beginning to locate recovery’s path.
It all begins with an honest look at ourselves.
Many of us struggle with the questions: What is codependence? Am I codependent? We want precise definitions and diagnostic criteria before we will decide. As stated in the Eighth Traditions, Co-Dependents Anonymous is a non-professional fellowship. We offer no definition or diagnostic criteria for codependence. What we do offer from our experience are characteristic attitudes and behaviors that describe what our codependent histories have been like. We believe that recovery begins with an honest self-diagnosis. We came to accept our inability to maintain healthy and nurturing relationships with ourselves and others. We begin to recognize that the cause lies in longstanding destructive patterns of living.
The following characteristics of codependence outlined in the CoDA pamphlet, “Am I Co-Dependent?” and can help us to identify to what degree this illness affects us.