17. I use giving as a way of feeling safe in our relationship
18. My social circle diminishes as I involve myself with you
19. I put my values aside in order to connect with you
20. I value your opinion and way of doing things more than my own
21. The quality of my life is in relation to the quality of yours
Typical Characteristics of a Co-dependant
- I assume responsibility for other’s feelings and behaviors.
- I feel overly responsible for other’s feelings and behaviors.
- I have difficulty in identifying and expressing feelings — Am I Angry? Lonely? Sad? Happy? Joyful?
- I tend to fear and/or worry how others may respond to my feelings.
- I have difficulty in forming and/or maintaining close relationships.
- I am afraid of being hurt and/or rejected by others.
- I am perfectionist and place too many expectations on myself and others.
- I have difficulty making decisions.
- I tend to minimize, alter or even deny the truth about how I feel.
- Other people’s actions and attitudes tend to determine how I respond/react.
- I tend to put other people’s wants and needs first.
- My fear of other’s feelings (anger) determines what I say and do.
- I question or ignore my own values to connect with significant others. I value other’s opinions more than my own.
- My self-esteem is bolstered by outer/other influences. I cannot acknowledge good things about myself.
- My serenity and mental attention is determined by how other’s are feeling and/or behaving.
- I tend to judge everything I do, think, or say harshly; by someone else’s standards — nothing is done, said, or thought “Good Enough”.
- I do not know or believe that being vulnerable and asking for help is both OKAY and NORMAL.
- I do not know that it is OKAY to talk about problems outside the family; or that feelings just are — and it is better to share them than to deny, minimize or justify them.
- I tend to put other people’s wants and needs before my own.
- I am steadfastly loyal — even when the loyalty is unjustified — and personally harmful.
- I have to be “needed” in order to have a relationship with others.
The following “control patterns” are often a large part of codependant behavior:
1. I must be “needed” in order to have a relationship with others.
2. I value other’s approval of my thinking, feelings, and behavior over my own.
3. I agree with others so they will like me.
4. I focus my attention on protecting others.
5. I believe most people are incapable of taking care of themselves.
6. I keep score of “good deeds and favors”, becoming very hurt when they are not repaid.
7. I am very skilled at guessing how other people are feeling.
8. I can anticipate other’s needs and desires, meeting them before they are asked to be met.
9. I become resentful when others will not let me help them.
10. I am calm and efficient in other people’s crisis situations.
11. I feel good about myself only when I am helping others.
12. I freely offer others advice and directions without being asked.
13. I put aside my own interests and concerns in order to do what others want.
14. I ask for help and nurturing only when I am ill, and then reluctantly.
15. I cannot tolerate seeing others in pain.
16. I lavish gifts and favors on those I care about.
17. I use sex to gain approval and acceptance.
18. I attempt to convince others of how they “truly” think and “should” feel.
19. I perceive myself as completely unselfish and dedicated to the well-being of others.
The positive intent of enabling is to end the dependency by “assisting” in some way.
The end result of enabling is that family and friends “assist” in making it possible for the dependency to continue.
- Stealing the “power” to do something;
- Doing for someone what they can do on their own;
- Constantly neglecting your own needs;
- Fosusing all the energy in my life on the life of another person;
- Helping someone to be helpless;
- Sending the message, “I don’t think you can make it on your own.”;
- Being too concerned with being a “good” friend and doing everything for him or her.
1. Denial – The family telling itself, “He doesn’t have a problem.”
- As a result:
- Families expect the user to act right while “high”.
- Families expect the user to control the reaction to the chemical.
- Families accept the “blame” for doing something “wrong”.
2. Using with the user. (“She’ll stop when I do.”)
3. Justifying the drug use. (“It calms her nerves.” “It helps him sleep.”)
4. Families bottle up feelings. (Pretending I don’t feel hurt.)
5. Avoiding problems. (Pacifying to keep peace.)
6. Minimizing. (“He only drinks beer.”)
7. Protecting. (“He might lose his job. I’d better call him in sick.”)
8. Avoiding by tranquilizing. (Buy the user drugs to keep them quiet.)
9. Blaming, lecturing, criticizing. (Trying to control with words.)
10. Acting superior. (Treating the user like a child.)
11. Assuming responsibilities. (The checkbook, the car payments, the rent, etc.)
12. Taking control. (Babysitting.)
13. Enduring and waiting. (“God will take care of it.”)
14. Financial support. (Paying the rent, the child support, etc.)
15. Covering up consequences. (“Let’s pretend it never happened.”)
16. Rewarding “right” behavior. (“If you stay sober, I’ll buy you a car.”)
17. Involvement in treatment to control the treatment.
Enabling is always a dance, an interaction. At least two are involved, at least two people are responsible. Either one can change the dance or stop dancing.
What is enabling?
Dictionary: Make able, give power or strength.
In the context of addiction: Helping to preserve, protect and maintain addictive behaviour.
When does enabling occur?
Following are some common patterns of enabling behaviour:
–When you put up a brave front
— When you work hard to keep a peaceful and stable home
— When you try to protect everyone around you from pain and suffering.
Addiction is a progressive disease that can only get worse without proper help. An Addict will try maneuvering you into helping him or her maintain the substance abuse. Codependents are motivated to ‘enable’ this substance abuse for various compelling social and personal reasons. These reasons can often appear to be ‘good’ and ‘generous’, but in the presence of addiction, they become twisted and misused.
Here are some examples of common enabling behaviour seen amongst Codependents. Let us see how each one of them effects both you and the addict.
? Peace at any price
Wives are often seen shushing the children when the addict makes unreasonable demands. She would not support the child’s reasonable position because of the threat of anger of the addict. The wife ends up fulfilling all those ‘wrong’ demands of the addict, negating the reality. Thus, she is often found dropping all the good things she actually liked doing because she doesn’t want the husband ‘loosing his temper’ over such ‘small’ things.
But what is it that is actually happening here? The wife actually betrayed her own standards and accepted the unacceptable as a trade -off for a ‘little peace and quiet’.
This sort of constant tension damages one in many subtle ways. It keeps you from paying attention to your own life, pleasures and needs. In the long run, it also results in physical/psychological morbidity. And finally, if you keep dancing to his/her tune, you are making him/her believe things are just fine, as a result of which (s)he becomes more unreasonable.
? Conspiracy of silence
One has always been told not to wash the dirty linen in public. No matter how hurtful, crude, intimidating and violent the addict is, no matter how ’embarrassing’ you find his/her behaviour, you want to keep quiet about it. The message that is passed on through this silence is ‘It’s okay to behave this way’.
Example: Husband gets drunk at a party, creates a ruckus, and drives back home. Wife keeps her mouth shut through out the evening, trying to ‘ignore’ the embarrassment.
The underlying message:
— He is not drunk enough to be out of control
— I would rather be dead than be embarrassed, so I let him drive the car in this state
— Allowed him to maintain the comfortable delusion that he is in control of himself.
? Getting you to feel guilty
All our lives we have learnt to be ‘good’. A good child, a good spouse, a good parent, and so on. An addict is known to manipulate this feeling that we have in us. (S)he might make statements like:
— If you really love me
— If you were not a nagging wife
— If you were a good mother
The real message is:
You have to behave ‘my’ way. YOU are the problem, not me.
He has harnessed your guilt to maintain and protect his/her habit. However, your guilt does not have to lead you by the nose.