The Driver of Codependence? Abandonment
By: Kathy
April 15, 2012

Codependence hurts.  It is giving and giving and giving more, wanting something desperately in return – for someone to care enough to love us the same way in return.  But what causes codependence?  What drives the ugly beast that leaves us spent, empty and wanting?

I remember learning about codependence a long time ago . . . . insecure, dependent and needy, others focused, and passive.  It is not having a self.  It is a deep need to please everybody around you.  It is giving too much and having no boundaries.  It is a subtle (or sometimes not so subtle) expectation of something in return for all of the giving. I got called out for my codependence in therapy – a lot.  I finally realized, however, that codependence is just the behavior.  It was the method I used to deal with an intense, gut-wrenching pain that roared from deep within – my abandonment.

A deep seated and terrifying fear of abandonment drove my need to try to please everyone around me.  It caused me to defer my opinions to that of others.  It caused me to avoid conflict at all costs lest someone would get angry and start avoiding me.  It caused me to stuff any anger that I had for fear of not being liked or loved.  It caused me to allow myself to become a shell of a human being, a mere appendage of those around me.  The illogical logic that I employed was ‘if I am like they are, they will like me’ or ‘if I am always pleasing them, they won’t leave me’.  I learned to be nice to people at all costs, even when they hurt me.  I was too kind, too forgiving, too giving.

Accompanying all of this “good” behavior was a growing void.  I call it the “debt”.  I had been keeping score.  It was a very subtle product of my subconscious.  Since I didn’t know what drove my codependent behavior, I didn’t know that it was my sort of sick attempt at getting my abandonment needs met.  If I reaped what I sowed, I would be filled up to the brim!  I would never be abandoned!  My lifetime of abandonment pain would be erased, if people would just pay their “debts”!  Unfortunately, the people around me didn’t understand the deal we were under.

It would seem that a sweet, giving codependent would be an easy person to love, but with this debt accumulating under the surface comes a growing agitation as people don’t live up to the unspoken side of the ‘contract’ .

The sweet little codependent turns into an angry, scary beast when her abandonment pain reaches an all-time high as the debt continues to go unrecognized by those around her.  Now people really start to abandon her.  She has spent every last bit of her goodness chasing bad debts.  And the pain of being abandoned is intensified exponentially at the realization that she did this to herself.  By investing everything she had in everyone around her, expecting to get the love she needed from them, she has effectively abandoned herself.  And there isn’t much more painful than that.

How do you fix this nasty mess?  Self-care and self-love.  Once you discover what your needs are and learn how to get them met in a healthy way, you will begin to invest more wisely in the people around you.  More importantly, you’ll learn how to invest in you – and finally begin to receive the love you have been yearning for!