If you have codependence, you know it can be painful. But WHY? Where does the pain come from and how can we make it stop? In my opinion, the deepest pain of codependence comes from 2 sources. Ironically, the first source of pain is from our surface attempts to deal with the second source. Sound complicated? It is. And maddening – which is why codependence as a whole is so incredibly painful!
Pain Source #1: Dealing with our pain through other people.
If you break it down, codependence is a dependence on others. We need the other person to do something in order for us to feel okay – to show us they love us, to care that we work so hard, to anticipate our needs, etc. When they don’t meet our needs, we get angry and try to control another human being who has free will to think, believe, feel, and act in any way that they want. And we have zero control over that! Sometimes in our efforts to control what the other person thinks or feels about us, we bend and flex and give up parts of ourselves. We basically mold ourselves into what we think they want us to be so they will love us. Then when they don’t, we not only have the pain of rejection, but we also have the pain of self-abandonment. Ouch!
Another way we deal with our pain through others is to give, give, and give to others, then expect that they will do something in return (sometimes we aren’t even aware that we were expecting something until those expectations aren’t met!) When the other person doesn’t cooperate, we get extremely frustrated! Then what do we do? You guessed it – we repeat the cycle by giving more, and getting let down again. We are essentially draining our tanks trying to get someone else to fill ours! Not a good plan!
As long as we believe that the relief from our pain lies within the other person, we will continue to be in pain. When we begin to deal with our pain in healthy ways that WE can control, we have eliminated pain source #1.
Pain Source #2: Shame and Abandonment.
Codependence is a coping mechanism for shame and/or abandonment. There is an unrest in our souls that tells us we are not worthy to be loved. We may know cognitively that we deserve love, but when we have shame and abandonment, we have deep painful issues that keep us from feeling worthy of love. We ache for someone to tell us or show us that we are good and that we are lovable. What makes this so painful, is that even when someone tells us or shows us love, it barely registers. We don’t trust their love is true since it contradicts our core beliefs about ourselves. So basically, we are using ineffective Source #1 to correct the deeper and messier problem, Source #2.
Codependence is absolutely fixable, but only if you go about it in the right way. Learning how to get heal your shame and abandonment while simultaneously learning to love yourself is the answer, but it is indeed tricky! Our counselors are highly experienced in healing codependence and all of its sources. It will take a while, but the work is worth the effort!