The Unsexy Side of Therapy
By: Christy Aloisio
September 2, 2011

You may have noticed how many articles we have on our website about counterdependency, but very little material on its counter part codependency. I’ve been told that the reason there is not much material on codependency is that it is “not sexy.” Not sexy! I was blown away that this phrase could be used to describe a therapy topic, but the more I thought about it the more I realized, as sad as it is, that that phrase is exactly right. There is nothing sexy about codependency!

So what is codependency and how do you know if you suffer from this not so sexy issue. Have you ever felt like you have no power or voice with your spouse, coworkers, parents, children, or other important people in your life? Are you tired of feeling like you give, give, give, and never receive? Do you question yourself and decisions that you make constantly? Do you overfunction for those who underfunction in your life? Are you just tired? If you can relate to these questions, there is a good chance you are a member of the codependency club. The problem is the club is not all that much fun!

There are four characteristics that codependents share; insecurity, dependence/neediness, being other centered, and passive. Codependents feel wronged or used by others. They have distrust in others or “the universe,” always wondering why they were dealt such a bad hand in life when others seem to have it so good. They spend so much time thinking about and taking care of others, why don’t people in their life do the same to them? They tend to come into my office as the one that feels like their partner needs “fixed.” It tends to come as a shock to them when they find out they have just as much to work on as their partner. Let’s look at each of the qualities of codependency in more detail.

Many of us are insecure in our relationships. That does not mean everyone that is insecure is codependent. Codependents wear their insecurity on their sleeve. Or maybe it would be better to say they wear it on their sleeve, their pants, their socks, and quite possibly their shoes. The insecurity is palpable to those around them. They question their spouse on their love, fidelity, and commitment. There is a mistrust in others. They constantly feel as if the “other shoe is going to drop.” They worry. Worry, worry, worry. Things will go wrong in my life.

This insecurity has negative effects on their own thinking as well. Copdependents question their feelings, competency, and decision making all the time. They don’t trust that they can make good decisions that greatly effect them or their families. They want people to like them! They do not rock the boat. They do not tell people how they feel. They live in a world where it is easier to “suck it up and deal with it myself” then to make others unhappy or upset with them.

Because of this battle of the mind with “am I making the right decision or not”, codependents are not congruent to the outside world, what they feel on the inside. They are more concerned with how others perceive them and how they can make others happy then with what would make them happy personally. Its the woman who does not want to have sex with her husband because he is a workaholic and gone all the time so she is not feeling connected, but has sex with him anyway because she is scared if she doesn’t he may go out and have sex with someone else. Instead of confronting him on the real issue at hand, she meets his needs. In doing this her needs don’t ever get met, and he has no idea there is a problem because she never confronts him and his needs are still getting met. The problem with this is eventually it wears you down. You can only hold feelings inside for so long. They get bottled up and bottled up so when they do come out its like an explosion. Then even though the codependent may have valid points, no one can hear her/him because it is so reactive.

Being insecure has negative consequences to ourselves, our relationships, our parenting, and our work enviornments. Insecurity brings us to question our every decision, to not say how we feel, and to spend precious time and energy worrying. To be in recovery for codependency we have to learn to trust ourselves enough to share with others and the world who we really are regardless of what others may think about it. Just being us is good enough!

Stay tuned, next week we will take a closer look at the next charateristic of codependency: dependency/neediness. If you are suffering from codependency and want to start digging in to your recovery please call or email me for more information:
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