Human Connections Counseling Services, Mark Felber, Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor, Certified Experiential Therapist, Plano, Texas, 214-796-2323
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Specialty Issues:

Co-dependency

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What Is Co-dependency?

Co-dependency is a strange sounding phenomenon that affects many and could best be described as an addiction to love. The co-dependent puts so much effort into taking care of another person that they stop taking care of themselves and their own needs.

People-pleasers to the max, they try to do everything they can to keep relationships together or help others.

Typically the focus is on a significant other -- a spouse, lover, boyfriend or girlfriend. But a person who is co-dependent does not stop there. They focus on everybody, instead of themselves.

They're easy to spot. They're the room mother at school who can't say "no" to every increasing demands to be the best or be perfect. They're the co-worker who is so busy helping everybody out that they don't have any time for themselves.

At the office, the co-dependent never says no to extra work. When it's time to decide where to go for lunch, they'll say "I don't care where we go eat, anywhere is ok with me." Working overtime is no problem for them. Letting someone else take the credit for their work is OK too.

At home, they go along with whatever their spouse wants. They take on all the housework, wait on their children and never ask for help. If their spouse is an alcoholic or addict, the co-dependent is quick to take care of the person's every need.

Put a co-dependent in a room full of people and they are likely to be attracted to the sickest, neediest one there. They see themselves as the good guys who will nurture and take care of lost souls.

The reason for their behavior goes back to their childhood. Often the co-dependent has received very little nurturing as a child, so they try to meet this unfulfilled need by becoming a caregiver -- a Superman or Superwoman -- to those in need. Yet they themselves are the neediest of all.

Don't expect the co-dependent to stand up for themselves; that's too threatening. Don't expect the co-dependent to say "enough is enough;" that's too demanding. In their desperate need to please, they'll do anything to help someone while ignoring themselves. They believe they do not deserve happiness. They often shoulder the blame, guilt and responsibility for anything that goes wrong in their relationships.

No wonder the co-dependent is angry even though they stuff all the anger inside. Afraid of abandonment and addicted to love, they often sink into despair and depression. They see themselves as being of no value.

Recovery is possible. Co-dependents can learn to recognize their symptoms, change destructive behaviors and learn to value themselves.

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