Wednesday September 17th 2014

Codependency recovery: How to stop being codependent

Being codependent in marriage: the price we pay

My life was consumed by my husband, Dean. My every thought seemed to revolve around him.

What is he doing?

Where is he at?

Who is he with?

Is he using again?

Why doesn’t he answer the phone?

The hours at work were torture, because I had to focus on my work, but my mind was constantly distracted with worry. The pit of my stomach had a permanent knot. My smile was fake, and I had become a seasoned actress.

My friends and co-workers had no idea that I was living a double life. There was the me that everyone saw – the me who was confident, successful, and had life all figured out. They didn’t know the real me – the me who was chronically scared, suffered from low self-esteem, and was a complete basket case. I had learned to keep my real life secret. God forbid anyone would discover the truth – that Dean was addicted to crack cocaine and prescription pain pills!  And I was deep into codependency addiction.

Help for codependency enablers

I didn’t realize at the time, that it was the secrets that were keeping me stuck. I had created my own prison of lies, and as time went by, it became harder and harder to be honest (not only with my friends, co-workers, and family – but with myself). I needed help, but I didn’t know how to break my viscous cycle and reach out for that help.  It wasn’t until I asked myself, “Am I a codependent person?” that things started to look up.

Al-Anon for codependency

After hearing many times that Al-Anon was the place for families to turn, I finally gave it a try. But it wasn’t what I had expected. I wanted it to be a place where I could vent all of the terrible things my husband had done. I wanted a room full of people to validate that I was the perfect wife, and that he was the cause of all of my problems. But instead, the focus was on my own challenges – my own choices – and not on his.

After leaving that meeting, I didn’t expect to return. They obviously didn’t understand my situation. I was doing everything within my power to help Dean get clean. I was responsible, dedicated, hard-working, a good mother to our son – I didn’t have any problems! But I was also in denial. I was denying my own part in the addiction. I was an enabler, and as the following week went by I caught myself doing some of the enabling things they spoke about at that meeting.

I decided to go back once more. This time I opened up to the ideas. After all, nothing else was helping. I still had a wall built up, but it was starting to chip away. I listened to the stories of other people who were now finding happiness in their lives (even in the midst of an active addict). I found that hopeful. If there was a way that I could feel good again – I wanted to find it. So I kept going back.

Al-Anon taught me how to fix a codependent relationship.  Eventually, my focus shifted. I started setting my own goals, and making choices for myself. It was when I learned to let go and focus on my own life that positive changes started to happen, not only for me, but for my husband as well. The results were life-changing.

How can I stop being codependent?

How do you stop being codependent? The first step is acceptance – acceptance of the fact that you have challenges of your own – that you need help too. Most of us who love an addict are playing a part in the addiction. In our attempts at helping, we tend to take on an enabling role. By getting educated (through family recovery groups such as Al-Anon) we can learn to stop the negative patterns, learn to set healthy boundaries, and learn to enjoy life again.

Photo credit: Gabriela Camerotti

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6 Responses to “Codependency recovery: How to stop being codependent
misty
3:55 pm May 18th, 2014

Do you think you can become a drug addict after living and being in a codependacy relationship?

1:15 pm May 19th, 2014

Hello Misty. Yes, any kind of psychological or emotional difficulty can trigger drug abuse as a way to “Get out of” the current situation. Addiction is often a coping mechanism for stress or a way of coping with abuse (either past or present).

christine
6:40 pm May 20th, 2014

I to am in a codpendency relationship with someone who is on drugs. I neef to find a way to break this cycle.Because he is stealing things from our apartment and selling them to get drugs it maked me feel stupid, low to the earth,i ferl like i as m noy enough for him ay this point in his life .He has a goo trade under his belt but just can’t stay in a shop long.i need someone to help me figure out what to do next.

12:48 pm May 21st, 2014

Hello Christine. You can seek help with a psychotherapist who specializes in family addiction. Check out the listings here: http://locator.apa.org/

Irene
6:58 am June 22nd, 2014

Can you help me? Being codependent I am so stressed.

Candace
12:46 am July 14th, 2014

I met my husband 8 years ago. He finally admitted to me he was drinking alcohol and taking roxicodone . After our 6 year old daughter call 911 because she thought he was dead. When they rushed him to the hospital all I could think of was why does he continue to have episodes where I feel helpless and he is trying to kill himself or what. The hospital released him in my care and I took him to good samaritain hospital where they said he was not eligible to go in, but i think when they evaluated him he lied to them or something. So the next morning i called rehab facilities in our area that were for 30 to 60 days. He said he was going to go but then when I left to run my daughter to the dentist and i called him when i was done he said im just moving out and im not going to rehab. For about a week he would not take my calls . I was wondering if he was okay or if I should go look for him like i have always done in the past but i was so frustrated because so many things that took place before. This time he even took money and left me with our two kids.He finally responded to a text message about 10 days later. I met him at a park to see the girls n me but he said he was not wanting to hurt us anymore and he told me to move on with my life, so im not sure what i can do. He told me later on that day he would go to rehab but when he gets out he could do the same things. He even would take his ring off and get mad at me as if it was my fault???? Any advice!!!”

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About Lisa Espich

Lisa Espich is the author of the multi award-winning book, Soaring Above Co-Addiction: Helping your loved one get clean, while creating the life of your dreams. For additional articles, resources, and a free preview chapter of Soaring Above Co-Addiction visit her website. Her book is available at bookstores everywhere and at Twin Feather Publishing.