Codependents Anonymous

When I was in recovery despite working a program I had devised that was to be called later REPAIR, I still felt the need for something else. I had all of John Bradshaw’s tapes on my fingertips, I was going regularly to weekly meetings called Alternatives to Domestic Violence and I read voraciously any books I heard about that guaranteed I’d get well. I was still floundering.

I was fighting a war on two fronts as my boss had attempted to coerce me into an affair. He had even left his wife and set up a bachelor pad thinking I’d be a willing partner. When I told him a defiant no he became angry and began his abuse. After several weeks of his verbal and emotional abuse, his threats to give me a bad Annual Evaluation if I didn’t comply with his sexual requests and especially the two times when he came at me with his fists raised only to be restrained by a co-worker I began a Sexual Harassment suit against him. I didn’t want to. I had always liked my boss and we had a great working relationship. I was his Administrative Assistant but my duties including not only keeping is calendar up to date, but preparing presentations for him at high level meetings, reminding him to send flowers to his mother and so on. In short I was his right hand man. He didn’t want to lose me but I’d had it. During the beginnings of the sexual harassment suit I tried to transfer to another department. My boss had made good his threat to give me a bad evaluation and no one would touch me. To make matters worse my co-workers were questioned about his treatment towards me. He threatened each of them separately that if they supported my evidence he would fire them. One by one they sadly told me they couldn’t afford to lose their jobs.

At home I was living with a sadistic, brutal sociopath and at work with a boss who had begged me to drop my suit. When I wouldn’t he began planting evidence that would damn me and cost me my job and the suit. Every day felt like a battle as verbal abuse at work accelerated and at home a husband who had found out what was happening at work blamed me. He found new and more punitive ways to punish me for what he thought I was doing. Now every day he thought my clothes were too sexy, told me I was not allowed to bend over in front of any men, harassed me about phone calls with my brother, insinuating that we had an incestuous relationship and continued his several times a day brutal rapes. I felt like I was losing my mind and fought the urge to commit suicide.

I was in too deep to survive. My friend Peggy, who was married to a cheat and a cocaine user, and I decided to go to something called Codependents Anonymous. I had never heard of it but was desperate for more help. After the first meeting as we were driving home she said, “I think being a co-dependent is noble”. My words were, “how did they find me?” I had soon added two nights a week of codependent meetings Codependents Anonymous. They were a fellowship of men and women whose common purpose was to develop healthy relationships. The only requirement for membership was a desire for healthy and loving relationships. That was me. Every relationship I’d had had become dysfunctional in some way. It looked too easy. I couldn’t just snap my fingers and force my husband to become healthy and loving on a continuous basis. I learned in no time that I was part of the problem.

 

Here is a list of what I learned through co-dependence anonymous:
Codependents often. . . :
Denial Patterns
• have difficulty identifying what they are feeling.
• minimize, alter, or deny how they truly feel.
• perceive themselves as completely unselfish and dedicated to the well-being of others.
• lack empathy for the feelings and needs of others.
• label others with their negative traits.
• think they can take care of themselves without any help from others.
• mask pain in various ways such as anger, humor, or isolation.
• express negativity or aggression in indirect and passive ways.
• do not recognize the unavailability of those people to whom they are attracted.

Low Self-esteem Patterns
Codependents often. . . :
• have difficulty making decisions.
• judge what they think, say, or do harshly, as never good enough.
• are embarrassed to receive recognition, praise, or gifts.
• value others’ approval of their thinking, feelings, and behavior over their own.
• do not perceive themselves as lovable or worthwhile persons.
• seek recognition and praise to overcome feeling less than.
• have difficulty admitting a mistake.
• need to appear to be right in the eyes of others and may even lie to look good.
• are unable to identify or ask for what they need and want.
• perceive themselves as superior to others.
• look to others to provide their sense of safety.
• have difficulty getting started, meeting deadlines, and completing projects.
• have trouble setting healthy priorities and boundaries.

Compliance Patterns
Codependents often. . . :
• are extremely loyal, remaining in harmful situations too long.
• compromise their own values and integrity to avoid rejection or anger.
• put aside their own interests in order to do what others want.
• are hypervigilant regarding the feelings of others and take on those feelings.
• are afraid to express their beliefs, opinions, and feelings when they differ from those of others.
• accept sexual attention when they want love.
• make decisions without regard to the consequences.
• give up their truth to gain the approval of others or to avoid change.

Control Patterns
Codependents often. . . :
• believe people are incapable of taking care of themselves.
• attempt to convince others what to think, do, or feel.
• freely offer advice and direction without being asked.
• become resentful when others decline their help or reject their advice.
• lavish gifts and favors on those they want to influence.
• use sexual attention to gain approval and acceptance.
• have to feel needed in order to have a relationship with others.
• demand that their needs be met by others.
• use charm and charisma to convince others of their capacity to be caring and compassionate.
• use blame and shame to exploit others emotionally.
• refuse to cooperate, compromise, or negotiate.
• adopt an attitude of indifference, helplessness, authority, or rage to manipulate outcomes.
• use recovery jargon in an attempt to control the behavior of others.
• pretend to agree with others to get what they want.

Avoidance Patterns
Codependents often. . . :
• act in ways that invite others to reject, shame, or express anger toward them.
• judge harshly what others think, say, or do.
• avoid emotional, physical, or sexual intimacy as a way to maintain distance.
• allow addictions to people, places, and things to distract them from achieving intimacy in relationships.
• use indirect or evasive communication to avoid conflict or confrontation.
• diminish their capacity to have healthy relationships by declining to use the tools of recovery.
• suppress their feelings or needs to avoid feeling vulnerable.
• pull people toward them, but when others get close, push them away.
• refuse to give up their self-will to avoid surrendering to a power greater than themselves.
• believe displays of emotion are a sign of weakness.
• withhold expressions of appreciation.

After three years of working a rigorous and honest 12 step program, along with my REPAIR program I got rid of my abuser and became the happiest person I know. I wish everyone went through a 12 step program. There are meetings for every need: weight watchers, smokers, sexual addiction, drug addiction, alcohol addiction, and one called Alanon which is for friends and families of family drinkers. And there is more……….prowl the Internet. There is a wealth of information waiting for you. Get started!!Become the happiest person you know.

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