Childhood Development of Codependency

by Billy
(Myrtle Beach, SC)

After being in a continual process of recovery for the past 14 years using therapy, books, and 12 step programs such as CoDA, A.A., & S.L.A.A. I still find myself reacting to the debilitating fear from with in that is seemingly brought upon my external environment of people, places, and things.

I cognitively know better as to that, these externals are no more than a catalyst in most cases that are triggering deeply seated childhood fears. I know that these fears originated in growing up in a household where my father was the alcoholic and my mother the enabling codependent as they both came from alcoholic households themselves.

I have found these fears rearing there ugly heads currently in the form of my LTR with my significant other, in that if he gives me just the right amount of affection, attention, positive reinforcement along with the right amount and kind of sex that I am perfectly content, carefree, and happy. When these things fall below my acceptable level it sets off panic alarms that start to analyze everything and everyone in my environment as if to protect me from "them", truth is told I now realize that the problem originates within me and not them.

My definition of insanity is being a cognizant recovering adult in my mind while my fearful wounded inner child is reacting and self-sabotaging everything it can in the name of self-protection. I am seeking to accept and understand what it is that would bring me relief from the living nightmare of fear and codependency that engulfs my every waking thought and feeling.

Be well,

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Feb 05, 2010
Complex PTSD
by: Lyn

Hi Billy

I relate well to your experiences. I too have been working hard on my people pleasing/co-dependent traits which I adapted in childhood to placate my mother and brother and avoid their angry outbursts. I have removed the taker's in my life and I now set firm boundaries with the people I have 'chosen' to be part of my life, good folk but ones in the past I allowed/encouraged to walk over me to some degree or another. They didn't respect my boundaries back then because I didn't have any!

Inspite of all this effort and change, when a big challenge comes (namely behaviours of ex narcissistic co-parent or my narcissistic brother who is my business partner) my sense of being abused or my abandonment issues are triggered. I become dissociated, fragmented - emotionally flashed back to my original wounds, the feeling is of being that helpless child with no choices before my tyrannical mother.

I agree with the folks who posted before me too, learning to be kind to the self at these times is the only way - I catch that inner critic in full action and now I ask it to calm down and I change my inner dialogue to a more accepting and kind tone.

These kind of reactions are now diagnosable as complex ptsd and can be helped with EMDR (Eye movement desentisisation and reprocessing)therapy - this involves an amount of exposure in allowing the self to feel into the original trauma wounds in a very safe environment, the EMDR therapist then works with the client to reduce the intensity of the feelings over time, a trained EMDR therapist knows how progress at the right speed with each individual patient. I have just been referred to an EMDR therapist and I am looking forward to seeing if this therapy will help me in my progress towards recovery of myself.

Here is a link to a very useful article that explains the symptoms and behaviours of someone with Complex ptsd very well - I fit all the criteria for this disorder.

Feb 04, 2010
it's all about re-parenting
by: xmkx

Heya, and welcome! :) I agree with what the others have said. All your efforts as an adult aren't going to go very far if you don't take the time out to re-parent your inner child and be the caring, loving adult towards them that they need. Otherwise they have a tendency to take over your ego and demand that kind of attention from others when that is not their responsibility to provide it but yours.

Positive, self affirming talk goes a long way in this process. Look at yourself as a child like an adult looking in and in your mind treat that child as you would have preferred that child to be treated. You can even go so far as to buy yourself something that you as a child would have loved to get but was discouraged from getting - for example, as a child I was pushed to always be "presentable" and wasn't allowed to get any of the bright, colorful stuff I was drawn to. From this I learned it was "wrong" to wear these kinds of things.

One of the first steps I took in the re-parenting process was buying myself a pair of very brightly colored pajamas with hearts and peace signs all over them. It was extremely hard for me to do and I almost put them back on the rack for being "silly" but I pushed myself to get them because that inner child really wanted them and I had never allowed her to go by her own preferences but to go by everyone else's preferences. Interestingly enough I put those pants on now whenever I'm feeling blue because they cheer me up and remind me of who I am, how much I'm worth, and how special and unique I am.

Feb 04, 2010
To Billy
by: Angie Carter

I agree with Evan...for me it had to do with finding out what that inner child needed and fulfilling those needs for myself. Reparenting. Of course, that doesn't feel near as good as when someone else is taking care of our needs, but if we don't learn to do it, then we are at the mercy of something or someone else most of the time.

When I realized that adults can't be abandoned, only children can be abandoned (some may disagree with me on that point) then I realized I needed to do some serious work on my fears- because I was constantly reacting to the fear of abandonment and rejection.

Besides, I think my Mom put it time when I was 19 and in a serious break up with my son's father, she said "He was not put on this earth for your happiness, that is not his responsibility, it is yours. It is not fair to place the burden of your happiness onto the shoulders of another" At 19, I thought she didn't know what the hell she was talking about - now at (almost) 49 I realize she knew exactly what she was talking about.

Good luck on your journey of taking care of the wounded inner child. It doesn't happen overnight, so don't give up!!

Feb 04, 2010
Good Parenting
by: Evan

Hi Billy,

It's all about looking after that child inside.

You already know some of what they need (because when they get enough of what they need you are happy and content).

What more do they need? Get to know that child inside and how to care for them. Each little step can feel good - it can be a path of increasing joy.

The details depend on what the child inside needs.

Wishing you well on the journey - if you would like to talk more about it I'd like to hear from you.

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