We often associate codependence with romantic partnerships that are full of neediness, attachments and obsessiveness. Codependence is when we’ve developed an unhealthy dependence and attachment on something or someone outside of ourselves. We are often seeking validation from other people in our lives. We feel so unhappy and unsatisfied with ourselves as we are that we need an external source of relief to fill the voids we feel within us. These feelings the cause us to be codependent in our relationships and can also cause us to become dependent on a substance or behavior. This dependence when left unchecked, when not examined with mindfulness, can easily develop into an addiction.
Codependence and addiction are often two sides of the same coin. When we are dependent on alcohol or drugs, we often become dependent on the people in our lives because we haven’t developed our own sense of independence. We haven’t developed the autonomy in our own lives to feel strong or resilient enough to handle our emotional challenges. We haven’t worked to feel empowered within ourselves to be happy and healthy on our own. We haven’t yet realized that everything we need to feel whole and complete already exists within us. We have the skills, the fortitude and the resilience to overcome any challenge. We have grown so dependent on external sources of validation, comfort, attention and support that we don’t learn to nurture ourselves. Our own thoughts and feelings are not self-supportive, encouraging, uplifting or empowering. Dependence can act as a catalyst for addiction. We don’t work to become independent, whole and healthy on our own, so we become addicted to substances, behaviors and relationships. Our dependence becomes a coping mechanism to avoid the pain we’re afraid to face.
When we lack independence and struggle with codependent attachments, we’re more likely to attract other people with similar emotional issues, who have similar emotional work to do. We often find ourselves in relationships with people who also struggle with addiction, who also struggle to feel independent and whole on their own. The attachments we form compound our feelings of dependence and our addictions. We’re not helping each other heal, we’re enabling each other’s self-destructiveness. We’re perpetuating each other’s toxic habits and unhealthy tendencies. We get locked into downward spirals of self-sabotage self-harm and abuse. Our codependence and our addictions fester together and compound each other. Our mental and emotional health worsen. Our addictions become even more overpowering. Our relationships become even more toxic. Codependence and addiction function hand-in-hand and healing from one requires healing from the other and addressing all of the underlying issues contributing to both.
The community at Bayview Recovery is here to give you the support you need to find yourself and develop your emotional independence. Call 888-570-7154 for more information on our treatment programs.