Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Codependency & Caretaking

It's tempting for those of us who are recovering from codependency to engage in caretaking of others. This is a behavior that's learned in early childhood, where a child learns to take care of the needs of the caretaker instead of the caretaker noticing and meeting the needs of the child. This care taking behavior helps the child to survive, but becomes hurtful to relationships in adulthood.

The care taking behavior continues throughout life as this is the only internal working model the abused person has for relationships. He finds his value in taking care of the needs of others, and he expects not to get his own needs met. His own needs do not go away, but grow more fierce as the needs are replaced with toxic shame, and more care taking.

Care taking is taking care of the emotional needs of someone else; needs that they should be tending to themselves, or through their own professional counselor. Care taking is a compulsive behavior that wrecks relationships as it is the manifestation of codependency. It involves helping someone, rescuing them from their own behaviors.

Here's a few examples of emotional care taking that damages both parties:

A. Denying ones own needs in order to appease another person in an adult relationship.

B. Refusing to share your true feelings about the behavior of another person.

C. Refusing to ask for what you need because you don't want to be a "burden" on someone.

D. Taking the blame for causing the emotional over reaction of your partner, friend or spouse.

E. Remaining in a relationship where the other person is addicted to a substance such as gambling, sex, drugs or alcohol.

F. Listening to a friend lament constantly about his or her problems without any actions taken to improve their lives.

G. Allowing a narcissist to abuse and manipulate you.

H. Enabling someone to rely on you for something they should be doing for themselves.

I. Allowing your life to be ruled by the emotional fluctuations of a Borderline person.

I find that care taking is a compulsive behavior for codependent people. That means, it's automatic. You don't even realize you're engaging in it. You just automatically jump in there and pick up the slack of anyone who needs a "boost."

In recovery it becomes most important to take care of OURSELVES. It is not our job to make other people feel comfortable at the expense of ourselves. It's not our job to look the other way as someone we love abuses us, disregards us, disrespects or exploits us. It's not our job to make excuses for someone who is ignoring our needs while succumbing to their addictions. It is our job to draw a line in the and and say, NO. I care about ME. And I will not engage in caretaking with you.

It is our job to set boundaries internally within our own hearts that are like alarms or signals of awareness that we are engaging in caretaking behaviors that will eventually bleed us dry if we don't stop the violation. It is our job to set limits and boundaries with others.

We have to catch ourselves when we try to help others too much, when we over empathize and over give to the point that we ourselves are being ignored. We have to catch ourselves and stop ourselves, regroup and reorganize. We have to focus on ourselves and let other people have their own problems. We have to be separate. We must let go of the enmeshment and be our own person.

No comments:

Post a Comment