Most of us have addictions in some way, shape, or form. Some addictions are more obvious than others, such as addictions to drugs and alcohol. But others are much sneakier and more nefarious. We might not even notice they exist.
An addiction is essentially a habit that prevents us from living a productive life and from taking care of our needs or that causes destruction in our life in some way. Many of us have habits that we indulge in instead of doing healthier things for ourselves, which you could say are an array of mini-addictions. Sometimes it is these mini-addictions that actually make life worth living, such as someone who chooses to write instead of making food for themselves before work or someone who eats poorly but they enjoy the taste, and that’s more important to them than it would be to eat healthier.
Codependency is a whole other ballgame. When you come from a codependent family, at first you will have no idea what codependency is. You will just think the behavior patterns that you experienced within your family system were normal. Over the course of a lifetime, these patterns may or may not become exposed, depending upon whether or not you become aware of them. Codependency is deeply ingrained into a person’s psyche, and it can take years to even have the awareness that you are codependent.
Codependency at its core is an addiction to relationships, where people depend upon one another excessively for support. One person would not be able to get their needs met without depending upon the other in a codependent partnership or family. When you come from a codependent family, it sets up all of your future relationships to be codependent. Relationship patterns are complex, and there are many nuances within them that you can only discover while in relation to others. So while you are trying to overcome codependency, you can’t really go cold turkey. Sure, you can cut out toxic relationships and reassess who you want to spend your time with, but you have to be in relation to others to exist as a human on this planet, and often, if you are codependent, you will attract other people who are codependent.
In more general terms, codependency means we use relationships and sex as a way to fill holes of incompleteness within us. We are often taught in movies that relationships should be up and down, back and forth, dramatic, and chaotic. This feeds into our views that causes relationships to be addictive and messy. Ultimately, relationships should be much more peaceful, but often, they are not necessarily as fun that way. It takes a lot of personal growth and maturity to get to a point where we no longer want or need relationships to serve as entertainment but are instead stable, sturdy, and supportive.
It can be hard to know whether or not your relationship with another person is codependent or whether the behavior is acceptable. Sometimes we might go through phases in life where we do have to depend upon others for support.
One key to overcoming codependency is to first learn how to be your own parent and your own partner before you get involved with anyone else. You have to learn to be self-sufficient on your own terms. You have to take your power back from anyone who might be holding onto it (whether that is physically, emotionally, or financially) and know that even though you might have some issues to work through to get where you want to go, you have the right to choose how to live your life and the responsibility to make good choices for yourself.