Curing codependency

Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring For Yourself by Melody Beattie
Click here to purchase Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself

If you look at the topics of the books I read and review, you’ll probably notice a pattern of abuse recovery books as well as personal growth books. That’s no coincidence. I grew up in an abusive/neglectful home with a father who disappeared for years at a time and an addict mother. I tried for many years, (as a child,) to get my parents to act like parents, but I couldn’t get them to meet their responsibilities and do what I knew parents were supposed to do. As an adult, I’ve entered a handful of similar relationships with people who had severe problems. Every time, I knew that the other person had issues they needed to resolve, but I kept trying and trying to get them to see that. For example, for many years, I dated a man who wasted all of his money on frivolous things then couldn’t pay his bills. Every time I bailed him out, I was frustrated and annoyed! Is it any wonder that therapists have labeled me codependent?

At first I was not happy to be told I was codependent. I think of codependents as controlling people and I’m not a controlling person. If anything, I’m too laid back and get run over all the time. But, I have also had this impossible goal of getting others to do the things they are supposed to do…like pay their bills, stop verbally abusing me, keep a job, etc…. But as I’ve finally learned, I can’t make people do the things they are supposed to be doing, so maybe I’m a recovering codependent? Anyway, I read this book because it’s supposed to be *the* classic book for codependency and I can see that I match many of the characteristics. At one point, I finally had to tell the man who wouldn’t pay his bills that I couldn’t be his keeper anymore. I was tired of having an adult child! So, apparently, I have learned some things from this book, (and living in general 🙂 )

Here are the chapter titles:
Part I–What’s Codependency, and Who’s Got It?
1. Jessica’s Story
2. Other Stories
3. Codependency
4. Codependent Characteristics

Part II–The Basics of Self-Care
5. Detachment
6. Don’t Be Blown About by Every Wind
7. Set Yourself Free
8. Remove the Victim
9. Undependence
10. Live Your Own Life
11. Have a Love Affair With Yourself
12. Learn the Art of Acceptance
13. Feel Your Own Feelings
14. Anger
15. Yes, You Can Think
16. Set Your Own Goals
17. Communication
18. Work a Twelve Step Program
19. Pieces and Bits:
20. Learning to Live and Love Again

The author starts by giving examples of codependency and characteristics. There are a LOT of characteristics and many ways to be codependent even if you don’t fit every “symptom.” Then, the rest of the book focuses on how you can learn to stop being a caregiver for others and can learn to focus on yourself. (And I don’t mean stop being a caregiver for truly needy people; stop being a caregiver for people who can or need to take care of themselves.) Many codependents give and give and give in an attempt to get people to like them, (or behave themselves,) and find themselves frustrated that they get nothing in return. The reality is, you can’t make that decision to give and then blame the other person for not reciprocating. Sure, ideally they would, but it’s still a decision you’ve made. You need to accept that reality but also realize that you can end your frustration by stopping that enabling behavior. In many ways, this book is about fixing yourself since you can’t fix the other person. These are important life lessons, especially for those of us who find that we always put ourselves last. I think this is a good book for anyone who realizes that they are living someone else’s life for them, (or at least trying to,) or someone who feels upset that they aren’t getting anything in return.

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