The Merry-Go-Round of Codependent Relationships

 

11_06_13_web
“In the park we step on this bright shiny red merry-go-round. Everyone is happy and ready for a lot of love, fun and a great future.”     

 But then something happens.  A pattern has emerged.  There seems to be something very binding about your relationship.  You feel like you are in prison and you can’t get out.

 Codependency is living the myth that you can make yourself happy by trying to control people and events outside yourself.  A sense of control or lack of control is central to everything you do and think.

 Psalms 139:14 says that you are fearfully and wonderfully made.  You are unique.  You have dignity and worth.  As you grow in this knowledge you will no longer need to use your codependent behavior to make you feel alive and worthwhile.  You WILL recover………

 There has been a lot of confusion on what real love is.  On the surface, codependency sounds like “Christian teaching.”

  • Codependents always put each other first before taking care of themselves. (Aren’t Christians to put others first?)

  • Codependents give themselves away. (Shouldn’t Christians do the same?)

  • Codependents martyr themselves. (Christianity honors its martyrs.)

But true codependents aren’t really healthy,  giving people.   They learn to get their validity from other people rather than from Jesus!  And they hinder those people they try to “fix” in their lives and their walk with God. 

 It is actually the opposite of God’s love!

 Broken-ChainsIn its broadest sense, codependency can be defined as an addiction to people, behaviors, or things. Codependency is the fallacy of trying to control inner feelings by controlling people, things, and events on the outside. To the codependent, control or the lack of it is central to every aspect of life.  

Then Denial, Delusion, Justification, Rationalizations,

Reverse Projection… emerge…these are all signs and symptoms of a co-dependent and addicted personality…”

 Jesus taught the value of the individual.

 He said we are to love others equal to ourselves, not more than ourselves. In fact, it is the 2nd commandment after loving God with all your heart, mind, and body.

  The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”Mark 12:31

love

The love of self forms the basis for loving others in the truest sense of the word.

 The differences between a life of service to others and codependency take several forms. Motivation differs.

  • Do you give your service freely or because you consider yourself to be of no value?

  • Do you seek to “please people?”

  • Do you act out of guilt or fear?

  • Do you act out a need to be needed (which means you actually use the other person to meet your own needs)?

 In their book, “Love is a Choice”, Drs. Hemfelt, Minirth & Meir” state that “Codependency can be defined as an addiction to people, behaviors, or things. Codependency is the fallacy of trying to control interior feelings by controlling people, things, and events on the outside. To the codependent, control, or the lack of it, is central to every aspect of life. When it comes to people, the codependent has become so elaborately enmeshed in the other person that the sense of self— personal identity — is severely restricted, crowded out by that other person’s identity and problems.”

 I see signs of codependency in many clients who come to me with relationship problems…they are worn out and exhausted and feel trapped in a relationship that makes them feel totally controlled.

The Lord has shown me that when we can’t put up our personal boundaries and we continue to rescue people by rushing in when they have a need and become their Savior, we are actually not only deceiving ourselves, but we allow the other person to make YOU their Jesus instead of them learning to turn to God to meet their needs.   

talkingwithjesus That’s a big order to fill.   Can you do what Jesus can do for them?

  In fact, we enable them to continue on with their neediness in our lives and drain us of our energy-while we take the place of Jesus….and they never get their needs met.

 There will always be another episode of control if someone doesn’t get off of the Merry Go Round and say “enough of this.”

Merry_go_round When no one gets off,  the Merry Go Round spins faster and faster until it is out of control.  When the  crisis is over then everyone is remorseful and say their sorry until the next ride.  And it begins again.

 When the addicted person continues the same behavior over and over again expecting a different ending, and we make threats or promises that we don’t keep… it is insanity.

 Someone has to keep their promise and follow through in order to stop the Merry Go Round.  

 This is not about confrontation, this is about stopping the cycle.

 You are aware that you do this but you have gotten away with it for so long that you have developed a false power.  In the midst of your pain.

 Do you see these tendencies in yourself?  Or in someone who is reaching out to you?

 Have you asked  God to bring this into the light so you can deal with it or help someone else?

 You know as well as I that it is never easy to expose darkness.

But if you want freedom again, you have to get off the Merry-Go-Round once and for all.

 So, from a believer’s standpoint here are some truths that might help you.  freedom

 If you will take this issue to Jesus, you will find that:

  • We have worth simply because we were created by God.

  • Our self-worth is not based on the work we do or the service we perform–but on what Jesus so freely gives us.

  • Our service is to be an active choice. You can learn to “act” rather than “react.”

  • Our faith shows how to live a balanced living and how to take care of ourselves.

  • As you seek His wisdom you will learn to choose balanced behavior rather than addictive behavior and to allow others to be in charge of their own lives

  • You can learn how to set and hold healthy boundaries and to set limits for yourself, not allowing others to compromise those boundaries.

  • You can actually learn to help others in appropriate ways, by allowing others to act independently, rather than making others dependent on you.

  • You can  learn to be God-directed and free from compulsiveness, knowing that God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, brings the ultimate results.

 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.  Gal 5:1

 (If this blog has left you feeling like you need help with codependency tendencies  in your life, you might want to consider Life Coaching!  Contact me through my home page.)

 

Who Has the Power in Your Life~Boundaries!

She sat in my office crying her heart out seeking an answer for depression.  A young mother of 3 children who just coPerson-under-doormatuld not seem to get it together or define why she was so unhappy and miserable.  She said she loved being a mom and her marriage was just fine.  I was stumped and began to just call on the Lord to help me, help her!  

Finally, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to me, “Ask her about her mother.”  Up until that point her mother had not been mentioned.  So I said, “Tell me about your Mom.”

She looked at me in shock and literally crumbled into a sob that went on for quite a while.   She finally was able to tell me that her mom controlled her entire life.  She had no freedom to make her own choices with her own children.  Every day her mom showed up at her house to come in and make sure she was handling her life according to what her mom wanted.   She disclosed she was not free to go out with her husband unless her mom approved and was the babysitter and knew what she was doing every minute.  It was causing problems in her marriage and her husband hated her mom for it. 

I could see the guilt and shame come in as she talked, and the little girl qualities emerge.  This girl had spent her entire life letting her mom rule everything she did.  Her mom never let her grow up and she allowed it.  She hated her weakness for not being able to tell her mom no, or being able to just grow up and take care of her own children or make her own decisions.

She was stuck.

I wish I could say I was able to help her.  Once I began to share with her about boundaries and how the power was hers to learn to say no, she began to back track and make excuses.  Her fear of her mom was palpable and it wasn’t long before I got a call that she just couldn’t afford any more sessions.  I knew she just could not handle making this shift of saying no to her mother. 

door matHow sad we give others so much power over us!

Being set free is being willing to learn to let go of controllers in our lives. 

Even when it is family. 

There are plenty of people out there who live their lives through controlling others.

Self-control is one of the fruit of the Spirit. When we have self-control, and you get it from being with Jesus and asking for His self control to fill you, by faith, we maintain the ability to stand up to aggressive controllers who try to tell us who we should be and what we should do.

Do you have any controllers in your life? 

Consider the following situation in the Bible where Peter, Jesus’ disciple, acts in a controlling manner:

Mark 8: 31-33 “Jesus then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

bourndariesOne of the most important benefits of having boundaries is that we do have the ability to stand up to others when they try to control our lives.  It is hard to confront but it is absolutely necessary if you want to move forward with God at the helm of your life.

It does take courage.  But God has given you all you need to step out and take control of your own life. 

Peter wanted to impose his own design for Jesus’ life onto Jesus, but Jesus had good boundaries; he stood up to Peter and rebuked him.

Jesus showed that he was in control of himself and would not be defined and controlled by Peter, no matter how good Peter’s intentions might have been. The truth is that Peter was thinking, not of God’s purposes, but of his own agenda. Peter was trying to rescue Jesus instead of turning the situation over to God.

Are you defined by controllers or by God? 

Although we are wise to listen to others and be open to their feedback, we should never allow someone to be in control of us and define who we are.

Setting appropriate boundaries with people helps us to retain that kind of freedom and self-control.

gods-willOur actions have consequences, but If you take responsibility for things that aren’t yours–by not having boundaries, for instance–you put a roadblock into one of God’s best teaching instruments He has for His children.

The young mother I was coaching said her mom was prone to anger if she stood up to her. So, in her timidity, she walked on tiptoes around her mom, trying to placate her, and then when the mom would be pushy or tell her what to do the little-girl-mom-herself would apologize and try to repair the relationship with her mother..thus letting her mother have her way once again. 

She was the one who was reaping the discord in her home, not her mother.

 Enabling someone to control us is NOT walking in the love of God with them.  They do not have to confront their own issues as long as you give them control over you.  Their issues become yours.  How can God work in their life if you are reaping the consequence of their choices and not they themselves?

 That is why they can throw major manipulative fits when you finally say NO to their demands!

We aren’t meant to reap the consequences of the controllers actions of disobedience.  We are supposed to let people bear the consequences of their own actions.

We are each responsible for our own stuff.

Have you ever noticed that Jesus set limits on Himself. He didn’t heal everyone all the time; often He left areas where there were still people who needed His help because it was time to move to the next place. He carved out time to pray, away from His disciples, to spend time with God.   He carved out time away from the masses, just with His disciples, to train and minister to them.

 If Jesus had let His schedule be determined by what people needed Him to do rather than by what He was called to do and what He was able to do, His ministry would not have been as effective. He needed time alone to rejuvenate and time alone with God, and He took it. He knew that He couldn’t do everything–even if other people needed Him.

 He had His limits.

 

Support Groups PicWhen people join support groups for other family members of those suffering from addictions, such as Al Anon, one of the first things they are told is that you can only change yourself, and you must not take responsibility for changing another person.

But at the same time, you must also allow that other person to reap the natural consequences of their actions, or they will not change. You must stop enabling bad behavior.

 Why is it that Christians think that being a pushover, or letting others get away with wrong behavior, is Christ-like?

doormat He didn’t call us to be door-mats.

God’s will is that we look more and more like Christ.

loveIn your family, are your actions encouraging others to look more and more like Christ, or are they covering up and enabling others to look more and more un-Christlike?

 

If you aren’t setting healthy boundaries of responsibility in your own life, then it’s quite likely that others who are allowed to control you will be looking less and less like Christ, rather than more and more like Him.

Queenism photo posted by permission from http://QueenofYourOwnLife.com/