How do you lose yourself and become entangled with another’s identity? Codependency can be understood as losing self during involvement with another. Many times, the loser-of-self is not actually aware of their loss.
Such a situation causes painful losses if the relationship sours and a breakup occurs. Why? You disappear and feel alone because you have so closely identified everything about yourself around another person. This can be a common situation in people who were not able to reach the basic life-task of developing internal sense of self, called autonomy.
Autonomy is recognizing your independence and ability to be self-reliant. This normal development goal can be stymied by several causes. Sometimes, you are not given opporunity in early childhood and growing up to develop that sense of self. This causes you not to reach autonomy by adulthood.
In adult relationships, we find the example of codependency instead of self-dependency played out as power struggles between couples—ending in no resolution between the couples. This continues producing the fertile ground for continued arguing without resolution: many times over minor things.
The cause of such struggles can usually be traced back to one person wanting control over the other, meeting one’s needs at the cost of the other, or demanding intimacy above the desires of the other person.
”There may be fear of being under another’s control…”
Intimacy differences, many times, form a baseline to measure the symptoms of codependency. You can avoid intimacy sometimes only to become very vulnerable when intimacy is finally allowed in. Intimacy can also become a method of coping to hold onto autonomy for some.
There may be fear of being under another’s control when giving in after a period of avoiding intimacy because you see intimacy avoidance as a means for maintaining self-autonomy; however, fearing intimacy can cause loss of control and winding up hurt again.
As real as these feelings appear, many times they are actually mental vestiges of childhood memories held over from a traumatic childhood. In such a childhood, the victim may have felt unsafe if they were dependent.
You may even feel uncomfortable about security when in a relationship as well as when on your not. Being either close to another or autonomous, it can create much conflict when in a relationship.
We will continue this post series next Sunday where we will focus on “How the heck did this happen to me!”
“Until next week…” ?