Thursday, May 7, 2009

Love & Codependency: Through The Eyes Of An Empath

Counterfeit love, love addiction and codependency.....that's a large topic to cover in one discussion, I know. But we are going to attempt it. So lets start with some definitions.

Definitions

Here is one definition of Love. Love is any of a number of emotions and experiences related to a sense of strong affection[1] and attachment. The word love can refer to a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes, ranging from generic pleasure ("I loved that meal") to intense interpersonal attraction ("I love my boyfriend"). This diversity of uses and meanings, combined with the complexity of the feelings involved, makes love unusually difficult to consistently define, even compared to other emotional states.

As an abstract concept, love usually refers to a deep, ineffable feeling of tenderly caring for another person. Even this limited conception of love, however, encompasses a wealth of different feelings, from the passionate desire and intimacy of romantic love to the nonsexual emotional closeness of familial and platonic love[2] to the profound oneness or devotion of religious love.[3] Love in its various forms acts as a major facilitator of interpersonal relationships and, owing to its central psychological importance, is one of the most common themes in the creative arts.

Here are some more definitions of Love:

1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.
3. sexual passion or desire.
4. a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart.

Here are some definitions of Codependency.

1. a concept that individuals who live with a person having an alcohol (or other drug) dependence suffer themselves from difficulties of self-image and social independence.
www.hsc.wvu.edu/som/cmed/alcohol/glossary.htm
2. suffering and/or dysfunction that is associ-ated with or results from focusing on the needs and behavior of others. ..
www.adha.org/CE_courses/course3/definition_of_terms.htm
3. A set of maladaptive, compulsive behaviors learned by family members to survive in an emotionally painful and stressful environment. ...
www.healthatoz.com/healthatoz/Atoz/common/standard/transform.jsp
4. This is a relationship addiction in which a person living with or caring for a person with a substance abuse problem hinders their recovery by ...
www.drug-alcohol-rehabcenters.com/addiction-glossary-terms/
5. A relationship in which a non—substance-abusing partner or family member is controlled by the abuser’s behavior; codependent people frequently ...
highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0073529648/student_view0/chapter7/glossary.html

Addiction is used in many contexts to describe an obsession, compulsion, or excessive psychological dependence, such as: drug addiction, video game addiction, crime, money, alcoholism, work addiction, compulsive overeating, problem gambling, computer addiction, pornography addiction, etc. In medical terminology, an addiction is a state in which the body relies on a substance for normal functioning and may occur along with physical dependence, as in drug addiction.

Here are some other definitions of Addiction:

1: the quality or state of being addicted
2
: compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal ; broadly : persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful

Love Addiction is defined when love addicts go through life with desperate hopes and constant fears. Fearing rejection, pain, unfamiliar experiences, and having little faith in their ability or right to inspire love, they wait and wish for love, perhaps their least familiar real experience.

The main difference between true love and Counterfeit Love is that true love is characterized by giving without expecting anything in return, while counterfeit love is typically characterized by taking and having or imposing expectations up others. True love does not seek after its own gratification, but counterfeit 'love' is typically seeking self-gratification in some way. True love does not impose expectations on others. But the counterfeit of love is usually exposed whenever it becomes evident that someone has any kind of expectations of another whom they claim to love.

Empathic Co-Dependency
An empathic co-dependent is one who has the ability to recognize, perceive and directly experientially feel the emotions of another person, animal or place AND is one who exhibits too much, and often inappropriate, caring for persons who depend on him or her. Simply put, this is one who is an empath and a co-dependent.

Healthy Relationships Vs. Codependency Fact Sheet

Characteristics of Healthy Relationships
by Jef Gazley, M.S. LMFT, DCC

1. Each person allows for the individuality of each partner within the relationship.
2. Experiencing both oneness with and separateness from their partner. Other relationships are seen as no threat.
3. Bringing out the best qualities in their partner.
4. Each partner has the ability to accept endings, if necessary.
5. Experiencing openness to change and exploration both in the individual and in the relationship.
6. Inviting growth in their partner.
7. Experiencing true intimacy in the relationship physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually.
8. Feeling the freedom to ask honestly for what they want.
9. Being able to experience giving and receiving in the same manner.
10. Not attempting to control or change the other person.
11. Encouraging self-sufficiency of others. Adults don't need each other in a dependent fashion. They simply want to be with each other.
12. Accepting limitations of self and partner.
13. Not attempting to seek unconditional love in relationships. This type of love is really parental love. Parents accept any behavior from a child and will still love and accept them. Adults demand to be treated with dignity in order to stay in a relationship.
14. Able to accept commitment.
15. Each person having a high self-esteem.
16. Trusting the memory of the beloved, enjoying solitude.
17. Expressing feelings spontaneously.
18. Welcoming closeness, risking vulnerability.
19. Able to care with detachment. They don't feel responsible for each other.
20. Affirming equality and personal power of self and their partner.


5 Core Symptoms of Codependency

1. Difficulty loving the self (self esteem)
2. Difficulty protecting oneself by functional boundaries with others.
3. Difficulty knowing one’s reality and owning it.
4. Difficulty with self-care.
5. Difficulty expressing one’s reality in moderation.


5 Secondary Symptoms of Codependency

1. Negative control: controlling others or allowing others to control them. Both choices cause a codependent to project responsibility on to others for their own inability to be internally comfortable within themselves.
2. Resentment: Blaming others for the inability to protect themselves with healthy boundaries.
3. Impaired spirituality: Makes someone else their Higher Power through hate, fear, or worship. Or tries to be someone else's Higher Power.
4. Addictions, or mental illness or physical illness. This inability to face reality stems from lack of functional internal sense of self and sense of adequacy. There is a desire to be taken care of.
5. Difficulty with intimacy. When a codependent has difficulty knowing who s/he is, and what her reality is, s/he cannot share in a healthy way since intimacy means sharing one’s reality. When one does not share, there is no way to check out immature perceptions, so codependent continues to have painful problems in relationship with others. Codependents often try to fix or change a partner, justify themselves, argue about the other person’s reality, abuse the partner with sarcasm, ridicule, name calling, exaggeration, or so-called “honesty”.

4 signs that you may be exhibiting codependent tendencies in your relationship

1. You make excuses for and rationalize your partner's bad behavior. You may make statements like, "At least he or she doesn't _______." It is true there may be worse situations out there, but that is like comparing car accidents. In one you may be paralyzed for life, in the other you may merely break your legs and end up with facial scarring. Really, isn't getting to your destination safely the preferable alternative?

2. You hide your partner's bad behavior from others and attempt to cover for them. For example, you may call into your partner's work sick for them, when the truth is your partner is too hung over to go into work. You may step in and attempt to meet obligations that your partner fails to meet due to whatever his or her dysfunction is. You may feel a desire to protect your partner's reputation, as well as minimize your hurt out of shame that you are tolerating the destructive behavior of your partner.

3. You fear leaving your partner because of what he or she might do to him or herself. You take on responsibility for your partner's daily life, well being, and even their safety. You feel convinced that your partner will not be able to go on without you, and feel obligated to stay to save them.

4. You are afraid of losing your partner for yourself, and rarely rock the boat, as the threat of losing your significant other is greater than your desire to address the issues in the relationship. You feel as if you cannot live without this person, that you lose purpose if you are not caring for your partner. If you issue ultimatums, you give in and do not follow through. It is more comfortable to stay in this system in which you are needed and you do more giving, than step in to the unknown and seek a relationship based on equality and balance.


Progressive Stages of Love Addiction

1. Increasing tolerance of inappropriate behavior from others
“Well he only hit me 3 times and I didn’t get many bruises.”
“She was only out once overnight this week.”
" I only threw the telephone.”

2.
Greater Dependence
Surrender more and more responsibility to the other party.
Have them handle papers, make appointments, pick up children because “I just can’t
remember”

3.
Decrease In Self Care:
Grooming declines, baggy clothes, disheveled look.


4.
Numbness To Feelings.
“I’m ok, fine” But they’re feeling pain, anger, fear, shame, jealously


5.
Feeling Trapped or Stuck
Helpless to fix the relationship.
Helpless to escape pain by ending relationship.
Lost the ability to care for and value self.
Increasing despair, disillusionment, depression.
Loss of power, Loss of ability to respond.
Behavior can become bizarre.

6.
The Final Stages

Feeling abused and becoming abusive.
Can only see out of a negative filter, missing the good things in partner.
Cannot see own immature irrational offensive behavior.

Love & Codependency Through The Eyes Of An Empath

Now that you've seen some of the definitions of such terms as love and codependency, and seen some of the signs and symptoms of it, can you, perchance, see yourself within this discussion ~ even just a little bit? One question every Empath must ask themselves when they begin to feel the overwhelming burden of other peoples emotions, whether it is someone close to them or a perfect stranger, is, 'Is it Empathy or Codependency I'm feeling right now?' Often times the two go hand in hand, without it being recognized by the Empath. So feelings of being overwhelmed, not knowing where you end and the other person begins, and losing the idea of self within another person's sea of emotions, can be signs of both Empathy and Codependency.

For both of these issues, Empathy and Codependency, there is only one solution to becoming a balanced Empath, or simply a balanced person in general. And this is, simply put, the development of one's self; self esteem, self worth, self confidence....through the act of self empathy, self compassion, self recognition, and self love.

I'm sure you noted that I used the word self alot. Its the one word that chafes the most, doesn't it? Even seeing that word can cause high levels of discomfort in an Empath, because we are so focused outwardly that we barely spare a moment to think of ourselves. We excell in avoidance of our true selves. But this is the singular word, self, that can literally change your life.

Sitting here reading this, you might be thinking that its easy enough for me to write about, and a much a harder thing to put into action. And you'd be right. But these are the steps I had to take, to become even remotely healthy as an Empath. These are the things you most need to hear/read, before you can truly move forward on your journey.

Here are some ways to tell if what you suffer from is Empathy Or Codependency. Use these techniques daily. If after two weeks you don’t feel any improvement, then there is a strong possibility that you suffer from codependency.

1. First and foremost, remind yourself that these feelings belong with another person. Taking on those feelings is a lot like carrying someone else’s luggage through the airport. In life, we all have to carry our own suitcase full of, well, full of crap. Taking on another’s feeling through empathy is akin to taking their suitcase full of crap from them and offering to carry it. But, the thing is, you already have your own bag (and probably the bags of your spouse, children, parents and siblings — unless you’ve already returned them). At some point, you will simply be too weak to carry anyone’s bag, let alone your own. So, do yourself and your friend a favor and let them carry their own suitcase.

2. Take a shower at the end of the day and picture yourself as a miner who has just spent the entire day working. You’re covered in black soot from head to toe. Visualize the black soot falling from your body and down the shower drain. Then, visualize purple light coming through the water and covering your entire body to protect you for the next day.

3. In meditation, visualize a white light coming down and surrounding your entire body in an oval (egg) shape. The white light will provide protection. This way, when others throw their crap your way, it will simply bounce off. (Remember when you were a kid? “I’m rubber and you’re glue. Whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you.” — that’s what you’re going for here.)

4. In the shower, exfoliate with table salt. Salt is known to have protective qualities against unseen energies. Simply rubbing it on your physical body can provide protection for the day to come.

As listed above, in the definition section of this discussion, an empathic co-dependent is one who has the ability to recognize, perceive and directly experientially feel the emotions of another person, animal or place AND is one who exhibits too much, and often inappropriate, caring for persons who depend on him or her. Simply put, this is one who is an empath and a co-dependent.

So it is indeed possible to be both, rather than one or the other. There are always more answers to the question, 'Are you an Empath or are you Codependent?', than simply yes or no. This is a complex multilayered topic, and at the best of times, it is a hard one to digest. But it is one I recommend be explored in more depth than what is written here. It is as important for your well being, as much as it is for those that you help.

The Healing

So now that we've explored this topic in some detail, lets look into ways to help overcome codependency, heal one's self, and begin to have some long lasting and healthy relationships.

Healing codependency does not mean curing codependency. Healing codependency is a process. Codependency, like many addictions, is always associated with denial. Many people love others they way they love cigarettes, beer, or television programs. This is not love, but attachment, addiction and codependency. Healing always begins with recognizing the problem. Knowledge is power and that is true when we talk about healing codependency.

Here are the beginnings of a working model to heal codependence. Remember that this is only a beginning, and the real work has to be done within you.

Healing Codependence

1. Recognize and acknowledge that there is a problem.
2. Developing an understanding of the roots of your codependency can provide a foundation for your healing.
3. Learning emotional detachment will assist you in early recovery and be a mainstay throughout your recovery program.
4. Communication skills, self-esteem building and improving how you manage stress will also be areas that will need addressed
5. It is highly recommended to find a Codependent Anonymous (CoDA) group and attend regularly.
6. Take back your power. This has to do with self esteem and self worthiness issues.


http://www.way2hope.org/codependency-test-definition.htm ~ codependency quiz
http://www.patriciabradley-bates.com/codependent.pdf ~ a codependency quiz (pdf format)
http://www.dawncoveabbey.org/healing-dysfunction/codependent.html ~Characteristics, Signs, Traits, Symptoms of Codependent/Codependency & Quiz
http://www.bpdfamily.com/bpdresources/nk_a114.htm~ Characteristics Of Healthy Relationships

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