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Posts tagged ‘fixing others’

Codependency and Relationship Dependency

SOURCE: Excerpted from  Jeff  VanVonderen – Families Where Grace is in Place

CODEPENDENCY

On a recent talk show, I heard a man who had the dream of becoming a professional athlete in a certain sport. He spent up to eight hours a day, six days a week, playing that sport. He had no job. He had no real marriage. His relationship with his kids was nonexistent. The family was in danger of losing the house and all of their possessions. Audience members accused him of lacking respect for his family. He was appalled. He just liked to play his sport.

Members of the audience also accused him of preferring to play rather than work. He admitted it. He just wanted to play. As far as he was concerned, if he could just play six days a week without having to listen to the gripes of his family, life would be just fine.

This scenario recalled for me a book I’d read entitled The Peter Pan Syndrome.1 It was written to help women who thought they had married a man, when really they had married a “Pan.” You will recall that Peter Pan and the lost boys lived in Never Never Land, where no one ever had to grow up. They just played all day long, going from one incredible adventure to another. The gentleman on the show was very much like a lost boy.

As incredibly out of touch as this man was, my attention was drawn to his wife.

While she hated his lifestyle, she funded it. She believed him when he said he respected her, even though all of his actions communicated blatant disrespect. Where he fell short, she took up the slack. Why was she willing to waste her entire life playing “Wendy” to the “Peter Pan” in her husband? She was obviously the smartest, most capable of the two. Yet she lived as if she had no life without him.

Why?

Because she was a codependent—that is, stuck in a controlling, rescuing relationship that was wearing her out. And the model she provided for her kids, about how to have an adult relationship, was every bit as dysfunctional as that of her husband.

As I said earlier, codependency is another word for relationship dependency. At its very core, it is a spiritual idolatry. Remember, idolatry occurs when one person turns to anything or anyone besides God in order to gain life, security, and value. In a codependent relationship, God is not the source. Pat Springle, Senior Vice-President of Rapha Hospital Treatment Centers, defines codependency as “a compulsion to control and rescue people by fixing their problems.” The codependent needs the loved one to be “fixed” in order to feel good about themselves or as an attempt to have their own unmet needs satisfied.

It is never your job or mine to protect our loved ones from bad news. We can, instead, support them as they learn to cope with the tough challenges of life. We do not have to sacrifice our own needs, feelings, or values as we try to help others with theirs. We can take care of ourselves and be resources to our loved ones as they learn to be responsible for their own needs.

You don’t have to live in ways that are codependent. If you are not able to stop, get help. Living this way will enable those around you to stay sick or irresponsible.

 

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Q&A on The Destructive Elements of Neediness (Part 2)

SOURCE:  Leslie Vernick

This kind of dependency isn’t I NEED you to LOVE me in order for me to be okay, but  I NEED you to NEED me in order for me to be okay.

The same emphasis is on the word me but with a slightly different bent. This kind of dependent person often functions as a rescuer, hero, fixer, or the more capable one when in reality he or she is also quite needy but unaware of it. He uses people to feel better about himself. He does this by taking care of other’s problems or being over involved in people’s lives all the while staying completely blind to his own problems. He or she is usually attracted to someone who is weak, vulnerable, or one who needs fixing or rescuing.

The destructive thing about a fixer or rescuer is that they don’t really want the other person to get healthy because then he or she wouldn’t need them any longer. We often see this kind of dysfunctional pattern with parents who are unable to let go of their adult children, enabling them to stay weak and dependent on them because of their need to be needed.

Brenda was married to a chiropractor who loved taking care of everyone, including her. He was well loved by his patients because he took the time to listen and was readily available whenever they had a need. For Brenda however, his hovering over her felt demeaning. He called her constantly, checking on her whereabouts, making sure she was safe. He questioned how she did things and whether or not it was the “best” way they could be done. He evaluated her diet and told her where she could make improvements to lose weight. He insisted she put socks on at the airport because he didn’t want her bare feet touching the dirty floor when they went through security.

At first she found his attention flattering, but now she hated it. She wanted to make her own decisions about what she ate or whether or not she wanted to put socks on during their travels without a constant commentary about what she was doing wrong or what she could do better. Brenda often tried asserting herself, but it never ended well. Once she told Ted that she was not going to order something on the menu just because he said it was better for her, and then Ted sulked the rest of the evening, saying she didn’t appreciate how much he loved her.

And, Brenda had to admit, she didn’t. She felt angrier and angrier and hated being treated like a child. Sometimes she found herself acting like a compliant little girl who did whatever her daddy wanted, and then she’d switch into a rebellious teenager who talked back and wasn’t going to listen at all. She loathed what was happening to herself and her marriage, but didn’t know how to change the unhealthy dance they both were dancing. In a mature relationship, the goal is for both individuals to fully function as healthy adults. However, in a dependent relationship where one wants to fix and control someone else, attempts for independence are seen as threats to the rescuer’s sense of worth and are usually squashed or undermined creating a destructive pattern to the marriage and both individuals in the relationship.

Clinging, smothering, demanding and controlling are the signs of unhealthy dependence in one or both people in the relationship. If you recognize yourself in some of these descriptions, don’t beat yourself. Instead, see it as God opening your eyes to your unhealthy dependency and listen and learn what he calls you to do in order to become emotionally healthy and whole.

Leaning in the Right Direction

SOURCE:  Living Free

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; reverently fear and worship the Lord and turn [entirely] away from evil.” Proverbs 3:5-7 AMP

If you are trying to help a loved one with a life-controlling problem, you must first reach a point of accepting the reality of their situation. Only then will you feel free to turn your loved one over to God. This is a time when you are able to detach yourself from the one you love so much. You will be able to truly lean on and trust in the Lord—and stop depending on yourself to fix your struggling loved one.

The prodigal son’s father was not an enabler. He allowed his son to be responsible for his own actions (read Luke 15:11-32). The rebellious son asked to receive an early inheritance and then squandered it all on wild living. He then had nothing—he was hired to feed pigs and found himself yearning for their food. Even at this point, no one reached out to rescue him from the consequences of his behavior (verse 16). And so … he “came to his senses” (verse 17). He finally was ready to take responsibility for his behavior. He showed humility and took positive action (verses 18-20). He returned home and confessed his sin toward his father and heaven.

This father had faith that his son would return. Although he showed compassion, there is no record of his enabling his son. He allowed the son to be responsible for his own actions. Do you love the struggling person in your life enough to let go … and lean on God?

Father, I have tried leaning on my own understanding. I know now that I must let go of my loved one, allow him to suffer the natural consequences of his behavior, and lean on you. Help me fully trust in your way and your time. In Jesus’ name …


These thoughts were drawn from …

Living Free by Jimmy Ray Lee, D. Min. and Dan Strickland, M. Div.

Only “I” Can Fix Your Problem!

SOURCE:  Living Free

“My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 NLT

Thoughts for Today
We need to accept the fact that we cannot cure our loved one’s problem. Our best caretaking efforts will not succeed “fixing” things. In fact, we need to understand that we are not responsible for our loved one’s cure. Our responsibility is to deepen our relationship with Christ, pray for our loved one, and trust Jesus to guide us.

The simplest definition of codependency is “to be dependent along with.” That doesn’t mean that you necessarily use the same substances or participate in the same kinds of behaviors as the one you care about. What it does imply is the idea of being so deeply drawn into his or her life-controlling problem that it becomes your problem as well. This can result in your being filled with guilt and blame and other downgrading thoughts.

But that’s not who you are. Your significance is in Christ–and in Him is where you find freedom and confidence.

Consider this … 
Learning to “live out” the reality of who you are in Christ begins with making a choice: Who will you honor? Then, after that choice is made, you may need to do some work on putting that reality into action in your life.

If you have centered your life around your loved ones instead of around God, this is the point where you need to reaffirm who you are in Christ and recognize the identity and the freedom you have in Him. As it is with all other human needs, establishing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is the most effective way to overcome codependent relationships.

Prayer …
Father, thank you that Christ lives in me. I’ve been so wrapped up in my loved one’s problems that I have forgotten the freedom, the forgiveness, and the righteousness I have in Jesus. As your child, I know the best thing I can do is focus on my relationship with you, pray for my loved one, and trust you to guide me and to help my loved one. Please help me to honor you in my choices. In Jesus’ name …


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These thoughts were drawn from …

Concerned Persons: Because We Need Each Other by Jimmy Ray Lee, D.Min. This group is designed for the many people who have a current or past relationship with a person who has a life-controlling problem.


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