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I'm Ok ONLY if you're OK….. Romeo!

By Debbie Rasso, LMHC, CAP, NCC

When you find yourself living to make someone else happy, you might just be a co-dependent. When another person's needs are more important than your own, you might just be a co-dependent. When it is your job to save someone, you just might be a co-dependent.  Everyone knows the age old story of Romeo and Juliet.  One was unwilling to live without the other… this is codependency at work.  It creeps up on some people.  You think that the relationship is equal and he/she is the "love of your life". Suddenly, the relationship is your life.  You are "holding it all together".  The more you do for this person, the more you have to do for this person.  Then you figure… he/she will need me if I do everything for them and then they will LOVE me.  And in the end that is what you are looking for - someone to love you.  Here is a novel idea… love yourself instead!  If you put the energy into taking care of yourself that you do taking care of that other person, you will probably realize you are much happier and you deserve someone who will give as much as they take, an equal partner.

Co-dependents are addicted to the relationship.  That is why it is important in early recovery to avoid relationships.  You replace your drug with a person.  Suddenly you want to do everything and anything for that other person. All your energy is invested in making this other person happy.  Just like all your energy used to be invested in finding that drug or drink and enjoying that rush when you took it… but soon it turned into the quest to be able to find more. Yes, sometimes that person will love you back and you will feel the thrill of being loved and needed, not long after you will feel the emptiness again when they disregard your feelings or disappoint you. Then…. the chase is back on to meet their needs again and this time you are SURE it will be different...

If you are an addict/alcoholic there was probably a co-dependent right next to you trying to take care of you and keep you from consequences. Dad didn't let you go to jail, Mom gave you money when deep down she knew it was for drugs, wife called your work and said you had the "flu". The list goes on. Behind every good addict is a better co-dependent. Now that you are in recovery, don't go to the "dark side" and become the co-dependent for another addict. Stop the cycle.

Just because you have been the addict, don't think you can't be the co-dependent. Often you are both. If you find you have low self-esteem, you try to control others, you're a perfectionist, you deny your own feelings (or don't even know what they are), you don't feel you can trust people, you're always doing more than everyone else, you will do anything to stay in the relationship, and you feel like no one appreciates all that you do, then you might be a co-dependent and you probably aren't very happy.

There are so many books that can help you. One of the most popular is "Codependent No More" by Melody Beattie. Therapy will help you. There are also meetings and support groups such as CODA  (Codependents Anonymous). Stop the madness. Take care of yourself. Believe that you are worth it - Because you are!

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