(By John Joseph*)
I’m the kind of guy that, if I saw you first thing one day, I would say, “Good morning! How am I today?” Yes, I am a codependent. What is a codependent? It is someone who is dependent on another person to define his or her feelings about themselves. It is a psychological term that came into use a few decades back to describe the behavior of family members living with an alcoholic.
Far too many wives and children become codependents, sentenced to the hell of merely reacting to the dependent behaviors of the alcoholic. They’ve been forced to define themselves based on the addictive behavior of another. Although they aren’t the addicted person, they are co-dependents and much of their lives are wrecked by the addiction and the addictive person.
Thus I’m a codependent. Maybe you are one, too. The sad truth is that someone else’s addiction to sexual abuse has affected our ability to live normal lives and to define ourselves in the healthiest ways.
What do we do now? How do we untangle the wreckage of the past? How do we cease living as codependents and find emotional health?
The first step is to move out of a dependent relationship. If someone in your life is abusive or addicted, leave them. Get out. Then get good counseling and enter a recovery program. It’s only when we rise up to reclaim our personhood that we cease to be dependent on others, no matter who they might be.
(*John Joseph is a pseudonym of a pastor. He's a regular contributor to this blog.)