Friday, March 30, 2012

No Lucid Analysis Today

As you may have noticed from the title there’s no therapy rehash today. Therapist was sick and called to cancel my appointment. Of course, me being me, I didn’t answer my phone, or check my voicemail because answering my phone or checking my voicemail makes me really anxious. I did try to check to see who called, but I must have deleted it instead of dismissing it because the last person that looked like they called me was not Therapist so I thought nothing of it until I drove to her office and sat there. Then it dawned on me that I should probably check my messages because her door was open and her office dark. Damn it. So I had to sit through 3 dozen voicemails to get to the latest ones that I hadn’t heard. Some of them were from December. I would hear the voice and delete it as fast as I could so I didn’t have to listen to all the messages.

Long story short: Maybe I should ask Therapist if she can text me instead.

Anyways. I won’t have therapy next week either because I’m going to visit Sister and then Zoe! I’m so excited.

Tech Boy came over last night. I finally told him I’m in therapy. I was a little hypomanic  yesterday. I think it’s the upped dose of Pristiq making me all up and kind of goofy happy. It’ll settle down. Yeah, so I was just being goofy and chattier than usual and just sort of blurted out, yeah so Therapist cancelled my appointment which would have been nice to know earlier because then I could have gone to the gym. Oh, btw, that’s where I go on Thursday, I have therapy.
He just looked at me and was like, “What kind of therapy?”
“Just talk therapy.”
“Oh, that’s cool.” < ---- That was the response I was afraid of getting?!?! Geezus.
 I sort of explained how it helps me to have someone to talk to work through the things I’ve been through so I don’t bottle it up and explode. It’s nice to have someone I can hash stuff out with without dumping my problems on my friends or causing drama when my stuff involves people that we’re mutually involved with. Plus it’s nice to have an impartial 3rd part that’s paid to have my best interest in mind.
So yeah. I’m all worried that he’s going to judge me and be flipped that I have a therapist and the response I actually get from him is, “Oh, that’s cool”. I’m an idiot. This is why communication is important. Why doing things we’re often afraid to do is important. The way I work things up in my mind is always, always worse than how they turn out to be.

I’m going to pose a challenge to all my fellow Borderlines out there.

Challenge: Do one thing that you don’t think you can do. Do one thing that makes you afraid or causes you some anxiety because you’re unsure of the outcome.

Not something big, don’t just go dropping huge bombs all willy-nilly. Gotta work up to that stuff. Just try something small to start. Speak up about something that has been bothering you. Ask to do something you enjoy for a change. Collect yourself, keep your energy as calm as you can, and state something that you need or want and work it out instead of holding it in or bottling it up.  
Think about the reasons you don’t do that thing. Lock those reasons away. And do the damn thing anyways. Then compare how it actually turned out as opposed to how you were afraid it would turn out.
Odds are it won’t be nearly the terrible thing you thought it would be. Hold onto this experience. Just as one small proof to remind your Self that things aren’t always what we fear them to be.
Often the one that holds you back the most, is you.
I know this is true for me.  

Quotes from the Borderline

“My love has made me selfish. I cannot exist without you – I am forgetful of everything but seeing you again – my Life seems to stop there – I see no further. You have absorb’d me. I have a sensation at the present moment as though I was dissolving – I should be exquisitely miserable without the hope of soon seeing you … I have been astonished that Men could die Martyrs for religion – I have shudder’d at it – I shudder no more – I could be martyr’d for my Religion – Love is my religion – I could die for that – I could die for you.”

written by John Keates to Fanny Brawne on 13 October 1819

Sometimes I wonder how you can tell the difference between true love and codependence. Is there an aspect of this where you can need someone, love someone with all you have, not be able to imagine the world or the rest of your life without the one you love, but in a healthy way?

Maybe the forever passionate love you read in fairy tales is just a mutual codependence projected towards a willing partner.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Quick Meds Update

I saw Psychiatrist for the first time in a few months. My actual Psychiatrist, not his PA. I tried making an appointment with her, the PA, but apparently she left to go back to school and get a higher degree. Momentary panic. I did not want to see Psychiatrist. I have made a point of seeing his PA for months and months and months. I hate that she’s not there anymore and I have to actually talk to him now.

Unhappy, thy name is Haven.

Also, my Psych office only takes cash for copayments. I got to my appointment 5 minutes early but realized I forgot that I hadn’t pulled money out of the ATM the night before because I didn’t want to pay a $3.50 processing fee. So I had to drive around like a frantic little chicken with it’s head cut off, spurting blood everywhere, until I finally found a gas station with a working ATM... and a $3.50 processing fee. Fail. Double fail because late is never ok. Never. Even when I call and let them know I'll be late. I was extremely angry by the time I got back to the office.

Anyways. I made the visit as quick as possible. I explained to Psychiatrist that  I was starting to baseline in depression again and that this time of year was notoriously bad for me. He offered to up my meds.

New Rx: 100 mg. Pristiq

The only side effect I seem to have on the Pristiq is that it inhibits my gag reflex. Insert {joke} here. Go ahead, laugh. We done now? Ok.

No, seriously. When you’re bulimic and you can’t purge because your meds won’t let your body react that way, it’s a little panic worthy. However, on the plus side, I’m not purging and I have no choice but to work on that aspect of my eating disorder. I know I can’t binge so I can’t turn to that destructive form of coping now. So yay!

Otherwise I’m still rather liking the Pristiq. I do think it stabilizes my moods and anxiety in that I definitely don’t react as extremely in an emotional sense now. I worry that it will inhibit my ability to react to ‘the good’ as well as ‘the bad’ though. I guess that’s the tradeoff though. I’ve felt a little emotionally flat lately, but that could be the depression and the complete lack of drama in my life and not necessarily my meds. Ugh. Who knows. I’m not crushingly depressed or suicidal so I’m gonna go with: Pristiq = Good.

Codependency and You

Finally let’s check out a brief list of things you can ask yourself or contemplate about yourself:

Characteristics of Codependency: Are you Codependent?

1. My good feelings about who I am stem from being liked by you

Actually no. You can hurt me, but feeling good about myself is determined by what I think of myself.

2. My good feelings about who I am stem from receiving approval from you.

Nope. I generally believe I’m a bad person regardless of how much you approve of me. When I think I’m a good person it’s for my own reasons.

3. Your struggle affects my serenity. My mental attention focuses on solving your problems/relieving your pain. I feel compelled to help you solve your problems or try to take care of your feelings.

Yes, this often happens. It distresses me to see people I care about struggling.
4. My mental attention is focused on you.


5. My mental attention is focused on protecting you.

Depends on the person.
6. My mental attention is focused on manipulating you to do it my way.

Nope. I don’t need other people to do things my way. I just need other people to accept that I will be doing things my way.
7. My self-esteem is bolstered by solving your problems.

Sure. It feels good knowing that I was able to help out someone that I care about.
8. My self-esteem is bolstered by relieving your pain.

Again, **see above**.
9. My own hobbies/interests are put to one side. My time is spent sharing your hobbies/interests.

10. Your clothing and personal appearance are dictated by my desires and I feel you are a reflection of me.

Nope, not even a little.
11. Your behavior is dictated by my desires and I feel you are a reflection of me.

12. Do you feel empty, bored and worthless if you don’t have someone else to take care of, a problem to solve, or a crisis to deal with?

Hm. I never really thought about it this way. I feel empty and bored often, whether I’m in a relationship or not, but these feelings are lessened when I’m with someone. That could simply be because I’m not alone and actually doing engaging things though. Hm.

13. I am not aware of what I want - I ask what you want. I am not aware - I assume.

This is often true in terms of what I want. I rarely know what I want but this has more to do with my dissociation and not being able to attach myself to my emotions. I am aware, I rarely assume. If I don’t know, I ask.
14. The dreams I have for my future are linked to you.

Don’t people often envision their future with a partner? For instance, if you’re married you probably should have your spouse linked to your dreams.  
15. My fear of rejection determines what I say or do.

16. My fear of your anger determines what I say or do.

Hm. Sometimes. I’ll give this a 7 out of 10. This is often a response to abuse though and not codependency.  When I was with Evil-Ex this was approximately 100% true. When I disagree with say, Tech Boy, it’s only true if it’s a very important issue to me.
17. I use giving as a way of feeling safe in our relationship.

True. Definitely true.
18. My social circle diminishes as I involve myself with you.

The only time this happened was with Evil-Ex and that was due to the abusive nature of the relationship and the fact that I had just moved to a new state and didn’t have many friends while he limited my ability to make new ones.
19. I put my values aside in order to connect with you .

This might happen at first when I’m just starting to get to know someone and I think it will cause a rejection due to it being a “major” issue but not usually. I’m very opinionated and I don’t care who knows it.
20. I value your opinion and way of doing things more than my own.

Only if it is actually a more efficient way of doing things. *Hint* It’s probably not. I’m an engineer, being efficient is what I do.

21. The quality of my life is in relation to the quality of yours

Nope. But if you’re miserable and don’t want to do anything, then I may be more miserable because you don’t want to do anything and I don’t like to see the people I care about being unhappy. Pretty sure that’s called empathy.  

22. Do you find it easier to express anger about injustices done to others than about injustices done to you?

Yes. My ability to tolerate and deal with my own problems is very high and I don’t like to complain or allow other people to see that things effect me in a negative way that could make them perceive me as “weak”.

23. Do you stay in relationships that don’t work and tolerate abuse in order to keep people loving you?

::sigh:: I have before.

24. Do you lose interest in your own life when you are in love?

Nope. I have much more interest in my own life when I am in love. To be true though this also includes being much more interested in the person I’m wish and “making” them happy.

25. Do you have a hard time saying no to others, even when you are very busy, financially broke, or completely exhausted?

Oh yeah.

26. Does it seem as if many of your friends have particularly chaotic lives, with one crisis after another?

Traditionally yes. Currently I’m in a place where my friends seem to be very stable, and as a result I seem to be more stable. I feel the energy of those around me and I know I often pick up on and react to that. I love being able to help my friends, but honestly I can’t deal with them relying on me excessively. It becomes too much pressure for me and I need time to escape.

And here are a couple Questions to ask yourself about your current or past relationships:

Question 1: Is this relationship more important to me than I am?

I know this has definitely been a problem for me in the past. Definitely and unquestioningly. The majority of my relationships have not been though.

Question 2: What price am I paying for being with this person?

This is a question I constantly asked myself with Evil-Ex and what finally got me in the end. There was just no denying the cost I was paying.

Question 3: Am I the only one putting energy into this relationship?

 Again this is something that I recognize in my longer abusive relationships. When I date normal, healthy people this is certainly far from the truth. I am often the one pursued more than I seek to spend time with them (because while I do hate to be alone, I also need a lot of time to myself).

I recognize that I do have some codependent traits, but overall I am not codependent. Two main reasons really jump out at me.

One. My self-worth isn’t actually dependent on someone else. Someone I am attached to can certainly wound my self-worth but just the act of being with someone, feeling wanted by someone, does not increase how I value myself. My self-worth may be low at times but it’s not dependent on anyone else to be lifted. 

Two. While I do prefer to be with someone, even in the terror of abandonment, I know that I’ll survive just fine on my own. My survival is not dependent on anyone else. I’ve never believed that without someone I wouldn’t be able to go on.

It’s funny. My self-worth is often higher and more stable when I’m single. With no one else to worry about. With no one else to accommodate I can focus entirely on what I need to do which makes me feel more stable. Accommodation? Isn’t that a codependent thing? When I’m with someone else my compulsive routines are often disrupted because I don’t attempt to control all our interactions. It does spin me out of sorts but normal people don’t have the rigid structure I design into my life and I don’t expect it of anyone else.  It’s just considerate. Accommodation, cooperation, taking the other person into consideration, these things should be a part of a relationships sometimes.

For me, personally I think my codependent traits are amplified when I am in an abusive relationship. In a relationship where my self-worth is actually being threatened and destroyed, not just if I were to perceive it might be. I think my problem has more to do with becoming engulfed in these relationships, but there is a difference between codependency and engulfment. This also makes me wonder about the kind of people that I am drawn to and the relationship between Borderline Personality Disorder and abusive relationships.  

A dear Reader brought up this point: "{Codependency is} about control. One is attempting to control the people around them. It usually stems from attempts to control the emotional states of the parents on the part of the child. The desire that if I could have just been this or that, they would have been happy so I would have been happy."

This sentiment strikes me. I don't think there is ever a 'good enough'. There is always 'could be better'. I never doubted that my parents loved me, I always recognized that they were pushing me to succeed and be the best that I could be. “Good enough” is just something I accepted as being not achievable. I've always been dependent, wanting love, but strong willed and therefore incapable of being controlled, even at the expense of losing {my parents} love. I was never worried about that. I think a lot of my issues may stem from my parents pushing me to be independent too early. I had so many lessons of "you need to learn how to take care of yourself", "you need to learn to deal with your {whatever}", "I won't always be around so you have to learn to do it". I don't know how to rely on other people, even when I want to.

This may contribute to why I have such a hard time asking directly and my emotions and reactions would manifest in more manipulative ways. I couldn't rely on anyone consciously even when my subconscious knew I needed help. So I went about it destructively. In a way that was very unhelpful to anyone.

So those are my thoughts. How about you? Has codependency affected your life? How so?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Codependency and Borderline Personality Disorder Part 2: Symptoms

How can you tell if you are codependent? There are many, many symptoms of codependency. I didn’t come up with this list, in fact I found the write up for most of this here. I will take a look at how I think these things line up with my life though. So let’s take a look at some of them shall we:


Care taking: the codependent individual feels responsible for other people. S/He feels anxious and even guilty when another has a problem. S/He feels compelled to help that person solve their problem. S/He anticipates the other's needs and feels angry when his help is not effective or rebuffed. At the same time, the codependent feels slighted that others won't help her/him out when s/he needs help. However, this same individual who is constantly doing way too much for others, and not getting "any" help from anyone, will usually answer when asked what is wrong or what do you need, responds, "Oh, nothing." The codependent minimizes his/her own worth. The codependent is his/her own worst enemy.

I can definitely see myself having a lot of these codependent care taking traits. Wouldn’t you feel slighted if you helped someone out constantly and they didn’t reciprocate at all?

The codependent is over committed, harried, pressured, feels safe when giving, but insecure when someone gives to him/her, goes out of her/his way to help others, and believes deep inside that other people are responsible for the way they are and will blame others for the "spot" they are in. Others make them feel the way they feel, they are victimized, angry, unappreciated, and used. Others are driving them crazy.

Over committed, harried, pressured, feels safe when giving: Check. I’m not at all insecure when people give something to me. In fact I usually keep these things around me to help with my lack of object constancy. I do feel weird when someone goes out of their way for me, but I think that’s more because I’m so unused to it and also detached from my emotions that I don’t always know how to respond properly. ::laughs:: Believes deep inside…. No no, I believe right up on the surface there that most people are responsible for the “spot” they’re in. I can absolutely recognize and accept when people have been truly taken advantage of and given a bum lot in life, but ultimately we are responsible for our own lives, choices, and actions. I may have been born and abused into this slew of mental health disaster, but it’s my responsibility to do something about it.

Others are driving me crazy. Hah! True.

Low Self Worth: codependents tend to come from troubled, dysfunctional families, and will deny this to the very end. They blame themselves for their family's shortcomings. They blame themselves for everything. They pick on themselves constantly: not intelligent enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough, not athletic enough, not good enough. But if another criticizes them, boy do they get defensive and angry, not to mention self-righteous. Don't try to give a codependent a compliment; they reject all compliments and praise, even though they get depressed from lack of compliments and praise. They feel "different" from the rest of the world. They reject themselves, but fear rejection. Everything is taken personally, they love being the victim (though will deny it with their last breath). They have been victims of sexual, physical, or emotional abuse, abandonment, neglect, and/or alcoholism. They feel like victims, carry lots of guilt and shame, and think their lives are not worth living. They should have done this, should have done that. They "should" themselves to death. Codependents say, "Why me?" on the outside, and know "why me" on the inside. While trying to prove to others that they are good enough, to themselves they feel worthless and empty.

My self-worth fluxuates with my mood or to be perfectly honest, my body image. My self-worth is entirely dependent on how I perceive myself and this ties in immensely to my dysmorphic issues and my personal accomplishments. Whether anyone else recognizes what I do or not does not raise or lower my self worth. In fact, having my achievements recognized often makes me feel awkward because I don’t want the attention.  I am very hard on myself, I do put myself down, but this is due to my perfectionistic nature. Criticisms will make me spin down emotionally because it is a recognition that someone else has seen my flaws. I raise and lower my self-worth. I can usually take compliments. Compliments from women I take sincerely. Compliments from men that I’m involved with I take sincerely (especially if we’re already sleeping together because it’s not like they have to butter me up to get what they want now). Compliments from men I am not close to or strangers, does make me question their motives. Big time.  This has been proven to be an issue though and I don’t know if it’s just me being paranoid or me being justified. Maybe a bit of both, but it doesn’t mean that I’m wrong to question peoples motives. I do feel “different” from the rest of my world, but I actually am different than most people I know. Life is definitely worth living even if it sucks sometimes. I do “should” myself to death sometimes but I do this regardless of whether something is just for me or not.  “Why me?”…if I know it on the inside than that’s all there is to it. 

Repression: most codependents repress their own needs, their own desires. They are afraid to let themselves be who they are and often appear rigid and controlled. They repress all thoughts of self-worth out of their awareness and they are full of guilt. Codependents cannot have fun.

I definitely repress my own needs and desires in order to take care of those around me first, but that falls into the care-taking category. If it’s just me on my own I don’t do this. If I need something I definitely go ahead and take care of whatever it is. Growing up and until a year or two ago I felt guilty about getting myself anything that I desired, but I’ve pretty well taken care of that at this point. I can definitely have fun too.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: codependents worry. They worry about the slightest and silliest things (True): they worry that people are talking about them (False); they worry that people are not talking about them (False); they lose sleep over little things (True); they check up on others (Rarely); they try to catch people in the act (Only if I know I’m being used, manipulated, taken advantage of or plotted against. i.e. Evil-Ex); they never find any answers (False), they focus on other's problems (True); they spend money compulsively (I make some compulsive decisions but only if all my bills and responsibilities are taken care of first); eat or drink compulsively (True) ; and wonder why they have no energy and why they never get anything done (I get so much done it’s ridiculous).

My OCD tendencies have nothing to do with codependency and everything with needing structure and control in my life. I’m not even sure how most of these things qualify as OCD.

Controlling Behaviors: codependents try to control events and people through helplessness, guilt, coercion, threats, advice-giving, manipulation, or domination. They are afraid to let people be who they are or let events happen naturally. They've lived in so many situations in which they had no control (abuse, alcoholism, etc) that they now try to control everything and get frustrated and angry when they cannot. They end up feeling controlled by events. They feel controlled by others. They resist change as if change were a contagion.

This is one thing I’m pretty happy to say that I don’t do. When I was younger and Acted Out I definitely had more manipulative tendencies that I would consider controlling behavior. After Evil-Ex though, I learned to let go. With him I definitely felt the need to control a lot of things, but he was actually working to make my life spin out of control. I don’t hold onto things as hard anymore.  I do resist change. Change is hard. Especially when it comes fast it can destabilize me, but I don’t know if that is codependent so much as normal. The most zen of Buddhist monks will never have a problem with change, but everyone gets thrown for a loop when things change unexpectedly. I used to fight change tooth and nail. I’ve learned to adapt and move with change as much as I can though.  The only person I am compulsive about controlling, is myself.

No matter how you look at it, this just isn't going to work.
Denial: codependents ignore problems or pretend they do not exist. They pretend things are not as bad as they are; they tell themselves it will get better; they stay busy to avoid thinking about things; they get confused, sick, depressed and visit doctors for a prescription. Many are workaholics. They lie to themselves and others. They believe their lies. And most of all, codependents will leave a healthy situation (by lying to themselves that it was an unhealthy situation) and get back into an unhealthy situation; though for the most part, most codependents either never leave an unhealthy situation/relationship, or they go from one unhealthy situation/relationship to another.

Denial is one place I’ve struggled with, but it’s always been a wanting to believe something even though I knew it to be otherwise. Even when I was with Evil-Ex I knew the truth of my situation, but my emotions were in such complete opposition that I couldn’t reconcile the two. That’s what made it more maddening for me. I saw the reality but felt a different way. I’m very good at seeing what is actually going on. Making a decision in opposition to my emotions though can be difficult for me. There were times I wanted to believe his lies, but I didn’t actually believe his lies.

Dependency: codependents do not feel happy or content with themselves. They look to others to supply them their happiness or their needs. They are threatened by the loss of anything or any person that provides them with their happiness.

They do NOT love themselves. They did not feel loved by their parents. They equate love with pain and believe others are never, ever there for them. They need people more than they want them; their lives revolve around someone else's life; they tolerate abuse; feel trapped; leave one bad relationship and jump into another bad relationship. They wonder if they will ever find true love. And if they do find true love, they will leave that and find a loveless relationship because deep inside (often beneath consciousness) they feel unworthy of love.

Hm. I don’t expect or think anyone else can make me happy. I do know that I am happier when I am with people I care about and enjoy the company of. Left alone for long periods of time (days, weeks, months) I do sink into a depression greater than usual. To me this doesn’t seem unreasonable though. Who wants to be forever alone? Some people I’m sure, but that strikes me as more unnatural. I think I’m more concerned with being alone, than being happy.

I do equate love with pain, but every experience of romantic love I’ve had has actually caused me deep and intense pain. This is a result of experience, not unfounded fear. I actually do not tend to jump from one bad relationship to another. This constant dating and always having a new partner is relatively odd for me. Traditionally I will end a relationship and stop dating for 6-8 months so I can get my head back on straight. With only a couple exceptions the people I choose to date are generally very good people. Then again, those don’t seem to be the ones I form intense attachments to, do they.

Poor Communication Skills: codependents blame, threaten, coerce, beg, bribe, and advise others. They don't mean what they say and don't say what they mean. They don't take themselves seriously and expect others to do the same. They avoid getting to the point, asking indirectly for attention by sighing, crying, or moping around. They say everything is their fault. They say nothing is their fault. They can't get to the point, and if pressed, they're not sure what the point really is. They believe their opinions do not matter and have difficulties asserting their rights or expressing honest emotions, openly and appropriately. They apologize for bothering people.

I’m getting better at communicating my needs though in the past I was very, very bad at stating anything that was going on with me internally. I do often feel guilty for expressing what is on my mind though I don’t believe things are my fault when they actually aren’t. I’m also absolutely ok with acknowledging when I have screwed up and taking the blame for something I’ve done… once I recognize that I screwed up. It’s so tricky. For a long time I blamed myself for the abuse I took in my relationship with Evil-Ex because I felt responsible for staying in that relationships. To an extent I still feel that is my fault even though the abuse didn’t end once I stopped the relationship. I thought it was my fault. In reality though, I didn’t ask for the abuse, he had no right to treat me that way. It was his fault for being a monster. Tricky tricky tricky.

Poor Boundaries: codependents say they won't tolerate something from anyone, and then engage themselves in exactly that. Then they gradually increase their tolerance levels till they can tolerate most anything others do to them. They allow others to hurt them, over and over and over again. They stay in bad relationships for all the wrong reasons: to fix the other; for the kids (like kids need to grow up in a loveless relationship); because things will get better; and worst of all: because they feel they deserve to live in hell. They complain and blame but far too many never get away from their abuser. Then they finally get angry and become totally intolerant and the cycle begins all over again.

I’m definitely guilty of saying I won’t tolerate something but then allowing it to happen. However, this is conditional. If it’s someone that I’ve already fallen in love with and have emotions that are beyond my ability to control than this becomes a possibility. If it’s not someone that I’ve fallen for and do not have a deep attachment to, then I won’t tolerate shit and I can put up reasonable boundaries. I don’t have any of these reasons though. If I stay with someone that is hurtful it’s because I love them, not because I believe I don’t deserve to be happy. This may still be an expression of codependency, b/c the thought of losing someone I’m so attached to is beyond painful. However once I reach my limit, I’m done. For good.

Lack of Trust: codependents do not trust themselves, their feelings, their decisions, other people, or even God. And then, right out of the blue, they'll trust someone who is totally untrustworthy.

I don’t trust people for good reason. I don’t trust myself because I tend to be impulsive and I make poor emotional choices. However! I do trust some people that have most definitely earned my trust, like Roommate or my sister. One thing I’ve never done is trust someone that is totally untrustworthy. I may interact with them, I may want to trust them, but I won’t actually trust them.

Sexual Problems: codependents go through cycles in the bedroom. They are caretakers there too. They have sex when they don't want to or withdraw sex to punish their partner. They try to have sex when they are hurt or angry, and refuse to enjoy it. They withdraw emotionally from their partner, feel revulsion toward their partner, and don't want to talk about it. They reduce sex to a technical act, wonder why they don't enjoy it; lose interest; make up reasons to abstain, wish their partner would die, go away, or guess what is wrong with them; they have strong sexual fantasies about others and consider having affairs.

I can definitely see myself being a caretaker here. I never say ‘no’ to sexual anything even when I’m tired or uncomfortable (if it’s with someone that I’m already established with! I don’t sleep with random people). Though to be fair I do actually enjoy it and I think using sex or denying sex as a weapon or punishment is just wrong. Idk, I have very few sexual boundaries because I really do enjoy a lot of things in regards to sex. It’s something to enjoy and have fun with. When my boundaries were violated I did learn to talk about it and set solid boundaries!

General: codependents can be extremely responsible or irresponsible, they become martyrs, sacrificing their own happiness. They find it difficult to be happy, feel close to others, or have fun and be spontaneous. They are passive aggressive, feeling passive, hurt, helpless yet violent and angry. They laugh when they want to cry. They are ashamed of their families, of their relationships. They cover up, lie, and protect their family from their problems. They don't seek help because they don't feel the problem is all that bad. And then they wonder why the problems never go away.

In general I can see much of this as true for me. I’m not usually ashamed of my family or relationships (unless cognitively I know the relationship is very unhealthy and yet I’m still emotionally attached). When it comes to my problems, I definitely feel shame when I am not able to take care of something on my own and will not ask for help if I can avoid it. I don’t want others to see me struggle.  I think there is an important distinction in this statement. That being “To protect their family”…. I may cover up and lie about having problems, but it’s not to protect others, it’s to protect myself.

 I would think that someone who is codependent would feel helpless, feel that they needed someone else to rely on in order to fix their problems. Maybe that’s wrong though. Maybe someone that is codependent is so worried about people thinking they will be too much trouble if they have any problems that they must hide them. What do you think?

Over-responsibility – is taking responsibility for someone else’s problems. A person who is over-responsible will blame themselves for the actions, feelings, and thoughts of others. This can make them a victim of the problems other people have regardless of whether or not those problems have anything to do with them.

No. I often feel guilty if I can’t help enough but I don’t usually feel responsible for other people’s problems.

Resentment and self-pity often accompany co-dependence. When you do so much for other people (whether voluntarily or involuntarily), it’s easy to feel unappreciated, resentful, and self-pitying when you do not receive acknowledgement for the things you do.

I don’t know folks. I recognize a lot of these traits in myself, but I don’t know if I necessarily attribute all these things to codependency. A lot of them come from issues that I have that are completely separate from having anything to do with relationships. Or they’re a product of abuse. That’s the problem with self-diagnosis. You can go through a checklist and see that you match certain things, but if the context of those symptoms isn’t right then you may be attaching to a false label.

I have one more thing to share with you on this topic and then we’ll move on to it’s counterpart.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Codependency and Borderline Personality Disorder: Part 1

“I can’t live without him.” “Everything will be ok as long as she loves me.” “I must do everything I can do make sure that he’s happy {and therefore associate me with being happy}”

Sound familiar?

I’ve been talking about relationships a lot lately so I thought I’d touch on a couple things that are not uncommon with Borderline Personality Disorder: Codependency and Counter-Dependency.

I am not {generally} codependent so I’m relying on my research here. I am counter-dependent. They’re definitely both worth looking at.

When everything you do, when everything you think about saying {or not}, when everything you feel, is dependent on someone else, it’s a problem. It’s codependent.

Codependent behaviors, thoughts and feelings go beyond normal kinds of self-sacrificing or caretaking. People who are codependent often take on the role as a martyr; they constantly put other's needs before their own and in doing so forget to take care of themselves. This creates a sense that they are "needed"; they cannot stand the thought of being alone and no one needing them. Codependent people are constantly in search of acceptance. When it comes to arguments, codependent people also tend to set themselves up as the "victim". When they do stand up for themselves, they feel guilty.

Codependency is an addiction. An addiction to people. Often very specific people. Codependency is a behavioural and psychological condition in which a person sacrifices his/her own wants and needs in favour of someone else’s wants and needs in order to maintain an unhealthy relationship. Codependency is probably related to the intense fear and frantic efforts to avoid abandonment common in BPD.

Codependency is a dysfunctional relationship with the self. It involves habitual behaviors that are ultimately self-destructive.  Having some symptoms or periods of codependency are actually pretty common for most people. But in order to be considered a true codependent, like any disorder, it is something that must persist for an extended period of time and disrupt your life in an unhealthy way.  

So what’s the difference between depending on someone and being codependent on someone? In a healthy relationship a person can recognize when they need help or assistance in life. Having someone you trust and can turn to for occasional assistance or help when you need it, but otherwise being able to manage your life and support your own self esteem on your own, is a healthy level of dependence. To be codependent is to forget that your life and self-esteem will go on without the love and support of the person you are counting on. Everything in your world, your happiness, yourself worth, depends on the thoughts, opinions, and emotional integrity of the person that you are focused on.

A codependent Borderline lacks a true self-perception. Their identity is dependent on the people around them. Who they are is determined by the perception of someone else.

There is a hidden motive in the actions of those that are codependent. One so sneaky that the person themselves are usually unaware of it. Like many aspects of BPD, it’s a motivation of selfishness. When someone is lost in a world of codependence, sacrificing every waking moment to ensure the happiness of those around them, the real underlying, subconscious motivation isn’t because they altruistically want the world to be happy. No, it’s because they want to be loved and appreciated. Everything they do stems from the motivation of wanting to receive: receive love, receive validation, receive self-worth, receive, receive, receive.

To be fair, most people do this to some extent. We do things because ultimately it is to our benefit to do them. It’s that nature of the beast of humanity. For a codependent relationship though it’s so prevalent in the person’s life that it utterly disrupts their ability to live in a healthy way.

On the surface they appear to be the pinnacle of giving, caring, and nurturing, and indeed all those actions are, they often give of themselves to a fault… but it’s at the expense of what they really need, which is acceptance by themselves. Everything they do is to gain validation from an outside source.

Someone who is codependent will often bear the burdens of the person they are dependent on. Their mind will be consumed with thoughts of how to provide happiness for someone else. Their happiness, their feelings will in fact, be determined on whether or not something they do is able to create happiness in another. Relief comes from seeing relief in another. Self-worth comes from the recognition in another that what they did made their life better in some small way. This is where I have found myself being codependent before.

The ironic thing is that because someone who is codependent is so absorbed in being accepted by another, they are actually incapable of being accepted by another because they aren’t providing anything real for another person to accept. They’re giving and giving and giving, but they’re giving things that they think another person wants, not things that they actually are.

How can you feel secure in the love of another human being when ultimately you can’t believe that they love you for who you are… Because all you’ve shown them is what you can do for them and not who you can be with them? It’s an innate contradiction that someone who is codependent may never see. They give things, they give actions, they give relief of responsibility, but what they aren’t giving is the one thing they really need to give in order to form a true bond… themselves. But since their own identity is based on the perception of the person they’re trying to please it becomes a self-fulfilling cycle of sadness, self-doubt, and resentment.

Also ironically, is that the actions of a codependent often contribute to their partner being selfish and self-serving instead of appreciative and nurturing, which is what they want. When everything you do is focused on another person, naturally their focus is going to turn more and more towards themselves as well. The codependent may subconsciously condition their partner to also believe that everything that is done should be done for them, which contributes to their partner ignoring the needs of the codependent, and makes the codependent redouble their efforts to gain attention and favor, leading to the partner becoming more self-involved…. Can you see where this is going? It doesn’t help cultivate a healthy relationship at all. All it does is cultivate an environment where nothing is ever enough and the codependent person will continue to lose themselves to a cycle that they can never find the security they need.

“ What is Co-dependency?

When my good feelings about who I am stem from being liked by you.

When my good feelings about who I am stem from receiving approval from you.

When your struggles affect my serenity. My mental attention focuses on solving your problems or relieving your pain.

When my mental attention is focused on pleasing you.

When my mental attention is focused on protecting you.

When my mental attention is focused on manipulating you "to do it my way."

When my self-esteem is bolstered by solving your problems.

When my self-esteem is bolstered by relieving your pain.

When my own hobbies and interests are put aside. My time is spent sharing your interests and hobbies.

When your clothing and personal appearance are dictated by my desires as I feel you are a reflection of me.

When your behavior is dictated by my desires, as I feel you are a reflection of me.

When I am not aware of how I feel, I am aware of how you feel. I am not aware of what I want, I ask you what I want. If I am not aware, I assume.

When the dreams I have for my future are linked to you.

When my fear of rejection determines what I say or do.

When my fear of your anger determines what I say or do.

When I use giving as a way of feeling safe in our relationship.

When my social circle diminishes as I involve myself with you.

When I put my values aside in order to connect with you.

When I value your opinion and way of doing things more than my own.

When the quality of my life is in relation to the quality of yours. “

How else can you tell if you are codependent? There are quite a lot of symptoms actually, but I’ll get to those tomorrow.
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