Author: Ann Schiebert
Dear Ann: HELP!!!! I am so worried about my wife. She drinks every night and then passes out. I have tried to explain to her that this is damaging her health and effecting our marriage and our children. I have done research about treatment centers, but she won’t read it. I’ve tried to get her to go to a therapist, but she won’t go. I bought her books about addiction, but she won’t read them. I hate it when she’s mad at me so sometimes I go out to buy her wine or beer, just to avoid an argument. I feel so lost. If she would stop drinking, our problems would be so much better.
Codependency is the disease to please. It is the tendency to fix, rescue, and save another person from the natural consequences of their decisions. It is the need to CONTROL and the unwillingness to accept how others choose to live their lives. Codependents get addicted to those they are trying to fix.
With all their offers of assistance, codependents think they are being helpful, loving, and kind by advising, making suggestions, lecturing, and manipulating others to do it their way. Everything a codependent gives has a string attached. What is that string, you ask? It is appreciation and acknowledgment for their, “gift” of trying to change you. When codependents don’t feel heard or when their, “wisdom,” is not acted upon, they tend to become sad, depressed, hopeless. All of this has a flavor of martyrdom. “My life would be so different if only he/she/they would change.” They often take on the role of victim.
There is great chaos in the lives of most codependents. They have turned their emotional well being over to the addict in their life. They have allowed the addict to bring the, “addiction chaos,” and , “addiction drama,” into their homes, work arena and spiritual lives. They have allowed the addict’s disease to run life.
Codependents often claim that they want intimacy with the person they knew before addiction took over. This might happen if the addict gets into recovery. With an active addict, remember, their primary relationship is with their substance/behavior. In spite of the codependent’s many attempts to get the addict to, “see the light,” their addict continues the behavior the codependent wants to change. “But there is hope,” many say. “Maybe eventually they will hear me and have a light bulb go on.” This is part of a codependent’s addiction to hope. Addicts are extremely intuitive and insightful. They know how to, “play,” people. So the addict can promise to do better, stop the abhorrent behavior, go to treatment etc., but the promises never manifest. Codependents want to believe the words and tend to disregard their addict’s behavior which negates the promises.
As long as one person wants to change another to be more of the person they think they can create, there can be no intimacy. Fixing, rescuing, unsolicited helping, serves to put the codependent in a superior position. The person who, “needs fixing,” finds himself in the, “one down,” position. There is no balance in this type of relationship. Codependents thrive on being needed. “I need you,” is music to their ears. “I love you,” creates great discomfort.
The codependent’s need to control, guised in helpful suggestions, and the addict’s primary relationship with their substance/behavior, preclude either from having the intimacy they so desire.
With all these barriers to intimacy, where do we go from here?