I read an article recently about happiness written by a journalist who works for the Times in London. He was commenting about a book he was reading, given to him at Christmas, about how to find happiness. The title doesn’t really matter, as there are many such books on the market and as his article said, most of the book he was reading mirrored most of those. He did say that one interesting concept came through that we are not happy with “just enough” and that “greed and envy” are seen as the drivers of modern unhappiness. For many people, it would be nice to have the choice to manage with “just enough” (whatever that is). Some have to deal with less than enough on a daily basis.
Whatever the sense of this concept, it certainly set me thinking about things and relationships in general, especially from the point of view of codependency. The new year has generally started as the old finished with many emails from codependents (undiagnosed) concerning questions and my services. Nice as that is, it proves that codependency is still a major topic and one that is coming more and more to the forefront of thinking concerning relationships as people become more aware through the ever-increasing amount of resources available. For these people, “just enough” is never enough in a relationship and it is hard for them to place boundaries around heir own thinking, let alone the behaviour of others. In fact, boundaries are an alien concept to them and this important area of recovery is something they often need to learn from scratch.
Most of the people who contacted me (and generally) describe their relationships as one-sided and that they put far more effort into it than their less concerned partners. Some were in openly emotionally abusive relationships and had accepted this “as the way it is”. All were desperately unhappy and were seeking direction in their efforts to make sense of their situation. Many of them described their childhood in a very typical manner and one that I personally have heard many times. This typical childhood scenario, I described in an article written a few months ago. The article describes a dysfunctional relationship with caregivers that provides an equally dysfunctional template that codependents carry into future relationships. This seems especially strong with women who have tried to connect with an emotionally distant father, while observing an overwhelmed, codependent mother.
Many of the clients that I deal with also attend CODA meetings. Great as they are, they are not as focused and effective as a small, intimate group where participants can add more to the process. While it can be good to hear other people’s stories, a targeted program of recovery can be more a profound experience, especially if conducted by therapist who has overcome his own codependency issues. There are, of course, many advantages to individual therapy for codependency where a totally individual package can be tailored.
Over the years, I have tried many different methods in my practice while dealing with codependents. Most are aimed increasing awareness of the lack of connection to caregivers in childhood and the child‘s never-ending attempts to gain validation and attention. In the past few years, I have settled on a method that I really enjoy using because it is effective and creative…