4 thoughts on “How Codependents Can Stop Enabling and Controlling

  • August 12, 2016 at 6:13 am

    The article looks very helpful. I am having a hard time applying it to my situation as a mother! The manipulative person in my life is my 13 year old son, with a mood disorder diagnosed at age 4. Toss in mild autism, ADHD and learning disabilities and you have a child that holds frustration in with teachers and other caregivers, but turns into a mean, entitled, moody and argumentative teen who unleashes his tirades at home. Year after year this has gone on. I am proud of my husband and I holding firmly to saying no many times and saying yes where needed. We brace ourselves for his reaction every time. He has a therapist but that kind of work will take months. I find his namecalling and insults towards me is not who he really is (he has an amazing genuine, loving personality). Sure he apologizes later, I tell him how it made me feel but it repeats. In the real world, he will push away for good any person close to him. I am stuck raising him but would like to know how to set boundaries beyond just telling my feelings that he had caused me pain. I want to stop making his meals, stop doing his laundry, stop taking him school shopping, stop taking him to dentist, stop providing clean sheets on his bed. The boundary issue seems like a good idea, I just can’t think how it can apply fo mothers. Be nice in your comments people, this is a really hard job I have!

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    • August 12, 2016 at 3:04 pm

      I feel for your struggle. It truly sounds very, very challenging.
      You are right that you just can’t refuse to do somethings for your minor child… I will defer to your son’s therapist for specific advice on developing coping skills, affect regulation, boundaries and consequences.
      What I do want to recommend is that you focus on taking care of yourself. Parenting a special needs child is super hard and draining and easily becomes the center of your world. Get support everywhere you can – friends, a support group, your own therapist. Invest in taking care of your emotional, physical and spiritual needs. Make time (even if it’s only a small amount) to do things you enjoy. When you nurture and value yourself in these ways you’ll not only have more to give, but also less resentment. I know it’s hard, but find a way to have a life that’s bigger than your son and all of his needs.
      I wish I had more answers…I wish you strength and self-compassion as you continue on.
      best wishes,
      Sharon

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  • August 14, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    i have a situation a bit like this, it’s complicated. i injured myself in an extreme spiritual practice, it became hard for me to do things like work or travel from place to place, my mom hired someone to constantly be around me and live in the house with us. even though i am injured i’m still actually very independent, and function well, writing books and connecting with people online, and when things go well i can even interact in a more lively way around the house, have long conversations, make jokes interact with multiple people. yet this constant watching over felt way too much, overkill. after a while i hit a point where i stopped submitting to it and after bartering with her for a while, things changed, she saw some part of what i was saying. my mom brought someone new in who was more of a friend to me, he is more his own person and it didn’t feel like he was ‘hanging’ over me as much, he didn’t feel like dead weight like the previous guy could be (of no fault of his own) (which makes this all so sad because it’s really no ones fault), and there was a lot we had in common to talk about like social activism. yet over the months this still became a similar thing of this odd adult baby-sitter type situation, feeling like sometimes people are hanging over me because they don’t always know how else to spend there time, in an odd way my injury seemed to give this type of person something to do, yet it doesn’t work because i feel pushed into these ‘required’ contrived human interactions, they become repetitive and pushy. it’s ironic because back when this all started after isolating myself in my spiritual practices and meditations i became weak and it made me realize that being around communities of people is very healing for me and others. yet this type of interaction my mom pushes often involves the same person frequently checking up on me and it feels like there always looking for a laugh or a word or interaction from me, which is ok i suppose, yet it feels like they aren’t content enough in themselves (my mom and the people she hires) not content enough in the unspoken bond, it can be hard for me to speak with my injuries so i can’t be pulled into a pressure to entertain others. in there shoes i feel i wouldn’t look to meet my conversational needs from a somewhat injured person, yet i still might enjoy that persons company in an unspoken way, and i also feel a bigger connection to the world, so i don’t feel like i have to ‘get it all’ from one or two people the way i used to, yet i feel others fall into this trap and i cant help them somehow. i used to be very codependent always looking for the perfect girl to meet my needs, but my spiritual practice, exploring a community approach, accidentally injuring myself, that who process changed me and my way of looking at this, now i might say that i feel connected to every person, yet i don’t feel dependent on a single one of them. just looking at someone i feel connected, just bing around people, i don’t need to hustle anyone, or get anything from them, it sounds cheesy but i feel the cultivation of human energy, energy between people, i really do. i ended up moving to my dads house and it has been pretty good, yet my mom will send people over here, and it feels like I’m frequently waging a battle having to set up boundaries. i’m sad and have mixed feelings about all of this because i’m grateful they have supported me, and they have really helped in a lot of ways. I’m an adult yet my injury give my mom the money and control. when things are going well i’m able to get out of the house and by groceries or walk in the park. yet my injuries make it hard to speak unless the environment is right, it really doesn’t help at all to have one or two people gathered around me and i’m there only means of human interaction. they will eat me alive. i seriously wonder for them and their needs. often they’ve fallen into a trap of taking care of someone just because they don’t know what else to do it seems. maybe things have gotten better after much time and deliberating. i saw the word co-dependency and it made me think of this situation i’ve struggled with. i’m not in a position of power and I’m lucky my mom and her friends and my friends have listened to me at all. yet i can’t help but feel that there could be something better here, it doesn’t feel like life should be such a constant and complicated battle of conducting politics to defend your life. even though i’m injured people like hanging out with me, and when I’m given the right amount of variety and space and quite time or unspoken connection my body feels healthy and i feel like i can naturally give back to the community. my injuries have actually taught me some really important things i didn’t know before and it seems important to give back what i’ve learned and even be an example of healthy living. i don’t want to label anyone as co-dependents because they mean well, yet that word did describe this situation. with my mom i notice she struggles to just sit down and not start a conversation, i was talking to her about peaceful thoughts bring me energy, yet i think she fears to drift into thoughts when people are around because she tells us as a kid she was teased for zoning out, so she considers this bad and anti social behavior. i feel she can be a bit hard on herself, she is often trying to ‘snap’ herself out of anti-social feelings. it’s funny how much i’ve come to value community, yet there’s this kind of external focusing or dependency some people do that isn’t community at all, yet my mom is still at it trying to teach me some lesson about this right way of how to be ‘social’ that has gone on since i was a child and never worked, for me her version of ‘being social’ that certain others share, is more like dependency, it’s pushy needy, too focused on singular people, not internally content, afraid of looking weird by ‘zoning out’, not enough inherent connection to everyone and all people, i feel like we’ve learned life lessons we could easily be sharing with the globe, yet instead we are caught in this silly 3 or 4 person dependency conflict that sucks energy. i get a lot of energy from bring around people in casual ways and groups of people, it’s frustrating when i spend a lot of energy fending off my mom and who ever she is paying, she calls it ‘social’ for me it’s repetitive, pushy, and it’s ironic because we all want the same thing. it’s not enough for others to respect my space if they don’t use that time feeing content within themselves as being more then people that seek after individual broken people and hover over and take care of them one at a time. it’s like when girls used to tell me the same thing “i need space” and i would spend the whole 2 weeks just thinking about them and waiting for the next chance to call. i can’t change people, but i haven’t given up. i apologize this is so long, it felt good to get that out. if u have read this, thank you. recently i needed 2 weeks space from a particular person, i wanted to rearrange some things and become accustomed to new living arrangements after moving before taking on certain people, yet i am made to feel like this is an unreasonable request, maybe i got board of that person constantly being around, it didn’t seem unreasonable at all, yet i have to constantly fight for this type of thing, and ironically i really like being around people in general, i like to hang out in malls and public spaces, yet it’s different when people pulling on you to meet some unmet need, it seems wrong for them o come to an injured person for that need, something doesn’t feel right here, but i don’t have power, i can’t reason with them, i feel like what i’m suggesting is better for everyone. he kept finding small excuses to come over he delivered some herb to help with my stress, but that isn’t truly my primary challenge, then he asked to come over again to pick it up if i wasn’t going to use it. if i need space or a break from a particular person, it can’t be a battle like this. maybe after a long conversation with my mom, she might find another person to send after me right away, but that’s not really a solution. she’s in charge of something she doesn’t understand and making decisions about my health that I should be making. Instead of building the relationships i should be building, and being at a natural human rhythm, i am spending lots of time fending off contrived relationships my mom pushes on me, and fending off the person or people that are caught up in her will, too comfortable following orders or going with her pattern, in part because it pays well. Sometimes my mom says she “feels guilty I (she) don’t push you more” and this really worries me deeply. this seems driven by some misplaced guilt of her wanting to feel in charge of protecting me taking care of me and teaching me motherly lessons she is supposed to teach, but she has been wrong about so many things and seems to have basic social struggles, about half the people she hangs out with are needy in the way she is, but it isn’t on her radar because she can’t see that part of herself so she can’t see at all why i like this person, but not that person when for me it’s clear when one person is really calm and natural and another is really loud and approval seeking, maybe she can see it but she doesn’t want to, because she depends on these people, the loud and abrasive people, the needy people that don’t know what to do without a directive to follow, the way she depends on me even though i’m injured, my sister her daughter also avoids her a fair amount, my mom needs these people because relationship isn’t sort of ‘natural’, even though she runs a company she often battles feeling disconnected she is a constant self-improvement project, (yet perhaps not enough self acceptance), and i was too until i realized how unfulfilling that was. sort of like my art projects used to draw people to me, her company creates relationships for her, so other social abilities or social comfortability may not have to be there

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  • May 8, 2018 at 9:11 am

    Not my circus, not my monkeys!

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