By Karen McMahon
What Causes Codependency and How to Begin to Heal
Marriage does not cause Codependency; it is just a place where it is practiced a lot. The roots of Codependency are always in childhood. Controlling, critical, abandoning, abusive and shaming parents and caretakers inflict the wounds in the tender psyches of children that result later in life as the low self-esteem, powerlessness, voicelessness, other centeredness, low entitlement, passiveness and depression that we correctly call Codependency. Many times this damage can seem subtle during the childhood itself. If it is all that you have ever known then what do you have to compare it to?
In a healthy family children and teenagers are encouraged to have a voice. They are encouraged to speak up and make their cases. That is a skill that they will need in relationships, in school and on the job down the road. In a healthy family a child gets the focus and the attention and the care that they need. The focus isn’t on dad’s alcoholism or mom’s depression. The parents have the ability to really be there for the kids consistently. Parents can give praise directly to the children and they are lavish with it. Home is a safe and a predictable place. The child does not have to grow up too quickly. They can just focus on being a kid. They don’t become the emotional caretakers of their parents.
Women are especially trained in our society to be Codependent, although there are also millions of Codependent men in our society as well. Women are taught to be sweet, supportive, nurturing, gentle, not too assertive and not too opinionated. The message a Codependent gets growing up is that they aren’t quite good enough. They don’t quite rate dad’s attention or his time. They don’t quite measure up to mom’s expectations. They need to try harder. They need to eliminate the self and anything positive that the self could have done for them. They need to live for others.
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