While working in a psychiatrist's office for two years, I saw everything from addicts to schizophrenics come through the doors. Until I started working there, I had never heard of codependency—even though I’d seen it in the behavior of others all of my life. It turns out the behavior is quite common.
Merriam-Webster defines codependency as "excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically a partner who requires support due to an illness or addiction." Basically, it's what happens when common sense gives way to good intentions.
- Get a grip. So many people who have suffered from codependency think it’s a self-less way to live, but really they're negatively becoming a crutch to someone they love. Tough love is hard to impose on yourself, but when you realize that your behavior - despite good intentions - is ultimately hurting you both, you need to make the break**. Learning to say no to someone in need is hard enough, but if you don’t learn to say no every now and then you’ll be just as addicted as they are - just a different kind of addition.
- Don’t be a hero. It sounds harsh, but letting go of the heroics and simply letting people be responsible for their own actions is the most mature way to support someone. Stop being the padding for someone when they hit bottom. By standing in the way of someone’s crucial moment, you are prolonging their problem, not remedying it. Being needed will only end with you being a victim of yourself. It’s like what they say about emergency situations: help yourself first - then you can help others.
**This article does not necessarily represent the views of Patch. Roswell Patch encourages readers to see a licensed physician for diagnosis of illnesses and certain behaviors.