The dance of the codependents

Ixande  Rehab Cape Town, South Africa, has one of the best codependency treatment programmes available. Often described as an intricate dance between two partners, codependency is an emotional or relationship disorder that affects the individual’s ability to engage in and maintain healthy relationships. In many cases codependency and other addictive behaviours including alcoholism and drug abuse, go hand in hand

The term codependency can literally be explained as somebody who is “co dependent”. The term was originally coined during the study of the effects of alcoholism or substance abuse on other members of the family unit. For example, if the father in the family is an alcoholic, the wife and children in this family are likely to become codependent. They are not dependent directly on the alcohol or substance, but they learn to modify their own behaviours as direct result of the afflicted family member. In many cases the mother in an alcoholic family will become the enabler, the person who without realizing continues to enable the alcoholic father. The children in this dysfunctional family, may assume certain dysfunctional roles, often referred to as “the hero”, “the scapegoat”, “the lost child” and “the joker”. These roles or learned behaviours are a direct consequence of the father’s alcoholism and in essence a coping mechanism. Many children of alcoholic parents or parents who abuse drugs will grow up into adults with strong codependent tendencies. Here are few characteristics of a codependent:

  • They think they can take care of themselves without any help from others
  • They tend to mask pain in various ways such as anger or humor
  • They will put aside their own interests in order to do what others prefer
  • Codependents are unable to identify or ask for what they need and want
  • They have to feel needed in order to have a relationship with others
  • Codependents will suppress their feelings or needs to avoid feeling vulnerable
  • They value others’ approval of their thinking, feelings, and behavior over their own
  • Codependents have trouble setting healthy priorities and boundaries
  • They are hypervigilant regarding the feelings of others and take on those feelings

Ixande is a rehab South Africa that caters for a variety of addictive behaviours, including codependency. Besides catering for the codependent, Ixande also treats those that suffer from alcohol addiction, drug addiction, sex addiction and gambling addiction. Because the codependent has often grown up in a dysfunctional family where alcoholism or drug addiction has played a role in how their own behavior has developed, it is extremely beneficial for the codependent to share the therapeutic environment with alcoholics and addicts. The group therapy sessions provide valuable insights into their own behaviours and rescuer/caretaker tendencies.

Codependents will very often get into a relationship where they assume a caretaker role. This allows them to put the needs and wants of their partner before their own. Whilst this appears to be very unselfish, it is actually all about the codependents’ deep seated need to feel needed. This is why they are often attracted to those people who seem to need looking after. In many cases the cycle is repeated and a codependent will subconsciously choose an alcoholic or drug dependent partner that they can take care of and enmesh with. A self-defeating triangle develops, sometimes referred to as the Karpman Codependency Triangle. The more the codependent tries to rescue their partner, the more the partner will retreat or pull away. The codependent feels resentful and unappreciated which is the exact opposite of what they are after. It’s clear to see why these codependent relationships are often likened to a form of dancing, with the never ending push-pull dynamic that exists, and how each “dance” partner is so familiar with the others’ dance move, that the dance analogy is a very apt description.