Coping With Codependent Family Members: It Can Be Like Living With an Alcoholic

It can be very difficult to remain emotionally resilient and strong if you have to cope with a codependent family member on a day to day basis, it can put an enormous strain on your whole family.  Codependents often become manipulative in their need to control others and in a way, it can be like living with an alcoholic as the situation can become unpredictable and even volatile.  Insecurities within relationships are naturally addictive and because codependency behaviors are learned, you must be careful not to become embroiled in these behaviors yourself.

It can be difficult to remain unaffected when a close family member is behaving in a certain way but it might help to consider that codependency really is a way for someone to cope with life in general and these coping behaviors are often learned by examples set and passed down from generation to generation.  While this behavioral absorption is subconscious, it can be hard to avoid.

Your family member may feel the desire to:

  • Control your life
  • Rely on you too much.
  • Try to do too much for you
  • Publicly sabotage if they feel that they are losing you

While codependent relationships are damaging, your family member may not be aware that their codependency behaviors are both stifling and irrational and that the intention of keeping you close may be pushing you away. As frustrating as these behaviors may be, it’s important to realize that the way someone acts forms life patterns that are remembered and these actions become the norm.

Codependency is a form of addiction however and it is important that professional help should be sought. Whilst you cannot force the sufferer to attend, it may help if you and the rest of your family seek counseling because it will offer some clarity to the situation. Codependents can put an enormous pressure on a family circle but by you being proactive and seeking out help, it will help you to be able to cope and at the very least, to be able to understand why such behaviors occur. Unburdening your own inner feelings to the counselor can help you to feel much calmer and less irritated going forward and if you are supported by the rest of your family, the family unit can become much stronger as a result of the communication airwaves being opened up.

Depression and anxieties are commonly experienced as part of this condition and this can lead to unsettled and even volatile behaviors which could make you feel frustrated and angry. If you release your anger however, the codependent will often instinctively tap into their role of victim which will ultimately make you feel bad for your outburst. Typically codependents hate someone responding with anger as it further impacts their feelings of low self-esteem or inadequacies and may result in feelings of guilt and judging themselves harshly. Living with a codependent can be like living with an alcoholic, sometimes there is no reasoning or cajoling and it can be like walking on eggshells. Alanon meetings may be of benefit to alcoholics but the principles of alanon are valid in that they are a support group for the sufferer and their affected family members and this goes to show that speaking to others who are in a similar situation can be greatly beneficial.

If you try to progress within your own life, the codependent nature of your family member may instinctively respond to their fear of you progressing and equate this to losing you. This increased emotional pressure can be difficult to contend with but it’s important that you stand strong and continue to focus on your own life and not be swayed by others. This is the healthy action and you should remain focused on your own goals. Your family member may not like the changes that occur as a result but they will endure it.

Even if the codependent in your family does not wish to seek professional help, remember that it is important that you do so that you fully understand this condition and how it affects those close to you. Remember that everyone has a responsibility for their own lives and you cannot hope to find a solution for others. If they wish to seek help for their codependency behaviors and take steps for recovery, then help will be there for them. Whilst this condition is often shrouded in mystery, think how you would cope if living with an alcoholic, as there are similarities in that both are addictions that affect behaviors and those around them. If your codependent family member acknowledges that they have a problem, then this is the time where you can offer support and encouragement as they start on the road to emotional recovery.

1 Comment