Addiction and the corresponding problem of co-dependency has been discussed so much that it has lost credibility to some who claim it as a discredit to those trying to help people overcome addictive behaviors. This has nothig to do with the interrealated problems of the co-dependents and their addicted loved ones. The situation they are living in is terribly real, very painful and without knowledge of a way out, there is not much hope in their lives.
It is important in a relationship for each person to unconditionally love and accept the other but if two people are caught in the addict - co-dependent cycle, this love is not happening and has little chance to grow without serious changes by both persons. The addicted one, by acting out thier addiction, causes the retaliative action of the other person which then casuses the addict to indulge even more and then the co-dependent to punish and deny even more. It's a deadly cycle, based on a lose-lose contract emotionally signed and sealed by both parties.
If the addicted person is indulging in their addiction at whim with no resistance, the other person in the relationship becomes a co-dependent who actually unconsciously encourages the indulgence. They are both dishonoring and disrespecting themselves and each other by allowing the other to dishonor and disrespect them and their relationship.
To have a growing, vital relationship, each person must accept each other just as they are without trying to change the other. How can you not try to change the other when they are doing something harmful to themselves, you or others? You can't.
A person trapped in and acting out their addiction, is unable to have a healthy relationship with another human being. If you are joined in relationship to an addicted person (any addiction, alcohol, drugs, sex, pornography, gambling, etc.), you are in danger of being co-dependent and assisting the individual in keeping their addiction as well as your own corresponding one going.
The only kind of positive relationship an addicted person can have is one of unconditional, healing love with someone who knows them inside and knows the cry of their heart to be free. In any relationship, each have mutual problems that depend on each other to manifest. In the case of an addicted person and their co-dependent, both are addicted but to different needs. These needs depend on the addictions of each person and the resulting emotional, behavioral dynamic to be satisfied. However, if one of them breaks free of the cycle by an inner revelation of who they truly are, they can become the catalyst for change, not only for themselves but the other also.
If the co-dependent is not aware that he/she is just as addicted to the addict's behavior as the addict is to the substance they need, they will be manipulated and controlled by the addicted person. Also, the co-dependent person in the relationship will manipulate and control the addict into the desired behaviors to satisfy their need to be a righteous victim. A dependency cycle will be established with much pain and sorrow but which neither will be able to easily break free from.
Whether you are the addict or the co-dependent, the only way healing can happen is if one of you breaks free from the cycle. Breaking free with the realization of your own worth as a valuable human being who is loved and totally accepted by God, even in the midst of your greatest sin. When this truth becomes a reality in you, you realize that you have been allowing the other person to use you to get their unhealthy needs met, whether you are the addict or the co-dependent.
Both of you have been surrounded by a delusion of lies, manipulation and intensely unsatisfied inner needs and desires. Where these chaotic energies converged, they created highly charged emotions and behaviors. When you truly decide to love,(not just head knowledge and agreement) honor and respect yourself, you immediately change your style of living. You see that you have allowed and even unconsciously encouraged the other to treat you badly. Suddenly you realize this can go on no longer. You must show them that you are too important to be treated dishonorably.
If you love, respect and honor yourself, you will expect others to treat you the same or you will just not be around them any more. You let them go to God's healing grace. If the other is not committed to change, you have no right to try to change them. You only have a right to insist on being treated with respect which may mean you leave their presence. A co-dependent will think that their self-righteous sacrifice is what will save the addict from her/himself. The addict thinks that the sacrifice of the other is their right and priviledge because they are continually looked down upon by the co-dependent. ("They deserve how I treat them because they always treat me bad).
The delusion of lies and resultant manipulations is fed by fear. The addict is afraid to face her/his lack of maturity, responsibility and commitment (weakness). Distracting themselves by indulging in their compulsive behavior relieves the pressure to perform correctly and the subsequent feelings of guilt when they don't even try. If their co-dependent other gets angry about it, they rationalize defensively by claiming their right to freedom to do what they choose.("quit picking on me!") The co-dependent responds to this indulgence with their own brand of fear. "They don't love me, they are rejecting me for someone else." or, "They don't love me or they wouldn't get drunk and call me disrespectful names. I insist they stop that behavior or I will hate them and think of ways to punish them."
So the indulgences and punishments come and go. The addicted person claims a right to do what they please and the co-dependent retaliates with more demands that they change. Both are wrong. There is no respect or honor to themselves or each other.This of course is not a healthy relationship and has no way of becoming one unless serious changes happen to both parties. The only way for change is, as I said before, if one person realizes who they truly are and their true worth as a human being.
If one person does this, it can and often does spark a heated, negative reaction in the other. No one will easily give up an emotional comfort zone they need, especially if it is trying to be removed by an enemy/lover who they have been playing the game with for a long time. Sometimes, the only thing the individual who is changing can do, is leave. Then, it is up to the other to continue in their problems or wake up and decide to deal with the trouble they have been causing themselves. This is actually easier for the addict to do then for the co-dependent, as they almost always feel as though they are the "right" one who has been treated badly by the addicted person and seldom see their own contributions to the mutual problems. Sometimes when one wakes up and leaves, they never get back together again but grow away from each other as they grow up-not needing their addictions any longer, they no longer have an attraction to each other.
Sometimes the one who woke up and started loving and respecting themselves found that they loved the other so much they would not leave them in their condition. They saw into the heart of their lover and found a deep struggle and desire for change. The attraction they started with still being there, even with some of the negative corelates gone, gives them both encouragement and hope that a new, loving relationship has a possibility of happening. This is the healing love that can break the addictions by conquoring the fears that established them. Unconditional love does not judge, blame, punish or leave the other. This love can build a foundation of trust and safety needed by both to be who they truly are. When the reason for the lies cease, there is no more need for manipulation to hide the lies from the other. A transparency is formed between them that allows them to deal with issues as they come up. No more hiding, no more fear of being caught. No more blame or pity parties.Both are on an equal basis, no one perpetrating and no one being the helpless victim. They share feelings instead of recrimminations and both really listen to each other.
No matter who starts the change, there is never one healing the other but both are healed and both are changed by that healing. No addiction is too strong or too persuasive to not be healed by this kind of God given unconditional love. Love has no limits, no constraints or boundries when you surrender to its life giving current. Two people who have overcome addiction with all it's pain and devastation with surrender and submission to the spirit of God's love within each of them, will attain a love relationship not often encountered in this world.
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