The violence of co-dependence
In his book Lost in the Shuffle by Robert Sully he makes the point that co-dependence has taken on a new face. From the narrow original definition of one lost in an addictive relationship, doing what one needs to do to make the dysfunctional relationship work, to the much broader definition that probably includes most of the human race. By this newer more encompassing definition we see included any dysfunctional family rules that prove counterproductive in the long term: e.g. the implicit rule not to express emotions, any emotions; the rule to not talk about family difficulties to anyone; the rule that says we smile and tell people “everything’s fine” no matter how much we’re hurting or what we’ve just been through, among many others.
This reminds me of the ending of the book “Code to Joy” where the author bluntly tells us, after reams and reams of lists of family problems and wrong messages that children walk away with into adulthood, he says: wouldn’t it be wonderful if could all raise our children with positive healthy messages that will actually serve them to grow and prosper: like, encouraging them to find what they like to do and encouraging them; brushing over mistakes, underlining achievements, loving them unconditionally, accepting wherever they are, etc.
Otherwise we end up like the co-dependents in Sully’s book or the wide range of ailments addressed in Code to Joy, with messages that we need to at some point address and change, if we want to heal.
I recently took a hypnotherapy program, part of which was to write a paper on your own co-dependent story. I found that a little puzzling as a general assignment until I started looking into the co-dependent literature and found how all-encompassing this category is and how we’re virtually all affected by the dysfunctional rules we grew up with. To think otherwise would be to assert that I alone among all my friends, grew up with perfect parents. I wish!
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