Codependency, Trauma, and Mental Illness

Interpersonal relationships are to be a source of self improvement practices, they ought to leave you feeling fulfilled, well rounded, and secure. These bonds need to be made sustainable if they should endure healthily for many years or a lifetime. Anyone will struggle with balancing relationships but people coping with mental illness or trauma can experience added pitfalls. Even the most stable easily becomes codependent as feeling safe is addictive. It’s important to feel secure but codependency develops into insecurity. 

When you’ve endured abuse, trauma, disability, and struggled to form friendships or romantic interests, feeling a spark of happiness feels like a lifeline. We want to please the person who we believe is responsible for that happiness. ‘I’m happy if they’re happy’ may become a motto that leads to placing the other person’s happiness above our own. We might avoid conversations that could be upsetting to them, our needs that could be perceived as a burden, and be unwilling to set boundaries. 

My fiancé and I have a very healthy relationship considering our disabilities and traumas, we hold each other accountable, communicate, and work to better ourselves constantly, but we’re working to dismantle our mutual codependency. Being aware of these behaviours and attitudes is important to maintaining our independence. 

We’ve been through tragedy, abuse, crisis, court, poverty, addiction, and more, together as a team. When people seem to fit together and better each other’s lives in every way, it’s difficult to feel you need to still be your own person. I don’t like myself as much as when I’m without my fiancé, but this is a sign there’s still issues I need to address as an individual. 

Over the last year or so I’ve grown as a person and have developed a fragile sense of self worth. I still struggle with being independent as far as my disabilities will let me. It’s healthy and important to have a support network and to be and have a caring, empathetic, and dependendable friend and partner, but temperance is key. It’s time to be aware of how you and the people in your life may be codependent.

Do you struggle to make decisions with someone’s input? Do you enable hindering behaviours in someone, and do they enable you? Do you take on more responsibility than you can handle? Do you feel comfortable being alone? Can you tell someone that they’ve upset you? Do you notice when you’re relying on someone to do something for you? 

Codependency isn’t a jail. It’s a coping mechanism. We become codependent because we’ve been deficient in stability and self worth throughout our life, but the time is now to build a more sustainable life. The resources are out there, the first step is simply to acknowledge our codependent tendencies.

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