In this video, at: https://terricole.com/are-you-codependent-or-caring-checklist-inside/ , Terri Cole discusses codependency as ‘a learned behavior of forgoing your own needs and desires for someone else’s’, and sometimes, deriving one’s sense of worth from over-caring for others in a dysfunctional way. She touches upon early conditioning and socialization, gender expectations, boundaries and over responsibility, over identification with siblings or others and the risk of illness and her own cancer diagnosis. She says ‘in most societies and cultures, there’s a “norm” or a standard ideal for human behavior, and gender expectations are a huge part of that. I’m not one to make sweeping generalizations, but for the most part, women have been socialized for thousands of years to be the caregivers and nurturers. Giving can feel like it’s our natural role. And of course, there’s nothing wrong with healthy, loving, appropriate giving. It’s over-giving and over-functioning that crosses the line into dysfunction and more often than not, points to codependency. ……… Our family of origin, the way we were raised, and the culture we grew up in all shaped our relationship to the world and to our identity. I call this collection of experiences, beliefs, impressions, and narratives, your “Downloaded Blueprint”. In every family system, there are roles that children learn to enact in order to feel part of their tribe and to feel like they belong. In chaotic, addictive or abusive systems, this goes a step further in that a child performs his or her role in order to feel safe and loved. In this type of system, it’s a common occurrence that the child had to provide VALUE by doing something that met the needs of other people in order to be recognized or feel loved, instead of the correct dynamic, which would be the adults meeting the child’s needs…… She defines healthy relationships as having a mutuality and being INTER-dependent, where each person has the right to negotiate for their own needs, desires, wants, and preferences’.
Terri Cole also situates herself in this short talk. She says ‘I learned that I should do it all. That my goal was to add value to everyone else’s life. I felt very responsible for not just doing the right thing always (hello over-achieving and perfectionist complex), but also for helping anyone who needed help whether that be my sisters, my mother, my family, extended family, my cousins and their children…you get the idea…. It took a cancer diagnosis in my early thirties to shake me up and inspire a deep look at how I’d been living. What I realized was that I was over-giving and over-functioning in nearly every area of my life. I wasn’t taking proper care of myself physically or emotionally. I’m fine now, and that was 20 years ago, but it really did give me a huge wake-up call to finally understand that my behaviors were codependent………Real love is taking care of yourself and taking care of the people you love in an appropriate and mutual way. It’s not being the martyr and taking on everyone else’s issues and emotions as your own. It’s not trying to solve everyone else’s problems….’