When Your Heart Has Been Shamed…Living With Codependence

Codependence is one of those terms that is used freely, but without a unified concrete meaning shared by those using the word.

At Heart Matters Counseling, we use the term as a way of describing a state of personal and interpersonal discomfort marked by a person’s inability to be in healthy relationship on three levels:

  1. Spiritually (with a Higher Power)
  2. Intrapersonally (with oneself)
  3. Interpersonally (with others)

The first two of these relational levels are foundational to the function of the third and are often overlooked as the primary issues to be addressed as problems arise in the relationships of couples, families and friends.

Another way to view the concept of codependence is in terms of level of maturity. A mature person is one who can handle relationship problems with a balance of consideration, compassion and care for the other as well for oneself.

A codependent, using the concepts we espouse at Heart Matters, has difficulty with their own sense of well-being, and; therefore, will be experienced by others as, perhaps, controlling, withdrawn or extreme in their behaviors and their expression of themselves.

In the main stream of Addiction Recovery treatment, the codependent is usually referred to as the co-addict, the enabling person to the addict; however, at Heart Matters, the therapists view both the addict and the co-addict as potentially having issues of immaturity which are enabling the relationship to function in an unhealthy manner. Codependent or immature people cannot produce intimate connection. Instead they discover intensity or enmeshment, which they often confuse as intimacy.

• Esteem: The ability to see value, worth and significance in the self as one would also see these qualities in others. It is the balance between the extremes of worthlessness and grandiosity with many levels in between.
• Protection: The ability to protect and contain the self with healthy functional boundaries while honoring the boundaries of others.
• Identity: The ability to know and take ownership of one’s personhood as it is experienced through the intellect, emotions, behavior, physical body and spiritual connection of each individual.
• Care for the Self: The ability to balance the human need for community and the meeting of needs with independent thought and action. This capability is referred to as interdependence.
• Self-Control: The ability to manage one’s reality without living in extremes physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually.[/box] [box]At Heart Matters, we have coined the anachronism EPICS to help remember the important concepts mentioned above: esteem, protection, identity, care, and self-control. These five core issues are inherent in each individual’s story and their preparation, or lack of it, for healthy or unhealthy relationships. The ultimate goal at Heart Matters is to empower our clients to learn these fundamental skills so that can move out of their adaptations- “the who they aren’t” and move into their mature self- “the who they really are”- so that they can authentically live life in healthy relationship to themselves, to God and with others.[/box]