In the area of self development and recovery the term co-dependency have been used for many years. And this generally describes someone who is not interdependent or independent; they are completely dependent on others or on certain substances.
This is something that can relate to every need that one can have. From the need to be: emotionally, physically and financially supported. There fulfilment is then only possible through relying on someone or something.
One is not operating from a place of trust and personal empowerment and neither do they have healthy boundaries. What is in there place is doubt, disempowerment and the opposite of boundaries – enmeshment. This person sees this person or thing as being essential to their survival. If the person or thing were to be removed for a short time or completely, there is likely to be withdrawal symptoms.
But while co-dependency is not a term that is familiar to everyone, dependency is something that the majority of people can understand. One might observe it in their own lives or in the lives of people they know or hear about through the media.
Whether it is about one feeling reliant on a person for emotional support or on a substance in order to handle each day, one is still separate from them. Another person will have their own needs and wants and one cannot become one with them.
It might be possible for someone to feel emotionally connected and lose themselves in the process, but physically they are still separate human beings and always will be. So for as long as this person stays around they will be fine, but if they are not around, there will be problems.
In the case of one being reliant on a substance, one needs to constantly consume it. There is no other option available. And when this substance is no longer available, all kinds of problems will inevitably arise.
When someone feels dependent, it will invariably relate to the relationships where they have the strongest emotional connection. So this means: family, friends, partner/lovers and children.
To be dependent on one’s family could mean that one feels completely reliant on them for emotional and financial support for instance. This could result in one still living with their caregiver/s or living nearby and not going too far away from them.
It would then include receiving money from them and if they didn’t receive this money, it could lead to one having financial problems and being unable to support themselves in life.
In the situation where one is depended on their partner, it would feel that one’s whole life rests upon that person being there for them. And if they were not there, one’s life wouldn’t be worth living and they wouldn’t be able to survive.
Although caregivers are adults and can have children who have grown in to adults themselves, they could feel that they are dependent on them. The roles have then reversed.
This can relate to their adult child/children supporting them financially, as well as emotionally. Their purpose in life has remained attached to them and they have not emotionally grown out of this. And without them around, they could feel: empty, powerless, abandoned and lifeless.
So while each one of these examples covers someone different, the same dynamics are taking place. One has come to associate their survival as being attached to the other person. They have not realised their own sense of personal power and inner strength.
Boundaries have not formed to allow them to know they are actually separate from the other person and that the person is separate from them. Emotionally they feel that they are one and the same and that there is no difference between them.
While this person may be physically an adult, emotionally they are still seeing the world and behaving as if they were a child or even a baby. And when someone is an adult, they will be expected to behave like one. As a child or a baby, one will feel dependent on others and this is normal.
However, if one is an adult and they still feel like a child or a baby emotionally, acting like an adult is unlikely to happen. So feeling a sense of personal power and having the strength to handle life is going to be a real challenge.
And these trapped feelings and emotions can relate to a child or baby that that was abused and emotionally neglected for instance. Time has passed and ones physical body has grown, but what hasn’t changed is how one feels. These feelings can go right back to when one felt: powerless, hopeless, helpless, worthless, empty, suicidal, rejected and abandoned.
It could be person that one has become dependent on someone or some kind of substance, but the reasons are still the same. They are allowing one to regulate their emotionally pain. If these people leave or the substances are not available, these trapped feelings and emotions will arise once more.
These trapped feelings and emotions needs to be released form the body. Due to them remaining in one’s body, one has continued to feel as they did when they were dependent on their caregivers.
As they are released, one will be able to embrace their inner power and strength. Boundaries will also form and one will see that there is only so much another person can give them and only so much one can give to another. Having a sense of self will be possible and one won’t need to enmesh with another person in order to have an identity and to feel supported.
This process can be assisted with the assistance of a therapist or a healer who will allow one to face their trapped feelings and emotions and release them.
Oliver JR Cooper
Author, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.