I've known many Christian codependents in my time. Most of them are in therapy, many of them are on anti-depressants, and a few have gone through the 12-step program. And frankly, I haven't seen a lot of change or growth. Oh yes, they know a lot after being in therapy for many years, or in the 12-step program over and over again. But change? Not usually.
I see that this type of person is often detached from themselves. It isn't uncommon for them to talk about out of body experiences they've had when they were younger (or even as adults). It's understandable why this happens - because of the abuse in childhood, whether physical-sexual or psychological abuse. To escape, the child must detach themselves from themselves. They usually go into a fantasy world and divorce themselves more and more from reality. So, if someone tells them they are being abused and controlled, often the codependent is so far into fantasy and so detached that they don't know what the person is talking about.
They have time management problems because time isn't important to them.....time just happens as it happens, interwoven with the fantasy world. They often don't know when or what to eat as the detachment from their bodies plays out. This also affects sleeping patterns. They often don't know when to go to sleep or how much sleep is needed. And so, this is where the controller comes in. The controller tends to be a rigid type and knows exactly what and when to eat; when to sleep, and so on. The codependent, needing a bridge to the outside real world, is basically asking the controller to be this bridge.
In the last post we saw codependents ignoring red flags although they usually saw them. They are so desperate for the controller to order their life that they cannot afford to see red flags. Because the codependent is a master of enabling and excusing evil, the red flag is ignored and the controller can continue the relationship with the codependent.
The codependent also often confuses this behavior on the part of the controller as love, not only because of the bridge, but because of what they were used to in parental figures as a child. Losing the "love" of the controller then is another reason for ignoring red flags. I feel strongly that the red flag syndrome is very important but I seldom hear therapists and other people working with codependents talking about this much. If someone says they are getting out of their codependency BECAUSE they were in therapy or recovery groups, AND they don't exhibit the
following four characteristics, then I don't believe they really are growing out of it.
The four characteristic that MUST be seen in a codependent getting healthier are these:
1) Seeing and doing something about red flags; not ignoring them OR minimizing them.
2) Stopping the excusing and enabling of control/abuse.
3) Not drawing controllers to themselves; drawing healthier people as friends and lovers; and, bosses and pastors.
4) Stopping the playing of the blame game with the controller(s).
Until I see these growth patterns, I tend to take with a grain of salt someone who says they are not codependent anymore. If that sounds mean, I don't want it to be, but I don't think it does these people a lot of good to string them along, telling them that they are getting better if in fact, they are not. Should we encourage codependents? Absolutely! But, let's not encourage them to remain in their fantasy worlds. Little by little - and it must be a process - let's help to guide these wonderful, sensitive people into the world of real. That is where God lives - the world of real.
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