I fit in a clear pattern of codependency. I inherited it from my parents, grandparents, and probably great grandparents. What do these relationships have in common? People act in a tyrannical, capricious and toxic way thanks to some sort of addictive behaviour be it towards aggressiveness, sex, food, work, gambling or drugs with the unconscious goal of controlling or manipulating the other person. From what I observed and noticed, codependent couples tend to be passive-aggressive towards each other with one of them being more prone to show explosive behaviours and the other more prone to implosive ones.
Children raised in dysfunctional families (families in which physical safety and/or the psychological process of individuation were at risk) tend to either identify with or adapt to the ‘tyrant’. Children who adapt tend to develop a codependent role in future relationships and they become adults who only know the burden of adulthood but not the joy of it. Sadly, they were forced to become ‘the adult’ at an early age and therefore they know very little about enjoying themselves and life in general. That’s why they are called “adult children”.
People with the Adult Children Syndrome share some characteristics. They overthink and have a difficult time when trying to understand their emotions. They are usually high on perfectionism and they desperately look for certainty. They avoid power and control because these are strongly associated with unhealthy patterns such as manipulation, harshness and narcissism. They judge themselves very harshly and take everything personally which often leads them to feel ashamed of their behaviours and feelings. They are emotionally dependent, meaning that they are capable of doing straight-forward tasks but leave decisions that involve desire, responsibility and difficult decisions to others.
Adult children are usually passive about doing anything that benefits them because they grew up around adults who made them believe that having initiative, a high spirit or wanting to pursue their self-interests were wrong things to do. Since they were not entirely accepted for who they were, adult children tend to build their lives based on people pleasing and other people’s interests in hope they will in turn be liked. They also struggle to say ‘no’ because they were somehow punished in their childhood whenever they opposed the ‘tyrant’ of the family. As a consequence, they tend to have poor boundaries.
They also don’t deal well with strong emotions, since these were associated with hurt in early years. They are too forgiving and they are always excusing people. They are excessively giving because deep down they wish to receive too. They isolate themselves in order to make their life easier. They are easily impressed by charisma and intellectual abilities, which narcissists pretend to be very good at. Events are perceived as either really good or really bad and they struggle to talk about problems as they used to be blamed all the time by their parents whether they were or not responsible.
I thought I had put an end on my codependency but I guess I haven’t. I did good when I was by myself but I got triggered the moment I let someone in. It hasn’t been easy to experience and process it all. As of today I feel numb and confused. It’s like walking on a minefield on a daily basis and you don’t know how to fast track your healing process in order to create a smooth life. You push each other’s buttons instead and suddenly you are in war zone again. Rinse and repeat. This time was your turn, next is your partner’s. To make things worse, you totally abandon yourself and turn to your own addictive behaviours when you are too tired of fighting and you just want a quick relief. It’s never a true relief though and it’s never quick as cravings can become guests for days, weeks or even months.
At the end of the day, we are all children in a grown-up body. We hurt each other not because we want to but because we have unresolved issues. We may know better but we can’t act on it when we are overwhelmed, scared or stressed out. Some people had it easier and they learnt in their early years how to gain internal control and thrive. Others weren’t so lucky and need to learn how to reprogram themselves from scratch. This requires a tremendous self-discipline and courage to go deeper within to face all the inner demons left inside – and do all the things we need to be healthy and happy adults.