]Parents have good reason to be anxious for the health, safety and well-being of a troubled teen. But we’ve seen many parents who cross the line and become so obsessed with their child’s behavior that living their own life becomes unmanageable. It’s called “co-dependent,” being overly enmeshed in someone else’s life to the detriment of your own. One of its symptoms is pervasive anxiety, always waiting for the other shoe to drop. In a recent Al-anon post, a recovering co-dependent described it as “waking up to the vulture at the end of the bed.”
Co-dependents aren’t born that way; they’re made–generally by circumstances involving troubled parents whose lives are out of control because of drugs or alcohol or other addictive behaviors. Children of such parents learn early that survival means walking on eggshells: gauging the parent’s moods and attending to the parent’s needs; in effect, doing for the parent what a normal parent does for a child. Growing up with this upside-down dynamic eventually affects the decisions they make and the relationships they have—relationships that are frequently with other addicts. The co-dependent doesn’t think twice about giving up everything to care for them—be it a spouse, sibling, business associate, friend, or their own troubled teen.
Co-dependent behavior is tough to change, but it can be done. Al-anon is where many co-dependents learn how to help the addict in their life without putting the addict’s needs before their own. “They have to show up for themselves,” says the blogger. “You cannot do it for them. But, you can do it for yourself.” Read the full post here.