Codependents get a lot of sympathy from me. They are more likely to be abused and taken advantage of and their good nature is often exploited. They make bad decisions about relationships and one gets the impression that they seem clueless about how relationships develop. However, codependents also have a range of tools in their make-up that they bring out and use if they need to. This is usually when they feel they are losing control of the “object” of their codependency physically or emotionally.
When this happens, a codependent will immediately feel threatened. They will feel potential loss, rejection and the imminent fear of being abandoned. Codependency is also about control… control that they need and desperately cling to in order to feel secure. Remember, they sacrifice and martyr themselves to make themselves indispensible in their “objects” lives. In return, they want and need devotion. This, of course, mirrors the dysfunctional child-parent relationship they experienced earlier in their lives. To keep control, codependents have a range of methods at their disposal. One of the most used and common is the victim mentality.
As I mentioned in a earlier post, I was once what I consider now, a codependent at the wrong end of the healthy scale. As awareness was gained, I realize how much I used a victim mentality to exert pressure on people. It is the classic push-pull measure. Codependents push continually, driving the relationship for their own ends until they feel they are not getting what they need and then they pull or distance themselves, hoping this object will follow. They do this with silent treatment, taking of excess responsibility to gain sympathy, berating themselves using phrases like “I always do this” or “I will never lean”. They will often attack verbally letting their partner know exactly how much they do, have done and will do for them. They will also threaten to stop doing these things “then see how you manage!”
Depending on who the object is, these tactics will work or not and are usually part of a cycle that repeats itself over and over. If, as is mostly the case that the codependent is involved with a partner or parent with narcissist tendencies, the partner may well have a push-pull strategy of their own and has maybe learned to manipulate these tools to their own advantage. The issue here is self-esteem or more to the point, the lack of it. Codependents are usually very reluctant to face life alone because they just feel they cannot cut it without someone leading the way. The paradox is that they exert more control than they probably even realize themselves.