When you recognise and become aware that you are indeed a codependent, the hard work really starts.
Even codependents who have a good handle on their triggers and situations that could cause a relapse have to fight hard to keep them in check. As one of my recovering patients said quite rightly “You are only one thought away from relapse”.
I know from my own experience and that of others that even the smallest relapse back into codependency can be a devastating feeling associated with doubt, guilt and shame. The very emotions that helped to create the codependent in the first instance. To some, the hard productive work done in recovery is overshadowed by this perceived “failure”.
Often, the relapse is down to contact with a former “object” or someone or something that triggers similar feelings. Once that happens (and depending on the state of recovery), it might take some time to get back on track. I have seen some clients completely thrown off course. Much of this is down to expectations set at the start of recovery and of course boundaries previously set around “toxic” people. The setting of boundaries is an essential process of the road to recovery even if there might be some people who might attempt to storm through any boundaries set.
Why do codependents allow this to happen? We can again look at a client’s history for the answer. Somewhere in childhood, they felt abandoned, insecure or generally unloved. As children, we find it hard to separate ourselves from our family and even the smallest indication that we are to be left alone will, over time develop feelings that we are unlovable and not good enough. When these concepts are not dealt with, they become part of our adult “psyche”. Unresolved issues that really never go away. It generally leads to a fear of emotional and physical intimacy.
Only we truly reframe those early experiences and learn that we can make a choice to change our conditioning, will we have the insight to deal with the issue.