Codependency 101


Grab a cup of tea and take a deep breath. Hold the cup in your hands and let its warmth travel through you as you listen.

We’re unpacking a big word for you on this episode: Codependency.

As you’re listening and maybe begin to recognize things in your own story, be gentle, be curious, be kind.

This is a complicated topic. So, we’ll explore it carefully through the lens of story.

Codependency can often be traced back to childhood, linking to your relationships with your mom or dad.

What you learned to believe about you and your relationship to others back then is having an impact on your relationships now. The hard truth is we can return to what’s familiar, even if it’s bad for us, when we’ve grown up in dysfunction.

So, let’s learn what Codependency can look like and how to grow through it.

Recovery is true and possible. Your inherent dignity and honor is sacred by design.


Codependency is when a person has a serious lack of self-understanding and/or self-acceptance. They look to others to fill that void and to make them worthwhile.

What Codependency can look like:
If another person needs you, you feel like you have a purpose.
You are desperately needing approval from others.
You’re frustrated if you can’t make others happy, if you can’t fix them.
And you forget yourself and your needs.

Codependency is traced back to childhood, often linked to relationships with parents/care-givers.

Truth: Recovery is true and possible.
Story is a powerful teacher. Know your story. Get in touch with your story. Write it out. Talk to somebody about your story and you’ll be able to connect some of the dots.
Once you get that awareness from your story work, it explains so much.

We all have 4 basic needs: to be seen, soothed, safe and secure. If you were missing those as a child, name the need. This is just saying, Recognizing those needs and where they weren’t met is empowering.

There is a lot of re-parenting that goes on here with our own selves to our younger selves. And allowing God to be the perfect parent to re-parent us. There’s a lot of re-parenting that goes on in codependency.

We return to what’s familiar, even if it’s bad for us when we grow up in dysfunction.

If you’re unable to express your feelings and your needs, then you’re just like, “Whatever you need. Whatever you want, take it.” And it is sexualized in ways that are very interesting. We don’t know what else to do. And others can respond to sexual offerings.

Questions to Journal:  Be gentle with yourself here.

Who did God create me to be?
Before the world told me who I was, who am I?
How might God want me to live my life?
How might God want to live my life with me?
How do I look to God for what only He can give me?
How could I allow God to heal me and to begin the process of wholeness?

Help the show

This Episode’s Transcription

Andrea 0:02
I wish that our listeners could be privy to the few minutes just leading into this. Because the way that you prayed us into this episode is such a beautiful. It’s a beautiful example of coming alongside, and really just gently approaching big topics. And we’re approaching a big one today. Yeah. And when it comes to any sort of counseling, a word that therapists and coaches like to use is the word unpack. Yeah. And we are unpacking today, we’re gonna do some of that, yes, this conversation is full of a lot of psychological terminology. And those big words have a lot of real feelings underneath. So let’s unpack Yeah,

Kit 1:01
I’m really looking forward to this time today and unpacking this idea that we’re going to explore today. Let’s get started.

Andrea 1:09
Codependency yep, that’s a big word it is. And if you were to Google it, I have a lot of answers. But what we’re gonna do is unpack it as real humans together. Yeah,

Kit 1:22
yeah. And, you know, as we’ve done a couple of times, we talked a lot about stories. And that’s another way to kind of introduce a complicated topic is to see it through the lens of story. So today, we’re gonna start with my story, which again, we’ve touched on a little bit before, but we’re gonna get into it a little bit more. And, you know, it’s been really interesting to I mean, I know my story, I’ve done story work. But even revisiting, it has been very interesting for me, just kind of affirming even in me how we’re recommending it to others. I’m like, Yeah, this really is good to do, reasonably Yes. And so, you know, I was like, 11 years old, when I first came under the spell of what I thought was love, when it was really codependency 11 years old, you know, so I had to really think about that. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. And I didn’t know that my home life was completely dysfunctional. It’s the only home life I knew. It wasn’t, I didn’t know it wasn’t normal, for there to be chaos, and for there to be drinking, and for there to be little children who need love who aren’t getting any. I didn’t know. I remember wanting physical touch. And I remember asking for it. And then my parents saying, you know which I’m tired, would you scratch my legs? Would you rub my shoulders? My dad like me to give him these pretend haircuts. And so I would do that I would do that as a way to get some kind of physical touch. What’s interesting is that what I learned from that really early was you do things for people to get love. You do things for people to get love.

Andrea 3:01
Yeah. That’s a big lesson for a little girl. It is. So you didn’t know what you didn’t know. Yeah. And I, what you said already of revisiting and affirming? That is the gift of walking through story. Yeah. So thank you for this little bit of a story. Because I hope that women listening when they revisit their stories, and can affirm some things and say, Oh, that’s the lesson I learned. And then they can move forward. So how did you see your childhood experience translate or move into your teen years?

Kit 3:33
Yeah, you know, I don’t know exactly when I began to believe, you know, oh, sex equals love and intimacy. But that’s what I began to believe. And I don’t know when I began to disassociated at first didn’t even know what that word meant. But I didn’t I don’t know when I began to disassociate when I was whether I was with a boy or a man, but I did. I didn’t know that intimacy was sharing yourself with someone in devotion, and in love. I completely missed that. So for me, giving sacks was like a surefire way to keep somebody with me to care for me. Problem was, it didn’t work. And so I didn’t I also didn’t understand that it was okay to say no, I just I didn’t know that it was okay to say no. And I didn’t want to say no, because I wanted desperately for someone to care for me. So I didn’t know about boundaries. I didn’t know that I should have boundaries. I was codependent. And so that what began as a little girl just became more and more a part of me as I got into my teens and certainly went even well into my 20s. And actually, for most of us that are codependent we would say we’re in recovery. I’m in recovery for codependency it’s not something that I you know, I certainly have received a lot of healing but it’s still some thing you know, that I that I struggled with and then I noticed in myself

Andrea 5:05
Okay, so a lot of words were just in yours that part of your story also. So part of unpacking a term yeah is defining it so can you define codependency? Yeah,

Kit 5:16
you know it’s it’s interesting you’ll if you look up if you Google emotional dependency codependency you’ll get all kinds of different views on it. But I think a common and a very straightforward way to look at it that a lot of people would agree with, I think is that when a person has a serious lack of self understanding of self acceptance, and they look to others to fill that void and to make them worthwhile, that’s codependency. If another person needs you, you feel like you have a purpose. That’s codependency. When you’re codependent, you are desperately needing approval from others, like really desperately needing approval from others. And you feel inordinately responsible for others for other people’s feelings and you’re frustrated, if you can’t make them happy. If you can’t fix them, and you often forget about yourself, and that you have needs because you’re preoccupied with everybody else’s.

Andrea 6:19
Wow, what a list. Yeah. So listener, absorbing all these words. Yeah. If you’re feeling some of these descriptions, it’s okay. Yeah,

Kit 6:33
it’s okay. It is it’s okay. Because there’s ways that we want to encourage you in that in your recovery, recovery. Yes, there is great word, race restoration, recovery, you know, all those, you know, restoration, redemption, all those words are so real and true.

Andrea 6:52
Yes. And possible. Yes. It’s so possible. Yeah. Okay, so how does one become codependent? Yeah. How does that happen?

Kit 7:01
Well, it really is traced back to our childhood, to the relationships that we had with our caregivers are often parents. That’s, that’s a very common route. And the interesting thing is that it can happen if we had parents who were extremely overly protective. It can also happen if we had parents who were extremely under protective. And we’re talking extremes, you know, all of all of us as parents, all of our parents and us as parents, we, you know, we we’re not perfect, we, we tend to, sometimes over protector under it. But these are kind of some extreme examples. And if parents are overly protective, they can hold their kids back from building confidence that they actually need to go out into the world. And so there might be lots of anxieties that you feel you feel stifled. And these kinds of relationships are also often enmeshed. And the parents want the child to be dependent on them. They encourage dependent behaviors, and they discourage independent behaviors makes them feel better about themselves. And sometimes there’s even guilt attached to wanting or needing your own life, because of that, that that parents own, you know, brokenness. Oh, yeah.

Andrea 8:21
What a ripple effect. Yeah. In your relationships. A broken relationship, just kind of has the effect or cycle of turning into more bad connections and bad relationships. Yeah. So even more important to recognize it. Yeah. And then see how we can move forward. And story is such a powerful teacher. Yeah. So we’ve heard two snippets and already heard so much within it within the unpacking. So I know you have some stories for us. Yeah. Can we go a little bit more or a little bit deeper into this topic?

Kit 8:55
Yeah, I’ve had the privilege of working with many, many, many women who come to the realization that they have some codependency. And, and it and it’s been again, it is really a privilege because once you get that awareness, it like explained so much like, oh, that’s what that is. Oh, that’s what I’ve been doing. Oh, you know, because you don’t know again, what you don’t know. But one woman I worked with a young woman. She grew up in a very, very controlling strict home. And when my client veered in any significant way from thinking feeling or behaving out of the expectations of her parents, especially her, her mother, she was criticized severely, and she grow up. She grew up really lacking a sense of self and the lack of confidence and she looked to relationships to give her value and worth. So she would often you know, get into a romance Antek relationship, feeling very needy and very insecure, and then would act out accordingly and bring some of those codependent behaviors that I just described.

Andrea 10:12
If you have something we should be talking about, let us know, send us an email to podcast at regeneration In the meantime, please be sure to review Rate, Subscribe and share back to the show.

Unknown Speaker 10:26
Oh, lack of a sense of self. Yeah, is damaged.

Andrea 10:30
I know it sounds scary to face these things. I think to have some of these traits hit home would rattle you a little bit. But my goodness, when you’re able to actually hear it said out loud, and that you’re not the only one and that there are remedies for this. That’s encouraging.

Kit 10:52
I remember reading codependency no more by Melody, Beatty, who is I mean, it’s been around for 45 years, and reading the definition of being like, oh my gosh, you know, it gave me so much like, like, yeah, it didn’t feel I was like, I’m not crazy. And I know for the clients that I work with to including that young woman when we began to talk about, you know what it was and connect the dots. And you she was like, Oh my gosh, that explains so much about who I am and why I felt this way. So it is hard work. And yet it’s this great sense of freedom.

Andrea 11:27
And that’s that freedom is by design. Yeah, that is right. We are exactly, yes. So freedom is what we’re looking for. Yeah.

Kit 11:38
And with under protective parents, the child doesn’t get enough support. And independence is supposed to be something you know that we as children experience gradually over time. Children need to be provided with a secure, safe base, you know, they often are like, am I loved? Do I belong? Am I safe? In order to feel a sense of confidence and security, and not having this can leave a child feeling very alone and very unsafe. And so these children can overcompensate for feeling unsafe by becoming overly autonomous, you know, just rejecting any need for guidance and support. And but underlying it is fear and loneliness. And that can be difficult to shake. And so also, children who grew up in an app with an alcoholic parent, which I did can easily find themselves in codependent relationships, because they have learned to neglect their own needs to be attuned to the needs of another.

Andrea 12:42
Those, don’t we? There’s such shame associated with the word need. Yes. And we ignore it. Yes. But we all need Yes. And therefore basic needs to be seen, soothe safe and secure. Yeah. And if you are missing those as a child, this is not about blaming parents, this is just okay, I was missing this part. And maybe this is why this feels kind of wonky, or this is why my relationships are constantly in this cycle. So recognizing those needs and where they weren’t met, is empowering.

Kit 13:16
Yes. And to be able to say to client, learning to express what you need and how you feel is so important. It’s it’s very healthy, and they they don’t know that they need to do that. They don’t know that it’s okay to do that. So that’s part of recovery is like just affirming. Like, I really, really love how you just said what you feel about that. You identified how you felt and you expressed it. I really appreciate how you just said this is what I need. And you said to your friend or your your spouse, I need this. I feel this like that’s a very important part of recovery.

Andrea 13:53
And attunement. Yeah, said the word attunement. That is such a powerful tool in our

Kit 14:00
life being attuned with ourselves. Yes. If

Andrea 14:03
you weren’t attuned to then attune to yourself.

Kit 14:07
Absolutely. There is a lot of re parenting that goes on here with by our own selves, our own grown up selves to our younger selves and allowing God to be you know, the perfect parent to repair in us. There’s a lot of re parenting that goes on in codependency.

Andrea 14:24
We’re using a lot of words that start with re

Kit 14:27
I love those words. I know they give me such hope. Yeah,

Andrea 14:32
that’s right. That’s right. Okay, so

Kit 14:37
yeah, so another client I mean, this is this is so this one is very interesting too, because she felt severely neglected in her alcoholic home. Her dad was the one who was alcoholic and very domineering, and unfaithful to her mom. And her mom looked for a confidant somebody to be kind of on her team and so would To talk poorly about men. And so, interestingly, you know, and this is not just true of one client, I can I can think about this profile with several clients over the years that they were drawn to men that were like their fathers. Even though they had very negative feelings for their father, we returned to what’s familiar, even if it’s bad for us when we grew up in dysfunction. And so she was looking that she and other women were looking for men to give them that sense of security. And, you know, these men that they were drawn to were domineering, and sometimes abusive. And yet, these women would look to them for their sense of value and worth. Yeah, it’s a very common actually a very common theme when we grow up in those kinds of environments.

Andrea 16:01
And this is where, you know, these desires, these basic needs that need to be met when they’re not met. This is where our sexuality can really Yes, compromise. Yeah, absolutely,

Kit 16:12
absolutely. You know, if you’re unable to express your feelings and your needs, then you’re just like, whatever you need, whatever you want, take it, you know, and, and again, it is sexualized, it is sexualized in ways that are very interesting, you know, we don’t know what else to do. And men can respond to sexual offerings, you know, and so if we’re like, oh, that’s something I’ve got, that’s something I can give it begins, it gives you this sense of value and overinflated. You know, sense of that. That’s important. You know, of course, sexuality, healthy sexuality is really important. But it becomes it comes out sideways, it becomes distorted. Yeah.

Andrea 16:58
So we moved from a place of belovedness, not brokenness, and that belovedness includes needs. Yeah. And include some boundaries and expectations and such. So how do we, how do we begin to move out of this? How do we begin all those are II words, you know, the renewal the eye candy? How do we begin?

Kit 17:17
Yeah, you know, as we’ve talked before, know your story. You know, get in touch with your story, write out your story, talk to somebody about your story, and then begin to connect some of the dots. And then, you know, because you’ll connect some of these dots, you’ll be able to see, oh, my mother, my father, my first boyfriend, my you know, and then be kind to yourself, like, because it’s, it’s easy to shame ourselves, but we really want to encourage a sense of self compassion, because self compassion is so healing. So kind to yourself. If you’ve, you know, if you’re in a pattern of codependency it’s there’s, you’re not you don’t have a character flaw, you know, you can you can identify that it had to do with you as a child not getting needs met, and ways that you coped. You did what you needed to do to survive, and to have some connection. In some ways, like, you know, you were doing your best to take care of yourself. You were doing the best to take care of yourself. It’s a good thing. And at some point, you’re like, oh, okay, this is maybe this isn’t a good thing. And now you want to learn about honoring and respecting yourself, and, and that’s a really worthwhile journey. Learn about boundaries. There’s lots of good books about boundaries. But yes, there’s lots and lots of podcasts, counseling, coaching. Learn about differentiation, I’d love that word. And that’s a part of the whole idea of systems theory. But what it is, is acknowledging that you have dignity and identity in your own self. In your own self stand alone, made in God’s image, you have your own identity, your own dignity. So people with codependency believe that their well being comes from other people. And we want to have a deeper understanding that our well being comes from God. Our well being comes from you know, his job, genuine, deep, great love. And so another thing that’s a part of recovery is to explore the depth of that reality in your own life.

Andrea 19:42
And it’s so deep. I do you have different differentiation, that you have dignity and identity in your own self. And so did you as a little girl, yeah. And so to love her well, yeah. And work for her. It is a way to move you as a woman into an to this life better, because we’ve said the phrase a couple of times if you didn’t know what you didn’t know, yeah, but now you know.

Kit 20:06
Yeah. So let’s go. And you’ll continue to know you’ll Yeah. Oh, oh, I didn’t know that. That’s another new revelation instead of being like, shoot, why don’t I get this together? Yeah, like, oh, that’s just another layer. It’s just another layer. And it’s okay.

Andrea 20:22
That’s right. So as we wrap up, why don’t we offer some questions to unpack in a journal, because that’s a great way to start it is. And so if you feel the need to unpack some of this codependency with someone, and to listen for, what God is inviting you to, and what he has designed you for. That’s what we’re here for. Yeah. That’s what we’re here for.

Kit 20:45
Yeah. So let’s kind of enter in till the time of prayer around these questions. So. And then I just pray right now for any women listening that they would just take a moment to breathe and to receive the fact that they are worthy, and that they have dignity and honor. And as I read these questions, I just pray for each one of them that they would just say, Lord, be with me. Reflect with me about these questions. And take a moment just to write down what comes to your mind. So Lord, thank You that You will be with us as we reflect on these questions. Who did God create you to be? Before you were told from the world who you were, who, who are you?

Kit 21:52
How might God want you to live your life? How might he want to live it with you?

Kit 22:07
How do you look to God for what only He can give you?

Kit 22:20
How might you allow God to heal you and begin the process of wholeness?

Kit 22:34
Where they pray that the women listening would be gentle with themselves to be honest with themselves and to learn to trust you more and more grateful God. Amen.

Andrea 22:45
Amen. Thank you, kid. Yeah, that’s great!

Thanks For Reading.

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