Part IV: Codependency and Boundaries

Welcome Back to the Fall Series on Codependency. The last blog highlighted the first and third item on the list of difficulties below. This blog will highlight the second item on the list: setting functional boundaries.

People Experiencing Codependency have Difficulty:
  • Experiencing appropriate levels of self-esteem
  • Setting functional boundaries
  • Owning and expressing their own reality
  • Taking care of their adult needs and wants
  • Experiencing and expressing their reality moderately

Why do people who experience codependency have difficulty setting functional boundaries? 
Because they have not lived in a family system that had them, which renders them less able to even recognize them in other families and situations. Like a fish in water, we cannot see the water for what it is.

A person who is codependent lives in extremes and not in moderation. 

For example, they feel a moderate response is not enough, only one that is too much is enough. They either trust everyone or nobody at all. Codependent parents discipline their children severely or not at all. They are either highly expressive or shut down and expressionless. Their solutions to problems are extreme, like never speaking to someone again. So, people who are codependent either set no boundaries or have extreme boundaries.

"One of the hallmarks of codependents is that we have a difficult time in relationships with others..." (Mellody, 2003). People who are codependent have an impaired ability to sustain relationships over time.

A codependent person who is in recovery can behave in moderation by setting functional boundaries with those they are in a relationship with. Those in recovery do the following:

1. Meet their own needs and wants (without taking responsibility for others actions or hurting others in the victim-perpetrator mentality)
2. Own their reality (rather than defining their behaviors as a result of someone else)
3. Share themselves with others moderately (without trying to change them)

Intimacy involves equal exchange, not extremes.

Now that you know more about codependency, think about whether or not you set functional boundaries? Do some journaling about it. Write down what your boundaries are? Are they moderate or extreme? We can chat about this in your next session. Subscribe to this blog now and get 10% off your next session!

Be Well, chat with you soon!