Caretakers are often sensitive, compassionate, deep feelers, and problem solvers. They take care of stuff. They feel called to save the world. No problem is beyond them. Part of what makes healing from caretaking patterns so difficult is because on the surface these appear to be positive qualities. Why would a person like this need healing? The answer is that the deeper and often subconscious motivation for these selfless behaviors is a rejection of the self.
(1) She is the “mom” friend.
Her social life consists of addicts, wild cards, victims, and criminals, with her trying to “fix” or “help” them.
I fell in love with a heroin addict. We were together for five years. My father was an alcoholic, and I didn’t know anything different. During that time, I was on a mission to heal every addict I could. I needed them to heal. I couldn’t handle them not healing. So I threw myself into their problems. I would pick up my friends from the hospital, trap houses, and off the side of the road. I helped with clean needles, withdrawals, and binges. I was the go-to girl.
(2) She wants to save the world.
The caretaker will, in martyr-like fashion, regularly sacrifice and compromise their own self-care in order to attend to the needs of others. In this way, care taking becomes an addiction. We become very comfortable with the self-image of the noble crusader out to save the world. In reality we are creating a deep rift within as our own feelings are persistently ignored, belittled, and devalued.
(3) She denies her pain.
Unconsciously, the caretaker sees herself in those that she would like save and attempts to soothe and alleviate her own pain by focusing on theirs. By fixing them I thought I could fix me – not consciously, but the subtle energies were still there. It is emotional escapism at its finest. This, of course, doesn’t work and the caretaker is left with the feeling that she loves and cares for everybody and nobody cares for her. Ultimately, this is only a projection of the caretaker’s lack of self-love.
(4) She is eager to be needed.
By denying myself and getting lost in other people’s addictions, not only did I waste everyone’s time, but I insulted their ability to take care of themselves. I disempowered them. I treated them as if they were incapable of healing without me. I needed to be needed. I pushed them backward, and enabled them to continue down a tumultuous path. In truth, we only have the power to heal ourselves. When you give a tremendous amount of energy to “help” another person and discover that your efforts result in very little progress, bitterness will ensue. My old roommates are still dealing drugs. My dad still struggles with his addictive demons. My ex relapsed anyway.
If you are in love with a codependent woman, there are a few questions that must be asked first:
- Is she caretaking you?
- If so, what are ways for you to take ownership of your own healing?
If she is a recovering codependent, be on the lookout for triggers and buried patterns resurfacing. In order for the codependent to heal, she must ultimately acknowledge and accept her own feelings as worthy and valid, which can be terrifying to someone who spends most of her time trying to avoid exactly that. Be strong. Be there. And don’t let her caretake you. Please check out al-anon groups for more information.
Please check out Al-Anon groups for more information.
More on the subject of Co-Dependency here on The Good Men Project:
The first step to healthy relationships is a close look at who is taking care of who.
Being honest with yourself is the first step to recovering from Self-Love Deficit Disorder
If you’re the one who’s always giving in a relationship and hoping your partner will start to appreciate you, this video will change your life.
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