Calling All Family Members
So at what point are you helping your loved one control you in order for them to continue to harm themselves?
Today I watched an episode of ‘Fat Families’ and stumbled across something that completely shocked me. A woman who was super morbidly obese showed the host of the show her wardrobe and confessed that her mother orders the clothes for her and then cuts the labels out so she doesn’t have to see the size. It is one thing to be in denial of your weight, but when the entire family is helping that person stay that weight, there is an even bigger issue.
This is called co-dependancy. Co-dependancy means that the person that is having difficulty, is in control of their environment and relationships. Their issues start to become bigger and bigger while their support people start to walk on egg shells in order to avoid conflict. The helper actually believes that they are doing a good thing because if their isn't any upset then they believe that they’re minimizing the feeling of the pain. The truth is, what they are actually doing is keeping things the same. The mother who started to shop for the daughter in this episode is a great example of co-dependant behaviour, the mother thinks she is doing a good thing, she is avoiding conflict, she doesn’t have to hear the cries of the daughter, she thinks she is minimizing the pain of the daughter, yet the issue has grown so big that it is now taking over their entire household and relationship.
The mother has been successful in putting of the conflict while truth be told they are mired in conflict. Any time in which there is a helper, a person who wants to be helpful, then there is always a fine line between healthy helping and unhealthy helping. Every single helper is a caregiver because they are getting something out of it, perhaps they are getting paid and it is their job, perhaps they are getting positive feed-back and it makes them feel good, perhaps this is their friendship or relationship and it is a part of how it is that they see themselves, or in the case of when it is that it crosses the line into co-dependancy the caregiver is actually starting to keep the recipient of their care, ill. They do this because it keeps everything the same, it keeps their need to be a caregiver intact.
The co-dependant person truly believes that there are no other options because the person they are caring for becomes angry or sad when the co-dependant behaviour stops. The helper therefore justifies their roll to continue to keep the person safe from their own unhealthy behaviour and the cycle just keeps on spinning around and around.
If you are in this type of relationship where you are helping out of fear, then this is a co-dependant relationship. The truth is you are mired in conflict and just because you keep on doing whatever it is the ill person is demanding doesn’t mean that you are avoiding conflict, it means that you are keeping it going and living in it. It is really important to recognize that the person that you are caring for is actually very afraid with whatever issues it is that they are dealing with. It is their living nightmare that creates the panic that says that they have to have it and they have to have it now. Giving it to them supports the nightmare, and it tells them that they have a right to be very afraid. In order not to play into it as a helper, you need to be able to focus on the cause of the fear in order for the person you are helping realize that they can survive without continually feeding the fear.