For those of us raised in a dysfunctional family, we have often used relationships as a way of trying to mend our broken selves, or as it’s otherwise known, our co-dependent selves.
Ernie Larsen, a specialist in the field of co-dependency, defines it as: “Those self-defeating, learned behaviors or character defects that result in a diminished capacity to participate in loving relationships.”
Through A Program Of Miracles we look at how we’ve used romance or sex as a way of trying to feel safe and guard us from our deep loneliness. We also look at how we've manipulated others - who may not be lovers - to try and get our needs met, like friends and family. The way we’ve used relationships is no different to the way we’ve used substances, money, food, gambling, work and other things outside ourselves to try and fill our deep, lonely inner void. But, it’s never worked.
This is the ‘co-dependent addict’ inside us and we tend to end up in relationships with others who are as co-dependent as ourselves. If we are not substance addicts or alcoholics ourselves, we tend to gravitate toward people who are. Some research has been done in this area, and it shows that many traits of alcoholics and addicts seem to appear in non-alcoholics or non-addicts but who were close to an alcoholic or addict. This phenomenon was labeled co-dependency.
For the purpose of this program we will define a co-dependent as someone who is obsessed with controlling another person’s behavior because they have let that person’s behavior negatively affect them.
This next exercise is designed to identify patterns that emerge in your relationships.
List your friendships and love relationships you’ve had; if you haven’t had any love relationships, focus on which relationship brought you to A Program Of Miracles: