A Codependent’s Survival Guide Through A Mandated Quarantine
It isn’t rejection that’s isolating you, but a full-fledged pandemic.
“Codependency is a behavioral condition in a relationship where one person enables another person’s addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement.”
Many of us are feeling particularly lost at this moment in time. There are a lot of unknowns and elusive messages we are trying to make sense of. Truth be told, no one really knows what’s to come with this virus and the reluctance to abide by the nation’s request to quarantine doesn’t seem to be helping much at all.
Teachers are now working entirely online, companies are cutting employee salaries, small businesses have had to close their doors, families are waiting to be reunited, retired living communities and nursing homes are under complete lockdown, and this could be just the beginning.
Reporters, researchers, medical professionals, and global personnel suspected the virus might make its way into the states; however, the reality of the situation is not a single one of us was ready for the magnitude of detriment this virus is offering to us as a nation and furthermore, a world.
A few of the people I have in my life are admitted co-dependents. They crave affection, companionship, and the presence of another person to an unhealthy extent. Though this could be something they were already actively working through, the events of these past few weeks have become a new catalyst for this change.
Couples are practically handcuffed to one another, friendships are being nurtured from a distance, families are keeping in touch by only the resources available to them, and medical professionals are desperate for even the most basic resources (gloves, masks, etc). We are all suffering through moments of our version of grief amid everything unknown.
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It can be unnerving to most — the thought of being completely isolated from the outside world — and for some, it has provided them the most peace they have had in ages. This reality is particularly challenging for those who need company to function, regardless of its quality. While there is nothing wrong with preferring to be around others, there is a fine line between preference and necessity. If you need someone else’s approval in order to feel ‘okay,’ then you are exercising codependency.
Codependency is insidious. It tricks us into believing that we are not whole without our significant other — or any significant other. Now, if you take into consideration the fact that our ‘ideals’ list is so much less about what we want the other person to be and all about who we should be in a relationship, then this forced separation could be perhaps one of the best things to happen to you as a human being.
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Taking into consideration the reality that this quarantine could last up to 8 weeks, if not longer, below are a few ideas to help combat the urge to put yourself (and others) at risk to fulfill codependent tendencies:
When you are involved in any version of a codependent relationship, you often lose sight of yourself. You spend the majority of your time and energy trying to ‘fix’ the other person. To move forward, you must first take the time necessary to explore yourself. Explore your likes, dislikes, needs, desires, thoughts, and feelings. Choosing to not take this time to understand what you need in a relationship can be detrimental and can cause you to slip back into the pattern of taking care of someone else.
Practice Setting Boundaries
Codependency in relationships can often mean that there are few boundaries in place. Chances are, you have spent a lot of time worrying about other people and in that, have lost many of the most important boundaries in your life. That being said, it is important to learn how (and when) to say ‘no’ to people or situations that are not healthy nor contributory to your long-term goals. Saying ‘no’ does not mean you are being selfish nor disrespectful. Contrarily, saying ‘no’ means you are looking out for your well-being.
Learn To Be Independent
Start doing things by yourself without feeling like you always need to be around your partner. When all is said and done with this pandemic, challenge your progress in the department of independence by taking yourself out to dinner, going to the movies alone, or simply picking up a new hobby — one in which you don’t need anyone else present for. Codependent people have grown to be dependent on others for self-fulfillment. Learn to be content with being alone and less fearful of it. This is one of the most powerful steps in overcoming codependency.
Keep Your Expectations Realistic
As humans, we tend to place unrealistic expectations on our relationship, thus causing a series of letdowns. Expecting someone else to fulfill you is only setting you up for heartbreak and disappointment. Learn to be happy with who you are as a person first. That way you don’t have to expect someone else to be the sole provider of your happiness.
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Deal With Your Past
Your tendency to display codependent behaviors could be a result of past trauma. Take a moment to look at your family relationships, abuse, neglect, rejection, or other events that may be stopping you from being comfortable with who you are. Digging up things from your past might be painful and uncomfortable, but addressing each is imperative to move forward.
There have been numerous reasons provided to us to remain stressed and frustrated at the current state of our world. It is up to every one of us to decide what this chapter will mean for us on an individual basis. Though the pandemic is uncontrollable, what we choose to do with this time, isolation, and break from normalcy is entirely up to us. How do you wish to spend yours?