Some pitfalls of codependency (and how to avoid them) – an analogy

avoiding pornography pitfalls -- codependency

Do you have a loved one facing an addiction? Have you found yourself thinking or saying, “Why don’t you just stop using pornography?”

It may be helpful to understand why it is that those who want to stop using pornography or engaging in other behaviors tied to sexual addiction can’t stop on their own. (Addiction is a brain disease that requires help for recovery, just as any disease does.)

But this “role reversal” analogy by Jane at Learning from My Husband’s Pornography Addiction is a helpful illustration of how nagging, checking up, shaming, and other such behaviors can unwittingly get in the way of hope and healing, for both the addict and the loved one.

Eating is definitely one of my compulsive behaviors. … Suppose overeating began to have consequences in my marriage and family. Suppose I became grossly overweight and was unable to adequately function as an active wife and mother. Then financial obligations mounted as health issues arose. Pete and I decide I have an addiction and it’s time for help. I begin seeing a counselor, attending meetings, dieting, etc. Here is a hypothetical day.

Take a look at Jane’s blog post to see how she illustrates the kinds of interactions that could seem harmless, even loving, at the surface, but given the dynamic of how addiction works, it can often contribute to discord, misunderstandings, and feelings of hopelessness.

The good news is that understanding how this dynamic can play out also help you avoid pitfalls and redirect your energies toward your own healing and recovery. You didn’t cause your loved one’s addiction, you can’t control it (and trying to will make your life harder), and you can’t cure it. But recovery is real and possible for anyone, either addict or spouse. The key is to focus on that recovery. Doing so will also allow your loved one the space to do the same, if he/she chooses.

Jane addresses that topic in a second post that we’ll feature tomorrow.

Image from Wikimedia Commons