I wanted to spend the next couple of months posting short articles on codependency and how it relates to our sexual addiction.
Per Robert Subby, Codependency is an emotional, psychological, and behavioral condition that develops as a result of an individual’s prolonged exposure to, and practice of, a set of oppressive rules – rules which prevent the open expression of feelings as well as the direct discussion of personal and interpersonal problems.
Earnie Larsen defines codependency as “those self-defeating, learned behaviors or character defects that result in a diminished capacity to initiate or to participate in loving relationships.”
Melody Beattie defines a codependent as “a person who has let another person’s behavior affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person’s behavior.”
The first two seem logical for me, the codependent recovering sex addict, the third, not so much with my wife, as my wife’s behavior is not a problem. However, in past relationships, the definition fits perfectly. My “definition” or explanation of codependency is more of an extreme fear of abandonment where we try to control everyone and everything around us (particularly our spouses) so that they will not leave us. In my addiction, I feared abandonment (but never realized it until recovery) and medicated those fears through my sexual acting out. Addicts are codependents, we fear abandonment because of the neglect or abandonment we experienced as children. Now, as an adult, I have tried to control every relationship, both friends and my spouse in a futile effort to prevent the abandonment I experienced as a child.
Another way to look at it is allowing my wife’s emotions, feelings, disposition to deeply affect who I am and how I feel about myself. When my wife is upset, I get upset. When my wife is happy, then I am happy. I had become a slave to my wife’s emotions and I didn’t even realize it!
I strongly feel that my sexual addiction as an adult was a way of medicating the fear of abandonment I experienced throughout my life. This is not an excuse for my sexual acting out, but an understanding to a deeper root cause of my addiction and thus deeper healing of my inner self.
As always, take what you like and leave the rest.