Codependency signs – ‘lookin’ for love in all the wrong places’
‘Codependency’ is the need to be needed. Codependency started in the addiction community where children with parents who were addicted to drugs or alcohol experienced unstable, chaotic and unsafe young lives. This in turn shaped their adult relationships. One or both parents may have also struggled with mental illness, chronic illness, had a personality disorder such as narcissism or were nonfunctional in some other way. In this situation the person or parent with the issue; then it was their needs, and their moods which took over as being most important to be addressed in the household or family unit as theirs were the most intense. No one else’s needs mattered. As a matter of survival, the children learned to be caretakers of their parents (and possibly siblings) in an attempt to stop family breakdown. If this dysfunction continues, the caretaking pattern persists in then distorting the child(ren)’s adult relationships, as the person becomes drawn to addicted or otherwise dysfunctional partners, other family members, or friends to ‘rescue,’ ‘save’ and enable. A codependent style of relating can therefore prevail. Children in these family dynamics learned that the way to feel valued and significant was to meet the dysfunctional person’s needs. Then in adulthood, the chaos is centred around one person, and meeting their needs.
Codependents lose themselves when they only feel comfortable in being needed, and it becomes unhealthy. Codependency is an enmeshed relationship in situations where there is a ‘giver’ and a ‘taker’ – where one person relies on or expects that their needs be met by another person. This other can be anyone – a partner, parent, friend or sibling, but generally occurs in partnerships.
The ‘takers’ are self centred and self absorbed, using manipulation tactics to ensure they get what they want from the ‘giver.’ This can include guilt or blame, and ignoring the hurt they cause to the other person. The ‘givers’ have low self esteem and self worth and fulfil the ‘taker’s’ needs in order to feel love and approval, sacrificing their own needs in the process, often being a ‘people pleaser’ and feeling guilty if they say ‘no.’ The ‘givers’ then tend to live for and through other people in an addictive way. In some way they compulsively or unconsciously seek out people with issues they feel responsible for fixing, just as they may have dearly wanted to do with their parents.
Codependent people therefore learn codependency from their parents/caregivers. Basically they put their own needs aside as they need to meet others’ needs. They don’t know what their needs and feelings are. They are used to being there for someone else, and lose sight of themselves. They fear being alone – for example, ‘waiting for ‘Mr Right”, they don’t know their own needs, don’t trust themselves to make decisions or to voice their opinions (if they know them), and if they make a mistake, they fear people might abandon them. They therefore don’t speak up, and don’t assert their own wants because they’ll feel guilty, bad and scared and that the other person will leave you if they do. Codependents can’t trust themselves, and need to always ‘get it right.’ They feel important in a relationships when they need the other. Importantly, codependents have unhealthy boundaries.
In needing to be needed, codependents may feel responsible for solving others’ problems; ‘fixing them’ as noted above. They feel their only value is to save that person; rescue and fix them. They may do anything to hang on to the relationship even if it’s unsafe and destructive, abusive, putting their health at risk as they don’t believe they can survive alone. They may need to feel in control at all times, and avoid conflict at any cost.
Neptune in the horoscope:
Neptunian dependencies arise out of unhealthy dependencies which are elusive, illusory, foggy and unclear and where we avoid reality. The planet Neptune represents sacrifice, martyrdom, the letting go of our ego self for the greater good. It is where we feel inspired, dreamy and creative, and seek the divine, transcending mundane reality for the invisible, spiritual dimensions. We have an urge to blend and merge with the environment and others, to be the saviour and be boundaryless, having a spiritual approach to dealing with life. Neptune is generally concerned with the ‘universal oneness.’
Where Neptune falls in our chart, we can have enmeshment and boundary problems, it is where we see the best in others, ignoring the worst, having our ‘rose-coloured glasses’ on, and where we give more when we take.
Codependency can be prominent if you have your Ascendant (or first house) planetary ruler in conjunction or hard aspect (square/opposition) to Neptune. Also, if you have your personal planets – Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus and/or Mars in a difficult aspect to Neptune, this can show where boundary issues arise. Hard aspects give rise to difficult relationships as the boundaries aren’t clear. We forgive others far too easily and are too compassionate. In short, we give away our power. Pisces planets too show the areas of life where boundary issues are most likely to occur. Codependents are often empaths who feel the feelings of others and pick up the energy in the environment around them, and as helpers and healers, they can have a lot of Piscean and 12th house energy in their chart. Neptune is the modern planetary ruler of Pisces.
Sun in aspect to Neptune – Father or father figure issues; a weak, ill, alcoholic, absent or spiritual father, and confusion with a sense of self and identity.
Moon in aspect to Neptune – Boundary blurring with the mother or mother figure; unclear emotional boundaries then become uncertain with others, oversensitivity, and unconsciously pleasing others. The placement of the Moon shows our habitual patterns and dependencies which stem from the past.
Mercury in aspect to Neptune – confusion about reality and memories, feelings of inadequacy about thoughts, speech and ideas – learn to accept your intuitive, insightful mind.
Venus in aspect to Neptune – confusion around personal values and romantic relationships/partnerships. Can be too idealistic, naive and gullible in love.
Mars in aspect to Neptune – Lack of drive, focus, motivation and energy, confusion and weakness in being assertive.
If we have a strong Mars (Mars in Aries or Scorpio, or in Capricorn (Exaltation)) we can more easily assert who we are so others know who we are as an honest being.
Neptune in the 7th House:
If we have Neptune in the 7th house of partnerships especially, we may feel the urge to enmesh and merge ourselves with the partner, sacrificing our own needs for the ‘other’ and idealising the partner. This can include rescuing and enabling, especially if there are addictions involved, including substance addiction. Codependence is also a form of addiction – love addiction. Other ways this energy can manifest is by acting the victim, complaining about it to others, handing over our power to others by complying and organising ourselves around the others’ wounds, and providing a poor example to any children. We are stuck here in this pattern, not evolving.
Do some soul-searching. Honour yourself. Find out: ‘who am I,’ outside of someone needed by others. Ask – what am I good at? Develop the self so you can help and give, but not give yourself away. Also develop a more realistic perception of yourself out of the perceptions, fantasies, dreams, illusions and self-delusions, and face yourself honestly. Become responsible for yourself and your own needs, happiness and wellbeing, and stop blaming others. Have the courage be real. In a healthy relationship, both people have a say, and both people’s needs are met. Lose the guilt, fear and ‘playing it safe,’ and reclaim your own power, without taking on others’ smearing, devaluing, discarding, controlling and drama triangles of victim/rescuer/enabler roles. Work on winning the love and approval of yourself. Set limits on what behaviour you will tolerate and what you won’t, with no fear.
Importantly, create healthy boundaries so you aren’t a reflection of others. It is dishonest to show up as a person who does things because they ‘should.’ It is inauthentic and ultimately unfair to others. Be there, but not worn out or resentful over others’ problems. Be helpful in a supportive way without trying to fix other people. Learn to be empathetic rather than sympathetic, which drains us. Step into your Saturn and take control, be disciplined about the rules and boundaries in your life, and in the ‘real’ world.
Most of all, and at the heart of the matter, codependents need to do profound healing by working through deeper wounds which stem from poor or maladaptive programming and insecure attachment styles in childhood.