Codependency and Covert Abuse
by Lisa A. Romano
For anyone who is struggling with codependency, you know all too well how difficult it is to walk away from a relationship, even when the relationship is toxic. Codependents have been conditioned to unconsciously fear being alone, and will often times do just about anything to maintain even the most horrendous of relationships. An insidious aspect of many dysfunctional codependent relationships occurs when covert abuse is at play. Ever have a partner call you a filthy name and then turn around in the next moment and ask you what movie you would like to go see? When codependents are treated poorly one minute and then kindly the next, the ability to hold onto any anger about being treated poorly is cancelled out.
This type of abuse messes with our ability to hold onto our own realities. Because we are adult children who have been taught to question our internal realities since we were children, when this type of covert abuse happens in our dynamics as adults, it is very easy for us to fall back into wondering if we have any right to be upset. Codependents unconsciously seek outside validation. We are unaware that in any given moment we are seeking outside permission to feel what we feel. When we are treated poorly in one minute, then kindly in the next, it is as if the experience of being abused in the original moment gets swept away some internal and invisible rug. Instead of being able to hold onto our experience of being abused, we find ourselves bobbing our heads, and saying things like, "Whatever movie you want to go see is fine with me honey."
Healing from codependency is possible, but it is not easy. Many awarenesses need to be had before someone can actually begin reprogramming the subconscious mind with new healthy data. What children observe in childhood through repetition, observation and consistency becomes the framework for all future relationships, which includes the relationship with the self. Codependents have been conditioned out of any relationship with the self, because they have been programmed to worry more about what others think about them than what they think about themselves.