Codependency And Verbal Abuse
Many people grew up hearing a statement that went like this: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Do you think that’s really true? Words can cause a great deal of pain to anyone and especially someone who struggles with codependency traits and/or addiction. Today, let’s discuss a little about how verbal abuse and codependency can be a horrific mix.
Verbal abuse breaks the spirit
Let’s say you head into a relationship and you’re struggling with codependency. You happen to connect with a person who tends to verbally abuse those he is with. This could be a narcissist, active alcoholic or addict, emotional abuser, or an extremely selfish person. You might be an accomplished, confident man or woman, but find that within a few months or years, your spirit is broken, your confidence is gone, and you’ve forgotten who you are.
See, verbal abuse can break even the most accomplished woman or man. You could be an engineer, doctor, teacher, mother, or even psychologist. You get into a relationship and the courtship is amazing. You’ve fallen in love and you plan your “happily ever after”. Before long though, your partner switches gears and the verbal abuse and manipulation begins. You’re caught off guard and before you know it your head is spinning.
Codependency and addiction
Codependency and addiction oftentimes go hand in hand. You’ve got the active alcoholic or addict on one hand, and on the other, you have the insecure or emotionally unstable person who spends a lot of time “caretaking” the addict, worrying, and sometimes taking verbal abuse. There are many loved ones of addicts who are going crazy trying to deal with the challenge of being with an addict.
Codependency plays a part
If you have codependency traits, you have a tendency to have low self-worth, so mix that up with someone who is verbally abusive and it can be very toxic. Maybe he starts attacking you verbally while alone at home or belittles you in public. Perhaps he treats you with disrespect when he is having a bad day. You might think that you will be able to change him or that it isn’t that bad; that you can handle it because you love him. You minimize it and chalk it up to his character defects.
I assure you that verbal abuse is never alright. Words do great harm to one’s spirit. Just recently, an older gentleman at age 72 spoke about his step-father calling him a “bastard” over and over again when he was young. He admitted that those words still haunt him today. That verbal abuse scarred him and left him with a wound that still oozes pain 60 some years later. Words hurt.
Codependency and boundaries
I have had my share of problems setting boundaries in my life. I’ve struggled to stand up for myself and clearly state when something is not alright with my spirit. It is an awful feeling to feel so badly about yourself that you just put up with things that are not right or that bother you.
Those that have codependency traits have a hard time setting boundaries. Does he make fun of you in public and you laugh it off, while inside you are angry and hurt? Does she yell at you like you’re 5 years old in front of your friends? Does he blow his temper and leave a trail of hateful words that penetrate your heart? Is he coming home drunk for the umpteenth time this month, acting like a raging idiot? If so, it is vital that you learn how to draw a boundary line.
It won’t be easy, but if you want to regain some of your self-worth and his respect, you’ll have to learn how. Some people start off literally shaking and a nervous wreck when they have to try to set a boundary; when they have to say, “This isn’t right and I don’t want to put up with it anymore.” But they learn to do it and it doesn’t always go wonderfully, but over time they learn how to stand up for themselves. They got very tired of feeling like they had to put up with things that hurt their spirit.
Confronting verbal abuse
If you are reading this, and you’ve been contending with verbal abuse, muster up enough courage to confront it as soon as possible. Say,
“I’m not going to put up with that anymore. If it continues, it could very well be a deal breaker for me.”
“I don’t appreciate the way you talk to me when you are angry. It is disrespectful and I am not willing to put up with it anymore.”
If you’re at a spot where you don’t think you can confront the person, consider going to a therapist to get some help. Many times, therapy for codependency traits will help a person get back their self-worth and grow the necessary courage needed to face the situation. Therapy will also help you with other issues that may be going on.
Know that you don’t have to take verbal abuse any longer. You are a precious creation and you deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.
Do you have codependency traits?
If you tend to struggle with codependency traits, you may already understand that it can sure be sneaky at times. Just when you think you’re doing well, some circumstance or person will pop up in your life and test you to the max. When you think you’re over people pleasing, there you are in a new relationship doing more than you ought to be doing to please them. When you think your self-worth is booming, one hurtful word can get you spiraling again.
If you’re not careful, as a recovering codependent, you can slide before you know it. If you don’t check your emotions or keep yourself nourished mentally or spiritually, you can fall prey to your old codependent ways.
Will I have codependent traits forever?
Not necessarily. Plenty of codependent men and women learn, grow, and go on to have healthy relationships without many issues. They may have the normal relationship problems, but they don’t stay stuck in them and they aren’t downright miserable and just afraid to leave. Part of overcoming codependency traits is taking care of yourself. It is dedicating yourself to personal growth consistently. When you are proactive when it comes to recovering, you are more apt to steer clear from acting out on codependent characteristics.
What can I do for help?
A great place to begin is to begin educating yourself on codependency recovery. Know that you are not alone in your struggles. Get yourself to a Codependents Anonymous meeting and meet others who are battling the same thing. If there is not one in your area, there are some online meetings you can attend. Many people feel incredibly relieved to learn that they were not the only one struggling with fear, repressed feelings, unworthiness, jealousy, emotional insanity, and so on.
It will take some effort. It takes some people years to work through their core issues. Underneath their codependency traits were feelings of abandonment, rejection, fear, anger, and more. Sometimes it takes them getting to a therapist, reading books, watching YouTube videos, going to meetings, and talking to a sponsor. Some work the 12 Steps. Some take one step forward and two steps back. Some cry and get frustrated. Some are up one day and down the next, but they persevering.
So can you.
Will codependency traits try to sneak up on you? Yes. You may literally feel it at times and have to stop everything and check yourself. What underlying condition are you neglecting? Are you stuffing feelings? Are you pretending? Avoiding reality? Letting fear rule? These are all great questions to ask yourself.
You can overcome codependency traits with some work and time. Nothing of value happens overnight, so be patient. As you dedicate yourself to getting to the root issues and allowing yourself to accept where you are on the way to where you are going, you’ll do just fine.
Get professional help
If you’ve been dealing with verbal abuse or you’re in a relationship with an active addict or alcoholic, it may benefit you to see a professional counselor. Being in a safe place to vent and share your feelings and concerns can be quite helpful. It’s not always easy to know how to address verbal abuse and some don’t even recognize they’re being abused. Maybe they grew up in a home where emotional or verbal abuse was regular, so they think it’s sort of normal.
Others know full well they are in a relationship where they are being treated like a doormat. They just aren’t strong enough to address it or set and keep boundaries. If this is the case, know that there are people who can help you address the situation. You can learn about boundary setting, how to recognize when you’re triggered, how to communicate more effectively with your loved one and work on underlying issues.
Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. In addition, continue learning about codependency traits and how you can begin a journey toward overcoming them. You are worthy to have what you want and need in a relationship, and verbal abuse should not be tolerated. Know that you’re not alone and trained professionals can help you navigate this terrain.