For a very long time I thought I was doing amazingly well despite my childhood. Then I went to see a therapist when we started doing foster care, and heard the word "co-dependent" for the first time. I told the therapist she was obviously wrong because I am not dependent on anyone, and it's me that takes care of everyone else. She smiled and handed me a book on codependency and told me we would talk again the next week.
Signs of codependency include:
Having difficulty making decisions in a relationship
Having difficulty identifying your feelings
Having difficulty communicating in a relationship
Valuing the approval of others more than valuing yourself
Lacking trust in yourself and having poor self-esteem
Having fears of abandonment or an obsessive need for approval
Having an unhealthy dependence on relationships, even at your own cost
Having an exaggerated sense of responsibility for the actions of others
The ones above in bold font were me. I had little to no boundaries set up for myself. I was always the one to go to if you needed something, because "no I'm sorry I can't" wasn't in my vocabulary. Heaven forbid I actually had to say "no" for a valid reason, I would beat myself up for days worrying about it.
You see, being the child that could do no right in my Mother's eyes, turned me into the adult that CRAVED validation for any and everyone. It was like a drug to me. I got a "high" just from being praised. It made me feel worthwhile. Even at the expense of my own mental health.
If you are not sure you struggle with codependency, or perhaps think you might, but it's not "that bad". I invite you to TAKE THIS TEST.
60 true-or-false questions.
SCORING as follows:
A score below 20 = Little need for concern
A score between 21-30 = Should be a moderate need for concern
A score between 31-45 = Is moderate towards a severe need for concern
A score over 46 = Indicating a severe need for concern.
This is not a professional diagnosis, but it is a good way to start evaluating codependent behaviors in your own life.
It's been quite the journey learning how to undo this super unhealthy pattern of behavior. It has taken many years, and it has also taken some...A LOT of inner work to constantly stay in front of it. You are ABSOLUTELY able to heal from this, and it's so worth it to take your power back.
If you are interested in learning more, I highly suggest a book called "Codependent No More" by Melody Beattie.