Co-dependence is explained as “...a most deeply-rooted compulsive behaviour...that is born out of our sometimes moderately, sometimes extremely dysfunctional family systems.”
We did not “catch” our dis-ease because we went out in the rain without a Mac, we caught it inside; inside our home. These experiences infected our unique perspectives of how families function, what to value in our lives and what the world was about. We only knew what we were taught, and automatically assumed it was right. Messages and belief systems began to be imprinted upon us that taught us about ourselves, what to expect from people, how to live our lives, what roles to play, and how to care about the people around us.
Co-dependence is about extremes. This makes sense if you consider a child had limited options as he grew up in a family environment that is imbalanced and dysfunctional. He usually had nowhere else to go. So life was very black and white. Stay in the mess or go out and try to make it on your own: at 7.
Further, the co-dependent was also most likely not properly given or modelled love. If love was absent, or seen as something we needed to "work for," we will develop compensation behaviours in adulthood. The seed of shame has at one point taken root in the co-dependent’s life. Shame says "I don’t measure up, something is wrong with me."
Sometimes shame is imposed on a child in very subtle ways, such as living in a strict home where controlling parents tell the child he doesn’t quite "measure up." Sometimes it is imposed in brutal ways from a very chaotic and abusive environment. Therefore, he developed symptoms in the form of coping devices which he used to mask the pain and help him survive.
However, in adult life the coping devices are not appropriate survival strategies. These devices include avoiding conflict with other people to the point of being unable to speak true feelings or ask for valid needs, oftentimes countered by fits of anger or rage (passive-aggressive), covering up for irresponsible people in life by lying or "filling in the gaps" to "help" them, or doing for others what they should be doing for themselves.
When these behaviours do not “fill the hole” that is based on their lack of receiving love they invoke conflict, relationship issues, isolation as we avoid people and people avoid us. Ultimately, the result is relapse; dragging us back into victim mode. This propensity to relapse is due to the “deeply rooted” nature of this dis-ease.
Some of us have reached a point where we realise that the foundational ways we think, feel, act, and live in our relationships is causing us pain. We may continue to believe that other people are responsible for that pain. Or, we may be exceedingly harsh on ourselves. We may attempt to fixate on the current events of our lives, not understanding that the issues of "today" are often influenced by deeper things.
In reality, our struggle in relationships, and our chronic inability to resolve the problems we face needs to be addressed at that foundational level.