The “Surgeon General’s” Warning for Codependency Recovery.
By Ross Rosenberg, M.Ed., LCPC, CADC, CSAT
From the Upcoming Book, The Codependency Cure: Breaking Free From Narcissists
Codependency recovery has the capacity to change your life. My writings and YouTube videos are intended to inspire, motivate and guide you on a journey to solve and overcome the obstacles that are responsible for your codependency. It is backed up with my own recovery experiences and 28 years working with trauma survivors and codependents and my book, The Human Magnet Syndrome: Why We Love People Who Hurt Us. My transformation is proof that a person doesn’t have to be weighed down by the childhood trauma that compels them to form long-term relationships with people who cannot love or respect them, but will inevitably hurt them.
However, you should be warned that there is no “quick fix” for your life-long patterns of codependency. Nor is it intended to repair the part of you that makes you to fall in love with a person who started out as your soul mate, but ended up as a “cell-mate.” To that end, there is not a secret formula that neutralizes your pattern of establishing and maintaining relationships with pathological narcissists – people you love but who consistently hurt you.
However, you should be warned that this book does not contain an illustrious new-fangled theory that will quickly fix your life-long patterns codependency. It is not intended to fix that part of you that compels you to fall in love with a person who began as a soul mate, but ended up as a “cell-mate.” To that end, it will not provide you with a secret formula that neutralizes your life-long pattern of forming and maintain enduring relationships with pathological narcissists – people you love but who consistently who hurt you.
Since you have not put the book down yet and are still reading it, I am morally obligated to give you my “Surgeon General’s Warning.” Similar to the warning on a pack of cigarettes, if you decide to move forward with the difficult and at times heart-breaking challenges inherent to codependency recovery, there is no doubt that painful experiences will befall you. There is no way around this cold, hard fact.
My warning differs from the real Surgeon General’s Warning. First and foremost, I am neither a surgeon nor a general! Secondly, you won’t die from a progressively painful physical ailment. You will suffer, though, but only for a distinct period of time. Third, and best of all, this warning also predicts future emotional and relational freedom and happiness.
However, if you can persevere through the losses, emotional pain and suffering, which go hand-in-hand with the initial stages of codependency recovery, then you may very well experience, perhaps for the first time in your life, joy and freedom from the pain and suffering caused by the selfish and harmful narcissists in your life. You will save yourself from being placed on the giving and sacrificing end of most of your relationships. And what’s more, you will learn to love yourself more than anyone else in your life, which in turn will set you on a path to love another similarly healthy and self-loving person.
Considering the predictable hardships and obstacles inherent in the first two stages of Codependency Recovery (Chapter 5), you will need to prepare for one of the biggest and most difficult battles of your life. As demonstrated in Chapter 10, codependency is an addiction with terrible withdrawal symptoms. You will experience bitterly painful bouts of loneliness, codependency’s most potent withdrawal symptom. The insidious pathological power of loneliness will make you second guess any gains that you have made and hypnotically compel you to return to your former codependent ways. If you have ever kicked an addiction, you will understand exactly what I mean.
You will invariably get knocked down a few times and sustain bumps and bruise along the way. But…because you can get up and move towards your goal of recovery, you will. You will not have to do this alone, though, as you will have developed a support network that will be there for you during times of darkness and despair and moments of triumph and success. Although the warning may frighten and perhaps, discourage you, I urge you to keep your eye on the prize. I know it is there, because I have walked the path myself.
As difficult as the uphill battle may be, it is not going to be all doom and gloom. Like any mountain climber will tell you, reaching the top of the mountain is a harrowing and extremely demanding experience. But, being on top of the mountain and planting your flag is like nothing else! After savoring that moment, you will happily proceed downhill, which you will find to be so much easier than climbing it. Not only is going down the mountain much easier that the upward climb, but once at the bottom, you will have the opportunity to savor this personal victory for the rest of your life!
An honest depiction of the codependency recovery process, “the good, the bad and the ugly,” will not only prepare you for what lies ahead, but also for the necessary sacrifices that are part and parcel to breaking free from the malignant hold pathological narcissists have over you. There is no getting around the fact that you will need to financially, psychologically, personally and relationally prepare for the daunting challenges that lie ahead[i]. Such preparations will embolden you, while mitigating and buffering the potential consequences you may endure by standing up to and setting boundaries with narcissists who, by now, have exacted a great deal of pain and suffering upon you, as well as, perhaps, your family.
Be warned that there will be blowback from your narcissist, who will likely try to sabotage your treatment in an attempt to throw you off course. Because your narcissist has a great deal to lose by you getting well, he may try to intimidate, abuse, isolate and/or hurt you. Adding insult to injury, your resistance to the harm perpetrated against you may even result in custody and financial threats, job loss, and even abrupt termination of important and meaningful relationships.
But don’t worry, as this book will prepare, lead and guide you toward a life outside of the control of the people you love, but who predictably hurt you. In this book, you will come to understand The Four Stage Codependency Treatment Model, the backbone of codependency recovery. It will provide you with concrete illustrations and descriptions of the linear and sequential paths of the recovery experience. It will also demonstrate how the path of codependency recovery predictably leads one to rewards beyond their imagination. This model and the challenges outlined in it will prepare you for the ins and outs, the challenges and the payoffs of each step. Not only will it provide you with a bird’s eye view of what’s in store for you, but it will also anchor you to the treatment/recovery process.
This is the time to ask as many questions as possible because, the more you know about codependency recovery, the higher the probability of a successful outcome. It is recommended that you, with the help of a trusted recovering codependent or a therapist, create a cost-benefit analysis between the two starkly different conclusions: remaining unappreciated, neglected, deprived and/or harmed by the narcissists in your life, or discovering healthy love of self and others. Such should show you all that you stand to gain and all that you will continue to lose if you don’t move forward with your decision to break free from codependency. As described in Step Four, if you stick with the program, you will eventually experience, perhaps for the first time, safe, supportive, affirming and respectful treatment from others. You will also have learned about the sustaining nature of self-love.
You will get to a point where you will be able to courageously and confidently extract yourself from any relationship where you are abused, neglected and/or deprived. You will also possess the motivation to pursue challenges and neutralize obstacles like you never imagined. Be ready, as you will be able to form relationships with healthy partners who will want to unconditionally love, respect, trust and support you, while also being dependable, responsible, sharing and fair to you. Moreover, you will develop feelings of personal efficacy and increased self-esteem that you have not previously experienced.
Through your commitment to solve you codependency dilemma, you will have broken free from your suffocating and soul-scorching dysfunctional relationship dance with your pathological narcissistic partner. Let my warning inspire you to put your nose to the grindstone and tough it out, so you can experience self-love and relational joy and freedom!