Following her Inside/Out expert interview, relationship coach and long time yoga instructor Jillian Turecki shares her thoughts on codependency … and what we can do about it.

Alison Beckner and Arianna Solare

“Codependency is a term that can absolutely be nebulous and gets thrown around a lot.

Codependency happens when one or both people in a relationship (most common in romantic ones, but is very much also seen in young friendships - mostly female ones - and families) become overly concerned with the thoughts, actions, and behavior of the person with whom they are in relationship. This ‘concern’ is at the expense of the person’s concern for themselves.

And rest assured, there is a large spectrum for codependency. Most people, at one point in their lives, with one particular key person, have fallen prey to those tendencies. Codependent behavior, i.e., thoughts, beliefs, habits and actions, can be rather insidious. Someone can be highly independent in most areas of her or his life, but then in a codependent relationship. That’s why I don’t like to refer to someone as codependent as if it’s their identity. I prefer to be more specific to the person. For instance, she’s has a codependent relationship, or she is behaving like a codependent, or she has those tendencies.

This is one of my favorite topics and the #1 thing I help woman heal from. So, I’ll go into some specific detail:

I’ve had to reconcile with my own codependent tendencies in my own life and I can proudly say I have healed it. I’m one of those people who have fallen on the spectrum at various points in my life with men. For example: I was in a healthy 5.5 year relationship in my twenties. We were kind to each other. Supportive. But it lasted 2 years longer than it should have, because we were addicted to the comfort of being around one another. We didn’t actually work on our own lives in regard to anything that was separate from one another. So, yes, codependency can also look like staying in a relationship because the fear of being alone. So we were both somewhat codependent on each other. Stagnate, stuck, passionless. But it was kind and healthy, too, in many ways. I think this is a very common scenario in relationships, especially young ones.

It was only after my marriage ended that I had to come to terms with the truth of my behavior. I would have never admitted to being codependent prior, because, well, I am independent is so many ways and I’m non-conformist in a lot of ways as well. But I also became very anxious when he was in a bad mood not because I was concerned for him, but I was concerned about there being a riff in the relationship. So I would take on his emotions and completely ignore my life in an effort to control the situation. This is classic ‘CD’ behavior. I would focus on him most of the time. His problems, his pursuits, his thoughts and so on. And my life was left behind. It boils down to the fact that I felt a need to control so that everything would be ‘ok.’ This is also a textbook example of addict/codependent relationship. He was recovered, but we still played out that dynamic.

How did I heal? I took a massive time out and got real with myself. No more denial. No more shame around that word. Then I studied human behavior, love, male and female psychology, and everything in between. I heal through understanding things. And now I know what character traits in a person will trigger this in me, and I just simply will not date them. 

Fear is the trigger. Fear. Is. The. Trigger. If you are someone who suspects that you may have a problem with this, then you just have to identify what fears you have when it comes to love. Here’s another hint for healing: Fall in love with your life. Get attached to having a life of meaning that has nothing to do with a partner. Then, you’ll realize that you don’t have to be so fearful. You will then realize that it really is worse to be with the wrong person than to be alone.

It becomes our work to understand the huge difference between sharing someone’s pain and bearing it. It may be the most important work you do. And when you know this about yourself, it can, and should, inform how you choose partners. It does make a difference.

Anyone can heal this. Anyone.”

Jillian Turecki for Inside Out