Codependence & “Role Trauma”

By Cheryl Fidelman, The Conscious Codependence™ Coach.

Codependence is often a product of some sort of role confusion in our childhood. If you had to parent one or both of your parents (or guardians), raise your younger sibling(s), had a sibling who had more power growing up in your home than you did and/or you experienced some sort of sexual trauma, your position or role in your adult relationships may not be clear to you. It may seem like you are the care taker in your relationships but this is when adulting can actually be a regressive act. Codependence is often demonstrated as a distortion of roles. 

When we experience sexual abuse at a young age, before we know the world as a sexual place and before we know ourselves as sexual beings, subservience and inferiority gets entrained into our nervous system. There’s a shock value to sexual abuse and molestation and the impact of that shock can stay in our system for decades if not for life. That shock can silence our voice and have us feel inferior and unsafe with people – even beyond sexual situations. There’s a part of us that loses our role as the one to be protected and gains the role of protecting ourselves. The silence and repression of codependence is our self-protection earned in some cases by sexual abuse. 

If you were parentified at a young age then taking care of people, giving advice, being the “go to” person for your friends, family and partners can be a regressive form of giving. I imagine there are times when giving is a real expression of your heart. And there are times when you give on an empty tank or out of obligation or obedience to your role of having to have the answer. When you find yourself parenting your friends, spouse, or even over parenting or infantilizing your children, then you are likely reacting from the dissociative nature of codependence. Disconnecting from yourself to handle other people’s realities before handling your own. 

Conversely, we may create other people in our lives to be our parents. Do you look to your spouse, your children, your boss or your parents for what’s real? Does their opinion override yours?  Do you find yourself proving your validity or exhausting yourself trying to get them to see or understand their impact on you? Are you either silencing yourself or efforting to be heard by those who seem more powerful than you? This is the inferiority complex of Codependence. This is your nervous system defaulting to making you smaller and wait for permission to have your truth. You may have had to do this with a family member when you were a kid and you’re still playing that role in your adult life. 

The Conscious Codependence Process™ heals regression out of your nervous system so that you are able to consciously create your role in any given relationship. You’ll no longer look to other people to find your position. You won’t leave yourself while assuming a role. You’ll remain fully aligned, embodied and connected with yourself. You’ll be clear about what you’re being called on to provide and if you are able and willing to provide it. You will be able to take up space with your voice, your requests, your desires and ideas. You’ll be able to witness others’ experiences of life without having a job – instead you’ll be connected to your empathy, compassion, innocence, power, wisdom and creativity. 

Because your relationship with yourself is where it all begins.

You can get your FREE PDF of The 3 Tenets of Conscious Codependence™ at The PDF lists the common developmental roots & behavioral patterns of each Tenet and also some questions to customize them to your experience.

1 Response

  1. Susan says:

    This article is painfully true.

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