This conditioning may have included:
Co-dependency in a nutshell, is the inability to be self-respecting. It is the inability to establish clear, assertive and loving boundaries to get one's needs and wants met while being interdependent with family members, friends, colleagues and others. Without clear, assertive and loving boundaries, this dysfunction will wreak havoc on the relationship because unclear boundaries due to low self-esteem produce frustration, exhaustion, fear, mistrust and lack of intimacy. Unclear boundaries are the most unloving thing we can do in intimate relationships.
Interdependency: The Opposite of Co-Dependency and the highest form of emotional maturity in relationships.
Co-dependency begins with low self-esteem which is driven by the mistaken need to gain validation or self-worth through acts of kindness, concern, help, rescuing, fixing, enabling, selflessness, sacrifice, accommodation, altruism, endless conversations or needless hand-holding. Instead of this producing interdependency for both the supporter and supportee, the co-dependent (supporter) feels resentful, victimized, unacknowledged, unappreciated, frustrated, lonely, unloved, and confused as to why being good feels so bad, and the supportee usually continues being dependent, needy, demanding, victimized, that is, stuck in self loathing.
Two co-dependents who find each other in a relationship can actually grow to feel hate for each other. They may succumb to abuse with each other because co-dependents confuse what the relationship is about. They are not conscious of their inabilities to nurture themselves FIRST, the hallmark of healthy self-esteem, which will in turn nurture a functional relationship.
Unfortunately, many of these duo co-dependents, without professional help, end up resolving their issues through divorce, because they are unable to uncover and heal their lack of solid self-esteem.
Many of those in relationships, where only one person is co-dependent, also end up leaving these relationships badly. Or, they continue living together in bondage and fear of being alone, because of their low self-esteem. In this case, they may feel that this is as good as it gets. Those may then numb themselves through substances to survive the daily grind- another characteristic of low self-esteem.
Yes, absolutely! One can learn effective listening skills, assertive boundary setting and ways to nurture and enjoy oneself, with a skilled professional. It will take some time to undo years of entrenched ways of relating to others, but once new behaviours are bravely tried and feel good, one realizes how amazingly good it feels to be self-respecting. Then, and only then, as a result of self-respect, can an intimate and joyful relationship be possible!
This modeling surely included the most toxic of behaviours which creates low self-esteem in children. Creating low self-esteem is usually the result of parents with low self-esteem themselves; parents who do not spend enough quality time with children, thus invalidating their worth, parents who are not genuinely involved in their children's lives and activities, parents who do not have the ability to encourage their children's uniqueness, opinions, preferences, wishes and dreams, and parents who do not give clear, assertive and loving boundaries and consequences.
Many co-dependents are not joyful and playful because they are taking care of everyone else, depleting themselves of the energy they could have used to nurture themselves joyfully. With joy, we then have the ability and energy to be safely interdependent.