A little after I discovered Co-dependency, I discovered something called Counter-dependency. It seems the one who has trouble creating boundaries has to find an expert to learn from (and vice-versa).
We start out dependant on our parents, in quite the vulnerable state. Somewhere along the line we choose a path towards autonomy, developing innate, personal strengths and weening ourselves away from parental protection. Some of us find a nice balance, others remain attached – like the Italian who lives at home until he’s 40 years old. A third group chooses an exaggerated independence – like the person who leaves home at 16 and never looks back.
Yes, somewhere along the line, a few people come to the conclusion that it is just too dangerous to be vulnerable. Scarred as children, they decided they were Never Going To Be Hurt Again.
Two experts on developmental trauma, Janae and Barry Weinhold, have articulated seven signs of counter-dependency:
- Difficulty being close to others
- A strong need to be right—all the time
- Self-centered and egotistical
- A resistance or refusal to ask for help
- Expects perfection in self and others
- Extreme discomfort appearing weak or vulnerable
- Has difficulty relaxing and is addicted to activities like work or exercise.
These few, these proud, change our parameters of what we think people need. Because the more we may try to help them, the more they resist any help at all. It really tears us apart to have to admit defeat, to leave these people behind, but we can learn a few things along the way:
One, that we can’t help everyone. Some people, against everything we ever want to believe, just don’t want to be helped.
And two, armed with the knowledge that the world had these “black holes” in it, we realize we have to curb this Red Cross tendency of ours to help everyone.
Voilà end of co-dependency.
So, for this – and not much else – we should be forever grateful to the counter-dependants in our lives.