Codependency refers to a relationship in which one party has excessive emotional or psychological reliance on the other. Cited often in terms of addiction (a codependent relationship between an addict and their enabling partner, parent, friend, etc.), codependency also pops up frequently in relationships in which someone is struggling with mental or physical illness. More broadly, codependency applies to those of us that are driven to “fix” what’s wrong with the people in our lives. Do you feel like you a have a faulty “picker” in relationships? You might have codependent tendencies.
In this way, the concept of codependency resonates with many of us in one way or another. Using personal, relatable stories, Beattie describes codependency as the very common issue that it is, and allows the reader to identify themselves with the concept without feeling pathologized or judged.
The book encourages us to re-evaluate how we treat ourselves in our relationships to others, and gently encourages the idea that boundary-setting is not selfish, but a marker of health, self-care, and self-respect. Beattie stresses the importance of self-compassion again and again, and asks obvious but important questions (like, “Have I observed myself to be an approval-seeker, losing myself in the process?”) that gently urge the reader’s consideration of new choices. Throughout, the book compels the reader to prioritize their own wants and needs in their relationships with others, and walks through the emotional steps necessary to meet that elusive end goal.
It should be noted that Beattie references God, as well as Al-Anon and the 12 steps, in the book (rather frequently). If you are comfortable with references to God and the 12 steps, or don’t mind looking past them, I recommend the read. If that seems off-putting to you, then this is not your book.
If you are interested, you can buy Beattie’s book here.