Possible Paths To Codependency

.
How does someone become “codependent”, a “slave of man”, subsumed to someone else?
.
      • Was he born that way?
      • Did it start in childhood?
      • Did it appear later in life?
.
For codependency to take place, two people are involved – the codependent, and the one who causes or allows the codependency – let’s call him/her the controller. Although not always the case, the controller could be a person with insolent pride – the narcissist – who seeks to have others in his orbit to put him on a pedestal and serve him.
.
The prospective slave has a vulnerability that can be exploited or manipulated – often unconsciously. This could include:
.
    1. the young
    2. sensitive or compliant personalities
    3. those carrying a previous wound that hasn’t healed
    4. those desiring affection to the extent that they will accept occasional crumbs of “love” from someone in exchange for whatever is asked of them
    5. those with no solid extrinsic foundation for their life
.
The controller could use a variety of methods to achieve dominance over the vulnerable
.
    • Outright bullying, either physically or verbally, ranging from cutting remarks to much more aggressive power moves
    • Lies and manipulation, ranging from charm (which is deceitful – Proverbs 31:30) to the current ill-defined popular phrase “gaslighting” (the attempt to make someone believe an alternate reality)
    • Some combo of the two – such as alternating “love”/abuse

.

The controller’s intent is to make the target dependent upon them, so that the target will exalt and be subservient as they seek to get their emotional or physical needs met. The fickleness of the controller may cause the target to cling even tighter as the controller appears to be the only available foundation of strength and source of need fulfillment.

.

These seeds of dependency are likely planted in childhood, through a parent or other authority who makes the child in some way fearful of disappointing the authority. The (narcissistic) parent in some way forces the child to take undue responsibility for meeting the parent’s needs as the means to get their own needs met.

.

If the dependency is not resolved before early adulthood – if the target does not learn to have their own rock solid foundation for life, they will tend to look for “strong people” who provide that foundation. In milder forms the target may become a “people-pleaser” – constantly going beyond what is necessary or appropriate to make sure others are not disappointed in them. They will tend to respond in the same way as childhood with too much reliance on the approval of others. They have a warped view of healthy relationships.

.

While the target may desire a romantic relationship with someone who is kind to them, they might easily gravitate toward someone like their childhood controller. This would be compounded by the fact that narcissists with a bent toward dominance will be attracted to them as a potential “planet” revolving around them. In his pursuit, the N might deceive the target through initial kindness, before they reveal their true colors.

.

The special vulnerability of children brings a particularly strong judgment on those who would damage them. That is why Jesus said…

.

….. to His disciples, “It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea, than that he would cause one of these little ones to stumble. Luke 17:1-2

.

.

Next Up: The Foundation For Freedom From Codependency

Dependency – Do Not Become Slaves Of Men

.

As we discussed in an earlier post, co-dependency is a fuzzy pop-psychology term.  The more precise Biblical concept is that of someone becoming a “slave of men” (I Corinthians 7:23) by subsuming their inner self to another person, rather than to God.  But we will use the term codependent interchangeably as shorthand.

How do we know that this phrase did not refer to the physical slavery of the day?  We know it because Paul made several other clear statements that while it is better to be free, it was also ok to be a slave.

.

Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that.   For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave.    I Corinthians 7:22-23

.
In fact, slaves were to not just chafe under their masters, but seek to honor the Lord in the situation.

.

All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against.   I Timothy 6:1
.
Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.   Colossians 3:22
.
Paul could make these statements, because slavery was a feature of his era’s economic system, not focused on the control of people’s inward selves but their outward performance.  In fact, in Christ everyone was equal irrespective of their socio-economic status.
.
a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.    Colossians 3:11
.
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  Galatians 3:28
.
Therefore, Paul’s admonition to “not become slaves of men” referred to who we are as a person, who we are on the inside, how we live our lives before God and with others.  We are not to subsume who we are on the inside to someone else.
.
All scripture taken in isolation is subject to misinterpretation and abuse.  “Do not become slaves of men” could easily be twisted to mean, “no one will rule over me” (including God-given authority), leading to “I can do whatever I want”, or “I should exit any relationship that restricts my freedom”.  This does not mean that.  We are referring to an inward freedom to be yourself and the person God wants you to be, regardless of the circumstances.
.
There are different tactics a “slave master” might use to make someone their slave (codependent).  For example,
.
  1. Bullying
  2. Manipulation
  3. Use of fake authority
  4. Abuse of true authority
.
Underneath the success of all of these is an element of the fear of man on the part of the codependent person – worried about what the other person thinks of you or can do to you, rather than what God thinks of you or can do to you.  Proverbs says,
.

The fear of man brings a snare,
But he who trusts in the Lord will be exalted.  Proverbs 29:25

.
and Jesus said
.
 “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more that they can do.  But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!   Luke 12:4-5
.
As narcissists have an inner drive to be the unquestioned #1 around which others’ lives orbit, they are particularly driven to make others their emotional or physical slaves.  It is difficult for them to achieve that with “hard targets” (those who are on to them or not afraid of them), so they focus on available “soft targets”.  And one of the easiest of soft targets are their own children.
.
Next up:  Possible paths to co-dependency