Late autumn and early winter present several beautiful holidays to celebrate starting with Thanksgiving, transitioning to Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa, and then ending with New Year’s Eve. Undoubtedly, there are hopes for wonderful celebrations and strengthening of bonds between families and good friends. For those in a codependent relationship (with a romantic partner or a family member or even a friend), the holidays present unique challenges. Codependency during the holidays is not an easy relationship issue to navigate.
What is Codependency?
In a codependent relationship, there are two people involved: the codependent person and their partner (which is the term we will use in this article regardless of whether or not the partner is a romantic partner, family member, or friend). The two key issues in such a relationship is that:
- There is not a clear boundary between the two individuals.
- It is a one-sided relationship where one person takes care of the other person’s needs to such a level that they neglect their own needs or aspirations. This one-sided relationship can lead to low self-esteem and emotional or even physical abuse — or both.
Symptoms of Codependency:
Symptoms differ but commonly include:
- reliance of other people’s opinions to feel better about oneself due to very low self-esteem
- excusing or tolerating abusive behavior
- avoiding conflict
- feeling insecure within the relationship
- fixing everything to the point of self-neglect
- clingy behavior
- significant fear of being alone or having a relationship end
- blaming yourself for other people’s problems
Codependency During the Holidays:
Codependency can take an especially unpleasant turn during the holidays. The magic of the holiday season can be amplified and used against the codependent person in a variety of ways. Typically, the codependent person is criticized or otherwise stressed to the point that they may feel shame, loss of love, insecurity, or under the threat of a private or public manipulative behavior that would ruin a holiday. Often, codependents are struggling with both addictive and even emotionally abusive or disengaged partners (or family member or friend) which adds complexity and complications to an otherwise challenging situation.
A Recovery Coach can help a codependent person prepare themselves for anticipated behaviors and pressures from their partner. The Recovery Coach can work with their client to prepare a plan of action of how to manage their own mental health and best interests so they may enjoy the many holidays this time of year and start the new year with steadier footing.