Abusers find us. We do not find them and we do not deserve disrespectful, abusive, damaging treatment. There is not something wrong with us that makes us deserving of abuse or pain. Abusers abuse us because we think like victims and unknowingly give up our power to them.
Codependency tendencies and what author and therapist Ross Rosenberg now more accurately describes as “Self-Love Deficit” do not cause abuse. Codependency is a consequence of abuse because abuse mucks with our self-esteem and feelings of self-power. We learn to not trust our own selves for validation of our worth and instead turn externally to others to define us and decide what is acceptable in us. Codependency is a learned maladaptive coping mechanism that replaces what should be internal motivating behavioral controls and emotions we rely on and trust to keep us safe.
“Codependency is traced to the first five years of life from being exposed to emotional manipulators.” Listen to Ross Rosenberg’s eloquent explanations to the root causes to our vulnerabilities to abusers here.
We develop codependency in power imbalanced dysfunctional families where we learn to be dependent on others (we perceive as more powerful but who are not) rather than our own selves to define our self-worth and to validate us and as a coping mechanism to not being loved unconditionally. This has profound consequences on our emotional development! We can become notorious boundary violators ourselves! We were taught to maladapt…to adapt in the wrong way. We develop skewed beliefs about our lovability and our self-worth and where to source them from.
And as we get older, we become vulnerable to abusers or narcissists or psychopaths or bullies who are experts on homing in on our vulnerabilities and who target us! They find us and target us because this is just what they do. It is what they need to do to cope and survive. They are wired to aggressively go after others’ power because they cannot generate their own energy because they are disordered! So we become dependent on these creeps who manipulate us and do not have our best interests at heart and stay with them and feel defenseless to them because we are pain addicted and suffer from traumatic stress and chronic shame and feelings of powerlessness. We falsely believe that abusers and emotional manipulators have more power than we do to control our pain.
As narcissistic abuse recovery expert Kim Saeed tells us, someone with codependency tendencies can lose sight of their own lives in the commotion of tending to someone else’s, which makes them prime targets for narcissists. In abusive relationships, they can end up loving someone who is unrestrained and they find themselves being more accountable for the actions of that person than the person is taking for themselves.
An emotionally healthy loving partner would remind you of your value and worth, support your self-assuredness, and not want you to be dependent on them. Emotional manipulators, on the other hand, victimize us. Once we deal with our vulnerabilities and heal our wounds and do self-esteem work we can make huge strides towards no longer being targets and no longer feeling powerless to these creeps and not being dependent on anyone except our own selves to define our self-worth.
The challenge is to support people along their journey without getting emotionally vested and entangled in “fixing” or “solving” their problems for them, or covering up for them. When you do, you will have acted with true compassion for yourself and others while honoring your own and other’s personal rights, authorities, and divinity.