One of the things that I hear a lot of alcoholics say is that they are selfish and think mostly about themselves. And one of the things that I hear a lot of Al-Anons say, including me, is that we spent most of our time thinking about others instead of ourselves. I think that this is the nature of co-dependency.
So the question then comes to mind: If one has spent most of a life time thinking about others, isn't that also a selfish act? From what I understand now, I was conditioned from a young age to think more about others. I was told to not be selfish and to share. That may have been okay when I was a child, but it set the stage for my dysfunctional behavior later in life.
I realize that by doing for others and thinking only of them, I was actually being selfish. I became wrapped up in self-pity and approval seeking. I gave in hopes that others would love me. I wanted others to think that I was doing for them, but I was actually more conscious of how I could get my emotional needs met by being around the other person.
This is the sickness of co-dependency. I had a need for acceptance and validation from others. I can see after being in Al-Anon the selfishness of that behavior. I know that some of those feelings of self-pity still surface. But I can also say that most of what I do now is done because I want to freely give to someone else. I truly care about other people and enjoy seeing their joy when I love without expectations.
I don't know if the codependency ever completely goes away. Likely this is something that I will struggle with for the rest of my life. But it helps to be aware of the problem, to understand detachment and boundaries, and that over-functioning in relationships doesn't work. My work on focusing on myself and finding out who I am continues. I can see though how far I have come in meeting my own needs.
These days the good deeds that are done for people are done for sheer joy. I don't see anything wrong about doing a good deed for others. After all, isn't the important thing that a good deed was done?
I'd like to read your thoughts on how you achieve balance in your relationships when it comes to giving and thinking of others.