“Codependent No More” is a helpful book for anyone who struggles from any sort of compulsive disorder, or is in a relationship with someone with a compulsive disorder.
Melody Beattie quotes many definitions of codependency, but says that one common denominator is having a relationship “with troubled, needy, or dependent people.” She refers to a second common denominator of having unspoken family rules which prohibit expression of emotions and healthy communication. She says that the heart of the definition lies “in the ways we have let other people’s behavior affect us and in the ways we try to affect them.”
The book starts out by examining the characteristics of codependency, such as low self-worth, repression, obsession, denial, dependency, poor communication, weak boundaries and lack of trust. The writer reports that “codependents appear to be depended upon, but they are dependent. They look strong but feel helpless.”
The rest of the book is dedicated to the basics of self-care, including but not limited to: learning detachment, decision-making, loving yourself, getting in touch with feelings, dealing with anger, setting goals, and communication.
Melody Beattie also includes a chapter on working a Twelve Step programme, and miscellaneous topics such as fear of intimacy, boundaries and trust. She concludes that “What we, as codependents, need to learn to do is fulfill these desires, needs, and wants in ways that don’t hurt ourselves or other people, in ways that allow maximum enjoyment of life.” She states the importance of “learning to love without getting so emotionally entangled with the object of our affection; and learning to love others without forfeiting love for ourselves.”
The book is quite long, and there is quite a lot of content that might benefit from further editing, however, having said that, it is definitely worth reading and perhaps it would be good to use this as a reference book to return to again and again.