Releasing The Grasp of Codependency


 by: Mary Williams

It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”

–          e.e. cummings

For the last 20 years I have read a wide spectrum of self-help books as part of my mission to advance myself mentally and spiritually. From The Heart of Yoga by T. K.V Desikachar to The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz to Blink by Malcom Gladwell, I bet I have read over 60 self-help books to try to continue to grow, learn, and become a better person.

Among the many self-help books I have read, several have focused on codependency. Since counselors often offered that term to me in many conversations, I always believed that I must be codependent. I continued to read the books, but it never really sunk in that I was indeed suffering with this trait.

I read Codependent No More and The New Codependency, both by Melody Beattie. I read these books at least two times each. It’s amazing how over the years in which I have read and reread these books, I most always come away with the thought: “Boy, I know someone that should read this,” but never thought it related to me! I continued to search for why professionals, friends, and even a guy I had a crush on thought I should read these books.

Funny to think that when the guy you’re crushing on tells you to read it…you go and read it again, yet still wonder: “What are these people thinking? I am not codependent!”

Four years passed, and then a few months ago something caught my eye. An awesome light in my life, Susan Tamme Goodman, wrote a piece on healthy boundaries and co-dependency in her daily, thought-provoking newsletter. Susan quoted Terrie Cole, saying: “Not knowing how to separate your feelings from your partner’s and allowing his/her mood to dictate your level of happiness or sadness.”  This is co-dependency.

How awesome is this line? I’ll repeat it to really let it sink in:

Not knowing how to separate your feelings from your partner’s and allowing his/her mood to dictate your level of happiness or sadness.”

I let others’ – partners, friends, children, parents, clients, co-workers, even strangers – moods, drama, and struggles dictate my level of peace and happiness…OH, this is an epiphany. I finally have a definition of co-dependency that I can understand.

What immediately came to mind was some difficulty I was having with a loved one’s constant negative talk. I really realized how it was bringing my normal state of glass-half-full to the woebegone doldrums of glass-half-empty. At that moment, I said to myself, “If he wants to be negative and lead his life in that way that is his choice.  I choose to be positive and take a positive spin on the world.  I can accept him and still be the positive person that I want to be.  I can still love him and love myself.”

Another area of life that I see co-dependency creep its little head is in savings and finances.  I have experienced clients that say, “Well, we are bad savers.” When in reality, maybe the husband is a spendthrift and the wife always pays bills on times and has goals of savings and retirement plans.

Don’t let the others in your life effect where you need to take a stand.  If you need to take a stand to save for your retirement, start today.  Open an IRA or Roth IRA, contribute to your 401k. Own a small business?  Maybe a Simple IRA or a SEP account fits the bill. Start sending a check to “pay yourself” toward your retirement.  Don’t let others poor financial habits effect your own, set your financial boundaries– just like you set  emotional boundaries.  Take a stand in all areas of your life to do what you have dreams, desires, and intentions to do.  Save for a child’s education, save for that trip to Italy, and pay your debts!  Create your own financial goals.  Take responsibility, let go of the feelings others put off and create your own way.  Live within your means and your intentions…not your neighbors.

Reading books on co-dependency over the last 20 years just proves to me that you can read something a thousand times but until you are ready to let it in, you just gloss over it.  I still sometimes fall into the codependency trap, but I really feel that I have found ways to not let other moods dictate my own through practicing gratitude and really wanting everyone to find peace in their own lives.  Letting go of control has given me a higher level of peace that I never thought I would have. Not taking others worries and drama on myself has made me more productive, more caring and more genuine to my own thoughts and feelings. And I am more authentic to my own spending and savings habits.

What’s your next step? How can I help?


Mary Williams CFP®, MBA

Vice President, Investments

Raymond James and Associates

2400 Lakeview Parkway, Suite 200

Alpharetta Ga 30009


Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP(R), CERTIFIED

FINANCIAL PLANNER(tm) and federally registered CFP (with flame design) in the U.S.

Raymond James & Associates, Inc., Member New York Stock Exchange/SIPC




No comments yet.

Leave a Reply