The Mighty Logo

How I'm Working on Overcoming Codependency

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

For the first half of my life I was strictly a “no” person. I was more than happy to tell people where they could go. Go way people, you’re bothering me.

Then I got a full time computer job besides writing custom programs for businesses, installing t1 internet lines and doing support for the customers websites and servers. I couldn’t screw up this job. I really liked it. I really needed it. I couldn’t let my bipolar or an autistic meltdown ruin this job. I become a people pleaser.

After about almost two years, one particular customer was calling me all the time. It was a locally headquartered television network with 23 stations across the nation. They were tired of their administrator having to call me and talk to me all day to fix their service. So they fired him and hired me.

It was a big time job making $50,000 a year in 1998, in a depressed area. I wasn’t quite rich, but I was very well off. I was supporting my whole family and they were taking care of me, with money left over. I could do whatever I wanted to when I wasn’t working.

Turns out that the whole place was codependent on the founder’s anger and fits. Everybody there was people pleasers and if they weren’t they would be if they were there more than six months.

Wasn’t long. I was a very serious people pleaser doing everything I could to keep that job. I kept it too long. I was selling my sanity and there wasn’t much left. That led to a breakdown and something stupid. I wound up in the hospital.

After a couple times in the hospital I went to group therapy there and then finished. One big thing that I conquered in that first time back in group therapy as an adult was codependency.

Nobody should be ashamed of codependency. It should be a part of every mental health recovery plan. Even if you are not codependent in a drug addicted relationship, that doesn’t mean that you’re not experiencing people pleasing and/or other codependent issues.

I’m going to oversimplify codependency. When we are worried about other people more than taking care of ourselves, we become codependent. When we are worried about ourselves more than other people we become prey to obsessions and delusions. We must find a balance and see ourselves as individuals in a larger society for the good of all. We need to learn to think by reason rather than feelings by imagination.

The best part about overcoming codependency is that it’s all about respecting yourself and setting boundaries. That’s how you do it: you respect yourself and you respect the other person. You don’t cross each other’s boundaries. That’s all there is to beating codependency. Seeing ourselves as individuals in a larger community.

Setting your boundaries is not selfish. Setting boundaries is important for maintaining mental health. If somebody insists on crossing your boundaries then they may be a user. They may be manipulating you.

A great way to get started overcoming codependency is learning to say “No.”

“No” is a complete sentence all by itself. You don’t owe anybody any explanation. You should only explain yourself when you really want to.

If you say no and they get mad, let them have a fit. Who cares? They are manipulating you by being angry because you won’t let them cross your boundaries.

As you learn to take care of yourself more and more people are going to act this way. They don’t want the new you. They don’t want the healthy you. They want the old sick you that they can use and exploit.

Again saying no and stopping is the best way to start overcoming codependency.


Setting boundaries. Setting boundaries is simply not doing what you don’t want to do or bothers you.

One for me that has been my whole life. People have gotten angry and had fits. They told me I was such a bad person because I wouldn’t let them use my computer.

It’s mine, it’s got my work on it, it’s got my private life on it, it’s everything to me. So anytime anybody asks to use my computer the answer is no. No explanation.

They want to have a fit. Call me all kinds of names and stuff but that’s on them not me. Now that I know I can sit back and laugh. It’s a projection of them on me. They are trying to cross my boundaries. They’re trying to manipulate me into using my computer.

Let them have fits.

These simple things that you can do for yourself. It takes practice and work. It took me a few years to get over codependency. These by themselves will free you from pleasing people. Free you from codependency.

May you have more drama free days to come.

Image via contributor

Originally published: October 17, 2022
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home