a young woman carries her mother on her back, an oxygen tank balancing on her toes, as they both hold phones in their hands.

My Caregiving and Codependence Story

I talk pretty openly about everything. Now, I may as well share my caregiving and codependence story. If it can help someone else, mom would love that. Codependence is a word that’s used widely when discussing addictions. It’s basically when people rely on each other emotionally and psychologically a little too much. We saw the signs and worked hard to keep it nipped it in the bud.

Signs of codependency

Some signs of codependency include:

  • Unable to make independent decisions
  • Unable to identify your feelings
  • Have trouble communicating in a relationship
  • Needing other’s constant approval
  • Lacking trust in your abilities

What codependence looked like for us

My dad was a recovering alcoholic, and I was the oldest daughter. It was easy for mom and me to rely on each other. When mom had an off day, I pitched in to lend a hand. We considered ourselves to be close friends, and it didn’t create a lot of problems. However, when I moved out of state for the first time in my life, it was very hard on us. Again, we chalked it up to mother-daughter love.

Then I found the book on codependence and shared it with mom. We had a lot of patterns in our lives that were not healthy. They would create our codependence and caregiving story.

We chatted about what we were learning on our weekly phone calls. Topics like getting more in touch with our feelings and quitting smoking were central themes. Our mother-daughter relationship was a friendship, where we shared things that we wouldn’t talk about “outside” the family. That pattern of secrecy is common where there has been alcoholism in the home. We talked a lot about the cycle of addictions as they related to our lives.

Hitting a nerve

Once, when I tried to process some of my pain, her feelings were hurt. In addition, when she talked about her own struggles, I couldn’t always listen well. That was the beginning of what we called The Cold War. We agreed to talk less, and work on our personal lives more independently.I got depressed

As I worked through some of my codependent issues by talking with my husband, I knew that it was up to me to make positive changes. When I came home for the holidays, mom and I were able to talk about it honestly. Kind of. What actually happened was that we began to see each other from a different viewpoint. Our respect for each other began to grow.

My codependence and caregiving story

I moved back to my home state and we set new boundaries. It helped us both to communicate freely. That became a valuable tool as mom worked through her diagnosis with COPD. We both quit smoking, and our love grew stronger and healthier just like our bodies did.

I’d like to tell you that as a caregiver for mom during her COPD, codependence was not an issue. The truth is that we continually worked on this part of our relationship. We learned to take breaks from each other, but we always valued love and forgiveness. My siblings played a vital role in caregiving too. This was a difficult, but honest look into one of my treasured relationships. I hope to encourage anyone else who is a caregiver working through codependence issues.

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