I’m one of those strange souls who enjoys taking quizzes and tests. Nothing thrilled me more as a student, than the week of standardized assessments – no homework, extra recess time! My teachers often allowed me to read a book when I “finished early.” As an avid reader, I would race through the test questions so I could get back to Anne of Green Gables.
Decades later, I still like to fill in the blanks and pencil in the bubbles with a sharp no. 2 pencil. Always a sucker for instant gratification, computerized tests with immediate results thrill me even more!
While sitting in church a couple of weeks ago, a friend leaned over and whispered, “What are you on the Meyers-Briggs?” When I told her, she laughed and replied, “Only personalities like us actually remember!” Perhaps she’s right. Those four letters are seared on my brain like a tattoo. (If you’re unfamiliar, you can read about the assessment here: http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/)
What about you? Do you like to discover yourself in personality quizzes? If, like me, you have loved someone who is addicted to something, perhaps a little codependency quiz may be a helpful reality check. I think I paid $70.00 for my first reality check – with a therapist. I was so desperate to speak with someone that I didn’t care that it took the electric bill money. I needed to know where I stood on the emotional Richter scale. The minor tremors could no longer be controlled. I was headed for a major seismic meltdown. I needed help.
When I look into eyes that reflect the familiar pain that used to haunt me in the mirror, I cannot walk away. This weekend I sat across from a pair of hopeless eyes and wept the tears she could not yet cry. I know, my friend. I get it. You are too numb to weep, too tired to leave, too angry to stay. You need respite. A place to grieve, to think, to pray…
That conversation reminded me of how it feels to be stuck – unsure whether I’m making a mountain out of the proverbial molehill; unsure whether what I’m seeing and feeling is justified by the on-again-off-again “love” of my significant other. For anyone out there who feels this way or knows someone who does, these, and similar behaviors collectively have a name. Codependency. There are support groups (Al-Anon, Celebrate Recovery, or Codependents Anonymous (http://coda.org/) who can help us to see ourselves when the mirror is foggy.
- Assume responsibility for others’ feelings and behaviors?
- Feel guilty about others’ feelings and behaviors?
- Minimize, alter, or deny how I truly feel?
- Compromise my own values and integrity to avoid rejection or others’ anger?
- Put other people’s needs and desires before my own (to the detriment of my own physical, spiritual, emotional or mental health?)
- Worry about how others may respond to my feelings, opinions and behavior?
- Value others opinions and feelings more than my own?
- Judge everything I think, say, or do harshly, as never “good enough?”
- Spend my energy on someone else’s problem or life?
- Feel loyal to someone who is hurting me?
- Fear being left or rejected?
- Adapt to others’ tastes of point of view?
- Rescue, enable, or support a “bad habit” in someone I love?
- Afraid of being hurt and/or rejected by others?
- Afraid of my own anger, yet sometimes erupt in rage?
- Afraid to express differing opinions or feelings?
- A perfectionist?
- Extremely loyal, remaining in harmful situations too long?
- Lacking boundaries and have difficulty saying, “no?”
- Continually justifying and explaining myself?
- Unable to get over losses or break-ups?
- Staying in a relationship I’m not happy with because “something is better than nothing?”
The above lists were gleaned from Celebrate Recovery resources and Codependency for Dummies by Darlene Lancer, MFT. (If you’d like a more “official” online quiz to feed your inner test-taker, you can find one here: http://www.codependencynomore.com/
Although these are only partial lists, and behaviors almost everyone exhibits at times, I invite you to prayerfully consider whether they are red flags in your life. If so, don’t wait! Find a trusted person to speak with about your situation. Read further about codependency. Find a counselor. Ask God to deliver you from the bondage of your own lowered expectations for your life and personal relationships.
I claim this promise from God for you today, “…I redeemed you from the house of bondage…” (Micah 6:4). Be redeemed! Be free! Be whole!