B.A. Psychology, UMHB. Solo-Mother of 3. Expert in Holistic Health and Wellness.
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Who better to talk to you about some great books on codependency than a former codependent?
Codependency is a young term — coined somewhere around the 1970’s.
Since a lot of us haven’t even heard of it or know what exactly it is, let’s quickly remind ourselves…
What Is Codependency?
In short, codependency is a term for a cyclical, dysfunctional relationship in which one person (the “giver”) gives above and beyond of themselves to the other (the “taker”).
The giver needs the other person, and the taker needs to be needed.
Often, the giver’s codependent traits are rooted in their childhood, where their emotions and feelings were ignored or even rejected. As a result, the individual has poor (or nonexistent) self-esteem, and they look to others to fulfil their self-worth.
Hear me now — no one can provide you with self-worth but you.
And no one else is supposed to.
What Does Codependency Look Like?
Since codependent givers often live with low self-esteem and self-worth, they tend to not express their true Self at all.
When they get into a relationship, they often lose themselves entirely in the other person.
And unfortunately, there are certain types of people (those who need to be needed, a.k.a, “takers”) who prey on these folks and eat them up.
The giver in a codependent relationship struggles with:
- Setting boundaries — they say yes when they really mean no;
- People-pleasing — codependents make their choices based off of other people’s opinions or wants instead of their own;
- Caretaking — yes, they’re often caretakers, and usually they give until they can’t give anymore, and even then will continue to give;
- Identity — they lose themselves in their partner, and adopt all their likes and interests because they haven’t had the freedom or peace to explore and stand on their own; and
- Making decisions — it’s hard to call the shots when you don’t know what kind of shots you want to call (or fear disappointing or being rejected by another).
To paint a better picture for you, I’ll tell you what my life used to look like.
My Experiences With and Escape From Codependency
I experienced significant rejection and shaming as a child on several fronts and learned to silence my voice and self if I wanted to please and satisfy others.
But this meant losing touch with myself — my passions, my delights, my interests, my desires.
My mental health also suffered — self-harm was my main coping mechanism for years.
So every time I entered into a romantic relationship, the dynamic became more and more unhealthy because I would latch myself onto these men in a desperate plight to find myself and to find love, acceptance, and value.
My favorite movies were their favorite movies. My favorite hobbies were always linked to theirs. I wouldn’t play my music (which is marrow to my bones) when my significant other didn’t like it.
And I would go to extremely unhealthy lengths in the interest of pleasing and loving them.
Until eventually, I found myself married to a man who honestly felt he was doing the work of God every time he hit me.
How Do I Break My Codependency?
I eventually broke free of that relationship. I learned about codependency (from book #2 below). And I’ve been working on remembering I’m enough, just as I am, ever since.
If you’re reading this, it’s likely you’re struggling with codependency.
Maybe you love someone in a codependent relationship.
Maybe you’re in a relationship with a codependent giver.
Maybe you are a codependent giver.
I’m glad you’re reading — because it means you’re on your way to healing and growth.
And I pray you never allow things to get as unhealthy and dangerous as I did.
To start your journey toward healing, wholeness, self-expression, and freedom, take a look at these top 10 books on codependency to see which one(s) speak(s) to you.
They helped me understand and break free of the cycle.
I hope one of them can help you to too.
The 20 Best Codependency Books Ever Written
Why these best codependency books and not others? To stay objective, I rank all my book recommendations by what’s most loved (Goodreads rating), what’s most popular (Goodreads review count) and what’s proven timelessly relevant (first publication date).
This isn’t a whimsical list. It’s a data-driven, crowdsourced collection of the best codependency books ever published as decided by book lovers just like you. (Note: To maximise diversity, I only include the top ranking book from any series in a list.)
And if you think something's missing? I LOVE book recommendations so if there are any other best codependency books that you think deserve mentioning, email me and I’ll be sure to include them in the next round of updates.
Until then, enjoy this ultimate list of the 20 best codependency books of all time...
Books 1-10: The Top 10 Best Codependency Books of All Time
The top 10 best codependency books of all time are...
Books 11-20: The Best Codependency Books to Read Next
Here are the next best codependency books from my database...
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Or, you can read all my book recommendations.
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