Help and Guidance for Today's Generation
Reviewed June 28, 2009.
Simon & Schuster, New York, 2009. 270 pages.
Those who have been blessed by Melody Beattie's earlier books, particularly Codependent No More and Beyond Codependency, will be excited to hear that she has written a new book about codependency, called The New Codependency.
Her first book, Codependent No More, is the one that made the term "codependent" a standard part of recovery vocabulary, but she wrote that more than twenty years ago.
I'm writing this book to clarify confusion, discuss new information, write about how codependency has mutated, address new support options, and remind us about what we've learned.
Although I've changed significantly since writing Codependent No More, I still step in codependent puddles. I might get hooked into someone's stuff, let their problems control me, over-engage, or start reacting instead of taking right action. I'll let family conditioning affect me, neglect to set boundaries, or shut down emotionally. There are times I have to slam on the brakes, STOP, and remember to take care of myself. I don't sink in the quicksand of life like I used to, but sometimes I revert to survival mode. That's yesterday's news.
I don't call that relapsing. Caring about people we love, feeling victimized when we're betrayed, giving our all to people we love, or wanting to control people because we're watching them destroy themselves and hurt us doesn't mean we're sick. These are natural reactions. Codependency is about normal behaviors taken too far. It's about crossing lines.
All in all, you can think of this as a book about healthy relationships, about setting boundaries, and about remembering to care for ourselves and let other people live their own lives. There are quizzes to help you examine your own issues and emotions, and there are many suggested activities to help you put these ideas into practice.
As with all of Melody Beattie's books, this one is uplifting and encouraging. She concludes,
Learn to love and take care of yourself. You'll learn to love others better. Being healthy doesn't mean being so tough we don't care, or so hard-hearted nobody can hurt us again. The path we're on might start with not giving so much or so compulsively but living and loving with an open heart -- even when that means paying the price of saying goodbye too soon -- is where this journey leads. Don't stop until you're there.