By Gina Rhodes
I believe that childhood trauma can lead to a life of codependency. As a child you were powerless to “fix” things, leaving you with unresolved feelings of loss, guilt, shame that you spend the rest of your life trying to overcome.
Because of this, you forever find yourself taking on the roll of “the savior,” satiating that chronic need to rescue. You will seek out those in need. You’ll be the first one to offer a place to stay, loan money, pay bills for others. You’ll find yourself “fixing” everyone else’s problems, but not your own.
You may well be described as overly empathetic. You seek admiration, or validation. This behavior will elevate your self-esteem temporarily. However, this puts you, “the savior,” in a very vulnerable position. Eventually, you will be bled dry. You will slowly become resentful. You feel that without you “they” do not stand a chance. This feeds your low self-esteem and ego.
You are also not actually helping. By “fixing” everyone else’s problems, you are essentially robbing them of life’s greatest gift: experience. Of course we want everyone to succeed but when you are providing everything, you’re not allowing those you “fix” to truly flourish. To stand on their own two feet. By solving and fixing their problems, you deny them their sense of self-esteem.
Self-esteem is at the root of your “savior” complex, and it is what you have to face if you truly want those you love who are recovering from addiction to succeed. You need to understand that healthy self-esteem gives you the ability to be authentic and honest with the people in your life. You don’t need to be the “savior,” that is not the role that gives you your self-worth.
By setting boundaries, you will realize your true worth. As a lifelong “fixer” myself, I know it’s not easy, and I still find myself struggling with this today. But little by little if you stop this behavior, you will lift a tremendous burden from your shoulders, step back into your life and allow others to own theirs.
Rescue yourself first, and watch as the people you love discover they can become their own saviors.