Codependency: How To Cope | Dr. Frieda | MomCave LIVE

Dr Frieda, Coping with Codependency in families

Hey, MomCave LIVE listeners, get ready for a dose of wisdom wrapped in laughter as we welcome the incredible Dr. Frieda Birnbaum to the mic! Today, she’s breaking down the nitty-gritty of coping with codependency, turning therapy into a comedy party where self-discovery meets giggles. So, buckle up for a rollercoaster of insights, laughs, and aha moments with the one and only Dr. Frieda, because who says unraveling emotional knots can’t be a blast?

Codependent in a MomCave Near You

Jen: Welcome to MomCave LIVE, where we may have lost our minds, but we haven’t lost our sense of humor. I’m Jen, and our guest tonight is Dr. Frieda. Hey, Dr. Frieda.

Dr. Frieda: Hi, welcome. I’m telling you, I love your introduction because it takes me away. I love it. It’s such a great scene, and everybody gets together and argues and has conflict. Then they go, and they’re like the perfect little family.

Jen: Well, it’s just because if you hear that, I slammed the door, and the mom slams the door because she can’t take it anymore. We go to our MomCave. And sometimes, that’s the only way to get any quiet.

Dr. Frieda: A MomCave. That needs to be part of the housing theme.

Dr Frieda: Superhero & Codependency Expert

Jen: Definitely. If you haven’t met Dr. Frieda before, she was on a previous episode we did, which is fascinating. Because she’s known as the oldest woman in America to have given birth to twins at age 60. You’re a superhero, first of all, but that’s not what we’re going to talk about tonight. Go find that if you want to hear about that. Tonight, in her capacity as a therapist and a psychoanalyst, Dr. Frieda is going to help us out on the issue of family dysfunction and codependency. Our first question. It’s a really simple question. I’ve always heard the term codependent. What the heck does that mean?

Codependency or Controlled?

Dr. Frieda: I hate to say this because most of us are codependent on someone, and it gets us into trouble. Because then we complain that we’re being controlled. No, we’re starting it. We’re asking more, especially women. I want you to tell me what to do. What do you think? Then they complain, I’m getting a divorce, you’re controlling too much, I can’t say, well, in fact, you started it. So, we need to be responsible for our behavior. Basically, what it means is that you don’t have boundaries, that you feel you have to be responsible for somebody else. Again, we’re going back to gender identification. It all starts when you’re a child. We can blame everything on our parents and not take responsibility, which in a way

Jen: It’s all their fault. I think it’s all their fault.

Who is to blame for the codependency?

Dr. Frieda: It’s all their fault. Today, we can’t even blame our mothers anymore because they’re saying that fathers are the ones that children really role models after, not the mothers, so therapy needs to change. Stop blaming your mothers. Come in and blame your fathers.

Jen: Yes. But once you become a parent, then you have a little more. At least I do. I’m going to stop blaming them because somebody’s going to be blaming me eventually.

Healthy to Blame Your Parents

Dr. Frieda: That it is healthy to blame your parents while you’re with your parents. Teenage rebellion is good for you because otherwise, you do end up going to therapy. After all, you have repressed emotions. My twins will not need therapy, I assure you.

Jen: Neither will the 13-year-old stomping around upstairs at any moment.

Gender ID and Codependency

Dr. Frieda: I love it, that’s being in a natural environment. Now we’re getting back to codependency.

What is it all about? I was saying there’s a lot of gender ID the way a young girl has been brought up more in the past to serve. She grows up as an adult, and she serves. A young boy is taught to go out into the world and to prove himself. He’s not as dependent as this girl who’s saying here, “Am I good enough? I’m doing this, I’m doing that, I’m serving.”

Today, hopefully, research has shown that when fathers look at their young girls, or not, when they’re achieving puberty and getting this attention, sexual attention, and support for their athletic abilities, tennis, their grades and math, and in school, then we won’t have this codependency issue as much, basically, with women. Sixty percent of students, guess what, in college are females.

Gaslighting and Narcissism

As women are more educated and have higher-status careers, they’re going to be more independent, and relationships will be equal. We’re brought up to feel guilty. We’re brought up to feel that God forbid if we do anything, that if the person is going to fall apart and die without us. Then the other stage of it is there’s this red flag that these people manipulate like you to take care of them. You know, the topic lately has been gaslighting, and, with therapy. These people gaslight you; they’re narcissistic, and they want you to take care of them and then want you to be selfless, so they’re not so innocent in this.

Woman having a business meeting.

Codependency Loop

We all find our familiar territory, often marry someone, and end up with somebody similar to who we had as an opposite-sex parent. We said, “Okay, I couldn’t do anything about that, then I was a child, they with authority, now, here’s my chance, I’m going to do it”

Then we repeat the same thing, we’re stuck with the same thing again, and we don’t know how to get out of it. We feel something horrible if we’re not responsible and take over, that person is not capable of doing it.

We lose our sense of self, and our self-esteem, we lose our direction of who we want to be, and what we want to be. They say that defines what you are, and who you are. Don’t pick a partner that you’re going to try to fix and make up for what you didn’t have as a child. That’s something so common, and we do it on an unconscious level. We spend the rest of our lives trying to make that difference with that person who would never ask for it. We blame them for all the things that happened to us before, which they had no idea about.

Jen: They’re doing the same to us. It’s just a big mess.

Somewhere Between Comfort and Dysfunction

Dr. Frieda: That’s true. You know, who you are, at the end of the day, you’re trying to unwind, and complain about whatever’s going on and then you’re caught, as you say, in this web, of back and forth of this familiar feeling. That’s not that dysfunctional but comfortable for you. Comfort and dysfunction, because it goes back to something that you know that there’s a fit for you.

Often, if somebody has it all going and is emotionally healthy, you may feel threatened that you won’t be good enough, that that person is more evolved than us in a better place than you won’t want to take you along. It’s this web and that other person that keeps you in bondage, which means that they don’t remember when they’re acting out. They don’t remember when they’re doing anything selfish, they won’t go to therapy because, of course, they don’t want to change, why would they want to go to therapy?

Losing Yourself

All of this, you’re the one that’s making it up, it’s your problem. After a while, people say you don’t, you’re not just the same, you don’t look the same, you don’t act the same, and you lose the concept of who you are, and your friends and your relatives, because the person you’re with does not want you to be with your friends and relatives, because then they can’t manipulate you the same way. You’re caught here. It’s very, very scary when you’re in this situation. Because guess what, you end up finding somebody like that again. You wonder, “Why is it I meet the wrong people all the time?”
You can’t be with somebody if you feel that that person will be all of you because that person knows that and takes advantage of it.

You’re very needy if you’re with somebody who is part of you because you already have your life going, you’re already accomplished, and you’re already in a good place. If you find that when you’re in a good place, everybody wants to be part of you. If you need somebody then they back off. Just when you need them, then you don’t get what you want. This is the rules of life, we do this in such a way that is not, we don’t think it through, just act it through. You need to start with a place of yourself, always a place of youth finding out, and the little time you spend on yourself, you’ll see that you’re making much more of a difference, and you’ll be less codependent and another person.

What to do with the toxic codependency?

Jen: You made the great point that, of course, what would solve everything is if we didn’t choose this person in the first place. Assuming we did choose a person that we have this unhealthy relationship with, and we do not want to not be around that person. What can we do?

Dr. Frieda: This is very difficult to do because when you’re so committed to this role model, it’s like losing a sense of yourself. It’s like saying, I am not going to identify with who I’ve been all my life. That’s very scary. Will you be dropped, will you be alone, for the rest of your life, would nobody want you because you’re not going to be true to the image that you’ve been set up to be? That co-dependency issue becomes something that gets you stuck.

Going Cold Turkey

Now, the only way to do that is to, it’s like taking a plunge, a cold plunge, and to go cold turkey and say, Okay, I’m going to do this, it’s going to be painful, I’m not going to be happy. I’m going to want to go back to that other place automatically. It’s like, hold me back, because I’m coming through again, don’t do that, don’t go over there. After a while, you’ll start feeling what it is like to feel healthy.

Because the problem is these people don’t know what the basic core feeling of healthy is anyway. They’re just used to that. Once they get that sense of what that means, they start looking for someone who is more like that person, they become a relationship. We’re talking about codependency not only in a relationship but we’re talking about codependency at work as well. You have to be careful that the people that you are, you know, socializing with, they don’t know too much about you not to be too vulnerable.

Keep Your Guard Up

Because you wouldn’t have a powerful image. You want people to listen to you. If they hear your weak point, they’re gonna walk away, and you’re going to forget what you said. They’re going to remember everything. Be very careful about friendships at work; don’t, you know, muddle the line. What your responsibilities are, because after a while, when responsibilities are set up, and you say, What’s good for you and what isn’t, you want to have what makes you happy, you’ll be left in the dark, you’ll have resentment. That business relationship will also be affected and dwindle because of it. You have to know where to set boundaries for work as well.

Jen: We’ve talked about romantic relationships. We’ve talked about work relationships. What about parent-child relationships? How do you navigate a sort of codependent, parent-child relationship?

Good Parenting and Codependency

Dr. Frieda: That’s very difficult because you have to think about what it means to be a good parent. Do you have qualities where the child is the one that tells you what they need and go ahead and follow through? Or should you be a helicopter parent who is authoritative and makes all the decisions? I’m the one in charge, and the bottom line is me. The healthiest way to be is to have the child be supported for what they want and direct it healthily. Create independence, not codependency, where that child has confidence in making decisions. Because the scary part is if they don’t, other people will be making it for them. That’s not necessarily a good thing. That’s really for codependency to have an independent child. Helicopter parenting makes a very dependent child.

A family walking down the street.

Kids Won’t Learn If You Don’t Let Them

Because the child can’t do anything, you know. It reminds me of when my kids were in elementary school, and they had to do some kind of board, billboard, or something. The whole thing looked great. It looked horrible. But they did it. I took it to school and said, “God, will they even know what this is?” Then everybody came with something like a professional artist, did it? I guess they did hire professional artists, these parents were competing against each other.

How are these kids going to learn anything or grow? That’s what happens when we overdo it. You can’t just say it’s all yours because that’s lazy parenting. I liked what I was listening to, that they’re screaming and the husband saying and all the dogs barking, and all that stuff. What I like about the beginning of your segment, believe it or not, is that everybody has a voice.

Jen: We have some loud voices in this family.

Perfect Means Problems

Dr. Frieda: We think about this, perfect family. There’s a problem brewing under there if there’s a perfect family because life has issues. There’s always going to be something somebody said something, something happened, you didn’t do well, whatever that is that we get bothered about that we forget about anyway. I love that because that’s a slice of life. When you can be that person and speak up, then there aren’t codependency issues because everybody has a voice, no matter how difficult it is. Now, my son, when he was fixing this—that’s a good thing. You didn’t hear what he was saying. I said, “You better watch what you’re saying. I hear you. They’re gonna think I’m incompetent with this stuff, which I am.”

Jen: Even an expert has parenting struggles.

Even Experts Struggle Sometimes

Dr. Frieda: Are you kidding me? When they come to my office? He will tell them, “Why are you coming to see her? She doesn’t know what she’s doing.” So he speaks up, it all trickles back to who you are and how you integrate what’s happening to you and knowing the truth about it. When we get to codependency, it’s really about having the ability to give through your wisdom, through your knowledge, and then people will grow.

If you give because of their need and neediness, their victimization, their inadequacies, how far can you go? You’re starting very, very low. Then what happens with that, is the relationship becomes one where that so-called victim makes you more of a victim because you’re prey to what it is. They’re neat. They’re the ones that are getting taken care of. You’re left alone, and you’re not the one. Don’t think, because if you’re codependent and you’re giving because you feel guilty or fear of something happening to that person, don’t think that you’re doing anything that that person needs you for. What you’re doing is stripping yourself.

Times Are Meant For Changing

Jen: How long have you been married, Dr. Frieda?

Dr. Frieda: How long do you think I’ve been married?

Jen: 30 years? 50? Oh, my goodness.

Dr. Frieda: 50 years

Jen: That’s amazing.

Dr. Frieda: If you keep growing, and you keep changing that’s what life should be. Otherwise, what do the years mean anyway? It’s like a drop in the bucket. You keep evolving, and you keep changing. I’m not the same person he met.

Jen: Yeah, I made a TikTok once, and a lot of people disagreed with it. I’ve been married 20 years now.

Dr. Frieda: Please think of me and don’t be afraid of that number.

Jen: People will say, “Well, we’re breaking up because we’re not the same people anymore.” I’m like, “How can you be if you meet someone when you’re one age, and it’s 20 years later? You better be different people.”
That’s the challenge is learning how to keep being different people together. That’s the tough part.

How It Used To Be

Dr. Frieda: Do you know the truth is that the double standards of the ’50s and ’60s, maybe even were very boring? Men had their own separate lives. They were unfaithful. They were bored because women stayed at home and waited for the man to come home and bring excitement.

Who wants to be with somebody who’s waiting for you to bring something? You want somebody to share the excitement. It’s two people bringing joy together rather than one person being responsible. It wasn’t great for the man either that the man had the responsibility, not only financially but to keep everything afloat, and to make good decisions.

Even if a child wasn’t behaving, they would say, “I’m going to tell your dad, I’m going to tell your father when he comes home, watch,” the poor guy had to do everything. Then, on top of that, we blame them for everything too was all their fault. So you know, when we’re looking at really how men and women behave and what a healthy relationship is, you need to change. You need to change to make it exciting.

Taking Turns

You need to sometimes even take turns when one partner is doing something. I put my husband through law school, and we married. He helped me with my career after that after he became an attorney because, at the time, it was, when are you having children or not? What are you doing?

Your father and mother would say when you marry somebody, that’s when you’ll have a life. Till then, no life, no nothing. It depends on what your husband does. I was jealous. I said, “What about me? I’m going to stay home.” I remember one scene when I was home. I have a baby, my first child, with the food in the jar, baby food, and he has a three-piece suit on, he’s wearing his out-to-shake case, ready to go to work, and I’m jealous. I’m eating baby food. While he’s going to have lunch with his friends and have a good time. So I said, “Wait a minute. This has to stop. I’m gonna go in a whole different direction.” Which I did, and I’m happy.

Complementing Each other

Unraveling stuff. I wasn’t codependent and looking to be liked by him. I said to myself, I have to have a life. If he fits into it. Rather than me fitting into his life, then this has a chance. Ever since, that has been fitting into my life with everything I’ve been doing, and I am proud and supportive. So it’s fun. It’s a lot of fun. Because you can’t be threatened by what the other person’s doing. Now I’m thinking of a show idea.

Jen: That’s another one we’ve got to work on. Well, it sounds like you’ve found a way to make yourself happy while still being a great mom and still being, a partner. It’s about negotiation. I feel a lot of negotiation in marriage.

Dr. Frieda: For sure. We’re selfish. We have to have it all. We’re not greedy. It’s just that if you don’t have one, another part is missing. I’ll let you talk.

Jen: That’s true. I could talk to you all night. But of course, I hear a teenager running around upstairs. Some. I want everybody to check out Dr. Freda. She has her podcast. She’s written a couple of books, which I put in the comments. We’re gonna have to talk again because you always have such interesting insights. You can continue to leave comments.

Dr. Frieda: Next time. I promise you.

Jen: No worries. Thank you so much. Have a great night.

Dr. Frieda: My pleasure. Always a pleasure seeing you. You look fabulous, by the way.

Jen: Thanks, you too.

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See Dr. Frieda’s MomCave LIVE episode where she tells her story of being the OLDEST AMERICAN to ever give BIRTH to TWINS at Age 60 here:

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Dr Frieda, On MomCave LIVE discussing Codependency

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