Book Summaries

Book Summary – Beyond Codependency by Melody Beattie.

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In Beyond Codependency: And Getting Better All the Time, author and survivor Melody Beattie writes a follow-up to her best-selling book, Codependent No More. The theme of the book is dealing with the core issues of recovery, what to do when the pain has stopped and we’ve begun to suspect we have a life to live. It is about what happens next after becoming aware of your codependency. She writes about recovery, Relapse, family of origin, shame, setting healthy boundaries, intimacy, negotiating conflicts, self-care, support groups among other concepts.

Codependency is a set of maladaptive, compulsive behaviors learned by family members to survive in a family experiencing great emotional pain and stress . . . Behaviors . . . passed on from generation to generation whether alcoholism is present or not.

Codependence is sneaky and deceptive

Recovery also means addressing any other issues or compulsive behaviors that have cropped up along the way. Codependency is sneaky and deceptive. It’s also progressive. One thing leads to another, and often things get worse. We may become workaholics or busy freaks. We may develop eating disorders or abuse mood-altering chemicals. We may develop compulsive sexual behaviors or become compulsive about spending, religion, achievement, or appearance.


Recovery means dealing with the entire package of self-defeating, compulsive behaviors, and any other problems that may have emerged. But we don’t deal with these behaviors or problems by thinking we’re bad for having them. We address ourselves, and recovery, with a sense of forgiveness and a certain gentleness toward ourselves. We begin to understand that the behaviors we’ve used were survival tools. We’ve been coping. We’ve been doing the best we could. We’ve been protecting ourselves. 

Recovery means changing today’s self-defeating, learned survival behaviors. Recovery means putting out the smoldering coals. And recovery means dealing with any ways we may have been traumatized.  We reconnect with ourselves. We learn to give ourselves some love and concern. We learn to make ourselves feel safe. We know, really know, it’s okay for us to be as healthy as we can become.


Recovery is a process. Within that process is another one called relapse. Regression, reverting, slips—whatever we call it—any diagram we use to represent growth needs to accommodate it. In spite of our best efforts to stay on track, we sometimes find ourselves reverting to old ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving, even when we know better.

Relapse can sneak up on us, linger, and become as confusing as our original codependency. Or it can be brief. Sometimes, we’re reacting to other people’s craziness.

Codependency is a self-defeating cycle. Codependent feelings lead to self-neglect, self-neglect leads to more codependent feelings and behaviors, leading to more self-neglect, and around we go. Recovery is a more energizing cycle. Self-care leads to better feelings, healthier feelings lead to more self-care, and around that track we travel.

The elements that can help us break free of the past. These include

• feelings 

• messages 

• patterns 

• people

A good rule of thumb is: If you can’t close it, don’t open it. Some people find complete blocks to the past. Denial is a necessary safety device. We use it to protect ourselves. If that protective device is taken from us, we need other protection.


Another important goal of the family of origin work is decoding and changing the self-defeating messages we picked up as children. The message is the meaning we interpreted from what happened. It’s our frame of reference—our filing catalog for life’s events.

We each have our own set of messages unique to our circumstances and to us. Each person can interpret entirely different messages from the same event.


Another goal of historical work is to understand and change self-defeating patterns, including our patterns of intimacy or intimacy avoidance. We also examine our roles. How did we get our attention as children? How do we get our attention today? The feelings, messages, patterns, and roles are connected, interwoven like a tapestry.


An important part of family of origin work is resolving our relationships with the people in our families. This means acknowledging and releasing any intense feelings about family members, so we are free to love and grow. That can mean running a gamut of emotions from denial, hate, rage, disappointment, frustration, rejection, disillusionment, wishful thinking, resentment, and despair to acceptance, forgiveness, and love.

The Codependent Rule

The rules position themselves in our control center. They jam things up and take over. They direct our behaviors, and sometimes our lives. Once situated, they program us to do things that leave us feeling miserable, stuck, and codependent.

• Don’t feel or talk about feelings. 

• Don’t think, figure things out, or make decisions—you probably don’t know what you want or what’s best for you. 

• Don’t identify, mention, or solve problems—it’s not okay to have them.

 • Be good, right, perfect, and strong. 

• Don’t be who you are because that’s not good enough. 

• Don’t be selfish, put yourself first, say what you want and need, say no, set boundaries, or take care of

yourself—always take care of others and never hurt their feelings or make them angry. 

• Don’t have fun, be silly or enjoy life—it costs money, makes noise and isn’t necessary. 

• Don’t trust yourself, your Higher Power, the process of life or certain people—instead put your faith in untrustworthy people; then act surprised when they let you down. 

• Don’t be open, honest, and direct—hint, manipulate, get others to talk for you, guess what they want and need and expect them to do the same for you.

 • Don’t get close to people—it isn’t safe. 

• Don’t disrupt the system by growing or changing.

Many of us are attracted to and feel comfortable aroundpeople and systems with rules similar to ours.If the system or person has different rules, we’ll catch on soon. Rules are powerful, quick to make themselves known.


Shame is the trademark of dysfunctional families. It comes with addictive families, where one or more people were addicted to alcohol, drugs, food, work, sex, religion, or gambling. It comes with families with problems and secrets. It comes with families whose parents, grandparents, or even great-grandparents had addictions, problems, or secrets.

Shame is the trademark of dysfunctional families. It comes with addictive families, where one or more people were addicted to alcohol, drugs, food, work, sex, religion, or gambling. It comes with families with problems and secrets. It comes with families whose parents, grandparents, or even great-grandparents had addictions, problems, or secrets.

Deprived Thinking

Many of us were deprived as children, but many of us have carried that deprivation into adulthood. Deprivation creates deprived thinking. Deprived thinking perpetuates deprivation.

Short supply Thinking

We can fall into the trap of short supply thinking: there’s good stuff out there, but there isn’t enough for us. We may become desperate, scrambling to get what we can and holding tightly to it, whether it’s what we want or is good for us.

Unfinished Business

Our underlying needs will be connected to our unfinished business, and to what we believe we deserve. The people we meet will prove what we believe about men, women, and what always happens in relationships. If we have unresolved anger at men or women, our relationships will likely justify that anger. We can let go of, or begin working toward ridding ourselves of, our destructive needs or past feelings. We change what we believe so we can change what we see.

Living Fully

The more fully we’re living our lives, the more people we’ll meet. The more people we meet, the greater our chance of meeting some- one who is available and really our type. We can be selective, but we can select on more accurate criteria. Stop ruling out people who may not be our type; stop automatically ruling in people because we’re attracted to them. 

Don’t Ever Stop Taking Care of Yourself 

Self-care is a lifetime commitment and responsibility. It doesn’t end when a relationship begins. That’s when we need to intensify efforts.

We need to combine our actions with surrender and letting go. In spite of our best efforts, relationships usually happen when and where we least expect.


Blurred Limit

We have an unclear sense of ourselves. For instance, we may find it difficult to define the difference between our feelings and someone else’s feelings, our problem and someone else’s problem, our responsibility, and someone else’s responsibility. Often, the issue isn’t that we take responsibility for others; it’s that we feel responsible for them. Our ability to define and appropriately distinguish ourselves from others is blurred. The boundaries surrounding ourselves are blurred. People with weak boundaries seem to “pick up” or “absorb” other people’s feelings—almost like a sponge absorbs water.

Setting Boundaries

The word boundary is also used in recovery circles to describe an action, as in “setting a boundary.” By this, we mean we’ve set a limit with someone. Often, when we say this, we’re saying we’ve decided to tell someone he or she can’t use us, hurt us, or take what we have, whether those possessions are concrete or abstract. We’ve decided to tell them they can’t abuse us, or otherwise invade or infringe on us in a particular way.

In geography, boundaries are the borders marking a state, a country, or a person’s land. In recovery, we’re talking about the lines and limits establishing and marking our personal territory—our selves.

Unlike states on maps, we don’t have thick black lines delineating our borders. Yet, each of us has our own territory. Our boundaries define and contain that territory, our bodies, minds, emotions, spirit, possessions, and rights. Our boundaries define and surround all our energy, the individual self that we each call “me.” Our borders are invisible, but real. There is a place where I end and you begin. Our goal is learning to identify and have respect for that line.

Developing Healthy Boundaries

As we develop healthy boundaries, we develop an appropriate sense of roles among family members, others, and ourselves. We learn to respect others and ourselves. We don’t use or abuse others or allow them to use or abuse us. We stop abusing ourselves! We don’t control others or let them control us. We stop taking responsibility for other people and stop letting them take responsibility for us.

We take responsibility for ourselves. If we’re rigid, we loosen up a bit. We develop a clear sense of our self and our rights. We learn we have a complete self. We learn to respect other people’s territory as well as our own. We do that by learning to listen to and trust ourselves.

Boundaries are to take care of ourselves, not to control others. Our boundary gives us a guideline to make our choice.

Strive for balance. 

Strive for flexibility. Strive for a healthy sense of self and how you deserve to be treated. Healthy living means you give to people from time to time, but there’s a big difference between giving, and being robbed.

Ask yourself, What hurts? Listen and stop the pain. Ask yourself, What feels good? If it feels good, you’ve got a winner. Ask yourself, What’s mine? If it’s yours, you can have it; if it isn’t, don’t put it in your pocket. Ask yourself, What am I willing to lose? You may have no ground to give.

Sometimes, at the heart of our conflict lie two nonnegotiable, conflicting needs.

All the Best in your quest to get Better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

Lifelong Learner | Entrepreneur | Digital Strategist at Reputiva LLC | Marathoner | Bibliophile |

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