I once had co-dependency described to me as swimming through an underwater cave without a lifeline. The way seems clear going forward, but when we run low on air, we turn around to find that we can't see the way back: our passage has kicked up too much silt in our passing.

As co-dependents, we're not doing the dependent personality any favors. The only way they can grow is by coming to realize that there is more pain in failing to develop their faculties than there is in the memories they avoid. In fact, withdrawing support is the first step in their recovery. No exhortation to take this step can be responsibly offered without a warning: such separation is dangerous. The dependent party will perceive the separation as a destructive threat. If you haven't previously accomplished such a separation, be certain to establish professional and personal associations to support you.

For the dependent, full recovery has another component: finding a personality to play the role of parent to guide us through our arrested development. Sometimes, the best person to play that role is the individual that had the clarity of apprehension and maturity to push us off the edge of the cliff. More typically, we find ourselves supported by people that have climbed back up the cliff before us. Grateful for the gifts received from others, and well acquainted with the lay of the ground we must travel, they can provide us support that others without our history are unlikely to sustain.