Codependency and Discernment


Is it wise or even possible to undertake discernment for a vocation while at the same time treating codependency (dysfunctional childhood, poorly defined self-identity, passively controlling, low self-esteem, trouble establishing boundaries with others, tendency to want to help/rescue people too much, indecisiveness, turning friends into replacements for family, etc.)?

Opinions appreciated.

Grazie a mille!



I would seek the advice of a priest or if you see a confessor frequently seek his advice. This one is hard to answer as well it seems as if you have a lot of things that are on your mind, and I am seeing that yes it is possible to discern, but it would be harder to discern with all those things on your plate at this time.

My counsel is to seek a spiritual director. I would also try to get these issues under control and then discern. I do know that religious orders wish for stability in an applicant’s life before they apply. How can one get one’s life in order by having frequent recourse through the Sacraments and I believe in working with a Spiritual Director. It sounds like counseling might not be a bad idea in this case. Try to find a counselor who is open to Catholic practice, if not a practicing Catholic.

God Bless.


Thanks. Yes, I have began counseling with a Jesuit priest who has experience advising codependents. However, I was also seeking insights from those who have suffered with codependency and also discerned vocations...If such persons exist :)

Thanks again.


I’ve been there and I’d say I’m still dealing with some of the issues. I have been doing counseling for about 3 years now. It also helped a lot to move away from those relatives, and have healthy, Catholic relationships. And it helps to focus on Jesus more and more, in prayer, Adoration, frequent Mass, confession, growing in holiness, etc.

I think it takes time, learning and healing.

I still find the transition hard of moving away from loved ones (friends) and moving into a convent. I feel I need a few more years of growing and maturing.


I've struggled more with sexual addiction issues with some possible underlying codependency issues, as is the case with many addictions.

I was in an inpatient facility from January-March 2010, and started seriously discerning the priesthood again almost immediately when I got home after getting a "poke."

Knowing full well all of my wanting-to-escape-reality issues, I decided to be more active in the discernment process. I needed to make sure that it was God and not another attempt to escape. I did get an overwhelming confirmation at Mass on June 26, and gradually started feeling drawn to monastic life as well. I've already filled out all of the application stuff for Mount Angel Abbey, but the vocations director said that I'm not a good candidate at this time, so my request won't even be put forward until the next application cycle.

In short, I don't think there's ever a right or wrong time for discernment. Rather, it's more about how active you need to be at this time in the process, which would depend on where you are in conquering your codependency.:)


Thank you for your moving personal testimonies. Before a few months ago and the decision to seek help, codependency was just a word :) Anyhow, I have also heard the call before but am extremely cautious (don't want to mistake a calling for an opportunity to escape or distract myself).

Anyhow, as a codependent, I have issues with love (boundaries, being needy, etc.), and as such despite having been a committed Catholic for some years now, I still don't know what God's love is supposed to feel like. Can anyone shed some light on this?

Breaking the cycle,


Since I am still very much a beginner in the spiritual life, I still have difficulty describing what God's love feels like. That being said, I'm learning that feeling the love of God is not merely an emotion or a profound spiritual consolation, of which I have had plenty and they used to be quite frequent; rather it's becoming a general knowledge and interior tranquility that God is always with me regardless of any emotion.

Hope that helps.


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