This summer I learned that I couldn’t do everything on my own, that I had some major issues (sh*t is what I like to call it) and I had to own them. Though I had known for over a year, I accepted I was co-dependent and I needed to go to Co-Dependents Anonymous.
It started when my best friend insisted I read Co-Dependent No More, and I learned then that I had some real issues. I had already realized that I couldn’t keep obsessively worrying over The Husband and where he was and what he was doing. I stopped nagging him 21 months ago and gave him room to breathe. But I didn’t tell him what I was doing or why, and he took it to mean I no longer cared, which got the ball rolling to the sh*t storm we are dealing with right now. But that’s not what I want to talk about now.
Some of you might have already hit the link, maybe you didn’t. But I think a co-dependent is someone who believes to be happy he or she has to make sure all the people around him/her are happy and safe. The co-dependent knows best. Damnit. So the co-dependent tries to manipulate people and situations to “protect” his/her loved ones. Those loved ones don’t want to be controlled and resent the co-dependent, who then, in turn, feels resented, used, and hurt. Then the co-dependent tries to control more. It‘s a vicious cycle.
At first I wanted to know who twisted me into this deformed lover.
Society. Our society has been telling women for generations to be successful, happy, and a valuable member of society, she had to produce a happy, healthy, functioning family. Behind every great man is a great woman. Those children are so polite and smart; it must be because of the mother. Oh, he killed three people; what kind of mother did he have? Yup, women are responsible for all that is their family.
Yet I read many of you, and you don’t have the craziness that’s in me. So there must be other factors.
Like my mother. And her mother. Controlling women. They give and give and give. And if we are not sufficiently grateful, if we decide to ignore their advice, then we are foolish or horrible or stupid or too young to know better. I’m watching my mom push away my brother, and slowly she’s beginning to push me away with all her well-meaning advice. Her constant, loud, frequent, bossy advice. My aunts and uncle all have issues, and I believe it stems from my grandma’s need to help her children be happy and safe.
But there’s plenty of blame to go around.
How about that emotionally abusive relationship in college? The one where my boyfriend was passive-aggressive with time. He tried to manipulate me to become a script writer for him. (I wanted to write novels.) He once told me I was getting fat from all the desserts I ate. (Hardly, and I got up and grabbed three more.) He got upset with me because we took a class together and I wouldn’t only study with him. (I’m sorry, I don’t settle for B’s or C’s.)
Of course, my college counselor pointed out I was more than willing to cut myself up and put myself into a neat little package for the boyfriend without being asked. Ugh.
And then there’s The Husband. He brought his own craziness into the mix. Which made me crazier. Which made him crazier. It’s a vicious cycle.
I thought about this the first week I started going to CoDA, and I realized that if I laid blame on someone, I would start to absolve myself from my actions. Like an alcoholic, I was responsible for my actions, even if someone had poisoned me into not knowing how to truly love and how to be truly me. It didn’t matter. I was responsible, and I had to start living responsibly.
I’m co-dependent. If I call enough and yell enough, The Husband will want to come home and be with me. If I argue with my mom enough, she’ll see things my way. If I keep my boys safe in the way I see things are safe, they will be safe. If I make everything even between The Husband and me, I’ll have what I want and need.
But it doesn’t work that way. I have to let The Husband and my mom be who they are, think the way they want, say the things they want. I’ll have to slowly let go of my boys so they can experience the world and they won’t ever have the need to run away because I’m trying to control them. I have to figure out what I need and want to be a healthy, happy, whole person.