March 26, 2012

Co-Dependent again

The stuff I read about codependency in the 90’s really mucked me up. Don’t get me wrong, I needed it then, no doubt. And I don’t regret learning to take care of myself and be independent. Maybe I just overlearned it. I went from a meek care-taker to being an independent, shout it from the roof tops, woman who needed no one.

And some of that mess stuck too hard.

While I value the knowledge that I don’t need anyone and can make it on my own, I now have to remind myself (yes, sometimes out loud) that it is okay to want someone. I found myself front-loading disclaimers this weekend when talking to a girlfriend. “I know this doesn’t sound healthy to independent women but….”

I know I am healthier than I have ever been. I have to re-program myself. Damn you co-dependent bashers.

I find myself questioning my own sanity when I do things to make someone else happy. If I decide not to attend an event in order to go somewhere with someone I care about I think, “Is this healthy”? “Is this codependent”? Goodness gracious. It just is. Wanting to make someone happy when you care about them isn’t the end of the world. I do know the difference between putting another person before me when it is harmful and putting another person before me in order to compromise.

Maybe the pendulum is swinging back to the center. I am not the center of the universe. I can compromise. And giving is a beautiful thing.

I smiled today thinking back to the 90's. One of the most independent women I knew back then looked into my eyes and told me one day I was going to be a mom. I shrugged. She told me I could play independent roaring woman all I wanted but I was cut out for a committed relationship with a man, a home, and children. I poo-poo'd the idea of domestic bliss. Guess what I learned over spring break? I love staying home, cleaning, cooking and running errands.

Now I need therapy to undo all the therapy.


Unknown said...

While co-dependency can be detrimental to the Self--if there is truly a Self--it can be healthy and necessary top survival.

One of America's best writers, Joan Didion was "co-dependent" upon her husband, writer John Gregory Dunne, and yet she is also fiercely independent.

Have to suggest her memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking, about John's death. A marvelous read. And unveiling about dependence and grief.

Paula said...

Thanks! I appreciate it. I love to read. Especially memoirs.