Table of contents:
- They are smiling. They coo. They are comforting. They give advice, whether they ask for it or not. But don't let them fool you! Thoreau summed it up better than anyone else: codependents "lead lives of quiet despair." I know about this because I am one of them. I learned this from my mother, who also realized her codependency. I have experienced codependency from the inside, from the outside, the upper and lower sides of codependency. This is a very special kind of hell
- What is codependency?
- Narcissists love codependents
- How codependency learns
- Codependent personality
- Clench your teeth, bite your tongue and don't move
Video: A Two-sided Hell Of Codependency - Relationships, Self-development
2023 Author: Oswald Adamson | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 20:18
They are smiling. They coo. They are comforting. They give advice, whether they ask for it or not. But don't let them fool you! Thoreau summed it up better than anyone else: codependents "lead lives of quiet despair." I know about this because I am one of them. I learned this from my mother, who also realized her codependency. I have experienced codependency from the inside, from the outside, the upper and lower sides of codependency. This is a very special kind of hell
What is codependency?
14 years after the "discovery" of codependency and the release of Melody Beatty's wonderful books, defining codependency is as difficult as nailing jelly to a wall. Probably the best definition I've heard is "dependence on other people's emotions."
But it's easier to describe how it feels in real life. Suppose my husband is under the sink fixing pipes. He starts to grumble. Then swear. Then he begins to run around, rummaging through his things, trying to find the right tools, and out loud describes all his actions.
Meanwhile, I sit in the chair, pretending to ignore him and bite my tongue because I'm in emotional agony. I am tormented by a feeling of guilt, because any problem with the plumbing must be my fault. All his grumbling, swearing and stories feel like my fault, my responsibility. I need to fix something, find his tools, do something to make him stop grumbling, swearing and talking. If he is unhappy, I am unhappy. His emotions are my responsibility.
This is one side of a hell called codependency
But here's the trick. Despite all the grumbling, swearing and talking, he is actually happy. He is OK. He is not angry with me. The problem with fixing pipes is not mine. He (as usual) lost his damned tools and (as usual) will find them. And he would be better off if I just left him alone and did not try to help, calm and cheer him up. He does not need it, he does not want it and does not ask for it.
This is why I call codependency a two-way hell. This is hell for us codependents, and hell for those we are trying to "save."
Narcissists love codependents
While codependency is commonly found in family members of alcoholics, narcissists adore codependents. They are looking for us. In the beginning of a relationship, the romantic chemistry between the narcissist and his codependent lover is purely electric. They play the victim, we play the savior. This coincidence is directly "made in …" it is not clear where. If codependents who are married to an alcoholic wash away their physical vomit, we wash away the narcissist's emotional vomit. Again and again. Many years.
How codependency learns
I learned codependency in my mother's lap. She would be the first to admit it and regret it. She, too, learned this in her mother's lap because she had to become codependent if she wanted to be loved and accepted by the exclusively sacrificial narcissist who raised her. For many years, she considered it her "ministry" to be the shoulder on which her mother cried daily over the phone. Later, she discovered that her mother simply enjoyed acting out as a victim and did it to gain vitality.
When she was not engaged in showing empathy for her mother, she was busy showing empathy for her husband. Every evening, while Dad complained about what he thought were stupid colleagues at dinner, Mom gave him all kinds of advice on how to manipulate them more successfully. I quietly chewed chicken, and her advice seemed trite to me. Little did I know that the roots of the problem were the eerie dance of the narcissist and his codependent.
Then I grew up and naturally chatted with my mom about my problems at work. Again, she came up with all sorts of useless advice that I didn't need and that made me sick. Finally, we sorted it out. I just wanted to talk. She thought I was looking for advice and, frankly, she herself was sick of the fact that everyone turned to her for comfort and advice. She believed that others were to blame. But in fact, it was 50% dependent on her.
When I was a child, she taught me to lie and act like a fool instead of setting boundaries in dealing with people, including in relation to their obsessive questions. How she regrets it now! But on the other hand, every time I tried to establish boundaries with her, she immediately accused me of hiding some crime and, as I say, “pouting her lips furiously”.
Meanwhile, she took the brunt when her husband had fits of rage. While acknowledging that most of his rage was towards his colleagues, Mom was always the one who was believed to provoke his terrible rage. She put up with it. She sat while he shouted and lectured her, swinging his fists. We both put up with it. We felt guilty that we were the “cause” of his rage. We tried to be even more perfect so as not to anger him. When he hit the table with his fist, until blood began to flow from him, she would bandage him. When he slammed the door, he broke it, she glued it together with putty and paint, lamenting: "This is what a good wife does."
No! This is what the codependent idiot does
As I grew up, I discovered new aspects of codependency. "Can you get the towels out of the dryer and fold them?" My mother asked. "Okay," I replied in a catatonic stupor, putting the book down and getting up from the couch. “You should be okay with it,” she bit me. “I don’t ask for much, and you also live here. You could wash yourself! " Obviously my silence was not enough. I should be happy, cheerful, positive about completing assignments.
It took me a while to figure this out. She felt guilty! Guilty for asking me to do anything! She needed me to be happy doing my homework to calm her false sense of guilt. It wasn’t enough that I simply did the task without emotion. A "normal perception" was required. Secretly, I began to bite my teeth in an eerie grin behind her. “Darling, thank you! - I turned to the dryer, - for this great happiness to fold towels! It's so exciting! " It helped me to cope with the anger that I felt from being forced to stay in this hell of constant happiness.
Fast forward a few years and we see that I would rather die than ask someone to do something for me. Guilt for asking someone to work more than I can bear. I will happily cook, clean, wash and wash for the whole world, so that no one has to lift a finger. My colleagues accused me of “grabbing all the work”. And they were right.
While in society, codependents feel the need to overcompensate in order to please other people. Together with other people, we put on a mask of charm and excessive gaiety. We may even do this in our own family. It's so exhausting, isn't it? IMHO, friendship is too hard work.
When I got married for the first time, my husband noticed that I was foaming before my parents' visit. “You make yourself super happy, super cute, super strong when they're around,” my husband remarked. This explains why I could never relax when I lived with them.
But his observation about my mother was even more interesting. After visiting them, he turned to me and exclaimed: "Is your mother stoned?!?"
"No!! - I was terrified. - She has never touched drugs. She doesn't even drink Tylenol!"
“But she’s so happy, she’s overwhelmed with fun, so I thought,” he said and winked at me. It just amazed me. It's just acting. A codependent mask she wears for communication. She also wears it at home with her own child. This explains all the times she imposed a moratorium on conversations in the house. Maintaining such a fake identity is too exhausting. She needs to recharge her batteries. When I moved away from them, we both gave up our hippie happy roles. The last time we spoke, I hardly recognized her voice. He sounded so calm, I was sure something had happened!
Clench your teeth, bite your tongue and don't move
How I wanted to have a magic panacea to share with you, so that it will cure you of the cold of codependency. I still have to get rid of codependency. This is the last line between me and calmness, happiness. But my husband helped me by calling for a codependency strike. The only way I knew to be a wife was to cook, clean up, and be codependent. This model of being a wife was passed on to me. Put everything in order. Constantly advise. Find everything. Shielding your husband from life.
Michael loved the way I cook, the way I clean. He hated my codependency. So I learned to be silent, to sit and just ignore all his grumbling, swearing and stories … and the endless search for things that he "put in a safe place." I want to scream! Pull your hair out! Lecture him! But no! I sit quietly, although cats are scratching at my codependent soul and a hysterical fit occurs. I usually just leave the room to protect myself from triggers.
And you know what?!? It turned out that he didn't need my codependent behavior at all! Sooner or later, he always finds what he has lost. Fixes what's broken. Everything continues as before. Despite all this drama, he is happy again as a lark.
So when codependency overpowers and the hands of someone just itch to save, that's what I do.
- I sit down.
- I shut up.
- I am quiet.
- Waiting until it leaves me.
This takes time. The bout of codependency will someday pass.
If the victims provoke you to rescue them, just say something like, “I'm sure you can handle it, honey. You're so clever! I believe in you". They may get upset at first, but they will love the flattery. And can you imagine? Despite all their drama, they will actually handle it on their own. It turns out that nobody really needs you to save them!
- By Lenora Thompson
- Translated by Kiril Melamud