Like every day, I got my Daily Love email this morning and for the first time in weeks…maybe months, I decided to read it. And this is what I read: “Codependence is where you don’t know where you end and someone else begins. You can’t tell the difference. In relationships, the codependent thinks and feels all the feelings of the other person with no concept of self.”
I was diagnosed codependent toward the end of my marriage to Thing 2. My therapist suggested a number of books and even went so far as to require me to attend CoDA (Codependents Anonymous) meetings. OK, “Require” is probably a bit strong…she told me I should go, but the actual act of going was up to me.
The first meeting I attended was on the north side of Indy. As I pulled into the parking lot and shut off my car, I started to freak out a little. Was this really who I was….Was I codependent…What if there was someone in the meeting I knew…This isn’t for me…I shouldn’t be here…
I put the key back in the ignition to leave and as I turned it…nothing happened. The car wouldn’t start. I tried several more times…each crank of the engine becoming a bit more desperate than the last. The lights were on…the radio was playing…but all the engine would do was click, click, click.
Since the car wouldn’t start, I figured I might as well go to the meeting. I’d deal with calling a friend and a tow truck after. Even if I called them now, it’s unlikely I’d get picked up or towed in less than an hour. So inside I went…and forgot to call the towing company.
The meeting was interesting…First thing I noticed, everyone in the room was white. Next, it was mostly women. Finally as people started to share their stories, I began to get frustrated. Almost every story was a bored housewife who lived solely for her husband and/or children…who felt under appreciated and couldn’t seem to do anything about it. If I wasn’t hearing about how taxing it is to cook, clean, and drive the kids to soccer without a thank you from your husband, I was hearing about how hard life is for spoiled 16-18 year olds that have everything given to them. How all the “stuff” doesn’t fill the void of emotion that these girls are seeking to have filled externally.
Now, I mean no disrespect to housewives, mothers, or stressed out teenagers. My issue was that I couldn’t relate to their stories. Their lives were so different than mine…so different from my past…that it was a struggle to find a lesson to apply to my life. What it did do, though, is make me curious enough to decide to seek out another meeting.
When it ended, I remembered I’d forgot to call a tow truck. As I headed toward my car…my head reeling from all the stories I’d just heard…I decided to try the car one last time. Believe it or not, she turned over just fine…on the first crank. I guess someone thought I should be in the meeting and was going to make sure I couldn’t leave. As I drove off, I’ll admit I was more than a little freaked out.
A couple weeks later I ended up finding a meeting downtown that I felt a connection to. It was a diverse collection of individuals with dependency issues running the gamut. Their stories were exactly what I needed to hear to begin to see where I might actually have developed some codependent tendencies. They also shared such amazing insights about their constant battles to affirm their individuality and worthiness.
If I got nothing else from my time spent attending CoDA meetings, it was that everyone is dealing with something. And it’s how we choose to react to what we’re dealing with that determines the type of person we are and the type of lives we live. Do we acknowledge our fear or do we bury it? Do we talk about our issues or do we run from them? Do we love and appreciate ourselves or do we seek it externally? The list goes on and on.
CoDA gave me a framework to begin assessing my issues. To be able to distinctly identify what I was feeling (and to start to discover why) as opposed to getting caught up in someone else’s emotions.
So today when I find myself in an argument or a disagreement, I’m able to step back and gain the perspective that it’s my choice how I react. To remember that someone else’s reaction may have very little to do with me…that it’s most likely something they are dealing with from previous relationships…and I have a choice to do the same or step back…breathe…and gain some perspective.