1 Feb

There is a term that applies when we sacrifice our happiness at the expense of others.   This term is co-dependency.  Co-dependency is: a set of maladaptive behaviours learned by family members in order to survive in a family experiencing emotional pain and stress.

I read the email back from my e-counseler and I immediately regret reading it while waiting for the bus at work. Tears fill my eyes as I blink furiously, trying to clear the glaze.

they have been taught in various relationships, perhaps beginning in childhood, that it is not okay to try and get their needs met; somehow the message is that they aren’t worth it.

I can’t stop the tears, realizing that my life, the life I fought so hard for, the life I thought I wanted, might as well have been a figment.

Seeing your life, reduced to sentences you might find in the Self-Help section, and realizing that it’s so very true? Hideous, and demanding and ultimately far too real.


There’s no bad guy here, not really.

I don’t think either side is the devil, full of fire and rage and hurt. Rather, I think we’re two people thrown together, people who love each other, but people who just can’t. My learned behaviours stretch far back, as I long suspected. Having every adult in my life supercede me in some way-by hurting me, by being sick, by dying, by drinking, by the slow hand of turning off, the neglect of grief. The constant “shhh” of living with cancer as a child, the sense that your pain, for all the merits of relativity, is not and will never be as meaningful or important.

Being told, without words, to never talk about any of it. To stare loss in the face, to stare betrayal in it’s vacant black eyes and know that you cannot say the words to make it flesh.

This person can be afraid to ask for what they need, because their needs have never been adequately met by anyone before.

I’ve always been told, in one form or another, that I ask too much. That what I want, that what I crave, the focused attention of love and affection, the warm glow of acknowledgement, is unreasonable. I’ve know this was not true, but I’ve never experienced it, and remember even as a child being so desperate for my father’s love, his attention and gaze.

All I’ve ever wanted was someone on my side-someone who didn’t worry about them, or someone sick or dying or just plain someone else. I wanted someone for me. I want someone for me.

Maybe that’s wrong, and selfish. But there’s a damn pouty little girl who never had anyone listen to her, and she’s stomping on the bone I’ve got left to love with. She’s not asking too much. She’s just asking.

13 Responses to “Depending”

  1. Ally February 1, 2010 at 11:28 pm #

    When our marriage counselor told us we had a codependent relationship i was pissed. And defensive and did I mention pissed? But she was right. We were able to work it out but it has still taken me a long time to ask for what I need, whether it’s affection, time alone, a raise/respect at work, what have you. It’s a hard thing to break but it is possible. It can, and will, get better. Promise.

    • thordora February 2, 2010 at 4:11 pm #

      If we were both in counselling, I’m sure we could get past it. He refuses-I have to move on.

  2. Jürgen Nation February 2, 2010 at 12:45 am #

    Oh, sunshine. If I could hold a Hug Convention, you’d be the first person I’d invite.

    At least that little girl is asking, you know? Because I know GD well how little girls like us get shoved to the background and are programmed to believe that we’re here for the wants and will of others. I’m glad that little girl is raising her tiny little fist. She’s asking, which is pretty huge because now, for whatever reason, she understands that she wants it, she wants to matter, to choose her way. And that is coming a long way from accepting what you’ve been told is your lot and being quiet, not wanting anything. I’m proud of you, girl, and I say that with a huge smile and a shitload of respect. You DO matter. Keep stomping your foot and keep asking, because your voice is all kinds of powerful. Hugs and sunshine. xoxo

  3. Kelly February 2, 2010 at 10:28 am #

    I a so glad you asked. Do not stop asking no matter who or what makes you feel you need to be silenced.


  4. et February 2, 2010 at 11:49 am #

    Is it wrong to ask/use your kids for “the focused attention of love and affection”?

    I know I used my son during my divorce – as a reason to keep going, to get out of bed, as focus of love.

  5. ifbyyes February 2, 2010 at 12:03 pm #

    You’re NOT asking too much. People only say that when they don’t want to face up to the fact that they are letting you down.

    When my ex and I broke up, he told a mutual friend, “Carol will never find anyone who lives up to her ridiculous expectations.”

    Shock and surprise, within six months I was dating someone who didn’t smoke, who washed the dishes, and slept with the tv off. Ta da! Expectations met.

  6. Titanium February 2, 2010 at 1:04 pm #

    To your daughters, you ARE that someone. Every day. Because of you, they won’t have the broken pieces and they shushhh-ing woven through their memories.

    You deserve to have someone, too, dammit. It’s not too much to ask.

  7. Hannah February 2, 2010 at 4:56 pm #

    There’s nothing as wretched as being told you’re crazy for wanting to be happy, and loved.

    I know this revelation knocked you sideways. Sit with it for a bit. Keep treating yourself with gentleness. And apologize to no one.

  8. Yo is Me February 3, 2010 at 12:12 am #

    huh. wow. just… wow. i’m writing about my recent break up with my boyfriend and this hit the nail on the head. i couldn’t put it into words. i couldn’t explain it well. i fumbled through it. but this is it. this is the reason, this is why i had to break up with him. i wasn’t me. i was us.

    are there really e-counselors out there?

  9. Marcy February 3, 2010 at 12:43 am #

    Too much! Yes, that’s exactly my inherited label, too. There’s too much me for the world to handle. Too much that I want, need, do, say, feel, think, etc.

    And oh boy, did I hate it every time I fit into some classic therapy pigeonhole. It DID feel demeaning and humiliating, and yet ANOTHER way to dismiss me as unimportant — I’m just another one of THOSE.

    Not that Joe was ever dismissive — helping me see that I wasn’t as weird or alone as I thought, yes, but that didn’t mean that I was insignificant or dismissable.

    Anyway, glad you have that e-counselor.

  10. niobe February 3, 2010 at 12:00 pm #

    Someone who’s on your side … I don’t think there’s anything wrong or selfish or unreasonable about wanting that.

    But, fortunately or unfortunately, what I’ve found (and maybe this won’t be true for you) the only person you can really count on is yourself.

  11. Kelly February 7, 2010 at 2:20 am #

    How could you (we) possibly be asking too much? When, in reality, you probably don’t even ask. Instead, you sit by quietly, knowing your needs aren’t being met, but wrongly assuming that that’s okay, that’s what you deserve, that’s all you’ll ever get. We assume that asking for ANYTHING at all is too much. But like you said, it’s not too much. It just is. What you need, what you deserve.

  12. Lili February 8, 2010 at 2:07 am #

    You know what? If you want someone just for you then you should have it. You can ask for anything you want. Why not? There is no crime in trying to have hope-to mentally reach for a goal. I don’t care what your e-counselor called it-perhaps the e-counselor has a savior complex and thus became a counselor who knows? But everyone is allowed to want or need what they feel will enhance their lives.

    Keep trying honey. And get a new damn therapist. One that supports you 500 percent. If you tell her you want to wear an outfit made entirely of aluminum foil she’d better cheer you on.

    I’m tired of the “you can’t be happy because you want to be happy” line of poo.

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