I started thinking about this again for a few reasons involving a few friends of mine. One of them will know who she is. The other doesn't read the blog.
Anyway, all three of us have been married to addicts. All of us have been angry and hurt and felt helpless and confused and frustrated. But I would think twice before I called any of us co-dependents.
I can't speak for my friends, but they are the reason I'm writing this today.
I went to a few co-dependent meetings, and I tried to read the book, but I found it all very frustrating and it made me defensive. Of course, being on the defense means you're "in denial."
I was reminded of this when I watched Changeling. After Jolie's character gets locked up in the insane asylum, a fellow inmate explains to her how everything Jolie will try to do to prove her sanity will only have the opposite effect. This is how I felt whenever someone called me a co-dependent.
Because I lived with an addict, I must be a co-dependent. I must seek these wounded characters out, right?
I don't buy it.
Now, I fully support the idea of finding a community for people like me and my friends, for those of us who have been there, done that to be able to support each other and relate to each other. My IRL friend seemed to find hope and solace in the fact that I no longer worry about my X, and she visibly relaxed when I told her so. She has pretty much clung to everything I've said, as I'm quite a few years ahead of her in the whole process, and feels better about all her concerns and frustrations when she hears me voice the same back to her.
I know that's a huge part of what has connected Kori and I. And in that relationship, she's the comforter to me.
So, yeah, I totally get the need to find others who understand the experience. Someone who won't ask, "why did you stay so long?"
Yet, in co-dependent meetings, I still felt I was being judged. I still felt that I was being told what I should be doing or how I should be feeling about the situation. The only thing I really needed was the strength and self-confidence to leave, as I wrote about here.
I refuse to believe that attempting to help others is a defect. I tried to be the good wife, I tried to stand by my man. I don't think trying was wrong. I simply couldn't leave until I was ready.
Now, of course, the experience changed me, but it didn't make me want to stop being a friend. It's my desire to be a good friend that has led me to find Kori, FF, JC, and so many others. I don't try to control them - I just try to be there for them, and allow them to be there for me.
I joke that I'm a control freak, but I refuse to believe that's bad, either. My desire to control my destiny is what made me go back to college, and led to my promotion and my ability to care for my children.
I'm not saying the concept of co-dependents is wrong, per se. I'm sure that many have found solace and strength in being a part of the co-dependents' community. I wouldn't knock anyone for trying something and sticking with it if it works for them.
I just have a problem with the world deciding for me that I'm a co-dependent because of one bad relationship. I will not let that one relationship define me.