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A Feb 2006 example from my life
I guess ever since my first relationship with a female I have been "codependent." I like this term pretty well. I think it describes how two people are dependent on each other emotionally, dependent on each other for their emotional needs. Yet it suggests that it is impossible to depend on someone for our emotional needs. We must be primarily responsible for them ourselves.
I wrote something like an outline for change for people who are codependent back around 1996 or something. I thought I had learned a lot and wasn't very codependent anymore. Well, after being with Laura, my current, but probably not my last partner, if history is any indication of the future, I have seen that I am still codependent. I feel responsible for her. For her feelings and for her future.
I've realized lately that I like to help people, but not feel responsible for them. I like to feel appreciated too, but not over-depended upon. I felt over-depended upon with Jerren and sometimes now with Laura. But she and I had a major turning point, I hope at least, this past week when she was almost ready to leave Argentina and go back to Peru. Peru is a horrible place to live or try to raise children. I am not sure why I stayed there for so long. Anyhow, I hope I have learned enough about codependency to avoid more pain and suffering and drama in the future. But only time will tell.
Here is an outline I wrote many years ago which helped me a lot at the time.
Talking about feelings (a time I couldn't talk)
An example from my life with Laura
The other day I wanted to go practice English with a girl who lives in a nearby town. I started thinking about how insecure and jealous Laura is, something she acknowledges fairly non-defensively, and I suggested she invite a friend, Daniela. I told Laura I was afraid she would feel bored and jealous if I were talking to Claudia in English and smiling and laughing, without Laura even knowing what we were saying, since Laura's English is not up to par yet. I also suggested maybe I could go alone and she and I could meet later in the day.
At this point Laura said in an attacking way, "No quiero ir" "I don't want to go."
Now, to be honest, I have been working all morning and many hours yesterday, so I am going to rush the rest of this story...
Basically, what happened was something like this
- I knew she wanted me to feel guilty if I went alone
- I told her this. She denied it.
- I told her I would feel bad if I knew she stayed home alone and was upset.
But I decided to go anyhow because I didn't want to act so codependent and stay home and then resent it.
But then I thought, well, I don't really care that much how long I spend with Claudia, I mostly want to just see the village she lives in and spend a little time with her to see if it is worth trying to work with her in the future. (Claudia is studying to be an English teacher)
I asked Laura if she would go and just tell me when she felt bored or jealous and we could leave. She refused. She kept saying "No quiero ir!"
So I gave up and said "Okay." I told her when I would be back. She seemed to accept reluctantly that I was going to go and that it was her choice not to go with me.
She got in the shower and I asked her a couple more times if she wanted to go. Same answer.
I tried to kiss her good bye and she rejected me. Turned away. I tried about three or four times.
I said "When I do something it is just because I o do it. But when you do it, it is because you want to hurt me."
This of course was a bit of an exaggeration, and a bit attacking, but she got the point and I was proud of myself for realizing she was trying to guilt trip me into staying or going feeling bad so in the future she could manipulate me more. And it is true that I almost never do something with the intention of hurting her. I am trying to fill my needs, that much is true, but I don't want to hurt her just because I feel hurt, as she and so many people do. (Of course I have never done this ever myself!)
So I left. I felt good. Free. I wanted to go alone to assert my independence. There's been too much drama lately. Too much of my life was devoted to her emotional needs. She is very high emotional maintenance.
So I made it to the bus terminal. Stopping to get fruit alone the way. Hoping, to be honest, she wouldn't change her mind and come after me.
I got on the bus. I forgot about her and was only thinking of the bus ride, where I would sit, whether more people would get on and crowd me etc. I sat down and started eating my fruit. Then I heard a tap on the window. It was her. lol.
I smiled. I didn't resent it much. Maybe 1 on the scale of 0 to 10. I smiled too, partly because she is so funny, so dramatic and volatile and unpredictable, partly because of her bright smile which said "I'm nuts, I know it! But here I am!" and partly because I knew that if I didn't act happy to see her she would feel very hurt and rush off. Luckily I didn't sit next to an attractive girl who was sitting alone on the bus and try to flirt with her. Had Laura seen me smiling and laughing with another girl, she would have felt terribly hurt. There really is no need to rub salt in the wound so to speak, yet as I write that I wonder if I still feel too responsible for her and afraid she will leave me.
That's the issue in a nutshell really.
We are afraid the other person will leave us.
Codependency is based on fear. Fear and insecurity.
So for me, I need to somehow rid myself of my fear of dying alone, being alone, traveling alone, living alone, crying alone, sleeping alone.
The fear used to permeate me. I was terrified at the idea of Laura leaving me
But then she did leave me one day. Dec 1, 2005. I wrote about it on the Laura page (the link is at the bottom of this).
And I discovered I didn't die. I cried and cried and cried. It was hard. But I didn't die. We ended up getting back together. Typical codependent drama, with some added complications I will write about later.
We got to Argentina. I knew I had to get out of Peru. Plus I wanted to show Laura there was more to the world than her miserable country. When I got here I immediately liked it. There are things I can do here. It is a little like Peru, but without all the problems. Or with fewer problems anyhow. Mostly it is a lot quieter, a lot safer, a lot cleaner, a lot better off economically and a lot more European. There are lots of places to plug in my laptop and write, even with free water, drinking fountains and air conditioning. Things unheard of in Peru. In fact, literally Laura had to ask me what an air conditioning unit was on the side of a building. She had never seen one.
So I have decided that I would stay here even if she decided to go back to Peru again. I would feel lonely and I would miss her at times, no doubt. But I wouldnt die.
Honestly, Laura has helped me a lot. She gave me so much love and support and hugs. Things I needed desperately for years. Those needs are a lot closer to nearing the FULL mark. Though I dont suppose there is such thing as permanently full. As long as we sensitive people live and there is pain in the world, we will need hugs.
I am staying with Laura partly now because I feel indebted to her. Grateful to her. Appreciative of her. And partly because I am afraid of being alone. But I feel stronger now, more self-confident. Less codependent and emotionally needy. I still have this deep deep hole in my soul, if you want to call it that. I can feel its presence now, but I feel more optimistic about life. Not optimistic optimistic, but less suicidal at least. I truly was feeling suicidal, and often, when I met Laura. I dont feel that way now, or hardly ever. She helped me feel better about myself. More lovable. More attractive. More desirable. That might sound kind of cheesy or something but its true. I felt rejected so many times in the past ten years or so. But thats another story.
So anyhow, she and I did go to the town together. Things turned out okay. I was afraid she would make a scene and walk off or something, but she didnt. She did that the other day and felt bad about it. Told me she felt stupid and ashamed. I understood this because I have done things like this too. I was so needy. So insecure. Not with Laura, but with girls in my past. Mostly in my twenties.
The best thing, I suppose, is that Laura and I can usually talk about things. I have learned the language of feelings. We talk about feelings specifically. We try hard not to use you statements and make accusations and attack the other etc. We do it, but far less than most bickering couples. And we both are aware that we are damaged and our needs werent met as kids and teens.
Sometimes it is hard for me to talk at all. I wrote about one of these times the other day. Ill put that link in later, too. But so far, eventually we have talked things through and generally feel little to no resentment after a long talk (thought it often takes a major drama with her packing her things to get us to talk).
Or maybe the best thing is that we really like each other. I like who she is. There are little things I would change, of course, but basically I like and even love the person she is. I think this goes for her too. In fact, she probably loves me more for who I am. When we have problems it is typically just because she feels insecure, not because there is something about me which she doesnt like or cant accept. Unless you say my need for female attention is something she cant accept, which might be fair, but is also understandable to a large degree. The problem for me is that I dont have to sleep with someone else or kiss someone else or even hug someone else for her to pack her bags. Sometimes she totally misinterprets something, jumps to a wrong conclusion and makes decisions based on insecurities instead of the facts. For example, there was a day I was chatting and asked her to do something so we could save some time. She thought I was sending her away so I could write romantic things to the person I was chatting with, but it wasnt anything like that at all. Yet later when I saw she was upset and was pushing me away, giving me the silent treatment etc and I tried to ask her what she was thinking and how she had interpreted what I did, she refused to even talk about it or admit anything was wrong. Now we can talk about it though without her getting defensive.
So in conclusion, Id say we are still in a pretty heavily codependent relationship, but learning and progressing.
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