In my sophomore year of high school I was embroiled in some issues that my family and I couldn’t resolve. I’m not entirely certain why it hurt my mother as badly as it did, but I think the biggest culprit was that she thought she knew exactly who I was and I managed to turn all of that upside down. I think that it wasn’t so much the choices that I made bothered her so much, but that they were not the choices that she would have made for me. Looking back on it now, I think she interpreted my actions as a direct attack on her.
I don’t remember much of what was said in therapy, but I remember the psychologist’s office and his collection of thick leather-bound tomes that seemed to be written in some other language. I also remember him looking like a big teddy bear. I’m not entirely sure that he physically resembled a bear so much as embodied it. He felt safe. I felt safe.
There is one word that stood out in bold print–codependent. It sounds innocuous enough. I depend on people, and they can always depend on me. How could this be a bad thing? The women in my family carry the weight of the world on their shoulders whether the world wants us to or not.
I get embarassed when someone spells my name wrong. I take everything personally. I feel safe in reacting to the world because I can tell myself that “so-and-so’s” actions are responsible for my feelings. I have convinced myself that the people taking care of me are screwing up, but no one is supposed to be taking care of me anyway.
I bend over backwards and martyr myself to help people. And if there is no problem, rest assured I’ll dredge one up from the past or create a “what if” scenario so that I can get back into caretaker mode.
Don’t get me wrong–I love my Mom and Grandma very much. But I don’t think any of us should have to feel this way anymore. I don’t want to raise Gwendolen that way because codependency, once started, is a habit that’s nearly impossible to break.