Warning this article will step on just about
every one of your toes…
John sits at the table rigid and tight, his stomach muscles unconsciously contracting into a hard knot of frustration as he reviews the household bills. His wife approaches and tearfully expresses her new need for a sports car as she is tired of driving the van that they had purchased one year prior. In response to this new request, the corners of John's eyes start to burn with a combination of hope and bitter resentment. It seems she is never satisfied for long. However, maybe purchasing the car she desires will be the demonstration of his love that she needs, maybe then, she will finally believe in herself and his love? He thinks perhaps this sacrifice will rekindle the reasons they married lost in the years of confusion and contempt. He just wants things to go back to the days of appreciation, love and support; still mystified as to what he has done to ruin the romance between the two of them? "Perhaps I’m not worthy of real love," is the afterthought that echoes in the back of his mind, "Or maybe I’m just not trying hard enough." John focuses in on his wife's request. With hope and determination, he makes the call to the car dealership. He feels the stream of hope being pushed through a tunnel of dismay. Swatting away the doubts like pesky mosquitoes, he swears to himself that this sacrifice will be the one that turns things around…
Have you ever given more than you receive, sacrificed more than you can give, and served more than you can stand? We all have been in circumstances and situations that have required us to give selflessly of ourselves, to take one for the team in other words. But are our motives pure or are they somewhat poisoned by our own agenda or secret desires?
I have been in John’s place more times than I care to admit and on the surface we appear as angels, generously giving our time, love and money to the poor, dysfunctional and homeless. We bless them with our blood, sweat and servitude provided for every need big or small. No problem is too petty; no request is too ridiculous as we portray a bottomless pit of grace. (Whew) Can I spin some B.S. or what (LOL) My grandson Jaeden has this new phrase where he says, “How dare you!” and I think it is appropriate for this paragraph of pompous prose.
How dare you, Mr. or Mrs. Codependent, think you are necessary for someone else’s survival and well-being! How dare you pretend you’re selfless and don’t have your own unfulfilled desires for acceptance, gratitude and recompense! How dare you pose as the God of someone else’s life, substituting their own strength for yours, taking on another’s battles that they were meant to overcome themselves! How dare I give more than I am capable, creating more debt, bitterness and resentment for everyone involved…
This is painful medicine I’m prescribing today, that burns the throat and sours the stomach as we swallow it with shame and understanding. It is not part of the plan for us to slay our dreams to save someone else’s. Truthfully, it is just downright cowardly to attempt to fight another person’s trial and tribulations because we intentionally leave our own demons alone. We hide within our service and sacrifice, creating emotional leverage for the downtrodden to pay for the rest of their lives.
I’m so very sorry if I sound harsh but this was me and I just can’t hide behind my humor this time. The curse of codependency will corrupt any relationship, parent/child, brother/sister, husband and wife. I remember when I was having a heated argument with one of my ex-wife’s sisters and she said with several colorful expletives, “Well why did you buy that for her?” And I forget what I said but I know it was a lie because the truth was pitiful and fragile. The truth was I just wanted her to love me better… Rather than using the integrity of my own character to stand on its own, I took the easier path of manipulation and bribery to achieve intimacy.
I know I didn’t mean to undermine my own sincerity but unintentionally I did. We all have very good reasons for what we do. The only compass I can offer in situations of the soul is find out what is it you really, really want, and then decide whether what you are doing is going to get you there or take you to a place you really don’t want to be.
In order to break the curse of codependency we have to be willing to allow our partner to stand on equal ground with us, not beneath us, behind us or even with us lifting them up. If we truly respect the romance we’ve found, then we will also believe in the strength and character of our companion. We will let them hurt, we will let them cry and we will let them sort out their own salvation. Superman simply saved people from falling; he didn’t try to save them from themselves. The job of redemption can only be filled by the individual, not Mr. or Mrs. Codependent. There is nothing wrong with care and compassion but when it is too much it becomes enabling to disable the others person’s ability to cope and manage the messes they make! If we really care we need to learn how to empower and encourage instead of engaging a smothering love that incapacitates.
I hurt when I see the people I care about in pain but I realize by accepting my own scars I found my strength. Why would you rob someone else of that powerful experience of self-awareness and salvation? Am I truly that selfish… are you? Boom!