I've been behind on my blog-reading lately. In catching up, I have been able to spend many glorious hours reading, to my absolute delight, the most talented, insightful writers on the internet. Among my absolute favourites, MPJ.
As a side note I kind of feel like an annoying little sister, following her around and hanging on her every word. I can't help it, I have a total crush on her brain.
When I finally caught up with her recent posts, I started going through her side-bar and ran across her post What is Codependence? I always liked that one. Reading it again today, something clicked in my brain. Like pieces coming together, a cotter pin sliding into place and fastening my thoughts in the right order...
I have always enjoyed the light-hearted manner in which MPJ jokes about her own co-dependency, poking fun at herself and her actions -- it's an incredibly subtle illness and can be as damaging and dangerous as substance abuse, but she has a way of looking at it that makes it less scary, less shameful.
I grew up in a highly co-dependent family. A family where some members aggressively ignored each others' needs while others went out of their way to over-compensate. Where sometimes my own needs were met before I even knew I had a need, others would not recognise that a need was going unmet.
I watched people in my family give up their own needs, their own desires and wishes and hopes, to maintain others' standards. I watched family members strive to fix that which others had broken, control situations that couldn't be controlled, lie when tempers flared and fists flew. And then become hurt, rejected, and bitter when their sacrifices were not recognised.
And I associated all that with "family". Somehow, I came to think of having children as the circumstance that forces you to put anothers' needs before your own, to the detriment of your own health; to be constantly looking for a need that must be met, to be perpetually guarding against danger or pain. To protect one's own rigid, tightly-maintained control of every situation, every circumstance, every environment. To give up one's own happiness for that of another, and to experience feelings of sadness and rejection when the very people being protected and cared-for and loved did not make the same sacrifices, didn't appreciate what was being done for them. That's what I thought it meant to raise a family. And I wanted no part of that.
To this day, when my husband suggests I take a sweater so I don't get cold I lose my mind. When he asks me if I need anything I want to scream at him. He hovers when I don't feel well and I want nothing more than for him to go away. (After he brings me soup. And a glass of juice. And a book. And all 42 remotes for the TV. And rubs my feet and goes to the store for some ginger ale and a chocolate bar. After THAT, I totally want him to go away and leave me alone until I need him again.)
What is the opposite of co-dependent? An unhealthy approach toward the opposite extreme? Whatever that is, that's me. I am aggressively not-co-dependent. Sometimes to such a degree that I will suffer just to prove my own point.