An Open Letter to Codependency

Dear Codependency,

I learned about you this weekend.

I’ve heard your name whispered before – in passive aggressive comments by people who like to psychoanalyze others and in misunderstood people who misdiagnose themselves.

I’ve tried to look you up in the past. Every time I thought getting to know you could benefit me in some way, I turned to google to try and track you down. But there are lots of other diagnoses parading around as you, did you know that? You get confused as dependence pretty often, which is understandable since you’re both so similar. But you really are your very own force that I was not prepared to reckon with.

You’ve caused a lot of drama in my life, were you aware? I may not have known who you were but you have been a silent stalker following me around all these years. You’ve been the third wheel, the unwanted guest, in all of my relationships. You were so loud and so powerful yet so invisible to me, until now.

Here’s what I have learned about you, codependency:

You are the disease of the lost self.

You are defined as “excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner who requires support due to an illness or addiction.” Except in my relationships, the illnesses of my partners were lack of motivation and drive, lack of maturity, and emotional and financial instability. And their addiction was to me.

You saw in me low self-worth and low self-esteem and fed on my need to find worthiness in taking care of others. You knew that I would put myself last in order to put everyone else first. You knew that taking care of others would give me purpose and only make your presence in my life stronger. You knew I would define these nurturing feelings for others as love.

Here are some ways you have shown up in my life, codependency:

You’ve taken me on whirlwind, intense and unstable romantic rides. You’ve shown me people who were broken, hurting and completely incapable of giving me anything and all I saw were cartoon hearts popping out of my eyeballs. You knew I would stay with them no matter what because I was ‘helping‘ them. They couldn’t exist without me, they’d be lost without me. Instead of a partner you brought an extra full-time job except instead of getting paid, I spent endless amounts of money and time on these people.

You preyed on my perfectionism by forcing me to change myself in order to fit the mold of the person I was dating. You’ve convinced me to change my hair, clothes, job, body, location, religion and very being all in the name of love.

You’ve made me extremely controlling of every single thing I could possibly control. What they ate, when they went to sleep, what they did, who they saw, what they liked – I needed to fix them, remember? They didn’t know anything before me.

You made me an enemy of my own self. I became so much more concerned with making others happy that I was willing to spend my life in an unfulfilling relationship. Whatever they wanted was more important than what I wanted. You knew I’d feel guilty for standing up for myself and you know how much I can’t stand to make others uncomfortable – so I lived in a perpetual state of boredom, anxiety and loneliness.

Here is what I want to say to you now, codependency:

I’m really glad we have been formally introduced.

If I hadn’t taken the time to look you up and get acquainted, you would have continued to follow me like the evil ghost of relationships past. I had to meet you and really get to know you so I could keep an eye out for you.

You are no longer silent to me. You are no longer invisible. You have been revealed in all of your toxic, unhealthy, inappropriate glory. And I am so grateful for it.

For now, codependency, just know that I see you. I know what you’re up to. We will be having many more conversations in the future. But for now I’m content in knowing you exist and in knowing I have the power and control to determine the role you will play in my life. Game on.

“Codependence isn’t about actual altruism, it’s about being lost in the fallacy that you need to protect everyone from reality and uncomfortable feelings.”

-Whitney Cummings, “I’m Fine…And Other Lies” 


Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

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