Do you have co-dependent traits?
The complexities of codependency, interdependence, & independence + book giveaway
This week, I am exploring how to find the balance between codependence and independence. AND Liz from BIG Feelings is going to be on this week - she is feeling better and ready to chat. Comment in the chat if you want to win her book - we will be giving away 4 copies at the end of this week! (I dont think this post will let you leave comments if you are not a paying subscriber - but if you comment on the video post on Friday I will also know you are interested in getting one of the copies)
This week, I want to talk about the nebulous area between independence, interdependence, and codependence. How do we find the balance between wanting to be independent and (perhaps this is only me) the natural pull to be co-dependent?
That balance is what I think people are talking about when they say interdependence…
The value Americans place on independence is interesting. We believe in and are very proud of being self-reliant even though being truly self-reliant is not possible. Take for example, dentists. You need a dentist in your life. Can you really be truly self-reliant and see a dentist?
In our minds, we imagine ourselves to be able to take care of ourselves: We leave home at eighteen and we want others to be self-reliant, too. Perhaps we value this to absolve our guilt from looking down on people who need our help when we don’t want to give it. We blame them. They are not self-reliant like us. If only they were strong, like us.
But I don’t know ANYONE who survives on their own. Do you?
My uncle is the only one who comes close—he lives in the north woods of Minnesota —on his own. He built his own house and he hunts for food. But also buys milk and canned food from the store. Even he is dependent on other supplies (and thus other people to make those supplies). This example is extreme, I think, for most people. I have no idea if his emotional needs are being met. I just know that he is still living, so his basic needs for food and shelter are being met. BTW collective cultures tend to see accomplishments as a reflection of an entire family or community, which seems to reflect more accurately my understanding of reality.
But what about emotional independence?
I think that we all agree we need other people for emotional support. Maybe you agree with the statement that we need more than one person to feel supported emotionally. I grew up on the fairytale notion of one person to meet all of your needs. One person in whose arms I could find friendship, care, and love—all in one neat package.
I will laugh if as I age and have been with Josh longer and longer, if, in the end, I will have found within him this fanciful version of a relationship. I am very skeptical of this happening, but I want to be open to it nevertheless. Rewriting the fairytale from the idea that a romance ends at an engagement to ending at 90—a point where I imagine we will no longer be two separable beings.
It’s not that I believe it can’t exist, I just find that it puts way too much pressure on the relationship and seems unreasonable to ask anyone to be someone else’s everyone.
But I have been asking for unreasonable things. Here is a list of my codependent requests on my partner:
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