Friday, February 23, 2007

co-dependents R us

there is nothing like the sting of learning something about yourself that you have routinely put on other people and have therefore successfully managed to ignore. the "c" word is not a dirty one, we are all somewhere on the continuum, simply by being human. i have stated numerous times that the field of mental health draws all kinds of wounded nutcases to pop their cognitive and psychoanalytic knuckles at, the "other" nutcases that is.

1) we all need to be needed by others, but it is generally not acceptable, or terribly effective, to assume others are helpless and therefore give yourself permission to go barreling into their personal lives and "fix" them, therefore proving the necessity of your presence. this approach can lead to some very pissed off friends and partners, or people who actually enjoy being routinely rescued from themselves.

2) no one likes a martyr. unless you're a young french woman named joan, or a man of the cloth, self sacrifice is not part of your job description. those (of us) who carry this role to include helping second cousins twice removed former college roomate's move house, while baking a pie for the dog sitter who is sick, are really more preoccupied with these behaviours being acknowledged and recognized by others than simply helping.

3) when taking responsibility for helping others problem solve or feel better is the only focus and source of identity, it leaves that individual with as much substance as the wicked witch after she has had water chucked at her.

no longer is it acceptable to whine "but i was only trying to help", a recipe for resentment and 3 course meal of anger is imminent. the struggle to stand by and watch others struggle who CAN is perhaps harder, but if you never allow yourself to practice doing something for yourself, like picking out what you want to wear (even if its rainboots and a sun dress), changing a tyre, or making a life decision, then you become known as the local statue of liberty "come all ye who are sick, wounded..." or start filling out your application to grad school to become a therapist.

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