The Therapy is Dandy Guidebook to having a Narcissist for a Parent. Chapter 17.
An ongoing survival guide.
Do you go out of the way to try to meet other people’s needs, often to the detriment of your own? Do people marvel (yourself included) at how well you are equipped to respond to the emotional needs of others, like you have a next generation emotional radar app for your brain? Do you get frustrated in relationships, but lack the will to confront your partner, or yourself, about the communication breakdown? Might one of your parents be a narcissist?
If you answered yes to some or all of these questions (you know the drill), then you my friend may be susceptible to traits of codependency. So before this train takes off, sit down in the last seat in the last car because that, metaphorically, is what you are already doing to yourself anyway, all the time, in most of your relationships.
Never putting yourself first.
Who the hell wants to be codependent anyway?
Well, nobody actually. It tends to happen though when we are not aware of the circumstances around our initiation into that particular dysfunctional club. Meaning that we tend to form these sorts of relationship patterns in our earliest years, among our family of origin—keeping in mind inherited traits, dispositions, etc. Kind of similar to the way narcissists develop, or borderline personalities develop, or antisocial personalities. But codependency is not considered a diagnosable mental illness in 2013. It is not in the DSM IV, V or VI (Return of the Narcissist Jedi). Yet everyone agrees that codependency exists and it causes considerable emotional distress. Strange, right? Maybe it will become a diagnosis after someone discovers a medication to quell the codependency tendency. What?
Take a look at this checklist, and consider your responses. It is a pretty good checklist, in an internet full of absurd checklists.
Like narcissism, it is very human and very normal to have some of those tendencies. It doesn’t make you a mess; it makes you normal.
There is a stigma to the label though. Not that anyone feels good when their doctor tells them they have cancer, but this is a different kind of label. It suggests you are doing things not only wrong, but that you might be your own worst enemy. And there is little perceived support around that kind of an issue in our culture.
We are too full of folksy wisdom like pulling yourself up from the bootstraps, and just grinning and bearing it, or faking it till you make it, or the most banal, Just do it.
When what you do is considered suspect, what the hell happens next?
Depression. Mostly. Because needs are not getting met.
Who or what is really good at not meeting other people’s needs? Narcissists.
And there we have the relationship. Until I can commission a 3 dimensional mobile-ish construct to explain how the narcissist and the codependent person coexist, this blog will have to do.
If narcissism is Pepe Le Pew, then the codependent is this poor soul—who doesn’t even have a proper name! Thus the truth about the suffering of codependency. How can you be a victim, if you don’t even have a goddamn name?
And believe me, there is a post in the near future about how there is too much victim-y talk going on—in general everywhere—anyway, but when people are suffering and have no voice, watch out. We should not abide that.
Get off the train.
The difficulty with codependency is in the same vein as being an ACNP (adult child of a narcissistic parent—side note: I need a better acronym), you might go a very long time in your life before you realize how the dynamic is causing you so many problems. So here is the first step:
Get off the train.
Just because you are familiar with the surroundings and the passengers, doesn’t mean this is the best route for you. There are others trains. And much more agreeable passengers. Think about seeing a therapist who can help you figure out which one is right for you.