Fay always reached out to help others. When she met Eddie, in her heart she knew she should not get involved with him. He was timid, shy, reserved. He needed a good friend. When he unexpected declared his love for her, well, he swept her off her feet! They enjoyed each other's company. He didn't behave ungentlemanly. When he proposed, she made a snap decision and said, "Yes."
What Fay didn't expect was a downturn in the economy that hit Eddie like a brick wall. He couldn't cope with unemployment and under-employment and turned into someone she didn't know any more. He was hurting so much she thought he needed someone to lighten his burdens for just a little while until he got back on his feet, regained his bearings and they could be happy again.
Those things never happened. A lot of people, especially women, thought he was a sweetheart. They didn't see him in action at home. Fay found herself trying to keep the household going alone. Eddie went to work only because Fay insisted he had to. At home he was emotionally vacant, uninvolved. Fay realized he took up space like a table, a chair, a plate. She didn't know what to do about any of it.
Fay tried to talk to Eddie. She tried to convince him they had floated too long. They needed a plan. Here's where they were. Where did they want to go? How were they going to get from Point A to Point B? She put it as simply as she could. He said nothing. Did he comprehend what she was talking about or not? She decided to stop taking care of everything, like he had, hoping he would care enough to react. Nothing. Then she heard the term: Codependency.
"If you find yourself romantically inclined toward an addict or someone in recovery, before taking the plunge, take a step back to really consider things," advises Morningside Recovery, an agency in California. "For instance, if you believe addiction is a weakness of character or you're looking for something casual, or you think you can fix your partner with love, don't get involved."
Fay remembered telling her best friend she didn't want to be involved with Eddie. He wasn't an addict but he had some emotional baggage which she wouldn't know about for many years. Love does not conquer all, and there was that word: Codependency, also known as "relationship addiction." This is a one-sided, emotionally destructive relationship, often abusive, as well. It is learned from parents or other family members.
Fay thought about her parents and their relationship. Mom had done everything she could to fix everything but Dad had been so uninvolved with the family, rarely at home.
Codependents are partners in a dysfunctional family, although originally it was partners of addicts. A dysfunctional family is one in which someone(s) feel anger, fear, pain or shame that is ignored or denied. There may be other underlying problems as well, says Mental Health of America (online.)
Fay urged Eddie to go to counseling with her.
"There's nothing wrong with me," he said.
She realized, too, that she had become a survivor, hiding her feelings, her needs, her self, mostly because she'd been raised to believe it was sinful to be selfish enough to think of what she needed before others in her life were taken care of.
- Learn to deny, ignore, avoid difficult emotions
- Detach themselves, don't talk, don't touch, don't feel, don't trust and don't confront
- Identity and emotional development are inhibited
- Attention and energy are focused on the needy one who is uninvolved in the relationship
- Sacrifices self and needs for the one who is sick or addicted
- Has low self-esteem
- Looks for things outside of self to make them feel good
- May become addicted to substances
- May develop compulsive behaviors: workaholism, gambling, indiscriminate sexual activity and martyrdom.
- What did you learn from your family?
- What are you teaching your children and younger members in your family?
- Who are you, and why are you here?
Family Recovery Center promotes the well being of individuals, families and communities with education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related mental health issues. For more information about FRC's services, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468 or e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.