Last night I read the first chapter about how to take care of oneself in Codependent No More by Melody Beattie. It’s about the hardest thing for codependents to do: detach from whatever we’re obsessed with.
This doesn’t mean we have to go through life not caring about anything; ideally, if we detach from a person, for example, we can still love that person – love zir even better, in fact! Detachment is about loving, caring, being involved, etc. … without going crazy. Without losing ourselves in worry and anxiety. Without trying to control things we can’t. Detachment allows us to let that person or that problem or whatever be and focus on ourselves: living our own lives, feeling our own emotions, tending to our needs.
I’m in denial about my attachments.
When I was reading the chapter, I thought about why my mother needs to read this book. Fox probably should, too. I responded to the written activity at the end by venting all my anxiety about Mom being needy and clingy and controlling when I move back in with her. Somewhere there’s still the hope that if I change, she will too; my desire to change is still a desire to control her by proxy.
It’s hard to imagine how detaching from her will help the situation. In my reality, she‘s the one who’s clingy and needy and controlling and always talking about someone else and getting wrapped up – trying to get me wrapped up! – in other people’s problems. I would love to change that but this isn’t even necessarily about changing her, it’s about improving my life. I need space. I need her to detach from me. I …
I need to detach from her.
I’m the one who’s afraid to confront her about the things she does that hurt me, because I don’t want to hurt her feelings or create tension in our relationship. I’m the one who lets her go on and on about stuff, who gets wrapped up in concern and anxiety over her problems, her relationships, the people she talks about and their problems, etc. I’m the one who lets guilt control my decisions about whether to do something for her (probably “yes”). I’m the one who gets angry but lets that anger eat away at me and butt into my other relationships instead of using it to construct and enforce the boundaries I need.
Who cares whether she’s losing sleep worrying about me? I’m the one losing sleep worrying about whether she’s worrying about me! And feeling guilty. Can you get any more absurd?
Breathe, Ziya, just breathe.
But it gets even worse.
I’m attached to my laptop. I get attached to video games. I was attached to feminism for a while; it’s still very important to me but I think I can be passionate about it without getting too crazy, now.
What do I mean by this? I wake up and the first thing I reach for is my laptop. I can’t go to bed without spending some time on my laptop. I’ll be done doing whatever I needed to do and stare blankly at the screen, trying to come up with something to do because heaven forbid I should actually turn off and walk away from my laptop!
When I’m obsessed with a video game it’s all I’ll talk about. I’ll think about the story, the characters, what I want to happen next, how to make that happen, the relationships, how I want to build my character, the mechanics, the universe, etc etc etc. It occupies my thoughts, emotions, even dreams. It annoys and alienates my loved ones. It creates way too much chaos in my life. My sims’ house is perfect, right down to the strategically-placed, purely decorative stack of magazines. My real-life room is cluttered with dirty clothes, haphazardly-stacked empty boxes, random pieces of paper, and stuff I just never put away. And dust.
Don’t get me started on feminism; I’ll just say that I’ve written novels about it in comments on Facebook while my homework has gone undone. My obsession with such-in-such related topic has made me late for or even miss my women’s studies class.
I’m attached to WordPress.
I think I put a reasonable about of energy into thinking of topics for blog posts and writing the posts themselves. Maybe a bit more energy and time than is really necessary, but I hold my writing to high standards. And the results are worth it.
The attachment comes in when I spend inordinate amounts of time refreshing my stats page to see if I’ve gotten any more visitors and views, or staring at the map of diverse countries visitors are from (by the way, I think it’s awesome how many of you are from Australia). When I check to see if I have spam comments because I can’t believe no one has commented on my blog in the past 5 minutes and I’m hoping maybe the filter picked up a legit comment by mistake. When I delete a perfectly good draft because it’s bothering me that I have an unfinished post or I feel anxiety about its content. When I can’t go to bed because I’m waiting for a reply to a comment I posted, or to see if my comment “awaiting moderation” has been approved. When I’m too tired to think – much less write – but instead of going to sleep I stare at my blog worrying that I’ll lose readers if I go more than 24 hours without posting something.
It comes down to anxiety and control. I want people to see me and to like what they see (“like” as in the cognitive/emotional response, not necessarily clicking “like” on the post). I worry that they won’t. But all worrying does is interfere with my ability to live my life (and have something meaningful to post about, ironically). I can be a good blogger – a better blogger, even – and Let. It. Be.
This is going to take a lot of work.
I can relate to so much of this! I get weird obsessions about fictional characters from books, or convince myself I need to research something and blow it all out of proportion. It makes it hard to gain perspective on what is truly important. It stops me from doing other things that are important. I had never thought of those behaviours as co-dependencies. I suppose it is all related.
I really admire your honesty.
Do you live with my mother? 😉 I need to read that chapter on detachment again. If I could just stop refreshing my stats and put down my iPad.
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