Psych Central

Where do I end and you begin?

You could be a stranger and I would not know. Your problems are mine. Your consequences are my challenges. “I will take care of that.”  ”You don’t have to worry about it.” ” Lemme see what I can do.”

This is my codependency. It is masked in selflessness and martyrdom. “Go ahead. I didn’t want it anyway.” “Oh, you shouldn’t have.” “I would never think of…”

I will offer advice and directions when you don’t want it. I will push and pull you at the same time. I am like a tick – I will dig my fingernails into your psyche and suck out your free will. No matter what you do to me, you cannot get rid of me. I will mask all my demands in good intentions. I will take care of all your needs — even the ones you do not know you have — and you will feel guilty. I will mirror your feelings.

Nothing I do will ever be good enough. You will embarrass me if you praise me. I will resent you if you don’t let me help. I will never ask ask for anything and I will lavish gifts and favors on you. “Let’s do what you want to do.” “Why don’t we go to your favorite restaurant?” “That’s okay. I know you didn’t mean it.”

Someday I’m gonna make some man a wonderful doormat.

I had heard about codependency. It sounded like psycho-babble. Then, on April 27, 2006, I fell into the darkest hole I could have imagined. To get out I needed medicine and a new way of living. Not just eating better and getting more exercise. I needed a new paradigm. I needed to be willing to accept that my good deeds were often bad. My right was wrong. Your free-will was not mine. And God forbid – I deserved more.

I went to co-dependency camp at a treatment center. The cost was about $3,000 (including airfare) and I had never spent that much money on myself. I cringed with guilt. I was scared. It was excruciating but thrilling work. It was as if the clouds had parted and I could see what a complete #$%&@^ I had been. I could also see that I deserved more – like those red, patent-leather, pointy-toed stilettos at Nordstrom and maybe even a manicure! Wow.

Three years later I am still working on my codependency. I will never stop. But today I recognize my codependency. I stop those old behaviors before they get out of hand. I ask my friends to help me. I keep the red, patent-leather, pointy-toed stilettos in a box on a shelf in my closet. Sometimes I wear them for no reason at all. I deserve it.


    Last reviewed: 17 Apr 2009

APA Reference
Stapleton, C. (2009). Codependency: I am She as You are He as You are Me and We are All Together. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 17, 2014, from


Hoping for a Happy Ending
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Hope for a Happy Ending: A Journalist's
Story of Depression, Bipolar and Alcoholism
Christine Stapleton

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