Whenever you give it away, do too much, take on too much for another, or enable dysfunctional behavior, you unwittingly set into motion a wave that builds and cannot be stopped until you still the waters — or watch the wave crash like a tsunami.
Put a mechanical device under enormous pressure and it produces an undesirable, unintended misfire that can result in reversed energy and serious damage — something like a rubber band on an overstretched slingshot snapping and hurting the person holding the slingshot.
These are good examples of the Give Away Girl dilemma. It happens all the time. Women sacrifice their needs, wants, dreams and desires, either personally, professionally or both. Resentment builds until the point of a backlash.
Give Away Girl backlash involves an intense emotional response toward another person that’s then directed back at the self.
All that built-up pressure needs a release, and the Give Away Girl either explodes — “Crazy woman!” … “What’s her problem?” … “She’s so overemotional!” Or, she implodes — collapsing into a black hole. I call this Codependent Depressive Rage, or CDR.
If you are feeling upset, could you be in the middle of a Codependent Depressive Rage?
Remember, one of the key factors in this swell of feelings is the element of self-sacrifice, giving or tolerating endlessly, without making a change.
In a lopsided relationship (See Unequal Partnerships), CDR primarily comes in the form of a long streak of negative thinking and talking. It can be caused by not making a change, or speaking up (to the right person) about how you feel, what you need and what you want.
When the CDR is directed back at the self, it can be in the form of eating too much or too little, or drinking too much, or retreating.
In a fractured and broken relationship, there may be an extreme reaction. I can remember a friend in college lipsticking a guy’s window and spreading ketchup on the sidewalk. Ewww.
CDR isn’t limited to romantic relationships, of course.
At work, a devoted employee can go above and beyond the call of duty but learn the effort meant nothing during the decision to lay people off. Next thing you know, she’s in a terrible tailspin.
Sometimes, you can give up too much. CDR is a good wake-up call. The good news is there is learning and growth in these ordeals. If you are putting others needs in front of your own, I suggest that you imagine a worst case scenario, and then decide if your efforts are worth it. If not, scale back a little.
Cherilynn Veland is a therapist living in Chicago. Learn more about Stop Giving It Away.