Continuing our popular stories on real codependents, today we meet A who has been involved with an alcoholic for two years. R, her partner has been in recovery for a year but the relationship is rocky as he goes through the steps needed to be sober and become a contributing member of society, a responsible adult and a faithful partner. A is reflecting on their time together and how her strong codependent issues have turned to an apathy about the relationship and possible counterdependence. Her is her story in her own words:
“I met R on a night out with work colleagues. He was smart, intelligent and there was an instant attraction on both sides. He seemed to be a gentlemen too, walking me home without the expectation of coming inside, texting every day just to say hello and check in. I fell fairly hard for this charismatic person who seemed to tick all the right boxes. He was very attentive for the first three months and I wanted for nothing in terms of affection. The relationship turned physical after two months and I was happy for it to do so. It seemed natural. The sex was great and after three or four bad experiences with men, I firmly believed I had found the man I could live the rest of my life with. Then one day, it changed. No contact for one day, two days and then a week.
After calling him constantly, I went over to his house and let myself in with the key he had given me and found him asleep on the couch, disheveled and looking like he hadn’t showered for a week. Around him were beer cans and whisky bottles and it was obvious he had been drinking all week. I was shocked and didn’t know what to do. He woke up in a bad mood and started shouting and cussing and telling me to leave him alone. I decided to stay and cleaned up his room, made him something to eat and helped him clean himself up. I told him he was coming to live with me and we would sort out his issues together.
It started a nightmare scenario for me that brought out the worst of my codependent issues. As the weeks went on, I sacrificed my own time and ambition to help him. To keep him out of the bars, I made sure that there was always a six pack in the fridge so he could drink at home, which he did. He was always drunk, lost his job for continually turning up late and spent time drinking late into the night. All the time, I was mopping up after him. I tried to ask him why he had spiraled and he said he was depressed. Later, I found out that his ex-wife had rejected his reconciliation advances and he went to drink to compensate. I told him clearly to get help or leave. He went into rehab a week later. Some months went by and there was scant contact. Then suddenly, he called me and asked if we could meet and talk about us. He said that he wanted us to stay together and be a proper couple. I said I wanted the same but deep down, I knew I didn’t but I couldn’t say so. Over the next few months, I became more and more distant and he was up and down about the relationship, ending it at least twice and then saying he didn’t mean it. He was clearly unstable on his road to recovery and I was unsure. He is now towards the end of his program and hoping to rekindle our relationship. I feel my codependency pulling me in that direction but I know it would be better to leave”.
A is very much moving along the codependency continuum from codependency to counterdependency. She is scared of committing to someone who has been known to be violent when drunk and she is worried that he has not fully recovered. Instead of discussing this with him or making a decision, she is avoiding and distancing. She is also avoiding the feelings that she has about the relationship. The chances are that he will appear once again as he did at the start of the relationship and she would lose herself again in the relationship.
Update: A left R after he relapsed and struck her hard enough to draw blood. She is now working hard on her codependent issues and trying to lead an independent life.
Dr. Nicholas Jenner, a therapist, coach, and speaker, has over 20 years of experience in the field of therapy and coaching. His specialty lies in treating codependency, a condition that is often characterized by a compulsive dependence on a partner, friend, or family member for emotional or psychological sustenance. Dr. Jenner’s approach to treating codependency involves using Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy, a treatment method that has gained widespread popularity in recent years. He identifies the underlying causes of codependent behavior by exploring his patients’ internal “parts,” or their different emotional states, to develop strategies to break free from it. Dr. Jenner has authored numerous works on the topic and offers online therapy services to assist individuals in developing healthy relationships and achieving emotional independence.