On the backside of Christmas, he joined me at my CoDA meeting.
Initially, I had doubts he’d be home early enough: “You never know when something can come up,” he cautioned me.
But he was.
He was cordial to group members, listened intently to others’ share their experiences, responded appropriately, and supportively rubbed my neck and shoulder.
And then it was my turn to share. For the first time ever.
When he agreed to come, he was concerned that I’d throw him under the bus. That I’d spotlight his narcissistic behaviors, or blame all of my “doing crazy” on him.
“Perhaps you could talk me up, say some nice things,” he suggested. I couldn’t tell if his suggestion was a joke or a genuine request.
“This is going to have to be the most selfless thing you do,” I told him. “It’s not about you, or your image, you’re just going there to support me.”
And to my surprise, he did.
Earlier that day, my counselor suggested that if he was the project I’ve chosen to take on, it might be helpful to consider his patterns from his perspective. Clearly, he has triggers. And one of them is a woman displaying emotion, specifically crying.
On Christmas, the lack of contact from my family got too much to bear. By the time I needed to prepare dinner, I found myself quietly crying over the cornish game hens and softly uttering, “I’m not a bad person.”
The next thing I knew, he was gone. Not just into the next room, or upstairs, but gone–he’d taken off on an unannounced walk. He had to get away, he said, concerned that my tears were a way to manipulate him, trap him, cause a scene.
He returned when I told him I needed him. And the evening went on.
With my focus on a change of perspective–specifically, considering his–I had an a-ha moment as one of our members read the compliance behaviors of codependency.
Oh, I thought, I really am not fun.
At some point in our relationship, I became the “not fun” one. The one who carried a scowl, lost her temper, was passive aggressive, and became impossible to take out. I remember how every time he told me that I was “not fun” felt like a slap to the face.
Wasn’t I a fun person? How can you call me “not fun” for simply having a bad moment, a bad day? It seemed cruel and unfair.
Listening to the compliance behaviors last night made me realize that he was right. And he was right because I was so concerned about avoiding rejection, abandonment, or causing him upset that I agreed to everything. I never made a decision about where to eat or what to do, and if I did, I largely guided my ‘choice’ based on what I thought he’d find most enjoyable.
But I’m not an actress. I wear my emotions on my face. Truly, I can conceal nothing. And even when I thought I was hiding my discontent, my insecurities, my resentment, they were all showing through. In scowls. In lack of eye contact. In defensive body language. In sitting out. In aggressive driving. In a myriad of ways. And he saw it. And others saw it.
As I shared this to my fellow CoDA members, they enthusiastically nodded their heads. They could relate. To everything.
And then, in a stream of verbalized thoughts and memories, I openly realized that no one wants a relationship with an echo. They want someone with diverse interests and opinions. They want a ‘someone’–a unique person who knows who they are and what they like and isn’t afraid to verbalize that. Because that’s what keeps life interesting.
I had become ‘unfun’. I had become boring.
We went to dinner after and had one of the best conversations we had had in a long time. And not a single word was said about CoDA. And while we ordered the same entree, I ordered a side of guacamole without hesitation or asking permission.
Because it’s something I enjoy.