i am codependent
i have a sickness in me
that comes out
in all my relating
but most intensely
in my romantic relations

and if you know me
and we have hung out in person
more than a few times
you have probably heard me joke
about this
but it isn’t funny
it’s an emotional and behavioral condition
that functions like an addiction in me

an addiction that is exacerbated
by certain behaviors
behaviors that are often
the key characteristics of a person
who would be drawn to being with
someone codependent

and to be clear
i am acknowledging this was already in me
before this most disastrous decade of
disturbing relational deceits
i was already codependent
have been for a couple decades maybe
i just didn’t know
what that meant really
and now i am finally coming
to terms with the fact
that i am so codependent
i thought that it was what loving was
the giving of myself as i did so relentlessly
i couldn’t actually see it and it’s severity
because it made its way through everything

it was the air i breathed

and so it took things getting so extreme
me becoming so desperate
to get the approval
of someone who didn’t approve of me
someone who once seemed to love me
to have me see
that i wasn’t romantic
it was self destructive
so deeply self loathing
to stay
and keep giving
more and more
of myself away

but I was convinced like an addict
needing just one more hit
that all i needed
was for him to approve of me
as he did back then
i just needed that, please,
so much so did i think i needed it
that i sacrificed my wellbeing
of all kinds
mental, emotional, physical…
disappearing from friendships
compromising financially
handing over what was left of my dignity,
while trying everything i could
to be better, do better, make better

and while yes
you may have heard me discuss this before
from my heart hurling twenties
this time fractured me
because well it was the worst
yes this time it wrecked me
because this time
i was obsessed with getting back to a place
i am now pretty sure was never real
fabricated intentionally
described delusionally
or maybe just made of possibilities naively believed
maybe i’ll probably never know
but i do know
i never made it back there
not once, not once since the first time
i was there
i thought i was there
at least it seemed like i saw it, right?

and so like someone crawling weak
to reach a mirage in the desert
i almost died of dehydration
trying to get a drink from a spring
that only existed behind my eyes
in my most desperate place
of needing to know i was loved and safe

and we could discuss for days
all the behaviors that contributed
to this, all the hot and cold
and freezing and warm and sweet
and unkind seemly kind
crazy making happenings
sure, we’ll do that someday

but first I just wanted to share
what has actually been most useful for me lately
a person who has always disliked labels
and resisted much of our cultural pathologizing
what has been so incredibly helpful
is to really understand this word
a word that so explains
so much of my experience
so much of what it is like
to be me in relating
so much of why i do
the severe and stunningly self destructive
things I keep choosing to do
it has been really quite constructive
to admit, really own and acknowledge
that i have extreme
extreme codependent
enabling patterns

and that
there are specific ways
those run me
and that there are specific ways
i can actually work with it
so i can learn to be okay
if he or she or they are not
so I can love myself
even if he or she or they do not

yes so maybe
i can actually
be loving
in a way
that doesn’t
harm me

so someday
if i open
my heart again
i can love
in a way that doesn’t
destroy me

❤️ emily joy rosen

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