I remember my first one-on-one therapy session that I ever attended. This counselor was recommended to me through a friend of a friend from church; apparently, many people had had great results in their recovery journeys with the help of this professional. Plus, she would give a discount to anyone who was referred to her through our religious community. So, I thought, why not?
When I first walked into her office, I was a bundle of nerves. I had no idea what to expect. There were many familiar faces there from my church group, and we exchanged semi-awkward hellos as I sat down to fill out all of those necessary forms – general information, background history, current struggles, etc. Finally, after what felt like a million years, the therapist was ready for me.
Her name was Nan, and from the minute I sat down in her big, comfy couch, I knew that we were going to have a great relationship. Nan was so soft spoken, kind, and felt like a motherly figure that I could trust. On our first day, she asked me why I was there, and I explained to her my thoughts about possibly being Codependent. After listening to me babble on for quite awhile, she said, “Ok, well I have a little checklist that might help us get a better picture of where you’re at”. She then handed me this clipboard with a dozen or so questions all regarding Codependency. In all honesty, I checked off every single one.
That list was extremely similar to the the 10 traits from Love is Choice that I posted about previously. However, there was an additional question on Nan’s check sheet that still sticks with me today. It asked, “Do you have a hard time keeping friends?” Yup, that’s me! I’ve always struggled keeping friends. My oldest non-romantic relationship dates back to my first year of high school, and we rarely talk these days. I met the person I consider to be my very best girlfriend in Kenya, which was only a few years ago. I just feel like overall, I really don’t maintain friendships well.
One day, I asked Nan about this trait and what it has to do with Codependency. In a nutshell she explained that there could be two main reasons:
1) Those of us that struggle with this fixation on another object or person lose interest in the substance at hand very quickly. We obsess over one person for awhile, pouring into him or her day and night, becoming ultimately consumed. Then, when this person doesn’t reciprocate to our standards or we cannot change them into who we want them to be (the control aspect), we abandon them and move on. Much like a drug addict continues to delve further into harder substances because the high just isn’t enough anymore, a Codependent is also looking to find their next good fix.
2) A Codependent has a main fixation (usually a romantic relationship) and everyone else becomes secondary due to the tunnel vision that develops. Thus, do to the lack of effort in maintaining those other friendships, they wither and eventually die.
Of course, the levels of need differ in everyone, and many Codependents may not struggle with this in particular. But I do. I know that maintaining relationships is extremely difficult for me due to a little mixture of both explanations. I have always had the tendency to zoom in on whoever is my current boyfriend, and I have a strong need for control. Thus, I have to make conscious efforts to keep in contact with the people I want in my life because it just simply doesn’t come easy. Sometimes, I even have to write down little reminders to send a text to those that I care about just to keep the communication lines open.
But I’m trying. I have a handful of women who I believe really love me and care about being in my life, and I know I need to make a better effort at being in theirs. So these past few weeks I have just been intentional about saying hello and sending out “how are you’s”. It’s a baby step towards my overall struggle with Codependency, but it is an important one. Every little bit counts.
How are you friendships today?
P.S. I will be discussing the rest of Chapter 3 from Love is a Choice tonight!