Who in My Life Do I Consider Codependent?

This question came up in the recovery program I am doing. It’s one question in a whole list that I am working my way through and I found myself answering this one in so much more depth than I had expected so I am sharing here.

-Mr. B:  He puts up with my shit. But I’m not sure it’s because he cares about what I think. I don’t know, maybe it’s just fear of what more I’ll do if he speaks up for himself. Thing is if he actually spoke up and told me to knock it off because he’s not gonna take it anymore, I would stop, or at least, catch myself each time he spoke up while it was happening. I know I would also think twice about my tone of voice before I got started on something that pissed me off.

This sounds like I blame him for my actions or actually for not stopping. I don’t. I do not. In fact, although I haven’t mastered it yet, I am doing better at thinking before I react. And when I do react, I spend more time thinking about what I can do different next time. I do notice also that my behavior is different depending on my so called mood, which is really what’s going on in my brain. So if I can feel that I’m angry and agitated anyway, like how coffee can sometimes make me feel, I am more likely to be less tolerant of everything and everyone. If my brain is calm, then my behavior reflects that.

The way my brain functions depends a lot what is going into my body. I am now beginning to take control of that. It is important to me to heal, but it is equally important to me that I treat those that care for me with dignity and respect. It’s easier to treat them that way when I feel better about myself but I tend to get caught up in a cycle because the more I treat people with disrespect, the more I can’t stand myself.  And I take my feelings about myself out on others.

-I don’t really have anyone else in my life actively right now. But I can see codependency in my brother, even though he has bullied me and raged at me in adulthood. He feels the need to always be with someone ‘romantically.’ He obviously will not take time to be alone.

My mom:
-My sister would call my mother to bitch about how awful I am because I wouldn’t do what sister wanted. So mom would come to her rescue, take her side and call me to manipulate me into doing what sister wanted.

-She stayed with my father while he took advantage of everything she did. All the housework, grocery shopping, etc. When we were younger, my mom took my paternal grandmother grocery shopping each week with her. I loved this when I could tag along.  But now I wonder if my mother was doing it to appease and just not rock the boat.  My father never really did any cleaning, cooking, shopping, laundry, etc. Not even the dishes once in a while.  It was all on my mom and she never said anything.

-I remember when my brother was going to California and my mom was packing his fucking suitcase. I forget what exactly my mother said at one point,  but my brother apparently didn’t like whatever it was and got flaming pissed off. I had been sitting right there in the living room on the couch. My brother shouted at my mother, “Shut up and keep packing my suitcase!

I remember feeling so pissed off at my brother for treating our mother like that. But also afraid to say anything to him, fearing brother’s raging backlash. I told my mother after my brother walked away that I couldn’t believe she was still packing his shit after he talked to her like that. She just shrugged. I felt really sorry for her in that moment.

My father was not around, otherwise my brother would have never gotten away with that shit. This happened back in the 90s, so my father was still young and strong enough to have spoken up  and would not have had a single problem with letting my brother know who’s boss. In fact if my father had been in the room, I have a tough time believing my brother would’ve even spoken to her like that.

My father was shitty in a lot of ways, including abusive. But one thing he did not tolerate was us kids disrespecting our mother.

I mention my father “still being strong” because during the weeks leading up to his death in 2013, he was so weak, not only physically but emotionally and mentally too. He had become more codependent himself, more than ever and he wasn’t sticking up for anyone, including himself. He feared both my siblings by then. It was so sad. I felt sorry for him in that regard.

Pathetic and alarming as well to think about the difference from when young to old. When my brother was in middle school, one day my brother was insisting he wasn’t going to school on a particular day. So he locked horns with my father. My father wasn’t having that nonsense. “If you’re not sick, you go to school.”

My father raged that morning and grabbed my brother by the throat and pushed him up against the wall in my brother’s bedroom and seethed, “You are going to school.”

I wasn’t there for that. I was in high school and long gone that morning. It was my sister who originally told me the story and I later heard it from my brother as well. I now see how threatening this likely felt to my sister, witnessing it as well as to me, hearing about it.

I am not condoning this behavior or suggesting it was healthy or OK in any way. It would not have been the way he could’ve even dealt with my brother that day my mother packed my brother’s suitcase, because my brother was a full grown adult at that point. And I think it would’ve been physically impossible. But I do know he would’ve stepped in for my mother.

But in the weeks leading up to his death, my father was a shrunken man, although he was still rather big and tall in physical size in some ways. That happened later, even though while in hospice and still coherent enough to need to use the bathroom, the nurses there needed two of them to walk him there. And even that was a dangerous struggle. Emotionally though, he was very afraid of my siblings. Very frail.

At one point, while still at home, he became upset that my sister would go over to his apartment and allow her young sons to run around and also let them touch and play with whatever they wanted to, without asking.

They are boys, so at that young age, they weren’t exactly the gentlest of souls with material items. My father was afraid to set that boundary.  He was afraid to let her know he didn’t want them doing that and he apparently wasn’t willing to speak up to the kids either.

He also just simply didn’t want my sister to bring the boys over anymore, because his tolerance for their loud play became non-existent as well. I told him to talk to her about it after he told me about it, but I could see how worried he was about such a prospect.

Soon after that conversation with him, I mentioned it to my brother and also mentioned that he didn’t want to tell our sister. Next time I spoke to my brother, he mentioned he’d talked to our sister and it was settled. She wasn’t angry or irritated at all. In fact, I’m sure she was relieved. After that she had the perfect excuse not to be available to help out as much.

It got her off the hook of being obligated to be there. It was the perfect excuse for her not to ‘be able’ to go there on any given day. So it turns out he had nothing to worry about after all.