Just Say No

26 Jul

I am totally excited. I recently self-diagnosed myself. As A Codependent. This past weekend I started reading a truly excellent book by Melody Beattie called “Beyond Codependency (and getter better all the time),” which, by the way, I firmly believe that the mark of a truly excellent self-help book is all in the subtitle; a self-help book without a subtitle does not even stand a chance with me. But like, mostly I started reading it ’cause I was really down and my local Barnes & Noble – we’ll call it “Self-Improvement” section – didn’t really have anything that raced my engine, and I have had this book in my possession for about a year, since a friend gave it to me (so, clearly my friend knew what was going on with me long before I did, but, one of the signposts of codependency is a lack of self-awareness, so this whole thing really only further serves to prove my point and super-validate my self-diagnosis). Anyway, I had this book nestled in the back of a shelf, and it is one of the few self-help books in my collection that I have not already read and I was – I don’t want to say desperate but you get the point – for a shot of inspiration, somehow, somewhere.

And. This is totally me! Every single thing about codependents – ME! Which, previously I mostly identified as a COD (Child-of-Divorce) but this is so much – bigger, broader, BETTER! I’ve been in therapy and worked with other such professionals and I don’t understand why no one ever pointed this out to me before (although, in their defense, if they even need a defense and if this is something that is, in fact, defensible, perhaps they just didn’t want to limit or define me, but I was an English major; I like definitions). Alas, we (me and my codenpendency), have finally come together. And. It all seems so clear now. And. Even better. In her truly excellent book, Melody Beattie talks about advanced codependents – people who know better but do it anyway (ME!), and I’m really excited that even in my neuroses, I get to excel (this, by the way, now makes me an AC-COD).

There are a couple of other cool things about being a recently-(self)-diagnosed codependent. First of all, I get to set boundaries. Historically, I have been a massive people pleaser, a “Yes Woman” if you will, which is actually a lot less sexual than it sounds. (Historically, I’ve had difficulties with my boundary – at best, it’s been more of a permeable membrane; at worst, completely absent.) Like, as an example, I used to volunteer at this organization, and then I was volunteering so much and working so little, and like, the balance was so off, that I had no money and couldn’t pay my bills and essentially got kicked out of my apartment. So I started working (for money) and had less time to volunteer, and they kept asking and asking, and finally I would be like, “No, I can’t; I don’t have time anymore because my life was in complete disarray/shambles, so now I really have to prioritize working and making an income,” (this, by the way, was complete agony for me to say) and they would get all pissy and I would feel guilty. That’s just one example, anyway. But now, I have a reason (as part of my “recovery”) to say “NO” to pretty much anything and everything. So far this week (because I am such a great student!), I have already said “No” to:
-a super-nice girl who asked me to water her plants (I am a plant-killer), and keep a spare set of keys (I already have a few people’s keys and I really can’t be some kind of Universal Key Master)
-multiple plans and arrangements that would have been inconvenient for me
-plus I did a bunch of other good, non-codependent stuff this week, too

And speaking of boundaries, I was reading the chapter entitled “Boundaries” this morning on the subway when the guy sitting next to me sprawled out spread-eagle – you know how guys do that, spread their legs and take up like two seats while you are curled up in a freakin’ ball next to them? – so he was sprawled with his arms and legs, but I was like (to myself) “I am not curling up in a ball, Mr. No-Bodily-Self-Awareness! I have a right to be here and take up an appropriate amount of space!” So you can see, this became a huge metaphor for my quest and I kept reasserting my boundaries literally, to remind spread-eagle guy, “I am woman, hear me roar!”

Ok, and the other thing I love about codependency is, it is something I can recover from. I can be in recovery. I can get better. There are steps I can take. There is a process I can follow. I am a recovering codependent. Damn, that sounds so empowered.

So, anyway, what I am mostly trying to say is, if you need something this week, don’t ask me…I am too busy establishing my boundaries, and I’m just gonna have to say, “No.”

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One Response to “Just Say No”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Trying To Be Selfish. Kind Of. « One Writeous Chick - October 3, 2010

    […] ask me for things, and because I’m codependent (recovering, though), I often say “Yes,” even if it means that doing this thing […]

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