“To walk the road of peace, sometimes we need to be ready to climb the mountain of conflict.”—Simon Foster (Tom Hollander), In The Loop (2009)
A few days ago I shared that I’m a recovering codependent spouse. Or at least I’m trying to be. Difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.
For those who may not know what that is, basically I take care of everyone, particularly Punk, but I don’t take care of myself. I think about what others would like so much that I don’t even know any more what I like. I consider their opinions to the point I have none of my own. I have literally ordered food in a restaurant for the entire family and forgotten to order something for myself.
That’s the gist. For an extended version, there’s a looong list of characteristics listed at this page from the Wellness Directory of Minnesota, nicely summarized from the definitive work on the subject: Melody Beattie‘s book Codependent No More.
Shivering under the black cloud of codependency is a dismal way to live, but the silver lining is we can use our knowledge of it to generate a scene or two for our novels!
Then she gets mad. She’s angry about how she’s done everything for him, and he doesn’t care. He’s ungrateful. He doesn’t respect or appreciate or necessarily even notice any of it. She’s had enough. As Beattie says, she “rips off [her] halo and grabs [her] pitchfork.” She becomes the perpetrator. She hates her partner’s inability to do for himself (which is really just a lie she’s made up in order to feel needed) and she wants to punish him. She belittles, yells, and torments him.
Until he retaliates. Then she assumes her favorite position on the bottom of the triangle– the victim. The martyr. ‘Oh poor me, after all I’ve done for him, this is how he repays me. Nobody loves me. Everyone walks all over me. I may as well eat worms and die.’
This can happen repeatedly in smaller ways as a matter of course in a relationship. Or it can build up over months or years until the people-pleasing Doormat finally explodes.
Here are the questions I’m exploring for my book today:
- Do I have a codependent character?
- With whom does he have this kind of relationship– spouse, children, friends, neighbor, coworker, boss?
- What does he rescue him or her from?
- What’s the motivating factor? (What is he afraid of? What does he get out of it?)
- Was the character an actual victim in the past? Why does he view himself as a victim? Is he perpetuating or participating in his own victimization now?
- What’s the breaking point? When does he say, enough’s enough?
- When, where, and how does the character finally blow his top?
- Does the relationship change? Does it end?
- Is it possible to have a codependent main character?
- If so, doesn’t he have to change? What must change? How?
I love Daily Prompts.