You’ve May Have Been Set Up!

                                If you’ve been labeled as a “co-dependent”, you may have been set up.

What???  Set-up???  You’ve got to be kidding, right chely???

But I’m not.  I’ve basically been groomed my entire life for this role.  The role of giving too much and losing myself in the process.  I didn’t know it or understand it.  However it is now glaringly apparent to me.  It was a set-up of sorts.

I am in my early 50’s, considered the tail end of the baby boomers generation.  Growing up in the 60’s was during a time of a lot of change in society.  Music, free love, hippies and drugs, demonstrating against war,and women gaining independence for themselves.  We thought we were going to change the world and the people in it with our openness and freedom of expression.  But there were few role models to look to for guidance.  TV was still filled with programs about “traditional” marriages and families.  Mom’s took care of the house and Dad went to work.

Only my life wasn’t like that. My parents divorced when I was five (after the second time my Mother became pregnant from an affair- I didn’t know that at the time).  So it was just me, Mom, and my two little sisters in our home.  Saw Dad every other weekend until mid-teens.  When I looked around at others, most of them still lived in traditional family settings.  There were not a lot of others (that I could see) in a single parent household.

I realized my life was different but not in a bad way.  And my Mom had a decent job and took pretty good care of us.  I was proud of her, looked up to her. Wanted to be her.  She was making it work for us.  But being the oldest, I was looked to,  “to help”  with my siblings and a lot of the other responsibilities because my Mom was working.  She never was able to attend anything that had to do with school or after school activities. So my Gramma did a lot.  But I cooked, I cleaned, did laundry and took care of my sisters.  Sometimes too much-  I was required to give up doing some of the things I would have liked to participate in because I had to help out.  It didn’t seem wrong to put so much responsibility on a young person, and I was proud of myself for doing it and thought I did a pretty good job.

As a single woman, my Mom loved to go dancing.  Just about every Fri or Sat night she would head out to dance.  I would sit in the bathroom with her as she dressed, put her make-up on and chat .  Sometimes I wished she would just stay home with us.  She always was at work and tired when she came home.  Sometimes didn’t have enough patience with us.  I in many ways wished I had a traditional family, like most of the other kids.  But my parents were divorced.

I had always wished I could  go with her dancing, couldn’t wait to be old enough to do that.  I was happy that she was happy.  I missed her but it was okay because she was happy and still spent quality time with us girls.  (Gramma lived with us and was there for us when Mom was gone).

Then she would meet some guy at the bar, and if she liked him, bring him home.  I never knew if Mom’s bedroom door would be closed when I got up on weekends.  They weren’t like one night stands. Generally they would begin to live with us. Our home life would change.  Now everything seemed to revolve around these guys.  We had to watch what they wanted on TV.  Had to change what we had for dinner because he wanted something different. We did different stuff on the weekends because he liked to do that.

Most of my Mom’s attention now went to him.  She didn’t really neglect us,  just focused on his needs as her main priority. And I was old enough to know what was going on behind the closed-door.  Maybe all of this wouldn’t have been so bad if they were nice guys, or good-looking or good to my Mom. (Mom was very attractive). But they weren’t.  They were users for the most part.  And Mom was different when ever one of them was around.  But then they would eventually break-up and life would go back to normal for us.

On the weekends she would go dancing again.  Until the next one.  I don’t want to make my Mom sound like a slut at all.  There were probably only four maybe five “boyfriends” growing up and it was the time of sexual freedom for women so how could that be wrong-right?

But one morning, after L had moved in, Mom came down stairs and she had a black eye.  I heard them arguing the previous night.  But a black eye, that was not cool.  But I was young what was I supposed to say?  A few weeks went by and then one evening they were arguing right in front of us.  It was escalating, and then I watched in horror as her punched her in the face.  I freaked out, went screaming at him and jumped on his back attacking him.  No way was I gonna stand there and watch him do that.  It was quite the scene.

He was there about a week more after that. Then one afternoon, tells us girls that he is moving out and did we want to help him?  You never saw three girls move so fast, finding boxes throwing his stuff in and dumping it into his car.  We wanted him out of our life.

I knew I would NEVER accept any physical abuse in a relationship, ever.  But no one ever told me that you could be abused with words too.  That never occurred to me really, until way after I married my husband.

So my role model of how to have a relationship was shaped by what I saw.  When you’re in love with someone you focus on their needs and give of yourself to make them happy.  That’s how it worked. Whether a lover or family member, you give up,  you and do for the greater good.  I didn’t realize at the time how much I had given up so my Mom could be happy.   She seemed happiest when she had a boyfriend. The message I was learning was if you loved them,  you change things to suit them, move in together (usually after only one date or two) put aside your needs for them and had lots of sex.

I never realized how this would impact me and my relationships for the rest of my life.   My brain told me, that to have romantic love is to give yourself away to another completely.  Sacrifice for them, show them how much you love them. Do the things they like to do, cook the food that they like.  Have sex with them, often.

I was being taught to be co-dependent.  I didn’t know it was wrong. Mom didn’t either.   So I followed in her foot steps when I began to go out with guys.  If they liked me and showed me attention I would give them my all (including sex, not old enough to live together yet ) make my focus them.  I would stop seeing my friends or doing other things I liked very much.  It was all about them.  They would eventually break up with me and move on.  I would be devastated (like my Mom) then keep my eyes open for the next one.

I had no idea that this would someday be labeled as dysfunctional.  It is called co-dependency.  It is considered not a positive trait and actually seen as somewhat of a mental illness.  Isn’t that special?  To find out, now that I’m in my 50’s, everything I learned growing up about relationships is wrong.  This is what has led me to where I am now. Ugh!   This could have been one of the catalysts that contributed to my husband having an affair.  I gave too much!!  Never considered my  own needs.

I give my all to him (career, friendships, literally my whole personality was sucked away), He has an affair,  but it’s my fault because I’m co-dependent?  According to psychology experts,  I’m the one who has the problem, never mind that my spouse encouraged this all along.   Never mind that my husband has definite narcissistic tendencies, and has no empathy.  That’s okay with society.  Because I’m the one with who is screwed up.

That is so fucked up!!

All I ever wanted to be was a good girl, loved by all.   I always tried to please others.  I was taught to be helpful,giving,  kind and a hard worker and you will be loved. In my opinion, the world has forgotten about the golden rule of do unto others….

So if through this journey out of infidelity you’ve been called co-dependent and treated like there’s something wrong with you.  I say BULLSHIT!!  It is not our fault that we’ve been groomed growing up.  Basically set-up because they NOW have changed how this game of life is done. A lot people today don’t give a shit about others.  It’s all about them and their needs. And what they can gain from you, without reciprocating.

I should have been selfish and self-centered growing up I would have been fine.

Thanks MOM!!!


5 thoughts on “You’ve May Have Been Set Up!

  1. betternotbroken says:

    Yep. Codependency is taught and society, not only your mother pressures women into the role. You can unlearn the behavior! You can break the cycle making one person mad at a time! You go girl! It was not your fault.


  2. Kisha says:

    it is not your fault. When we are codependent, people can see it and take advantage. Your husband made a choice that had nothung to do with you. But you can make positive choices for yourself. You are in my prayers.


    • chely5150 says:

      I much prefer the term sensitive, caring and loving individual to co-dependent. Who was swept away by a narcissistic husband. I cannot say that he chose me because of my traits (as we met through my sis & BIL-one of his best friends)possibly. But I still can’t accept that by being sensitive I brought on the abuse. I may have been accepting of things I should not of allowed, but believe you me I did not take it lying down. Fought him tooth and nails because I knew it was wrong. Standing up to may have played into it but I never accepted it. Knowing what I now know I would defintely handled him differently. My point by post was to acknowledge how my upbringing may have made me more vulnerable, but I don’t see how being sensitive and caring person makes it okay to call me co-dependent. It is a derogetory term that needs to stopped being used in the wrong context. I am an abuse survivor. Nothing more nothing less. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment -I encourage opinions from others evennif they may be different than mine.


  3. You know, I’ve been off here for a long time, and I spent the time doing some healing and some praying and some reading. The one book that my counsellor had recommended me to read was about the very topic you just described. I resisted reading the book, but only because I hated the word…”co-dependant”, it was a dirty word, and just as you described…made me feel like there was something wrong with ME!
    But within the past few weeks I began noticing some things…such as, 1) Why did drama seem to follow me? It was like I was a magnet for it, even though I wasn’t wanting it or seeking it out. 2) I felt like no one liked me, and I was always having to prove myself to others that I was good enough or that I was loveable. 3) I was dealing AGAIN with my mother’s mental illness, and for the umpteenth time, she is not speaking to any of her children and it is “our fault”. It made me CRAZY, and I was crying again. Not only did I feel like everyone in my life was rejecting me, but my own husband had as well. This was controlling my life! But my counsellor told me that some of my behavioural traits mimicked that of children who had been raised by alcoholics and she had given me the book “Co-Dependant No More” to read. I resisted reading it for almost 6 months. But the past few weeks, I decided to read it.
    Within the introduction I was bawling like a baby. The hard truths about myself were jumping out at me from the page.

    I know it feels like something is wrong with us…but that’s not true. We didn’t create our life circumstances, but in order to survive we developed behavioural patterns that were designed to protect us, and in the long run, they have simply caused more hurt. I believe that’s why women marry alcoholics or abusers after being raised by them, because their behavioural patterns are generally care-givers and abusers are drawn to people like that.

    There isn’t anything wrong with us, and it wasn’t our fault, but YES we do have to deal with the outcome of what the people in our life created in us. But the thing about it, I have never felt so FREE in my whole life. I have never felt lighter, or more alive since I read that book and made some quick decisions in my mind to change how I reacted to certain situations. I have even found that I don’t think about my husband’s affair quite the same way I did before. It doesn’t mean it hurts less, it just means it has allowed me to let go of the anger.

    So as much as that “label” is angering in and of itself…identify with it and then take the necessary steps to change it. Take care of YOU…it doesn’t have to define you forever, and you might just find yourself feeling lighter afterward! 😉


    • chely5150 says:

      Hello there AWL-
      Always good to hear from you. Glad to hear that you are doing better. I appreciate that you came to read and comment here.
      It is certainly tough when labels are placed and start to make people uncomfortable. I do realize that there are many ways that I fit the”co-dependent” label. And to a certain extent I own it. Some of my behavior or actions fit. There are many times I have (what someone who may be observing) overacted to that which when taken in the situation alone does seem like overreacting. However, I must say that, observers would need to look at the broader picture to understand that ,what they are observing are results of being subjected to long term, covert emotional abuse. A PTSD type of manifestation of the cumulative effect from the abuse. Which was exaserbated by discovering the infidelity.

      I did loose myself in this marriage. I did give too much and took too little. I did do the best with the situation I had to be the best Mom I could be. I was far from perfect. I accept that. But what I hate is the fact that I’m supposed to own it all, all the dysfunction as if I AM THE PERPATRATOR of all the wrong within my family, my life & my marriage. HE DOESN’T HAVE TO BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS CONTRIBUTION TO OUR DYSFUNCTION- HE ABUSES ME, I ABUSE ME AND SOCIETY WANTS ME TO SHOULDER THE ENTIRE RESPONSIBILITY- SIMPLY BECAUSE HE HAS HELD A GOOD JOB AND MAY BE WELL LIKED BY CO-WORKERS MEANS THAT HE SHOULD BE GIVEN A PASS AND BE EXCUSED—– I SAY BULLSHIT!!!!!!!!!!

      I read (most of) the book you spoke of (Co-Dependent No More). I did find much interesting information some of which applied to me (and I did cry as well) but truthfully much of it could describe some of husbands behavior as well. Just as I will read something about behaviors of personality disorder that could describe something about me.

      But I foolishly thought we were becoming partners in this journey (marriage) not that I was a pawn. Oh I must be of some value to him for him to not have discarded me physically ( he has emotionally though he fakes it well) and that is, as long as he can make ME look like the crazy one THEN he is normal. I’m sorry I can no longer not cry FOUL at this – and if it makes me even more co-dependent so be it. By taking all the blame I just play right into his hands.

      But i’m not going to do it by overacting. I’m going to get a good lawyer, learn the law in my state and empower myself -without uttering a word to him or about him. I will let him make his own bed to lie in – when I remain calm, he ends up losing it. So I’m sorry to say learning to play the game and it’s only a matter of time – he will do himself in, in the long run

      He is still looking for someone to SAVE him. May have several waiting to audition. But I don’t care anymore, the man that I loved only exists on the other side of the front door. And it may be partially my fault because of the upbringing I had that I ended up in an abusive relationship, (Although my sister picked him out for me) but it is a relationship and TWO people were involved and I will not own his responsibility for abusing me. I couldn’t of saved him (wasn’t ever given the chance) to do that .(Although not my plan – I did believe that we could “save” each other by me being strong where he was weak, and he being strong were I was weak- and we did match well, I thought that was how a partnership/marriage worked.). But he would never let me “in” to his world his innermost thoughts, like I did he. Just another way he has had the upper-hand.

      But I was stupid enough to believe all the lies and stayed WAY LONGER than I should have- which has lead to the manifestations of the problems that I was primed for growing up. But what I meant about being set-up was I know that it really never dawned on me that my childhood ( that I thought was decent and loving but certainly not perfect) has made me willing to give up myself for another. No it was more from being molested by a female babysitter (repeatedly) when I was entering puberty. And sort of liked it, even though I knew it was not right. I have never told anyone.

      So no I don’t want to have to own all of this it was forced down my throat and I hate all of it. I hate my husband and my family and his family and myself., I HATE ABUSE- I HATE MY LIFE!! I HAVE WASTED MY LIFE BECAUSE OF THIS – IT’S JUST NOT FAIR.

      I know life’s not fair. I’ve waited too long to get out of this marriage because I dread the stupid smear campaign. But you know what? Anyone he will spread lies to about me (including my family) I don’t really give a shit what they think. Me, my husband AND God know the truth and that is all that will matter in the end.

      I wash my hands of it all!!
      I’m so sorry I kinda lost it there- I know more symptoms but this is my blog and I hope it is the one place I can. Thanks for listening to me – I have a long road to travel- alone. Hugs to you– chely

      Liked by 1 person

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