Wow - I wish I had seen these comments earlier . . . I don't receive blog feedback. But I would like to respond:
First, I am asking that people take my comments in context to the entire article. As a regular attendee of Alanon meetings, I would posit agreement about co-dependents using care of others as an unconscious manipulation. Absolutely. However, I don't misunderstand the comment about the oxygen mask at all. In fact, the entire point of this article is the misuse and misunderstanding of that concept to excuse being narcissistic. I think that concept applies to some contexts. However, if my child is sick in the middle of the night I have agreed to care for them by the very act of giving birth - to put their needs above mine in certain situations. I may need sleep desperately, but they need a mother to care for them. That is part of being an adult and making a commitment.
My issue is with the denial of our interdependence. As I have stated very clearly in this article (please go back and reread) . . . ego development is essential, but it is hopefully not the end product. We do not develop healthy egos in a vacuum . . . it is relationships that help us with that. It is a very interesting paradox. We need others and yet we need do develop some self reliance as well. I would say that neither is more true than the other, but rather two needs that co-exist and seem to oppose, when in actuality, we only view them as opposites. Per my view, to admit our need for love and help from other people is a very important step in growth that requires a tremendous amount of risk and vulnerability. Remember, the entire AA program is built on getting help from other people. It is the kind of help that counts. But that is different from co-dependence.
And I have seen the co-dependent philosophy get exploited to a disturbing degree - I've seen people use it to not take responsibility for their impact on others. If you throw a rock through someone's window, and they cry, and you state that you are not responsible for their feelings . . . well, I would argue that this is just a way of not taking responsibility. "I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE" is the key focus of "I am not responsible for your feelings. In fact, it is typically the addict's favorite fallback. It is very adolescent, per my view. And co-dependence is the opposite "I am responsible for everything, and I have complete power to fix it." What would be ideal is an acknowledgement of how we impact each other and a sincere and conscious ability to ask for what we want without being manipulative - both ends of the spectrum can do this, both hyper-enmeshment and hyper-disengagement.
I am pointing this out because I believe that hyper-disengagement is just as large a problem as hyper-enmeshment. Balance is the key.
Other people grow our food. Other people pay us, and we work for them. When we put plastic in the ocean, birds ingest it and die. We impact each other. Acknowledgement of this is just as important as learning to not be co-dependent. Once again, interdependence. Balance. As someone who has worked hard on co-dependence, I understand the need to be conscious of my motives. But I'm not going to swing to the other end of the spectrum and adopt the narcissism and ignorance of my impact on others of an addict either. It is a both/and, not an either or. This is my personal bias and criticism of how people interpret those programs. If we swing to far to the other side, we're going to create a whole new set of problems.
I wish I'd seen these comments earlier. I hope you get the responses. I appreciate the thoughtful feedback.
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