By Molly Reynolds for Hope After Divorce
Months after my very messy divorce, I found myself sitting in a greasy diner with my friend Christi, and I was at a total stand still. I was staring across the table at her, trying not to cry into my grilled cheese sandwich as a million thoughts ran through my mind.
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I finally opened my mouth.
“How do you do it?” I asked her.
“How do I do what?”
“How do you be single?”
She smiled. “You just do.”
I wanted to take notes. “No, tell me. What do you DO? Like, what does your typical day look like?”
I got married when I was twenty and was now pushing thirty. It didn’t seem like an odd question to me at the time; I had never been single as an adult. My marriage was isolating and highly emotionally abusive. My days were wrapped up working, spending time with my husband, cooking, cleaning, paying the bills, helping him with whatever he needed. I had so much free time now and didn’t know what to do with myself. More honestly, I didn’t know who I was as a single person.
Thank God for good friends. “You do whatever you want!” she said with a laugh. “If you want to stay out all night, you do it. If you want to spend the weekend watching Desperate Housewives on Netflix, you do it. If you want to eat a jar of olives for dinner, you do it. It’s actually pretty awesome.”
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The thought of this absolutely terrified me. Battle lost. Soggy grilled cheese. This story illustrates co-dependency at its finest. Unfortunately, co-dependent women often find themselves with a narcissistic husband. Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise are a prime example. A narcissist systematically makes his partner give up who she is in order to serve his own ideals and needs. If you are fortunate enough to break free from the abuse of a narcissist — as Katie was — you’re going to have to take a lot of time to rebuild yourself.
I hate labels, but a lot of us are co-dependent. If we’re partnered with the wrong person, the effects can be devastating. We think giving absolutely everything over to our marriage and forgetting ourselves makes us a better partner. It doesn’t. It doesn’t even make us a better person. Luckily for us, it’s a bad habit and not a life-threatening disease.