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Am I codependent? I feel awful

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  • #382679
    lindsey
    Participant

    Hello Anita-

    I’m sorry that I am not consistent with the website like I used to be.  I think life gets in the way a good bit for me. I also feel like sometimes I’m great and other times I’m not.  I don’t really reach out to anyone about my struggles other than my dad.

    I’ve been in a relationship with “S” for about 6 months or so.  Within the last week I’d say, actually more like the beginning of the summer (June) I’ve felt extreme anxiety at times like he is going to break up with me or is sick of me.  I do not recall feelings  of anxiety and abandonment this strong in prior relationships.

    I feel lost.  I’ve told “S” some of my anxieties but I do not tell him everything. I feel like I would come off as pathletic, insecure, and needy.

    Since summer started  He seems to stay over less-at one point it was 3 or 4 days in a row and now it varies usually 1 or 2.  I’ve started obsessing over the days and texting him around noon asking if he is staying over that night.  His grandfather died about a month ago and that’s when he seemed to withdraw a bit.  He says he feels sad in general and overwhelmed.

    I can give an example of a situation.  We all went to fireworks July 3rd. He ended up staying home versus staying the night with me b/c his oldest daughter did not want to stay the night.  We were invited the next day on the 4th for a cookout.  I recall him texting one or twice about details etc.  So we arrive at 4pm and he is asleep.  His step mother seemed like she didn’t know we were coming? I’m not sure maybe she didn’t know what time. He lives with his father and step mother right now b/c his father has lung disease and he helps them.  So he gets up and starts grilling.  He was not really talkative and when I said I needed to take the dog back home he eagerly said he would take him home.  That night he was supposed to stay over but said that he was going to stay home instead.  This was a past issue for me because right after his grandfather had passed which was about a month ago he cancelled staying over and kept his girls with him 3 nights in a row.  So I had extreme anxiety the next day July 5th and asked him to come over.  He was distant at first and I think he thought I was going to get really upset about him  about staying home versus staying the night with me the night before.

    As I’m reading this I feel like he is withdrawing but then he sends me texts and things all the time saying he loves me. He asks pretty normal when we are together  except for the time on July 4th.  He has made it clear that I’m stuck with him forever but isn’t that just words?  His sister also died a year ago and they were all together as a family last July 4th.  Am I reading into things too much and being selfish?

    I hope I am not rambling and feel like there are holes in my forum.  Please help.

    Lindsey

    #382708
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lindsey:

    I will read and reply to you tomorrow morning, in about 11 hours from now.

    anita

    #382717
    anita
    Participant

    Dear lindsey:

    Back in April, you shared the following about your current boyfriend “S”: you (mother of a boy and a girl) met him (a father of two girls of the same age of your kids) a year ago, July of 2020.  You started dating him four months later, at the end of November 2020. You felt back in April that the relationship was “very healthy”. You shared with him your struggles with your ex (father of your kids),  and also, that you struggle with anxiety if you don’t hear from S text wise. S has been understanding, and he shared some of his issues with you. You mentioned at the time that S’s parents “are great”.

    Three months later, July 9, you shared that since June, you’ve been feeling “extreme anxiety at times like he is going to break up with me or is sick of me”, “obsessing over the days and texting him around noon asking if he is staying over that night”. You didn’t share with him about the extent of your anxiety because you don’t want to “come off as pathetic, insecure, and needy”. Since summer started, he “seems to stay over less” (1 or 2 days in a row, instead of the 3 or 4 days in a row prior). He told you that he “feels sad in general and overwhelmed”. He lives with his father and step mother, helping his father who has a lung disease.

    On the 4th of July, he invited you  to a cookout at his father’s and step mother’s home. You arrived at 4 pm, he was asleep, got up and started grilling, wasn’t talkative and when you told him that you needed to take your dog back home, “he eagerly said he would take him home”.  He was supposed to stay over that night, but changed his mind.  On July 5th you suffered “extreme anxiety” and asked him to come over.  He was distant at first, you think that the reason may be because he was afraid that you were upset at him for not staying over the night before.

    You are afraid that he is withdrawing from you, but you are not sure because he sends you texts all the time, saying that he loves you, and he made it clear to you that you are “stuck with him forever”,  but you are afraid that these are “just words”.

    My thoughts today: I don’t see a valid reason to be as anxious as you are in regard to S withdrawing from you. Like he told you, he “feels sad in general and overwhelmed”. When a person feels overwhelmed, the tendency is to withdraw and spend time alone, uninterrupted. Maybe him being asleep on 4th of July was that he withdrew that day from his father and step mother: likely there are some tension between him and his father and/ or between him and his step mother. Plus, no boyfriend is always eager to be with his girlfriend. From time to time, we all need a break (alone time) from other people, including people we love.

    Your extreme anxiety is really about you, not about him because it preceded him. Back in April, I was surprised to read that you had a “very healthy” relationship with S because I know about your history of extreme anxiety: I was surprised that if nothing else, this anxiety did not yet harm the relationship. I think that the reason you were okay in regard to S back in April is that at the time your anxiety was focused on your ex (your April thread was about your ex, not about S). Fast forward, your anxiety is now focused on S.

    Going back even farther, on April 2019, way before you met S, you shared that you get “hyper focused on one thing- usually a man… Turning a small thing into a catastrophe”. Fast forward, you are now hyper focused on S, and in your mind, you turn small things (ex., him being asleep on the 4th, him cancelling a sleep over) into catastrophes.

    In August 2019, hyper focused on another man, K, you wrote: “I saw him this morning and it’s like every time I see him I’m looking for some type of sign from him that like he’s still here, still interested.. I spoke with him this morning and he barely made eye contact and it makes me feel bad about myself. I’m very conflicted, very confused, mostly hurt”- a similar experience to what you are having now with S, isn’t it? (Even though it seems to me, from what you shared, that S is way more serious about you compared to K).

    On February 2020, you shared: “Apparently looking back, I was having a bit of my bi polar version of mania: reactive, decreased cognitive abilities (concentration, poor attention to detail, over tired, irritable), it happens every 3-4 months I think… my impulsivity and mood swings are causing havoc to my work and relationships.. I’m sick of the roller coaster ride”.

    Back to April 2021, you shared: “Since last March I have started a mood stabilizer called Lamotrigine that has really improved my mental and emotional health.  I am doing great at work and have been in a healthy relationship for the past 6 months. My outbursts and how I handle the situation with my ex husband has improved” (Lamotrigine is used “to help prevent the extreme mood swings of bipolar disorder in adults”, online).

    My closing thoughts for this post: because recently you are experiencing an increase in anxiety, better see your doctor so to re-evaluate your medications, including Lamotrigine. Maybe an increase in one, a decrease in another/ an adjustment of your current doses will help lessen your anxiety very soon. There are additional ways to lessen your anxiety such as a daily routine of aerobic and other exercise, yoga, guided meditations and mindfulness exercises.

    Try to remind yourself, when you are feeling very anxious in regard to S, that (1) your anxiety is a condition you’ve suffered from for a long, long time before you met S, (2) your anxiety is not an indication that S is withdrawing from you, (3) when very anxious, you hyper focus on every little thing and catastrophize it, and that in reality, the little things are not that important, (4) that no one wants to be with another person all the time, that everyone needs a break, including yourself, (5) S is struggling with his own mental health issues (I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t), and so- you are not the only one.

    Post again anytime. I hope you are having a better weekend and that your kids are well.

    anita

     

    #382786
    lindsey
    Participant

    Anita-

    Some important things happened this weekend. First, I traveled to St Louis to see my son play in a baseball tournament.  My parents met me there and I brought my dog.  I was excited to see my parents and also the kids since it was their dad’s weekend.

    We had a disagreement about how much my mom would talk with my ex because of past situations that made me very upset.  At this point I do not think I should continue a back and forth about her behaviors with him.  I personally believe she will continue to make small talk and stay on his good side no matter how I feel so she will always have access to her grandchildren.  I’ve started to except that this is how it is.  My parents agreed with me I would drove home Saturday versus Sunday while they hung out with the kids.  My ex made it clear to them that they could join activities with himself and his girlfriend.  While I wanted to spending time with them and the kids I knew this was another disaster waiting to happen.

    I was able to spend time alone this weekend and come to some conclusions.  My episode of anxiety started a month ago when S started to withdraw b/c of his grandfather’s death.  While I tried to keep myself from being needy and worried I believe it still happened and it was obvious; it may have pushed him father away.  The anxiety I felt was very bad and took a toll on me in every way.  I believe I should seek counseling to address the strong sense of abandonment/anxiety I have felt with relationships.

    Also-S called crying Friday morning. His oldest daughter has Leukemia. This is awful news and I feel so bad for him and his family.  I cannot see myself being able to handle this kind of news if it was my daughter.  I believe now I am going through what will take about a week to separate myself emotionally from the relationship and relieve the rock in my stomach.  I do not see this relationship lasting. He will be in Memphis for 6 weeks at a time for 6 months.  I do not feel that I would be able to hold a relationship together if I were in his shoes.

    Everything happens for a reason.

    Happy Monday-Lindsey

     

     

    #382789
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lindsey:

    I read your update in regard to your mother interacting with and being nice to your ex (and to his girlfriend, I assume). I know that this is an old topic that bothered you in the past. Regarding your current boyfriend’s bad news- that’s terrible, I am sorry for his daughter and for him, and I hope she heals and recovers.

    “I do not see this relationship lasting. He will be in Memphis for 6 weeks at a time for 6 months.  I do not feel that I would be able to hold a relationship together if I were in his shoes”- I imagine that he will be focused on his daughter, and that he will not be available, or able to give you the attention that you  need. Preparing for the ending of this relationship reads like a wise choice.

    “I believe I should seek counseling to address the strong sense of abandonment/anxiety I have felt with relationships”- another wise choice. I remember from our previous communication that your severe anxiety started in the context of your mother suddenly kicking you out at about 18, if I remember correctly, at a time when you were not at all prepared to live on your own, away from her (?)

    anita

    #382799
    lindsey
    Participant

    Anita,

    Yes it was when I went to college.  I would say emotional abandonment.  I felt her love was and is conditional; when she was  available to me I felt fulfilled. I would say I did anything for her approval and took her backlash without question.

    There are some things about S that I have not told you and I do not know where to begin. I can say I ignore red flags. This is all textbook behavior-I know.  To start off with he smokes and it bothered me. I told him that I wished he would quit-he gave excuses. In my opinion he smoked too much marijuana and borderline drank too much.  He seemed lazy and not quick to pay for things.  He didn’t make much money maybe that was why.  I felt that he loved his girls and wanted to be around them but he never really took them anywhere.  His youngest daughter who is 7 stayed with me a few times. The last time she stayed over he didn’t stay and the next morning she wanted  dunkin donuts and it was about 8:30am.  Apparently he told her the night before he would bring donuts when he came to get her.  I called him and he said he still couldn’t find his wallet.  She called him again at 10am to come and get her.  He sleeps a lot.  As I write these things (and I didn’t want to but the more I thought about it I wanted to tell you) I cringe.

    Another thing I do not want to write down is while my ex husband was verbally abusive I got used to that behavior. His jealously was his way of showing that he cared.  He was always following me around and it was his way of showing he cared.  while his behaviors were obviously very unhealthy it’s what I knew; codependency from him is what I was used to.  Similar to people with narcastic qualities once he got a girlfriend all of his behaviors stopped. Overnight he began looking at me like I was an annoyance-a bother-someone that he replaced and all his attention was on them.

    I don’t know what to think-Lindsey

    #382800
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lindsey:

    “Apparently he told (his 7-year old daughter) the night before he would bring donuts when he came to get her.  I called him and he said he still couldn’t find his wallet.  She called him again at 10am to come and get her.  He sleeps a lot.  As I write these things (and I didn’t want to but the more I thought about it I wanted to tell you) I cringe”-

    – I bet his daughter cringes too. I can imagine her trusting what he told her, expecting him to show up with donuts just because he said so! If he, sleepily, under the influence of marijuana, overlooks breaking his little girl’s heart little by little, I imagine that he will overlook breaking your heart too.

    “my ex husband.. his jealously was his way of showing that he cared.  He was always following me around and it was his way of showing he cared… once he got a girlfriend all of his behaviors stopped. Overnight he began looking at me like I was an annoyance-a bother-someone that he replaced and all his attention was on them”- I think I understand how much it bothers you that you were The One to get his as-if-he-cared attention, until another woman became… the one.

    As I see it, you and her, at different times, are getting- not his real, genuine caring- but his as-if-caring attention. When we are hungry for love, as you have been ever since your mother emotionally abandoned you, we’ll accept as-if-love, if that’s all that we can get, and crave it as if it was genuine love.

    anita

    #382876
    lindsey
    Participant

    Anita,

    Yesterday after work I went up to the softball fields to watch my daughter. Because of scheduling conflicts (I was working until 6 and my ex husband was at a meeting for travel baseball for my son) I was not able to take her to the field or take my son to football camp. Apparently his girlfriend “A” took them.  I think she does the majority of driving for the kids.   I was supposed to pick my son up at 7 from football camp and take him to the softball game.  When my ex texted me at 7 (he was driving to the game) I asked him to pick up my son on his way to the softball field so I could watch my daughter bat.  He comes up to the game (he’s also her coach-he coaches at least 3 teams right now) he had not picked up my son. I went up to the dug out and asked him why. He was rude and said I needed to go pointing to a high school about 4 football fields away. I asked him where exactly it was.  he never told me at any point where exactly campe was.  he was rude so I said no. Apparently his girlfriend had walked to get my son. My ex made a minor scene in the dug out in front of kids-they were staring at him-and said I needed to thank “A.” He was also walking to the 2nd game for my daughter at another field and walked beside me saying a comment while I was walking with our daughter.  I told him to stop. he was walking with the softball assistant coach and proceeded to tell her what happened.  He also said I needed to thank “A.”

    Before the 2nd game started  I went over to “A” and said thanks. She responded in a very angry manner “that’s your job” I said wow-my ex comes over with the kids stuff and said “I don’t know what to tell you” I took the bags said “I feel sorry for you guys” and as I was walking away she yelled “I feel sorry for your kids”

    I left the game. I felt very embarrassed because other parents heard. I do not want to be a part of divorced “scenes” in public.

    I’m very concerned with my well being and with these situations that seem to escalate. About 3 weeks ago at my son’s baseball game the girlfriend “A” walked past me very close almost bumping into my shoulder obviously on purpose.

    I do not want to be involved in these things and do not know how to prceed.  For both of them this topic of I don’t care about the kids sports and don’t come to the games is a theme. (I go to most of the game) This is one of their attacks.  Most people would say ignore it it’s just divorce common arguments but Anita I don’t feel this is common.  I want to consult an attorney but I don’t know that they can provide any help.

    I feel 1. I should have just walked over to the fields to get my son.  2. I should not have gone over and thanked “A” like my ex suggested.  Please help

    Lindsey

    #382882
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lindsey:

    You and your Ex are very involved driving your two kids to their separate sporting activities and events, attending those, and he is involved in coaching as well. Therefore, there is an ongoing need for the two of you to coordinate your parenting activities around sports: who drives the whom, when and where. Because your Ex’s girlfriend, “A”,  is very involved in your ex’s life, she is also involved with your kids, helping your ex with the sporting events of his two kids.

    You go to most of the games, but there are times that you are unable to do so because of work scheduling conflicts. The theme of your ex and A’s complaints is that you “don’t care about the kids’ sports and don’t come to the games”.

    About three weeks ago, A walked past you very closely, almost bumping into your shoulder, and it feels like she did it on on purpose. Yesterday, your ex said, in front of your kids, that you should thank A for her part in the coordination, and it appeared to you that he was making “a minor scene” at that point. Next, you “went over to A and said thanks”. She responded angrily, saying “that’s your job”! You then told her: “I feel sorry for you guys”! and she yelled: “I feel sorry for your kids”!! Other parents heard the exchange.

    Your concerns and goals: (1) I’m very concerned with my well-being and with these situations that seem to escalate, (2) I do not want to be a part of divorced ‘scenes’ in public, (3) I do not want to be involved in these things and do not know how to proceed.

    My thoughts/ suggestions: (1) I don’t think that there is a need for you to say thank-you to A. Her motivation is to help her boyfriend, not to help you. Therefore, it’s not your job to thank her, it’s his job.

    (2) Because of how you feel, it is better that there will be no exchange between you and A: no conversation, no comments. Keep as much physical distance between you and her as possible. Let your Ex know of this. Tell him to not suggest any communication between you and her, such as thanking her, and tell him that the #1 priority for you and him as co-parents is to not distress your kids with any expressed conflicts between the three adults in their lives (their mother, their father, their father’s girlfriend).

    (3) Let your kids know about #2 as well, so that hopefully they will not fear future confrontations between the three adults involved. Again, the #1 priority for you and your Ex  is to provide a safer, calmer environment for your kids, indoors and outdoors.

    (4) Best would be if you and your Ex, as co-parents, attend one or more sessions with a psychotherapist or a counselor so to establish rules of engagement: specific, spelled-out ways for the two of you to interact in ways that are most effective and least confrontational.

    (5) Express and process your hurt and anger at your Ex for having replaced you “(Ex) was always following me around and it was his way of showing he cared.. once he got a girlfriend all of his behaviors stopped. Overnight he began looking at me like I was an annoyance-a bother-someone that he replaced and all his attention was on them”, July 12), in individual therapy (not including your Ex). If this is not a possibility, there are other ways for you to express and process these feelings: one way would be to express/ vent it right here, on your thread.

    anita

    #383462
    lindsey
    Participant

    Anita,

    First I am trying (again) to act in a positive manner regarding my kids and putting them first and only talking about that with my ex.  I feel that I was already tested on Friday when I brought over their things.  My ex and Ella opened the door and we were talking about my dog b/c his head was hanging out of the window.  I had him because we were on our way to the dog park. While we were talking his girlfriend came up and in a loud voice was telling my daughter to come up stairs and get ready.  My daughter put her head down and walked away upstairs.  It was upsetting but I did not say anything.  I told myself to focus on when she is with me and showing both of them healthy love and affection.

    The second thing I did was break it off with “S.”  Yesterday he told me that he was flying home this Thursday and driving back either Sunday or Monday.  He only spoke of his younger daughter and spending as much time as possible with her and that his Father’s birthday was Saturday and it was all a surprise because family did not know he was coming.  He just said to text him whenever Thursday and was vague about plans for the weekend.

    While I believe that he should spend most of his time with his family (and I hope I’m not being selfish) I would think he would want to carve out a few hours to spend time with me-maybe coffee, lunch whatever.  I kept thinking about all of this last night. I kept waking up and finally sent a text to him saying I can no longer be in this relationship.  There is no room for me in it.  You will be gone until September. Your priority is for your oldest to get better and then to spend time with your youngest as much as possible.

    I feel some anxiety but when I think about it this was the right decision for me.  I did not include anything negative and I have a good bit of it.  I know text is non personable but I was worried if I called I would back out. I also blocked the number because again I might back out of it if he texted.  I’m just frustrated that I let it get to this point.  I’m also frustrated with his lack of trying and how I was treated and that I was taken advantage of.  However I need to focus on the future.

    Lindsey

    #383463
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lindsey:

    I agree with you that it was the right decision for you to break up with S. I also think you did it the right way: texting him a short, honest, non-abusive text, and then blocking his number. For some other people, in different circumstances, a break up phone call or meeting in-person would be appropriate, but in the circumstances you described (him not giving you minimal time and attention)- a text is appropriate enough!

    While we were talking his girlfriend came up and in a loud voice was telling my daughter to come up stairs and get ready.  My daughter put her head down and walked away upstairs.  It was upsetting but I did not say anything“- talking about right and wrong (first paragraph), it is WRONG for your ex’s girlfriend to raise her voice at your daughter and otherwise display any aggression against your daughter- be it in the tone and volume of her voice, her facial/ bodily expressions, and her words and behavior (no matter how she feels about anything, she needs to control her expressions and behaviors).

    What did your ex say when you expressed to him in the past what I mentioned in the paragraph above?

    Again, I think you did the right thing in regard to S. Congratulations!

    anita

    #383465
    lindsey
    Participant

    Anita,

    Thank you for your support with “S.”  I have a little anxiety but I feel like it will pass within a few days.  I have not said anything to my ex about the paragraph you mentioned.  Unfortunately when I did bring up how quick he had his girlfriend met the kids and then move her into the home quickly he got very defensive and would not give a direct answer.  Anything I tried to mention about the girlfriend or what I thought was appropriate he dismissed and it caused an argument.  Any past behaviors were met with pointing the finger at me and denying any abuse.

    I have a meeting with a counselor this Wednesday and I’m sure that will be part of our discussions.

    Lindsey

    #383466
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lindsey:

    You are welcome. It doesn’t sound promising that your ex has been very dismissive of your input in regard to his girlfriend so far, pointing the finger at you and denying the truth. It suggests that he will be very defensive yet again and deny his girlfriend’s mistreatment of your daughter again.

    “I have a meeting with a counselor this Wednesday and I’m sure that will be part of our discussions”- that’s your hope, seems to me, a third person.

    anita

    • This reply was modified 3 days, 2 hours ago by anita.
    • This reply was modified 3 days, 2 hours ago by anita.
    #383511
    lindsey
    Participant

    Anita

    I was doing ok yesterday but I woke up this morning drinking coffee and sitting on the couch and impulsively called “S.”  He didn’t answer so I sent a text and never heard back.  So I called him one more time (about an hour later) and he didn’t answer again.  I don’t know if you know much about facebook but there is a message app that’s connected to facebook that tells when someone is online and he was online.

    I feel like I have made a very bad mistake.  Because I blocked my number yesterday I have no idea if he responded or what he said after my text wanting to end things.  I also feel embarrassed and kind of giving an impression of being unstable.  I’m sure he knew why I was calling.  This impulsive decision was so dumb.  I ended up blocking his account on facebook, deleting any photos of us and removing his number from my phone. My hope is that I can put this behind me because in reality it isn’t that big of a deal and I’m sure he has more important things to deal with.  I don’t know if my anxiety is just saying he will not call back or maybe he is busy but deep down I do not think he will call. I have no idea and i’m tired of thinking about it honestly.

    My counseling session is tomorrow and I have a lot of things to work on.

    Lindsey

    #383514
    anita
    Participant

    Dear Lindsey:

    I agree with you that your impulsive act of calling S, “in reality it isn’t that big of a deal”. I think that you having called him makes no difference in your life, or in his. I agree with you that it was a mistake, but I disagree that it was “a very bad mistake”. Something that has no real consequences in real life, cannot be a bad, or a very bad mistake.

    In other words, you called, he didn’t respond= nothing changed: he wasn’t responsive to you before you broke up with him, he is not responsive now.

    As far as the possibility that he thinks of you as unstable (“kind of giving an impression of being unstable”)- again, what difference does it make what he thinks: what are anyone’s thoughts but an ongoing, inaudible, invisible and constantly changing mind-chatter?

    I used to be very impulsive myself, I remember how frustrating it was for me. I am way less impulsive now, and less frequently. Next time you feel impulsive and about to do something impulsive, postpone the act and message me first, will you?

    anita

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