Sunday, December 28, 2008

On the fourth day of Christmas

I had a conversation with Gary that had absolutely nothing to do with Christmas.

I asked him why he was dating Trouble again.

He asked me how I knew. I told him that I was psychic. The real answer is that I am minimally observant and not stupid, but psychic sounded better.

Anyway, I said that I understood why he would be friendly with her, but why was he romantically involved with her?

Really it was like reading dialogue from a TV movie on domestic abuse.

She is really making a change, and he feels obligated to support her in it. He knows that she might not really change, that she probably won't change, but he won't feel good about himself if he leaves. She knows that if she does anything really terrible he will leave, and he thinks that will work.

That was the point where I broke in. I told him that I wanted to explain about how boundaries "work." If they are working, they are keeping chaos out of your life, but they don't make people stop producing chaos. He can't fix her.

He said he knew, although his face indicated that he wasn't happy about it. He still wants to be with her, support her, because she wants to change. He says that if she does something really bad, he will leave, but he thinks he can help her change.

So we talked about the frog in the pot, which is not true in the sense that frogs won't in fact stay in a slowly heating pot because as the frog slowly gets warmer it slowly becomes more active, but which is a good story for talking about how abuse victims can find it hard to leave. I suggested that what he wanted to happen was for her to either become the wonderful person he knew she could be, or else do something so bad that he could walk away without guilt. He agreed.
I warned him that there was a good chance that wasn't going to happen. He could very well have to make a decision to leave and that he would have to deal with the feelings that came with that.

He didn't disagree, though he was sad.

I said that I understood because I had my co-dependency side too. I also wanted to fix people's lives for them. I tended to think that I can make them make better decisions by just explaining things to them.

Then I got the irony and shut up.

Well, sort of, I did make him promise to think about what I had said.


  1. Did he catch the irony too?


  2. But to speak from experience and to let him know that you really do understand.

  3. I like that analogy very much. I think I was first introduced to it by friends who understood why my husband's family enabled his outrageously self-centered, alcoholic, personality disordered mother. They used lobsters instead of frogs.

  4. oh my, methinks you need a meeting. As a Alanonic I can see the signs -in you but not in me...get the irony?

  5. I love the irony at the end! But still, I think he needed someone to say something.


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