The Cognitive Dissonance Of The Codependent

I remember hanging out with my best friend (since middle school) when we were in our mid-20s. He lived in his parents’ garage. He had a glass table top on his bed where he was doing coke while we played video games and bullshitted. I wasn’t partaking in ‘drugs’, like coke or pills, but was getting stoned and drunk. He was, admittedly, addicted to pain pills, which sometimes consisted of waking up to shit and puke, but he, and I, felt he would eventually get off them, and stop doing drugs and grow-up. Though the drugs made him moody, and he was physically addicted, he acted normal. We would drive to Huntington Beach, a movie, the pool hall, get dinner, whatever. Even near five in the morning, when he told me how focused he was on the Punisher video game with demon-like pupils, he seemed normal.

A few years later, he became a heroin addict. And it seemed like it couldn’t be possible. Just like the addict, the codependent has a cognitive dissonance. Though I could see how his opiate addiction was adversely affecting him physically and mentally, I never thought he would become a heroin addict, even when he admitted to using it. But truthfully, I don’t find drugs that interesting. When I was young, drugs seemed innocuous and fun. But then I partied myself out, and dropped out of college because it felt like my brain couldn’t function. After doing drugs, I felt like I couldn’t function. Unlike some friends that got into doing meth, prescription opiates seemed like a manageable addiction. A person can be semi-normal. They aren’t up for days at a time. Their demeanor doesn’t instantly change while on it. But, for myself, I stuck with pot because I like it, there’s no physical addiction, it doesn’t overly affect a person’s mood or mental state, and it felt like I could still deal with life. Sometimes, I felt envious of my friend’s ability to handle drugs, but at other times when his mood and anxiety were fucked from his addiction, I felt relieved I had made the choices I had.

A few years later, his addiction leading to semi-homelessness, I let him stay on my couch till he got on his feet. I wouldn’t suggest this.

I’m in therapy. I have codependent issues, and other issues. My therapist had recently asked me, “Do you ever think that you might be addicted to drama?”

Anything, if you consider it, is a distraction from whatever it is you knowingly—or unknowingly—want to be distracted from. Even an argument. Even moving out of the apartment you share with your companion for stupid existentialist reasons, as I did, all the while thinking, “You are addicted to drama.”

Just like sex and drugs, the escape of drama and turmoil can consume you. We lose ourselves in it the same way. An escape of ego, though with codependence there is a self-righteousness; a selflessness that turns to resentment. If anything, being codependent is complicated because we all are codependent to some extent. We all want to help our friends and family when they are in need. But what is the limit, especially when it comes to addiction? A keyword when it comes to codependence is reacting. Are you reacting to a situation or emotion, or are you acting to better your life? You can lose yourself trying to help a person, and end up feeling empty. You could easily list the reasons why the person you are trying to help does everything that they do, but if you asked yourself, what do I feel? What do I want? You couldn’t answer it. And that’s the problem of codependence. You know all the answers to help others, but wouldn’t even know how to help yourself.

Now, when I think of ‘drugs’, I think of people I’ve known acting in ways I would never picture them acting. It turns into an annoyance. You can never tell if they are on drugs, or they aren’t. And they just seem weird. And they just suck the life out of you. TC mark

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image – Jochen Spalding

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