caregiver or codependent?

yesterday (now last week or so) I was sitting with a group round a table, we filled the space. a woman came and sat down alone at adjacent table. as is my habit, I shifted my chair so my back was not to her and opened our circle to make room for her to participate. one of my peers noted and commented, “we know who the caregiver in our group is.”

I actually found this terminology not offensive but a bit distressing. one, because for most my adult life I have not considered myself in this way and have not considered that I may be codependent in a way that isn’t healthy. I’ve had a practice of noticing and making room for the other, have been extremely aware of physical presence. I recently read an odd statement, “I am empty because I am so full of you.” crap. that is my whole adult life. I have detested going into bars because I feel like a sponge soaking up the lonelies and sadness (I realize not everyone in there is lonely or sad but I seem to pick up on those that are). I remember becoming aware of these feeling in college. it’s like I am a lightning rod, a sponge, for other people’s unfelt (denied) feelings (unprocessed, at least momentarily denied, hidden or simply pushed to the side in an instance of pretending life is not as it is). how can this be?

I am intuitive, which I think functions as my senses constantly pull from signals around me (even the fat seams of cheap socks, or the rubber boots squiggling on my trucks back window where they ride is a constant input) and with people signals I jump to viscerally felt conclusions without a language based process (understanding).

this gets confusing. is this feeling I am experiencing yours or mine? if I live in close community with another, it becomes even more inseparable and messy. is this a type of unhealthy codependency? I now believe it is because it makes me so full of another, it is difficult for the me to swim to my own surface into awareness.

I spent two decades hunting things in my childhood that simply aren’t there. I tried to heal within myself phantom wounds that were not mine. i tried to fix brokenness in me in places that were not broken. I lost sight of what belonged to me, those things I actually did need to work on as well as my own strengths and goodness. I’ve spent a long time not even knowing what I like to do, what brings me contentment and joy. this is not anyone’s fault, not even my own, it is simply how I process what surrounds me and enters in, something I am only beginning to learn to navigate. I suppose this sponge, lightning rod like attribute is a common characteristic of an artist, the capacity to listen and connect.

so I’ve begun trying to practice a different kind of sensing, a mindfulness (a wakefulness that allows me to recognize internal things that emanate from me and distinguish them from those around me). still am in very informal phase of practicing. brain is full of readings from an expanse of fields–sociology, psychology, contemplative faith-based, art world, learning/education theory and practice, buddhist-like…in each of these different arenas the authors keep saying the same things, using the same verbiage with matching meanings applied to unique situations that overlap in the human spaces of kindness, compassion, curiosity, connection, contentment, community and even creativity.

side thoughts:
a codependent caregiving is not equivalent to people pleasing or at least not on the surface.

wish my hermitage was ready.

Location:Athens, GA


You may also like

Research interests
The moment
Consequential head scratching
Correlation between writing, making and academic proclivities