I recently had an epiphany related to an insecurity I have.
I fear losing what I don’t actively attach to when access to that thing is under the control of someone else. For example, if I were to only ever eat cake when my friend Susan made it, I would fear losing access to cake if she thought it were no longer important to me. The solution is simple, yes? Let Susan know how much every moment without her cake pains me. Talk incessantly about how much I miss the cake. Send random texts that just say “OMG, remember that cake last week? That was probably the best cake yet.” Definitely make the entire relationship about the cake I am terrified of losing.
Because that won’t make her feel reduced to cake. No, of course not. /sarcasm
And if in this metaphor cake is some other finite resource, like say time? Or attention? Well… the same is true.
When my kids were babies I was their whole world. Their dependence on me was a natural part of their development, but even then it felt overwhelming at times. Juggling time and attention and money and energy and feeling like I probably didn’t have enough of any of those to make everyone happy. But then they grew up a little. And they began to be self-sufficient in enough areas that I could focus my finite resources on where I could love them best – and even maybe carve out some time for myself.
As an adult I’ve seen how codependency in romantic relationships manifests much like the effects of infancy on a parent. Sometimes I am the parent; sometimes I am the baby. Sometimes I am the baby more often than I wish I was.
But did you know? Cake is 100 times better when someone makes it for you freely and out of a genuine desire to than when it is made under duress and to appease your seemingly insatiable need for it.
My active (sometimes desperate) attaching to certain aspects of relationships has caused harm in the past. The part of me that gets scared of losing what feels so wonderful in the moment sometimes forgets that what you smother will eventually die.
But at least I have that awareness.
And awareness informs actions, if we let it.
And believe me when I tell you that I will never stop loving cake, but . . . I am learning to chew more slowly, and be grateful.