Thursday, June 21, 2012

Laundry and Codependency: What Goes in the Wash, Must Come Out the Dry

Today's post is brought to you by the letter “L” for laundromat- as in, I’ve got a sweet little desk set up with my Coffee Bean beverage, laptop and notepad in the laundromat while I’m writing this very sentence. Truth be told, I don’t mind doing my laundry in the laundromat; my complex is pretty small and we only have two washers, two dryers and they only take quarters. So laundry that takes me an hour and a half total to compete at the ‘mat, takes me many loads and many hours to complete at my place. It’s also a good way for me to steal WiFi from the Italian restaurant next door and really buckle down and get my write on.

It’s pretty early in the day so it’s pretty empty- which is just the way I like it. I love kids, I want to have kids of my own someday... but... I don’t love kids running in circles, screaming and throwing tantrums in public places.  I am, however, a big fan of precocious little tykes that like to showboat sweet dance moves or sing songs. I’d feel like a hypocrite if I didn’t. I used to dress up in my dance recital costumes and put on performances at my great grandpa Springer’s old folks’ home. Because that’s what the poor dying old people really want, a peppy six year-old dressed like a mermaid singing Wind Beneath My Wings... while tap dancing and pretending to actually know what’s going on in the movie Dirty Dancing. I don’t mind those kids. There’s also the usual cast of characters that you see at any kind of place that is providing a necessary service- the bachelors, the incredibly uncomfortable lot that are just trying to clean their drapes, the college kids, the young marrieds, etc... Did I mention the laundromat I go to also has an ice cream vending machine? Because it does. 

One of my greates tap-dancing mermaid performances to date.
Being here, somewhat trapped, waiting to put my clothes in the dryer brings up another theme that has been on my mind a lot lately, a bit of an airing of dirty laundry (pun intended). This nagging idea that we just can’t run from ourselves and our behaviors: what goes in the wash, must come out the dry. I keep finding myself repeating the same behaviors and jumping into the same situations over and over again- hoping that a change in scenery or company will somehow fix that. Essentially living my own codependent Groundhog's Day. After many long talks with a friend, she recommended I read a book that had really helped her called Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Controlling Yourself  by Melody Beattie. I’m only a couple chapters in, but so far it’s acknowledging a lot of things about myself that I’ve suspected and I think this book will be very important to me. I suspect it will impact me in the same way Allen Carr’s Easy Way To Stop Smoking did back in 2010.

Being Codependent doesn’t mean that you just want to be around somebody all the time or that you cling to people- as I frequently and incorrectly have thought. It’s a problem of putting my needs second to the needs of others. Getting overly involved and drawn into the affairs of other people and it’s something that I’ve been dealing with for a while. When I’d have a friend, family member or boyfriend go through something, I would take on the burden as well and have a very hard time separating myself. I was the first person in my group of friends to go through a divorce- and subsequently with every friend that has had a terrible break-up, I’ve gone through it with them and felt the pain and stress of my own divorce over and over again. After my Dad passed away, I took it on myself to be completely consumed with how my mother was coping and her choices. Who was she dating? Would she finally decide to become an empowered feminist? Why does she need to get her nails done so much? Completely consumed.  I had a housemate that had major hoarding tendencies, and instead of just leaving the toxic situation and moving on- I put myself through six months of torture living in a house that smelled like cat whiz with piles of junk everywhere trying to “fix” him.

My Kindle make it damn near impossible to ignore reading recommendations.

Essentially, I’ve spent a lot of time concerned about other people and very little time being concerned about myself. It’s a control issue to be honest. People in my live become these special snowflakes and their issues just consume me. I’m working on letting go of that. When I’m in relationships, I frequently lose myself. Not that I become a different person and start wearing hot pink mini skirts, but, I frequently find myself adjusting to their schedule, their needs and I end up kind of being this on-call girlfriend who is making sacrifices. I end up waiting for a dude to tell me when to come around, waiting for communication, trying to be the “cool girlfriend” to the point that I “cool girlfriend” myself into misery and end up in these relationships that are completely unbalanced. Being a very busy and motivated person, I tend to date people that are also very busy- but I seem to have the habit of dropping everything and falling off the face of the earth when I’m having “couple time”. This is a habit that has got to change. I can’t continue to be consumed with other people’s problems, choices and behaviors. I can only control and be concerned with myself, my behavior and my reactions. It’s about setting boundaries and listening to the instincts that point me in a good direction.
What goes in the wash...
So I’m working on streamlining and cleaning up my life (once again, pun intended). As I sit here at Sudz (yeah, that’s with a “z”) Laundry Center- I’m learning a lot about myself. I’m folding my towels and having a brighter outlook on the future. This is why I like the laundromat- gives me time to think and process with minimal distractions... maybe I should come here more often.

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