We watched the The Incredibles as a family again a couple of weeks ago; I and my two young adult children, with our traditional home baked pizza. Now every time I head down my familiar codependent path and re-cloak myself in fear, insecurity, over-empathy, wondering for the millionth time if I really gave enough or provided enough nurture in former relationships, toying with the idea of more enabling; anytime I come near wailing, “what’ll I do? How did it come to this?” My daughter responds, “You are Elastigirl! Pull yourself together, whap, whap, whap.”
If you know the plot line of The Incredibles you are aware that Elastigirl had adapted into a perfect mom and wife, meekly following the government issued mandate that super heroes must remain in hiding, masquerading as mediocre people, thus denying they had any gifts or anointing and, in the process, enabling the corrupt system.
Readers, many of you know how easy it is to drift so far into service for others that you forget who YOU are. You forget to care for yourself; to be a steward of your God-given talents. Even though the term co-dependent indicates two persons, I don’t even need to be in a romantic relationship to be codependent. The women in my family line are codependent with the whole world. Every need pulls at our heartstrings and calls us, even obligates us, to self-sacrifice.
By the Grace of God, pull yourself together! Remember who you are! I am not talking about selfish megalomania, I am talking about using your gifts to be you, rather than using your gifts to meddle or enable someone else to be who you think they should be.
Even though she is nearly 21 and has super powers herself; my daughter still needs to see me be all I can be, rightly access the powers of a woman and graciously wield the gifts of all I was created to be.
You are Elastigirl! Pull yourself together!
I don’t know if it was something I ate last night. I did have an extra serving of Selah’s birthday cake and some ice cream. I did have a few licks – a taste check and finger cleaning of the seven layer bean dip I made for the potluck today. But, in the pre-waking minutes before six A.M., I had a dream about a lion. I don’t know if it was a precursor of things to come; a sort of warning, or a manifestation of inner thoughts and fears. I was not particularly fearful of the lion.
In my dream I was walking back to my house, my childhood home, where I am now living temporarily. I did take a walk in the dusk and twilight last night, without fear or startle. I dreamed I was headed South on 12th Street from Horizon Drive hiking on the embankment that inclines toward what is now Horizon Towers. It was in the late afternoon. The embankment was rough and rocky as in the old days. Sandstone boulders leaned one upon the other like a railroad grade or new road base. Various piñon trees and scruffy brush told me this was natural terrain, not man made. I had to pick my way and scramble from boulder to boulder, much like I did in Seattle last month when the tide was in and I wanted to get from point A to point B along what had been a nice sandy beach the evening before. Suddenly, as I neared the ridge, there appeared a lion. An African style lion with full mane. He was about 25 feet away and though I tried to scream, “Mountain Lion!” no sound came out and I knew I was too far away from the houses to be heard anyway. It was not a mountain lion. I knew this in my dream, yet I persist in giving it the title, Mountain Lion. My mind and body were consumed by the immediate question, “What should I do?” Fleeing was out of the question. One jump of mine to the next boulder would accomplish nothing compared to the leap of this cat. Nor could I, in my summer shorts and sleeveless top, pump myself up to look bigger and more in command. The king was studying me. I picked up a fist sized rock, aimed, and threw. “Maybe I can distract him,” I thought, pitching another rock wide. With each pitch I moved in the direction of my goal: home and society. He turned his back to me, disinterested, and in his place stood a female lion. I felt wary of the female, particularly as I continued to walk forward and pass a half grown lion. Was this a cub? Would both parents come after me to protect the off-spring? I do not know. I woke then and I am sure, if anyone was passing my open window, they heard me talking in my sleep, trying with numbed lips to articulate the warning, “Mountain Lion.”
Today my oldest turns the same age I am! He was born 36 years ago, shortly before midnight and he came into the world fast and vocal at the same time and has been fast and vocal ever since. How can this be? I ask myself- this phenomenon that a child and parent are the same age? The secret is: I have not aged. I still think of myself as 36. Enough about me. Happy Birthday son. Although my age and maturity might be questionable; your age and success is unquestioned. You are a man, a real man, a man’s man, and a woman’s man. You protect and provide and pursue and acknowledge in every way your wife, your children; and even extend your care and attention beyond your immediate family to your siblings, parents and grandparents. Who could ask for more? But, there is more. You are musical, passionately musical. You have not forgotten your dreams. You perform. You skate. You build. You engage in business. You are devoted to your family. I often say that I love to watch children grow. Thanks for being such a pleasure to watch for the past 36 years. Have a great birthday!
You know you are codependent when you self-sacrifice to give another what you want for them. You can be sure you are codependent when you are doubly self-sacrificing in order to provide what you want them to want and what they want. It is proof positive you are codependent when you pull out all the stops of self-sacrifice in order to provide for another person the thing you want for them as well as the thing they want; in hopes they will see the thing you want them to want is the better choice and choose that thing over the thing they thought they wanted. Love is complicated. Codependent love is convoluted.
“The negative idea of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the most important point.” C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
If you are going to Seattle, you simply must have your own private tour guide. How else will you know when and where all the quirky sights and events are to be found? Take the summer solstice parade in Fremont, for instance. Billed as a non-motorized parade with over 200 bare bodied bicycle entrants; these celebratory solstice folks got away with nudity by painting on all their clothes and costumes. Some were more effective than others.