Okay, it doesn’t really rock, but it’s good for fiction. It’s not even considered a real condition by some mental health professionals. It used to be called “passive dependent personality.” But I thought that was the ideal of womanhood? Men, this is why we too are confused by constantly changing definitions of mental health! Sitting in a diner a few years back I overheard (because I was eavesdropping) a man telling his friend that what he really wanted was a good old-fashioned codependent relationship. My son and I laughed about it knowing how he felt. Throwing ourselves under buses for others and then resenting it were long family traditions we were proud of–until I went to an Alanon meeting and listened to the people who had been attending for years and recycling all of the abuse and heartache they’d experienced. It was kind of sickening.
My parents both came from alcoholic homes but managed to escape full-blown martyrdom but it’s a slippery slope when the addicts and alcoholics march back into the circle and you watch in your passive way as your kids fall for the charm of the druggie. And there is a charm. My father could sniff a heroin addict a mile away. I’d still be insisting he was cute and misunderstood.
Thank God Katherine McCullough came along as a character before I read Codependency No More which basically assigns every caring emotion, every angry emotion and every weird emotion to codependency status. Yes, Katherine is maddeningly passive as a young wife and mother, but give her a break, will you? Her parents are pleasant and abusive and controlling. Her husband is secretive, aloof and loving. Any girl would be confused.
Someone asked me why Katherine is so blind to her husband’s addiction. When writing Katherine my ideal man was an addict who finally sees the light and reforms–not a man who never was an addict. We codependents or passive dreamer types are an odd lot of screw-ups, but I’d rather write novels than sit in a church basement crying into my coffee. Sure, I cringe at some of Katherine’s familiar antics, but it’s with the knowledge of 4 more books for her to grow through. She was on the right track going for the military guy though. I did that the second time around and discovered a sane, self-sufficient man can be oddly less boring than I thought. We’ll just have to see if Katherine gets that lucky with John.
This week is their week–a week about screwed up love. If doing it right was easy we’d have short novels and no war. In honor of imperfect relationships I’m having a $.99 Kindle eBook sale on The House on Tenafly Road this upcoming weekend Feb 15-16 (the day after Valentine’s Day makes you begin to wish you had a morphine-addicted spouse–or maybe realize, damn, you have it good).
So gather up your pennies (c’mon it won’t break the bank) and buy the book. Tell your friends, too–you know, the ones who like really falling in love with screwed up characters who redeem themselves. Or the ones who like page-turners with military heroes. Or the ones who like big books with maps. Love, death, maps and redemption–who could ask for anything more?