America’s Codependency Problem

Personal responsibility.

There is a crisis-level lack of it in modern American culture. Perhaps the biggest problem is all those who view themselves as mini-saviors or white knights, tripping over themselves to be responsible for others. That is an unhealthy mental/behavioral/relationship condition called, “codependency,” in which one party maintains a narcissistic attitude about the relationship and the world, and the other party smooths every facet of life over for their partner.

A “smoother” (enabler) can be a friend, teacher, doctor, preacher/priest, counselor/psychiatrist/psychologist, a spouse/significant other, parent, adult child, or any other professional or family member. The “smoother” will lie to others to make things seem much more normal than they really are. The “smoother” will make all kinds of excuses to cover over the narcissists’ bad behaviors. The “smoother” will sacrifice all of themselves-friendships, career, family members, interests, body, time, money, and self-respect to make sure the narcissist has it easy.

What the “smoother” gets out of this relationship, is a rush of endorphins; a feeling that they’ve protected, helped, given their all, done something truly great in the world. Everyone craves such feelings, but “smoothers” enable bad behavior so they can continue to feel good about themselves. They are really crippling the narcissist, reducing them to an eternal infant status, instead of helping the narcissist stand on their own two feet, discover their wings, and fly.

“The Emperor Has No Clothes”

The narcissist of course, is waited on hand and foot like a king. The “smoother”/enabler acts as an attack dog to defend the narcissist’s “honor,” to keep them from being hurt, or feeling the slightest pangs from life. But like the stereotypical, spoiled king, narcissists know they could never survive without their “smoother”/enabler. Deep down, they are scared, lonely, bored little children. Both parties are addicted to one another, craving mutual attention and praise. In essence, a codependent relationship is like a cult of one. In order to have healthier people and relationships in America, “smoothers” need to step back, and narcissists need to stand up.

It’s time to enable responsibility again.

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Diverse Reading: Why You Should Not Choose Protagonists Who Look Like You

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Do not underestimate the power of the written word and its ability to influence lives for better or worse.

People ask online all the time, “I’m looking for book recommendations featuring a protagonist that- (fill in the blank) is homosexual, is a man, is a strong female, is a minority, is asexual, is a redhead, is a single parent, etc. etc.” It’s even better when readers ask for these roles in their favorite genre.

It isn’t a problem to have strong protagonist characters of a specific type featured in a novel or story or song, but it is a problem to only read books with those kinds of characters; characters who look strikingly like us. And the problem is that we indulge in a kind of literary segregation, only and ever choosing our favorites and leaving the rest-a very wide swath of literature, indeed-to collect dust on the shelves.

The entire point of reading is to explore new people and places and situations we have never encountered and possibly never will. When done right, reading broadens our expanse of understanding and sympathy, it deepens our humanity and imagination, and it takes us to new places. Reading is ultimately about thinking and learning, although reading can be great fun in the process as well. But if all we ever do is read about ourselves or our fantasy-selves, then we, by necessity exclude the rest, resulting in our own echo chamber and perpetuating the very real societal ills of racism, homophobia, and general lack of community we are currently dealing with in American culture. Be diverse in your reading, and encourage your children to be diverse.

Read about protagonists that are mentally or physically disabled; that are your opposite gender; that are a different skin color than you; a different religion; a different culture; a different language (or more challenging/antique one); a different time; who love the things you hate; who hate the things you love. Stretch your mind, and find that it is so much less what we or others look like, than our underlying humanity that connects us.

Choosing Sides? In the Aftermath of Violence, there are No Winners

In the wake of the Charlottesville, VA protests, one thing has become crystal clear:

  • 14596954857_9eb1e2905d_zOne side is motivated by fear, which leads to anger, anger to hate.
  • One side throws around emotionally-charged language, calling the other side traitors to America.
  • One side refuses to give any ground, refuses to honestly hear the other side out.
  • One side sees the other as everything that’s wrong with this country. If only that side would leave America, she would be truly great again.
  • One side has been trying to “white-wash” history for years.
  • One side is just itching for another Civil War.
  • One side is on a witch hunt, ready to destroy complicated people over voicing their opinions and utilizing their civil right as Americans to freely speak out without fear of repercussions.
  • One side can’t or won’t see that where and how the other side lives plays a big role in that side’s opinions on politics, etc.
  • One side’s idealism is the most important thing to them, higher than the people who make America great (i.e. Americans), higher than the laws that make America safe, higher than any religious precepts of peace. The idea, and not the reality, is the number one thing.
  • One side resembles fascism in it’s complete devotion to the idea, and the utter destruction (so far verbally, reputation-wise, financially) of anyone who even appears to question it. There is no neutrality in this side’s eyes, how much less room is there for all sides?
  • One side is more than willing to resort to violence as a catalyst for change, “if necessary.”
  • Will one side stop at nothing for their ideal America to be realized? That remains to be seen.

Which side am I talking about? If you only see one side or the other, you are part of the problem. United we stand, divided we fall.

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The grave is never satisfied.