How Do I Live Without You?

How I overcame co-dependence (and you can too).

Photo credit: Shutterstock

I always liked girls.

In 4th grade, I had a “girlfriend” who I was already imagining a lifelong bond with. I had her buy me a Britney Spears CD for my birthday (upon my request, don’t shame my 10-year-old taste). This CD included a song that wasn’t really a hit, but stood out to me as a favorite back then, called “Born To Make You Happy.”

I’ve been married…

and divorced. I, too, got married young: she was 21 and I was 23. We fell in love fast the summer after she graduated high school. This doesn’t mention the fact that I had just been dumped by my high school sweetheart, who I also thought I would marry, and though I promised myself I’d stay single and work on myself, I was quickly in love again.

So what exactly is codependency?

Psych describes it as, “…a person belonging to a dysfunctional, one-sided relationship where one person relies on the other for meeting nearly all of their emotional and self-esteem needs. It also describes a relationship that enables another person to maintain their irresponsible, addictive, or underachieving behavior.”

1. Recognize it as a problem.

If you’ve read this far you probably have an inkling that you are codependent. You have a lifetime of examples of romanticizing codependency, and it may be difficult to see why loving someone with everything you have is a problem. It is. Loving someone that much, with no focus on personal ambitions, or evolution, is suffocating. Two halves of a person do not make a whole. They make two grotesque halves, that can’t function on a basic level alone. It’s not romantic to expect a relationship to fix you or give you purpose.

2. Find some purpose.

What would you do if you were the only person alive? If there was no one around to clap for you or cry with you? This sounded like a hellscape to me and I assume many others. The series The Twilight Zone, which has a history of exploring tortuous scenarios, focused on this in the very first episode. The protagonist didn’t fare well.

3. Do things alone.

Every chance I could after that conversation, I began hiking and exploring the outdoors near where I lived. I had been there for 24 years and hardly touched the tip of iceberg of what there was to see, and swim in, and climb up.

4. Stay single for a while (for real this time).

You need some time alone. I mean not really alone; use this time to connect with friends, especially those you neglected while being obsessed with your relationship. Or try to make new friends.

5. Foster healthy relationships.

After spending enough time alone, like intentionally alone, I did meet someone else.


Sometimes I think it’s still okay to learn about “true love” from media and art. At the end of John Milton’s A Paradise Lost, we see Adam and Eve leaving the Garden of Eden, “They hand in hand with wandering steps and slow, Through Eden took their solitarie way. (sic)”

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