Counterdependence can be Cool

Someone recently sent me a note after reading my blog and asked me how I had it so together. Momentarily flattered, I wondered how to respond with some humility. Then I cut through the crap and realized that there was a chance my writing is not always as honest as it should be. Because I am many things, but a “totally together” person is not one.

Reader, meet honesty. Honesty, meet my reader.

I have an issue with trust. I am fiercely independent. And by that I mean rabidly independent.

On my very first official date at the age of fifteen, a young man opened a car door for me. “What, you think I’m incapable of opening my own car door?” I asked. “Do you think women are so weak they can’t even do that on their own?” And that was the first three minutes of our date. It got worse. The poor guy ran the other direction once the date was over, and probably never opened a door for anyone again.

In college, I asked a football player to get me back in good physical shape. I had been feasting on cafeteria starchy foods plus MD 20/20 on the weekends, and my “freshman 10” had become my “freshman 22” in just two months.

So, he took me to the football stadium and made me run the stairs with a few other players. It was brutal, but I was not about to wimp out. Hoping it was over, he led me into the gym for some weight-lifting. The last exercise involved hanging off a bar to do sit-ups. I refused to stop even though my stomach was screaming.

I was two days away from going home for Thanksgiving. Once I got home, I was taken to the doctor for extreme stomach pain.

I had sprained my stomach. Did you know that was possible? Well, it is. And I did it because I refused to admit that I couldn’t do something.

My husband told me years ago that I was mildly counterdependent. I told him that he was wrong. He was not.

To be honest with you, I have faced life as if it were a daily tough-man contest or an episode of survivor. I berate myself over mistakes and break up with people or companies before they can break up with me. And now that I am willing to share this with you, I feel better. There is immense value in acknowledging imperfections.

We all struggle with something, and not one of us has it all together no matter how our social media posts or pages or photos look. I see people in pain posting super happy pictures of their perfect lives; I see faces so photoshopped they look like a Kardashian.

Nobody is perfect. But we have learned to value “likes” over liking ourselves; we have been taught that being honest makes us weak; we have mistakenly surmised that being angry makes us experts. We are building self-perception on false foundations, and failing to let ourselves fail.

We all have days we’d rather forget. Sometimes, we pick the wrong partner. We get out of shape. We go for a new look and end up with a really embarrassing haircut that makes us look like Marge Simpson (that might have just been me). We aren’t here to be perfectly coiffed and emotionally pulled together. We are here to learn. To stumble. To cry. To scream. To laugh. To ruin a relationship or two. It’s all part of the process.

Think I have it all together? I do not. If you want proof just try to help me carry something. I’ll karate chop you to the ground.

You deserved a little honesty in a world filled with faux advice and glamour shots. Your scars are as important as your stars. Your dark cloud is as critical as your bright sun. Everything about you is part of your journey. Maybe we should all be a little more honest about our paths so we can honestly help each other.

My name is Donna. I am counterdependent. And that’s the truth.