There’s a saying in the twelve steps programs: “Codependents don’t have relationships, they take hostages.”
When someone I care about acts like a victim or a hostage when they can simply say no to a controlling dynamic or walk out the door, it makes me a little crazy. When they talk as if they need permission to be themselves, take care of themselves and so on, I want to shake them awake into positive action. I want to scream – “It’s YOUR life, not theirs!”
That’s when I remember the other saying from the 12 steps program: “Codependents don’t have relationships, they have caseloads.” I check my rescuer impulse.
There are times to say what you mean and mean what you say without being mean when you say it. I do that. Then I let people use my observations as they choose. After all, when I want to scream, “It’s your life, not theirs,” I need to remember… It’s their life, not mine.
Of course there are times to intervene, and there are times when helping isn’t codependent. That said, don’t let yourself be taken hostage by trying to change someone who just isn’t ready to set themselves free, and find a controlling other to be a convenient excuse. Also, don’t turn your friendships into caseloads. There are professionals for that.