January 7, 2020:
But let me ask you this. Where does the line live between "codependency" versus generous compassion for a friend?
Imagine her disease was not alcoholism but leukemia. If she were living in her car you'd certainly offer her your guest room. If you have the resources and you withhold them when your friend is in dire need, what will we say about you?
The line in the sand which therapists draw is this: it's loyalty when your caring behavior is not harmful to yourself. If you're being damaged — obvious examples being your guitars stolen and your bones broken and your retinas detached and your kidneys damaged — you've crossed that line into codependency. Now your behavior is considered exaggerated: an unhealthy "overresponsibility" where your responsibility to yourself is being inappropriately set aside.
Well. Yah? So?
Because what's worse? Having a guitar stolen, or being informed that your friend has died in a car crash, or a street deal gone bad, or a barroom brawl?
Where my mind goes, again and again, to the negative example of her horrible family of evangelical hypocrites. Who adopted a special needs child, knowing she was the daughter of addicts, then abandoned her on the sidewalk when they discovered that her needs were more special than they'd anticipated. Where her needs were interfering with their desire to own a larger television or to go snorkeling in Cancun. And her addiction was rationalized not as disease but as rebellion, against God and Mom, two entities it was tough for them to tell apart. Until they washed their collective hands of her, insisting, "Tough love! Tough love!" And, "It's the only way she'll learn!"
So that, in large part, my stubborn loyalty was driven by their anti-example. Where I will not be like them!
This is more complicated than simple "codependency". In part it mirrors the pissing contest between Mom and addict, where mom ordered the addict to be well, and when that braindead strategy failed, projected her own ineptitude as willfulness on the part of her daughter. Yet I'm insightful enough to realize that the family was just as sick as the addict. More so in some obvious ways. Which is how the families of addicts are. The disease warps everyone whose lives it enters. Like Mom ignoring her daughter's illness I'm in part ignoring theirs, viewing their behavior moralistically as failure of loyalty-under-all-circumstances.
But — and I encourage you to grasp this in its full depth of passion — I really don't give a fuck. It was their responsibility as her family to look after her, and they didn't. Now that it was my responsibility as her family-to-be, I was determined not to let go of her in the same shitty way.