Codependency and Enabling Behavior Doesn’t End with Divorce

When I was married to my ex, for my own survival, it was sometimes necessary to “bend” the truth. I’m not proud of it – I don’t condone lying in my home and I try to promote honesty in my children. However – sometimes – to avoid an inevitable reaction from my ex and protect myself, I would lie or conceal the truth.

If he was working I a weekend, I either wouldn’t make plans until after he left, or I wouldn’t tell him about them. Not that I was doing anything that merited any interest. Usually it was just shopping or heading up to my mom’s. He’d ask about ingredients in our son’s food. Not from an educated – this is bad for my son standpoint, but from an OCD, panic, I read this in an online magazine standpoint. I would lie about the ingredients to placate him. Or I’d feed our son the stuff he was worried about when he wasn’t home.

All coping behaviors. Designed to protect myself (and our son) from increasing amounts of bullying. If I didn’t – I would face an onslaught of yelling and demeaning remarks.

I didn’t put any stock into it. I know that there aren’t germs waiting to attack me and the kids. As I realized I was actually avoiding, in my opinion, non-harmful situations in order to avoid his reaction I knew there was a problem. I was inadvertently feeding his compulsions. I was complicit. I was enabling. So I got out. And started to rebuild myself and my self esteem.

Which is why, over seven years out, I was startled to discover this week that I haven’t completely gotten over it.

This week, Puck had his follow up with a new asthma/allergy specialist. They wanted to re-run the allergy panel they’d done just two weeks previous.I hesitated.

My mind immediately went to the dog allergy test. Because we have a dog. Puck narrowly missed being diagnosed with a dog allergy last time. And because of his asthma, I’m told, he’s more likely to develop allergies as time goes on.

He’s never given any indication that he reacts in any way to the dog.We’ve taken precautions anyway. The dog is not allowed in his bed – and we limit the dog’s access to his room. We’ve removed all the carpeting in the house and vacuum regularly to avoid the over-accumulation of dog hair.

And because we haven’t seen a reaction, other than further limits his exposure in the house, if he did react on an allergy panel, we wouldn’t make any big changes at home. (Clearly, if he were severely allergic, it would be a completely different conversation). But if he weren’t, we wouldn’t get rid of the dog. We might insist that he pet the dog less, and stay out of areas where there are a lot of dog hair (he likes to snuggle with the dog her bed). But we wouldn’t get rid of the dog.

I know that.

But I hesitated.

Why?

Because I feared the reaction from my ex-husband.

I didn’t want to face the onslaught of emauls (thanks Jane Thrive) telling me what a horrible mother I was for keeping a dog that our son is allergic to.

I even, very briefly, ran through the scenario in my head where I didn’t pass on the dog allergy information. And asked the doctor to keep the secret.

Ridiculous.

Common sense prevailed. Puck had the full allergy panel done. No dog allergy (maybe because he’s been exposed since birth).

The fact that I still have co-dependent, enabling thoughts still disturbs me though.

I’m not going to duck and cover. If there’s a problem, I want to face it without having the secondary consideration of how the children’s father is going to react to it. I’m going to deal with whatever problem presents the way a mother should.

I’m trying not to be the person I was back then. I’m acknowledging that those behaviors do nothing to further the relationship I have to have with the father of my children and they don’t serve anyone’s best interests – not mine, not his, and certainly not the children’s. And I’m working to change them.

And that’s the best that I can do.

Image Credit: (Edited) stockimages / freedigitalphotos.net

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