I thought I was "helping" my friend, but I was being played

Kelly E.

Codependency doesn't just happen in romantic relationships


At the start, codependency just looked like me helping you out a bit with your kid. I’d babysit and it was fun for me too.

It looked like two mums getting along. Building a friendship.

Codependency looked at first like I’d found a soulmate. Someone who really got me, you know? Like you did. When I was talking with you it felt like no-one else mattered. Like I was the only person you wanted to talk to. Who listens like that now?

Everyone’s on their phones. Everyone’s distracted.

But you had all the time in the world.

You saw me.

Codependency looked a bit like me helping you out with your housework. I didn’t mind. I knew how much it stressed you out. Doing your housework kept you calm and that meant everyone was happier. Anyway, you were sick and it’s busy with kids. I get it.

You did get sick a lot.

Codependency looked like me doing your housework and buying you dinner a few times a week. I’m not rich, I’m a single mum too, but my cupboards aren’t empty like yours.

It’s not easy when you’re too sick to work. And the kids complain cause they’re hungry. Who wants that?

I really didn’t mind buying dinner. And lunch. And kid’s clothes. And a ticket to the movies so we could go out and have a girls’ night. And snacks, of course. You have to have snacks at the movies.

I heard rumours about you.

One of the other mums told me you had lots of people helping you. She mentioned something about the men you’re involved with. But you told me yourself about the trouble you’d had with your ex. The abusive one. No wonder you’re struggling. No wonder you need help.

Codependency looked like the nicest thing. Like me helping you out and you loving me.

It looked like closeness. It looked like being needed. Who doesn’t want to be needed?

Then there was that time when you called. Something had happened. Someone had gotten hurt.

Of course I’d come straight away. Why would you even doubt that? You knew I would. I always dropped everything when you asked me to, didn’t I?

I held you and you cried.

I stroked your hair and put you to bed.

You flipped out then.

You had told me that you’d struggled with your mental health. I knew that. I knew everything.

I hadn’t seen it like this though.

The look on your kids’ faces let me know they’d seen it.

And then you threw the plate. You swore at me. You yelled at the kids.

Codependency looked like me calming your kids that day. Calming you. Sorting out dinner. Cleaning the dishes. Doing your housework. Booking an appointment at the doctor.

But the next day, it was like it never happened.

You were all smiles and denial. No doctor’s visit for you.

Codependency looked like me playing your game. I could see there were rules:

Rule 1: Everyone looks after you.

Rule 2: You never take responsibility.

I don’t want to play that game any more.

Photo by Mike Austin on Unsplash

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