As D and Anna chatted (with me close enough to the phone to hear), Anna shared that she was frustrated by the fact that she will probably have to take on a second job in order to pay off the rather extensive debt that she and her ex have built up. She was even more concerned because the ex apparently just got a DUI a few days ago, and is looking at several thousand dollars in fines, fees, etc. that will land a more significant chunk of the credit card bill on Anna's shoulders in the coming months. Of course, D said (and I thought to myself) that she should let the blame rest squarely on her ex's shoulders--he got himself into trouble, and she should not have to pay extra bills because of his mistake. "You don't understand," Anna said. "The bills have to get paid one way or the other, and I want the debt gone. Besides, this wouldn't have happened if we were still together--I would have been able to stop him or drive him home."
In those words--in Anna's attempts to take on her ex's problems as her own, to shoulder more than her fair share of the burden, in her ardent belief that had she been there, she could have controlled him and his actions and the situation to a more positive end--I felt more kin to her than I ever have. Here in her own life, I saw a mirror to my own past codependent mess. No! I wanted to shout through the phone line (or somehow teleport myself through it to shake her into sense). Nothing you do can control what he does. His behavior is his, his bad choices are his, and the consequences of those choices do not have to make your life worse if you don't let them. I wanted to tell her how this used to be me--how I honestly believed that if I were present all the time, constantly watching the phone bill and computer and D's social life, none of the horrible addicty problems would have ever arisen. But of course, I couldn't do that. Because I can't fix her either--and she will have to come to realize all this in her own time.
In the meantime, my heart goes out to her. And I am grateful for the fact that I, at least, can now realize that someone else's drunken mistake is not of my own doing, and not something I can fix, or need to feel guilty about, or take on the consequences for if I don't choose to do so.