Codependency is a scary word. I didn't actually understand it before examining it in myself recently and looking up the definition. From Oxford Languages, "excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically one who requires support on account of an illness or addiction". Setting aside mental illness and addiction, I want to zero in on the idea of excessive emotional reliance on a partner.
I have always thought of myself as an independent person. Having gone to boarding school at 14, I have never understood people whose parents still make their doctor's appointments for them in their 20's or have them on a family phone plan. I will do it myself, thank you very much. I wasn't overly worried about marrying someone whose job requires a lot of travel, sometimes for a month at a time. And I grew up with a mother who was a nurse, so I was a-ok with the idea of my husband having to work Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. I'm an introverted modern woman who will be just fine with her dog, a good book, and a date night on some different non-holiday day.
But I'm also an enneagram type 3 achiever who lives for the acceptance and admiration of others. I'm learning that I also was specifically drawn to a partner who didn't prioritize me since I was raised by a father who prioritized lots of things over his family and children. So once we were about a year into our relationship, living together, and facing our first bumps in the road that included some murky crossing-the-line into infidelity and each of us choosing ourselves and other priorities over each other, codependency bloomed.
This is hard to write about as it is one of the things I like least about myself. But I have created a dynamic where I use my husband's travel and work schedule as a blueprint for my life. I schedule almost all of my plans based on when he will be gone. In a positive light, it looks like I value our quality time together and put his needs first. In a harsher view, I have fallen into a codependency trap and rely exclusively on his schedule to dictate my life choices. I haven't figured it out. I catch myself doing it all the time, even and possibly especially now as I struggle to define and build this new relationship of ours.
So I notice it. I name it. I push against it each day and give myself grace when I fall short and progress feels stalled. Steady as she goes.