codependent

Every time I think I’ve licked my codependent tendencies, I realize how broken I still am.

Life has a way of forcing us to learn lessons. A couple of weeks ago, I shared stories about how an incurable disease diagnosis led to a crisis of my soul. (Read about it HERE.)

I kept comments closed on those posts, because I knew my search for relief would be controversial to a few people in my life. When the stories went up, I was trekking across Wisconsin. In two days, I did five energetic appearances and drove over 500 miles. I didn’t have time to look at my phone beyond tracing my next stop on Google maps and running credit cards through Square.

If my post caused controversy, I wouldn’t have been able to manage it.

And I knew how it would and where it would. I didn’t sleep for two days from worrying about the fallout.

People everywhere tell me how real I am, and to an extent, it’s true. I don’t lie about myself in my books or online, but I keep a lot hidden for the sake of peace. For most of my life, it’s been easier to omit things to please others. Whenever I put myself and my needs first, I experience crushing guilt, like I’m the concrete pile being driven into the earth.

No wonder my reiki healer told me my soul was empty.

I take on everybody’s stress. My family’s. My friends’. The world’s. I care and I fret and I empathize and I omit and I apologize. In person, I cede control of conversations to those who need……..anything. I shine when somebody needs, and I self-flagellate when I stand up and say, “Enough. I’m empty. I cannot take this on right now.”

I’m determined to be codependent no longer. AND I DON’T CARE WHO OR WHAT TUMBLES FROM MY LIFE.

Maybe that’s what attracted me to Theodosia Burr, a narrator in my novel Hard to Die. Her relationship with her father Aaron Burr was smothering and unorthodox. Some historians believe Burr challenged Alexander Hamilton to their tragic duel because Hamilton repeated an oft-whispered rumor at a party: Aaron Burr slept with his daughter Theodosia.

While I don’t have an opinion on that salacious piece of gossip, I know Theo did everything to please her dad. She married the man he selected, studied every course he recommended, and followed him to his precipitous downfall. When Aaron Burr was in exile, Theo wrote fiery letters to anyone who would listen, begging them to bring him home. She was convinced she had to please her father, even as she boarded a ship and disappeared en route to his front door.

I saw myself reflected in the churned-up ocean as her ship vanished. She was codependent like me.

Do you struggle with codependence? I’d love to read your stories in a comment.

And if you haven’t read my books, Theodosia Burr, a narrator in my novel Hard to Die, was a clue on Jeopardy! last week. No contestant got the question right, BUT YOU CAN. And check out that featured photo. My book To Live Forever was recently grouped with Gloria Steinem and Lily Collins by Books on the Subway. CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS!

When someone remembers us, we live forever. -Andra Watkins

When someone remembers us, we live forever. ~ Andra Watkins

If you’ve seen me speak, you know I talk a lot about whether anyone remembers us and how history treats its losers. Take Theodosia Burr Alston, main character in my upcoming novel Hard to Die. How much do you know about her?

Her father, Aaron Burr, didn’t care that his
only legitimate child was a daughter.

Burr was a progressive. Despite his florid sexual conquests, he believed his daughter to be equal to any man. He hired top tutors and ensured that she was as well educated as any son. He spoke to her as an equal and challenged her to keep improving herself throughout her life.

She lived more of her life in New York.

Though she’s often associated with South Carolina, she was born in Albany, New York and reared in New York City. Aaron Burr was always short on cash. When Theodosia was marriageable, she endorsed her father’s notion that she consider candidates who were rich. South Carolina’s Joseph Alston was a worthy candidate: a wealthy, powerful family; a South Carolinian, to bring Burr the Southern vote; and handsome. Theodosia moved to his South Carolina plantation (now Brookgreen Gardens) and divided her time between the farm and their Charleston residence.

She was the first caucasian to honeymoon at Niagara Falls.

Theodosia set a trend, right? She and her new husband bushwhacked through the wilds of New York State to reach the falls. Sacred to the Iroquois people, the chief allowed his charming guest and her man to take a gander.

She only bore one child.

Her son wrecked her lady bits. She spent the rest of her life going from male doctor to male doctor, begging them to treat her prolapsed uterus. When everyone refused her, she bent her mind toward her own treatment, making visits to a hot spring near Poughkeepsie, New York.

Most of her papers disappeared with her.

Reconstructing Theodosia’s voice wasn’t easy. When she boarded a ship in Georgetown, South Carolina on one of the last days of 1812, she carried much of her correspondence. Her father, four years in exile, had returned to New York. She sailed to convalesce with him, because she was clinically depressed over the death of her ten-year-old son six months before. While many rumors persist, no one knows what happened to her. Her ship never reached New York or any other port.

Want to read more about Theodosia?

Hard to Die is available NOW. Amazon/Nook/iTunes/Kobo.

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This is part of a series of pictures about making memories. If you liked the story why not share it with your friends? Let’s meet on Facebook or Twitter. If you prefer pictures you will surely like my Instagram. I’ve collected inspirational things and more on Pinterest! Any comments? Write them below!