I have stood against the concept of patriarchy for a while now. I have been aware of how insidious codependency was for a time as well. However, it was not until yesterday, I realized as a man, patriarchy and codependency go hand in hand. Codependency is one of the tools of a patriarch. Ruling and subjugation needn’t be physically violent, it can be elusive, subconscious and even thought to be normal.
My Journey so far
Anyone who has followed my journey knows I have put a lot of effort into correcting my behavior towards women. If you haven’t followed my journey thus far, now you know I had a lot of work that needed to be tended to in that area. Sometimes we can’t figure out what is broken until we can see all the moving parts. Having begun dating and fixing other elements that were more obvious, I was recently able to gain awareness into the depths of issues I thought I had resolved. Not only were they unresolved, they were rampant, pervasive in my life, destructive to those I loved and destructive to my healing. I posit that for men, patriarchy and codependency go hand in hand.
A simple definition of a Patriarch is a man who rules a family, clan or tribe. Therefore patriarchy would be the rule of men. To be clear, I’m not a man who is against healthy masculinity or views men as less than women. On a conscious level, I know both sexes have their assets and that for the overall wellbeing of both sexes the equality of those assets needs to be appreciated. I don’t view those assets through the western cultural lens of males being the physically strong breadwinners and women being superior in emotional intelligence and housework. So when I am consciously aware of the equality of sexes I couldn’t be participating in patriarchy or male dominance, could I? Yes, now let me explain codependency.
A simple definition of codependence is the mutual dependence of two people, especially when one partner emotionally relies on supporting and caring for the other. Let me be clear, I am not talking about the healthy act of supporting someone through difficult times or caring for another individual when they are in need. I mean the pervasive action of offering support when it’s not needed and caretaking for the individual when they are capable of resolving whatever issue they face. Codependency has two sides and therefore two ways that it can further enmesh itself with patriarchy. A man can either seek to be the one constantly receiving attention, constantly being looked over, pampered, addressed at the expense of the caretaker or the man can be the caretaker and constantly seek to control the other by offering unwarranted advice, concealed contracts, reminding, begging, etc. Let’s be honest no side of co-dependency is factually based in love, even if that is the intent. patriarchy and codependency are both laden with fear and control.
Patriarchy and Codependency
Patriarchy and codependency go together like bread and butter. What better way to trap a victim than either pulling at their heartstrings or doing actions that cause them to either lose faith in their own ability to cope with or handle situations or to let all the coping and handling of situations fall to another so they can enjoy life with no worries. Often times codependency isn’t a physical form of violence either so it’s elusive. It’s the prolonged mental and emotional violence. That can often leave both the recipient and caretaker, feeling crazy and all shook up at times throughout the exchange. Don’t worry there is hope, there is a solution, however, it rests with you.
I want to be clear, if it isn’t obvious already, women can be codependent as well, this isn’t an exclusively male problem. I linked patriarchy and codependency because, in my personal life, I usually seek out women for these roles and want to raise awareness for other men to heal this behavior, treat women they love better and also treat themselves better as well. So regardless of sex, these solutions will help. The first thing you can do is further educate yourself on what codependency is and isn’t. I recently got a book by Melody Beattie called Codependent No More and it has been illuminating. It has revealed to me how destructive and pervasive this set of behaviors, thoughts, actions, and reactions are in my life. After we become aware of how we personally participate in codependency, in either role, the next step is loving ourselves but also recognizing we can’t continue our participation in codependency for the sake of our loved ones and most importantly ourselves. Next, we move into awareness and vigilance in regards to those behaviors. That means taking responsibility for our actions by either pulling our own weight or by letting others pull their own weight. Codependency is usually based in fear, I fear they can’t do it, I fear what they will face, I fear to be without them, I fear I am not worthy unless I always put them first, I fear to tell my truth, I fear to be myself or on the other hand, I fear I am incapable, I fear to hurt their feelings and say I don’t need help, I fear to say no. So what we really need in order to heal from codependency is simple. Honest self-assessment of the behaviors, after awareness, comes vigilant action in correcting the behavior, honest compassionate communication with everyone, taking responsibility for ourselves, letting go of controlling behavior, trust, faith and above all else love. At the end of the day, you can’t correct your codependency for the other involved, you have to correct it for you.