Why You’re Probably Not Codependent

What It Means To Be Codependent

There’s one main reason why you’re probably not codependent. And that reason involves how we commonly perceive and apply the term. To be blunt, we use the term too frequently, too loosely, and mostly, improperly. And those who should know better (i.e. helping professionals) are among the worst offenders! To  be sure, there is such a thing as codependency. But the way most folks use the term these days has very little to do with its original, and actual meaning.

If we’re to communicate ideas accurately and reliably, our words must have specific meanings. The “co” prefix in any word means “jointly,” or “together,” – an inherent partnership of sorts. Copilots, for example, jointly operate (i.e. “co-operate”) an aircraft. They might divide specific duties, but both operators engage in the same task: making sure the aircraft properly flies. The word “dependent” also has a specific meaning. It means that one thing is contingent upon or determined by another. In the case of true chemical dependency, for example, a person’s ability to maintain some degree of emotional equilibrium depends upon whether a certain substance is in their system. (And that’s just one reason why “tolerance” and “withdrawal” are necessary conditions for justly conferring an addiction diagnosis on someone.)

Early addiction research yielded many meaningful findings. One finding was how much of the addict’s life was controlled by the substance upon which they were dependent. But  it also became evident how much the substance’s presence controlled the lives of others in the family system. With the substance controlling everyone’s lives, one could rightfully say that both the addict and the addict’s “enablers” (those conscientious enough to keep things going despite the addict’s dysfunction) were codependent.

What Codependence Isn’t

I’ve seen hundreds of folks who referred to themselves codependent. Usually, they labeled themselves so because someone told them they were or something they read or heard suggested they were. So it almost always surprised them when I asked: “Along with whom, and upon what, exactly, are you dependent?” And most folks responded with a blank or quizzical stare. But what’s most important is that most of the time, after assessing their situation, it was pretty clear they weren’t codependent at all!

Codependence is not emotional dependency. It’s also not mutual dependence or healthy, normal human interdependence. And it’s especially not imposed dependence (i.e. dependence subtly cultivated by a skilled manipulator, malignantly narcissistic controller, or predator). And to label the victim of such manipulation “codependent” is truly a form of abuse. It casts the victim as their own victimizer, which further damages the victim’s already impaired self-image. And the damage increases proportionally to the degree the victim buys into the notion.

Now, many times interventions designed for codependency can actually be of help to former abuse victims. Folks in abusive relationships often either came to the relationship lacking a sound sense of self or had their sense of self damaged by their abuse. So, while codependency models can be helpful, they can still do some harm. I talk more about this on Character Matters.

41 thoughts on “Why You’re Probably Not Codependent

  1. Codependency in abuse victims. Could be truthfully Cognitive Dissonance, caused by the gaslighting effect.

  2. Excellent post! I really can appreciate the term imposed dependence. That makes a lot of sense.

    It was actually very difficult for me to grasp the concept that I was in an abusive relationship. My ex husband called me controlling so much that I actually on some level believed it and would work on being less controlling. He was very slick.

    I would do all the work, I would have all the responsibility (and the consequences I.e, my fault when something went wrong) but then he would complain that I had all the control and that I controlled him. Of course, when I would offer to let him take over tasks explaining I would be relieved to not have so much responsibility and pressure, he would sneer and tell me he delegates those menial tasks at work, he’s not doing them at home. I found the entire process confusing.

    So basically I had all the work, all the responsibility and all the consequences but none of the control needed to be entirely successful at those tasks. Example, I could do the bills and set up a budget but he would fly into a rage if I said something he wanted wasn’t in the budget. He would refuse to work on a budget with me, he makes too much money to live on a budget (we were a normal middle class couple—no doctors or high priced lawyers here) I recognize now what I was experiencing as entitlement but back then it was like he expected me to just magically produce whatever dollars were needed in the moment.

    I obviously didn’t feel dependent on him as it appeared he was dependent upon me so it was really hard to see what was really happening. I knew something was off but I didn’t know what nor did my reasonable explanations make a dent in his thinking (even rich people have budgets just more expensive ones.) I did believe he believed his narrative even if I couldn’t see it. I certainly didn’t feel like I had control of anything.

    But I found out later, as he laughed at me, that being called controlling was an easy button to push because I was so overly conscious about not being like my parents. Hahaha, you give me control on a silver platter just so you don’t feel like you could be like your parents, he sneered. That was an awful moment to realize that someone I loved and trusted would take advantage of a vulnerability created by my abusive parents. There are no words to describe a man like that.

    A comment about Co Dependency. When I really learned about the term, I was attending a family day at a rehabilitation center with a friend who had no family in the area. The addiction counselor explained that when Bill W and Dr Bob got started they focused on the alcoholics and presumed the family would get better once the addiction got better. And they found that true in many, many of the cases. But, he explained, there were a few cases in which relapse would occur that directly stemmed from the family. Once the alcoholic was sufficiently recovered, he would start to take his rightful place in the household. The wife would end up sabotaging his recovery in order for the family system to remain as it was, she did not want the family dynamic to change, she did not want her role is the family dynamic to change. They found there were certain characteristics in these sabotaging individuals and labeled them co dependent as they were also dependent upon the lifestyle alcoholism created hence dependent on alcohol. Bill W and Dr. Bob realized that treating the alcoholic wasn’t enough and the entire family needed treatment for recovery to be successful.

    1. Charlie,

      “But I found out later, as he laughed at me, that being called controlling was an easy button to push because I was so overly conscious about not being like my parents. Hahaha, you give me control on a silver platter just so you don’t feel like you could be like your parents, he sneered. That was an awful moment to realize that someone I loved and trusted would take advantage of a vulnerability created by my abusive parents. There are no words to describe a man like that.”

      Yes, this! They figure out what those vulnerabilities are and exploit them. Such a betrayal is so very painful that it is really hard to accept and then process. To know that are are literally preying on you and playing you for…whatever their agenda is. No empathy or shame. Living with\sleeping with\supporting the enemy.

  3. Charlie,
    What a confusing life your X created, and all for what? Is their happiness drawn from creating chaos and hurt, even to one’s own family? Yes, I think they do get a sick form of happiness from it. They’re very pleased with themselves. Their foundation, their heart, their core is tainted and in my terms evil. Sinister.
    I had similar situation with my X. He would completely ignore taking action on something, such as if we were leaving for a couple days, maybe I’d say, after driving a minute or two, did you remember to ———. It would be something I’d forgotten, but then remembered. He’d proceed to rant about how could I forget that, when he’d totally forgotten it himself. This sort of thing happened regularly. Or he wouldn’t like the way I handled something, something he should have handled, something he’d have more knowledge of, but he’d watch me handle it, maybe mishandle it, then criticize. He’d purposely put forth no effort or action, watch me, then criticize. He played this game to the fullest during the divorce.
    Charle, Kat, Joey, Anonymous, we’ve witnessed and lived through the most distorted times with these characters. The level at which they go through to make life difficult for others is mind-boggling. That’s why were so confused and why it takes us so long to sort through all this craziness.

    1. Hi, Lucy,

      Chaos is my kryptonite so it actually makes sense that he created so much of it. It didn’t then when I thought he was a normal person who was capable of living me.

      What you described with criticism on how you handled things he would not handle I termed ‘arm chair quarterbacking’. I would tell him if you are not going to be involved, do the work, take the responsibility than you can’t criticize the outcome. It used to frustrate, puzzle and confuse me because I would not feel like I had a right to criticize someone else’s efforts for something I ducked out of on the responsibility. I get now that that’s entitlement.

      Also, I’ve come to the realization that happiness and joy is not something they can really feel. So they’re not happy people no matter how much they say they are. Happiness is a construct outside of their pathology.

      They do feel pleasure which is different than happiness although we often experience it at the same time. Their pleasure is a dark thing though, not if the light where happiness and joy dwell.

  4. I know I’m codependent, it comes from coping mechanisms learned in a family that either has substance abuse involved, or something else going on where major dysfunction affects the family members. To get healthy we have to become aware of these self defeating behaviors and choose to learn healthier behaviors. I believe me meeting someone like my ex was just an extension of my childhood, but definitely made things worse and even more confusing. I always blamed myself, as I did in my childhood. I am finally coming to terms with these things – starting to change my self defeating patterns. It takes a lot of courage and motivation to change these old habits and belief systems but I have found it worth the work I have put into it. I will always be a work in progress and I have come to accept that and even embrace it. It feels good to be in that place instead of always condemning myself. I am not suggesting everyone has this stuff going on when they meet up with a narcissist – they are tricky and subtle and good at doing it and can draw in all sorts of people, I only know my situation so I am only speaking to my experiences.

  5. I grew up in a dysfunctional family and used fawning as a coping mechanism. It served me well as a child but when I became an adult I had to unlearn a lot of behaviors. They did not serve me well anymore so I needed to learn about what my needs and responsibilities were. I realized my parents had no desire or ability to meet my needs.

  6. Dr. Simon,
    I’ve been critisising this concept of ‘co-dependency’ for years on several blogs and channels (about Narcissism and associated mental states). You affirm just what I thought about it all the way.
    Your work has been an ‘eyeopener’ to me.
    My perspective has completely changed. Just like you I was educated in traditional psychology and psychiatrics. Did the work for 25 years and practised this mind-set on every patient/ relationship I’ve got throughout my live.
    With many desasetrous results as you might imagine.
    I’ve been a ‘sitting duck’ for all those (moral) character disordered people I see now clearly.
    I like to thank you a lot for those insights you’ve shared.
    It’s their abusive behaviour that counts that has to be adressed in the first place.
    Not where it possibly all came from to serve as an excuse.
    As you keep saying; ‘they know perfectly well what they are doing’.
    You convinced me. And it totally changed my perspective.

    1. Ge,

      As one who has dealt with these characters, and through all the teachings of Dr. Simon, I no longer give people a “pass”.

  7. Lucy,

    I had to learn the hard way too. Trying to solve all problems with the mantle of love, understanding, support and reason.
    They took advantage of me fully with the free ‘pass’ I offered them willingly.
    I surely had my doubts about their motives at certain times but I wasn’t able to let go of my ‘perspectives’; all people are essentially good willed and when they act anti-social/abusive there’s good reason for it because of general misfortune or trauma’s they endured in earlier live.

    I was raised and educated with those ‘perspectives’ and I believe it’s also in my genetic make-up I sticked to those ‘perspectives’.
    And in general I still do (luckily..).

    The eye-opener dr. Simon served me was, that it doesn’t matter much to you where anti-social/abusive behaviour comes from.
    There could be many reasons. Autism, personality(character) disorders, bi-polar, psychotic believe-systems. You name it.
    All well and sound but if they start to get abusive it’s only you who can draw the lines of what you will accept or not from those people. They mostly have no ‘moral brakes’ the same as you have.

    He tought me by his books and articels I can stop wondering about the causes of their behaviour. It doesn’t matter. The behaviour is there and that’s what you have to deal with.
    Accept it, find a way, or leave. That are your options.
    IMO, as soon as any obvious abuse shows up in any relationship you’ve get to take firm distance at least or preferreably end the relationship.
    It’s hard but can be done. I had to and are still alive and well. Better than before.
    Dr. Simon confirms to me I made some right choices afterall.
    Clearing my fog.

    1. Ge,
      I’ve let go of many perspectives I had because of what I was told growing up, you know, those sayings we’d hear over and over again and we took them as truth. That’s what got us in trouble, to not question these sayings rather than live by them.
      I’m so tired of hearing they do these horrible acts to others because they feel bad about themselves. Wrong. And I found some people would have sympathy toward the perpetrator, “Because he must be miserable. What a sad life. I feel sorry for him. He must be in pain.”
      No! He cause me pain, horrible losses. If you want to feel sorry for someone, feel sorry for the person they’ve abused. It gets maddening.

  8. Been sorting through this issue myself over the last few weeks. I’m not co-dependent. I’ve realized for me, it’s the effects of term coercive control. I came across this video series on the dynamics of coercive control and realized it’s what I’ve dealt with my entire life. My father, then husband, and now my daughter. Often it is so subtle that you have no idea what they’re doing.

    They’re entitled, superior and adversarial.

    They do an excellent job of describing and explaining the dynamics, the behaviors, the mindsets and how they all intersect and create a web of abuse around the victim. It makes it very clear and easy to understand and identify.


      1. Healing,

        Thanks so much for the link. I listened to the first 3 podcasts yesterday evening and they are really quite good. She really gets it. I was very impressed.

        1. Charlie,

          I’m on the 5th one. I find it triggering and need to take it slowly. But it is so very helpful and helps me to not blame myself as much. I had good intentions, truly wanted a healthy relationship. They did not. They wanted power, control, chaos and to destroy my mind and spirit so I was a mindless, helpless, trapped servant robot. I go from feeling grief and anguish for the loss of time, spirit, joy, energy, what could have been to righteous indignation and disgust, with some rage thrown in too!

          1. Healing,
            I get it. Reading and listening on these topics is triggering, it takes us back to the bad places. It’s sad and infuriating. Then I start thinking of how I’d like to speak with the person and just rip into them. But that won’t happen.
            It’s hard to live in the present when I keep going back. But we do this to understand. I do feel like I now understand the whats and whys. It still angers me. It makes me super cautious when dealing with people, which is a good thing. Yeah, the loss of time and joy. That’s our life.
            To regularly reflect and study disorders does take a toll on me. I come and go with it. I hate rehashing in my mind the trauma. It’s like I’m reliving it.
            A social worker frined of mine told me of a study that was done re people talking about traumatic events and how just speaking of it would raise their blood pressure, heart rate, and that medically speaking they had the same signs as if going through the events in reality. I believe it. I feel it.

        2. Charlie,
          I listened to the first video. There is so much involved in this coercive control issue. It’s complicated and layered. I’d have to really study it to have an opinion.
          The only life experience I have with this is watching the lives of women who did not chose a career path early on, got married and lived in the situation where the money earner controlled, not only money, but the lives of others.
          My sister dealt with this when she was married. The husband controlled the money. He wouldn’t give her money to get groceries or gas. He would not let go of it. She couldn’t handle it. My mother even talked to him about it, said you cannot treat a person like that. She’s a homemaker and has to have some control. She divorced him.
          I’ve always worked while married and would not consider taking my foot out the door of a career. I never wanted to lose the option of making a choice to stay or go. I always had the financial ability to leave.
          My last relationship, now looking back, I realize how hard he wanted to control my time. I knew right away problems were looming, but it took some months, when he made more and more steps to control my time with him inserting himself, that I became uncomfortable in my own home, and was so irritated at him for being such a leech on me. That did not last long. I told him to leave after about six months of living with me. I felt like a prisoner with him. It’s an awful feeling. I’ve never experienced anything like it.
          With the X husband, while in divorce proceedings, at work on my work email I had IT set up so that his emails would go straight into a special folder, I’d then have a coworker read it, and would ask her if it was something that I needed to answer to let me know. His emails were so ugly and tainted and threatening that I did not want to see them. It was a way to get into my head. I don’t know if you’d call those instances coercive control or not. It is an emotional abuse.
          I really don’t see myself ever getting into a relationship again where it’s a daily interaction. Living together, a definite no. Ever. Too much freedom and choice is lost, having to constantly negotiate and answer to and compromise.

          1. Lucy,

            Only have a few minutes, but wanted to respond to this.

            “There is so much involved in this coercive control issue. It’s complicated and layered. I’d have to really study it to have an opinion. “

            Something that may simplify this and help you to understand it pretty quickly if you’re interested. Video #4, confessions of a coercive controller. I think it’s about halfway through the video. Chilling and spot on from my experience. It’s psychological torture. Angry, entitled assholes who believe they have the right to treat you less than human.

            In the spitting mad stage!

          2. Lucy,

            From what I understand coercive control can be either overt (your description of the threatening emails) or more subtle or as Dr. Simon describes covert.

            It’s funny, how important words have become to me. I cannot tell you how often my ex husband would use words improperly and I would create the narrative I thought he meant (always waayy more positive than he meant) I got to the point I wanted everything defined, I looked up meanings to confirm the definition of the word in question. I think in our era of character disturbance, they use words to mean what they want or think they mean. I think co dependent is an excellent example.

            I’m amazed at how often we don’t define the words we use but simply guess that we know what was meant.

            I realized with your comment that while I know the word coercive, have a sense of its meaning, I can’t actually give a definition to the word so I looked it up.

            According the Cambridge dictionary online, coercive is defined as:

            using force to persuade people to do things that they are unwilling to do.

            Well, doesn’t that just say it all.

  9. One aspect of the CD’s behaviour of not excepting any form of responsibility. I am sure comes from a peronal CHOICE.

  10. “Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.” ― George Orwell

    I would add …to suit your purposes and needs.

  11. Healing,
    I just now viewed Episode #4, the confession. The person says it comes naturally. The mental torture one goes through is a relationship with a person like this is sad. I firmly people that there are evil people out there who don’t want to change and never will. To begin a relationship with someone like this, to have children with, would be a life of devastation.
    I really didn’t begin to understand what was happening in my marriage till I went through the process of leaving it.
    Thanks for the links. I’ll keep those in mind. I have a 30-something daughter, single, who I hope never needs to read these. She’s single mother and as of now doing very well. She’s self reflecting and studying narcissism on a different forum from this.

    1. Lucy,

      No reply option to your post of above, but I agree with everything you said and I appreciate, as always, your kind and validating response. It’s a balance. We need the info to protect ourselves from further abuse or exploitation, but it comes at a cost. I’m firmly in the camp that it needs to be felt and released. But, also to do it with compassion for ourselves.

      Like you, I take breaks when overwhelmed or just know I want or need to.

      I vowed to face this so I knew in my heart, soul, spirit that it was time to let go of the false hope that my daughter would change, or even want to change. I can’t endure any more abuse and I shouldn’t have to. It is a life of devastation as the person you love most in the world is actively trying to harm you, keep you from doing well and poisons\destroys any support systems and is okay with it.

      Just discovered by accident that she is engaged (not from her, my guess is that it why she all the sudden wanted to re-establish contact).

      Sounds like you are doing much better and sound strong! That’s wonderful. It’s amazing how getting that distance aides in undertanding the dynamics that you can see or understand while in it.

      That’s wonderful news about your daughter! Good for her and your family. Sounds like she is doing the hard work. You must be so pleased!

  12. To All,

    I started watching a series on the Investigation Discovery (ID) Channel that’s really helped me in a therapeutic way and I’ve noticed that I’m triggered less and less the more I watch the episodes.

    Like Healing, I was getting triggered easily so I had to limit things like books, the podcasts we are discussing, even this blog. I never watch true crime as I get triggered from that as well.

    That being said, this show called ‘Signs of a Psychopath’ not only doesn’t trigger me but validates me and I find myself yelling at the tv —like, I knew, I knew that’s what he was doing!! Or, oh, I totally missed that, so that’s what it means when he did that.

    So basically, the show is about the interrogation video used to obtain the confessions of convicted killers. They have several different psychologists discussing the tactics the psychopath is using with the police. There’s no creepy music, there’s no suspenseful moments, it’s a clinical analysis of the personality traits of the psychopathic personality. The psychologists discussing are sharp and very clear speaking and meeting the purpose of the show, to educate on the signs so one can recognize the personality they’re dealing with. They point out behaviors such as lack of empathy, controlling the narrative, superiority, ect. We watch the video, then they pause it to explain what’s happening. I’ve found it very helpful in moving theory to reality.

    Anyway, I’d be interested to know if anyone else has the same reaction to this show as I do.

    It’s a bit hard to explain but basically the same way my ex husband would argue and discuss things with me that twisted my thinking, I’m now watching these individuals do the same thing to the police. They talk about something serious the same way someone talks about grocery shopping. Watching these behaviors, seeing these individuals not fool anyone (police or mental health professionals) seeing that I’m still fooled a bit, and seeing a clinical dissection of what’s happening in the interaction has really helped me feel more confident that I can identify the behaviors.

    I don’t know if it will have the same effect on others but I wanted to pass along my experience. I’ve been watching season 5 episodes.

    1. To be EMPATHIC You have to have BOTH FORMS OF EMPATHY:


      Psychopath have only one form. CONATIVE EMPATHY. They are completely aware that they are causing harm. They simply DO’NT CARE.

      All psychopaths are narcissistic.BUT NOT ALL NARCISSIS ARE PSYCHOPATHS.


  13. To All,

    I’m still triggered, and it’s five years post divorce. I still can barely speak of instances that happened, there were so many, that it really did affect my emotional well being to its limits. Maybe with more studying, I’ll be less triggered. I’ll give Signs of a Psychopath a listen. Thanks for the tip.

    Also, on a good note, my daughter is coming around. She confessed to me a few weeks ago. What triggered it was a man she works with was distraught over his daughter, the way she talked to him and only called him when she wanted money, otherwise she was rude and nasty towards him. She felt the sting because of the way she’s treated me. She told me no one should be treated that way, and I’m sorry. She went further to explain that the reason she had been so nasty towards me was that she wanted her have her father on her side, the malignant narc I was divorcing. He was so awful to me and she paired up with him. She said she would treat me the way he treated me, intentionally. I don’t really understand that she thought she’d get love or support or what. So I had the two of them treating me like dirt. Last year I’d exceeded my limits with her and was ready to let her go for good. I told her that I was done with her, I won’t be treated that way. It’s abusive.
    Now our relationship is better because she’d done the work on herself, understanding the what and why of what happened in her life.
    The X – he will never change. He even has a creepiness in his eyes when I speak to him, and he will only answer or speak in very short sentences, intentionally.
    Character is so important, as Dr. Simon says. I’ve recently given up two coworkers (I guess work friends) who I’ve known for 40 years. They’ve got bad character, and now that I don’t have to work with them, I don’t want anything to do with them. Their character stinks.

  14. Lucy

    OTTO KERNBERG is the man for clinical understanding of narcissism/boarderline.

    This is on Youtube

    OTTO KERNBERG: BPD and violent behavior, clinical diagnosis and treatment

  15. Lucy and all,

    I want to thank Dr. Simon and everyone on this blog site. Having a place where we discuss our experiences, our difficulties and the understanding we’ve all gained on the who, what, why and how is such a grounding place for me. I’m so grateful this site exists and for the people on it.

    I’ve been dealing with a bit of a tragedy the last 10 days.

    I lost my beloved German Shepherd a little over 4 years ago. It’s just been my American Bulldog and I through the difficult separation and divorce. She was diagnosed with cancer last summer. With everything that’s happened to me, I found it very difficult to get another dog. I was so wary of opening my heart again only to have it broken again. But after our cancer diagnosis last summer, I went through a rescue and got a 3 year old French Bulldog with Epilepsy who was relinquished by his owner because of his seizures (he was defective.) In the four months I had this dog, my heart opened and joy bloomed. I completely fell in love with this little guy. My cancer dog has thrived and is referred to as the ‘Miracle Dog’ by our vet clinic. My little Frenchie guy had a lot of breakthrough seizures so we were working on medication changes to stabilize him.

    My poor sweet little boy went into complete liver failure and died last Tuesday morning within 24 hours of hospital admittance from a high ammonia level causing brain swelling (hepatic encephalopathy).

    My experience with the emergency vet clinic has been a nightmare. Constant demands for additional money caused a lot of confusion on what was happening to my little guy while they would tell me they treat their patients like they are family, like they would treat their own dogs. The vets keep pushing this mystery toxin theory that has had me in a heightened state of anxiety because there are just no toxins that could have caused this so now I’m worried about my cancer dog and how can I possibly ever get another dog if I have an unknown, unidentifiable dog killer in my home or yard. When I research ‘high ammonia levels in dogs’ or ‘cause of hepatic encephalopathy in dogs’ all the sites that come up is from shunts, abnormal blood vessels that cause unfiltered blood that skips the liver detoxification process. But when I asked the ER docs about shunts, the response was they have no diagnostic evidence of that and then discussed the mystery toxin theory. I asked for a consult with the Internal Medicine vet who did the ultrasound so I could understand what happened. I was told no and referred back to the ER doc. I put a call into my regular vet trying to understand what happened and he said the notes were vague and he needed to talk to the ER doc.

    Long story short, I heard from my veterinarian yesterday evening and he said the ER docs believed my boy had an intrahepatic shunt which wouldn’t be seen on the ultrasound. Why they would not tell me this and keep pushing the mystery toxin theory I can’t exactly say. I wonder if they think they’re protecting the vet since testing an ammonia level early on most likely would have found the cause of his seizures. But my boy has seen 6 veterinarians in 9 months and no one pulled ammonia levels so his underlying liver disease was missed.

    Anyway, back on topic, I really believed the tailspin I was in would cease when my suspicions of a shunt were confirmed. It really surprised me that not only was I not relieved, I actually felt worse, more confused. But sometime this morning, I popped up out of a deep sleep and realized, I’m triggered, I’m being gaslit. I don’t know why the hell these extremely poor and toxic behaviors are so main stream. I don’t know if they think they’re protecting the veterinarians or if this is just so normalized, it’s the way of the world. But I’m so grateful I have a place I can be that talks about these toxic behaviors and our responses to them.

    I wonder if without Lucy’s and Healing’s discussion about being triggered how long it would have taken me to recognize what I’m experiencing and get grounded again, reducing this highly anxious, confused state I’ve been experiencing. How deeply would the trauma of not only losing my sweet boy so suddenly and unexpectedly but the cognitive dissonance I was experiencing from the vet office with such conflicting conversations.

    Thanks to all for being smart enough, strong enough and brave enough to face the damage, the distress, the hardships that poor characters and disturbed characters have created in our lives. To face them here on this site where we can support, learn and help each other move forward with our lives and the day to day difficulties. I’m so grateful to you all.

    1. Charlie,
      I’m so sorry to hear of your devastating loss and experience with the vets.

      I lost my beloved pet five months ago and descended into a very low state of sadness. I’m still not myself.

      Triggers are all around us, they are unique to each of us and since we can’t predict the future we can often walk right into one and be vulnerable again.

      Your experience with a vet is not so rare, veterinary medicine and care has exploded because of its money making potential and it is absolutely exploitative. Our feelings are raw, we wear them on our sleeve and we will almost do anything to save our companions.

      Please, please be kind to yourself.

      1. D.

        Thank you so much for the kind words and the validation on what I’ve observed with the changes in veterinary medicine by becoming so exploitative and predatory. You helped me realize the lack of compassion and empathy I experienced there was also a trigger and caused cognitive dissonance with what I expected and experienced in the before and what I actually experienced in the now.

        I don’t know why my expectations are so firmly in place that I can’t seem to adjust to the reality of what’s occurring. Or maybe it’s just I’m completely helpless to change the environment that’s causing my conflict and struggle. I had similar difficulties with trying to get my cancer dog’s diagnosis this summer. Maybe when one is dependent on another for their service (to do their part, their responsibility) and the service does not meet reasonable expectations cognitive dissonance occurs which will be an obvious trigger.

        I’m so sorry for your loss of your beloved pet. I can completely empathize with your situation. We can love animals so openly, so unconditionally and always expect and rely on their reciprocation.

        I did realize after I got my little guy that I did myself and my dog a disservice by not getting another dog much earlier. Even though it was scary and hard to open my heart again the joy he brought to our lives made me realize how deep my sadness and most likely depression was. Even with this tragic outcome the joy in him and of him was worth this pain.

    2. Charlie,
      I’m sorry for your loss. Its too bad that theres those in the veterinary profession that either don’t know what they are doing or take advantage. Unfortunately we have to be our own advocates and question everything – including in the medical profession. My daughter knows a lot about dogs, being a groomer for about 25 years who is very knowledgeable and she is very selective about vets. I know it may sound empty, but you gave that little rescue dog his best life for the time he had.
      Being married and divorced from a narcissist, I am very sensitive as well to narcissistic behaviors in people and just don’t want to deal with it, it triggers those events from the past.

      1. Hi, Kat,

        Thanks so much for your kind words and I have been taking heart that I gave him the best months before his passing. He was comfortable, happy and joyful. He loved the treats and toys, car rides and snuggles with both me and my other dog.

        Our first couple of weeks were so difficult I considered returning him to rescue but I realized that would be his life, adopted out and returned. I was the third adopter for him. He had a rough 6 months between relinquishment and my home. He was in 6 different homes within 4 months before me.

        I’m also selective about my vets and take pride in being knowledgeable and an excellent advocate for my dogs. I quickly realized his initial behavior issues were an adverse reaction to one of his seizure meds. Watching him bloom as the seizure med was weened will always be a highlight in my life. One of the hardest things for me to accept is that I asked both my vet and the neurologist about ammonia testing and was rebuffed in a way that made me feel foolish and unknowledgeable. It will always be one of my deepest regrets that I didn’t push harder on something I knew should have been done. I don’t think our outcome would have changed much if any. The majority of his liver damage already occurred before I had him but optioning an accurate diagnosis could have spared myself a $4k bill and him the 24 hours in the ER undergoing the many tests and procedures in a cage.

        Seeing the demise of such an honorable and trusted profession, I’m left wondering how bad things will have to get before they get better. I find thoughts of the near future simply scary.

  16. Charlie,
    I’m sorry for your loss of your dog. You gave it your all. It’s not right how the professionals won’t take the time to explain what’s happening, but sure let you know what the cost of all the tests, etc. are and how they need that money up front. And you don’t have the time to do any research.
    Yes the gaslighting, and narcs, they’re everywhere. We’re all becoming really in tune to it now. I picked up on a red flag trait of a newer employee here where I work. While a coworker was introducing herself to him, he did not bother to look at her, kept his eyes down and was fumbling through desk drawers. Ordinarliy I’d give that a pass, but now, no, he’s showing that she’s not even worthy of a glance, not worthy of a simple hello, good to meet you, he’s up there, she’s down there. No more passes. When they show you who they are, believe it, as the saying goes.
    I also give thanks to you all sharing your stories, encounters, enlightenments, successes, setbacks, all of it. We’ve got a commonality here. We want to heal and help others in the process. I’m learned that it will be on ongoing process, living and learning and dealing with new circumstances. But we won’t be anyone’s play toy again. We’ll leave abusive relationships, move on, move out, do what we need to do to find our peace.

    1. Hi, Lucy,

      Thanks for your kind words. What a sad state of affairs it is that no one gets a pass because the likelihood of that person having problems with their character is so prevalent. Your story of your coworker made me think that in the way back when, it would have been presumed he was shy and we would have given ourselves time to know him better.

      Today, we have to presume he’s of poor character and stay wary and on guard. So many of these poor characters are such tricksters that we have to rely so heavily on that first impression to not get sucked in when they show ‘good’ traits. We simply cannot trust them. I’ve found it’s a frustrating and demoralizing way to live our lives.

  17. Charlie, you hung in there. There are so many dogs out there now that were “covid” dogs that people got during the initial outbreak and now giving them to rescues. A lot of people just don’t do their homework with dogs to see if they are a good match for them and/or their families, and then just give them up. The rescues are full of them now. I think there’s many doctors that do the same to patients when they start asking questions – make them feel foolish. I won’t go to a doctor that rebuffs my questions.

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