[A-List] The Mad Activist's Declaration of Codependence
critical.montages at gmail.com
Mon Oct 13 08:33:36 MDT 2008
The Mad Activist's Declaration of Codependence
by Susie Day
The sages of History say, Know Thyself -- and I do. I used to be a
peace activist, but thanks to the sages of pop-psychology, I see now
that I am a codependent.
Yet I refuse to be your ordinary, run-of-the-mill codependent, who's
stuck in a crappy relationship with just one needy, abusive
individual. I say, Nyet to that. I'm not the
"oh-my-man-I-love-him-so" wifey whose husband beats her senseless,
steals her credit cards to pay off his gambling debts, kicks her cat
through a window, then goes out on a drunken binge and murders nine
people. I'm not the girl who quits her job, forgets her dreams of
becoming an award-winning cha-cha dancer, and spends the rest of her
life setting up legal defense teams, praying that one day her precious
dickwad will walk out of prison -- because, really, wasn't the whole
thing her fault?
If I give up the best years of my life, it's not going to be to
"enable" the destructive behavior of one measly alcoholic; it's going
to be for an entire government, see? As an
activist-turned-codependent, my purpose in life is to enable the
destructive behavior of the United States of America.
So even though America steals my money to pay off gambling debts,
beats me senseless, kicks my cat through a window, then goes out on
power-drunken binges, bombing people, poisoning the planet, and
annihilating whole civilizations -- I know that, deep down, America
really loves me.
Oh sure, I stay at home a lot, weeping into my pillow. But then I
remember that America hurts, too. America may seem needy and
demanding, but, secretly, America is afraid I will go over to some
other power. That's why America searches my bag and taps my phone.
America is jealous. It's kind of cute. America: Love him or leave
Actually, I see America as a sort of megalomaniacal, paranoid
schizophrenic rage-aholic -- but in a good way, like for global
dominance? Sometimes, I talk to America; I try to tell America how my
day was, what I'm feeling. I have this shameful hope that America
will someday see me for the fragile, iridescent, unrepeatable person
that I am. But America remains distant, distracted -- even when I
agonize about losing my job; even when I say my health plan's running
out. It's my fault, I guess; I tend to pick emotionally unavailable
>From time to time, I panic and revert to the naïve, 1960s mode of
communication. I go to antiwar rallies; I write letters asking why
America has hurt so many people so bad. But America tells me to shut
up; America says all this is for my own good. So I shut up because if
I don't, I'll lose this relationship. And, really, there's nothing I
can do to stop America. Is there?
This is called having low self-esteem. However, as an American
codependent, I can have low self-esteem and be proud. Actually,
thinking you don't count for much is kind of patriotic. I mean, what
does your life matter when you're poor and 19 and shooting it out in
Iraq, defending democracy against those mentally ill suicide bombers?
In fact, I think most of the U.S. military is probably even more
codependent about America than I am, bless their needy little hearts.
But in the Big Picture, I know that I am serving History -- which is
chock full of brave "codependentistas" who gave up happiness or
careers to enable some truly depraved people. Some of them, such as
Jesus, Superman, and Eva Braun, I have put on my screen saver.
Occasionally, History speaks of codependents who tried to achieve a
sort of national self-actualization. Like those recovering Russian
codependents in 1917 who stormed the Winter Palace? But History shows
that those people usually end up way more depressed than they started
out. So I'm burning my Al-Anon card and embracing my shame.
I have to, because America has just taken $700,000,000,000 of my money
to "bail out" a few fellow addicts. Maybe it was my codependence;
maybe I was temporarily stunned by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's
perplexing resemblance to Michel Foucault. In any case, I just
couldn't do much about it.
Oh, I might have clicked on a few e-petitions, asking for more
"accountability." The upshot is: if I couldn't stop America -- also
on my dime -- from murdering uncountable thousands of Iraqi and
Afghani human beings, what right or ability do I have to stop this
bailout? If I have been too psychologically paralyzed to respond to
the annihilation of an entire culture -- how can I seriously contest
the destruction of my own economy?
I know what you're thinking: that America is addicted to oil; that
some day soon, they'll cut the mainline and kick America out of rehab.
Then America and I will die together in the gutter. But I don't
care. I don't even care if, one night, America comes home from one of
its drunken binges and murders me. Codependents don't ask for much;
we give. I have given my house, my job, my kids, my health, my air --
to America. But it's OK. See, I am part of History.
Susie Day lives in New York City where she writes a humor column for
feminist and gay publications. She has also written on U.S. political
prisoners and labor issues and thinks her girlfriend, Laura Whitehorn,
is hot stuff.
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