Tag Archives: are you codependent?

The Light We Lost: Cosmic Connection? Or Addiction?

The Light We Lost is a must read for all my girlfriends—single or married. Please, all of you, read this book. Jill Santopolo dives into the age-old question: “Why do I love him so much?” She explores why a woman could love one man passionately, insanely, recklessly—and continue to think of him for more than a decade—granting second chances, friendship and compassion—when he had the potential to crush her. Even after he had left her, broke her heart, called only when depressed, and behaved selfishly for years—she always allowed him back in. WHY?

I adore The Light We Lost for so many reasons. Jill is honest in how she portrays Lucy’s weakness for Gabe, who had, and would always, put his needs before hers—whether that be his career or his work out. Even when they lived together, he had major issues. He was secretive to the point of finding a job and arranging to move without telling her; flirty with other women; and not attentive to her feelings when at parties. He was confusing. Gabe proclaimed Lucy was his light, his muse and professed an undying love for her—yet Lucy never met his mother, whom he adored. You get the idea. But Lucy loved Gabe with an unapologetic intensity that she couldn’t control. She loved him more and more over the years—even while married to her stable, successful, happy and loving husband, whose only real crimes seemed to be planning trips to Paris and buying a dog and a beach house, all as surprises for her. 

One could argue that Jill Santopolo’s debut novel romanticized the obsession many women have with the lovable, yet commitment phobic, unobtainable guy. Others may think she romanticized a woman’s longing for heat, lust, good sex with a bad boy, or an exciting and intriguing man. (Gabe took photos for the Associated Press in war regions.) But that’s not a comprehensive answer. I think Lucy’s inability to let Gabe go was rooted deeply in her need not to become her mother and to be seen, heard and respected. Gabe had his faults, but he also listened to, and encouraged Lucy, in all her dreams and career aspirations. Lucy’s husband Darren referred to her career as “cute” and asked for her to stay home with their baby instead of going back to work, using manipulative phrases like: “Don’t you want to stay home? Who else would take as good care of her?” Gabe would never do that, she had mused. Yet Gabe would also be gone for months on end while on the front lines in wars. He wasn’t the logical man to have a child with. And Lucy knew this. Yet she always picked up the phone when he called, even on her wedding day. She became intimate emotionally within the first breath, focussing on whatever His emergency was, whatever His pain was. She raced to see him whenever he was back in New York, even after she was married. It was a risky choice that put the intimacy with her husband at risk.

This book will snare you in, dear girlfriends, from the moment she and Gabe discuss their dreams during their first college date on 9-11. As you read how interested Gabe is in her need to make a difference, to help children all over the world, you’ll wish you had a man like him to talk with. The scenes of him reading her scripts, or helping her form ideas for her children’s TV show, will make you jealous. He cared, and was involved, committed to supporting her success. He was into her: her dreams, her ideas, her thoughts. The two inspired each other to be more, and to keep striving to make a difference. That’s heady stuff. As life chugs along with adulting choices that often require compromises, many women, especially moms, get lost. Lucy wanted to keep that determined, savvy, creative part of herself that Gabe always saw. She missed being able to talk with him about new show ideas. Her husband didn’t care about her job at all.

The fact that Gabe was also hot, romantic, overly sexual, unavailable for long-term commitments, yet still needed her, and her alone, during every crisis—was like crack to Lucy. Add the detail that Gabe was a wounded soul from an abusive father, and now you’ve combined crack with heroine for just about any woman.

This book will help you, my girlfriends, see your own obsessions, co-dependent tendencies and any man who became like a drug for you. I doubt there are real Gabes on this planet—yet there are men who have some of his alluring qualities: the artist; the romantic; the compassionate; the wounded; the leaver, the commitment phobic, yet emotionally intimate; the secretive; the dynamic; the listener; the supporter; the sexual dynamo; the wanderer; the brave; the Shakespeare quoter, you get the idea. He had so many hooks for Lucy, but think back and notice which similar hook was within the one you couldn’t say no to. The one you betrayed your self respect for by taking back again and again due to your irrational love that you    just    could    NOT      LET      GO.

Maybe you’re still fighting the temptation? Maybe he’s the one you could take back again, because you just don’t understand why you love him so. Even after he has hurt you time and time again and shown an inability to respect, love or be available for you, a part of you wants him back, right? It’s not explainable. The idea of never smelling him again or hearing the sound of his whisper in your ear, or his hand on your low back is excruciating, isn’t it? Maybe it’s romantic. Maybe he’s your soul mate or husband from another life time. I’m sure you think the connection is cosmic.

But maybe, just maybe, he’s an addiction.

Read her book, girlfriends. And tell me what you came up with! 🙂

L. xo

Navigating Boundaries

Why is it harder to set boundaries with some people than it is with others? Have you experienced this? For me, it’s usually with a particular friend or boyfriend who I am rooting for as they struggle with hardships. I can see their potential. I can see their goodness. I can see that times are just really hard for them, so, if asked for help, I usually say yes. Can you relate? But the longer I help someone in need and see the extent to their crisis or struggle, the less likely I am to speak up about my needs. When I swallow what I need and am always available to help someone, that person loses respect for me, ironically while they may be asking for even more of me. And if this goes on for any length of time, say a person doesn’t get better or can’t support themselves, or becomes aggressive, needier, or abusive, I’ve teetered into really unhealthy territory. I’ve crossed over into co-dependency, when I should have set a boundary. (Sadly, I’ve had therapy for co-dependency and read many books on the topics too. Melody Beattie’s Codependent No More is amazing btw!) Clearly, I still have a lot to learn.

With certain people I can start to feel nervous or guilty just trying to say what I need to say, or do what I need to do. That’s because a pattern got set of me always being there for them and now that I’m aware of it, it upsets the dynamic of the relationship, even if it’s an unhealthy one. These people trigger my upbringing because I can anticipate getting yelled at, guilted or manipulated or abandoned, or all of the above, as punishment for voicing my feelings. So fear of being yelled at or abandoned is real for me. Even though I wanted to avoid these two things in my relationships, for most of my life, I attracted them. (But that’s another post, maybe!) I remember vividly being yelled at by an ex-boyfriend because I dared to stop during a road trip to go to a Target to buy tampons. It was a busy Target, I admit. The lines were insane, plus I had to find a bathroom and then get a drink in order to take a few Motrin. With traffic being bad, I was likely 45 minutes off schedule for arrival. The inconvenience of me not arriving at our weekend destination on time in order to help him unload his car and help settle a family member, out-surpassed my cramping and desperate need to ensure I wouldn’t soil my clothes. I was yelled at in front of others when I arrived. I should have turned around and drove home that evening. Lets just say it was an eye-opening New Years Eve for me. I set New Year’s Eve intentions to follow my dreams without guilt or fear of abandonment. Who knew that one incident set me on a course to write my book and begin yoga teacher training? The Universe gives me the lessons I need, if I pay attention, and if I’m willing to open my heart, to change. I didn’t yell back at my ex-boyfriend. I just asked to go my room and I journaled, meditated and set my mind to stop neglecting my needs.


But sometimes I cha-cha in life. I take two steps forward, think I’ve got the dance down, and land one thudding step back. It’s okay. I’m learning to set boundaries, even if I don’t say what’s on my mind always in the moment. Sometimes I opt for peace, especially if another person might not be open to hearing what I have to say without getting angry. I can set a boundary without saying a word. I can just distance myself, not always be available, not answer every text. (Folks in LA have that one down!) But it doesn’t feel respectful with someone I really care about. That’s when I often stumble. When I care, I can ask for space or a boundary by making excuses or justifications or apologies…In the end, it’s not necessary. As a good friend told me, it’s just a matter of me connecting to my heart that is saying I must check in and take care of me, my needs, my family. If a friend can’t respect that, or is angry, or confused about it and wanting to engage in a lot of dramatic banter, I shouldn’t justify myself or try to explain, or make it into a painful dialogue, no matter how much I love them. I shouldn’t have to. The lesson for me,is to speak my truth earlier, in the moment, regardless of how the other person responds. As long as I am kind and coming from a heart-felt place, it will all work out exactly as it is meant to.

If you can relate to any of what I just said, then this article “What are Healthy Boundaries” by Sharon Martin is for you. I love her list here, that I am re-posting, as it simplifies and clarifies what healthy boundaries should feel like: