Red Leigh Cooper

Red Leigh Cooper

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


"I still don't know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild
A million dead-end streets
Every time I thought I'd got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet
So I turned myself to face me"

- "Changes", David Bowie, 1971

I went into therapy in the fall of 2015. I was finally ready to deal with some of the issues from my childhood that I felt were keeping me from being a healthy adult. It's my admittedly unsubstantiated, but fully experienced, belief that many creative types have emotional issues of some kind. There is something cathartic about creating that helps us, but spend enough time around a mess of them (and I think in particular that a group of musicians should be called a "mess") and you might realize it's time to clear some things out of your subconscious catalog. Possibly well past time, even. 

This was good timing because, of course, Marc leaving, and for the second time, exacerbated past issues I had experienced. While I have done a lot of work to realize that this band wasn't my identity and that there was more to being me, there seemed to be some things that maybe I hadn't fully dealt with. 

I'll admit it; I expected to go in and hear "fear of abandonment", maybe "low self-esteem", or even "depression". What I did hear would change, if not completely alter, my world:

"Stockholm Syndrome" (also called "Trauma Bonding"), "C-PTSD", and something with some of the worst connotations and misinformation surrounding it... 


Wait, what? I'm pretty independent! I'm not necessarily needy...what the hell, lady?

Like most people I thought this meant someone who is needy but it's not that and in fact it's more than that. Let's visit Wikipedia, shall we?

"Codependent relationships are a type of dysfunctional helping relationship where one person supports or enables another person's addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement." 

Oh yeah...okay...that's it...

My therapist and I figured out that my biological mother fit the profile of someone with a "Cluster B" Personality Disorder. My unresolved codependent tendencies derived from being her child have had me chasing those kind of relationships all my life. As I look back I realize that I have had many toxic boyfriends, supervisors, and close friends throughout my life. I've had more toxic close relationships on average than healthy ones. 

I'm a serial "fixer". I always try to see the good in people and I want to help them achieve the best they can be. I know what it feels like to grow up with no one supporting you emotionally and cheering you on. I don't want people to feel that way. The thing is, I just don't know when to stop, and that's what gets me into trouble. I've been so conditioned to walking on eggshells and avoiding conflict as much as possible, even if the person I'm trying to help is behaving irrationally and eventually disrespecting me.  I help at the detriment to myself and that has to stop. I always think, "they will get better I just know it. With enough love and support they will stop doing what they are doing. We do have some good days..."

Eventually no matter how hard you try to help, the rage you were trying to avoid from that person happens. You can't believe that they couldn't be helped and that they would behave that way towards you after all you've done, but this is why they are labeled as "toxic" and why you have to know when to walk away. These are the types of people I just can't have in my life if I'm going to break this cycle. I will have to have healthier boundaries and develop a healthier self-esteem, or I'm going to continue having "holes" blown in my life. 

It's really hard at first. You feel guilty. You are used to letting people treat you however they want to because somewhere you learned that was the only way to get people to like you. You feel guilty because those types in your life don't like your new way of thinking and then deem you the monster because they've stopped being able to have their way in every situation. 

I was on the phone recently with someone trying to be clear about why I had to remove someone close to them from my life. It was causing issues for us, and since we had been friends a long time, I felt it appropriate to have the conversation. 

"It's not that I'm different..." I said trying to explain that I'm still the loving person I was and that that hadn't changed. 

He interrupted me, "No, Dana, actually you are different now..."

You know what? He's right. Different isn't bad. It can be good...very good. I will own this. I am different. I turned myself to face me....

I'm not just on a journey to find me and my purpose...I'm on a journey to love and take care of  myself as well. That's the only way I can be found.

Happy Fishing!