Ever look back on a movie from years ago and see it in a whole new light? That’s the experience I just had with Runaway Bride, a classic romantic comedy from 1999. As I laughed and cried watching Julia Roberts fall in love with Richard Gere, I reached a scene where the two are arguing about eggs. Yes, eggs. I never thought much of that scene, but I quickly realized that it was a perfect representation of life in a codependent relationship. And I should know. I was in one for 8 years…
Setting the Scene: Julia Roberts Didn’t Know How She Liked Her Eggs
Throughout the movie, Ike (Richard Gere) interviews Maggie’s (Julia Roberts) former fiancés. These are men that she left at the altar on their wedding day. One odd but revealing question he asked during these interviews was how Maggie liked her eggs cooked. The men would always respond with, “Scrambled, just like me” or “Poached, just like me.” In every situation, Maggie liked her eggs just like her partner did.
Later on in the movie, Ike stands up for Maggie in front of her family. She storms off in embarrassment, and the two eventually start arguing. Then Ike, talking about Maggie’s past, said, “You were so lost, you didn’t even know what kind of eggs you liked! With the priest, you wanted scrambled. With the deadhead, it was fried…”
Maggie tries to defend herself by saying, “That is called changing your mind.” To which Ike replied, “No, that’s called not having a mind of your own.”
*BOOM* Mind blown.
My Experience with Codependency (I Didn’t Like Eggs Because He Didn’t)
I was married for over seven years, and then my husband passed away. I recently created a series for Urban Balance about grief management tips for widows, where I briefly discussed the nature of my husband’s passing. What I didn’t mention then was the fact that my husband and I had an extremely codependent relationship. We spent every waking moment together, and in the rare instance that we were apart, we were on the phone every 15 minutes.
My husband was a picky eater, with only a few foods that he would eat. I became that way after years of conforming to one diet plan. This was true for every area of my life. After he passed, I not only had to deal with the grief that followed, but I also had to learn how to live without someone I was toxically dependent on. Talk about a wakeup call.
I had no identity when I first started this new chapter. I thought I hated country music. Turns out I love it. I thought I was an atheist. Turns out I’m not. I thought I was shy and quiet. Turns out I can’t shut up. Over the years, I had become a mirror image of my husband, rather than a reflection of my inner beauty. I was determined to change that.
Life after Codependency
There is a life after codependency – an amazing life full of adventure and discovery. The events that led to my new life were not ideal, but I am thankful for the self-worth I discovered in the aftermath.
Maggie eventually figured out how she liked her eggs cooked. I eventually learned that I love painting and interior design. Oh, and I’m a dog person! That’s something I would have laughed about three years ago.
The point is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. If you are in a codependent relationship now, you can either learn how to set healthy boundaries, or you can start your own journey to self-discovery. The transition is hard and a bit scary at first, but you can get through it. You will!
The thing that helped me the most is working with a counselor. I started individual counseling for grief and depression, but it turned into self-esteem building, confidence boosting, goal setting, and much more. If you want to make your relationship work, you can talk to a couples therapist. If you’ve recently gotten out of a codependent relationship, a therapist can guide you through this eye-opening time in your life. You deserve to have your own identity, whether it includes a partner or not. There are so many special qualities that make you who you are. Those are worth celebrating.