The Human Magnet Syndrome - Excerpts - page 17

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The Codependent Actor
Codependents are gifted actors who are able to escape safely into an expertly tailored, form fitting
costume. Staying in character allows them to perpetually co-star in the theatrical version of their own
codependent life. If their mask should fall, or if they forget their I’m-a-happy-person routine, they risk
humiliation of being found out. Well-aware that if their play should close prematurely, they would be
recast in a similar role as the pathologically lonely type who floats around in a world where they are
invisible and unloved. They, therefore, act their hearts out in each and every scene, as the end of their
charade is also the end of their gaslit feelings of safety.
Codependents go to great lengths to deny and bury their feelings of pessimism and despair. Any person
or situation that makes them feel happy, raises major red flags for potential danger. Experience has
shown that the hammer always falls. Like children who reject Santa Claus because they didn’t get any
Christmas gifts, they were once children who, as adults, reject the myth of happiness. Over time, they
have learned not to trust their senses, as what appears to be a flowing field of emerald grass with
dotted patches of beautiful flowers, is, in actuality, a war-torn field littered with landmines. The Catch-
22 nature of childhood happiness requires them to always reject the experience of happiness because if
they do not, they will likely experience the crushing blow of disappointment. The repudiation of
vulnerability and a guarded and defensive posture is the life story of most codependents. By refusing to
be vulnerable, the much-feared emotional annihilation is kept at bay…but at a tremendous cost.
Insanity and Roller Coaster Amnesia
If “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results," then my former
codependency self was quite “insane!” Like other codependents, I mistakenly believed I could convince,
control or influence my narcissistic loved ones into loving, respecting and caring for me, despite the
enormous amount of evidence to the contrary. I liken this “insanity” to the love-hate relationship that some
people have with haunted houses and roller coasters. Let me explain.
Although unaware, haunted house and roller-coaster daredevils are addicted to a cycle of intense emotions.
The cycle begins with fond recollections of the previous haunted house or roller-coaster experience. However,
these memories have been sanitized or scrubbed free of any vestige of the terror or trauma involved. These
people have also been compartmentalized, so that only the positive elements are available for recall. The cycle
continues as they anticipate and get excited for the positively remembered event. By this time, the frightening
and traumatic elements of the memory have been re-casted as exquisitely fun,
but frightening as hell.
The closer they get to the event; the more the positive memories are challenged by the mild to moderate
feelings of regret and anxiety that begin to bubble up. This is when the fear and terror of the formerly sanitized
memories begin to resurface. Once at the doorstep of the event, the
fight or flight response
kicks in. This is their
body’s response to a perceived harmful event, attack, or threat to survival. At this point, thoughts of gloom and
doom take on paranoid qualities. The body and the brain simultaneously press their panic buttons and the
deafening warning sirens begin to blast.
Despite experiencing acute anxiety, panic, nausea, and/or hyperventilation, the codependent “insane” person
steps into the haunted house’s entrance or is strapped tightly into the roller coaster seat. As they broach the
dark and claustrophobic confines of the haunted house or are pulled noisily upwards to the rollercoasters
highest point, they are brought to a full-fledgedmoment of “hyper-arousal” when they are overwhelmed by
terrorizing thoughts of death and destruction. This is when the one-dimensional survival thought process takes
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