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 him.
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 governments.
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. Can’t get enough of Susie? Read other pieces by Susie Day in MRZine: Susie Day, “Fugitive Offers Reward for Rumsfeld’s Capture” (22 July 2005); “Street Life of a Mad Activist” (28 July 2005); “Waiting for Karl Rove” (9 August 2005); “A Child’s Primer of Intelligent Design” (24 August 2005); “The Flood This Time” (19 September 2005); “Things That Rise Up in the Night: A Howl-oween Treat” (18 October 2005); “President Salutes Anonymous Red-Baiter” (14 November 2005); “Conspicuous Consumption of a Mad Activist” (11 December 2005); “2006: The Year in Horrorscopes” (9 January 2006); “Visiting Herman” (7 February 2006); “Savior Self” (6 March 2006); “Pinko Plague Panics President” (4 April 2006); “Seymour Hersh and the American Brain” (2 May 2006); “Identity, Class, and Bite Me, David Horowitz” (30 May 2006); “Bugging Hillary” (19 June 2006); “Back in the USSA” (24 July 2006); “News from the Back of the Front” (21 August 2006); “Barbie at the Barricades” (20 September 2006); “How to Stay Out of Gitmo” (18 October 2006); “Ted Haggard and the Church of the Down-Low” (13 November 2006); “Police Gun Down Another Rich White Man” (11 December 2006); “Consuming Karl” (6 February 2007); “Anna Nicole Smith Bombs Iran” (6 March 2007); “Peter Pace Porks a Peck of Pinko Perverts” (2 April 2007); “Jesus Christ Weds Pat Robertson” (30 April 2007); “U.S. Troops Out of . . . ME” (30 May 2007); “Killer Lesbians Mauled by Killer Court, Media Wolf Pack” (27 June 2006); “Apartheid Americana” (23 July 2007); “Peace Movement Overthrows Government, Cheney Dies” (20 August 2007); “Honey, I Shrank the Military (Or, Who Put the ‘Pet’ in ‘Petraeus’?)” (21 September 2007); “Poppin’ Fresh Declares Martial Law” (13 November 2007); “Miracle on Pennsylvania Avenue: Santa Confirmed as FBI Head” (10 December 2007); “Croakin’ on Hudson” (7 January 2008); “Our Blob in the White House” (4 February 2008); “The Revolution Will Not Be Workshopped” (3 March 2008); “Ask Ms. Liberty: Advice for the War-Torn” (1 April 2008); “Gone with the ‘W'” (27 May 2008); “Sex sans the City (A Post-Marxist Preview)” (23 June 2008); “Jesse Helms and the Theater of the Depraved” (27 July 2008); and “Pre-Election Attack of the Pro-Life Killer Fetus!” (15 September 2008).