Learning the Difference Between Codependency and Love

Falling in love with an addict left me with an addiction all my own

Will Henderson
Human Parts
Published in
8 min readOct 22, 2013


Illustration: jessica gonacha/Getty Images

WeWe return, pigeons and salmon, to the places we abandoned and to the places where we were abandoned. Our secrets, each of them, years’ worth, spill out of our mouths like rubies and other precious stones. Doesn’t matter if there is no one around to hear our telling. We scatter those secrets like other broken things, fragile and winged. We wait for absolution much longer than we should. We bury our secrets. We forget our dead.

“I ruined everything again,” I say to my psychiatrist, Kathy. “All I needed to do was let him have one night. That’s all he wanted.”

“Until next week, when he would have asked for a second night, and then a third. Don’t you see? He was never going to give you what you wanted. You can’t make him healthy. You can’t make him the right one for you. He is not the right one for you.”

That’s as much as she wants to talk about it, this psychiatrist who worries I will relapse and prescribes me medication that might make my skin fall off. I want to talk about nothing but him—about Jay, the man who I’ve been cheating on my wife with. Present tense, cheating, though there is nothing present tense about me and him. We’ve ended our relationship twice in the last month. I think this time it’s for keeps.

The first time because I spied on him and his friends using drugs. The second time, a little over a day ago, because I essentially told him he had to pick between me and using drugs.

He didn’t pick me.

“I love him,” I say.

“And then you won’t. That’s what will happen. You love him now. You won’t love him later.”

I make a follow-up appointment for two weeks from now. Kathy thinks seeing me again that soon is for the best.

“Don’t relapse,” she cautions as she walks me to the receptionist. “And think about why his not wanting to hang out affected you as much as it did. There’s something to that.”

She adds to her list of recommendations: Keep taking the Lamictal. Find ways to distract myself. Keep the appointment with the therapist. Call if I need to talk about…



Will Henderson
Human Parts

Will Henderson is a Florida-based writer. His memoir, Second Person Possessive, came out in 2012. He lives with his partner and their two children.