It should have been a normal friendship. 

I met Roman our junior year of high school. He was a new student at the fine arts school where I had already attended for three years. We hit it off pretty well with similar interests. We were both nerds who loved Tolkien, music, and talking about both.

Yet we were also different enough that we could teach each other. I introduced Roman to more classical music to increase his appreciation of it; meanwhile, he introduced me to progressive metal, so as to increase my acceptance of it. 

We were good friends. Not too close — but close enough. 

When I left for college hours away, I went into major depression — an extremely dark time of depression as my bipolar (then unbeknownst to me) had just been triggered.

Roman stepped up, having wrestled with depression himself. He walked with me through that time, helping in ways no one else could.

And this is where our friendship began to crumble.

We didn’t know anything was wrong; in truth, we believed the opposite. Roman and I chatted for hours on AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), me downloading about my struggles and him encouraging me to keep pushing forward.

We talked on AIM almost every night, staying up late till 2 or 3. 

We started texting throughout the day, too. Whenever I struggled, I sent him a message and he encouraged me.

By all accounts, I started doing better with my depression. But that’s how codependency can look at the start — a “healthy” accountability relationship.

Soon, talking with Roman for half my day wasn’t enough. I struggled in the hours we didn’t communicate. I even started struggling in between the texts we sent each other. Our communication became constant, the only break occurring when we went to sleep. 

I took breaks from school just to go see him. I ignored my own family to see Roman instead. Even details about me changed to match him. 

My taste in music, my clothes, my language, my beliefs, my opinions, even my computer password — all of it became like Roman. My identity was gone.

I had attempted to turn myself into Roman. And I was actually starting to succeed.

A couple of years into this change, it came crashing down. All of it burned to the ground.

All because of one e-mail . . .

Have you struggled with codependency? How did you fall into emotional dependency with another person, and how did you escape it?

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