It should have been a normal friendship. But codependency had crept in. To the point that my identity was no longer alright unless it was just like my friend, Roman’s.

The email came after my last visit with Roman. I had spent several days with him at his house with his family. He still lived at home with his parents and siblings, all of whom I loved as my own family.

And my codependency was out of control.

It was no longer enough to constantly talk to Roman. It wasn’t even enough just to be around him. At this point, I needed to be able to hug him whenever I wanted. I had to be able to sit close to him, lean on him, put my head on his shoulder.

Honestly, I was probably only a few short steps away from finding even all of that not to be enough.

Now, Roman was not a physically affectionate guy. He showed his discomfort with my physical affection. I was aware and relented some.

But I still tried to show him physical affection when I could. I believed it was healthy. I told myself that this physical affection was necessary for us as friends.

After I left his house, I ventured away on a vacation with my family. I remember thinking how my time with Roman would help keep me going through my time with my family.

That first night of vacation, I logged into my email and found a new message waiting for me: it was from Roman’s mom, a woman I saw as another mother.

I won’t quote the entire email here. Not even sure I have it anymore. But here was the gist of it:

Dean, we care about you. But you’ve gone too far. How you are treating Roman is not healthy and has made all of us uncomfortable. We cannot let you into our home again until you are able to act appropriately around our son.

My world shattered.

I was hurt. I was in denial. I responded to her email by saying how wrong they were, how this was an awful way to treat me, and how I felt betrayed by people who I thought were my family.

Deep down, though, I knew who was actually in the right.

I lay in bed that night just staring at the ceiling. My identity had been ripped away from me, and I was left with who I actually was.

A man who wasn’t enough on his own . . .

Have you pursued physical affection to an unhealthy or inappropriate degree with another man? Have you struggled with codependency in a friendship or felt your identity being ripped away?

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