Thursday, December 4, 2008

Co-Dependent Fight Song

How Dare You, Barry Manilow!!

I just realized the song "Can't Smile Without You" which is tied to Manilow like a co-dependent to his/her enabler, is the National Anthem of the Co-Dependent/Enablers Union**, of which I am a card carrying member. Oh, you disagree? Take a gander:

"You know I can't smile without you,
Can't smile without you.
I can't laugh and I can't sing,
I'm finding it hard to do anything.

You see I feel sad when you're sad,
I feel glad when your glad,
If you only knew what I'm going through,
I just can't smile without you."

HUH? HUH? What about THOSE lyrics? Granted, Manilow didn't write the darn thing, but it's been one of his signature songs for a long time. He used to bring women up onto the stage to actually sing it with him (until one lady grabbed a hold of his ass and wouldn't let go, which he didn't think was particularly funny....). But what did he expect? She was CO-DEPENDENT for heaven's sakes. She was hearing her Fight Song! Her Anthem!! She got a hold of her Co-Dependee and wouldn't let go until security shot her up with fentenyl and versed and used the Jaws of Life to pry her clamped fingers off his rear end (just kidding--but as with all jokes, there's a grain of truth in them. It's up to you to find out what's true and what isn't. I'm just telling a story here and empowered with literary license).

Barry thinks "Can't Smile" is a chipper ol' song about undying love and pining away. Sure it is.....the enabler is just pining away to get her lover out of jail after his 6th DUI (golly, he only really drinks one or two on the weekends), or not questioning the strange massive withdrawals from your checking account after you gave your boyfriend of 2 months access to your account number. Why make him mad? He LOVES you. He'll pay you back. He's a great guy. Or calling the school over and over to say your teenager is sick while she is really just hung over after being up all night on the computer talking to Sid, whom you haven't determined is female or male or under 45.

Or how about just old fashioned anger? How about being that enabler who knows that any anger erupting within a 45 mile radius to due to something she had either DONE or FAILED to do and then must make everything better even if it means selling her own soul to the devil. An enabler would be HAPPY to sell her soul if it would assure that everyone is happy and not making her pay (cuz you know, 'someone HAS to pay') for every mistake that ever happened in the history of the planet. I know. I tried! You wouldn't believe how HARD it is to sell your soul. Really. Some souls Lucifer just ain't interested in -- imagine what THAT does to your confidence level.

Anyway, Barry, tell it like it is. "Can't Smile" is a sad, sad song about co-dependents unable to live their own life because they are too busy enabling someone else's life. They "can't smile" unless someone else is smiling. They feel sad if someone else is sad. They are "finding it hard to do anything". Barry -- that's Co-dependency, not a LOVE SONG!!

So I hope you will take this in the spirit it was written --- and for god's sake don't get angry or I'll never be happy until you're happy again.

(**for real help with co-dependency, read Melanie Beatty's "Co-dependent No More"**)


Anonymous said...

Oh, Lara, you crack me up! Who but you would try to find a universal truth in a Barry Manilow song? Even when the chips are down, you love your Man(ilow).

I don't remember the exact quote, but Streisand addressed this at one of her final concerts by saying that now that she had been through therapy, she realizes that so many of the great love songs are not really healthy or even very positive. "My Man," anyone? Or Judy Garland's "The Man that Got Away." It's almost as though pop culture teaches us that we don't REALLY love him unless he's hurting us.

And, as you know better than anybody, "he" doesn't need to be a lover, or even a "he."

Being a baby boomer, I have adopted a 1970s song as my new anthem. "Haven't Got Time for the Pain:"

All those crazy nights, when I cried myself to sleep
Now melodrama doesn't make me weep anymore

You know all this, my friend. Now all you have to do is fake it till you make it. And you will, because you're fundamentally a good person who deserves to be happy.


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