by Rhea Dillon

Codependency Vs Coexistence[1]

Suppose a love is codependent. Suppose love/codependence is love = codependence, is loving you. How to say the same thing 3 times. Three is my birthright. It is tattooed on my left hand for force is my right handed way, and grace (a home) follows with the left alignment of my body.

Codependency has been faced with a bad rap of wrath through the post-internet age we live in. To
be dependent, to cater to, these are the old ways of the Destiny’s Child 90s[2]. That pre Ne-Yo Miss Independent, is now reframed into a Hot Girl, trademark of Megan Thee Stallion, who must spend
the income of a him you’ve barely dated–only let in for the pleasure. Your pleasure. My pleasure. It’s expected here that I say smoothly “all pleasure aside” but in love there is no room for pleasure or desire to be amiss. I am pleased by desire. Therefore desire is the root focus of all love talk; if it talks.

To engage with another is to speak through a co- prefix.

Together; mutually. In co-nversation with one another we learn and/or lean into love. Love’s optics hold many cards that we cannot always see. Fear is a great blinding agent but fear in love is not to be seen solely as an alarm for a change in direction. Much like jealousy, it must command in us deep-er listening–but that’s for another letter, another time.

To co- anything an/other has to be present.
To co-depend means to have trust in your other.

Yes, possessive pronoun: yours. An other that, due to your and their understanding, respect and (therefore) love, has a stake in what makes and what it takes to be you. Current institutional dictionaries state an ‘excessive’ dependency is what codependency means. I rebuke this. Where in its broken down formation does it pronounce ‘overbearing’, ‘too much’ or ‘a suffocation’? Toodependency is what they profess we read codependency as. Well that is just not what is there in the wording. To depend on someone should sit on a spectrum of care. From critique to support and back again is to depend. I depend on my friends for sincere critique perhaps more than I have their physical support. This is no matter, mere fact, as a fit able bodied person. As a headstrong independent only child
raised individual this becomes clear. I, from this upbringing of perduring with my nurture vs nature somewhere along my journey of ageing, learnt not to depend on anyone. For further insight into my personal life, trust has been (and still is) fractured by some of the people who are, on paper and by institutional definition, meant to love/care for me the most. Explicitly: I am currently not fathered. In a forced life understanding that to kill harm and hatred is to love harder I started to change the language definition of codependent = bad to equal good, for fear of being alone.

No one can live independent of an ecosystem. My ecosystem happens to be society. That society is London and a number of cities where my (what I term) friends-as-family live. Before a sexual love can be met, a friendship has to have an ability to hold s/place. So, excuse my focus of foundation for this text as being so far centred on love’s friend base.

As stated, to depend on another means to trust. If you do not have trust one cannot be present in love. ‘Love is a combination of care, commitment, knowledge, responsibility, respect and trust,’[3] states hooks in our beloved ‘all about love’. Those six words etched my heart, mind and future body (in a tattoo form yet to be decided). I believe that in order to love we need to depend. That sentence could therefore also read: I believe that in order to love we need to love. This is how intertwined they are. The post-internet generation we sit in collectively has taken to slamming codependent people and therefore groups, collectives and, simply, couples. I, too, was an initial antichrist of the term. But I think why it is even more prescient to focus on switching the eye and, perhaps more importantly, ear to the dependent in codependence is that Generation Z specifically, and younger, have some of the highest statistics of mental health issues for their age in comparison to previous generations. Also, a hyper ability to attempt to exist in a digital society resulting in a physical solitude. Aka: gaming, instagram, influencer careers. So with that, we need to hear the word depend and thaw out our difficulty wall built against the idea of a physical and emotional lover in order to reach a love that can reduce loneliness.

This is why I see coexistence as the opposer of codependency. To coexist is to ‘exist at the same time or in the same place in harmony despite different ideologies or interests’[4]. To exist is to just be. In just being there is no interaction. Existence is like two roads going in the same direction (only perhaps the same) but parallel. A codependency must have those roads cross over: as interaction determines a crossroad. I coexist with heads of state. I do not love them. If I am in love with you I want to love you.
If I don’t want to love you I don’t want to be present. Yes initially one can fall in love with another, but what gets someone to stay? Want; desire. You must be present in love. I don’t ever want passive love, like I don’t want inactive friendship(s). And, no: active loving does not equate time spent. I do not need to speak everyday to a lover or friend for love to live here. If we want to live, here, we must learn to love. In order to live, one must depend on a loving life.

For humanity then, love is not a luxury; love is dependability on the morning of tomorrow. As without seeing tomorrow morning, you will not have made it. Now, I’m not saying I’m scared of death, but I’m scared of not living so I make sure I find language to support my breath. Hence, my writing of codependency over coexistence.

All the things I want to say about love are still tracing and transforming in my mind. Each day I depend on the love I give, so I desire to depend on love’s return.

  1. To read/listen in the company of the language of me means to always be rewriting definitions for the apparent present we.
  2. Yes the song came out in 2004 but they are still 90s as a defined R&B group era. Bite me.
  3. hooks, bell, 1952-2021. All About Love: New Visions. New York: William Morrow, 2000.
  4. This definition is a conjoining of the two definitions given by Oxford Languages. Oxford Languages is also what Google uses for its definitions:

Rhea Dillon is an artist, writer and poet based in London. Examining and abstracting her intrigue of the ‘rules of representation’ as a device to undermine contemporary Western culture, Dillon seeks to continually question what constitutes as the ontology of Blackness versus the ontic.

Recent exhibitions include The Sombre Majesty (or, on being the pronounced dead), at Soft Opening, London (2022); Real Corporeal at Gladstone Gallery, New York (2022); Love at Bold Tendencies, London (2022) and an online screening at The Kitchen, New York (2022). Dillon was in residence at Triangle - Astérides, Marseille and V.O. Curations, London, culminating in a solo exhibition, Nonbody Nonthing No Thing and poetry chapbook Donald Dahmer (both 2021). The artist presented Catgut – The Opera at Park Nights 2021 in the Serpentine Pavilion, with an upcoming publication of the same title expected in 2023 with Worms, launching at the ICA, London.