Lately, I’ve been watching The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. This HBO series and the books that spawned it have been enormously popular. I know I “should” like it, and I do enjoy the colorful scenery and the lilting language. But it makes me feel “icky.” Whenever I watch it or think about it, I feel uneasy. Slightly queasy and nauseous in the pit of my stomach. Slightly impatient and frustrated. Yuck!
Why do I feel this way? Because the whole premise reeks of codependency, the very thing I’ve been battling. The main character is Precious Ramotswe, and “precious” she is. She is supposed to be so wonderful and lovable because her goals are the unselfish ones of helping solve other peoples’ problems and improving her beloved Botswana. She takes responsibility for everyone else, but she doesn’t take care of herself. She makes no money with her detective agency, so she doesn’t take care of her finances. She is obese, so she doesn’t take care of her health. She lives alone, grieving over the abuse she received at the hands of her ex-husband, so she often thinks of herself as a victim. Meanwhile, her beloved Botswana is idealized, and it is never mentioned that the country is inundated with HIV/AIDS.
All this is a sure recipe for codependency–the act of taking responsibility for other people while neglecting responsibility for oneself. Maybe I’m overly sensitive because I see this in myself too much. But I wish this popular series did not represent codependency as something good, idealistic, and admirable. Yuck.