Editorial Note:

Co-dependency describes a relationship dynamic where one person assumes the role of “the giver,” sacrificing their own needs and well-being for the sake of the other, “the taker.” It puts “the giver” at risk of physical, psychological and emotional abuse. Co-dependency is not a recognised diagnostic label, but it can act as a signpost that empowers the victim to break free and rebuild their life. We are publishing this courageous and honest account anonymously to protect the victim and would like to point out that she no longer regards herself as a victim and has written this both as a warning and an inspiration to others.


It all started in 1999. Having been contented and happily divorced for seven glorious years, living with no-one but rescued dogs and cats, I was descended upon by yet another damaged and difficult man. I say, ‘descended upon’ because that’s what he did — without warning. He landed on my doorstep with his suitcase, having walked-out on his wife of 32 years, without the courage to live on his own. Needless to say, much to my cost both emotionally and financially, I took him in despite his reluctance to discuss matters, his controlling nature, and his violent temper-tantrums. However, this sorry tale starts more in 2006 rather than 1999.

In 2004, however, as a surprise, I arranged for the wedding he had often proposed because we both desperately needed a holiday from our long working days. However, being less-travelled, I could not decide where to book the honeymoon, so I spilt the beans and asked him to choose — he chose an island in the Caribbean. We spent a glorious four weeks that May in an all-inclusive resort, but explored the island outside the enclave, riding buses and fraternising with locals and expats alike, and we loved it so much we decided to retire here.

On returning home and back to business, I set about facilitating our retirement. I returned to the island alone in September 2004 to purchase a property, eventually identifying and securing a house with my personal savings in the prosperous north of the island — it was subject to a bank repossession which kept it within our budget. I then redirected all my own and some joint funds towards the balance.

Fast forward to 2006: friends we had made in 2004 asked us to return earlier than planned to run their guest house on a profit-share basis, to allow them to return to the UK. Since I had owned hotels in my dark past, I adopted the role fully hands-on, although constantly undermined by my controlling husband, who subsequently intoned to anyone who would listen that he did the ‘running’ (as he did regarding my UK business, which he joined in 2000, after being made redundant from his job).

Having landed on 31 October 2006 with my last UK rescue — a 9-year old cat — armed with plans I had obtained from a well-known Canadian architect in 2004, within weeks we employed a contractor to upgrade the house I had procured for us, and I was relieved to dodge his interference in the guest house as he oversaw the remodelling of the house.

Being the naïve co-dependent and ever-optimistic woman I was (correction: still am, just as a reformed alcoholic is always an alcoholic), what I didn’t bank on was my husband’s ability to allow his seriously flawed personality to plague our plans. His utter disloyalty towards family, and me in particular, had blighted the business. Now he did the same to our house-remodelling plans when he ‘befriended’ the workers and allowed them free rein. The building costs spiralled in parallel with the lack of progress achieved. Eventually, in late July 2007, we dismissed the builders, and my husband undertook some of the building works himself, being eminently able having been in the army for twenty years until 1986. However, he soon tired of this commitment, and the house remains uninhabitable to this day, with the unfinished two-roomed integral apartment being the only habitable area.

From September to December 2008, I unwisely returned to the UK to give us time and space to recover from the stresses he had caused by his inappropriate handling of the building works. This seemingly gave him permission to betray me further! In an ultimate treachery, he began imitating an ex-pat friend with a penchant for womanising and staying out drinking, etc., until the early hours. Hence, I suffered the indignity of finding cheap sequins in the car we had bought and shared, and to which he began denying me access, forcing me to walk three miles to a girlfriend’s home to seek support.

Eventually, three years to the day since our emigration, he left me to co-habit with a local barmaid. Those last months filled with physical abuse and massive rows over his behaviour were simply awful, so his departure came as a relief. Thanks to an observant doctor, I also sought and received professional help for the breakdown I had not realised I had been developing throughout our relationship. It was caused by his refusal to face up to who he was and the sheer frustration of one-sided communication.

Despite the wonderful psychological help I received from 2009, I continued to suffer at his hands for a further seven years until December 2016 when my UK State Pension kicked-in, because he conspired to sequester as much as he possibly could financially, and the courts here in this patriarchal Catholic society saw no reason to be fair and just, and awarded me no financial assistance whatsoever. He also spitefully sabotaged the car before he left.

So I lived on my wits, and began volunteering in a children’s library, and rescuing animals. Those two activities brought me back to who I was before that fateful day in 1999. I have made like-minded friends here, both locals and ex-pats, developed a well-respected niche in the community, and thanks to the internet, retained my long-standing friends in the UK — and recovered my former sanity!

Now I am content to live alone, doing what I can for as many animals as I am able, and volunteering for several charities and NGOs, utilising my extensive computer expertise in administration and web-development. This keeps me busy and grows my inner strength.

I may well still be a co-dependent personality, but now I know that, just because I am, it is not necessary to live as one. I am very happy scraping by on my own with no-one else to please except the many dogs and cats in my care, which is far more rewarding!


Note: If you are experiencing domestic abuse in the UK there is a free 24-hour helpline: National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247

Useful web resources on co-dependency:


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