Whitney Cummings and the whack-a-mole of codependency

Salon talks to the comic about mental health, her new book and what getting her ear torn off taught her about love

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Senior Writer

Published October 6, 2017 6:58PM (EDT)

You expect a book by Whitney Cummings to be funny. Over the past decade, she's carved a career as a stand-up comic, actor and creator/co-creator of two network sitcoms, including the long-running "Two Broke Girls." What you wouldn't expect is that her memoir "I'm Fine ... And Other Lies" would be such a frank, deeply moving account of her experiences with codependence, eating disorders, abortion, consent, fertility — oh, and getting her ear torn off. There are pictures.

During a recent episode of "Salon Talks," Cummings talked about how writing a piece for Lenny two years ago — and the heartfelt response from readers — inspired her to write the book, and how nearly losing her ear helped her gain wisdom.

"I feel I had dealt with a lot of my codependence in my personal life and professional life but it still was rearing its ugly head in other ways," she told me. "Codependence is like a game of whack-a-mole. You think you've dealt with one part, another part pops up."

For Cummings, that other part involved a very special relationship. "I rescue animals, and I had rescued a dog," she explained. "A lot of my codependent things came up: denial, not looking at red flags, conveniently turning my head the other way — no pun intended — when I saw something that didn't align with what I had envisioned. I threw all logic out the window with how I normally deal with an abused dog.

"I so badly wanted everything to be easy that I ignored reality," she continued. "The same mentality can be, 'Oh, this guy will change. He's done this with every other woman but if I just love him enough, he'll change.' Or, 'My boss yells at me every day but if I just dress a certain way or get this brief in on time, she'll stop.' These things that we tell ourselves to self-soothe but ultimately end up putting us in dangerous situations, for me is a slippery slope."

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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