In your day-to-day life, do you tend to act or react? oh sure, we all do both. But those of us who tend toward codependency tend to spend much of our time reacting to the emotions and desires of others rather than choosing actions which stem from our own core selves — our own interests, life goals, and personal beliefs and desires.
Example: I want to move to another house. This house has bad memories for me at this point, plus my rent is higher than I will be able to afford soon due to an upcoming loss of alimony income. My boyfriend thinks this is a great idea. Time to downsize. So I am happy and start to move forward, taking a look at apartments and rental homes. Then my daughter speaks against it: “I’m not moving THERE! This is a terrible idea!” I start to question my decision. Then my middle son expresses enthusiasm. I start moving foward again, etc., etc.
Today in Alanon we talked about how we can learn not to take on other people’s emotions. I have realized recently how frequently I do that. It’s an interesting journey, this self-discovery and healing process.
If you have some dollars to spare, here’s a place to donate: http://www.firstgiving.com/narconon. Please consider giving to narconon. Every dollar helps, and if you pass on buying lunch or fancy coffee once or twice a week, you can give a little more. It helps our children and our families, our loved ones in addiction — and those in countries where there are less resources need help too.
Thanks for considering this.
I wrote this months ago, trying to give words to what I was seeing happen to my son as he lived in active addiction. Praise God, he is still clean, a month out of rehab. I am thankful!
So many people
Their songs become the songs
of grave diggers.
for the death of a grandmother.
for father’s disapproval, one
for mother’s inability
to move forward
when the marriage failed.
One for the drugs he did last weekend, and now
He keeps digging
because he doesn’t recall
how not to dig.
His song is the song
of a Grave Digger:
the low baritone chant
of a gaunt and gray
And the rain begins to fall.
And the rain begins to fall.
One shovel of dirt for the timing
of the rain.
is a long way off.
But the grave:
always at the ready.
It’s 5:00AM and I have been up for an hour. So I’m reading: “Codependent No More,” by Melody Beattie. If you are in the Codependent world, you know the name. I’m on chapter two, and it has me thinking.
The more I read about codependency (“A codependent person is one who has let another person’s behavior affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person’s behavior.”), the more I think of my ex husband. He is not at alcoholic nor is he a drug addict. But he does have some obsessive behaviors and he does require a certain level of … compliance … from the people close to him. I found being in a relationship with him more difficult than I could bear in part due to certain requirements of that relationship. At some point you just had to agree with him on things or he’d talk you in circles for hours until you did. And you had to go along with certain routines because breaking them would send him into a fury. After awhile, I learned to agree early on in the conversation, or to supress my own desires if they threatened to break the routine…this to avoid the inevitable hurtful outburst that would follow.
I was codependent in that relationship because I was changing my behavior in order to control his behavior. I get that. I see it in my children and I wonder how to address that with young people. Their dad loves them and doesn’t have a definable addiction that I’m aware of. And perhaps they are codependent in response to me. I wonder.
I’ve also begun thinking back to my father, who has always been a drinker, more and moreso as the years went on. But he was never mean. He would always get either silly or deep, and he’d always tell you how much he loved you and how guilty he felt for not being good enough. In response, I spent much time insisting that he hadn’t done anything to feel guilty for, telling him I loved him, and insisting to myself that I could love anyone despite their behaviors… codependency. It’s a vague concept that clearly is part of my makeup.
The book says that codependents have trouble acting on their own behalf because they spend most of their time reacting. I cannot count the times I have started projects or wanted to act on ideas, made brief projects, and ended them saying, “I just couldn’t carry it through. It’s so hard to keep my focus while (X and I are arguing…the kids are having problems…work is requiring…etc.)”
Just some early morning thoughts. Codependent no more. Sounds nice…
Sometimes the level of upheavel in my life reaches crazy proportions. At least it feels that way. I always stop myself there because I know that others have it worse. Somewhere, there’s someone with all of my problems and…they are homeless, or they are in an abusive relationship, or their child is missing, or someone has died. Just typing those things makes me realize my blessings, although that wasn’t my original intent in writing this morning.
It’s been like this over the past six months: I discovered my boys’ heroin use; I lost my job; my boyfriend retired from his job and then had major surgery; my boys’ drug use increased in severity; i came down with a serious health problem that requires several expensive tests to diagnose; I started a new job; my son was arrested and spent time in jail; my son went to rehab; my other son suffered regular panic attacks; a serious conflict in my church led to several good friends and ministry partners leaving the church and much in-fighting among people I love; my boyfriend’s ex-wife tried to revoke his time with his children (and I promise, not for any good reason) and demands more money (trust me, she’s getting more than she needs); he leaves the state to look for a new job; I start Al-Anon and now, begin to face my ever-increasing debt that has accumulated throughout this past spring and summer; a bill shows up for my younger son’s drug counseling, which I had been told was going to be free.
Deep breath. Again, life is worse for many people. I don’t live in my car. I have a job now, with insurance. I’m healthy again. But you know, every now and then I just want to whine.
Oh yes, and my real point…when everything goes topsy turvy — seek God! I had a thought this morning. In the third chapter of Exodus, in the Bible, God gets Moses’ attention by speaking to him in the fire of a burning bush. The really unusual thing that got Moses’ attention about the bush was that, while it was on fire, it was not being consumed by the fire. Ha. I realized this morning that the bush represents more than God getting our attention in unusual circumstances. The bush is a sign to Moses of his future life with God. Because, my friends, doesn’t life reach those points where we feel like a burning bush — old, dried up, broken by the slightest wind? And yet, if we walk covered by the grace of God, we can be standing in the middle of the fire and NOT be consumed by it. This is the greatest hope!
So I say, thank God for God. Because on my own, I could not do this crazy living in any kind of a sane way.
A funny thing happens when the kids don’t have any immediate troubles… I am forced to face my own. Dan has been home for nine days and attended nine meetings. His friends are going with him. There have been no signs of any substances or substance use in my house. Cathy is settling in; her emotions are steadier and she’s regaining her focus. Allen is covering some ground with his therapist, learning to communicate emotions, and taking responsibility for his own health in a more active way.
So now, I have no one to look at but me, my house, my finances. They are all pretty messy (um…it’s not a pretty mess though). I don’t really want to do this. It’s so much easier to ignore my bills because of my children’s crises!
Also, I have not gone to an al-anon meeting yet. What’s with that? What am I avoiding? After all that’s happened, it seemed like an easy thing. My denial — an old friend — still tends to kick in. I recognize her. That’s why I’ve been avoiding this page. But here I am. One Mom Talking.
A random thought: Do I need to get a flu shot? For the kids too?