A Cure for Codependency
There is a heroin epidemic that is plaguing my beautiful home state of Vermont. It has been all over the news. Junk is everywhere and just about everyone is doing it. Rehab centers are turning people away and telling them to keep using until a bed opens up.
One can probably imagine a young girl running down the street. She hasn’t bathed in awhile and her hair is a mess. Her clothes, well, she has been wearing the same ones for a week and now they smell. Brushing her teeth? For get it.
“You got a fix? I need a fix.” She repeats this over and over to everyone she sees. She owes her dealer so he’s skipped town. She is desperate. She is a junkie. The big H has become her God. She can’t live without it. Getting and using stuff is now her full time job.
Now imagine the same girl running down the road. Only know she is not looking for a fix. She is looking for a cure for cancer. “You got a cure, you got a cure?” She repeats this over and over to everyone she sees. She is desperate to help her family.
You got a cure?
Now she is running down the road looking for a prayer. “Can you pray, will you pray?”
She is seeking to get the God in them to save her brother in law and her poor sister who cares for him. If she just gets enough people pray she can fix it. She can save him and her sister too. She can control the world. She can fix it.
Look at this girl. Look at what her codependency is doing to her. It is killing her the way h is killing young people in this beautiful, rural state. “Can you save my brother? I think if you can pray one more time you can save him. Can you pray for a new brain?”
I can’t say I was that person, but I sure wasn’t far off. That pretty much describes my behavior for the past fourteen months. Begging every person I knew to pray for him, trying to save him. He is my brother, I love him. Deep down, to save my family of origin, my sister, to save her from pain and anguish, especially after what she has just been through with Mom. Trying to save her. Trying to fix her. Trying to make it okay. Trying to play God.
Now this is me. I am trying to fix it, safe it, fix her, save her, fix him, save him. I am feeling their feelings. I feel their despair. And when I’m not feeling it, I’m telling myself I should be. Most of the time I don’t need to do that. Feeling it comes naturally. It’s as natural as flicking on a light switch. I have had years of training.
This is enmeshment. This is my codependency patterns running wild:
If you hurt. I hurt; I think I have to fix you.
Your moods and actions are my fault.
I don’t know what I need, I focus on what you need.
I am obsessed with making you happy, with saving you.
My fear of abandonment and rear of rejection determine how I behave.
I feel what they feel. I need to detach. It doesn’t have to be about drugs, alcohol or gambling or men or sex. It can just be that you love someone and you want them to be well. You want to fix something that you can’t fix, change something that you can’t change and it sends you into despair. You get into enmeshment trying to fix it. When you finally accept it and realize you can’t change it, you get into despair and it affects everything in your life. There is this big, thick grey cloud hanging over your head. You are like there is that feeling again, the moment you wake up.
Pretty soon its not just obsession with my brother who has cancer and I’m taking on his feelings, and my sisters feelings and his despair. But now a little boy at one of my schools died and I have to feel what those parents are feeling too. Then I hear about the mudslide and what about them? I have to feel what they are feeling too. And what about the people in Malaysia who are waiting for news of their loved ones on that missing plane? Where is that flipping plane anyway? And the people at the hospital! The hospital is closed and they’ve all lost their jobs. Now I have to feel their feelings and fix them too? Better put them on the list. And another friend has a lung that is collapsing. This is going to kill me!!
This is enough to drive me to insanity. This is when my life has become unmanageable. This is when I need to come to Coda. I need to detach with love and start to take care of myself. The only thing I have control over is how I react to what I happening. This was my experience this last week. It drove me to exhaustion, depression, selfishness, despair and ruined my Sunday worship to the point that I was worried I wouldn’t be able to go to my Quaker meeting anymore, which sent me even further into my despair spiral to not be able to see my spiritual family.
Then I think how can I fix it, how can I change it, who can I call? I’m desperate help me help me help me. No answer, no answer. No one is home.
So what is the answer? For Juliet it means I need to work my program. I need to admit my powerlessness over others, cancer, disasters,disease and death. I need to give it to God. I need to humble myself before him, admit that I am out of control and that I need help. I need to get to a meeting, write out some step work and read it to my sponsor. I need to let go of what is not mine and give it back to its owner. There is a God and it is not me. I need to take the focus off of others and put it back on myself. I need to admit my powerlessness over my enmeshment.
Slogan: I can’t God can, I think I’ll let him.
Admitting powerlessness is half the battle. Just admitting to God that I am out of control and powerless over these obsessions, feelings, control and compliance patterns helps it ease up. Suddenly the pressure is off. Some one pressed the pause button and I can breathe in and out. I can figure out my hand position and get my bow straight before they press the play button again. I can let go. I write out my steps. I read them to my sponsor. Suddenly the current is back flowing in the right direction and I’m going with it. Breathe. Just breathe. Give every breathe to God. It’s okay. I’m not driving the boat. None of us are. God is driving the boat. God bless the twelve steps. Breathe just breathe. Live every day in gratitude. And let go. Just let go.