Co-dependency : This board taught me this


one day at a time
This is great. This is often discussed in Al-Anon as a sign of things going wrong. I remember when I would be way more upset about events in difficult child's life than he was. I was a nervous wreck and he was just continuing.

I think the reason we don't "get it" for so long is that the codepency comes on gradually, and we can't see it for what it is. I have said this many times about my marriage to my now-ex-husband, who is a recovering alcoholic: First I compromised, then I accommodated, then I enabled. Very slowly, over the years, this evolved, and it became a parent/child relationship. Awful in a marriage.

With my son, well, he was my son, and of course I took complete care of him as a baby and then was tasked with letting go as he grew up. Except he didn't, and I didn't. And slowly, slowly, we did the codependency dance.

I allowed him, with all of my "great help" to keep on and on and on with childlike ways.....way way past the time for it. I just thought he was slow to launch, slow to mature, whatever. Little did I know he was using, and thus stuck in place, maturity wise.

And as the addiction progressed, I ramped up the "help." One more action, talk, contract, chance---that would do the trick! Just one more time.

It was at first unthinkable that my son would ever be in jail for five minutes longer than he had to be. He would never be without food or shelter. He would never be without transportation or a cell phone. He would never be without a cent to his name or just the clothes on his back. And in jail, he of course had to have money on his account in that terrible place. Books in the mail. Letters and cards from me with many "encouraging" words. He couldn't be in jail without knowing he was loved. Not my son. Not with me as a mother.

Finally, finally...I started to hear what people were saying---on this board, in Al-Anon, in all of the literature I was reading. I started to let it penetrate and I started to change. I had to completely let him go. I mean completely because half-measures didn't work with him. One little thing I would do, and it would start all over again.

He didn't change for a long, long, long time and that was so difficult. I had to maintain my own changing self even while he got worse. Those were the hardest days, not knowing where he was, what he was doing, how he was. There came a day that I would log onto Facebook so I could see if he had been online at any point in time recently. All I needed was to just know he was alive, and I could keep on.

Detachment with love. At first, it was detachment without a whole lot of anything. And then came compassion when I had some distance from him.

When we are more upset, more frantic, more action-oriented, more problem-solving, screaming and yelling and "telling" and so very sad and frustrated, and they are just doing what they do...that is a clear sign that we are codependent.

The person whose life is in the toilet is the person who has to pull that life out of the toilet. We simply just cannot do it for them.

Thanks SS. A great reminder.


Well-Known Member
This is my mantra. So very helpful. I find with ALL my kids, that if I start getting annoyed with them I step back and ask...why? Often it is because "they" are using up so much of my time why because I am sending them job links, or doing google research, or making phone calls or appointments...while they do whatever they do. At that point I say to myself "self, you are putting more effort into their lives then they are." and it ends. And I'm not annoyed.