Thanks Tanya. I believe that to be true. I approached my own codependency that way which is why I entered that 2 year long codependency program which is what ultimately made the difference for me. It feels like an addiction to me in that not acting on the impulse to enable is like trying to stop a runaway train....the "fix" for me, was to enable, to help, to rescue. For me, I needed professional help. The dysfunctional behavior was within ME and I needed to address that first. Once I began healing, everything began changing. For me, it was clearly an "inside job." And, interestingly, my daughter changed towards me and our relationship completely changed. Seeing it that way gave me the power to change. Seeing it as another's issue and waiting for them to change is a powerless and negative place to be.
Yup. That panicked feeling we get when our kid isn't taking care of something themselves? When we ruminate over what will happen to them if they (or we) don't do x, y or z? Just like an addict craving a fix. And like an addiction, it's a tough, tough habit to break - and really hard to do without support.
It's an addiction you don't even know you have if you never knew any differently. I was brought up to believe I was selfish if I ever put myself first, and I mean EVER so I didn't because being selfish was about the worst thing I could be in my mind. So your own beliefs feed your addiction to fixing others and making them happy at your own expense and you don't even know it is an illness.
You have to be told and taught. You don't read about this addiction or watch it on television.
It may be particularly hard for women to recognize their own codependency and then to want to change it. We are caretakers, especially of our children, and others, as our culture pushes us into this role. Like SWOT says, if we put ourselves first, we are "being selfish." As the oldest child of four, with one disabled, I was thrust into the caretaking role at age 6, and learned that my value was in helping.
Greatest strength = greatest weakness, when taken too far.
Then, of course, I wanted to give my two sons everything, and I tried to. One "turned out" and the other went down a very dark path.
Not because I gave them too much, but you can see how far I was into "it", when I started realizing that what I was doing wasn't working. In fact, it was actually hurting my Difficult Child. The more I helped, the more I hurt the both of us.
What a wakeup call that was. And culture really doesn't support our taking a new path. So we are swimming against the tide, and we have to LEARN how to do this. It doesn't come naturally and it doesn't feel natural. In fact, it feels very wrong, and as a "feelings" person, I had to fight that, too.
But doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result finally, finally got very tiresome and frustrating. I finally saw it myself, and when I did, I was ready to change.
We have to change. We have to first, want to change, and then, we have to practice the change every single day, using the tools that work for us.
It's an addiction. I was a world-class worrier, and that was my way of trying to control the situation.
There is so much work to do on us, once we start seeing clearly. I came to see myself as truly no better off than my drug-addicted son. His addiction was very obvious, and mine wasn't, by cultural standards.
Today, I find drama, chaos and victimhood (my own or anybody else's) tiresome. I understand it's a passage that we all have to walk through, and awareness comes to us in chunks and bits and pieces, one step forward and sometimes 10 back.
Thanks for sharing this Tanya. It's straight talk, and very true.