Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Codependent People Rock!

A big shout out to all you fellow codependent people!! It’s time to blog a little about this tendency, which only can be found in REALLY awesome people! J
 First, I do NOT like labels. However, I fit this label to a T. If you look it up, you may see a photo of me smiling as I am trying to save the world, WHILE trying to keep everyone happy in the process. I have yet to figure out that cannot actually be done. That negative idea (the one that I cannot happily save the world and make sure everyone is happy) is depressing and deflating. (This is a red flag and prime example of a codependent’s thoughts!).
            If you look up the definition of Codependency on the internet, you may find something like this:

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Codependency is a tendency to behave in overly passive or excessively caretaking ways that negatively impact one's relationships and quality of life. It also often involves putting one's needs at a lower priority than others while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others. Codependency may also be characterized by denial, low self-esteem, excessive compliance, and/or control patterns.
In simple terms, a codependent person is also known as “an enabler.” We are the people who you can ask to do anything, and we will do it PLUS something extra. We cannot say no without feeling guilty. We are the people who pick up the slack if someone else is not doing their job . . . therefore ENABLING them to BE a slacker. In the long run, everybody loses. The codependent person is exhausted and feels taken advantage of AND the other person does not learn how to handle his/her own problems. Only through problem solving can we become a responsible, accountable, competent person. If there is an enabler around, one may not reach this place of pride because they never had to or never got the chance.
What can I say? Our hearts were in the right places!!
I have recently decided to get a grip on this part of my life, which I THOUGHT was simply a part of my personality. On top of that, I thought it was one of my God-given gifts and that I SHOULD sacrificially do whatever I saw needing to be done. I thought I was doing the right thing by trying to do everything for everybody at my own expense . . . as though I was CALLED to do it. Granted, there is a fine line between the two, but that line got muted out somewhere along the path of my life and now they look very similar. I don’t always know where I stop and someone else starts, or visa versa. That’s bad for me and you, if you happen to be the “other person.”
So now, I am in the process of doing a study in order to find the healthy line. It has been a great/terrible experience and I will share bits and pieces of what I am learning as I go. (Keep in mind, I am NOT a counselor and don’t claim to be. You are on your own if you are a fellow codependent, heart-in-the-right-place-enabler. Seek your own counselor! . . . Look at me not doing that for you!! See how well I’m paying attention?!)
Basically, the process is nothing more than having healthy boundaries. Those boundaries are just as much for me as those I come in contact with throughout my day. So far, I stink at it and I am in the pre-school phase . . . but I shall graduate with honors!!
I heard that most everyone has a little bit of codependent traits, but who knows? I only know I do. In class, I have learned to stop focusing on what other people’s issues are (or what I think they may be,) and deal with the chic in the mirror.
Ahh, “Self-Reflection.” There is no polite, proper way to say this other than to simply say it. Self-reflection sucks. Pardon the spiciness; just giving a fair warning in case you are considering trying it. If you attempt to really look at yourself and get to know who you are, what you are doing and why . . . it is not always pretty. I describe it as, “Getting to know someone and finding out you really do not like her very much . . . and that person is yourself.”

The absolute CRAZIEST part of this Codependency concept was a real shocker for me. One of the primary characteristics of Codependency is
being controlling. Possibly (certainly,) everyone EXCEPT me knew that about me . . . I could not believe I could be labeled as controlling when I feel SO controlled by everything surrounding me. The even worse part is that I am primarily responsible for the chaotic mess which often engulfs me. I create my own tsunamis without even realizing it or trying. We try to control things out of our control, such as how another person acts.
The good news is that I can now see a light at the end of my tunnel. This will be a long, slow journey, but it CAN be done. I actually can stop acting and reacting in certain ways and train my brain to process things differently WITHOUT a Margarita or Merlot! The Margarita has too much sodium and will cause me to be swollen and puffy. The Merlot will stain my teeth. Healthy boundaries do neither and get the job done better.

At this point, I have learned one really great skill. That is simply how we speak, (wording.) I also have to think, “Is my issue with a person REALLY a problem, or do I simply personally find that person annoying? Are their actions genuinely affecting me, or am I plainly irritated?”
 Many battles can be won or never even started if we simply say “I” instead of “YOU.” When we are in conversation, we should speak only for ourselves.

  • "YOU need to learn how to budget your money better! You always expect me to pay your bills and you are taking advantage of me!!" (Nope)
  • "As of today, I will not be paying your bills anymore. I have my own bills to pay. (Yes)
  • "Do NOT {you implied) talk to me that way." (Nope)
  • "I do not like it when you talk to me that way." (Yes)

A week and a half ago, a “mom” had a little meltdown and her children knew about it. (They all were in a place which held A LOT of memories for the mom. Good and bad. She felt blindsided by a wave of emotions. She got very quiet, and then cried. Not in front of them, but they could tell she did.) The mom knew she needed to address what was wrong so the kids would not be concerned.
Every night, the three of them have a little talk time before bedtime prayers and going to sleep. That was when “mom” (who is codependent and trying to learn about healthy communication) brought up what was wrong.

It went like this:
MOM: “Girls, I just wanted to explain to you what was wrong with me tonight because I know you know I cried. It is kind of hard to explain, but when we went into the house, it was upsetting for me because of memories----“
{Interrupted by the 12 year old, who had a look of confusion and disgust adorning her face.}
INNOCENT CHILD: “Memories?!?! How could a memory make you cry?! That doesn’t make any sense.” {She has her eyebrows distorted and her nose slightly snarled.}
MOM: “You know what?! {Possibly a finger may have been pointed at the child . . .} What YOU need to do is STOP looking at people like they are aliens when they are telling you their feelings. THAT is what YOU need to do…”
{Now there is a look of irritated disgust on MOM’S face.}

THIS is a perfect example of unhealthy, poor communication skills shown to us. Thank you, Mom.

Unfortunately, I am the “mom.” It took about three hours before I realized I had really bombed that one. I waited until morning to talk with my innocent child. (And I had that conversation in front of the older one who also heard it.)
I have been making an effort with things such as cooking a hot breakfast and us sitting down together before starting our day. While we were eating, I had to apologize and reword what I said the night before to what I SHOULD have said.
Truthfully, anyone CAN choose to look at another person any way they want with any expression they would like to have; EVEN a child who is seemingly being disrespectful. There may be consequences put in place for disrespect and interrupting, but not how the person thinks or feels . . . even a kid. I cannot tell any other person how to think, feel or what expression and tone to use.
I respectfully let my daughter know that it makes me FEEL like she sees me as a foreign alien when she looks and speaks to me that way. I apologized for getting so defensive and just let her know how good it feels to be sharing something personal and to still feel accepted.
I felt rejected by her, and then in response to my response, she felt rejected by me. We both lost that one. But, now it has been corrected.

I am so thankful I have the ability to control my words and actions. It will take time, but baby steps I AM taking. J

Your codependent friend who is learning healthy communication,

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