I’m a codependent. Through therapy, Al-anon and digging in with God to address my disorder I’ve come a long way in conquering it. However, I’m far from done dealing with my problem. In fact, I’m sure just like an alcoholic or a drug addict, it’s a problem I’ll always have to face. The biggest shock about my condition was the paradox of pride and codependency. How could someone who always put others before themselves be living a prideful lifestyle? It made no sense to me at first. It took a lot of soul searching and praying to see the truth. As Christ said in John 8:32 of the Bible, the truth will set you free.
The addict or alcoholic’s issues are usually pretty apparent. But a codependent, with their insatiable need to fix other people, is tougher to distinguish. We are those folks working diligently to hold everything and everyone together even at the cost of our own sanity. But here’s the rub and the hard truth that I had to face. We are doing all of those self-sacrificing things for ourselves, not others. Yep, you heard me right. We cover the screw-ups, pay the bills, clean up the messes and bail out the troubled people in our lives so that we can pat ourselves on the back and say, “Look what I did.” We find all of our self-worth in what others think of us because of how much we do for others.
Codependent people are some of the most self-reliant people on the planet. The problem with self-reliance is that it not God-centered it’s self-centered. It is pride at it’s worst. It says I can fix everything by myself, for myself, as well as everyone else. I can’t tell you how often I said, “If I want it done right, I have to do it myself.” I was real good at doing things myself. People knew that they wouldn’t get things done the way I wanted them done, so they just stopped trying. It wasn’t just my husband either. He was certainly the most afflicted by my controlling, perfectionist attitude, but in one way or another it affected everyone in my path.
The sad thing was that I was so blind to my behavior. I’ve since learned that the outward behavior of a codependent is driven by brokenness and occurs at an unconscious level. Many people like me came to believe at a very early age that any love they received was derived from being good or doing good. We never felt loved just for who we were. And feeling like we were loved is all we really wanted. Women like me tell themselves if I look better, work harder; achieve more, than he’ll love me. Many of us never knew a father’s love, and we unconsciously search for it in relationships with men who can’t possibly give us what we need. Does any of this resonate with you? If it does, you may be codependent too.
Getting past codependency is not easy and there’s no quick fix. In fact, I still refer to myself as a work in progress. Al-Anon taught me in the twelve-step program that the first thing I had to do was admit that I was powerless over my problem and that my life had become unmanageable. It’s hard enough for an alcoholic to admit that their life has become unmanageable even as they are putting booze before everything and everyone else, but for a control-freak codependent to admit that their life has become unmanageable is huge. Admitting that we have lost control is almost too much to take in or accept. For me it was impossible without God’s help. He knew how long I’d been trying to convince myself that I was holding it all together while I was actually falling to pieces. And He knew that I couldn’t go on the way I was much longer without having a total breakdown, a stroke or heart attack.
He also knew what it would take to shake me to the core and send me back into His loving arms. My husband’s request for a divorce was that catalyst. I told Tommy early on, and on more than one occasion, that I may be a widow but I would NEVER be a divorcée. You see, my mother was married five times and I vowed early in my young life to only marry once, and for life.
The fact that my husband wanted to leave me, the person who had paid all of the bills and kept everything together for years while he almost drank himself to death, was debilitating. Thankfully, it knocked me to my knees. I could easily have gone the way of the bottle myself. I had been drinking excessively in self-defense for a long time. I’d decided that if I had to go home to a drunk, I wasn’t going to do it sober. How ridiculous was that? I’d turned into quite the biatch as it was, and with alcohol to fuel my tirades things had gotten pretty ugly.
I share my story in hopes that I can help women out there who find themselves in my shoes. It’s so easy to blame the alcoholic or the drug addict for everything that is wrong with your life. It takes real courage and determination to check your motives and stare your shameful pride in the face. Trust me, you can’t do it without God’s help.
2 Corinthians 1:4 says: He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. I believe that my calling in life is to help other codependents find recovery. My husband and I are miraculous proof of what you can accomplish with God’s help.
If you’d like to chat and see if I can be of any help, please sign up for a free 30-minute strategy session and let’s see if I can’t help you find your way to the right track.