28/06/2021

Dropping the Weight of Codependence

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , at 9:39 am by The Water Bearer

When I was in my early twenties, and my daughter was 2 years old, I realised that there was a circle of drama all around us. The people I had called friends and family at that time were severely codependent. Their irresponsible behaviour and constant problems were far beyond my ability to fix, and so I carried their pain and problems without hope of resolution. The last thing I wanted was for people who caused so much drama to have a negative impact on my young daughter. So one by one I began to sever those ties. These would become the very first baby steps on a long journey out of my own personal codependent torment.

Then, after my car accident in 2006, when my second daughter was 2 years old, I learned about Boundaries. My physical and mental limitations meant I was unable to “people please” others and take care of myself at the same time. Boundaries became a way for me to learn to say “No” to the things that didn’t serve my own wellbeing, and I learned to voice my faith and my weaknesses. These were diligent strides on my journey.

Then in 2009, when my Dad stepped into eternity after a brief battle with cancer, I began writing more publicly. Somehow the responsibility of carrying on his legacy drove me beyond my fears of what others may think, and into a place where I could share my beliefs and experiences more openly. I feel I’ve been running flat strap on my journey ever since.  

I actually thought I had overcome codependency because in each of these scenarios I had learned to trust God alone with my greatest fears. I had laid down the big and physical responsibilities of others, but, even after 15 years of therapy, over a decade of blogging, a completed novel and a newly created wellness ministry, it became clear that something still wasn’t right in my thinking. Other people’s thoughts, feelings and choices still had way more power over me than I could cope with. I prayed for years for this to stop. I was at the end of my rope and had no idea what more I could do, other than running away and dropping out of the human race entirely!

Then a recent set of lifechanging events, brought to the surface my more subtle codependent traits. They come in the form of ‘worry triggers’ and spark a chain of behaviours that I have always justified and defended. They come in the form of “Helpful Control” and “Hyper-responsibility”. Being empathic and prophetic are powerful gifts, but without absolute clarity they really add to the worry triggers. If you can foresee the ensuing problems loved ones are headed towards due to immature responsibility and minimal faith, and you feel their pain when the consequence of their irresponsibility hits, it creates a sh!t storm of worry.

Codependency told me I should just work harder to ‘help’ us all avoid the awful fall out.

So, I do it with sermonic speeches of faith, wisdom and advice. I do it with manic chores, extra errands and running to bail loved ones out of so many unpleasant circumstances. I do it with excessive positive interaction, entertaining as many as I can and filling every uncomfortable silence or tense situation. I do it by picking up their responsibility, making decisions for them and then blaming myself and tying myself into a pretzel every time they get upset, or something goes wrong. I do it with tearful pleading prayers and by always attempting to fix everything.

Like many of you, in 2020 I hit a wall! No matter what I did nothing worked anymore, and I mean nothing. As I prayed for guidance all I heard God saying back was “Rest”…my reply “Thank you Lord, I mean rest would be great but how can I rest when there is still so much to FIX?”  I did not expect Him to stop the whole world just to teach me to stop and rest!

At this point of my realization I look back and shake my head at the level of self-deception I have once again discovered.

Whenever God wants to teach me something, He has this frustratingly brilliant way of giving me tiny pieces of the puzzle here and there over a period of time, a little sign, a little encounter, a podcast, a song, a scripture, a quote, a new acquaintance, a lot of conversations, a pandemic and so on. Then at precisely the right time (and usually at 3am lol), He puts them all together and I can finally see the whole picture!

This journey has taught me that if we stop playing the victim long enough, new trauma tends to prompt us to peel back another layer of self-deception, but rest assured there seems to always be another layer beneath it. God showed me that by being ‘helpfully controlling’ and ‘hyper responsible’ I was doing myself and others a complete injustice.

I am not their Saviour, Jesus is, but I only came to truly know Jesus by sitting alone in my pain with Him. Yet here I was either running away or running around like a nutcase making sure no one near me experienced any discomfort. I was heavily burdened with the task of teaching others what God is like, I would run toward them with a pile of personal experience and wonder why they didn’t ‘get it’ and change. I would take upon myself the blame of their anger, their tears, their own torment and then frantically explain why I wasn’t at fault. Ugh!

So once again I am putting back on my itchy jumper of practiced incremental change. After only a few weeks of trying to get my head around all of this I am already seeing the wonderful benefits. I am watching myself diligently for any “worry triggers” and admitting my powerlessness over it all. Im checking my words and actions for any hidden fear or control. I am sitting once again at the feet of my Saviour and casting my ‘worry triggers’ onto His shoulders. I am learning to detach from the enmeshment of empathic emotional pain and letting loved ones seek faith for themselves. I’m seeing the dignity and maturity that comes when we each carry the weight of our own emotions, our choices, our efforts, our sins, and our consequences, and blaming their fears instead of myself for any emotional disturbance. I am trusting more each day that I can finally drop the weight of the burden I have been carrying my entire life and believe God’s promise that He will work it ALL out for good. Yeeeew!

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