I have been falling in and out of codependency my whole life. In and out of toxic relationships. All kinds of relationships, friends. lovers, family…in and out like waves. This is the first time I’ve really looked at it…not true, I’ve researched it before, and tried to work on it. But I actually really feel it this time. The more I read about it the more I learn about it, the more I recognize it.
Guess what? Classic behavior pattern for the child of an alcoholic.
People who knew my mom would say she was a creative, beautiful woman who was quick-witted and talented. Sing, dance, play the piano, act, sew, knit, cook, and do them all very, very well. People who really knew my mom would know that she was all these things plus, she was a troubled, sad, person, who couldn’t communicate and was a mean drunk. In all my therapy and reading, that is probably the worst, and most derogatory term to use, but it’s true.
She could be really difficult. I could walk into her house at any given time of the day, see her from the side and know, just know she was wasted. I would immediately go into caretaker mode, or rescuer role depending on what was going on, and then go into the suitable next step in the codependency drama triangle. She could hold her booze though, she never passed out on the couch, never vomited nor did she ever say or appear she was hungover, ever. Although I know from experience, the best cure for being hungover is just to not stop drinking. I could always hold my booze too, the first one to start and the last one to end. Apart from a few booze-fuelled fights with my most ex, I don’t really remember being mean to my friends or family. People liked to party with me, they always invited me on benders. I do have very specific times that I regret, some nights on the town. And some very fun ones that I don’t. Ever been to a party where people are not heavy drinkers? (regretful but fun). Or to one you’re not invited to but decided to crash it anyway in your dead mother’s fur coat? (Blackout regretful, not so fun)
I imagine my mom’s social life was like that, fun until it wasn’t and she’s calling me wasted saying she’s going to jump off a balcony. Not even kidding, the top floor too. The anxiety and depression that goes hand and hand with alcoholism is insane.
The one thing we codependents need to learn and to do is detach. Like mentally detach. It’s letting go of all the chaos. The chaos that goes along with living in a codependent state. You try to control everything, and in turn control, nothing, not even your own life…let that sink in, you get so caught up with what’s happening or “caretaking” (trying to control) your relationships that you ignore your own life.
Gross…. but that feels familiar doesn’t it? Here, let me relive taking care of my emotionally unavailable mother….forever, for every alcoholic and addict that I know in my life, (I live in BC…I know a few). Because it means I’m worthy.
Fucking upward reflection lizard brain. Brutal.
That is a really simplified version of my codependency, I have read a lot of academic papers and self-help books on this. The thing is, in codependency behavior caretaking is looked at as a problem. A negative thing, always ending in a victim role. Caretaking to the point where it turns the corner on the drama triangle into the victim role because “they didn’t listen to you” or do what you said, and don’t they realize how perfect their life would be if they just did what you said?! Then turn into the victim… oh poor me.
There isn’t a lot of information on the goodness of caretaking, or the compassion that goes along with it. I have helped a lot of people, who asked for it and wanted it. I feel good about it and they are happy about it. I actually love looking after people and caring for people. I guess the key is offering it for good, not evil. I am working on giving my relationships space to allow people to live their life or “truth” completely opposite of mine, while still having love and compassion for them.
Shutting off the chaos I am putting myself through. I mean, how many nights have I stressed and worried and thought about other people, and not my own thing. Work, relationships, kids, family, … honestly it is exhausting.
This apocalypse is probably not the perfect time to live out my life online, but I can’t help it.
I literally can’t stop. It’s hijacking my creative ability to do anything else! Stories are pouring out of me in big globs. Some are actually happy stories too. A few people like my writing and I like doing it. I am trying not to think about the people who may not agree with this, (and let’s face it I need to get back to actual life at some point). But for now, this is happening and helping me. And maybe getting some perspective might help other people too. A kinda social experiment on myself, that I didn’t really mean to start.
Karpman, S. (1968). Fairy tales and script drama analysis. Transactional Analysis Bulletin, 7(26), 39-43.