C is for Codependency

Happy hopping and welcome! My theme for the Challenge is addiction because both my hubby and I are recovering addicts. No worries though. I like to keep things fairly light even when dealing with a heavy topic like this one. Want a glimpse into my world of cocaine addiction? Listen to Metallica’s, Master of Puppets. If that’s too heavy, you can try Staind, It's Been Awhile instead. Much more mellow.


 from Google

from Google

I was going to write about cocaine today since that was my drug of choice, but as I was going over the alphabet with my hubby he asked, “Are you writing about codependency?”

“No, you think I should?”

“I think it’d be helpful. We both had to work through it, me especially. I think it’d be a great topic.”

Good idea. He’s got lots of those. Just don’t tell him I said that. Just kidding, I tell him that all the time. So, here we are. Talking about the word that used to make my skin crawl when I heard it, read it, and especially when I realized I related to it for a part of my marriage. See, I even had to qualify that it was a "part" of my marriage.

Gah! Me? Codep? How was that possible when I was a strong, independent New York kinda gal? Well, that’s what happens to some people as they try to survive in an unhealthy relationship with an active addict. They do things they thought they’d never do. They put up with behaviors they swore they’d never tolerate.

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This is me raising my hand. Well, this is a picture I nabbed of some random person from Google raising their hand.

My moral values slowly began to become compromised. The little self-esteem I’d clung to bottomed out and I turned to my husband to validate me rather than turning inward.

I made it easy for him to hide his pornography addiction from our children by making our bedroom off limits at all times…but especially when dad when was “working.”

My feelings were based on his. Had a bad at work babe? No need to fear, my emotions will mirror yours, even if I’ve had one baller of a day! Wouldn’t want to make him upset with my own happiness, after all.

I tolerated angry outbursts and didn’t vocalize my concerns as a way to keep peace in the house. I even changed my bedtime because he wanted me to stay up later with him although I got up earlier for work. I found out after disclosure this was his attempt to keep him from looking at pornography at night.

I did all of these things as a way to keep him happy and sacrificed my own happiness in the process. As his addiction became worse, so did our boundaries. They Kriss-Kross’d (anybody else love that song back in the day?) like nobodies business. For a long time, I lost myself in him and I almost lost myself entirely.

Until the day I didn’t. Disclosure Day. That’s tomorrow’s post. (Duh duh duh!)

After that day, and the days, weeks, and months that followed, there was a transition I wasn’t expecting. Codependency from my husband. The man who had been so distant, who was unable to comfort me as I cried about our imminent divorce in 2009 (We were a hair away from walking away from each other which sparked my codependency when we didn’t), was now losing himself in me.

 from google

from google

He needed me to validate him. He feared my rejection (and still does at times). He wanted me to rescue him (something I already loved to do) He wanted to know that I accepted him and needed to hear me say that, show that, acknowledge that…and when I did, it wasn’t always enough. He wanted me to fill that empty void that was once filled with his addiction.

So, how did I stop my own codependency? I hated the word, so I was unable to see that it was an issue in my relationship until I was well into my recovery. By then, I had stopped caring about labels and had cared more about fixing my emotions. After I found out about my husband’s addiction, the behavior’s I’d been putting up with, well, those all came to a screeching halt. No more codep crap to worry about there. I was too busy controlling him. Not a great replacement by any means. I also became uber hypervigilant which landed me in S-Anon. For that, I am forever grateful. S-Anon and counseling helped me recover from the trauma of the disclosure.

Me controlling him is probably why he fit nicely into the codependency role, I’m guessing. I’m not a counselor or anything. It’s just a theory. I handled his codependency like any loving wife would. I cut him off cold turkey. Maybe not that terrible but according to him, it was BAM, I’m done with this nonsense.

I did slip every now and again. We even drifted over to parent-child roles, but I did learn to say, “I’m sorry you’re going through that right now,” rather than try to fix everything for him when he asked me to. I also let him navigate his own emotions and move through them without trying to point out things that “may help” or “direct”  him in any way. I listened when he asked me to and offered words of advice when asked, rather than assisting being my natural default.

Bonus Letter: C is for Craigslist because they have dropped their personal ads after the passage of a sex trafficking bill potentially leaving websites liable for penalties. 

Laugh of the day: "Don't worry about my codependency issues, they will only bring us closer together." - Anonymous.

Second Laugh of the day: "I'm a recovering people pleaser....is that okay?" - Anonymous

Do you like to listen, offer advice, or a mix of both? Do you remember Kriss Kross?

To celebrate the A to Z Challenge my self-help book, Steps Along My Shore will be free until April 5, 2018. As of 1900 4/2/18 the count was up to 18. Keep up the giving!


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I look forward to seeing everyone during the Challenge! Click here to get to the master list sign up sheet. I'll see you all this afternoon.