“Why not ask a Loving Parent to help us reclaim our childhood innocence and to live more gently today?”
This week there has been a theme of addiction with my clients. Alcoholism and drug addiction affect the whole family. I remember when I first became a chemical dependency counselor back in the early 1980s. One of the poems I loved was this one. Maybe you can relate.
Daughters of the Bottle
until I was twenty-two
I didn’t think anyone else
had a drunk for a mother
then I met lori, joannie and susan
I recognized them immediately
by their stay away smiles
they were leaders in their work
who would say they were sorry
if somebody bumped into them
on a crowded street
I call on them
once in awhile
they always come
children of alcoholics
Juggler in A Mirror
It was deep into his fiery heart
He took the dust of Joan of Arc,
And then she clearly understood
If he was fire, oh then she must be wood.
I saw her wince, I saw her cry,
I saw the glory in her eye.
Myself I long for love and light,
But must it come so cruel, and oh so bright?
– Leonard Cohen
In a previous blog we looked at how to know when you are in a dysfunctional relationship. Now, let’s look at addictive relationships. These relationships tend to begin quickly and move fast! The beginning is a roller coaster of fun and quickly begins to crash. The attachment is strong because the other person matches your family experience. It is familiar. Generally, those who become relationally addicted or codependent come from alcoholic or drug addicted home.
Here are some Characteristics of an Addictive Relationship.
1. Your needs are not being met.
2. You put your partner’s needs above your own.
3. Something always needs to be processed or fixed.
4. You smile when you are angry.
5. You are afraid to rock the boat.
6. You vacillate between being madly in love and then hurt and angry.
7. Your partner may be emotionally or physically abusive.
8. You make excuses for your partner’s behavior.
9. You experience shame when your partner makes a mistake.
10. You are diminished in the relationship.
11. You know your relationship is not good, but you can’t fix it.
12. You feel trapped, but don’t believe anyone else would love you.
13. You find yourself crying all the time and trying harder and harder.
There is help and the process of healing can be extraordinary.
Recovered codependents, because of their keen abilities are often very successful in many areas of their lives.
The book Codependent No More by Melody Beatty is a good place to start. You can also find a 12 Step Meeting. If your partner is addicted then Al-Anon is a great step. If not, if you had alcoholic, drug-addicted, or dysfunctional parents, the 12 Step Program Adult Children of Alcoholics is helpful. You can also find help with a local counselor drug treatment agency.
“Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol, morphine or idealism.”
― C.G. Jung
Have you ever been in a relationship where you feel like you are crazy? This was a familiar feeling for me as a young woman when the love of my life was alcoholic and I came from an alcoholic home. Then I became a chemical dependency counselor, and began to understand. When you are in a relationship with someone who is addicted, you often feel like you are crazy.
How do you know if your relationship is dysfunctional?
1. You keep saying the same thing over and over again and it does not help the situation. You are either not heard or ignored.
2. You do everything you can to fix the situation to no avail.
3. Your friends get tired of your ongoing drama and you feel isolated.
4. You begin to doubt yourself.
5. Tension builds and there may be an outburst (yours or theirs) and then there is the period where things go better and you feel guilty and try harder, just to end up right where you were before, only deeper, more depressed, uncertain, depressed or exhausted.
6. You make excuses for his behavior.
7. You hold onto any kind word or gesture and immediate think it will get better, even though it never does.
8. You think you will never be able to find anyone else and so you stay.
9. You feel confined, trapped and are afraid to leave.
This is the pattern of being in a dysfunctional relationship. You begin to feel like you are crazy. I see this often in my counseling private practice. It is usually the partner of the addict who shows up for advice. The addict himself rarely seeks out help. Too often when the codependent realizes she has to make some changes, she stops coming until the situation escalates. In order for an addict to hit bottom they usually have to have legal trouble, health issues, lose their job, lose their family, or death.
If you find you are in this kind of relationship, before your self-esteem tanks totally, I strongly encourage you to educate yourself. One resource I like is the book Codependent No More by Melody Beatty. I also suggest contacting a local counselor that is educated in chemical dependency. When you get to the stage of feeling crazy, reach out for help before the disastrous incident. There is help!
Watch for the blog on Addictive Relationships!