My months over due, imperfect, untitled, recent post was really just an introduction to the ugly underbelly of fighting the addiction of Co-dependency. The last few months, as I just posted I have made very good progress at disentangling myself from a life that was not working. I have let go of my friends and family. I moved away from everyone. The last person who bit me left deep wounds. The last classes I sat through let me know I was not the kind of student they wanted in their program. Ouch. I have not heard from anyone in TWO YEARS (next month). I don’t count a one minute “Hi, honey” call from one, or two “just checking in” texts from another, or yet a third texted “just thought of you”. I need more than one, or three, or four hurried or texted words. IN TWO YEARS.
Now, lest readers get defensive, these are all “friends” of ten or so years. These are other women with whom I have been through quite a bit of adult-life-changing-stuff with. At least they had those changes. Me, not as much. But there is a lot of history in terms of evenings talking over a bon fires, dinners, days with kids, nights out, short trips, club/church membership, holidays spent, birthdays, sick days. Womens lives as we lead them. My friends have done a lot for me. They have done a ton. They have sheltered me, they have opened their homes to me, they have fed me, stored my stuff, moved me, and taken care of me after surgeries. They are good people. As I move through recovery though, I have noticed that it was all, and I do mean ALL just really tight co-dependency. And most of it was mine.
I have not heard from them because the relationships were based on need. And again, mostly mine. They never were “deep and real” (wink JS). As much as I wish I still had them to count as friends, the reality is that none of them has been to see me, in my home, in my new life (yes there were invites except for one of them). The reality is I need to be gracious and move on from those relationships.
My family is almost the exact same thing. We are a need and duty based bunch. We got together when my grandmother was alive and pretended to be something we weren’t. After she died the get-togethers got less urgent, less frequent, and less attended. I don’t go at all anymore. Last Christmas my kid went without me. During my breast cancer treatment was when I noticed that without grandma, we were feathers in the wind. I saw two family members the day of surgery, for Christmas (as couple weeks later), and then not again for nine months. One family member I saw every other week for a ride to and from chemo. I think there was a grocery shopping trip in there as well. The friend I stayed with I haven’t heard from in over four years. The last time my mom was in my state might have been for my grandmother’s funeral. Maybe another one in there right after. I quit meeting her needs, running to the hospital, and giving a crap four years ago (she was a no-show for the cancer) so I finally gave up. Actually, no, I Officially Gave Up after my “crash and psychiatric hospitalization a year ago January. I called her to come stay in my apartment while I was hospitalized. (My mom doesn’t have employment, not that she doesn’t do things). Um, no. So after much crying while supervised for my safety, I gave up. My mom cannot parent me, at any age. I get that I am technically a grown-up, but breast cancer, really?
All of the above is not meant to pick on other people. I have been needy since the birth canal and it has been a very, extremely, excruciatingly, maddening, everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) take-a-turn, drawn-out affair to get me to this point of somewhat grown-up. Hence the previous post! See how well I am doing!
Enter Angry Inner Child.
So, due to my probably-not-quite-the-birth-canal, but close, need for nurture, love, attunement, connection, attention, cerebral stimulation, bonding, communication, validation (need I go on?); I have to find it in other healthy ways. I need a place in this world. I need a sense of belonging. I need community. I enjoy being with others that share my interests and are interesting. I have something written more in detail about this event that I will post later, but for now I will just say that I went somewhere to find community, refresh some previous relationships, and get some deep shared meaning out of a hellua book we all supposedly read. But the thing is, we didn’t really discuss the book. It was a deep, thought provoking, possibly life changing kind of book, and there was almost nothing discussed. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Ok, I know I am deep, and tenacious, and serious to the nth degree; but these are not generally thoughtless, shallow, brief, unintelligent people but the “discussion” was exactly that. I was shocked, disappointed, a little mad, and unfulfilled. Really, really unfulfilled. As I pulled away to drive home late at night, the echos of all such searches bounced off the grey matter inside my skull. Of course I adjusted my expectations. Of course I understand that I assign way too much meaning to most things. Of course it was insane to drive two hours in rush hour for a book group. Driving along I came up with a posting about beverages.
The next day at work, I was still down about the night before. I mean a LIFE CHANGING BOOK. The day went well. Got some disturbing news from my kid, but got through it. Church Sunday was fabulous. Visiting hour afterward, not-so-much. I usually love visiting over coffee after the service. Nothing. No one interesting to talk to. No one spoke to me. I looked for my usual pals. Nope. Huh? I went home sad. I took a nap. Later I did my usual grocery shopping, cooking for the week, cleaning, prepared for my work week. Note, PREPARED FOR MY WORK WEEK. I knew my schedule, I knew my hours. PLANNED IT OUT. Went to bed.
Monday, up, work, all fine, ACOA afterward. Good. Talked a lot about Co-dependency. I was happy to be at ACOA. I would get “fulfilled”. We would go “deep”. I would “connect”. Over the years I have built up some pretty good tools to use when I need them. Over my bed literally hangs a great deal of my recovery work. It is my “wall”. When I have issues, I can refer to my wall. I use it to map out memories, feelings, thoughts, patterns. It reminds me of what I have worked on, figured out, and need to stay focused on. In the day hospital i learn to “breathe into my pain”. Just paying attention to the fact that I am not breathing helps, but so does noticing these huge shuddery things that come out of me sometimes. Paying attention to my body. I knew this, but didn’t give it enough appreciation; my body has stored up its pain. My BODY remembers. My body does it’s own thing….and I don’t always even know. During my share, I spoke of Peter Levine’s work that our body doesn’t know the difference between real or perceived danger. So, in essence, I still react now as an adult the same way I did when I was small. My wall, all my tools, are to help me “rewire” my freaked out brain. Old reactions. Current reality. Rewire. Tools. My share. All good. ACOA good. Home, sad.
A co-worker and I are reading a book and then going to the move. I was very down on Tuesday and did not have to work. I stayed in bed and read all day. My plan was to be very busy the next day getting my needs met, staying on budget, doing grown-up things.
When I first woke up on Wednesday, I was fine. Even sort of happy. I had resolved my lack of fulfillment problem from Friday. I had written about it and found growth. Even Sunday’s sadness turned out okay. I had maintained my Sunday take-care-of-yourself routine. I loved Mondays. Good work day, good meeting. Yesterday was a day of rest. Well earned. All good. Let’s get up and into the shower for a great day today! Ya, no.
I swear to the heaven’s I don’t get what is so hard about getting the hell out of bed and into the damn shower! For two solid years now I won’t do it. But, that’s another post. Any hoo, I finally manage to get out of my studio. I am determined to not be beaten by this “why bother, why get up, why do this day” bit that tortures me. I leave the studio just as I am; unwashed, unkempt, high school sweats, little make-up and all. The bank will close and I want to get back on track with my quarters. I cash my mom’s phone bill check after checking that I have funds to cover it. The cashier gives me the quarters and deposits the rest. Next, I sit in the grocery store parking lot transferring money from savings to checking for a few groceries. In have previously mentioned that I am learning to keep as much money as possible between checks. I am actually very nervous now if it is $300 or below. (HUGE WIN FOR ME). This paycheck I will be at $200. I am not comfortable with this, but proud as hell that I finally feel this way. This is a major rewiring accomplishment. The FEELING associated with SAVING. Yeah me! I decide on $36 dollars for spending until I get paid next week. In need $5 for the movie. Into the store I go with about a $15 budget. Out, mission accomplished. Next store, $7. Great.
As I get closer to the theater, I pull in to weigh out waiting for the co-worker or just going to the movie. Co-dependents don’t have relationships: they take hostages. Yes I am plagiarizing. Someone else came up with this one, and it’s true. Since I now have a clean slate on which to build good relationships, I don’t want to muck it up with old bad habits. I know this person also struggles and given that work together, I don’t want to cause discomfort. New for me: I have discovered OTHERS’ FEELINGS and that I can infact impact them. I can be as unhealthy as the next guy. I have previously pestered this person to do things and we have, but I have decided that all of my relationships need to be two way streets. I need the other person to seek me out also. My new rule is: it the other person does not approach me at least part of the time, then perhaps they are not interested and I should not attempt to make them my hostage. I will be okay. Searching myself, I decide I will be really mad if this movie leaves town and I did not get to see it. If this person doesn’t get around to calling me when they are ready (that is the agreement) I will be even more mad if I miss the movie. In my mind, it is better to go see the movie alone just to be sure to see it than to take the risk of another person letting me down and being hurt (and royally pissed). So I go to the movie.
While the previews play, I count my successes. Unfulfilled Friday taken care of. Check. Saturday freak out over kid’s news. Discussed with others parents. Check. Sunday Sadness. Recouped my routine. Check. Monday. Great. No check needed. Tuesday, day of rest. All good. Today. Seriously bumpy. Well, I DID get out of bed finally. I got quarters. Very good. I got eggs, margarine, coconut milk and creamer. Food. Good for the week. Check. Have movie ticket money. Check. HAVE MONEY IN THE BANK TO NOT TOUCH. Halle-friggin-lujah! Check,check,check. Did not risk something that would make you really mad. Giant check. Also did not pester co-worker, did not continue co-dependent behavior. CHECK! Movie begins, brain shuts off except for how it relates to the book.
Upon exiting the movie the trouble begins. Reality hits harder than the gust of cold night air. I am bummed. What the hell? Suddenly I am alone, lonely, and my life feels pathetic. Whoa! Wait. What just happened here? I drive home, bring in my groceries, get my food ready for the next day, look for my work stuff, and go to bed.
I wake up about noon and IMMEDIATELY KNOW SOMETHING IS WRONG. NONONONONONO!!
I dash to the bathroom to pee and look at my schedule. FUCK! I was to work at 7 a.m.
I actually have to lay down again for a minute or two. Slowly, I realize my phone was still off and in my bag from the movie, not alarm set, and no bed alarm set to get up at 5 a.m. Upon retrieving my phone, there are three texts and four calls from my job. There are no words. There are times when a person wants to literally disappear. Evaporate. Leave with the clothes on your back and never be heard from again. This is one of them. And confused. God, I felt confused. I KNOW TO CHECK, DOUBLE CHECK, TRIPLE CHECK MY SCHEDULE. There was no conscious reason for this. One quick flip of the alarm clock. I am an adult, with a job, with rent, a car, pets, medical needs. How in the hell did I not go to work. After a few minutes of crying I called. The co-worker who answered was glad to hear from me, said to calm down and check in with management. Fair enough.
Words escape me on this one. Reason escapes me on this one. I spent the entire day going over my psyche as to why I would do this to myself. My eyes alighted on my Declaration of Self. This is a declaration I wrote for myself, giving me a self, and ways to protect myself. Some of it reads “intentional/unintentional harm by my own or others’ hand”. I unintentionally hurt myself by not checking my schedule when I was getting ready for bed. Another thing I have taught myself is not to ask “why” questions, but “how” questions. How did I do this? The answer was “because you were otherwise distracted”.
Two things. One, I was, despite what I told myself, caught up in the muck and the mire of the crap of recovery. I was tending to the little things, the hang-ups, the things I won’t just do, and missed the big picture ie my job! Two I somehow ignored my better-getting-better-and-more-frequent adult judgment. How did I do that. I have been so good, so successful, so contained, so into recovery, so not needy, so well behaved, so money conscious, so keeping up my studio, laundry, cooking……. I AM MAKING IT DAMN IT!
Oh, no, you don’t. You may not succeed. You can’t sustain it. You don’t have a future. It will only be taken away anyway. You may not leave us. Stop searching, there isn’t anything for you. You are too shattered. There are not enough pieces left. You broke, remember? There is no future for you. You can’t make it alone.
Inner Child, you little shit.