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My codependency issues with family of origin

Old 09-23-2009, 12:30 PM
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My codependency issues with family of origin

This post has links to my recent one on grief.

I'd like to share a little more of my own recent history. Over the past five years, my son who is now 17, developed increasingly severe mental health problems – depression, anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, suicidal thoughts and obsessive-compulsive disorder+++. It became a pattern of me “putting him back together” just to send him back to school and wait for the next inevitable crash. Like a good Mum (codie / control freak), I exhausted myself visiting doctors, educational psychologists, school staff trying to “fix” this “problem” and “make” my son “fit” the education system and the “expectation” that “I” had for him.

Four months ago, my son could no longer cope and I and the school accepted we were doing more harm than good trying to keep him in school. The educational psychologist diagnosed High Functioning Autism / Aspberger's Syndrome with resultant mental health problems due to social anxiety. My son left school and was awarded Disability Living Allowance (UK social security benefit) and I left full-time employment to become his Carer (UK social security benefit).

A traumatic enough experience on it's own but our own little family unit - me, dh and dd were working through the changes, making adjustments and allowances as we went along and adapting to our new family reality.

It was only when I brought my addict family of origin into the mix that the sh*t really hit the fan and the roller coaster took off. My codependent mother would not accept the fact that there was Autism and a “disability” in the family. She went into denial and blame mode – the doctors didn't know what they were talking about and it was all my fault for letting him spend so much time on his computer. She then went into awfulisation mode – what would happen to ds when we died, he would be left on his own, rocking in an institution. She triangulated, discussed this with my alcoholic brother behind my back (AF died 21 years ago). My son's diagnosis really threatened them both. At this point, they both upped their alcoholic and codie games – almost as if they were trying to establish THEMSELVES as the most important things that I had to take care of NOT my son. This may have been coincidence but I'm not sure – the frequency and intensity of their behaviour went through the roof.

My brother went on several major alcoholic benders, one of which ended up with him being assaulted, having his jaw broken and ending up in hospital for major surgery. My mother took to her sick bed with hysterics – she had already buried my father due to alcoholism and now she was going to end up burying her son; she couldn't possibly manage all this and her house , I would have to look after her. The only sane, capable person who could cope and manage was sensible, reliable me and like a good, reliable codie I dealt with everything Mum, brother, hospital, house, just like I always have. Only this time, it was my codie bottom – I had finally gotten to the point where I did not want this any more. They could act out all they wanted but from this point on I was going to put myself, my son and my own family first. So I went no contact and ended up here on SR.

I have been NC with my family of origin for over a month now and I am now starting to look at how codependent my own thinking can be towards them BUT I am not sure whether this is codependent enmeshment or whether I am grieving my losses.

If I am honest, I am very, very hurt that they have not made any effort whatsoever to contact me. I am relieved that I do not have to deal with their chaos and catastrophes but I am hurting and grieving for me. It hurts a lot when your son is diagnosed with Autism and society sticks a disabled label on him. I know, he and we will adapt, but it still hurts when your mother and brother cannot say “I am so sorry; you are coping brilliantly; we will do everything we can to help out.” They are so wound up in their own cr*p they can't acknowledge my needs because my needs mean that I'll be putting myself first and not them. It hurts so much – I have always dropped everything and given a lot of my time to help them and it hurts so much they cannot reciprocate, that I am not worth looking after, that my only value to them is how much I look after them.

It's just another example of how worthless I am to my mother. I was never worth enough to get me the hell out of the abuse and alcoholic home I endured as a child and now I am not worth enough to show some basic human kindness and compassion to. I am only worth blaming as an ungrateful daughter.

My other issue with codependency is learning to live my new truthful reality, my newly realigned life as a survivor of childhood and adult abuse who chooses to live her life independent of her alcoholic family of origin.. I know it's very early days but I find it really hard to put myself first and do things for myself. As an at-home carer, I have a lot of time to fill and I'm not that good at filling it with positive things. I guess after 44 years of codependency it's easier to obsess about my family of origin and fixing other people's problems.

Any thoughts, observations or practical advice gratefully received,

IWTHxxx

PS I am seeing a family counsellor. Also, unfortunately, an Al-Anon group is not an option for me – my only local group consists of a group of women who support one another whilst living in alcoholic marriages. My own experiences as an ACOA and wanting to talk about codependency did NOT go down well.
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Old 09-26-2009, 12:47 PM
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Heya

Originally Posted by Iwanttoheal View Post
... Over the past five years, my son who is now 17, developed increasingly ....
Wow. You have a huge amount of stress and responsibility in your life right now. God has a special place in his heart for you (((( hugs ))))

Originally Posted by Iwanttoheal View Post
... It was only when I brought my addict family of origin into the mix that the sh*t really hit the fan and the roller coaster took off.....
Addicts do that. If you browse around the other family forums you'll see that it is very common for addicts to increase the "drama" when they feel that their source of enable-ment is threatened. ( I just made up that word )

Think of a two-year old who doesn't want to go to bed. Their first reaction is to have a tantrum. When you stand your ground the tantrum gets louder. Addicts are no different.

Originally Posted by Iwanttoheal View Post
...They could act out all they wanted but from this point on I was going to put myself, my son and my own family first. ....
That's why God has entrusted you with His special child. He knew you would look after him properly.

Originally Posted by Iwanttoheal View Post
...BUT I am not sure whether this is codependent enmeshment or whether I am grieving my losses. ....
or it could be both. Does it matter which? The "cure" is the same; take care of _you_ and your family.

Originally Posted by Iwanttoheal View Post
... If I am honest, I am very, very hurt that they have not made any effort whatsoever to contact me. ....
That part is codie enmeshment. Those people have _never_ demonstrated responsible behavior, yet you keep expecting them to magically change overnight.

What I have learned thru the first 6 steps is that _my_ disease consists of wanting the world to change in order to meet my expectations. The second six steps show me how to change _my_ expectations to match the reality of the world.

Originally Posted by Iwanttoheal View Post
... but I am hurting and grieving for me. ....
That part is healthy, it shows that you have broken thru the denial and are accepting the reality of their behavior.

Originally Posted by Iwanttoheal View Post
... but it still hurts when your mother and brother cannot say....
I know. I went thru that too. I fantasized what my alcoholic parents _should_ be like, according to my own mind. Every time they failed to meet that fantasy, it hurt. When I gave up the fantasy, I stopped hurting.

Originally Posted by Iwanttoheal View Post
...I know it's very early days but I find it really hard to put myself first and do things for myself. ....
Well of course. If it were easy there would be no need for therapists or for SoberRecovery. It seems to me that you are making progress just fine. Each time you post you sound stronger, in less denial, and more aware of your own needs.

Originally Posted by Iwanttoheal View Post
... Any thoughts, observations or practical advice gratefully received,....
What have you done for _you_ today? I make it a point to do _one_ thing just for me every day. Just one. Sometimes it's doing yoga. Sometimes it's buying something for the house. Like a potted plant. Just one. Sometimes I sit down and give myself 15 minutes to read a book that has no postive, practical value. Just for entertainment.

You could take a bath, with lit candles around. Go get a cup of tea at a local shop.

Whadya think?

Originally Posted by Iwanttoheal View Post
... Also, unfortunately, an Al-Anon group is not an option for me ....
Well then _we_ can be your recovery group

Mike ((( hugs )))
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