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Codependency Relapse - ESH Needed

Old 06-16-2013, 07:20 AM
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dbh
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Codependency Relapse - ESH Needed

Hello:

As I posted a couple of weeks ago, my sister recently died by suicide.

She left behind a husband and an 11-year-old son.

She wasn't happy in her marriage. Our father was an alcoholic and although she didn't marry an alcoholic she married a boy/man that needed to be saved. He's a nice enough guy, but has depended on others to take care of him his entire life. Even though he is in his fifties, he has trouble doing the most basic things - paying bills, making appointments with doctors, figuring out schedules, etc.

He lived at home until he married my sister. Once they were married she basically took on the duties of parenting him.

Prior to my own recovery work, I tried to save HER from the awful mistake that I thought she was making. I obsessed about her future, pleaded with her to reconsider, and would talk endlessly with my mom about how could we stop the wedding. This was actually one of the events that made me realize that I needed to get help. I just knew how I was behaving wasn't healthy for anyone.

So she got married and I started therapy and recovery work. I learned to "detach with love", let her lead her life, and accept the consequences of her actions.

Then she kills herself.

Isn't this what every codependent person fears the most?!? It took me so long to detached because I was worried what would happen if I wan't there to clean up messes, give advice, and "help" her.

Deep down, I know this isn't my fault. I known that if someone wants to take there own life there is very little others can do to stop them. The struggles that she had were bigger than both of us. I couldn't fix her. I'm not that powerful. It still hurts though. I know that she died thinking that I abandoned her just like our dad did.

I'm grieving, I'm filled with guilt, and now I'm obsessing about what will happen to my nephew. He has been reaching out to me since my sister's death. He's asking me to help his dad figure things out.

Granted, my brother-in-law just loss his wife so he's a mess too. I so want to just sweep in and fix things, but the mess that he/they made is huge. I know they are having financial problems. He's a compulsive spender and the house is filled with stuff that he's going to need to get ride of. My sister has been after him for years to take care of this problem.

Even when I convince myself that I can't fix my brother-in-law, I can't stop worrying about my nephew. I'm worried that he will be neglected simply because my brother-in-law is clueless, selfish, and child-like himself.

I wonder whether I should call CPS, but then realize that this is not truly child abuse.

I haven't felt this out of control emotionally in a very long time.

Can someone please share something that will help me step back from this codependency ledge I'm about to jump off of.

Also, any advice on what is the best way to help children when they are living with a less than ideal parent would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you so much!

db
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Old 06-16-2013, 07:42 AM
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Wow, so much for you to deal with db. I'm so sorry to hear about everything.

Losing a loved one is hard for everyone in that person's life. You just lost someone you've known most, if not all, your life. Your BIL just lost the one person in the world he wanted to spend forever with. Your nephew just lost the person who gave him life. I can't even imagine how difficult things are now.

I, too, am a compulsive spender and have a bunch of stuff I don't need. That behavior of your BIL's won't stop until he reaches his bottom and comes to an understanding of why. Why does he feel the need to keep spending money on whatever it is that his compulsions are? It's not much different than an addiction, and yet it is.

Have you reached out to your BIL? Offer to help out with things? This is where the detaching in love comes to play. Are their things that you help out with without delving into the messy pile they made? Or even suggest to him that he reaches out for financial advice? Or maybe it's just being their for your nephew. Spend a little extra aunt-nephew bonding time. Learn a new hobby together. Go grab a milkshake and talk. Walk around a park. Anything that will show your nephew that he is not alone and that he is cared about.

Thank you for sharing, db. I wish I could be of more help.
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Old 06-16-2013, 08:01 AM
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So sorry on your sister. But suicide is a triple C, isn't it?

But as for the rest.

wow. THAT is a lot to control.

Maybe offer to let the nephew visit with your family for a Summer Break.

Lets dad get the house and life in order.

Yunno the rest is not your problem, right?
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Old 06-16-2013, 08:13 AM
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You certainly have a plate full on top of your own grieving the worry about that child must be heart wrenching and I am sorry you are going through this.

The best suggestion I can offer is to try and talk your BIL into getting his son into counseling to help him process the loss of his mother and deal with his feelings. If your BIL is not responsive to doing that then ask if possible you can take him for counseling. That would benefit you both.

Rather than try and fix life for them, try and teach them or at least the child how to fix life for themselves. Make yourself available to the child when he needs to talk or discuss issues he is facing. Build a healthy relationship with him by showing him your recovery and how healthy people cope with life.

If there is a way to plead to your BILís heart and make going to counseling all about his child then it may be possible he would benefit along the way too. And if not at least the child will be getting professional help.

If money is an issue, schools offer counseling and you want to get some facts in order first on options before approaching them. Also check with your county they may offer some kind of free counseling as well. And of course there is always ala-teen.
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Old 06-16-2013, 09:16 AM
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I am so sorry for your loss. I am glad you are in recovery. I lost a child 23 years ago...and in the course of working through that loss, I learned about suicide...and it is a very tragic act...but also an act of anger. I cannot tell you more than that, but it made me think and as I have lived through more things in life...and awakened to the fact that I had an alcoholic Dad (who was loving regardless) and an alcoholic mom who is narcissistic and in denial and has scapegoated me...and other things, I remind myself that I am living and enjoying so much more about life than I did even 10 years ago.

You did what you needed to do to take care of yourself and am very happy that you continue to do so. I like the suggestions above...I know you love your sister and your nephew. You may be surprised at how well your BIL might find a way to take care of himself or be taken care of.

I like the suggestion about seeing if you can talk your BIL into getting counseling for your eleven year old nephew...it is critical for his life possibilities even though we can't plan on outcomes. I did that for my own kids and family when my son died...and myself and it helped me tremendously and through many more hard times...including one now.

Hang in there and you are strong. Suicide is meant to incite guilt in others...although, like so many diseases...including the depression and anxety I have...it is not always conscious.

You are in the same place I am...different circumstances...I am having to 'let go, let God' of an active heroin daughter. Just continue working your program and know that God is handling all. I didn't know when I signed on today that I could say that...but when I say something that I truly believe in...I know that I need to do it to.

Gentle huggs.
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Old 06-16-2013, 09:17 AM
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Hi Dbh,

I'm running out the door but wanted to post quickly. (I also lost a sister to suicide). I'm so sorry for your pain. I wish I could hug you or offer magical words that would make it go away.

This is going to sound callous and totally terrible, but my advice to you right now is to put yourself first. My family has so many problems, had I not learned to do that, I would have sunk along with their ship. It doesn't mean you can't care about your BiL and nephew, it just means that when it starts to feel overwhelming and like it is bringing you down, you must detach, take a break from it, and find some happiness in your own life.

There are a lot of people on here who will know better than I do what to do about your nephew but I personally would NOT call CPS. I can not see how that would help your nephew in any way whatsoever unless he is being physically abused.

My sister was angry with me when she died too. When I feel guilty about it, I imagine her as a spirit, free of her mental illness, and I know in my heart that the healthy her loves me and does not blame me for anything. They are not themselves when they commit suicide. They are mentally ill, their brains hijacked by depression. Please try to focus on the memory of your sister before she got sick and let the memory of the sick person fade away. She is free of that person now, you too can let her go. I know my sister loved me and I know she knew I loved her. I'm sure it's the same with you and your sister. The rest is just disease like a bunch of mucus on some kleenex. Throw it away in the trash.

Do something for yourself today. Go to church and pray, go on a walk--nature helps so much, meet a happy friend for lunch, watch a funny movie, or whatever lifts your sprits.

We care about you and are here for you!!!
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Old 06-16-2013, 10:12 AM
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Hi, dbh,

I love the suggestions in this thread--especially the aunt-nephew bonding and getting counseling for your nephew. Your BIL will have to clean up his own financial mess.

Take it a step at a time. Deal with your own grief, too. I'm glad you realize, at least intellectually, that you did what was best and could not have prevented this. You need to work on believing it in your heart, too.

You sound like a great, caring sister and aunt. You are conscious of the pitfalls of helping too much, which is half the battle. Whatever time you can spend with your nephew is probably going to be good for him (and for you). It's a difficult situation, but it looks as if there is a lot of love to go around.

Hugs,
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Old 06-16-2013, 01:52 PM
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Originally Posted by dbh View Post
Hello:

Our father was an alcoholic and although she didn't marry an alcoholic she married a boy/man that needed to be saved. He's a nice enough guy, but has depended on others to take care of him his entire life. Even though he is in his fifties, he has trouble doing the most basic things - paying bills, making appointments with doctors, figuring out schedules, etc.

I'm grieving, I'm filled with guilt, and now I'm obsessing about what will happen to my nephew. He has been reaching out to me since my sister's death. He's asking me to help his dad figure things out.

Granted, my brother-in-law just loss his wife so he's a mess too. I so want to just sweep in and fix things, but the mess that he/they made is huge. I know they are having financial problems. He's a compulsive spender and the house is filled with stuff that he's going to need to get ride of. My sister has been after him for years to take care of this problem.
These paragraphs struck me. Your nephew has asked for help for his dad, his dad has not asked for anything at this time.

One of the things I had to learn as I have struggled with my codependency issues is to only even think about doing something for someone if they asked me themselves. Yes I was challenged with this once asked if it was codependent to do it or not, but this was at least a baseline for me.

How are you doing in all of this DBH? I agree with the previous posts, and appreciate your questions very much but wonder what you are doing for support for yourself right now.
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Old 06-17-2013, 07:02 AM
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I like what LifeRecovery said about only even thinking of helping someone if they ask. That is wise. You need to grieve fully. You deserve it. You sound like just a wonderful person.
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Old 06-17-2013, 12:25 PM
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Hello dbh...I am so very sorry for your loss and I hope that your sister is now resting in peace.

I think you have received some wonderful suggestions here. Focus on yourself first as I think many of us are learning (or already know & are helping us learn) if you do not take care of yourself, how can you be any good to anyone else?

My nieces and nephews are a source of wonderful love & pride in my life as I'm sure your nephew is to you. Please spend quality time with him - make it a point to take him out or have him over to visit with you regularly. Ask him what help he needs for himself (not for his dad), and be that sounding board to explore his thoughts and feelings. I think it is a wonderful sign of his trust in and respect for you that he has reached out to you for help. Help him first, and if dad ever asks, help him then...but never at the sake of your peace & serenity. You and your family are in my thoughts & prayers.
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Old 06-30-2013, 06:51 AM
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It has been two weeks since I posted. Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to respond. I can't tell you how much your words helped me. Posting and reading your messages helped get me through the day and the crisis I was experiencing.

So far BIL and nephew are making it on their own. They fortunately live close, so I have been watching my nephew when needed. He will actually be with us every day this week! He also has his first appointment scheduled with a counselor on Tuesday (I'm taking him).

We have started the routine of using FaceTime each night before going to bed. We are also playing a network game together on the iPad. It's a farm game where we can help each other out by selling stuff to each other. We are both enjoying it.

Adding another child to my family is not as easy as I had thought it would be. It changes the dynamics in our house and the children are working out their new roles with each other (my children are 10 and 13). Seeing a cousin every day is different from seeing him a couple times a year.

Trying to also take care of myself. I have reached out to friends, my therapist, and a support group for people who have lost loved ones to suicide. Also, got a fabulous pedicure yesterday :-)

It's scary when life shows you how little control you actually have over people and events. I think my fear caused me to turn back to my old standbys for denial. Worrying about other people's lives and believing that I actually have the power to control and fix others.

Just like I slowly learned to accept the father that I got. I'm trying to learn to accept that my beautiful, funny, and caring sister had daemons that she wasn't able to overcome. I'm grateful for the good times that we did have together and pray that she is now at peace.

Thank you again for you help and support.

Fondly,

db
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Old 06-30-2013, 07:01 AM
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Hey, db,

Thanks for the update! Your plan seems perfect--how nice for that little boy to have the FaceTime at night before he goes to bed. I remember when I lost my mom when I was 31. I had a one-year-old, and I remember asking my aunt (my mom's sister--the only one of my aunts/uncles I was somewhat close to because our families were in the same town) if I could call on her if I had baby questions. I don't know that I ever called her with any, but I know it made me feel a little less alone to know she was there if I needed her.

Your own kids will adjust, I'm sure--if not without a bit of sibling rivalry!

And so glad to hear you are taking good care of yourself, too. It sounds as if you are all on the road to healing.

Hugs (and a whole lot of admiration!),
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Old 06-30-2013, 07:13 AM
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Dear DreamsofSerenity:

I'm so sorry that you also loss your sister to suicide.

Originally Posted by DreamsofSerenity View Post
My sister was angry with me when she died too. When I feel guilty about it, I imagine her as a spirit, free of her mental illness, and I know in my heart that the healthy her loves me and does not blame me for anything. They are not themselves when they commit suicide. They are mentally ill, their brains hijacked by depression. Please try to focus on the memory of your sister before she got sick and let the memory of the sick person fade away. She is free of that person now, you too can let her go. I know my sister loved me and I know she knew I loved her. I'm sure it's the same with you and your sister. The rest is just disease like a bunch of mucus on some kleenex. Throw it away in the trash.
Can't tell you how much comfort I got from your words.

I do think that my sister was mad at me when she died and I have to confess that I have also been mad at her for what she did to our entire family. Seeing her son grieve the loss of his mother was the most heartbreaking things I have ever witnessed in my life.

Yesterday out of nowhere the question popped into my mind "Do you forgive your sister?" My immediate response was, "Of course I forgive her. She's my sister and I'll always love her." I then visualized us giving each other a hug. For a moment, I felt at peace.

I hope she has forgiven me. Although, I think I still need to work on forgiving myself.

Hugs to you,

db
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Old 06-30-2013, 07:26 AM
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Originally Posted by dbh View Post
It has been two weeks since I posted. Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to respond. I can't tell you how much your words helped me. Posting and reading your messages helped get me through the day and the crisis I was experiencing.

So far BIL and nephew are making it on their own. They fortunately live close, so I have been watching my nephew when needed. He will actually be with us every day this week! He also has his first appointment scheduled with a counselor on Tuesday (I'm taking him).

wow.

I nominate you for Super Aunt status.

You are doing a Wonderful Legacy Gift for your sister, btw.

------------

We are visiting my kids' Super Aunt (my sister) in DC, this week.
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Old 06-30-2013, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Hammer View Post

We are visiting my kids' Super Aunt (my sister) in DC, this week.
See you on The Mall for fireworks?
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Old 06-30-2013, 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by dbh View Post
See you on The Mall for fireworks?
Weather permitting, of course.

We got sooooo rain soaked doing the Lincoln Memorial on Friday.

Might do more of Natural History this afternoon.
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Old 06-30-2013, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by dbh View Post
Just like I slowly learned to accept the father that I got. I'm trying to learn to accept that my beautiful, funny, and caring sister had daemons that she wasn't able to overcome. I'm grateful for the good times that we did have together and pray that she is now at peace.
dbh, I love this above. My best friend died last October, and I have struggled with the same thoughts you have. At the end of the day, accepting my powerlessness is my only control over it. And yes, she too had so many problems she couldn't cope with, and was profoundly sad for the majority of her life.

Thanks for sharing your update. I am glad things are going as well as they can be right now.

Peace,
~T
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Old 07-01-2013, 09:34 AM
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Way to go AUNTIE!!

i love how you FACE TIME him every night..you have no idea how breaking the rountine of his day to day, that he looks forward to that...(without telling you this)...keep the airways open for him and your children. He is 11? they are very smart at that age....

all the best
keep up your recovery!
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