Most of us who grew up in families affected by the disease of alcoholism never did really grow up in many ways. Sure, we grew up physically — but emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually many of us are still stuck back there in early childhood. We never learned a “normal” way of thinking, feeling or reacting. As long as things are going smoothly, we’re fine. However, when we experience conflict, controversy, or crises and we respond with less-than-adult-like reactions. Over the years, those who have studied the “adult child” phenomenon have compiled a list of common characteristics which many people who grew up in dysfunctional homes seem to share. The following characteristics were developed in 1983 by Dr. Janet G. Woititz. You may recognize some of them.
…guess at what normal is.
…have difficulty in following a project through from beginning to end.
…lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth.
…judge themselves without mercy.
…have difficulty having fun.
…take themselves very seriously.
…have difficulty with intimate relationships.
…overreact to changes over which they have no control.
…constantly seek approval and affirmation.
…feel that they are different from other people.
…are either super responsible or super irresponsible..
…are extremely loyal, even in the face of evidence that loyalty is undeserved.
…tend to lock themselves into a course of action without giving serious consideration to alternative behaviors or possible consequences. This impulsivity leads to confusion, self loathing, and loss of control of their environment. As a result, they spend tremendous amounts of time cleaning up the mess.
These characteristics are, of course, general in nature and do not apply to everyone. Some may apply and others not. http://alcoholism.about.com/cs/adult/a/aa073097.htm
Wine hath drowned
more men than the sea.
I understand addiction now. I never did before, you know. How could a man (or a woman) do something so self-destructive, knowing that they’re hurting not only themselves, but the people they love? It seemed that it would be so incredibly easy for them to just not take that next drink. Just stop. It’s so simple, really. But as so often happens with me, my arrogance kept me from seeing the truth of the matter. I see it now though. Every day, I tell myself it will be the last. Every night, as I’m falling asleep in his bed, I tell myself that tomorrow I’ll book a flight to Paris, or Hawaii, or maybe New York. It doesn’t matter where I go, as long as it’s not here. I need to get away… away from him—before this goes even one step further. And then he touches me again, and my convictions disappear like smoke in the wind. This cannot end well. That’s the crux of the matter… I’ve been down this road before—you know I have—and there’s only heartache at the end. If I stay here with him, I will become restless and angry. It’s happening already, and I cannot stop it. I’m becoming bitter and terribly resentful. Before long, I will be intolerable, and eventually, he’ll leave me. But if I do what I have to do, what my very nature compels me to do, and move on, the end is no better. One way or another, he’ll be gone. Tomorrow I will leave. Tomorrow I will stop delaying the inevitable. Tomorrow I will quit lying to myself, and to him. Tomorrow. What about today, you ask? Today it’s already too late. He’ll be home soon, and I have dinner on the stove, and wine chilling in the fridge. And he will smile at me when he comes through the door, and I will pretend like this fragile, dangerous thing we have created between us can last forever. Just one last time. Just one last fix. That’s all I need. And that is why I now understand addiction. From “Strawberries for Dessert” by Marie Sexton
Here I am trying to live,
or rather, I am trying
to teach the death
within me how to live.
If the alcoholic has more or less continued to hold down a job, he is politely called a “functioning alcoholic.” But he is an alcoholic nonetheless. He works much below his potential, he neglects or abuses his family and he may not live very long if he continues the self-abuse. Like all addicts he lies (bold-faced lies, lies of omission, cover-ups, minimization), he makes excuses, he blames others for his drinking, and he continues to seek out and use alcohol regardless of consequences. If there are children present, they copy the lying, justifying, blaming behavior which they see modeled. They also learn to keep family secrets and to cover for their alcoholic parent. In other words they join in the “dance of alcohol” and participate with their parents, learning how to be alcoholics or how to live with them when they grow up. If you are living with an alcoholic, there are steps you can take too. Perhaps more importantly at first, there are things you can learn to avoid so that you don’t further your partner’s alcoholism. Making excuses for him, for example, only makes things worse. By Neill Neill http://ezinearticles.com/?Youre-Married-to-an-Alcoholic—What-to-Do?&id=930249
That’s the problem with drinking,
I thought, as I poured myself a drink.
If something bad happens you drink
in an attempt to forget;
if something good happens
you drink in order to celebrate;
and if nothing happens
you drink to make something happen.
Codependency comes in many forms. One aspect is doing for others what they should and need to do for themselves. It may make the other person feel good for the moment, and us important, but it keeps them over-dependent on us. This kind of relationship is extremely unhealthy. Another aspect of codependency is rescuing people from the logical consequences of their negative behavior patterns. This, too, keeps them immature and over-dependent on us. For every alcoholic (or other addict), who is already over-dependent on his alcohol, they say there are four codependent enablers supporting him and his addiction. As long as they are doing this, he never has to get better. If he refuses to acknowledge his issue, get into a recovery program, and resolve his problem, there comes a time when those who are enabling him need to say enough is enough! They need to exercise tough love, quit protecting him or her, get out of the way, and let him crash! This is the most loving thing they can do after they have tried every other avenue of tough love and found that none of it worked. The bottom line of codependency is that need is mistaken for love. The codependent needs to feel needed in order to feel loved. But it’s not love at all. It’s need. It may look like love and it may look very Christian but it’s neither. Furthermore, the codependent person wants to fix others to avoid facing his own issues. Taken from “The Counterfeit Love of Codependency” by Dr. Billy Kidd http://drbillykidd.hubpages.com/hub/codependents-r-us
A hot-tempered man
must pay the penalty;
if you rescue him,
you will have to do it again.
Many partners of addicts have told me they feel bad about themselves for staying in the relationship because of the betrayal they’ve experienced. They imagine that the people who know their past judge them to be stupid for staying with the person who’s caused them so much pain. I often counter this thinking, explaining that leaving may seem quick and easy because they can pretend they’re okay and the problem has disappeared. However, if you leave your relationship, you’ll be stuck with your pain and sorrow without the person you loved to help you sort it out. Why is this true? Because even though it feels as if your pain comes from your partner, it’s actually coming from inside you. From the book “Erotic Intelligence: Igniting Hot, Healthy Sex While in Recovery from Sex Addiction” by Alexandra Katehakis,
By reacting from fear
instead of responding from love,
you inject poison directly
into the veins of your relationship.
If drinking or drugs are an issue in your relationship, you may be codependent — or fast on your way to becoming one. If you’re not sure exactly where you stand, just ask yourself:
- Do you get defensive if family or friends suggest that your partner has a problem with drugs or drinking?
- Do you try to control his alcohol or drug consumption?
- Have you ever lied or made excuses to your partner’s employer about tardiness or absences?
- Do you cover up your partner’s chemical use so your children won’t know?
- Have you limited your social activities because of your partner’s drinking or drug use?
- Do you cover up when she is caught in a lie or embarrassing situation related to drugs or drinking?
- Have you ever offered your partner a “social drink” (or a toke or a hit) when he was on the wagon?
- Have you minimized the role chemical use plays in family arguments?
If you answered yes to two or more questions, you may have a problem. For your own sake (and your partner’s), contact Al-Anon, Codependents Anonymous, or another support group or treatment organization. Gayle Rosellini http://www.doitnow.org/pages/804.html
Codependents are reactionaries.
They overreact. They under-react.
But rarely do they act.
They react to the problems,
pains, lives, and behaviors of others.
They react to their own problems,
pains, and behaviors.
Probably the main question in the minds of most codependent people who seek help is this: Will my husband/wife/lover quit drinking or doping if I change? The only answer is a great big unequivocal maybe. There’s no guarantee and no exceptions to the rule. The fact is that addicts usually don’t change until addiction problems outweigh perceived pleasures or benefits. And it’s harder to shift that balance, still, when someone that a dependent person loves covers for them, makes excuses, and helps minimize the seriousness of plainly destructive behavior. Because of the denial associated with chemical dependency, addicts and alcoholics generally don’t go looking for help until they don’t see many other choices. The paradox is that codependents have two choices. They can remain accomplices to their partner’s addiction or they can love them enough to let them experience the effects of their chemical use, love them enough to let them feel the pain they create, love them enough to get them started getting well. Gayle Rosellini http://www.doitnow.org/pages/804.html
Oftentimes we say goodbye to the person
we love without wanting to.
Though that doesn’t mean that we’ve
stopped loving them or we’ve stopped to care.
Sometimes goodbye is a painful way to say I love you.
In learning to cope with your partner’s chemical dependency, there are also specific things you should avoid doing.
- Here are some of the major don’ts:
- Lie, make excuses, or cover up.
- Blame yourself for your partner’s behavior.
- Make threats, unless you can follow through.
- Be ashamed.
- Try to control or regulate your partner’s drinking or drug use.
- Protect your partner from the consequences of his or her behavior.
- Allow yourself or your kids to be abused — physically, emotionally, or sexually.
- Nag, criticize, or argue over trivia. It doesn’t resolve anything and usually makes matters worse.
- Give up.
Recovery can be a long, slow process, but it really is worth the struggle. And you really can make it if you try. Gayle Rosellini http://www.doitnow.org/pages/804.html
Things do not change;
Henry David Thoreau
If you’re codependent and want to take control of your life, there are plenty of do’s to pay attention to, and at least as many don’ts. Do the following:
- Learn about chemical dependency. It’s a disease that thrives on ignorance.
- Talk to a therapist. Well-meaning friends and others untrained in the dynamics of addictions can do more harm than good.
- Contact Al-Anon or Codependents Anonymous. Attend several meetings before you decide if they’re for you. Each is listed in the white pages of the phone book.
- Be honest with your kids. They’re not deaf or blind when it comes to family problems. – Plain talk from you can relieve some of their fears and insecurities.
- Be patient. Change is difficult and slow. You won’t solve all your problems overnight, but you will improve your ability to cope and resolve problems with time.
Gayle Rosellini http://www.doitnow.org/pages/804.html
You’ll always get
what you’ve always gotten
until you become
the person you’ve never been!
Nothing changes if nothing changes.
Codependents usually don’t want their relationships to fall apart, even though in moments of anger they may talk divorce or threaten to leave. And the most common reason they give for staying with a drinking or using partner is the simplest reason of all: Love. And in the name of love, they hang on to each shred of hope that their partner will get straight or somehow transform into a social drinker or a weekend user. In the meantime (and while waiting for a miracle that never comes), they invent excuses for their kids, for relatives and friends, for the boss or supervisor. Then, when the dependent partner turns up, remorseful and contrite, after another binge or bender, the codependent accepts the tearful apologies and believes the heartfelt promises. Again. If the partners of codependents are sick, so are codependents. On the other hand, they can both recover. But codependents can help the process along immeasurably by realizing that only they can help themselves. That’s why they need to get help. Because their problem isn’t their partner’s drinking or cocaine habit, any more. It’s their own fear, their own anger, their own anxiety, their own resentment. Gayle Rosellini http://www.doitnow.org/pages/804.html
We can easily forgive a child
who is afraid of the dark;
the real tragedy of life
is when men are
afraid of the light.