It has finally come down to the post that I think I was dreading even though it’s the catalyst of why I believe I have been codependent most of my life. It’s ultimately my story of my challenging childhood being raised by an alcoholic mother and the absence of a father until I was ten. I’ve been dreading this because I don’t want my story to come across as bitter or bashing my parents. In no way, do I plan to use this blog for that purpose. Only to express my experiences and looking to touch others lives that need to feel they aren’t alone. I know I’ve felt that way. My parents did the best they knew how and loved me to the best of their ability. I want to write about where I came from, what I lived through and how I’ve learned to build healthy boundaries through it all.
I grew up with a mother that struggled with alcoholism. After her and my father got divorced, we lived with my Nana. I watched my mother turn to alcohol to cover up the pain she dealt with in her life. In her defense, she lost her younger brother at 17 to a drunk driver, her father to emphysema and the ending of her marriage to my father. I’m not going to point the blame to her and say it’s all on her, she clearly had her own hurts that were buried in a bottle. But either way, it wasn’t a picnic growing up around it.
Because we lived with my Nana, I became increasingly close to her. She was the stability that I held onto during the rough patches. She was a saint in my eyes. Unfortunately, I only had her in my life for 10 short years. 30 years ago this year, we buried her after suffering a stroke which took her life. To this day, I grieve the loss of a woman who had such an impact in my life.
My mother raised me as a single parent for ten years and then married my step father. I remember the drinking got increasingly worse as I got into my teenage years. Because of alcohol abuse, we did not have a close relationship. It has always been rocky and for that I’m sad. I’m not sure it will ever be the healthy mother/daughter relationship that I want to have but through that I’m able to realize that God is my ultimate Father and one that will never abandon or reject me as I’ve felt many times in the past.
My mother and I have gone years without speaking. Just recently we didn’t speak for 8 mos. over something that could have been worked out. My punishment is not only the silence….but silence on dates where everyone is celebrating. When families are gathering around the Christmas tree….I’m without my mother. My birthday has even come and gone without recognition of the day she gave birth to me. And finally Mother’s Day….the day that causes me the most pain because I feel such a void in my life. And the same question that rolls around in my head….what did I do that was so bad that warrants me being ignored. If no one has experienced it, let me please tell you from the bottom of my heart that it’s the most painful thing a child….even an adult child….can ever experience. No one can make that pain go away….no one can say the right words and unless they’ve been there….no one truly understands.
With that being said, my mother and I recently started speaking last week. It’s very strained and extremely awkward but I’m just trying to help rebuild the relationship and I never seem to run out of hope of it working…..because this time it might just work out. Maybe just maybe.
But if I’m not careful that rebuilding can be me doing all the heavy lifting and the hope can turn into walking on egg shells or saying just the right thing….not necessarily the truth….just so I can keep the relationship balancing on a tightrope that is high above a black hole. I’ve learned that it’s not my job to fix and rescue and people please. That, my friends, is a codependent way of thinking. And it’s unhealthy. So here’s what I’ve learned about boundaries. Let’s start with what unhealthy boundaries look like:
- Do you ever feel like people take advantage of you or use your emotions for their own gain?
- Do you ever feel like you’re constantly having to “save” people close to you and fix their problems all the time?
- Do you find yourself sucked into pointless fighting or debating regularly?
- Do you tell people how much you hate drama but seem to always be stuck in the middle of it?
- Do you spend a lot of time defending yourself for things you believe aren’t your fault?
For myself, my healthy boundaries look more like this now:
- Recognize and acknowledge your own feelings.
- Recognize how your boundaries have been crossed.
- Reset your boundary or remind someone what the boundary is.
- (example: refusing to be verbally abused…stop the conversation)
- Get grounded! For me that would be quiet time with God and spending time reading the Bible to recenter myself.
- Voice your boundary! If there is backlash, take a step back and take care of yourself. Remember you are not responsible for the other person’s reaction.
- Take care of yourself! Take a walk, read a book, relax. Do what is right for you.
I am putting these into place now and I’m hopeful that with the new tools I have with my Conquering Codependency course and the 12 Steps I worked hard on, that now I can use them in this next phase of trying to have a mother/daughter relationship.
I never stop hoping!