I love the story of the metamorphosis a butterfly goes through. The fact that they survive the caterpillar stage amazes me. They go through so many different stages before they break through their chrysalis, exercise their new body part and finally find the freedom to fly and grace the world with their beauty.
I remember taking a trip one time and I saw up ahead on the highway what looked to be paint splattered all over the road. When I got closer I saw that it was a MASSIVE amount of caterpillars wriggling across the road. Do you know what that does to a codependent? Let me share the twisted unhealthy thought process. My first thought was that I needed to turn around and find another route. My second thought was about how I could stop all the cars and scoot all the caterpillars across the road so they don’t get smashed, (Yes, I really thought that)
Logic does not take hold in a situation where it looks like someone or something might possibly suffer pain. We must prevent pain at all costs.
The driver (my husband) was not in agreement with me (imagine that). So, I closed my eyes and ears so that I would not see or hear them get smushed.
Another situation. We were walking up to a visitor center at the base of a mountain and the sidewalks were covered with caterpillars trying to get to their destination. I tried to step over them and scooted some over to the dirt. I even put one up in a tree by a leaf.(Here I was “helping them and they had the nerve to wiggle back to the sidewalk heading right back to their potential demise) Don’t they realize I took time away from what I was doing to help them?
I have to admit that I never helped one out of their chrysalis. It’s probably because I never saw one struggling to get out.
So, I got me arse kicked the other day. Not physically but mentally. I was at my mother’s house helping her and the Dr. Phil show came on. It grabbed my attention because it was about a family struggling with their daughter’s heroin addiction. The daughter had almost lost her life and had to have open-heart surgery and have a pacemaker. It scared her but when she got out of the hospital she went right back to using. I wanted to hear the story, no; I needed to hear the story. I wanted to wait until the end of the show to hear the “happily ever after”.
Instead, I got me arse kicked.
I listened and heard the heart of the mother as she spoke and I heard myself.
She got her arse kicked too. She would have been in intensive care and on life support if it had been a physical beating. But she needed to hear it and I did too.
Dr. Phil asked her why she keeps “rescuing her daughter” Her Mom and this Mom here-you see, we can’t stand to see people in pain. As a result, we will do whatever it takes to alleviate or prevent the pain in others.; especially our children. Dr. Phil said, (big and bold,) something to the effect of, “It’s not your daughter’s pain you are trying to take care of, it is you-you don’t want to feel pain.” Ouch-that hurt-right in the stomach went that punch, followed by a knife right through the heart. He got in “our “ faces and said it is partially our fault that they continue in their unhealthy lifestyle. Why, because we make it easier for them. We don’t let them suffer the consequences of their addictive lifestyle.
Melanie Beatty, author of “Codependent No More” says, “We can think of nothing but keeping a lid on things, controlling the problem, and making it go away, it is the stuff codependency is made of”
It’s us codependents that need the open-heart surgery. We have to learn how to detach from others and begin to deal with our own pain; take care of our own hearts, fix our own problems, stop making their problems our problems.
We codependents are the chrysalis breakers. It is too painful to witness the wriggling and writhing of others so we break open the chrysalis thinking that we are helping and protecting. We think we are helping others but we are weakening them. We suffer heartbreak because those we think we are helping have learned how to manipulate us and hurt us into giving in to their demands. We are crippling them. We are not allowing them to be strengthened while they struggle and transform in the chrysalis, We are not allowing them to struggle so that they may break through and come out beautiful with wings to fly with and grace the world with their beauty.
For so many years, I viewed myself as the victim; first as an addict and then as a wife and mother of an addict.
For this I must make amends and say I am sorry.
I am sorry for the times you told me it was an emergency and I gave you money for “gas”.
I am sorry for the times I backed down as you raged at me and I cowered in the corner of my heart and gave in to your demands.
I am sorry for the times I gave you a ride to your “job interview”
I am sorry for the time I drove you around to all the different emergency rooms because you “left your prescription drugs on the bus” and needed them refilled; if you don’t have your next dose it could cause life threatening issues. (In the back of my mind I knew you were selling them to get your illegal drugs)
I am sorry for picking you up because you missed getting off the bus (due to nodding off) to catch the next bus to get home.
I am sorry that I ignored the needles and the blackened pieces of tin foil and the missing and broken pens.
I am sorry for cleaning up your messes so that no one else would see.
I’m sorry for getting you bus tickets so you could “get around to apply for jobs”
I can come up with a million excuses for why I did what I did but it doesn’t matter.
What matters is that I weakened you and made it harder for you to develop strong wings to fly through the sky and grace us with your beauty.
Thank you for being strong enough to come to me and make amends when you attained sobriety.
One day, hopefully soon, I will be brave and come to you and make amends. Until then I will practice taking care of me so that I can break away from this terrible disease of codependency.
By the way, there was a “happily ever after “ with the Dr. Phil show. The daughter agreed she needed help and wanted to stop and went on to a rehab arranged by Dr. Phil.