Like many individuals In their early twenties, I had quite a few issues. Identity, goals, career, family… I think this is a normal stage of life for most people that are undecided about what to do with their lives and to make sense of the world they are encountering as an adult. Around age 25 though, I found myself in a crisis. A lot of people around me needed me and needed my help. I ended up being terribly depressed, as I felt I had nothing left over for myself. No energy, no time and there was no appreciation or reciprocation for the good deeds I had done for the people in my life. At the time, I was going to school part time and working full time, and then some. I had a pretty busy, full life. But I had a problem. I could not say no to any favor that was asked of me. I liked that people needed me and didn’t understand how my behavior was hurting me and only me.
One day, an acquaintance gave me a book. A book I still have today and still like to refer to in difficult times. “Codependent No More” by Melody Beattie. This book opened my eyes to what my behavior was and from where it stemmed.
Like my husband, my father was also an alcoholic. He wasn’t abusive to us children in any way, but he was not home all that much. If he was home, he was outside working in the yard. Although I did not witness his behavior towards my mother, she tells me there was some emotional abuse. I noticed that my dad didn’t come home often. He even missed his own surprise birthday because he decided to come home at 5:00am. I remember the disappointment on many occasions.
I also remember that there was never discussion about my father’s behavior, during or after my parents divorced. I feel that my mother probably picked up some lovely codependent habits from the relationship or even enhanced the ones she already had in her repertoire of controlling ways. Since I was mainly raised by my mother, I know I gained and learned a lot of these same traits. In learning this from the book, I decided to begin going to twelve step meetings made for people just like me.
I loved these meetings. It felt like going home. All of these people were amazing and helpful. One of the best things I learned from these meetings is that we cannot control others, we can only control how we act or react. Since I have been so reactive lately, I have decided to read the book again to get myself under control and relearn how to react in these confrontations with my husband.
In examining myself again, I came to the realization that I am so deep in the Five Stages of Grieving. For many years, I have been going through the Denial and Anger stages, but most recent was my Bargaining stage, trying in some way to save my marriage and to keep it together, no matter what it took. This bargaining has come at a price though. This stage has made me the most unhappy and has led me back to my controlling ways. It is quite frustrating. I know, deep down, that I can do nothing to save this marriage. I can’t take the pain back and I can’t give it back and do not feel I can forgive and move on. The pain of this relationship keeps being thrust upon me every time I go into the control mode, peeking into his bank account or his girlfriends Facebook and confronting him. This is unacceptable behavior for me, especially when I should be focusing my energy on my child.
All of these thoughts and actions has led me straight to depression, the fourth stage of grieving. I’m trying pretty hard to think and act positively, but it is quite difficult. I not only have the weight of my failing marriage on my shoulders, but also my impending unemployment. My entire sense of security has been blasted out of the water and I feel completely vulnerable and weak. And I don’t see myself as a weak individual. I’m the type that faces fear and struggle head on in order to conquer it. But in this case, I seem to emotionally be stuck in the fetal position sucking my thumb.
The only thing that seems a bit optimistic to me right now is that there is one stage of grief to go. Acceptance! I look forward to that moment when I can finally accept that this marriage is over and can finally move on. Whenever that may be, I will be ready with open arms!