Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Recipe for frog soup...
I’ve written a couple of posts about co-dependency: Co-dependent enabler on August. 20, 2011 and You may be co-dependent on November 20, 2010. That’s just in case you want to check them out because here comes another post about co-dependency.
While watching an episode of A&E’s Intervention, I heard this statement: “At the heart of co-dependency is chronic neglect self.” I did some research and found this statement on the website for
. You can find it here http://www.orangecountydetox.com/codependency.html. Orange County Detox Center
OK. I get it. However, I have to disagree that it is the HEART of co-dependency, but rather it is a result of being co-dependent. In my opinion the true heart of being co-dependent is having a need for the alcoholic to remain an active drinker. In other words, there has to be some kind of reward in the drunkenness. That reward will often discourage the non-alcoholic from pushing or taking action to get the alcoholic sober. The reward becomes so important that the non-alcoholic loses focus on their own health or well-being that they begin to neglect themselves. In a sense, they become addicted to having an addicted partner.
I have openly stated before that I don’t buy into the entire co-dependency theory. I’m positively sure that it happens. There is no doubt in my mind about that. I just don’t believe that it is an absolute for each and every case in relationships with alcoholics.
I remember the first time I was told I was a co-dependent. I was extremely insulted. How dare this counselor tell me I actually wanted Riley to stay drunk. It was absurd. I did not need him to be drunk, nor did I find any pleasure in his drunkenness. I had nothing to gain from continued alcoholic behavior and just wanted it all to stop. With my most excellent 20/20 hindsight vision – I still do not see how I benefited from Riley being a drunk.
I think that often it is the old frog soup scenario. If you don’t know how to make frog soup, I’ll refresh your memory –
If you put a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will jump out immediately. If you put the frog in a pot of cold water and slowly bring the water to a boil – you’ll end up with frog soup.
Alcoholism is a progressive disease that can start very slowly as a little pimple on the butt of a relationship and can grow into a cavernous cancerous boil devouring any flesh that comes in contact. Caretaking is the same way. It may start with fixing a bowl of chicken-noodle soup because the alcoholic doesn’t feel well and then you find yourself cooking four-course meals every single night to keep him with you at dinnertime because it’s the only way he will talk to you. Maybe that’s not a good analogy, but it’s the best I can do at the moment.
I know that there are people who have a need to fix others. For them it may be an addiction all by itself. I believe these fixers need to focus on other people’s lives because it is too painful to focus on their own. I understand that. But, I have never ever heard a woman say “I’m going to a bar and pick up a drunk to sleep with tonight because I just love cleaning up vomit first thing in the morning.” And I’m never heard a man say, “I love having sex with a drunk because they pass out in the middle of the act.” Or how about, “I want a full house for my birthday so I’m going to invite a bunch of drunks because I know they will come if there is free booze.”
Over the years I’ve been around a lot of drunks and a lot of people married to drunks. Not even once did I ever hear anyone say that they wanted to marry a drunk. Not once did I ever hear anyone say they wouldn’t change a thing because being with a drunk is a good life. No, instead what happens is we marry the love of our life and gradually it becomes frog soup with a side of vodka. The lucky ones realize it and jump out of the pot. Others are already cooked before they even know they are in a pot.
As long as I’m on the subject, how can a person try to get a person into recovery and at the same time let the alcoholic hit bottom? Those are two opposing goals. Maybe to stop being co-dependent means walking away. I can whole heartedly support that theory. The co-dependent walks away and lets the alcoholic hit bottom.
So let’s go back to the issue of chronic neglect of self. I raise my hand high because I am totally, absolutely, with a doubt, guilty of this. I often neglect my own needs while in the process of caretaking Riley. I do it with my kids as well, but Riley is my main catalyst. Lately, it seems, I’m far deeper into the self neglect thing than I have been in a long time. I didn’t realize how bad I had gotten until I started thinking about that line in the Intervention program.
Riley’s demands have become more demanding and his insane ideas have become even more insane. I try to reason with a person who can’t be reasoned with because there is no longer a sense of logic in the alcohol infused brain. I let down my boundaries to keep peace in the house. I tolerate behavior that I would never tolerate in myself. I don’t do it because I like it. I do it because it is easier than fighting it.
The farther we go into the progression towards the end of his days, the more I seem to forget that I have a person that needs me more than Riley. I need me. In fact, I need me more than he needs me.
I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions. I know it’s almost February, but I’m making a resolution – we can call it a New Month resolution. I resolve to take better care of me. I resolve to find my humor again. I resolve to not let Riley destroy my sanity with his insanity.
The process of my own recovery has already begun. I’ve e-mailed the AA center to try to get some members out to spend some time with Riley. (Thanks to Syd for the suggestion.) I am having my own sessions with Gill, the addition counselor. I have started a new food program and have ordered an elliptical machine. I am going back to squeezing in some time for my sewing and design projects. I am finding myself again.
Make no mistake. Finding oneself is not as easy as it sounds. But, I didn’t feel like a co-dependent before I started this re-direction and I don’t feel like one now. I DO think I was neglecting myself, but I’m not sure if it was chronic. I think maybe it was a temporary detour in the highway of my life.
at 6:31 AM