My Story And Struggle With Codependency

My Story And Struggle With Codependency

Being Codependent – Photo Created at Canva

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What Is Codependency?

Codependency is a behavioral condition in a relationship where one person enables another person’s addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement, so much so that they can’t function independently. Emotions, identity, and approval are defined by the other person.

In a codependent relationship, there is usually a more passive person who can’t make decisions for themselves and a more controlling or dominant person who gets satisfaction from controlling and fixing the other person and making decisions about their life. 

Codependency is when you exhibit enabling behavior, rarely seen in healthy relationships.

  • This can include, ignoring the problem
  • Accepting excuses
  • Repeatedly giving him or her another chance
  • Bailing your partner out
  • Always being the one trying to fix the problem, or constantly coming to the rescue. 
Alcoholism and Codependency – Photo By geralt Pixabay

My Personal Story As A Codependent

My dad had been in the military for over 20 years when he retired. I was a senior in high school. Growing up he was gone a lot or stationed without his family and was very strict when he was home.

My mom didn’t work while I was growing up, but did her best to raise 3 kids, many times without our dad around. Once he retired he seemed to show anger more often and started drinking heavily.

I was 9 and 11 years older than my sisters, so I saw how his moods would change and he would get upset easily over small things. I was always quiet when I was young and was an easy child to raise, as I did what I was told, but still, there would be times I would get the belt and I didn’t understand why!

He expected perfect grades, good behavior, and obeying what we were told to do without question. Other than giving commands, he gave us little attention or signs of love. I remember seeing many of my friend’s dads so involved in their lives, and how I wished my dad could be that way!

I was petrified whenever he was home and as I got older I saw how he had gotten worse with my sisters. As they grew, my younger sister would stand up to him and hold in her true emotions. I saw how angry she was too!

She was not doing well with her grades in high school and became quite rebellious towards our dad, and I watched her start drinking in order to deal with the turmoil inside. We watched how our mom dealt with being married to someone with an addiction and saw such sadness in her face and I knew she did not know how to deal with it, so how did she expect us to!

My grandfather was also strict and at times abusive to my mom and her sisters. I found out later that he had an affair and my grandmother did not believe in divorce, so he lived with both of them, in different homes. So chaos seemed normal to our mom!

After I graduated, I moved out on my own, and after being in such a strict environment, I decided it was time to let loose and become a party girl. I became involved in unhealthy relationships and at 19 married a guy I worked with and had only known for a few months.

He was broken and I wanted to fix him. We eloped, as I knew my parents would not approve. We moved in with his parents, which was a big mistake, as his mom was on pills and had her own issues.

Don’t Subject Yourself To Abuse…You Deserve Better!

After a few months, he became jealous and abusive. Now I was afraid for my life and my coworkers saw how abusive he was, and were there to support me. After about 9 months, I decided I had enough and left him and filed for divorce! I still feared him, so I decided to move to another state.

You Can See A Pattern In My Behavior

I started drinking and partying again but met a really nice guy at work. We started dating and I had promised myself I would not be in an abusive relationship again, so I married him and we had a son together.

I found out his dad was also an alcoholic. Had I known then what I know now that our son had double the chance of becoming an addict and what his future was going to be, I would not have married him.

We were married until my son was about 4 years old, and then we divorced. I immediately moved in with someone else I had met at work, which was unhealthy from the start. He was very insecure and possessive. We married shortly and had a son and divorced when he was around 3 years old.

Our mom passed away from cancer before she turned 60 and Dad passed away when he was 64 of arteriosclerosis when we were on our way to bury our mom in Colorado. Losing both parents within 5 days of each other was a NIGHTMARE, but I gained strength from this loss and started standing up for myself!

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I realized years later that our dad possibly had PTSD and the drinking helped him to try and forget the loss of his fellow soldiers during his tours in Vietnam. It is sad to lose a parent who struggled all their life with addiction who did not get the help they needed to turn their life around! So many families end up suffering from so many dysfunctions in the family unit!

Drug Addiction and Codependency – Photo By RenoBeranger Pixabay

When I Discovered I Was Codependent

My older son had started smoking marijuana in middle school and once in the 9th grade was expelled from school for having drug paraphernalia and marijuana on him.

I was at my wit’s end and did not know how difficult this journey was going to be as he got older! There was anger built up inside me of how our dad’s addiction affected us growing up. I wasn’t the one with addiction, so why do I have to deal with my son’s drug problems!! I think I figured that if I tried to fix him it would go away. I did not know I was codependent yet.

We made an appointment for him in counseling and they said that since he had two grandfathers who were addicts, his chances of becoming an addict were doubled and since he started at such a young age before his brain was completely developed, it would make recovery even harder.

While he was in counseling, one of the doctors suggested I get counseling also, knowing our family history. I set up an appointment and discovered how being the daughter of an alcoholic can have such a negative effect on how we see relationships and love.

He asked me, “Do you realize you smile even when you are talking about hurtful feelings?” I told him, ” No, I didn’t realize this”. He said this was a way to hide my feelings and pretend like everything was great in my life.

I was always told by my parents to not share what goes on in our home, so I kept all this bottle up for YEARS! He also, mentioned that I would sabotage relationships I get involved in, and I would try and fix things and people as that is the only time I felt in control of my life.

That is why I became obsessed with having a clean home, as that was something I could control. He also said I feared abandonment since my dad wasn’t there physically or mentally most of the time, and I feared that in relationships with men.

So I found out I was codependent and that there are meetings for codependency to attend. Now I knew why I reacted the way I did and how to be aware of future situations that could take me down the wrong path again.

I do believe the anger made my codependency worse and my recovery harder to attain!

That codependency has continued through the years with my older son. After he graduated from high school, my younger son and I moved to a different city, so I did not see him often.

He did manage to graduate from college but was not able to keep a job. His addiction got worse as he was now doing harder drugs, like heroin and meth, and getting in trouble with the police, and lied to my ex-husband, so he kicked him out on the streets!! This scared me, and I did not want anything to happen to him and of course as a codependent mom of an addict I wanted to fix him!

An Addict Can Feel Hopeless and Depression Can Consume Their Emotions When On The Streets – Photo By lechenie-narkomanii Pixabay

My Son’s Road To Recovery Again And How My Codependency Took Over

I would not hear from him for months and prayed that he would be safe. Time went by and he was in and out of rehab, OD’d several times, but was revived. God definitely has saved his life many times as I feel he has a different plan for him!

Remember this all started in middle school. He did not admit he had a problem until he was around 30 and went in and out of rehab and continued to live on the streets.

After I saw that he was spiraling down the “rabbit hole” fast I realized more extensive help was needed. He always would say he could do it on his own, but if you are familiar with addiction, that is not true!

I found a Christian rehab where we live that had an 85% success rate, so I mentioned it to his dad, and he contacted me back to say he was open to admitting himself. He lived with us for almost 4 months, as they didn’t have an opening immediately. This gave him time to detox and have a clear head when they had an opening.

He had been transferred down to another city where he was finishing his time to be able to go out on his own and fit into society. He was clean and sober for almost 3 years, but then was in an accident and did not tell the hospital he was an addict, so he ended up getting hooked on pills.

This started the downhill spiral again, and he ended up having 2 DUI’s within 3 months of each other. I decided I could not enable him anymore and said he could not contact us until he was willing to be serious about getting clean and sober, use his insurance to get counseling, be evaluated to see if he needed to be on medication to balance his mood swings and help stop his cravings, find a sponsor and go to AA meetings regularly!

This was one of the hardest things for me to do as a mom, and other people close to me mentioned nothing will change until he wants to be helped. He had to be the one to make an effort and not depend on others to bail him out! Finally, I realized this was so true!!

Depression and Drugs are Intertwined – Photo By un-perfekt Pixabay

Contact with him declined so my gut told me something was wrong. The next time I heard from him, he was in an evaluation hospital due to suicidal tendencies.

Depression and drugs are intertwined. My prayers were answered, as he was being evaluated and they were working on finding the right medications to balance his moods.

I feel God brought him to this place to save his life and show him life is worth living, but not as an addict! It was his way of saying “I have not given up on you, as you have a purpose here on earth”!

Due to all the drug use, he had become paranoid and always thought someone was out to get him. After the two months in the facility, he was no longer showing signs of paranoia and seemed to be my old son!

They moved him up to where we live to be in another branch of their hospital. This was all being paid for by his insurance. In November, he was able to move into an apartment that the facility was in charge of with three other roommates.

He had received a settlement from the company that caused the accident, and I became the POA of his finances and paid his bills every month. In January he was running out of money and did not have a job as he was still taking classes for part of the recovery process.

Due to the two DUI’s he cannot get his driver’s license back for approximately 18 months and pay off the thousands of dollars he had accumulated in fines.

He realized he would not be able to pay for a place to live, so he found a mission where he can stay until he is able to find a job and make enough money to pay for a residential recovery home, to continue on the road to stay clean and sober, which has been approximately 6 months this go-round.

In Closing – Awareness of Addiction and Codependency

He turns 40 this year and has spent most of his life in and out of rehab or on the streets. He seems to be moving in the right direction, so I hope and pray for his safety and his success on his road to recovery.

This has been a long hard, journey as a family for years, that affects so many and tears families apart. I was lucky to escape the actual addiction but became codependent and dysfunctional due to being raised in a home with addiction.

Addiction is an ILLNESS, that can damage you from a young age, creating long-term dysfunction within your family and in future relationships. You might not see the harm when your children are young or ignore it when you fall in love with someone until they become abusive.

I was quiet way TOO long, and hope I can help others that have been raised with addition in their home and became codependent as I did. I want to create awareness of a dysfunctional situation before you become a part of it and love yourself enough to be able to walk away.

Remember to have faith and talk with a professional if you are showing signs or the symptoms below! It can help change your life and guide you in the right direction of healthy and happy relationships where you can give and receive the love you so deserve!!

Codependency is when you exhibit enabling behavior, rarely seen in healthy relationships. This can include, ignoring the problem, accepting excuses, repeatedly giving him or her another chance, bailing your partner out, always being the one trying to fix the problem, or constantly coming to the rescue. 

Symptoms of codependency include: 

  • Lacking trust in yourself and having poor self-esteem 
  • Having an exaggerated sense of responsibility for the actions of others 
  • Having difficulty identifying your feelings
  • Having difficulty making decisions and communicating in a relationship
  • Valuing the approval of others more than valuing yourself 
  • Having fears of abandonment or an obsessive need for approval 
  • Having an unhealthy dependence on relationships, even at your own cost 

“When we begin to set boundaries with people we love, a really hard thing happens: they hurt. They may feel a hole where you used to plug up their aloneness, their disorganization, or their financial irresponsibility. Whatever it is, they will feel a loss. If you love them, this will be difficult for you to watch. But, when you are dealing with someone who is hurting, remember that your boundaries are both necessary for you and helpful for them. If you have been enabling them to be irresponsible, your limit setting may nudge them toward responsibility.” – Henry Cloud

I am including three links to previous posts on my son’s story on his addiction. I won a blogging contest on Part 1.

How Addiction Affects Lives Of Everyone Affiliated With The Addict, Part 1

How Addiction Affects Lives Of Everyone Affiliated With The Addict, Part 2

Addiction And Depression A Way Out

Below are links you can contact for help and to ask questions about your own situation with addiction or codependency.

Treatment Solutions

Codependents Anonymous (CoDa)

Until next time, Denise

Posts may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases and collect a small commission at no cost to you. This helps my blog to keep going. Thank you! For more info, read my disclosure policy.

Below are some books from Amazon that might be helpful.

#codependency #abandonment #obsessive #unhealthyrelationships #feelings #self-esteem #approval #excuses #fixproblems #control #addiction #alcoholism #drugaddiction #enablingbehavior

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6 thoughts on “My Story And Struggle With Codependency

  1. Codependency can lead to severe self-destruction. It’s really very brave of you to share your story here. Also, that is so kind of you that you have listed the symptoms. It can be happening with anyone right now. Awareness is necessary. Thank you for this insightful post Denise. Much love to you. I am so glad to know someone as strong as you! ??

    1. Thank you Nilakshi for your kind words and encouragement on codependency! Yes, it was hard to share my story publicly, but have realized that sharing can help others also struggling with this.

  2. I’m glad you wrote this one I am forwarding this to someone who needed to hear this. This arrived on time. We shouldn’t be afraid and ashamed of our story as it can help others who are battling the same. Thank you for writing this and sharing. God bless!

    1. Thank you, April for the kind words of support! I am so glad you know of someone this post could help. This is what it is all about! God bless!

  3. Denise, my heart goes out to you on this post. I was married for eight long year’s to an alcoholic. My fear was that our son would follow in his footsteps, but he didn’t we left that environment when he was four and he is now almost thirty-seven. The mental abuse is all that I endured, no physical abuse. Prayers to you, your family and son. Thank you for sharing your story. Hugs to you my friend.❤️❤️

    1. Thank you Brenda, I appreciate your support and prayers! So sorry to hear about you and your son’s dealings with this awful disease! It takes a toll on so many people and the mental abuse can last a lifetime. I am so glad you had the strength to get you and your son out of such a destructive situation. My mom did not have that strength, unfortunately. God bless!

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