Codependency sucks. It sucks for a million reasons but today my heart is aching from the realization that my old friend Cody (codependency) has come between my children… and themselves. Yeah, happy freaking Mother’s Day to me.
Recovering from codependency comes in layers, the same process over and over again, getting rid of one layer at a time. I discover a behavior, a tool of sorts, that I’ve been using to (attempt to) manipulate my world into being what it “should” be. Releasing that behavior means choosing a more authentic way to show up in my relationships.
That replacement is usually something scandalous like asking for what I need. Crazy, right? The initial behavior, of course, was passively waiting for others to prove their love by predicting and meeting my needs while I wait stoically in the corner, pretending I don’t have any. …and responding aggressively when they inevitably get it wrong. Recovery is about finding a way to live without forcing what “should” be to be.
Every time, it starts with an awkward moment, the realization that I’ve overstepped my bounds. That is followed by the release of something that was never actually mine to begin with. The I-can’t-make-that-person/situation/company/thing-act-right panic builds, spinning me further and further beyond the realm of matters that are actually my business, until there is no more room left in my body for the hysteria. And then, I crash… into the bittersweet wake-up call that the only thing I can control, still, is me.
Damn, I hate the simplicity of that. Especially, when it comes to my children. That humbling wake-up call is what led to this…
My Children, I have overstepped my bounds.
I have taken responsibility for who you are, when what you needed was for me to take responsibility for who I am.
I thought that if you were a success, that it meant I had succeeded. What I need is to succeed… at being me. I am a woman – a whole person with dreams and passions and a life to live – a woman who is lucky enough to have you for a child, but I am not only a mother.
My life is mine. Your life is yours. I understand that now. Please, forgive me for the confusion the old way has created for all of us. I was mistaken when I convinced us both that your life – your education and ambition and dreams, or at least the desire that must fuel them – were mine to craft.
It is neither my job, nor within my power to make you BE… anything. I am not an artist with clay, molding you to suit my desires. The clay is in your hands. My job as your mother is to enable you, to support you, to guide you, to encourage you. While I take that piece of who I am very, very seriously… your life is not ultimately mine to live.
You, and I, need you to be in charge of you. It is your job to craft you into the person you want to be. You are the artist. Your power, your potential, your life… is in your hands. You must find that fire within, that desire to thrive as the perfectly imperfect person that you were created to be.
Do what must be done to feed your spirit, to keep the fire burning… and I will do the same for me.
Just like that, a new layer is shed. We can have a conversation about how I have overstepped my bounds with an attempt to make amends and a ceremonious return of the power to its rightful owner. What’s left is the graceful messiness of finding a new way to be with those lovingly supported and beautifully empowered young people… whom I love with all my heart.