"We must start recognizing
our powerlessness over this disease of Codependence.
As long as we did not know
we had a choice we did not have one.
If we never knew how to say
"no," then we never really said "yes."
We were powerless to do anything
any different than we did it. We were doing the best we knew how
with the tools that we had. None of us had the power to write
a different script for our lives.
We need to grieve for the
past. For the ways in which we abandoned and abused ourselves.
For the ways we deprived ourselves. We need to own that sadness.
But we also need to stop blaming ourselves for it. It was not
We did not have the power
to do it any differently.
As long as we are holding
onto the guilt and feeling ashamed, it means that on some level
we think we had the power. We think that if we would have just
done it a little differently, if we had just done it "right," if we
could have just said the "right' thing, then we could have controlled
it and had it come out the way we wanted.
The part of you that is telling
you that is your disease."
(All quotes in this color are from
Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls)
Since I finished my series
of articles on inner child healing here on Suite 101 last month,
I have been wondering what my next article would focus on.
As is often the case with my writing, I get stimulated to focus on
a particular topic, on a facet of the condition of codependency or
recovery, by a question I receive in an e-mail.
This particular article was
sparked by a parent in anguish about their child's drug addiction,
who was asking if they were responsible for their child becoming
an addict. The simple answer to that question is no. There
are however, many other levels to both this question and the answer.
The question itself is a
manifestation of codependency, as the quote above from my book
illustrates. Parents have responsibility in how their children
were wounded by their codependent behavior patterns - but they are
not to blame because the parents were powerless over their codependency.
In recovery it is very important to take responsibility while also learning
to stop giving power to the polarized blame and shame of the disease.
Therein lies a tale.
So, it looks like I may be
off and running with a new series of articles here. I am
not even sure right now what to call this series, but it is going
to start off with the simple answer to the parent who wants to know
if her child's drug addiction were something she caused. It will
then expand into looking at parental roles, dysfunctional families,
toxic codependent love, and whatever else comes up - and focus on applying
twelve step Spiritual principles in recovery in order to learn how to
relate in healthier and more Loving ways to both our self and others,
to both our parents and our children.
Parents do not cause their
children to become alcoholics - or drug addicts.
Alcoholism / addiction is
not caused by environmental factors. It is a physiological, genetic
allergy - a hereditary predisposition involving brain chemistry. There
is now ample scientific proof, research data, to support the premise that
made Alcoholics Anonymous the first successful approach to dealing with
alcoholism. Alcoholism is a disease. Drug Addiction, in the great
majority of cases, is just a form of alcoholism. (It is possible for
someone who was not born with a genetic predisposition to alcoholism to
become physiologically and psychologically addicted to drugs - in reaction
to chronic physical pain for instance, or to a dysfunctional psychiatric
community's pattern of treating the symptoms of emotional wounding with addictive
drugs instead of healing the cause.)
Someone does not become an
alcoholic / addict because they were raised in a dysfunctional
family. Alcoholism is not caused by emotional wounds.
It also has nothing to do with will power or strength of character
or morality. It does not have anything to do with intelligence.
Many people drink heavily
or experiment with drugs in their teens and early twenties. The ones
who have a genetic predisposition make alcohol and/or drugs their
primary coping mechanism - the ones that do not find other ways
of coping and going unconscious. People who become alcoholics are
not as a rule more wounded than people that do not - they just have
a genetic vulnerability.
All of us adapted codependent
defense systems to protect us from the toxic shame we felt in
early childhood - to help us survive in the dysfunctional environments
we grew up in. The primary environment was of course our family
of origin. But we were also emotionally traumatized in the schools
we attended, in churches, in social interactions with other wounded
human beings. We were exposed to dysfunctional messages from society
in general, through books and movies, television and music, etc.
We all learned ways to cope
with the pain of being human in societies that taught us it was
shameful to be human. We all had to adapt defense systems that
would help us disassociate - go unconscious to - the emotional pain
we experienced growing up in emotionally dishonest, Spiritually hostile
environments. (Spiritually hostile in my definition because civilization
is founded upon belief in separation, shame about being human, and
fear of differences instead of connection and Love.)
A parent does not cause a
child to become alcoholic or drug addicted. The emotional
wounds provide reasons to drink and use, are the fuel that drives
an alcoholic/addict's behavior, but are not the cause of the disease.
We were all raised in dysfunctional
families - because society / civilization is emotionally dishonest
and dysfunctional. We were all wounded in our childhood, because
our parents were wounded in their childhood - and when we became
parents we wounded our children.
You did not cause your
child's addiction. Your behaviors did wound your child because
you did not love your self in a healthy way and were not given the
tools, knowledge, and role modeling to teach you how to be a healthy
person - let alone a healthy parent. You were wounded in your
childhood, you were doing the best you knew how to do as a parent, it
is not your fault that you were powerless to do it any differently.
You do have some responsibility in your child's wounding, but you
are not to blame. To give power to the blaming guilt and shame
of the disease will in fact, set you up to continue to be unhealthy in
your relationship with your child. The best thing you can do for
your child is to learn how to Love yourself - is to focus on recovering
from your codependency.