"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
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
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.