Inside my crazy head


noun \-dən-sē\

plural co·de·pen·den·cies

a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (as an addiction to alcohol or heroin); broadly : dependence on the needs of or control by another

[above definition provided by Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary]

I am codependent.  Probably not very shocking to those with knowledge and understanding of addiction and families of addicts.  Or those that know me.

The recent events in my life have triggered old habits and I am struggling.  On Friday, I pulled out the old “Codependent No More” book by Melody Beattie, which I highly recommend, and I ordered three new books.  One of which is the “Codependent No More Workbook.”  Did I mention that I am struggling?

I found a great website, Recovery Info, which gives a great list of Symptoms of Codependency.  If any readers are struggling, it might help you identify with why you are struggling.  For me, however, I already know that I am codependent.  And yet, knowing and fixing are two different things.  I like this post by Syd, Distorted Thinking, because it really captures the way that a codependent person thinks or feels.

I can look at my thoughts or feelings and identify them as irrational, but it doesn’t make the knot in my stomach go away or the fear and anxiety to decrease.  And I ultimately search out help and affirmation from friends.

Here is where I’m at TODAY.  Learning of my ex-husband’s eviction has made me angry.  Learning that my kids are once again struggling with disappointment makes me angry.  These are normal reactions.  However, I am incapable of feeling anger for very long.  It makes me anxious.  And then it makes me feel guilty.

Let me walk you through my crazy.  I am angry, almost furious, with my ex.  I do not lash out at him.  I don’t even let him know that I am aware of his situation.  I have learned that these actions are pointless.  He doesn’t really care how I feel, and so I end up explaining it ad nauseam, getting more frustrated, then saying more angry things that I will only feel guilty about later.  And in the end, HE DOESN’T CARE.

So in a way, I have learned to let go.  I cannot control him.  I can only control myself.  Instead, I look to other avenues to attempt to handle the situation.  When things are particularly ugly and the children are struggling, I take them to see a counselor.  With regard to child support, I sought assistance from the Attorney General.  And now, I am contemplating the best strategy to protect the boys on a go-forward basis.  I cannot change the past and what has happened.  I can only hope to change the future, or at least, protect my boys from it.

Sounds healthy enough except for all of the negative emotions that I feel.  I am constantly second-guessing my actions, criticizing my reactions, and feeling guilty about all of it.  My guilt is a result of “kicking a dog when it’s down.”  Even though, my duty as a parent is to protect my children, I worry about the effect on my ex-husband.  He is going through a rough time.  He is struggling.  I am adding insult to injury.

I feel guilty that I am not struggling financially in the way that he is.  I know that it’s irrational because I do not gamble, and he does.  I have not been fired, and he has.  (He’s working now, but the period of unemployment is always his scapegoat for struggling.)  I pay my bills, and he doesn’t.  I do not live beyond my means (often), and he does.

I don’t know why I feel this way.  I can justify it that we set out on a path together and now I am the only one still on that path, but that is a weak explanation.  The truth is that I am codependent.  I worry about him.  Period.  The end.  I don’t have a reason.  He doesn’t even care that I worry about him.  There is absolutely no reason for me to worry about him.  I just do.

Truth be told, I probably worry about him more than HE worries about himself.  At night when I am panic-stricken because I can’t imagine how he feels being homeless again, he is probably snuggled up to his girlfriend in her apartment happily slumbering.

That thought should be enough to purge all of the other thoughts of feeling bad or feeling guilty, but it doesn’t.  I still struggle.  The best that I can do is stay on course with my actions.  Follow through with the plans to seek ways to protect my children.  Keep going about my day-to-day routine with the kids.  Work on projects around the house and work toward goals to be physically healthier.  Continue to work on breaking the old habits and cycles of my codependence.  But like an alcoholic in recovery, I am a codependent in recovery.  And I will always be labeled as codependent.


  1. I’m pretty sure I believe that we are always going to be recovering, just like an alcoholic is never cured…not sure co-dependents are either. Get yourself to and read the books. I got the first one on their website, then the others have picked up for less online. The best resources I have found for speaking to me about my disease – and it’s name is guilt. LOL. The focus is getting us better, and I found that they were remarkably accurate, and I kept going, “how does she KNOW this is what I say to myself.” Very helpful.
    Another thing I read and believe is that you can’t and ought not to keep the alcoholic from feeling the effects of his actions and behaviors. He’s evicted, it sucks for your boys, but those are consequences to his actions of not paying stuff. Thank God you were able to get out of the marriage with the ability to provide for you and they boys before bankruptcy, or worse happened to YOU. Your disease (guilt) is trying to suck you back into the crazy behavior just like his drinking always takes front and center with his life.
    Be gentle to yourself, and keep taking care of you and the boys. If it’s good for you (or them), it’s good for the alcoholic ;o)
    Hugs, and you are doing great. You are strong, just like the title!

  2. So hard not to comment, but to keep it real. Your ex- is a grown man who has been doing and living this way for what seems like decades. At this point it’s not just alcohol it’s his choice. He may not want to have anything to do with you and that’s fine, but the fact that he still wants to run the streets and put HIMSELF into bad situations is his on choice. There is know reason for you to feel bad or guilty for someone who made the choices he did when you were married, and the choices that he is making now. Dude is 41 years old! He’s not a 20 year old living the good life with his boys. It’s not your fault… You be the best mom you can be and leave the B.S. in the past! We all have to grow up, and your not his momma so don’t think you have to play that role. In the end it’s his loss.

  3. Donella burton says:

    Just wanted you to know that melody Beattie just put out new workbooks, etc. I think the cover of her book changed but the content is the same. We highly recommend these books to our families because every addict that comes to see us has a co-dependent in their lives, that’s how they survive. You are right you are in recovery & you have to work at it every day, just remember as there are consequences to his addict behavior there are consequences to your co-dependency, but you are working a program, doing great & being a loving constant for those boys.

    • I have her book “Codependent No More” from years and years ago. The first time I read it, I wasn’t ready to say that he was an addict. I read it again after the divorce. And yesterday, I went online and ordered the workbook. I’m committed to this, even though I had a “relapse” this week. I have to learn how to be as strong FACE-TO-FACE with him as I am via phone, email, and text. He knows that I’m not as strong in person, which is why he pushed for lunch and showed up at my door. I have to fix that!

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