I Am Codependent No More!

There are millions of people in this world who are codependent. Most don’t even know that they are, and there are some who do, but are too afraid to change it. For the longest time, I was oblivious to what being codependent even meant. Once I discovered it’s meaning, I lived for years in fear and denial that I was that way, even though I really was.

A codependent person is defined as someone who has excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically one who requires support due to an illness or addiction. In broader terms, it is when a person will place a lower priority on their own needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others. The simple existence for them is to solely depend on the needs of, or control of, another.

I cringe when I read any definition of codependency now. Each of them describes how I lived for way too long. And the longer I stay free from all of those former behaviors, the more I have been able to see other relationships and people suffering from it just like I did. My most recent observation of codependency in action has actually been of my partner’s sister.

A few years ago, her husband of almost 20 years left her side for someone else, which left her feeling abandoned, scared, and confused. Almost immediately, she jumped into one relationship and shortly thereafter a second one, which has been the one to really show her level of codependency. Over the past year she has been living with a childhood sweetheart who has quite a few physical, mental, and emotional disorders. In addition, he has been unemployed for many years and has no viable income. I’ve spent some time around the two of them and watched those definitions of codependency play themselves out over and over and over again with them. Sometimes it has felt as if I was watching a little boy with his mother. He often asks her permission to do or have certain things just like a boy would of his mother. She in turn scolds him just like a mother would of a child when he doesn’t listen or obey. When she begins to grow tired of him, he often plays the sick card for sympathy and guilt which keeps her from abandoning him. In turn, she continues to avoid her fear of being alone, which is something she never gave herself any of after her marriage ended. Because of this, she remains invested in taking care of this unhealthy man’s life so much, that she is completely unaware of how sick she has become too.

What’s sad about codependency is the enabling that happens when it’s present in any relationship. In my partner’s sister’s relationship, neither are growing or healing from anything. He is controlling her on many levels, while she is doing the same with him as well. Until they both spend time apart from each other alone and work on their own healing, the unfortunate truth is that they will continue to remain sick and codependent on each other to exist.

My pattern of codependency didn’t begin in an intimate relationship like theirs. It began in my childhood with my mother. She was a very mentally and emotionally sick woman who had never healed from some of her own childhood issues. She was in a codependent based relationship as well with my father who too was just as sick. My mother did her best to keep the family together while trying to support my father in so many ways. Sadly, without realizing it, I became codependent with her in my many attempts to bring her happiness. I spent most of my childhood and adulthood doing everything I could to please her and ignored much of my own needs and wants because of it. As I matured, I repeated this pattern in one romantic relationship after another where each of the people I dated were alcoholics, drug addicts, and debt-laden individuals. In some ways, they were all just mirrors of that relationship I had with my mother. What I never realized was I had been repeating my attempts to take care of her with everyone else in my life that I got close to. The sad, but simple, truth was that I sought out those who were just as sick as my mother, whom I could nurture and take care of just like I had with her. It was the easiest way I knew how to avoid seeing just how sick and broken I was like all those people I was trying to fix. Ironically, the person that needing fixing the most was me. Eventually when the pain became great enough, I turned to God for help with all of it. It finally came at the age of 40, when I began spending time alone and healing from all those childhood wounds.

Today I believe the biggest fear that I faced before asking God for help with my codependency, and the one that faces my partner’s sister and anyone else that is still suffering from it, is that of being alone and learning to enjoy one’s own company. In essence, it’s about learning to love oneself. A codependent person doesn’t love themselves because they neglect most, if not all, of their own needs and wants. I sacrificed so much of my own happiness for years trying to take care of my mother and most of the people I had dated or closely befriended. Until I was willing to let go of all of them and work on me alone, I never got any better and instead continued to live with codependent behaviors and in those type of relationships.

Through my hard work and willingness to spend vast amounts of time alone, I’ve been able to work on a better relationship with me and made great strides in healing from all of those fears I carried out of my childhood. I have a healthy partner today who is able to take care of himself. He’s not severely sick in any addiction nor does he suffer from grave mental and emotional disorders. For once, I am experiencing a relationship where I can be myself and not neglect my own needs and wants. I am so grateful to God for the pain that got me to this place of recovery. Because of it, I am truly beginning to feel I am codependent no more.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Loaning Money To Friends And Loved Ones…

It happens all the time. Friends ask other friends if they can borrow some money. And suddenly there often becomes a complicated and sketchy ordeal for that person being asked.

For the longest time, I was doing quite well on financial level and was faced with those situations of being asked for a loan quite a bit. With the passings of both of my parents and their parents over a short period of time, an amount of money was handed down to me that was nothing to scoff at. Because of my lack of discipline with it, my ego got the best of me and it became pretty obvious to others that I was living with more than most. Unfortunately this led to various complications such as new friends coming into my life solely because I had money, or existing friends expecting me to pay for everything on our social outings because they felt I had more then them. The hardest complication to face though was when those same friends would ask me if they could borrow some money and pay me back later.

Over the years, I had to learn the hard way that it’s best not to offer a loan to anyone you care about. All of the times I have done it were with people I was dating or very close to. In each of those cases, they had major financial issues already going on in their lives at the time of their request. I thought that loaning them money would prevent them from drowning further in their debt that had built up throughout their lives. Upon receiving my loan, there was always initially considerable amounts of gratitude offered. But like it was with my own addictions in life, no one was able to save me from my disease if they took my alcohol or drugs away. No one was able to change the course of my sex and love addictions by any of their actions either. The same held true for all of the other addictions I suffered from. There were no amounts of anything anyone could do to alter my course of self-destruction. In most cases, I have found the same principle to hold true with those with massive money issues. Often I found spending money was an addiction in itself for these people. So for each of them who I lent money to, within a short period of time, all of it was gone and usually spent on everything but what it was supposed to help the person with. And even when it was spent paying off bills, it only gave them the appearance that everything was good again. Most would go out on further spending sprees because of this, racking up more debt with any other money that was coming to them. The result would always end with their debt only increasing. What transpired next after all of this, in each of these loans were the things that frustrated me the most.

First, there were the apologies and sincere attempts at statements from them saying they didn’t know what happened. Next came their waves of self-pity and promises that they would pay me back, but it might take a little more time. Finally, many would ask for another loan on top of the one existing and say that they knew exactly what they needed to do this time around to fix everything and pay me back. Sadly, no one ever did. What’s even worse are the guilt trips I would often get from them saying that I didn’t understand what’s it like to be in their shoes. Some would even play the friend card and and get very angry with me on how bad of a friend they felt I was because I didn’t want to loan them more money. All of this is what has led me to take a different position today with money.

Ironically I don’t have what I used to anymore to loan anyway, but even so, I have come to decide that it’s just not healthy to establish loans with friends. Not for me and not for them. It’s rare that I have ever seen a person desire a loan where they weren’t spending way out of their means already. And if they are already spending out of their means, then they are going to spend the money being loaned to them out of their means as well. On the contrary, a person with good financial management generally won’t ask for a loan from a friend in the first place. More often than not, if they need a loan, they are able to go to banks and other financial institutions because they have spent their money wisely and know how to pay their debts off. In those cases of people who reach out to friends and ask for loans, most can’t go to a bank because of the bad credit they have from their previous spending. And if a bank is unwilling to lend a person money, it’s because there’s history and good potential that the person won’t pay any new debts off. For those I tried to save financially, I dealt with this first hand and even worse, many never even intended to pay me back to start with.

As a recovering addict of so many things, sometimes it’s best to just let people fall as hard as they can to a rock bottom place. It’s at those places where I’ve found my biggest push to find recovery in my life from whatever the addiction is that got me there. In the case of those who over spend and over borrow, becoming broke and having no one willing to loan them money is the best wake up call for them. I enabled many people for a long time with their money addictions. I lost friends over it and experienced a number of terrible ordeals all because of lending money to those I cared about. The sad truth in my case is that approximately 95% of the hundreds of thousands of dollars I loaned over the years to friends, was never paid back to me.

My philosophy today surrounding this issue has changed greatly because of all of this. I consider myself a God-centered person now who definitely wants to do the next right thing for people in the hopes it might help their lives. Loaning money isn’t one of them though especially to those who already are in financial crisis. It has proven throughout the years to do nothing more than cause greater pain, hardship, and stress for all parties involved. Instead, when I’m asked for a loan today, I either decline and offer my love and support in other ways instead, or in rare cases, I’ll give them a donation with no expectations of it ever coming back. This solution seems to be working and I haven’t lost any friends because of it. Maybe that’s because I asked God to help me with this, as it looks like he has.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Overcoming Fear

In AA, the word “fear” is used quite a bit as an acronym. Over the years I’ve heard many different examples of what its letters stand for. The following are the ones I’ve seen most commonly used and referred to by fellow AAr’s.

1. False Evidence Appearing Real

2. F— Everything and Run

3. Face Everything And Recover

I placed these acronyms in this particular order for a reason. Throughout my life, I’ve had plenty of false evidence appear real to me. When I’m active in any addiction, it’s as if my brain doesn’t want to function rationally at all. I tend to think people are constantly talking about me behind my back. I seem to take everything that happens around me more personally. And when I put two and two together with data that comes at me, I often get five instead of four. It’s pretty insane how the brain operates under any addiction. All I know is that for my brain, when I’ve actively been in an addiction mode, it seems to blow everything out of proportion and become completely fearful. What that always has led me to next is the desire to hide from my problems or as #2 says above to “f— everything and run.”

Unfortunately, throughout the years when I was so completely fearful and sick, I found many ways to do just that. Back then I had many resources that made it way too easy to allow me to say screw life and run away. With money my parents had left me after their passings, I hid from life by going even deeper into addictions. I ran away by taking long trips to other geographical locations frequently. I avoided phone calls, appointments, commitments, and family and friends all for the sake of being too afraid to face the reality that fear had its full grip upon my life.

People say that pain is a great motivator for change. In my case, it was. Just over a year ago when the spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical pain had become so great, I knew I needed to do something different than continue to run away, so I took action. It began with a phone call where I said goodbye to a very toxic friend who wasn’t doing anything to get himself healthier. While this may not seem like a big deal for some, for me it was. I’ve always had too much fear in my life to cut someone out of it, even when it was so painful to continue maintaining it. After walking through that initial fear where my heart was racing a mile a minute, it became easier to face the other toxic people I still had in my life and do the same action. One by one I cut each of them loose until they were all out of my life. There were other things as well where I had to face fear if I wanted to have a healthier life. There were medications I was taking that I ended because they were only numbing my path. There were social groups and places I frequented that I had to stop going to because of their toxicity. I even stopped doing stimulants like caffeine because on some level, I felt they only were making my fears feel even worse. But the most important fear I had to face was being alone with me. I despised being alone with myself without some type of addictive thing in play. Because of this, I never fully vested myself in my AA recovery. As time went on, I actually began to enjoy spending time alone and soon preferred it. Eventually, through doing this, I starting have the courage to give 100 percent of myself to my AA step work.

The biggest thing I am still facing in my life is the fear I have over my health issues. Over the past few years of my life when I began to face all of these other fears, my physical health took a turn for the worse. It’s been challenging at times to not go into complete anxiety and hypochondria with some of the health symptoms I deal with. I believe most of them are spiritually, mentally, and emotionally connected and just manifesting on the physical plane. There are days I want to run from having to deal with these health issues and check out again by doing some type of drug, drink, or some other addictive behavior. But I continue to tell myself that it’s important to face everything and recover.

Thankfully I have seen great progress on most every other level in my life since I began to face all of my fears. I believe it’s just a matter of time to when I no longer fear even these health issues. The key today for me to get there is that when I am feeling any fear around them, I pray and ask God for the strength to continue facing them. So far, this has helped me immensely and I still haven’t gone back to my old patterns of running away. I’m guessing something is working then isn’t it?

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson