I arrived to adulthood with no idea how to relate to normal people. How could I? My childhood home could be described as dysfunctional at best. The foundation and building blocks to live in the real world were not taught in my home. Looking back, I can see that I was the peace maker and the caregiver. I avoided negative consequences at all costs. I can assure you, I arrived at adulthood Codependent and broken; A perfect candidate for an alcoholic’s wife.
I knew exactly how to take unacceptable events in my life and choke it down. I knew exactly how to bend over backwards to keep the peace in my home, and I knew exactly how to take care of everybody but myself. Sure this bothered me. Their has many times I would become very angry with myself for allowing unacceptable in my life. I would even bow up from time to time and throw my little hissy fit only to back down to keep the peace.
The other thing character defect that my childhood taught me was over sensitivity. I took everything personal. My feelings were hurt easily, and when they were I would either withdraw or I would strike out at the person that I had perceived was trying to hurt my feelings. Everything was my fault or I caved and saw myself as a complete victim.
I married the first person that showed any interest in me. He was my savior; my knight in shinning armor. Honestly he really was. He understood without me telling him how difficult things were for me at home and he was protective and kind. He was also an alcoholic.
Since alcohol was not a culprit in my home growing up – oh yes there are a lot reasons for dysfunction and codependency without alcohol and substance abuse – I never recognized the signs that he had a drinking problem. The only thing that I saw was that he was shy without alcohol and a little more social with it.
I have learned that everything in life has consequences. Some that are good and some that are not. I learned a lot about the bad ones before I healed enough in my 12 Step Recovery Programs to be able to recognize and enjoy the good ones. I have been in recovery a long time. My life and how I live it has changed dramatically since I began this journey, but even to this day, I have to be on my toes to not allow some of my old ways of thinking not back into my life. I know now that when I have an over reaction to step back and look at the situation to see if I am “over sensitive.” I know that when someone hurts my feelings to step back to see if I have done anything that I need to apologize or make and amend for. If there isn’t, then I know that the person that hurt my feelings has a problem and it is not about me. Once I realize that, it is easier for me to not take whatever they said and did personal because I know that it has nothing to do with me. Sometimes my feelings are still hurt but the difference is that I don’t beat myself up and blame myself for their bad behavior.
It is now much easier for me to recognize manipulation from the broken people in my life. Yea, even though I have had some healing and recovery not everyone in my birth family got it, in fact, none of them did, and that has created a gulf between us because I don’t live my life the way they do anymore. Their lives make me sad but I know that I can’t make the changes in their life for them anymore than I could make the changes in my alcoholic’s life that he needed to make. The very fist lesson was learning that I was powerless over other peoples’s lives. I was not powerless over mine. It took a while for me to learn how to become responsible for my own life but every single step was worth it.