Sunday, July 24

Beyond Codependency, Moving Beyond Getting Triggered 7/24/16

      Innkeeper's Note:  The following has been on a hot streak.  It remains the second most read post this month.  Guests found it in the archives, reading it thousand times.  Here it is:

     I'm thankful for peace of mind. It happens when relating with healthy people.  Calmness takes place when avoiding those who are not.

     I was reminded of this second point recently, at a restaurant. I witnessed a toxic parent in his thirties. He raised the hackles on the back of my neck.  And made my heart pound, like it hasn't, in years.

     Dark emotions from long
ago revisited me.  Rage, shame, embarrassment and fear, melded within.  I was transported to the scariest depths of my youth.

     He blasted his second daughter, saying, "You stupid fool!"  His glares and ridicule not only demeaned her but also slugged the belly of my emotions.  I put my food down, looking for the restroom.  I was getting sick.

     Unwanted bookmarked portions of childhood memories flipped open.
     My heart sank.  His three young daughters squirmed at the table, their si-lence thick with fear.  This par-ent didn't know grace.  He did not express kind-ness when correcting his middle child.He did not know how to say his no as gently as his yes.

     How we do something is as important as any task we do.  Often, it is more important.

    The little girls needed nurturing.  Support and encouragement from their daddy would strengthen their self-esteem.  This would be helpful during their awkward adolescent years.

      He yelled at her, "You clumsy fool."  She had spilled her soda.  The shame applied towards this middle daughter had me in a cold sweat. The scenario transported me to the angst of my youth.

      As I witnessed what unfolded before me I bonded with this blond-haired girl.

      From my table, her seven-year-old face was in full view.  Her defiant, sullen expres-sions reflected the attitude I had as a kid.  Her stubborn-ness mirrored my resis-tance as a boy while living in a performance orien-ted, black and white thinking home, in a no-mercy-given household.

       My emotions while wit-nessing the parenting in that restaurant had me reverting to my pre-recovery default mode.  I was sad.  Fear filled my body.  I had the dreaded feeling that I was about to be  hit, an emotion I often experi-enced as a kid.  

       I was hit that night in the restaurant.  I was struck by un-pleasant memories from my past.  That's just as bad as being physi-cally belted.  I was filled with rage and anxiety at the same time, mindful of the following quote:
“Worrying about people and problems doesn't help. It doesn't solve problems, it doesn't help other people, it doesn't help us. It is wasted energy.” ― Melody Beattie, Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself
Codependents are reactionaries. They overreact. They underreact. But rarely do they act. They react to the problems, pains, lives, and behaviors of others. They react to their own problems, pains, and behaviors.”         
― Melody Beattie, Codependent No More
     The codependency of the wife and little ones was clear. They jump-ed at pleasing this anger-infested father.  They feared his knitted brow, his glares and impatience.

      I was edgy as he berated his middle daughter.  If he continues treat-ing his strong-willed middle daughter, this way, depression will be her companion through childhood, adolescence and when she's an adult.

      I was thankful for freedom from codependency. I am thankful for the strength we gain when we are internally referented:
“I used to spend so much time reacting and respond-ing to everyone else that my life had no direction. Other people's lives, problems, and wants set the course for my life. Once I realized it was okay for me to think about and identify what I wanted, remarkable things began to take place in my life.”     
― Melody Beattie, The Language of Letting Go
       Dormant negative childhood feelings can be overcome.  Emotional maturity is possible when we are present.  When we apply recovery.  With it, I no longer tolerate mistreatment or accept unacceptable be-havior.  I am freed from the disease of codependency

        I am grateful for boundaries.  They protect me.  They prompted me to pour my milkshake on the guy's head when I walked out of the restaurant.  I'm just kidding.  But I did feel like giving that guy a piece of my mind.

        My personal growth allowed me to leave that restaurant emo-tionally intact.  Slipping into my car, I was no longer triggered.  Past memories were seen for what they are: memories.

        They are not demons that still haunt.  With recovery, I leave un-pleasant memories where they belong: in the past.  This way I move forward unencumbered by the weight of ancient emotions.

        I appreciate boundaries let me know who is safe and who isn't.   With them, naivete is replaced with common sense.  Manipulators are not given reign because I am being "nice."  Now, I say no, when I am un-comfortable in a conversation.

         I say what disturbs me.

        Recovery teaches me that I am not "causing problems" when adhering to my values.  Now, I know I'm being "nice" when I stand for my boundaries.  Even though others may think I am not nice for differing with them.  If they are upset, they are responsible for their disappointment.

        It lets others know who I truly am.  I am no longer Mr. Nicey.  When I was him, I always was kind.  I wanted to please everyone.  There was a problem.

        Operating this way, I lack sincerity.  I didn't let people know how I truly felt because I was a coward.  I feared the disapproval or anger of others if I disagreed with them or saw things differently.

        Now I'm authentic.  I am true to my values.  I have my voice. I own something else, too.  I have self-respect and the peace of mind that goes along with it.

Related Post:
 A Detailed Overview of Codependency
Guarding Our Emotional Sobriety (Second half of this Link) 


Thumper said...

Hello Pablo,

Your article is a great reminder about how important it is for me to say what is on my mind or what may be disturbing me when interacting with another person. Saying it with maturity and a sense of calm is another goal I am working on. The more I practice this, the less apprehensive I am about being present and setting boundaries.

Pablo said...

Hello Thumper,

Thank you, for your comment. It means a lot, when anyone makes the effort to chime in.

Yes, it takes practice and recovery to respond and not react when relating. I agree practice helps. What also helps is being comfortable with our likes, dislikes, dreams and choices. it allows us to risk the disapproval of others.

We want to be true to our inner self. Codependency was groomed into us by our family, church and at school when we were children. So, it requires effort to buck the trend of being compliant, pleasing others at the expense of our dignity and maintaining integriy with our values.

Wishing you a day where you stand in your power, recovery and integrity,


Quotes from the Posts

"I'm mindful that our thoughts affect the words we use, our words influence our actions, our actions shape our character and our character determines our destiny."

From "My Character Determines My Destiny." To read it, please click here.

"Progress not perfection, is better than no progress at all, especially when we're trying to rid ourselves from unwelcome dragons that dwell within the closets of our soul."

From, "Still Learning" which, within four days, became the most popular post
written. To read it, please click here.

"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its trouble, but it does empty today of its strength"
From the post: "Life Is Not a Correspondence Program." Click here to read it.

"Even though we cannot control our circumstances, we can control how we choose to respond to them."

From, "Handling Stress and Dealing With an Emotional Bully."Click here to read this post.

"Nope, being busy isn't exciting. Boring is good. Because boring is not boring; boring is being healthy, living a balanced life that has serenity"

From: "Do You Know What It Means If You Are Too Busy?" For more, please click here.