Codependency Legacy RecoverySerenity Vista
Codependency Legacy Recovery
Mom was a woman who would have given whatever she could to see others happy, and always put herself last. – Taken from an obituary column in the local newspaper. Is codependent legacy recovery possible?
This little sentence says a whole lot about the behaviour of the woman who just passed. Not knowing this person, but based on this description, she was likely a people-pleaser and codependent, maybe even a long-suffering martyr.
What is it like to live with someone who only wants to see others happy, and always puts themselves last? Not very genuine or mutual that’s for sure. This is what codependency and people-pleasing is all about, trying (unconsciously?) to manipulate other people with self-serving behaviour dressed up as generosity and kindness. While growing up in an unpredictable home life, people tend to find ways to keep safe, even when doing so can mean dishonesty and denial of real feelings. These unsatisfying coping skills become the barriers to authentic relationships, and cause real damage to others in the family. Addiction is a family disease, and the whole family suffers.
We have seen it again and again with people who come into recovery, whether they are the substance user or not. People who have spent their whole lives trying to make other people happy and always putting themselves last are almost always suffering from feelings of anger and resentments. They don’t understand why they are continually victimized and taken advantage of by people. They tell us they are not appreciated for their acts of kindness; they are ignored and left behind, or held in contempt by others. Nothing is their fault, or the flip side, everything is their fault. These people are incredibly lonely, but keep trying with their flawed coping skills to keep people close.
Why is it so important for someone to see others happy? Generally the sentiment behind the person wanting everyone around them to be happy is to avoid any uncomfortable feeling within themselves. It can be very distressing to see someone else express emotions like unhappiness, anger or frustration. Listen to these commonly used expressions of the codependent, “ There there, don’t cry”, “It will work out”, “There is a silver lining behind every cloud”, “Everything happens for a reason”, “ He/She didn’t mean it like that, don’t be mad”, “Here Honey, have a drink/meal/money/gift/car keys or …” , and any number of other platitudes designed to stop the flow of emotion that is causing the uncomfortable feelings in the codependent. Wanting everyone to be happy is wanting people to be inauthentic so as not to cause change. Being inauthentic means one can never be really and truly happy, just good at pretending it.
For the woman in the obituary, it is too late to change. She has passed on her life lessons to her family, which is upholding their mother’s behaviour of codependency as something to admire, and probably emulate. While we are still alive, there is opportunity to learn healthy new skills, and pass them on. Maybe it will be our grandchildren who will best learn them from us. Life-long behaviours and tools are not relearned overnight, they take time and guidance and a lot of action. Coming to Serenity Vista Codependent Retreat and Sober Vacation is the perfect opportunity to have a safe place to examine your life and your coping skills. You can learn what being authentic really means, and how to encourage those around you to be authentic, even when there are feelings of unhappiness, anger or frustration.
Compare the obituary below:
Mom was a woman who learned to love her life, her spirituality, herself, and those around her. She took risks and followed her own dreams. She moved outside of her comfort zones and respectfully encouraged others to do the same through her examples. She exuded her own happiness and people felt enriched by being in her company. People knew they were safe with her and were often challenged to look at life in a new and exciting way.
What kind of obituary do you hope your grandchildren write about you? Are you codependent? Do you want codependency legacy recovery? Codependency deserves rehab too!