Write Your Own Story!   4 comments

Most of us have heard the old saying, “He who angers you, controls you.” I contend that anger is not the only emotion that we can let others to control us. These emotional ties come from many sources: past abuse or trauma, abandonment/rejection, unfaithfulness. Other sources include current disturbing behaviors such as substance abuse, violence run away, etc. They control us because we choose to have our lives driven by our emotional reactions to the behaviors of others. Lets discuss these two very different scenarios.

First lets look at control from the past. Please consider the following example;

A young man feels and believes he was abandoned and rejected by his birth mother. Despite being raised by a loving and caring step-mother, he never gets over the feelings of hurt, anger, resentment and bitterness. As a result of these feelings, he grows to believes that he is not worthy of being loved or wanted. So all of his relationships are either short lived because as soon as things start getting “too close”, whether consciously or not, he sabotages the relationship and pushes others away. This is not true just in romantic relationships, it can also be true in platonic relationships as well. If this is not what he does then he finds the “sickest” or neediest girl that he can and goes to work making her dependent on him. Why? If she need him to take care of her, she won’t leave, and thus abandon/reject him. (So he believes anyway).

 So what is the driving force behind these behaviors?

 His behavior is controlled by his unresolved issues from his mother. Thus, I would say that because he allows these beliefs and emotions to continue to shape and direct his life, he chooses to give the control of his life, the pen of his story, back to his mother, rather she wants it or not.

 When we continue to look back and let issues from the past control our emotions and behaviors then we are surrendering control over our destiny back to the person or persons that hurt us to begin with. I once said it like this: we had no control over the abuse in the past, but now we hand them the bat.

 Now, lets look at the other scenario, current disturbing behaviors of others that control our emotions and behaviors. As mentioned above, there are a number of behaviors that may contribute to this type of reaction: substance abuse, anger, violence, criminal behavior, run away, manipulation, etc. We have all been in this situation to some degree or another.

 Here again, lets look at another example:

 A young lady is in a relationship with an alcoholic/addict that disappears on binges for days at a time. She sits at home, crying and worrying that he is OK. When he does finally come home, she nurses him through coming down and withdrawal and then does everything that she can to clean up after him. If he misses work, she calls the boss and tells him he is sick. She keeps the secret hidden, yet she is miserable, lonely, depressed and hates every minute of it.

So here again, why? Similarly, she believes that is what a “good wife” does; “no one else would love me and want to be with me.” Whatever the case she continues to let his behaviors and her emotional response. This is especially difficult when the individual is not a spouse or even a parent, but your child.

To a degree, you feel responsible, you blame yourself, you ask yourself over and over, “What did I do wrong?” The truth is, for most of us, we did nothing wrong. Our loved ones/children have made their own choices. Despite all of our efforts now an in the past, we have no control over their choices and behaviors.

On the other hand, when we allow ourselves to be consumed by worry and attempts to “save them from themselves.” then we are giving them that exact control over our lives. We allow their behaviors and our emotional response to them to consume our very being.

We all know exactly what I am talking about; it is classic “codependency”. Sometimes we are aware of it and are even willing to acknowledge it, but we have been this way so long, we don’t know any other way to live. We have completely lost our identity as an individual because we are so enmeshed with our addicted loved one.

I hear you saying, “thanks for pointing out all that is wrong with me. That was really encouraging.” I truly understand, but what is the first step of solving a problem or fixing something is wrong? We have to recognize that what we have been doing to this point is number one not changing the other person, and number two and most importantly we are unhappy and in fact, miserable.

That brings me to the good news or bad news depending on your point of view, some recommendations on how to change this cycle and reclaim our emotions and behaviors. Here why I say it could be considered bad news: It is NOT going to be easy, and it WILL take a lot of work. So if you are ready to take the challenge and start living YOUR life again, then keep reading, if not good luck.

When we continue to look back and let issues from the past control our emotions and behaviors then we are surrendering control over our destiny back to the person or persons that hurt us to begin with. I once said it like this: we had no control over the abuse in the past, but now we hand them the bat.

Whether, it is the current or past, we must find a way, to do the hardest, but most important thing: “LET GO”.

 We must accept that there is nothing that we can do to change the events of the past. Holding on to the pain, anger, and any other related negative emotions only hinders our ability to move forward and meet our full potential. I know that this is a painful process and we can’t just let go and walk away that easy. Take your time, surround yourself with support. If possible being involved in some kind of counseling is also a good idea. This may be individual or a group of others with similar experiences.

 The same is true in regards to letting go of the expectation that we can change the dysfunctional and negative behaviors of our loved ones. Our worrying about them, nagging, yelling, threatening does not effect positive change, in fact many of these behaviors lead to exactly the opposite of the desired effect.

 The very best thing that we can do is express our love and concern for our loved one and then pray believing that the Heavenly Father will keep is eye and hand upon them. We can not go on protecting them from the consequences of their choices and behavior. When we do so, we simply enable the behavior to continue.

 Just like overcoming the past, and moving on, I know this is a difficult and painful process and we can’t just let go and walk away that easy. Take your time, surround yourself with support. If possible being involved in some kind of counseling is also a good idea. This may be individual or a group of others with similar experiences.

 The next step is probably just about as difficult, we must start reclaiming our own identity. For many of us we have been so entangled in the past or the behaviors of others that we have lost even the ability to recognize who we even are without that to define us.

 Start simply, set aside some time with just you, paper and pen or your computer.

  • List all the current roles that “define” you (mother, father,son, sister, teacher, friend, etc).

  • List your values? (What is important to you? – faith honesty, kindness, family, friends, etc.)

  • List the character traits that either define you now, or that you would like to do so. (strong, independent, hopeful, etc.)

  • List your strengths. (What are you good at?)

  • List your weaknesses. (What do you need to work on?)

  • What are your goals? (Where are you going, what do you want to do with your life?

  • Finally, write out a narrative that would describe you as person. Start with the list from above and describe your personality, your likes/dislikes, strengths weaknesses and most importantly where are YOU going in future?

Now, each day wake up, believe and strive to demonstrate this simple affirmation:

 “I and I alone choose my destiny, I control whether I am happy or sad. I am responsible for me and me alone. I can love and support others, but they must choose their own path. I choose to live MY life; I choose to write my own story!”

I feel like this article has been a little disjointed, but I hope and pray that it helps you to let go and start living your own life again.

Thanks for reading!




4 responses to “Write Your Own Story!

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  1. Thank you – great blog..! I have shared on my wall, hope that is ok 🙂

  2. first off, i myself do not blog and have very little to do with the internet outside of work, so if i commit a blogging faux paus or break some web ettiquitte rule, it’s unintentional. now… as a recovering addict there are a few things that i can agree with in your post, but there is a lot that i disagree with. to be fair, i don’t know you or your blog. a friend emailed me a link to this particular post to ask my thoughts on it, so i have no knowledge of the rest of your blog so please keep in mind my comment pertains ONLY to this particular post. also, i would not even be commenting at all except that regarding one of your points i disagree with, my opinion on it is so strong i feel i should say something. my main reason for doing so is to give voice to all the other people reading this who are also of my way of thinking but cannot or will not speak up. remember that we are entitled to our opinion like you are entitled to yours, a point well illustrated by your statement about a heavenly father as obviously not everyone believes in any such thing. this is what is good about the internet and blogging sites – it offers everyone the chance to state their opinions. and again, my only reason for posting a reply is because i believe in that freedom and i think in this specific instance, people need to hear an opposing viewpoint. i hope that you are adult enough to let someone do that here and not delete this or attack my reply because i am not attacking you. my main disagreement is with your statement that (paraphrasing) in order to obtain good mental health, anyone who loves an addict needs to cut them off – to an extent – unless they get clean. this way of thinking is NOT always best. of course “co-dependency” (for lack of a better term) is unhealthy. but just because someone who loves an addict refuses to give up on them it does not automatically make them “co-dependent”. every situation is different, just like every addict and loved one are individuals. such sweeping generalizations engender dangerous stereotypes, such as the infamous “enabler”. when uninformed family & friends of addicts automatically get told they are “co-dependent” and are advised to cut the addict out of their lives until they straighten up, these poor confused people will often go along with a stranger’s advice rather than following their gut instinct. it’s a horrendous situation that cycles endlessly and unnecessarily. you made a point of saying that everyone creates their own destiny. now while that is a different topic and one that could cause much debate, doesn’t a version of that opinion apply here to some extent? whether people think it does or not, the important point of what i’m trying to say is that for anyone who has an addict in their life, don’t believe everything everyone else says without first looking into your own heart. because the answer of what’s best for you and your addict will most times be right there. remember that you are not just a statistic or a case study, you are all REAL people with real needs, and there is no way to guarantee that your needs will be identical to the next addict’s family. and you shouldn’t expect them to be and if the person you are going to for help says they are supposed to be, then turn to someone else for assistance. those you trust to help you through this deeply troubling time should recognize you and your addict as individuals, to be helped in a way that is best for you. and when it comes to how you deal with the person you love who has become plagued by addiction, remember that you don’t HAVE to cut them off. you can help them find recovery without falling into the trap of “co-dependent” behaviors. you can continue to love them. you can save their life. this is a TRUTH!! no, it isn’t the case for everyone and i’m not suggesting that it is. but sometimes it can happen. all you need to do is remember that. i’m eternally grateful to the one person in my life who did, because they saved my life. they refused to turn away from a low-bottom hardcore junkie like me even when everyone else had, and when i had nothing and no one else, this person helped keep me alive and helped me finally get & stay clean. and my experience is not unique. throughout years in recovery, i have met many people who made it through similar situations (both as the addict and as the support person). and yes, i have also met many people who weren’t fortunate enough to have a best-case-scenario ending. but the one thing that the latter group had in common was that most of them said that if given the chance, they wouldn’t do it differently. i believe this is because they were able to be honest with themselves at the time and know what was right for them to do regarding the addict in their lives. of course the flip side does exist and people who recognized, with hindsight, unhealthy behaviors on their part carry regret that they didn’t act differently – whether that meant they felt they should have “detached” from their addict or not is irrelevant. what does matter is this group of people on the flip side who suffer from needless regret (no one should EVER blame themselves for the actions of their addict or whatever consequences result) all seem to have one trait in common – they didn’t listen to what their inner voice was telling them. either they couldn’t get honest enough with themselves to hear it at all, or they heard but chose to take the advice of someone outside the situation and ignored what their instinct was telling them was the right thing to do for them. regardless of the reason, they suffer and it’s so unnecessary. there are lessons to be learned from the experiences of others, even if you think you can’t relate at all. you don’t have to give up on your addict if you feel it’s not the right decision for you. listen to your intuition and go with your gut feeling – stay true to yourself and whatever comes of this, you can know you made the right choice for you.

    • Annette,
      I greatly appreciate your response and feedback regarding the article. By no means have I been offended by your response. I especially thank you for giving me the opportunity to clarify some of the statements that you pointed out. First and most importantly, I intended that one must “abandon” and walk away from a loved addict, “until the get clean”. I agree entirely, that this could be just as harmful to the addict recovery as continued enabling. As I indicated, we continue to “express our love and concern for our loved one”. We remain engaged in relationship with them: loving, supporting and encouraging them. However, we “let go” of allowing our emotional state, thoughts and actions to be focused on the addictive/negative behaviors. We acknowledge and act on that knowledge that we have NO control over the choices and behavior of that loved one. We let go of trying to do so, and in love let them learn from the consequences of their choices. We hope and believe that one day they will come to recognize their misery, and choose to seek the help that they need. So I truly hope that you understand, I had no intent to imply at all that we “give up” on those still active in addiction, but rather, disconnect our emotions from reacting to their choices and behaviors.

      On another note, I agree 100% that EVERY individual, family and situation is different. Anything that is written in my articles is meant to be an encouragement and to provide general guidelines that hope individual readers will apply as they see fit and they are applicable to them and where they are on they are on this journey.

      Finally, in response to my comment regarding the “Heavenly Father”, I understand that there are some, many even that do not hold the same religious / spiritual beliefs that I do, however, my faith is a crucial part of who I am as a person. I understand the “Higher Power” concept of the Twelve Step Community. “The God of my understanding” is the “Almighty God” the “Creator”. I at times have “sterilized” some of my post of “religious” language and references to God, but in this article I felt it appropriate. I do apologize if you found it offensive. However, I do not nor will I apologize for my faith or for expressing it.
      Once again, my sincere thanks for your comments and feedback. Comments such as these and learning from them will only make me a better writer and help me to be more understanding of others that are fellow travelers on this journey. Thanks for being true to yourself and allowing me to do the same!

      Please browse through the other articles and feel free to provide your comments/feedback on them as well.

      Thanks again,
      Road to Recovery / Gary Tidwell

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