Happy Codependent Mother’s Day

“Oh Julie, you have rug burns on your heart.” Eight months after boarding a homebound plane in Ukraine with my Honey and our newly adopted teenagers, I’m crying on the phone to my friend, searching for ways to describe the festering ache in my soul. I wince as her words trigger the memory of oozing rug burns sticking to my pantyhose. I was an athlete thirty years ago, but my knees still carry the scars.

Our high school gymnasium doubled as a multi-purpose building for many student activities, including church services, so the “Lady Tartans” played basketball and volleyball on carpet. Yes, CARPET! Visiting teams eyed our court in disbelief during pre-game warm-ups. I’m certain the Tartans wielded slightly more than a home game advantage. We were used to our unusual turf’s effect on bouncing balls and the teenage knees of scrappy girls who played to win.

Rug burns rake off a person’s protective skin, creating wounds that seep blood or pinkish semi-clear liquid. Time eventually creates a thin crust over each burn’s surface. When my team played two home games in a row, there was no time for our rug burns to heal before we again sacrificed knobby teen knees for rebounds or game points. I learned the hard way what happens when rug burns get layered—yellow white pus forms under the scab and oozes out when pressure is applied to the wound. Double rug burns are painfully slow to heal.

“Yes. Yes, I do have rug burns on my heart,” I reply. My friend understands rug burns. She was a Lady Tartan, too. She’s also lived a life story similar to mine.

After we stop talking, I turn off the bedside lamp and lay awake long into the night. I’m alone. My family is home. I’m traveling—sharing my testimony of redemption and restoration, sowing hope in hearts wounded by addiction.small plane

Do you even believe your own message? I’m stunned by the thought, as it strikes deep in my core.

Of course I do. But, I’m hurting and I don’t know how to fix this, God. How did we get here? What could I have done differently? What do we do now? Why don’t they let me love them anymore?

I toss questions toward heaven with the fervency of a baseball-pitching machine, not expecting Anyone to really answer.

I’m still sore from the sting of the H-word my son spewed just days before I left for this trip. “He doesn’t mean it,” the well-meaning people say. “Don’t take it personally.” Not helpful.

He felt hatred towards me. That’s why he said it. Of course he meant it. He also means it when he says he doesn’t want me to hug him or touch him. When he forbids me to say, “I love you” or to demonstrate any connection or affection at all. He means it. And it’s mean. And it burns my heart raw.

Maybe I could blow it off, recognize that it’s coming from a place of deep pain and trauma-triggered fear. Maybe it wouldn’t fester so bad if that were the only wound. But it’s not. There’s more. There’s my other boy-turned-man-overnight. Trying his wings, testing his limits, telling Honey and me all kinds of things we never wanted to hear. Building a wall a mile high and six feet thick to keep us distanced from his heart.

Here you are, talking on TV about recovery from codependency like you’ve got all the answers, when just yesterday you relapsed into fear-based control and tried to be somebody’s Holy Spirit. Again. Multitude of Counselors

The enemy taunts me with half-truths. Tries to silence me with guilt and shame. I cringe. It’s true. I project my pain from the past onto my kids when their rejection triggers old wounds that still ooze pus and blood. Wounds that stick to my emotional Spanx and rip the skin right off my soul, leaving me tender and vulnerable.

I am not healed yet!

There. I’ve said it. I’m not a perfect pastor’s wife, mother, daughter, friend or person. I’m painfully aware of my shortcomings, especially when pointed out by those who know me best. When I am afraid, I try to control circumstances or people. When angry, I punish with silence. When I am rejected, I tend to withhold affection for fear of further rejection. Sometimes I isolate. Or use guilt to manipulate. When I don’t know what else to do, I work, work, work. I am a mess. I need Jesus. Every moment. Of every day. I cannot do this on my own.

In preparation for taping this televised program, I reviewed the first Step of the Twelve Steps of Codependents Anonymous: “I am powerless over other people.” Once more, I am humbly reminded that I cannot make “minding other people’s business” my way of life, (even if those other people are my own family). I cannot put off my own good by determining to control, advise or guide others. I must surrender my compulsive drive to “fix the unfixable.” I am not anyone’s Jesus. By God’s grace, I will choose (once again) to ask myself two questions before jumping into control or rescue mode:

  1. Did this person ask me for this help?
  2. What does this have to do with God’s will for me?

Father in heaven, I choose to release my sons and the time frame for their emotional healing and spiritual growth to Your care. I choose to focus on my own spiritual progress and maintain healthy boundaries in all my relationships. I will not sacrifice my personal needs to meet the needs of another person, nor will I resort to unhealthy giving or serving from a place of fear or manipulation. I will allow You, God to be God in my life and in the lives of my sons. Thank You for your grace and your mercy, which is beautifully new every morning. Thank you for Your ability to heal the layered rug burns on all of our hearts. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

codependency lovingonpurpose

What about you, dear Friend? Are you expending valuable emotional, financial and physical energy rescuing, enabling or persecuting someone whose life is out of control because of a chemical or other addictive dependency? Are you allowing fear to drive your actions as you try to save a drowning loved one? Have you lost your sense of self by allowing your boundaries to be pushed back or knocked down completely? Do you need to take CODA’s Step 1 and admit that you are powerless over another person and that your life has become unmanageable? If so, it’s not too late to come out of denial. Take that Step. Admit it to yourself. Tell Jesus. Confide in a friend. Begin your journey to wholeness today. You are worth it! You are so totally worth it.

10 thoughts on “Happy Codependent Mother’s Day

  1. Julie
    What I most admire about you is your willingness to be open and vulnerable. This is my greatest struggle as a codependent. I’m too busy hiding from the shame, yet dying to walk free of it. This has been on my heart and mind a great deal as of late. i did take a small step and started a website…Yet I know God wants me to do more. Once again, thanks for sharing… I am encouraged.

    Like

    • I appreciate knowing that my vulnerability encourages others to share their stories. I’m glad you started to blog your journey. We never know when our story will impact someone else for good. Thank you for your words of encouragement.

      Like

  2. Yes I love the two questions and prayer. I am also in recovery and realize that my self-care is service to others. In relationships because I so much want to be a blessing in this world – I took get caught up in over giving- emotionally and monetarily to others but I will remind myself- Did they ask for my help? Is this really in God’s will for them or me? It’s a tricky balance. I am learning SOBER- Stop, Observe, Breath, Evaluate and Respond. Right now I do it after the fact and have to stop take a inventory and Jesus and I figure out better responses but with practice I will do it spontaneously. Love you Juliet- your family too. Well – you looked very beautiful on the ABN broadcasting picture. Jennifer used to live in Philadelphia. She was the one I gave your book too. She has a o lot to offer. It would be nice to invite her to Fleming Island to do a series and music. She lives in Orlando Florida.

    Like

    • Thank you for sharing part of your journey. It’s a process. We are always growing and learning. We must be kind to ourselves along the way.

      Thanks for the compliment! Jennifer is great!

      Like

  3. I feel your pain and will keep you in my prayers. I too am at a tough place with two of my teen daughters (one biological, one adopted at an older age) – – one daughter refuses to let me hug her, and the other blames me for anything that goes wrong in her life no matter how hard I try to help. Neither are doing all that well in their lives so give me constant worry. I know I can’t really understand how difficult it is for you with your boys, and I am fortunate to have a 3rd teen daughter who is loving to me and doing well. But I want you to know that your post spoke to my heart — I too tend toward codependency and have wounds from the past I realize are not yet healed, which make me react in less than helpful ways sometimes. So I just wanted you to know that in sharing your pain, you do help others as you have given me important food for thought.

    Like

    • Dear Carol ~ I SO appreciate these words of affirmation and understanding. I know it feels like we are alone sometimes, but really, we aren’t. It certainly helps to share our sorrows and our hopes and our joy. May God continue to guide you on your journey. Thank you for reaching out.

      Like

  4. Juliet!
    You are so very right in expressing the agonies that do surface in the life of every mom, no matter how well intentioned we are. Our role as care giver, cheerleader, counselor, cook, chauffeur, housekeeper, laundress, homeschool director (for some of us) does not ever guarantee a pain free path. Aren’t we so very thankful that He promises in our weaknesses, He will be our Strength, in our agony & pain, He will be our Comforter! He keeps us going, when we truly think it’s impossible!
    I so appreciate your amazing use of the English language & can so well relate to all you’re saying. Thanks for sharing your heart & the awesome talent God has given you to be able to so well express your heart! ❤️❤️

    Like

    • Thank you, Margo. I know you understand the challenges of parenting. You seemed to always do it so well. I appreciate your comments and comforting words. I receive them and draw hope and inspiration from them. Blessings!

      Like

I'd love to hear your feedback here:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s