Some roles of Co-dependents from the book Rapha’s 12-Step Program for Overcoming Codependency by Pat Springle. A complete, biblically based recovery program for codependents.
- Enabler – The enabler tries to make everything okay.
- Hero – The hero thinks that by being perfect, the problems will go away.
- Scapegoat – The scapegoat rebels against the family problems and ultimately believes that he is the problem.
- Lost Child – The lost child pulls into a shell, withdraws and isolates himself from meaningful relationships.
- Mascot – The mascot tries desperately to make everyone laugh in the midst of the tragedy of the family situation.
*Adapted from The Family Trap, by Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse, and The Family, by John Bradshaw.
The story below describes one person’s codependency from the inside. Shirley shares her experience and thinking in a way that no head-shrinker could hope to.
So without further adieu:
I will never leave you nor forsake you — Hebrews 13:5
The message I pray that will reach others is:
- Understanding of what “alcoholic” means. That it truly is a disease.
- How destructive it is not only to the alcoholic but to the family also.
- Anyone who has this problem is not alone.
- That there is treatment for the alcoholic and also for the Co-dependent. There are programs for both and if you work the program it will work.
- How important compassion and forgiving is.
- Most of all the Power God has and what he can and will do in our lives. With God in our lives we will never have to walk alone. He will never forsake us.
I would like to add that it is not just alcohol. It is any kind of addictive behavior.
At the time I wrote this was while Beau and I were still together and he had quit drinking and I had started working on my recovery so things were going pretty well for us. It was after I had been in the hospital for depression and 3 years before he left me and Ricky.
I hope that when people read this it will help them to recognize things about their own lives and give them hope and make them see that with God there is healing.
Alcohol and Co-Dependency
By Shirley Thompson
When I think of alcohol I think of it as Satan being in a bottle & when you open it you are letting him out. But God is always there waiting to protect you if you’ll let him. We just need to turn to him and call on him and he will prevail. I thank God that even though the sickness was in my family both my parents loved God and taught us children to believe in him and to love him. Without God we would never have survived. God does not bring sickness, death, pain and suffering to us. All of that came about because of sin and we all know that Satan is the father of sin.
Alcoholism is a sickness that can destroy families, homes and lives if we let it. And it is not just the alcoholic it destroys. It also makes everyone else living around it sick. It starts with a genetic imbalance with a chemical that alcohol or drugs activates. It’s a chronic progressive disease and causes damage to body tissues, the brain and central nervous system and eventual death. It has no respect to age, sex, rich or poor. It claims millions of victims. It causes inflammation of nerves, depression of brain function leading to neuritis, stupor, hallucinations, loss of control and coordination. Causes inflammation and hardening of liver leading to cirrhosis. Also has a psychological factor such as feelings of personal inadequacy and self dislike. Causes loneliness, poverty and family and marital struggles. The alcoholic is unable to control his craving and will sacrifice his goals and values. The alcoholic is not a bad person. He or she is a sick person and needs help and understanding.
The active alcoholic may even be a Christian. Even when we are Christians our bodies are still weak. We still stumble and fall if we don’t keep holding on to Gods hand. When we have troubles we can’t be too ashamed or proud to ask for help and to accept it.
I said before that the family is also sick. When we live with an alcholic the disease progresses to us. The disease is inherited but even if we never start drinking or do not have the chemical in our brains that cause us to be alcoholics we are still affected by it. We love the alcoholic and hate the alcoholic. We may feel like we are to blame or that there should be something we can do to stop it. We feel insecure, afraid, depressed. We become Co-dependent. We become dependent on how the alcoholic acts to how we act.
My father was an alcoholic. Sometimes when he was drinking he was real mean. I grew up in a dysfunctional family. My father being an alcoholic and my mother a Co-dependent. There was always drinking, fighting, arguing, and confusion so in turn all the children developed Co-dependency behaviors. I learned how to be afraid, distrustful, insecure, angry, embarrassed, ashamed and confused at an early age. I say learned because we are taught to feel all these negative feelings by the environment we are in. Co-dependents learn not to trust good feelings and to be afraid of them because if you feel any of the good feelings they are soon snatched away.
I was so afraid of my father I ran away from home when I was 14. I had nowhere to go and of course no money. The first time I ran away I was gone 3 days. I spent those 3 days wandering the streets during the day and sleeping on benches in the bus station at night. I had a bottle of aspirin and I had heard that if you took too many aspirin you would die. I walked until I found some woods, ate the whole bottle of aspirin and laid down on the ground and waited to die. I didn’t die but I sure got sick. There are so many times that God heard my mothers prayers and took care of me.
From that time on I have run from one bad situation to another. I hated Daddy. I hated him because I was afraid of him. I hated him for all the things he had done. I hated him because I blamed him for me not being able to see my mother, brothers and sisters. I went home to visit when I was 17 and when I got there Daddy was in the hospital. I didn’t care that he was sick and I didn’t care about seeing him but I went anyway because the family was going and I wanted to be with them. When I walked into the room Daddy looked so pale and so pitiful lying in that hospital bed. I could see the pain in his eyes and the tears running down his cheeks and he said, “my baby did come to see me.” I felt my heart melt and the wall of hatred crumble and I started crying. At that moment I started loving my father. I am so thankful to God that I saw the love in Daddy’s heart and that I was able to forgive him for everything and was able to love him. We were very poor and never had a lot to eat and sometimes we only had cornmeal gravy but Daddy always made sure we had something to eat. There was a time when my Daddy was very well respected and owned a lot of property but with his drinking he lost everything. We didn’t get candy very often but when Daddy could he’d buy each of us a candy bar. There were six of us kids and Mama told me later that when I was gone Daddy would buy six candy bars and he would sit and hold mine and cry. So you see Daddy loved us but he was a sick man. I know now that he was a good tender hearted loving man. He kept drinking and things didn’t get any better but I never stopped loving him again.
Through the years I became more and more Co-dependent. I tried to be whatever would please someone else. I would act the way I thought would please someone else. I would dress the way I thought would please someone else. I would do whatever I had to, to please someone else. I became whatever would please others. I did this for so long I lost contact and knowledge of who I was. But no matter how hard I tried to please things continued to go wrong.
The man I had married at 17 had to be put in a mental institution. The weeks before he was taken away were weeks of fear and confusion. It was just me and my two little girls ages 3 and 4. We were in Oklahoma and I didn’t know where to turn or what to do. Again I ran taking the children with me. They were also confused and scared not knowing what was happening. Later he came and took the children away. It was 4 years until I was able to get them back.
Through my life I’ve went from one relationship to another. There were times I was out on the road alone, cold and hungry. The only feelings I knew were fear, pain, hunger, loneliness and weariness. Sometimes I even tried drinking to kill the pain and tried suicide twice more. I was sinking deeper and deeper into despair. My problem was I was trying everything except God. But I know that because of my mothers prayers and Gods great love he was there all along and watching over me and waiting for me to turn to him. At 24 years old I tried suicide for the third and last time. I locked myself in a room in Nashville and no one knew where I was. I took a bottle of sleeping pills and laid down on the bed to die. I was very calm no fear, no nothing, just a calm resignation. For three days I drifted in and out of consciousness. I saw people standing around my bed with a light surrounding their entire bodies watching me. They never spoke and I could not speak or move. I will always believe they may were angels watching over me. Whether it was angels or I was hallucinating I know that God spared me and after three days I came back to consciousness and knew I would never try to take my life again.
It was about two years later that I got down on my knees and gave up trying to control things and admitted defeat and begged God to forgive me and save my soul. Inside my chest was a big empty hole that ached and he filled that empty hole with such joy and peace that I had never known. Afterwards I was so excited and wanted to be baptized and start living for God. But because of the sickness and not knowing any other way of living I let Satan lead me instead of letting God. That’s why we also need Christian fellowship, help and understanding and guidance from our brothers and sisters in Christ.
In June 1989 me and Ricky left Bo and went to California. I guess you can say again I ran. But this time I had turned it all over to God and let him lead me because I was defeated again. I was miserable and sick in my mind. Bo went into a drug and alcohol treatment center and when he got out he came and got me. I was still sick and having panic attacks. But God had taken over and he wasn’t through yet. He was leading us to where we are today. Bo had gone through treatment so he was able to be a great help to me. He put me in the hospital where I could start recovering from Co-dependency. Sept 10, 1989 Bo was saved and we were both baptized Sept 17, 1989. Since then we have kept God in our lives and let him lead us. I am still Co-dependent and still recovering but with Gods help, the help and fellowship of our church our lives gets better and better and we get happier and happier. I shed a lot of tears now but they are tears of joy. Peace, love and joy fill the space now that only knew pain, hunger, loneliness and fear. These feelings didn’t know how to cry.
As I said at the beginning alcoholism is a progressive disease and makes the whole family sick. But we can be healed with Gods help. God does not force us to do anything. He has given us the ability to make a choice in our lives. Hate is cruel, pain, ugly and destructive and Satan is Hate. Love is good, kind, gentle, forgiving, and healing. God is love. In order to heal we must forgive. And one of the things that has been especially hard for me to do is we need to forgive ourselves. It has been much easier to forgive others than to forgive myself. One of the things about a co-dependent is we tend to take on all the blame for everything that goes wrong.
Alcohol is a problem. It’s tough to confront it. But it has to be confronted before anything can be done about it. The first step is to admit it exists. Remember it’s tougher to live with it. And if we let him – God will prevail.
Today I have so much to be thankful for. I thank God for my wonderful children. And although I know I have caused them pain because of my sickness I hope and pray that I too, like my parents did me, have planted a seed in their hearts the knowledge and faith that there is a God and love for God. I pray that they will seek salvation and let God guide them and I know that he will do for them what he has done for me. And I thank God for this church where we get so much love and support from you all. Thank you all so very much. We love you.
Thanksgiving day 1991