Friday, March 11, 2011

I'm Learning

"Be the change that you want to see in the world."
-Mohandas Ghandi 

I feel as though I've had a slow, but very real paradigm shift over the past few months.  I'm learning so much about myself.  For instance, I'm a codependent.  Well, maybe at this point, a recovering codependent.  " What's a codependent?" you might ask.  In Melody Beattie's book Codependent No More, it's defined as "one who has let another person's behavior affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person's behavior."

That was me, for a long time.  In fact, I thought that was normal; that it was perfectly all right to try to control other people.  It was just my way of life.  I was fighting, always trying to get the world to change and become what I thought it should be.  I'm learning to surrender, to accept things as they are, and I'm becoming much happier with my life in the process.  Accepting reality also means accepting myself as I am- the good, the bad, and everything in between.  It's amazing how the smallest steps of progress in this area can make such a huge difference in how I live my life, and in how happiness comes to me.  It's an upward spiral and I'm loving it.

 The term "codependent" is usually associated with wives and family members of alcoholics.  For me, codependency is more of a mental state than a relationship.  It can come in many forms for different people.  Beattie describes some as "codependent on society.  They're striving so hard to follow rules and be politically correct that they don't know who they are.  They're not listening to themselves.  They're doing what they think they have to do because they're afraid not to, and because they're trying to please society." 

As I'm learning to let go of the things I can't control, I'm able to return to myself, and there I find, surprisingly, the only thing I can control- me!  I am minding my own business, living my own life, instead of trying to live others'.  As I have been able to figure out what is my business, what is other people's business, and what business is God's, it has helped me to focus properly on the things that are my stewardship.  Instead of living somewhere else mentally,I'm here.  It's now.  I've accepted the call to become more present in my own life.  I find myself listening- really actively listening- to my children and being more in tune to their needs.  I'm happier just to be.  Just to live and breathe and be.  Every day is different; every day brings something new.

I've learned that I can't control anybody else. At all.  I can't control their emotions, their actions, their thoughts- nothing.  And by trying to, I was never being true to myself.  Even worse, I was absent from my own life, missing out on me,  trying in vain to live their lives instead of my own.  As I let go of the desire to control things that aren't my business, my life begins to feel, for the first time, in control, because suddenly, my energy is going to the right place.

In her book,  The New Codpendency Melody writes "When we stop controlling others and set people free, we get our freedom back, too....We make our best decisions, get our clearest guidance, and move through life most naturally when our center is in ourselves and we're not exhausted and depleted from giving everything away."

 Here is something else Melody explains beautifully.  "I didn't want to suffer anymore.  There's a difference between feeling sadness and pain, and suffering.  While I cannot control events that trigger feelings of sadness, I can decide how much I want to suffer about it.  Suffering is how we feel about how we feel."

I think what she is describing here is that when we are hurt, we can be sad, and then move on, or we can live as 'victims' and wallow in our suffering. (I've done that.  It's not a nice way to live)  Probably we all know someone who plays the victim role all too well.  Do you enjoy being around that person?  I don't.  I don't even like myself when I'm in a 'poor me' mood.  It's annoying.  And another thing about 'victims' is that they need someone to be victimized by. They'll be offended by every little thing in order to play their role, and have everyone walking on eggshells around them; it doesn't make for very good company.  Sometimes, though, we really are victims, and we have a right to our emotions.  We can feel sad and angry and hurt.  In fact, it's good, it's healthy to feel and process those emotions.  Once it's run it's course, though, we need to let it go.  If years have passed and you're still playing the role of a victim, then you are victimizing yourself by living it over and over.  You are probably doing yourself more damage than anyone else could ever have the power to do you. 

The good news here is that it's all about attitude, and that is something we absolutely can control.  We don't always get to choose what happens to us in this life, but we do have control over the attitude we have as we approach our trials.   And I know, it's hard to live it, it's hard to walk it.  I feel like I falter every day.  But it all starts with changing our thoughts, and practicing gratitude daily.  One small change promotes another tiny change, which leads to another.  Recognizing what I have control over and what I don't was the first small change for me.  Life is good and getting better, and I'm still learning.

"As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world - that is the myth of the atomic age - as in being able to remake ourselves. "
-Mohandas Gandhi


Megan said...

You are rapidly becoming the coolest "guru" I know. Well, maybe you're the only guru that I know that posts and talks about such matters. Keep posting, keep learning and keep sharing.

I know I need to hear this stuff, see how you implement lessons learned. Life's hard enough without taking on other's problems.

I can attest to very real suffering and damage you can do to yourself by trying to influence (you rightfully call it control) other's lives. I've had repeated custody of my sister's children, Trent's first wife and mother of my oldest child was/is a piece of work, handing out money to pretty much anybody that I heard needed it (historically speaking)---none of these things seemed to do anything for the recipient of my "help" but took a huge toll on me, on us.

I'm learning where "Christlike" ends and codependency begins. For a long time it's made me feel less for doing less . . . but as time passes it is not the case.

Yet another fantastic post.

Not that I don't enjoy your comic posts too. :)

Tylaine said...

You are just too awesome Kellie. What a fantastic post. I so wish I had your attitude. I am totally living in a "poor me" mood and my attitude really is hurting myself and everyone around me I just wish I had the strength and humility to let go.

Our Family said...

Thank you for that post! It is truly amazing how sometimes an answer to a prayer is another person! I too am a codependent, in various stages of recovery depending on the day... The difference is, I AM deeply in love with, and married to a recovering addict. It has been a long journey for us, and I did not truly recognize that I was/am a codependent until we started attending 12 step meetings together a couple of years ago. Wow, what an eye opening discovery! The biggest thing that I have learned besides the fact that I can only change me, is that the Atonement can heal all wounds. Not only is it available for the "sinner" but also those who have been sinned against. It enables forgiveness and acceptance and trust that things will work out. And, I now have one more book to add to my reading list! Love you Kellie!

Anonymous said...

Kellie--you are awesome! I'm SO glad we are friends. Love you. xoxo