Posts Tagged "codependency"

Book Review: Dark Wine Waters

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Late last summer, just before Recovery Month in September, Fran Simone emailed to see if I’d be interested in taking a look at her book, Dark Wine Waters: My Husband of a Thousand Joys and Sorrows. She thought I might want to write about it here, for Recovery Month.

Sure, I said, send it on. My blog calendar was pretty full for Recovery Month 2014 but I told Fran I’d see what I could do.

Rigorous honesty, right? Fran did indeed send her beautiful book and here’s the truth: It became buried on my desk.

You see, Recovery Month is a tiny-bit hectic for a recovery writer. I’m a piling sort of writer anyway—put Dark Wine Watersstuff away in desk drawers and I have a hard time finding it—so there are sensible stacks on my desk that grow out-of-control during hectic times.

Please consider this my amends, dear Fran. I’m sorry I didn’t read your book then but I have read it now—and I am moved by its transparency. Thank you for your bravery.

For the readers

I want to tell all my friends in recovery and those who love us that Fran’s Dark Wine Waters may cause you to cringe repeatedly as you read. That will be a normal response so don’t panic.

You will quite possibly shed tears at times too, and don’t be surprised if you become enveloped in sadness. That was my experience as I read.

Please don’t turn away in fear of these emotions. One of Fran’s gifts to her readers is the idea that feelings need acknowledgement. They must have a safe place for expression and that safe place begins within the confines of our hearts.

Tweet: Without expression, feelings congeal, becoming resentments we use to beat ourselves and our loved ones. http://bit.ly/1uRU1uf @bheretoday

Dark Wine Waters is a memoir of Fran’s life with her husband  Terry and their relationship with alcoholism and drug addiction.

Much of the book describes their painful, tortuous descent into the belly of the beast, played out with lies and subversion, disappearances and blackouts. In many ways, the day-to-day drama is different only in the details of other stories lived every day in every town, perhaps on every block, in America.

Terry’s drunken escapades—and Fran’s valiant efforts to hide them behind a normal facade—felt intensely familiar to me; I suspect they might to you as well.

The gut-kicker

Terry’s story is so much like my story, like many of our stories yet society still looks past him—and me—and says, “why can’t you just stop?”

Fran writes about the times when Terry thought he could stop on his own. She also writes about how she thought she could get him to stop—on her own.

But alcoholism and drug addiction gradually took possession of his body and their lives. It rendered them powerless to stop its onslaught.

That’s what the disease of addiction does. It ravages the wiring in our brains and does its damnedest to convince us we’re in control. There’s nothing wrong, we think; just drank a little too much.

Virtually all Americans are affected by addiction, whether they’ll admit it is another story. Too many remain hidden behind walls of shame and denial.

But thank God for the Fran Simones of the world who have stepped from behind the wall as family members of the afflicted. Thank God she now knows she didn’t cause Terry’s disease (or her son Matt’s), she couldn’t control it and she certainly couldn’t cure it.

There are 23 million people in the United States who are in recovery from a addiction. Another 20 million suffer with substance use disorder; a large portion of them don’t get the help they need. For every person afflicted, there are several family members and loved ones deeply affected by the disease. 

Thank you, Fran, for sharing your family’s story with us. May you find continued peace in recovery and retirement!

For a copy of Dark Wine Waters, click here. Please leave a comment and I’ll enter your name into a drawing for a free copy.

Photo courtesy of richcd

My Love/Hate Relationship With Codependency (the word)

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Did you know that this month is the very first designated National Codependency Awareness Month? I didn’t either until a couple of weeks ago.

The soft, squishy, awwww part of me felt a glowing sweetness, similar to watching a slumbering dog, when I heard the news. I thought, “Well isn’t that nice. Melody Beattie must be so proud.”

I decided, as I usually do when I get excited about something related to addiction and/or recovery, to write a blog post. I started laying it out in my head: 1. Go to the national sources that usually dish out the monthly themes. 2. Get some background from the appropriate “anonymous” site. 3. Call up Melody or maybe Oprah for some nice touchy-feely nuggets.

The hateful thoughts

Two things happened. First, a Google search for National Codependency Awareness Month didn’t lead me to any federal agencies that usually back monthly designations. Instead I learned that an author named Diane Jellen designated January as National Codependency Awareness Month.

No hateful thought yet because, gosh, I don’t even know Diane. Her new book, My Resurrected Heart, looks like it’s selling well on Amazon. She’s a pro and has apparently survived the crappy undercurrents of addiction’s codependent hostages.

At the same time, I felt some kind of itch that needed to be scratched, and it became more insistent as I watched Diane’s YouTube video on why there needs to be a National Codependency Awareness Month.

So I did another Google search: codependency and why it gets a bad rap.

It doesn’t hurt to see if others are scratching their itches too, right?

And there it was. A group in London called Harley Therapy wrote this blog post last year: The Great Codependency Hoax: Are We ALL Codependent?

The first hateful thought: Guess I won’t be talking to Oprah.

The second hateful thought:

Tweet: Most people use the word codependency incorrectly, including me!

Here’s the thing: the true meaning of codependency has changed over the decades; it’s original definition had to do with being “addicted to those who are addicted.” Webster’s has codependency listed as first used in 1979 and meaning “a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (as an addiction to alcohol or heroin).”

Codependency does not mean that when you feel comforted and dependent on someone in your life, that you are codependent. It doesn’t mean that wanting to please your boss means you’re codependent. You’re probably not even codependent when you get pissed off when someone hurts you, breaks a trust or takes something that is yours.

You’re a human being with normal human feelings.

Tweet: Please, please, please don’t allow the flippant overuse of the word codependency talk you into something you’re not.

According to the Harley Therapy folks, truly codependent people tend to seek out others who are counterdependent (meaning they’re buttoned up, show few emotions and have little regard for others’ needs or feelings). These relationships are usually a recipe for disaster.

Instead of co- and counter- combo, I like the Harley Therapy idea that we all work toward being interdependent. They describe the two characteristics of interdependency:

1) You come from a place of self-respect and self trust. In other words, before you depend on the one you love, you also know that if push came to shove you can depend on you to take care of you. So it’s not about needing the other person to survive, which is dependency, it’s about being able to survive by yourself but allowing the other person to help you to not just survive but to thrive.

2) You depend on the each other in a completely equal way. They depend on you for some things, too. It’s an equal game of give and take.

Simple but not easy, yes, I realize. But I like it! What do you say we try to become more interdependent as a means of relating with others. Doesn’t that sound much more healthy?

Photo courtesy of ArielleJay