Sunday, December 19, 2010
The Beginning of the End
I was at work on a Tuesday morning in August, 2007 and things were so very bad at my job. The heart pain I have written about previously was getting worse and worse as the stress at work got worse and worse. I couldn't even drive toward the town where my job was without having extreme heart pain. But there I was in my boss's office when a whole new feeling started, I felt like my chest was being crushed. My boss was talking to me and all I could think was "breathe, Renae, breathe." Then thoughts of needing to get out of there as fast as I could were overpowering my head. At one point my boss asked me if I was okay. I wasn't okay by any means, I got up and walked around, sat back down, got back up and at one point even said, "I can't breathe." My thoughts were on only two things, trying to breathe and getting out of there. I finally said I had to go pick up my daughter from school and got out of there as fast as I could. The next morning I quit my job. It was a few days later when I was telling someone what had happened that they said that it was a panic attack. Over the next few months I started having bad dreams about my old job (a few days after I walked out they closed the doors and many families in the community lost hundreds and some even thousands of dollars). Another friend was telling me about her therapist and something inside me said, "you need to go see her." So I got the number for the therapist and made an appointment. My first appointment was in November, 2007 and I proceeded to tell her all about the horrible job, how badly it ended and about the bad dreams. The hour was up and we didn't even get to what I could do about the bad dreams, so I rescheduled. It was at the next appointment that I found myself talking about childhood stuff, weird I didn't expect to be doing that, but it just came out. It was around Chrismas that I was talking to my sister Sharon about my bad dreams and the childhood stuff that came up at the appointment. She said that maybe I was co-dependent. I didn't know much about co-dependency and pretty much thought it was just someone who enabled others to do drugs, etc. I casually mentioned my sister's comment about co-dependency at my next therapy appointment and my therapist gave me the book "Co-Dependent No More." I took the book half-heartedly thinking this really wasn't me. Later when I started reading the book I was shocked, there I was on every single page and I could see my boss everywhere in the book as well. One of the hardest things for me after quitting my job was trying to understand how I could have gotten sucked into my boss's mess and not seen what was really going on and there it was in black and white, I was a co-dependent rescuer and I had been trying for years to "rescue" my boss and her business and just about destroyed myself in the process. I learned that co-dependency wasn't "enabling" it was "rescuing." In trying to understand co-dependency I have read many books and many different descriptions of it. My favorite description is "self-destructive unselfishness" from Wendy Ulrich's book "Forgiving Ourselves." But it was in that first book, "Co-Dependent No More" where I read about the "Karpman Drama Triangle" that my eyes were opened. This is the co-dependent cycle: rescue, persecution, victim. This cycle is repeated over and over again with different people, different situations, etc. First you "rescue" a person or thing, this is doing something that you don't necessarily want to do, but you feel like you have to, that no one else can do it, so you must; then you feel "persecuted" here you are doing something you didn't want to be doing in the first place and lastly you feel, once again, like a "victim," you were used once again. Oh, that "triangle" I could see it over and over again in my life, big triangles, little triangles, but the biggest and most destructive one so far had been the one with my last boss. It was a few weeks later that I took my daughter to see "27 Dresses." I thought it would be a cute, funny movie, little did I know that the main character would be co-dependent. You can see the day it starts, her first wedding after her mother's death and it just goes on from there. I sat there and silently cried and half-way through the movie my daughter (who was only 13 at the time) leaned over and and said, "Mom, you're her." She could see it just as clearly as I could and it made me sadder. They say that you can't stop doing something until you are aware that you are doing it. Well, I had become aware in a really big way, I was so co-dependent and it was time to change. This was the beginning of the end, the end of being unaware of my co-dependency and the beginning of a whole new way of being. It has been a very bumpy road trying to change these behaviors but with each co-dependent discovery and even relapse, I learn how to be better and different and more me. I never could have imagined I would be dealing with something like this later in my life, but here it is for me to challenge and conquer little by little.