Thursday, November 22, 2012

Letting Go of Your Childhood Role

I have been thinking that I am all better.  I seem to have conquered my anxiety about traveling, my depression seems to mostly be under control and I haven't found myself doing something co-dependent in over a year or more.  But then, when you least expect it, something happens and there you are, battling those old feelings as they try to take over your life.

Without getting into details, I received a request from someone that threw me into my old co-dependent thoughts.  At first I wondered how I could fix the situation, then realizing I couldn't fix the situation and shouldn't, I felt the co-dependent guilt settle in.  I didn't know what to do about it, I didn't know what to say and I felt so awful and I could feel myself sinking down with each thought.  After a day or so of struggling with myself I typed up a reply and off it went.  I tried to stick to just the facts, but that didn't seem to help with my guilty feelings at all. 

My role my whole life had been the "fixer" and I just couldn't fix this situation, but couldn't seem to shrug off the feeling that I should try and find a way.  I realize that this was just my old co-dependent self trying desperately to rise to the surface and claim the old role.  In fact, I had even recently read this quote from the book Healing the Eight Stages of Life by Matthew Linn, Sheila Fabricant, and Dennis Linn:

Even into adult life, children may assume any of four roles to survive, often the "hero," or caretaker, usually the oldest child, becomes a surrogate parent by supervising the other children and running the household.  This "hero" is often a super achiever in studies or athletics.  In contrast, the "scapegoat" or problem child misbehaves to draw attention away from the alcoholism or to express family tension.  The "mascot" tries to minimize the problems by joking, clowning and pretending to be carefree.  Finally, the "lost child" fades into the background in an attempt to withdraw from the turmoil.

I guess its no surprise which role I took on even though I wasn't the oldest, I was the caretaker and letting go of that role has been an enormous task and I thought I had done just that.  One message and I found myself fighting to not fall off the co-dependent wagon.  I am happy to say that I didn't lose this battle, but I didn't walk away unscathed either.  I feel my battle wounds just assuredly as if they were physical.  I guess the co-dependant war is never over, hopefully I can win the next battle a little quicker and easier next time.  I just have to remember that I am not the caretaker of anyone but myself.  I need to remember that my roles are varied and different such as a mother to my kids, a wife to my husband, a sister to my siblings, a daughter to my parents and a friend to my friends.  These roles are all very different and carry different responsibilities, but none of them include "saving" anyone or "fixing" anything.  I have to remember that I can be supportive but not try and fix everything.  It is not easy letting that childhood role go as it seems to sneak up on me when I least expect it, but I am trying and I guess that is all I can do.

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