Codependency, Tough Love, and trusting God

A little over nine months ago I was in the unenviable position of being in the center of a toxic relationship with the father of my youngest child which had spread into toxicity in the relationship between he and my then sixteen year old daughter and toxicity between she and I as well.  Everything came to a head during a “perfect storm” of circumstances and emotion between the two of them while I was at work.  At that point external forces became involved and I was confronted with the choice to provide a home for my oldest daughter away from him or chance losing custody of both of my daughters.

However, due to the lack of clear and present danger to the youngest and her being his biological daughter, it was made clear to me that I did not have any grounds on which to keep her from him.  The powers that be basically tasked me with providing separate housing for one child, while maintaining parental access to the other and to do so with as little assistance and input from them as possible, otherwise my life would be made more challenging by delaying their presence in it.

Through God’s grace and provision a miracle happened and a subsidized housing unit became available just in time and the move was made. And so began my present journey.

Initially, I was so focused on his anger and his behavior and what he had done wrong that I couldn’t really realize my own role in the circumstances.  To a lesser degree I was also focused on the teenager’s choices to  continually push buttons and pull triggers – both his and mine.  Through it all my heart was struggling over what the right thing to do for the youngest child, who is now two years old and who’s future is at stake.

For the entirety of my adult life, I have struggled with chronic pain and fatigue of Fibromyalgia and Depression and spent an overwhelmingly significant amount of the past 22 years seesawing and yo-yo’ing through emotional, material, and spiritual chaos and instability.  This has radically affected and formed the relationships with my two oldest children and the father of my youngest, who I’ve been in relationship with on one level or another for the majority of the past 15 years.  I have created the reality of being the victim of my own life, passed that onto my two oldest children and used my “partner” and our toxic relationship to victimize us all.

I have been a first-class codependent and enabler.  Under the guise of fighting and advocating for my children, my relationship, and out of self-defense and neediness I have been guilty of doing for them things which they should have learned to do for themselves.  I trained them to see me as a weak, whiny, wishy-washy, ineffectual, easily controlled and manipulated push-over capable of very little except talking the talk and making excuses for not walking the walk.  I had come to believe those things about myself and wallowed in a deep pool of self-contempt, self-hatred, guilt, and an overdeveloped sense of responsibility.

The first 2-3 months of this journey was me spinning around in circles trying to manage everyone and everything and turning myself back over to God, trying to find stable ground and get connected to a network of support and encouragement.

The next 3-4 months were spent with me trying to stand firm against the toxic texting and emotional manipulations and attacks of my baby’s dad and the enemy of our souls, all while trying to work through our issues with the possibility of a future reconciliation.

The past 2-3 months have been spent recognizing my codependency and trying to really establish healthy boundaries, not just with my baby’s dad but also with my teenage daughter.  Learning where I need to turn over my concerns about them and their choices and let them experience the consequences of those choices.

It feels like things have been getting more difficult and challenging and not better.  Throughout all of this my youngest has been getting upper respiratory illness every two-three weeks, I’ve been ill and injured myself, baby’s dad has been ill and so has my teenager.  All of these things impacted parenting schedules and self-care.  In the meantime, my teenager has been on an ever increasing spiral of behaviors that indicate possible relapse into drug use: lying, stealing, denial, moodiness, self-sabotage, engaging in unhealthy relationship patterns with her boyfriend, and most recently dropping out of school and taking on a commission/performance based sales job selling Cutco knives.

I’ve had to take tough love measures with both of these people in my life and I’ve borne the brunt of hateful, hurtful words and accusations, verbal and emotional manipulations and have experienced financial and personal regressions and setbacks.  I’ve devolved into my own escapist and unhealthy behaviors around the depression, unhealthy eating, physical inactivity, procrastination, work avoidance, and escaping into facebook, fb games, and television.

Yesterday I was faced with one of the most difficult decisions I’ve had to make in the past nine months.  I had to draw a boundary line with my teenager and when she crossed it I had to follow-through and tell her she could not live with me.  My heart is breaking, not only from the personal pain of how I’ve been affected, but primarily from the knowledge of the pain and heartache she will be bringing to herself and others on the path she is currently choosing.

Throughout my entire life’s journey, I know that God has been present, real and active.  I have not always known, acknowledged, believed, or understood this fact.  Today, I know it to be true.  I know it to have been a truth each and every moment of my life, and especially in those moments when I feel the worst hurt, the deepest isolation, and the most desolate and devoid of hope.  My feelings do not alter the truth of God’s existence, His presence in my life and the lives of those around me, or in the healing, restoration, and growth He is manifesting in me.  Now, what I need to do for today is trust in that knowledge and trust in Him.

Romans 15:13 (New International Version, ©2011)

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.


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