Co-dependency kills

It really and truly can. We tend to think that if we continue on in our own sick, co-dependent behaviour we may get somewhat physically ill or become depressed. But what we never think about is that our co-dependency can cut our life short.

I have just seen this first hand. And it makes me so sad. My ex-mother in law and I had been doing a lot of talking the last month of her life. I was trying to help her get past her denial and move on to acceptance and letting go. Trying to help her understand that enabling doesn’t help anyone, not the addict and not yourself. That guilt does nothing but destroy. And it seemed like she was getting it, at least a little.

I guess a little background is in order. H’s father B started drinking at age 10. His parents divorced when he was 12. His father retained custody. His father (an alcoholic) immediately remarried a domineering¬†woman, who was also an alcoholic. By the time B was 14 years old he was in full blown alcohol and drug addiction. For the remainder of her life, his mother, who felt guilty about not having fought for custody, enabled him at every turn. She bailed him out of jail, put up with his abuse, sent him money when he asked and did everything she could to try and “help” him. And it wore her down. Bit by bit, little by little, even as she tried to stay strong and say no. The stress of his addiction and her co-dependency ate at her.

When my daughter’s addiction manifested itself it seemed as though she felt she had to the same thing. She couldn’t see that her enabling hadn’t helped her son. Or maybe she just couldn’t admit it to herself. So she tried to “help” my daughter. I put my foot down countless times. When I did she would be good for awhile, then H would say or do something that would tug her heartstrings and she would give her money. She wanted so much to believe that H and her dad were telling the truth, that they would be okay and could beat this. But she was always disappointed. As most of us are, time and time again. I would tell her that just because they were doing well today didn’t mean that they would be okay tomorrow. That she had to discern whether what she was doing was truly helpful or not.

Three weeks before she died she called me in distress because her son kept calling saying that he needed money. He is doing weekends in jail for assault and had missed the bus to the town where he’s working during the week. He said he didn’t have anywhere to go and she sounded just so tired of it all. I told her not to send him anything. She was worried that he would be out on the streets all night. I told her that he was 46 years old and could take care of himself, that he knew people there and would find somewhere to stay and if nothing else he could sit at a 24 hour Tim Horton’s and drink coffee until the bus came in the morning.

When my ex called my daughter drunk the next day I knew that she had sent him the money. I called her to warn her not to take his calls as he was drinking and I knew how belligerent and upsetting he could be. She said “It’s my fault. I sent him the money.” It was the first time in 23 years that she admitted to enabling him. I told her that it was not her fault, it was his choice. He manipulated her and she wanted so much to believe him. She said she was finished, she couldn’t take anymore.

HSW died from an accidental overdose. She had been taking ativan for years to help her sleep and cope with the constant anxiety. On the Saturday before her death she went to the emergency department for an absessed tooth. They prescribed antibiotics and oxycontin for the pain. It’s believed that she had taken the oxy and ativan during the day and again at bedtime. That she woke up in pain during the night and took another oxy much to soon after the last dose. She got up to the bathroom and was found on the bathroom floor at 1:30 in the morning by her husband, who had fallen asleep on the chair downstairs.

I truly believe that the stress of her co-dependency had weakened her body to the point where this was inevitable. She hadn’t been well over the past couple of years. The cortisol and adrenaline that our bodies produce when we are stressed can make us ill and weaken us.

When we tell each other to take care of ourselves I don’t think we really get it. I know I didn’t. Not until now. Because it’s not only addiction that kills. So does co-dependency.

p.s. We were blessed with an answer to prayer when my daughter was here for the funeral. She is NOT pregnant. Thank you God.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Co-dependency kills

  1. heathersmom1 says:

    I’m so sorry about your ex-mother-in-law and cousin. What a tough week you have had. I am very close with my ex-mother-in-law, and I personally believe co-dependency issues is why her health has been so problematic the past 5 years or so. I don’t write about Heather’s Dad much on my blog, but I’ll just say I think there is truth to what you wrote.
    On the positive side, it sounds like H is doing very well, and thanks for the update on the pregnancy question.
    Take some time for yourself and re-charge, your week had to be emotionally exhausting.
    God bless.

  2. Helga says:

    You are right. I could tell that the codenpendency I had with my daughter was taking its toll on my health. I could not sleep at night and I was just a constant nervous wreck. since I cut her lose, I don’t have a relationship with her anymore, but I also have regained my sanity. I need to be in good shape if she ever comes out of her funk.

  3. Renee says:

    I am so sorry for your loss this past week, and you are so right in what you say about our health declining from being so codependent. My health has been terrible the past couple of years and I am now starting to truly take care of myself. When I need alone time, I take it. When I need to rest I try to get myself to bed and do something relaxing to help me sleep. It is work just getting ourselves to a point to start to feel remotely healthy after all the trauma we put our own mind and bodies through. Glad you recognize what the meaning of taking care of yourself truly means. Thanks for the reminder!

  4. Barbara says:

    Thank you for sharing this, it was a good reminder and the perfect timing for me. Again, I am sorry for your loss. And also glad to hear that H is not pregnant!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s