Without going into detail, I have much experience with mental disease and alcoholism. Not my own diseases, but disease of ones’ I love. Anyone that has ever lived in a home with this kind of challenge understands how it greatly impacts the healthy people of the family. My whole life I heard how I was the root of all problems with my love ones that suffer. After a life time of struggling with feelings of never measuring up I finally started therapy.
I fully expected to hear in therapy all the information I heard my whole life. After all, I came to believe I was damaged beyond repair. You hear it enough, you begin to believe it. So it was time to face my demons. I had done all I could alone. It was time to go and get “fixed”. Much to my surprise, I emerged from therapy with a clean bill of mental health. That came as a shock to me, because I had always heard I was the center of all problems. My first reaction was relief. The weight of the world is lifted from one’s shoulders with such a revelation. I felt free for the first time in my life. I was no longer responsible for the dysfunction around me.
However, there comes another realization with this new-found freedom. If I am not responsible then who is? Of course, the answer are the people who have the problem with me. The tough part about that is now it is their job to get healthy. Believe me, that is no easy task. So I learned coping tools, detachment with love, as they call it. For the most part being deemed mentally healthy and having coping tools get me through most days. Today was particularly bad with a loved one.
This person was sure I needed therapy to sort out a disagreement we had. Oh, the argument has gone on for over a week, off and on. This morning was the climax of the storm Just seething with anger I stomped away heading to therapy. I knew what my therapist would say, after all I am an excellent student. But I was open-minded, maybe I was missing something in me. Maybe I was being unreasonable or I had a blind spot that needed addressed. I plopped myself down on her brown suede sofa. The sofa I have become very comfortable with in the last year. I began telling my story. The fight is with a person I dearly love on many levels. Like all the people I love in my life, this person suffers from disease. In the discussion the therapist validated my feelings and reactions. Of course, it was another example of me struggling to be free of co-dependency and control. As tears flooded my face, I felt helpless. No relief that it wasn’t my problem, but sadness that it was an issue I could not own nor fix. The despair of realizing if I want to be truly happy I can not play in this dysfunction with this person. It was not up to me to fix this problem. I have no control. I fought all week to point out the flawed thinking to only have it fall on deaf ears. As I made my next appointment, stepping out of the office, my therapist said I should take care of myself. It was noted as I left that was my job. Driving home, I realized that life would have been so much easier if I was the one with the issue then I could fix it. I could have the power, the control to change life. Just let it be me that needs to be fixed I could solve everyone’s problem. However, the answers are not with me. The answers are not a part of my journey. It is my job to step out-of-the-way and take care of myself. That is the loneliest part of all. For I am helpless in the face of the people who suffer from disease. My only choice is to live healthy. But, wow, how simple if would be if it were only me!