Episode 4: It's Not My Fault. Why Do I Have to Do the Work?
We are getting real with the truth about how our behaviors are limiting our progress in finding healing and recovery from trauma.
This week, as I've been contemplating about what to record this podcast on, I've known for quite a few days, what it was going to be about. I knew that it was it was going to be about how to take care of ourselves and how to recognize when we need to do our own work and kind of what that entails.
As I have pondered about it and sat down to try to record, I have kind of felt overwhelmed with anxiety at times, and sometimes so much that then I'm in tears. And as I've been kind of thinking about that, and what's going on in me that I'm feeling anxious about sharing these things. Some things have come up for me that I feel anxious, because I remember the first time I was hearing that I needed to do some work, that this was also my responsibility.
The way I took that was are you kidding me? This I did nothing. I didn't do anything wrong. This is him. And this is addiction. And, and I am not an equal player in this, which I still believe is true. I don't think that when you're dealing with a partner with addiction, that there's it's not equal playing field. It's not on level ground. It's not even the brainwaves and the way we think is completely not right.
That's why many addiction therapists will will tell you that you can't really do marriage counseling together until the addiction is out of the way. It's really important for someone struggling with addiction to have a counselor that they can talk about addiction with and that that can kind of heal somewhat, or at least be on the path to healing before there's actual marriage counseling. Because what really happens is the other partner that's not the addict is the one that is like, Okay, I'm going to do all this work, I'm going to try and communicate and I'm going to do all these things that the therapist gave us as homework, yet the addict is still living in addiction, therefore, not being honest, accountable.
They're still basically feeding the addiction. And the addiction likes to win. So they'll do anything for that to thrive. So as I was thinking about this podcast, and sharing with you some of these things that were really hard truths for me to have to hear myself, I have felt anxious, I've felt like, Okay, how do I share these things? Yet not have you guys feel like you're being thrown over the edge and don't know what to do so, so I guess I'm asking at the beginning here to just stay with me, let's let's ride through the whole thing. And if you're feeling your body skyrocket, either with anxiety or fear or anger, that's okay.
Let it. Make room for it in yourself, wherever it is coming out. Like some people, it might be like steaming out your head, some might be like the center of your, your rib cage, or your heart where it feels like there's a big knot there. That's okay, let's just let it sit there. Let's make room for it. Let's allow the feelings to be there no matter what they are, even if you're angry. And let's try to recognize what's happening and maybe get on the other side of it. So that afterwards, you come out of it with maybe some awareness, and maybe some new tools.
The first thing I'm going to share is the beginning of my story in 2012, the part where I found out that this really was an addiction. So what had happened was my husband at that time, his office was just a couple minutes away from our house. And so I would go over there all the time and visit whether I would go meet him for lunch or after work or I would just be driving by and I'd stop by and say hi.
Now first, just so you know, it was one of those things that every day I passed his office multiple times a day. There was not one time that I drove past or went to walk in, that I did not have the thought that I may catch him doing something. Every single time. I lived with that fear for so long. And that is something that I learned later how to heal and get past. But at the time I lived with that, and that's kind of along the lines of what we're going to be talking about today is living in that swirling place where we don't have to live there, if we learn the tools.
Our mind does not have to be monopolized by another person's choices or actions. So we don't want to be blind to it. But we don't want it to rule us. And what I had learned was that I was being ruled by the possibilities, the what ifs. So on that particular day, February 15 2012, the day before was Valentine's Day, which we're coming up to.
Valentine's Day was a great day for us. I had, you'll read this in my book, Cutting Ties, but I had, I had thoughtfully made up this basket. It was a big basket. It was black. I had gotten some red tool and tied a big bow around the front of it. And then I found this big silver heart that I hung off of it. And that's the heart was basically if you make the heart shape with your hands like your two hands together, that's about how big it was. And I hung it off there. And then I went and got all these different snack foods that are his favorites.
I filled this basket, just super cute and I had driven over that morning before he went into work. And I put it on his desk so that he would be surprised. So I was super happy with it. I thought it was fun and just unexpected for him. So anyway, we had a great day for for Valentine's Day and that night.
The next day, I had my daughter with me and we were driving home from something it was like five o'clock or so. But we decided to stop by his office. And as we were getting out of the car, I had the thought which I usually did was the possibility of catching him doing something. And so I my daughter started reading ahead and I went to yell for like, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. like not to just run in there. I just wanted to go in there first. Anyway, she got to the door. And when she pulled on his doorknob, it was locked.
At that moment, I knew. I knew without a doubt what was going on. He opened the door and his face had a look of shock. And I looked him dead in the eyes. And he went to say something and I said not this time. You will not make an excuse this time. And I turned around and left. It was at that moment that I've felt my intuition. I felt the spirit Tell me, you know what this is.
You know that this is not just the fact that he's making stupid choices that this really is a problem. And I was swirling. I was driving back to my house. I felt like I was in this fog. I was in charge of a youth group activity that night that there I was the only adult leader that was going to be there to help this large group. And so I couldn't get out of it. I just was like, Okay, I'm going to power through I'm going to go do this activity. And then I can think after that.
I was really grateful to have that chance to ponder. I was happy to have the time to think and not react too soon. Even though I was doing this activity, I still had this constant prayer going on in my heart and in my mind. And so I was trying to stay clear, yet at the same time get this activity done before I just totally melted down. So I go home that night and put my kids in bed. And we start talking.
What happened from here was now years later, and all the learning I have done, I've learned some new things about what happened. And this experience is in my book as well and how I felt, I still feel that same way. And I also have new light to add to it. As we're talking and my husband is crying and sharing all the stuff and how sorry he is and how sad he is and how he loves me so much, I had the impression to massage his head.
He has his stress. He always carried it in his neck and his head. And so this is something that I had done before. I had this prompting and I thought no, I hate this person right now, why would I serve them and give, give him a massage right now, like, that just seemed so ridiculous. But I did it. And as I did that, for at least that night, I had so much love come into my heart for this broken soul of my husband. And for that one night, I could see how much he was struggling and how broken he was and how addiction had been ruling his life for so long.
Even though I didn't know totally yet what addiction was, I knew there was a huge problem, and I could feel and see what this was. So for that part, I'm grateful. What I've learned since is how my reactions and what my intent was, whether I knew it or not, was very well, maybe not very different. But there were two sides to it.
The one was, I really tried to be in tune with God, and doing the right thing. That was one side. But the other side is, I don't like to see anyone in pain. I did not like to see him hurting. And I noticed that as I as I learned this, I can look back and see how many times I saved him from his pain.
And maybe you've experienced this. But I've heard from a lot of people who have experienced this, but my husband not once came to me throughout those years of even striving for recovery. If he had a slip or a relapse, or if he was using or if he was lying or cheating. He never came forward to me and said, I'm struggling with this, even though honesty and accountability. Well, honesty is step one. But even though those were the things we were learning, he still wasn't doing it. But every time I caught him, he would cry and be humble, and be soft and loving and share everything. Open up about everything. Tell me how much he loved me how great I was. And I would, I would love it. I loved every second of it.
I felt Okay, okay. He, he sees he sees clear, he's apologizing. He's, he is He wants me in his life. I thrived on those feelings, that, once again, he was present and with me and wanted me. And what I've learned is, every time he would do that every time I'd catch him, and then he would cry, I would swoop in and love him and coddle him and protect him. And I didn't want to make him feel any worse because it was already feeling so bad. And that's where I started recognizing when I started learning that I could go back in my story, and see all the different times that I saved him from his pain.
So those are the kind of things that I want to go over today to help you see in your life, where you're doing that. Now there's a couple different ways to think about this. I was introduced to the book codependent no more by Melody Beattie a long time ago. I read it then and I've reread it recently. And I've actually underlined some stuff. And I think I'm going to read some of it to you.
As the podcast keeps going. There's there's the codependency model that people listen to. And there's also a trauma model that people people like and that's newer and newer concept that we're talking about more now. It's slightly different than the codependent model. What I have found for me, is there is truth in all of these different ways of thinking. They just start evolving. We start recognizing that the way codependency is maybe talked about doesn't follow along with if you've been through a lot of trauma, you might be more of the trauma model person.
In the codependent book, it talks about a wide range. It talks about someone who's just barely a little bit codependent. And it talks about people who are severely codependent. Now, I know in my experience, I suffered a lot of trauma. And as I do therapy, I am aware of different things that I will be feeling that some things are my belief system, and some are from trauma. And so I think for me, both models work, and I just take what feels right to me and what feels truthful to me.
There's a lot of things in the codependent book that also match what I'm doing. One of them was saving somebody from feeling all that pain. I would rather everybody feel okay, then someone has to be uncomfortable. And so as I kind of was learning some of those things about myself, that's where I could start accepting the fact that just because I am not the addict or caused all the issues or even caused the trauma, my beliefs or the consequence of, of being in trauma is now that I have these, these beliefs.
So some of the codependent things I came with as a younger person people pleasing, and some perfectionism things, I came with that. But a lot of this stuff was situational. A lot of it came from living with an addict. And so some of it matches and some of it doesn't with me in the codependent book, but a lot of it does. And in it in the introduction, I'm going to read a little, just a little piece out of it. In the introduction, if you have the book, this is on page five.
But she says I work with people who thought they were going crazy because they had believed so many lies they didn't know what reality was. I saw people who had gotten so absorbed in other people's problems, they didn't have time to identify or solve their own. These were people who had cared so deeply, and often destructively about other people that they had forgotten how to care about themselves. The codependents felt responsible for so much because the people around them felt responsible for so little. They were just taking up the slack. I saw hurting confused people who needed to comfort understanding and information.
So she saw victims. She saw people who lived with alcoholics or addicts, and she needed to figure out how to to help them. She said the pain that comes from loving someone who's in trouble can be profound. That chemically dependent partner numbs the feelings, and the non abuser is doubled over in pain. Their only relief is anger. And for me, I would say my only relief was what ifs. The what ifs of what if I keep loving him and it changes? What if he? What if I don't, I don't save him? And then he chooses to, to recover? And then I've lost him. You know, all these different things.
What if I do all this work, and he ends up loving me so much and then see, look, look at how awesome I am. So those are kind of the what ifs I would go through in my mind. And those things are codependent thinking. That's not living in the present. Those what ifs, they don't even matter. That's not even, that's not even part of the equation at this time. What's happening right now is what is it that I'm doing? What am I doing by trying to coddle or save or nurture or minimize what's happened?
Well, for one, it's it's not being honest with myself about what it is I'm feeling. What happened to me when my person acted out and I caught him? What was I going through? Instead, I turned it and looked at his pain and how sad he was. And I wanted to save him. So I had to look at that and see what was going on that I was being like that. And that is a very codependent thing to be doing. Whether it happened from trauma or not, I had to figure out how to do that, or how to not do that.
So in counseling, I learned about being in discomfort, and being okay with the discomfort and sitting with the discomfort. That was hard for me to do even myself. So when I was feeling uncomfortable about something or stressed or in chaos, or spinning and swirling because something had happened, where there were lies and manipulation, deceit or cheating, and I was having a physical body response, both physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, whenever I was responding, I wanted to get out of my skin.
I didn't know what to do with all of it, it was so overwhelming that having my husband then be sad, almost like it gave me permission to not accept what I was feeling. And then I can go and take care of him instead. And so it basically was me lying to myself and to him that I was affected by what had happened. So by learning to sit in the discomfort, I had to learn to sit in for myself, and I had to learn to let him sit in in his. And that's where I started to see different changes. And I brought up something that was hurtful or I caught him in a lie, or either even if I didn't catch him but I was feeling stressed or out of sorts or triggered or nervous because I didn't know if I could believe him or not about anything, I practiced voicing how I felt.
Then if he had a reaction and didn't like what I was saying, or he was upset with it or, or he would maybe say, You're right, I wasn't doing that. And then he would go off. So at first it sounded like he accepted it, it was good. But then he would go sit down, and it would turn to shame. And then he would be in the shameful spot. And he would be pouting or upset because he was probably talking down to himself about how terrible he is. I had to learn not to go save him. I had to learn to walk away and let him feel.
The way it was explained to me, through my counselor, or it might have been my energy worker, she's, awesome. And she, she kind of is my energy person for emotional, spiritual release and healing. And so I can't remember which one, I wrote this in my book as well. But I learned that an addict and at that point, my husband only had a few emotions that he could even voice what they were basic ones, right, mad, sad, overly angry, and happy. They're not a lot of words to explain them. And it takes a lot of therapy to start recognizing other words that you can use.
But at this point, he didn't have very much and because addiction was now not no longer hidden. And it was out. And he had to look at it. And he had to deal with it. And we were in counseling, and we were talking about it every day. And I was super hurt and traumatized and living in pain every day from it. He was very aware of what was going on. And so by me sharing what I was feeling and where I was at, it basically gave him an opportunity to see and feel and notice what was going on with him.
What I learned was, because he didn't have a lot of words to express, he was basically at the bottom of the barrel scraping up, what was left after addiction is now out of the way and there's nothing piled on top, we're actually dealing with the real issues. He didn't have much to work with. So if I come in and save him and give him those coddling loving things, then he doesn't have to dig deep at the bottom of the barrel and learn new words, new skills, new new tools on how to make it through and become better and different.
I was keeping him from that. So that's where, at the beginning, when I was hearing that, well, what is your part in this? What's happening with you that isn't healthy in the marriage? I was so angry. Are you kidding me? I haven't done anything, I'm doing everything possible that I can to save this marriage to save this person. And to accept him even with all of this stuff. And you're telling me that I am to blame.
But I was taking it wrong. That was what my my pride and my ego and even shame was coming up for me when I would hear those terms. I honestly don't think that when I heard those things from in 12 step or from therapy, that the person was actually saying, you are to blame for this. I think they were saying this is what's happening. So what is it that you're doing that contributes to either the chaos or your pain or not healing. And these kinds of things, were preventing healing.
I was preventing it for myself, because I wasn't looking at everything correctly and changing my behaviors like saving him. And I wasn't letting him sit in the pain long enough to also see, oh, I don't want to be in this pain, I need to learn a better strategy. When we save somebody too early, we are doing them a disservice because then they can't do things for themselves. When we swoop in and save them, we're also doing a disservice to ourselves because we aren't getting the help that we need. We look like we're doing fine.
We might share that we're hurting and we don't know what to do. Yet, we just keep going and we keep striving and we keep saving everyone and so nobody really knows totally how much help we need. And I don't know if it's sometimes just our shame. We don't want people to know about it. We don't want people to know that we're struggling so badly, or what it is exactly. There's many reasons for all of us. But we want help yet we don't always show exactly what we need. Or we we are giving mixed signals because we do need help, but then we're also talking about how great our loved one is and how nurturing we are for them and then it doesn't look like we need that much help because we're still actively saving another person.
In this codependent book, there was a part in this introduction as well that I want to read to you. It says codependents, now whether you think you're a codependent or not, you can still take this information and see where it is that you are maybe not being true to you. So you don't have to necessarily consider yourself a codependent. For a long time. I didn't think of myself as that. And I do think I am on a minimal scale of codependent. But these these things that they're talking about, if you really listen, clearly, you'll be able to identify with things that that makes sense to you. And you feel okay, that one's not me, but this one is, and then maybe you can find some help.
But in it, I'm just going to read this paragraph. Codependents suffered in the backdrop of the sick person. If they recovered, they did that in the background to. Until recently, many counselors didn't know what to do to help them. Sometimes codependents were blamed. Sometimes they were ignored. Sometimes they were expected to magically shape up. Rarely were codependents treated as individuals who needed help to get better. Rarely were they given a personalized recovery program for their problems and their pain.
Yet by its nature, and they're talking about alcoholism, in here, so whatever is going on in your life. But it says yet by its nature, alcoholism and other compulsive disorders, turn everyone affected by the illness into victims, people who need help, even if they're not drinking, using other drugs, gambling over eating or doing anything compulsive. So they're talking about the victims that family members of addicts need help.
Now each person is unique, each situation is unique. So you're going to have to find your own healing process. The best way to do that is by seeking professional help. That's where I could start seeing Oh, whoa, what I'm doing is from trauma, or what I'm doing is codependency of trying to make somebody feel better. So by seeking professional help, you can see and be shown what to do and how to do it. And you'll actually get the help that you need when you see a professional that knows about addiction, or knows about codependency or knows about whatever it is that your situation is. You will get kind of your own personal plan of what you need to do.
As I went through counseling, I went through different ways different models of recovery work or healing work. And one of those was EMDR. And that is kind of a processing the way our brain processes, trauma and events that have happened throughout our lives and how, as we target something that has been bothering us, the way it's done is that memory will also bring up other times in the past that you felt those same ways. And so what it does is it's kind of gathering a whole bunch of information at once, and helping you see it with new eyes and new light and then you can let it go and your body will let it go. So that's kind of the first form of major therapy that I did, which was amazing.
It was like, wow, I just had no idea that was even available to me. As my counselor then kept learning on his own and growing in his field, he started working on parts work. And I don't know what the real term is called, I just call it part to work. But that was kind of the next level after EMDR for me.
And so when I learned parts work, I realized all the wounded people, my own selves that are inside of me different ages and different times where I have created these people of myself people to protect my heart, maybe one to be the one that fights for everything that she needs, may be the one that is nurturing and calming. All of us when something chaotic happens, but I created those people throughout my life, to protect me and for a reason.
So as I could learn about parts work, and I could go inside my self in my soul in my brain and look around and find these wounded people, these wounded parts of myself, I was able to shed the rest of basically what was holding me back. And so every piece that I've done was life changing. You'll hear me hear me say that all the time. 12 step group when I went to that the first time life changing, the friends that I met, there are still my friends today, life changing. Right? I found my first counselor life changing, my second clamp counselor was even greater and I and I've been with him ever since.
It's just kind of amazing how the tools are brought to your life so that you can heal. But if you don't even look at if you're not even willing to look at yourself and see what it is that you're contributing to not healing or to your marriage, not healing. Now, I'm not saying you can heal your marriage on your own, you absolutely can't. But if you're living healthy minded and you're learning the tools, you need to be a really healthy person and you're striving to do it, then you've at least done your part.
And then if the other person doesn't do their part, and the marriage needs to dissolve, then you will feel really at peace with what you're doing. Now, the other thing that I'll say about that, and about marriage is nobody can know what you're supposed to do in your marriage except you. You'll have very well meaning people in your lives, family members, people who love you, that will have an opinion that will say, you should stay in your marriage. Or they will say you should definitely be out of this marriage, because this is crazy.
But ultimately, it's you that has to figure out what that is. If they have not been in your situation, they can't actually know what the right thing is. And they might be acting out of their own codependent feelings about not hurting somebody else, or thinking that you have to save people. But that's not true. You don't have to save people, God does the saving. We just have to find out what the road is for us to do the journey.
Whether we're supposed to do that journey individually, whether we're supposed to stay in a marriage, whatever, whatever it is, we have to figure out what that journey is for ourselves. So people will be asked to tell you their opinions. And you can listen to him if you want. But ultimately, you need you need to figure it out what you're supposed to do and how to go about doing it. For me, 12 step was the beginning of learning that I wasn't the only one in my situation.
So if you're listening, and you do have an addict in your life, or you're the addict also, do the 12 step work so that you can find your peers, you can find people who actually get what it is you're going through. And that way you will find the support and the you can trust the insight and wisdom that they give you. Because they actually know. You also want to look for the people who are healing.
You want to look for the ones that aren't living in their same circle over and over and over again. Those are the ones that you want to go Okay, what are they doing to heal? You can even ask them, What is it? How did you get from where I am now just starting to feeling empowered, like you are now? How did you do that? Oh, I started with 12 step or, yeah, I got this great counselor that knew a ton about the addiction that my family was in.
And whatever it is. And that way you start gaining knowledge education, and you can start seeing clearly what you personally can do. Because it doesn't matter what you do to try to save another person or protect another person from their addiction, or from hurting their family, or from suicide, or from any other harmful thing. It's not something that you can do. You just make yourself crazy trying to control another person. So the only thing you can do is control you.
As you learn all that cool stuff, and that education and seeing, wow, there's so many people like me, it feels so good. It feels like thank you so much. I am not alone, I am not the only one. Now, this whole thing when we talk about addiction and how hard it is, I want you to know and I've probably said this before, but this is not a fight against a person. This is a fight against addiction. Addiction destroys people, and it destroys families.
So if we can see it clear, if we can see that our loved ones are being destroyed and harmed by addiction, then we can look at and go Okay, what is it that I need to do? What do I need to change personally to see this clear, see the person clear and, and change behaviors in myself so that I can be a an influence in my family's life rather than a detriment? or adding more work to it. Now some of that's going to be hard to hear, because we do not want to feel like we have to do all the work. Especially when we haven't been the problem.
But it doesn't matter if we're the problem or not. It doesn't matter if we've caused it or not. How we respond, how we choose to learn and change ourselves is going to make such a big impact on maybe them, but maybe not but just at least in saving ourselves. Because I've seen it a lot. I've seen that where people have decided to not stay in the marriage, yet they still haven't done the work. And they stay in that depressed cycle of chaos and pain until they decide to fix it.
That's just a long life. You think I'm going to be fine now because that person is no longer in my life. And yes, at first there's a lot of peace that comes with removing somebody that has caused so much harm from your home. There is a lot of peace of feels so amazing. There is not growth and progression and forward happiness, if you choose not to look at how you can now change and be a better person especially for future relationships and also To teach your children healthy behaviors.
So as you're thinking about these things this week, think about if you're self sacrificing, if you are choosing another person's happiness or comfort level, over what the truth is of what you really need, and what the family needs. Think about if you're trying to save another person, rather than learning how to save you, which will then maybe save the family. It'll least add to it.
See, if you are protecting the people in your life that are causing you harm by not letting them feel the discomfort of what they're doing and what they're in. Just kind of have a self check. Just look and see what is it that I'm doing. And if you can find that you are in fact, wow, I am coddling. I really am protecting, I don't want to look at myself. So I want to love them when they when they come forward and spill everything and they're so nice and humble. And they're loving me, I do want to wrap them in my arms and tell them it's okay. And tell them how great they are and how great they're doing. If you're finding that you're doing that, know that you're not alone.
There are many of us who do that because we arein fact nurturers. We do love. We do care about the people in our lives. And we don't want to see them hurt. It's coming from a noble source. But it's actually not helping us, it's hindering us. So if this sounds like you, I would suggest getting the book codependent no more by melody Beattie, if you want to follow my story, you can grab my book, Cutting Ties, it's on Amazon.
My name on that is Roxanne Kennedy. And you can also of course, keep following this and then follow my social media accounts. There are so many people out there that are talking about this, which is so great, because the only way to healing is if we're open about it. So that we don't have to feel shame. You don't you don't need to take this as you're doing a bad job. You're naturally going to want to turn it into shame where I'm doing this wrong, and I'm not doing this right. You're not you just don't know you're becoming more aware.
As you become aware, make the effort to learn the tools of what you need to do. And if you don't have a therapist that you see, then that's that's maybe a good place to start. So until next time, check on those things. If you're feeling a lot of pain, a lot of shame, you don't know where to go and and you're left feeling in chaos, shoot me an email, go to my social media or you can send me an email at Roxanne.Granata@gmail.com and kind of hash out what you're feeling and thinking and I'm happy to help you. I'll be launching my mentoring program more towards the end of March so you can watch for that as well and I would be happy to help you with that. So we will see you next time and have a great week.