To Parents, Spouses & Codependents

     If you are living with an addict, you are living with a crazy person. If you read Melody Beattie’s Codependent No More (which every spouse & parent of an addict should read), you will realize that by living with a crazy person, you can become some degree of crazy yourself.

     Therefore, parents and spouses of addicts may also be quite ill. If they have been preoccupied with our addiction all of these years, chances are they have been avoiding anything and everything inside themselves. If and when the addict recovers, what happens when this once ongoing distraction is removed? What happens is that all sorts of pain, anger, sadness, resentment and a mountain of other unresolved stuff comes bubbling to the surface.

     In some cases, parents, spouses and codependents might use someone else’s addiction to avoid doing work on themselves. And sadly, when the addict does recover, their resentment sometimes grows much stronger. Their own flaws suddenly become more apparent, but they are bitter. “Why should I have to change and work on myself also when you are the piece of shit who was drinking, using, lying, stealing and breaking my heart all these years?!” 

     So what can be done? Let me tell you about my wife. When I came home from treatment, it was apparent that there was a profound change in me. She knew I was better and that the worrying sick and the preoccupation was over. Uh oh. She became all but miserable, knowing that if she didn’t also grow and change, we wouldn’t make it together. She wanted and deserved the peace and calm that I had found.

     So what did she do? She found a girl (a recovered addict, in fact) and went through the exact same Twelve Step spiritual process that I did. And yes, anybody can take Steps. The only word that you really have to change is ‘alcohol’ in the 1st Step. Substitute it with any number of things. Parents and spouses and codependents can be powerless over the addict, over his or her addiction, over their own feelings of anger, resentment or depression, over themselves, or over their lives. Anybody’s life can become unmanageable, meaningless or spiritually sick… and therefore we can all take Steps. Even if you just write a 4th Step inventory, or just begin to pray and meditate. These spiritual principles and tools can benefit anyone, not just demented addicts. Trust me, you will see changes inside yourself and in your outer life as well if you harness these simple tools.

God, please help parents, spouses and codependents also find their way to the Steps and to You… 

5 thoughts on “To Parents, Spouses & Codependents

  1. I did not cause it, I cannot control it and I cannot cure it. I sure as hell am not going to get “ill” from it.
    When a loved one suddenly shows up with a full blown addiction, there is nothing more entertaining for them to do than to subject the family to rants about how they are “co-dependent.” I don't buy it. If I did not cause it, cannot control it and cannot cure it, why am I now part of someone else's disease? Do I care about it? Of course! Do I need to do “work on myself” because of these unilateral destructive choices? Only to the extent that I need to keep the disease from impacting me.
    It is enough that the addict is ill. Please don't tell me I am now at fault.

  2. I enjoyed this post “To Parents, Spouses & Codependents”. I think you are right on the mark here. I became crazy and addicted to my daughter's addiction. I had to work on myself to change this. My daughter's addiction has brought me many blessings. I have met and made many friends in the recovery community. Exposure to the Big Book and focusing on improving myself spiritually has been a blessing. Keep writing! You have a gift of helping others that needs to be shared.

  3. Charlie thank you for sharing your story on the Blaze today. I really need to get the Big Book, I am looking forward to getting your book also. I love that prayer you shared from the Bigbook of AA. I am working through the steps as the wife of an alcoholic. He is going through the steps also. It is difficult to make the change after so MANY years of trying to fix my alcoholic. It has been very eye opening to realize we BOTH subjected those we love including our kids to our toxic way of doing life. I who was the “Christian” (shotty and spordic at best) subjected our kids to a very disfuctional untrust worthy God. I for the past few months, have been working on ACTUALLY giving up my will over to God's perfect will. I really do want him to Lord over my life. It now is not me just speaking christianeze. As my hubby and I work on putting our relationship back together, I pray for God's will to the challenges we face. I will not be able to blame the alcohol, we will actually have to address the trials in life with different perspective. To not actually blow off each others responses but to actually listen and respond to the each other actually caring. I have been selfish and built the biggest wall. I am excited to get reaquainted with my best friend, but aprehensive too. I know God will heal us both and He will be glorified.
    Thanks Again Charlie, God Bless you and your family! Amber of Colorado

  4. I love the crazy person analogy. It describes an addict perfectly. In this case this craziness is infectious. It infects the people who love and care for the addict.

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