Codependency And The Art of Control

Control.  We all want it.  We are all ultimately trying to get it.  We want to control situations, outcomes and many times people.  I have been the controller and I have been the controlee.  LOL, I’m not sure if those are even words but I have the feeling you know what I mean.

In my experience people try to gain control by adopting one of two methods.  There is the controlling, demanding, threatening control of force.   It’s blatant and apparent.  It’s obvious that someone wants the control and will make things very difficult for any one that steps out of line.  The person doing the demanding and threatening is usually perfectly aware of what he is doing.  It is his way, or the highway.  As scary and dysfunctional as this is, at least you know what you are dealing with.

The second type of control is much different.  One of the biggest differences is that the controller doesn’t even realize what they are doing.  Not only does the person not know that control is what they are ultimately trying to obtain, they are insulted at the suggestion of it.  This type of control looks accommodating, understanding, self-sacrificing, financially supportive and overall people pleasing.

The person who is trying so hard to make sure everyone is ok, fixing all the problems, smoothing over all the difficulties is actually just trying to control the situation, outcome and or the people involved.  When people don’t react, respond or act the way they are supposed to the “fixer”  begins to feel like they are not being appreciated, that no one cares about them and may even feel that people are mad at them.  They eventually fall into a victim or martyr role. images (3)

In relationship to the Alcoholic/Addict neither of these methods work. Both methods can be considered Codependent in nature and be harmful to both parties . At first glance, you would think that the method of control by force would be much more damaging than the passive method.   However, in my experience the passive method of supportive, people pleasing is much more damaging to both parties.

As an Alcoholic/Addict myself I can tell you that finding a supportive, understanding, problem solver, while in active addiction, is like winning the lottery.  This gets a bit complicated so I will be direct.  By direct I mean prepare yourself as sometimes new information creates a shift of perception that is uncomfortable at first.

Alcoholics/Addicts are master manipulators period.  A lot of people will say that this is only when we are in active addiction, but I disagree.  We are master manipulators clean and sober or loaded.  Hopefully, when we sober up we use our powers for good and not evil, best keep on your toes, regardless.  We are experts at getting what we want, selling water to a drowning man, closing any deal.  However, we do not want you to know that. We need you to think we need help.  We are victims.  We have trauma.  If only the world would have treated us better, if only  this or that were different, if only we could have, would have, should have…. fill in the blanks.

News flash!  Everyone has trauma, everyone has had obstacles and problems beyond their control.  However, only the Alcoholic/Addict hang on to them like a life-preserver and will drink or drug himself to death over them.  Alcoholic/Addicts will intuitively find the weak spot with any supportive, understanding person that comes across their path and then unconsciously or consciously will work that line of sympathy until you are completely worn out, physically, mentally spiritually and financially.

Beware, after they are done it will end up being your fault.  You didn’t do enough, you didn’t pay enough, you didn’t care enough.  It’s a losing battle.  You see, you are trying to help, but realistically aren’t you really just trying to get them to do what you want?  To get help? To get well?  To live the life you want them to have, because you love them so much?  This is a hard reality to look at but isn’t this the same sort of selfishness that the Alcoholic/Addict exhibits?

The need for you to be alright.  The need for you to think they love you.  The need for you to think you love them.  I mean let’s be brutally honest right now.  If you relate to any of this article then you would have to admit that any Alcoholic/Addict in active addiction is an irritating, frustrating asshole who is completely maddening and bottom line unlovable.  Yes, even if they are your parents, spouse, or child.  It’s tiring…the lying, the manipulation, the false promises, the list goes on and on.

You might eventually get angry  and then they will pull a move, like disappearing, not calling, let you get good and worried about them.  They know you will get worried, start retracing your steps, rerun your conversations in your mind.  You will start questioning everything you have said and done and beat your self up for not handling it differently. After you are good and convinced you could have done more, understood more, helped more they will appear to accept your apology and your promise that you will help no matter what.

The damaging knife of guilt is wielded by both the Addict/Alcoholic and it’s victim.  The fight is on.  The dance has begun and no one is going to win.  You are in the ring  fighting Mike Tyson with one arm tied behind your back.

If it seems like I am being stereotypical in my description, it is because it is the official script of this horrific cycle.  It really doesn’t differ much from case to case.  It runs like clockwork.  The only thing that differs is the severity of the damage.  Some relationships have higher stakes.  Kids and grandkids are involved.  The amount of money might be different, the number of promises or the presence of theft may or may not occur, but it’s all the same game.

I read a lot of articles about Alcoholism/Addiction and Codependency and while it is all accurate it is not as brutally honest as it needs to be.  This isn’t a puzzle.  It’s been the same for a hundred years if not longer.  There is a Victim and there is a perpetrator in every story.  However, this is the only story where the perpetrator is also the victim and the victim is also the perpetrator.  Think about that for a moment.

If you continue to dance this dysfunctional dance you are making it possible for the Alcoholic/Addict to be insincere.  The only hope for them, and for you, is for you to get out of the ring.

I have helped so many people who might have had a chance if the supportive, understanding, financier would have cut them off and let them figure it out for themself. I know this is harsh but it’s true.  When dealing with Alcoholism/Addiction, the person afflicted must want to be sober and be willing to do what it takes to get and stay sober one day at a time.   This will absolutely not happen if they have any other option.  You need to ask yourself if you are helping or if you are providing that other option.

I spoke to a women a few months ago.  I had witnessed her struggle to get sober for over a decade.  She told me she was finally able to get and stay sober.  I was so happy to hear that and asked her what had changed.  What had finally happened so that she could get sober?  Her response was short and hit me like a ton of bricks.  Her enablers died.  I was dumbstruck. The simple truth of it that the very people who loved her so much and tried to help her for years were actually part of the reason she stayed sick.

You see, she only could get sober and move on with her life when there was no other option.  I think that is the greatest love of all is to let someone experience their own life, consequences and recovery.  It is by far the hardest type of love to express because we are afraid others will think it’s not love.   When you truly love someone and love them enough to let them go regardless of how you feel or how it will affect you or how it makes you look to others then you will know in the deepest part of your soul that you love and respect them as a person.  You honor their path, thier experience and treasure knowing them and learning from your relationship.  There will be no need to change them.  No need to fix them you will know that you have done everything to help by staying out of the ring and getting help for yourself.

“Uncertainty is an uncomfortable position.

But certainty is an absurd one.”  

–  Voltaire

God Bless 🙂








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