Facing Down Codependence After Years of Caretaking
The subject never came up. Not in therapy sessions. Not in any of my reading over the years as the adoptive mother of a Chinese son. Fast-forward 18 years and this same son is stepping away into a life of his own. Now I’m face to face with it: codependence.
First came the mood swings. Mine. Next, I noticed that these swings were in synch with my perceptions of how my son was faring. Was he happy? Was he struggling?
Something was amiss and my therapist friend gave it a name: codependency.
Yep. After the boxes were gone I discovered I had, for years, hyper-linked my inner life to that of a child who had a tough start. Really tough. And when he left he packed up my long-time vocation: caretaking. For too long I had been under the impression that my “job” was to bear his emotional load and lessen the pain of his consequences, which I threw myself over like a live bomb.
Just recently, I accepted a new job. It only asks that I surrender and, through radical acceptance, make peace with myself over all I hoped to control but could not. My next steps will be to continue to sweep out the corners of codependence, to regain my footing, and to journey on with a lightness that frees me to love with equal or greater intensity. Just without the pain of shrapnel.
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