I went to an Al-Anon meeting tonight. I have not been to one in probably almost 20 years. At that time, I went because of my father’s alcoholism. This time, it is about my ex-boyfriend. I guess technically I am killing two birds with one stone.
The topic the speaker chose could not have been more perfect for me. It was about feeling responsible for other people and not focusing on yourself. For SO LONG I felt responsible for my boyfriend, especially at the end of our relationship when he was hospitalized and so ill. I put him and his health and his alcoholism first and I knew he really needed me. It was all about him, but really most of our relationship was that way. He said something to me right after our dog died…he said, “I knew I wasn’t taking the best care of her, but I also knew that you would.” I thought I was helping him, but really all I was doing was taking away any responsibilities or consequences. In reality, I was making it very easy for him to drink, because he knew I would hold everything else together.
Someone in the meeting said that they often get lost in other people because it feels makes them feel safe. I recognized that is exactly what I have been doing these past few months, since everything in my life became complete chaos. My sister bought a house at the end of June and ALL I have done this summer is help her pack, move, decorate, etc her house. I also have been helping her with her two year old daughter. I obviously love spending time with my niece, but I know I have been hiding in their lives and their new home as a way of avoiding my own. I also realize that I have been trying to do EVERYTHING for my sister, whether it be at her house or helping with the baby. Another member of the Al-Anon group spoke tonight and said that they always want to be needed because if they are not doing things for other people, they feel worthless, like they have nothing else to offer. That is how I feel about myself right now and I am aware that I have transferred a lot of my codependent tendencies from my exboyfriend to my sister.
So, here are my takeaways from tonight’s meeting…
- I am not responsible for anyone else’s behavior. I should not feel guilty that I can’t be supportive of someone who is harmful to my emotional well being. I am only responsible for myself.
- I cannot save anyone, especially those who do not want to save themselves; people need to face the consequences of their actions.
- I have to stop trying to do everything for other people and start realizing I have more to offer. People will still care about me and want to spend time with me, even if I am not “doing” things for them. I have to stop needing to constantly feel needed.
- No. More. Hiding. As much as I love my sister, my niece and their new lovely home, I must have my own life and enjoy the time I spend at my own house.