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Old 08-11-2011, 07:04 AM   #1
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Moving Forward...Baby Steps

As a teacher I usually teach summer school but it was cut from the budget. So I was off ALL summer. As someone who suffers from depression, I don't do well with too much time on my hands at all. I think way too much. I will say I held it together this summer but it was a roller coaster emotionally. One day I'm ok, the next I'm a crying, anxious, depressed mess.

I tried my best to keep busy this summer but spent a lot of time with self thought. I will do my best to sum up many issues/emotions without making this a novel. I've suffered from depression since my teens. Maybe it was maturity or timing but within the last year with my new therapist, I've made great breakthroughs. My issues are completely surrounded by my family. I love them more than anything but they unintentionally are the reason for my issues. Growing up my brother had a very bad temper. My mom didn't have a great mother, so she just wanted peace and no fighthing. So whenever my brother flew off the handle, she enabled him and gave him what he wanted. Dad didn't do much to stop it either. I in turn, seeing the pain it caused my parents, took on the role of "Ms. Fix-It." I became everyone's go to person. I only realized in the last year that that caused me not to live my life for me. I missed so many opportunities. Never took risks b/c my brother took all risks and made so many mistakes that I became Little Ms. Perfect. I didn't want to disappoint my parents.

For years, and even til this day, my brother has some sort of control over my family, especially my mother. Over the years I put everyone else first and not myself. This caused me to shut down in many respects. I've dated but never really had a boyfriend. I shut myself down physically, still a virgin at 33. I felt that I didn't deserve those things. I also felt guilty that if I allowed it, something would happen at home, bc I wasn't there.

I have so much anger towards my family, eventhough I know my parents did what they felt was right at the time. I used to do whatever I could do to help my brother. But it really hit me at the beginning of the summer that he is extremely self-absorbed. I never hear from him, unless he needs something. I own my home and he hasn't been here in months. Never asks if I need help. So something came up and I (terrified) put my foot down. He went off, as expected. He told me I never help and I'm a baby and a *****. (Who is having the temper tantrum of a 2 year old b/c they didn't get their way?) I stuck to my guns, yet cried everyday. He knows nothing about me b/c he's too focused on friends and who he is dating. (He was married, got divorced, and last year found his fiance cheating on him.) So when he's not in a committed relationship, he pulls away from the family. We didn't talk for weeks.

We happened to stop by moms on the same day. Small talk but he never acknowledged the fight. I sent him an email, a few weeks later, laying it all on the table. No response. When I texted him about it, he responded (sort of selfishly) that he's been all over the place. He didn't mean not to respond, he didn't do it on purpose and that he was sorry. With the help of my therapist and friends, I've come to understand he cares but is incapable of being the brother I'd like him to be. Sometimes I think he's jealous that I have most of my life together and he's all over the place at 37.

I know I need to begin putting myself first, but I feel awful doing so. I have a terrible fear of death, especially when it comes to thinking about my parents and brother. My therapist tells me it's my anger and feelings of abandonment. I never attempted to take my own life but can't breathe when I think of them not being here. I don't have an extended family. The selfish part of me feels, I'm making progress but something will happen and I will fall apart, leading me to really not want to be here.

I've closed myself off from men, b/c of my brother in some weird way. Ya know how people strive to get the approval of a mother or father? I think b/c my brother had that control in the family, I always wanted his approval. Does that make sense? I don't want to close myself off from men but I'm stuck. I can't get out of my own way. I either find myself attracted to those I can take my family role with. Or when I see someone attractive, I can't open my mouth b/c of rejection and feelings I don't deserve it. How do I get out of my own way?

I've kept busy over the summer but still struggle to put myself out there to meet new people. All of my issues are kinda at a crossroads right now. I'm making baby steps but just want to be past it all. This is where I don't think I can live another 33 years like this but feel like I'm running in place.

Anyone out there feel their depression or relationship issues are based on their family life? Any advice on how I can continue to move forward? How do I love my family but still find a life for me? Some days I truly feel I'm not meant to be happy. Some days I truly feel my life isn't worth it. Yet I deal with the pain, hoping to one day prove myself wrong.

 
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Old 08-11-2011, 12:30 PM   #2
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Re: Moving Forward...Baby Steps

The easy answer: You realize you are a grownup, well over 21, and you are the only person who can choose how you live your life. At some point we all have to put away the childhood we had, realizing that it's over, good or bad. Try to forgive those parents and siblings and understand that they had their own issues, and probably did what they felt was their best.

Easier said than done, obviously. We all have baggage of some kind from our childhood. I certainly do! Add to that the baggage from marriage and relationships and friendships, and I am the person I am today. I was an extremely shy child, trying to stay in the background as much as I could because my father always tried to shove me out there and use me as an example for my siblings: "Why can't you be as smart as your sister (me)?" "Why can't you be good like your sister?" Etc. etc. However, at some point in my late teens I came to the realization that I was not responsible for what my father said and did. I started to distance myself from him (not rudely) so that I could make friendships and do what I wanted. I was still the "good girl" but I no longer cared if he didn't like my friends or my hair or how fat or skinny I was this month.

Work with your therapist to realize that you are not responsible for the behavior or your mother or your brother or any other person. You are resonsible for your own happiness, no one else's. That's not to say that you should be rude and obnoxious or you should refuse to do anything for your family members. But take the time for yourself and let your brother rant if he wants. Develop a thicker skin, more of a "Who cares, it's his problem not mine" attitude. Do what you feel you should to contribute to the family dynamic (take your mom to the doctor, or attend regular family dinners, or whatever works for you) but take the time to figure out what YOU want from life, what interests you, what hobbies you would like to do. Go on vacation by yourself and do what you want to do.

A phrase that I found several years ago and made a huge impact on my life, after I dedicated it to memory and worked on it, was "I alone am responsible for my happiness." This was during my unhappy marriage, where I was the one who made all the compromises, did everything to make my hubby happy and sacrificed my wants and needs for his. It took me a few years, but I worked hard internally and eventually I was able to feel like I deserved to say no now and then, I deserved to go out with my friends now and then, I deserved to go to the activities that interested me and tell him to go alone to the ones that didn't, that I deserved to watch TV shows or movies that interested me and choose to read a book when he watched something that didn't interest me (which was most of the time!). You get the idea.

Depression is hard to deal with, and the majority of the time it is situational - related directly to your childhood or marriage or relationship or job situation (in other words your life). Work with your therapist to make changes in your life, to make yourself happy first before anyone else, to love yourself and forgive yourself for mistakes in the past, and you will find that you will begin to work to become free from the depression.

 
Old 08-11-2011, 12:49 PM   #3
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Re: Moving Forward...Baby Steps

I endorse everything BigRed is saying.

I also believe that "happiness," which is not necessarily the same as smiling and laughing 24 hours a day, but rather being able to deal with all the moments in your life, whether they are gay or not, and let them go, because everything is just temporary... is your natural right. Yes, actually I mean "happiness" is something to be found inside oneself, it is there, not outside. Or in other words, first find it in yourself and then look for it outside, if needed be.

Go on with your therapy, but maybe you should also do some bodywork, whatever might appeal to you. You seem to live way too much in your mind and quite unaware of your body. Getting in touch with your body will certainly help you gain a different perspective of your life and take things and people not so dramatically, if you see what I mean.

 
Old 08-11-2011, 06:10 PM   #4
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Re: Moving Forward...Baby Steps

I thank both of you so much for your responses. I know my post was lengthy and I appreciate you taking the time. Pendulum, I'm not sure I get what you mean by doing "bodywork." I sooooo live in my mind. My current therapist has been great. I'm so happy and proud of myself for realizing what I have yet terrified b/c I still have a lot of work to do to make myself happy. I don't want the anger towards my family anymore. Yet I feel so guilty not being "Ms. Fix-it." In a dumb way, I feel things will get worse by me changing my role. For example, if I'm not 100% available b/c I'm doing something for me, something bad will happen. I fear the death of my family immensly. No one is sick but I'm terrified I'm going to get a phone call that something happened and I'm not going to know how to deal. I told my therapist that I feel I'm going through the grieving process in a way, yet I'm not at one solid point. I want to find what makes me happy yet I'm so lost. I took myself out of everything, especially dating. Why that area, I don't know yet but I did. Now at 33, who will accept the virginity or the issues that have made me, me? I have to learn to focus on one thing at a time and live in the present. I know I need to take more risks but it takes so much effort and a thick skin b/c I fear rejection. I want to do so many more things but keep putting it off. Just very confused on what to do first and what other baby steps I can make. I know the realizations are "great" yet doing something about it....not so much!

 
Old 08-11-2011, 06:25 PM   #5
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Re: Moving Forward...Baby Steps

Wow, I find you post very interesting, because it is so much of what my bf deals with in his family - mr. fix-it/caretaker role and the guilt of not doing those things. I really feel for you, because I see the impact it has on him. Really wish I could help.
I don't have advice, but I empathize with your position. I do, also, really like the idea of bodywork. I get what Pendulum is saying, but will let him explain as I may not be clear on his specific ideas.

 
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Old 08-13-2011, 12:06 PM   #6
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Moving Forward...Baby Steps...Exactly My Point

I saw my brother the other day at moms. Regular chit chat. He proceeded to ask them for money. When the market went south a few years ago, he was pretty much broke. I know he's paying off a lot of collectors and whatnot but I still wonder what he does with his money that he always needs to borrow. Mom hesitantly said yes. I hated watching it and was so anxious b/c I'm always afraid the _____ is going to hit the fan. As much as I hated watching it, I didn't say a word. I kept telling myself that it's not my responsibility to help and fix. Very hard but I know I did the right thing. I worry about him b/c he's all over the place but again, I need to learn to put me first, right?

He has a friend's wedding today. I sent him a text saying have a good time and be careful. I got a thank you back. He then asked what I was doing tonight. I don't go out often (a work in progress). My friend is coming over to go in my pool then we will grab dinner. Of course b/c he has this wedding he then asked if I would stop by his apt to walk his current flame's dog. I was caught off guard b/c I know he read my email a few weeks ago that poured my heart out saying I'd like him to ask about me and show greater concern for me. He never acknowledged that email but it HAD to have hit him somehow b/c, as much as he didn't acknowledge it, if it really ****** him off, I would've known. The name calling and blah blah blah would've been flying. So today my initial reaction was yes I will help and let the dog out but when I can, not the time he originally asked. But then it hit me...THIS IS EXACTLY MY POINT AND WHAT I'M TRYING TO CHANGE. It's a mixture of old habits die hard and "Hey wait." So I wrote him again, asking if he only asked what I was doing b/c he needed the dog walked. I also added that this was the point of my email. NO RESPONSE!!!! I don't want to argue with him but have to be honest about my feelings. So why am I so nervous this is a few weeks ago all over again, where we will not speak?

It was like I resorted back to part of my old self but rookie new self jumped in. Is that ok? I wish I could just stand my ground without old self. I guess it won't change overnight.

Last edited by Administrator; 08-13-2011 at 04:01 PM.

 
Old 08-13-2011, 01:28 PM   #7
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Re: Moving Forward...Baby Steps...Exactly My Point

It will take some time. When you are co-dependent, you are so worried that someone will get mad at you, and you are so worried that if you say no that means you are a selfish "B", that you end up agreeing to do things that are inconvenient, out of your price range, are against your beliefs, make you uncomfortable, etc. And then you end up sorry that you agreed and wishing you'd just said no. It's hard to get out of the mindset that saying "no" means you are a bad person, especially if someone who is trying to take advantage of you convinces you that you are being unreasonably mean.

Seriously...practice saying "no" by looking in a mirror or with a friend. You don't need to explain, just say "sorry, I won't be able to". Then try it with your brother. If you don't give him explanations he can't try to talk you out of them. I hope this is helpful!

 
Old 08-13-2011, 01:52 PM   #8
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Re: Moving Forward...Baby Steps

Quote:
Originally Posted by Will I Be Happy View Post
I thank both of you so much for your responses. I know my post was lengthy and I appreciate you taking the time. Pendulum, I'm not sure I get what you mean by doing "bodywork." I sooooo live in my mind. My current therapist has been great. I'm so happy and proud of myself for realizing what I have yet terrified b/c I still have a lot of work to do to make myself happy. I don't want the anger towards my family anymore. Yet I feel so guilty not being "Ms. Fix-it." In a dumb way, I feel things will get worse by me changing my role. For example, if I'm not 100% available b/c I'm doing something for me, something bad will happen. I fear the death of my family immensly. No one is sick but I'm terrified I'm going to get a phone call that something happened and I'm not going to know how to deal. I told my therapist that I feel I'm going through the grieving process in a way, yet I'm not at one solid point. I want to find what makes me happy yet I'm so lost. I took myself out of everything, especially dating. Why that area, I don't know yet but I did. Now at 33, who will accept the virginity or the issues that have made me, me? I have to learn to focus on one thing at a time and live in the present. I know I need to take more risks but it takes so much effort and a thick skin b/c I fear rejection. I want to do so many more things but keep putting it off. Just very confused on what to do first and what other baby steps I can make. I know the realizations are "great" yet doing something about it....not so much!
When I say bodywork I don't necessarily mean massage, but something like yoga, tai-chi, aikido, capoeira, dancing, whatever, that "forces" you to use and to be aware of your body. You are a teacher, you mostly work with your mind, and then you do talking therapy alone? It seems you focussing way too much on your mind. Anyway, I saw you are trying to learn to say "no". Wow, that is a very important step for you. Keep moving on, even if at times you feel as if you were moving backward...

Last edited by Administrator; 08-13-2011 at 04:02 PM.

 
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