Many of the changes we endure in life are fleeting, or are ‘just for the moment.’
We use that momentary change to get us down the road a little further, to a place where we may forget what came about that helped us change or achieve, but we end up doing things differently, or just doing different things than we were used to doing or had set out to do. Somewhat of a serendipitous discovery that we soon discard or forget. However, we have changed and taken a new direction. Destructive life cycles do not do this. They stagnate us.
There are those who desire and accept change and there are those who despise and repel change. The latter are really of no help or any good to nearly anyone. Aside from being completely incapacitated, bed ridden or mentally unable, that attitude is really a useless endeavor and has no future in any form. Those who refuse to change are just as good as dead. I will write no more about those who refuse to change and whom do not contribute to the environment around them.
The former, indeed, are the energy that keeps renewal present in all forms. Change is always good. Embracing change keeps one from adhering to temporary fixes in an attempt to make one feel revitalized. Granted, small goals set and achieved while en route to the biggy is good, but many times people accept those small goals, get side tracked and never get back to the purpose, to get to that big shiny goal. The one they were heading for in the first place.
So, what is my intention here? In this blog entry? To share my trip to a goal and while on the road, how I broke the cycles that were handed to me that nearly became deal breakers. Cycles in life that are acceptable, but in this case, destructive, damaging and that lead to a dead-end in life. I know as I was growing up, the cycles I saw in my family were very confusing. Many times I was told “This, this, this,” but I saw those instructions broken by what I witnessed in my family’s behavior. ~Don’t hit, but I saw hitting.~Don’t lie to others.~Don’t hurt your brothers.~ It went on and on.
Well, I finally got to a point where I could evaluate all of these precepts and cycles and realize that this was not the way, but, sadly, only after failed relationships, lost jobs, jail time, etc.
Ok, here’s the clue.
Many years ago, a very definitive thought came to me, and it relates to what I said above, that thought being, “If your goals can fit into a backpack, that is where you will remain. If your goals are lofty and wide, that is where you will be most beneficial to yourself and others along the way.”
As I grew up, I knew that something wasn’t right in collecting welfare as a primary source of income, as my mother had been doing while trying to support us three boys after the divorce, or as a way of getting from one month to another. At the time, it was the only help available. Granted, as I look back on those days, I can understand that my mother must have been on the verge of a nervous breakdown for years. The stress of retaining custody of three boys who needed to be educated, fed, clothed, treated with dignity and respect. Without a doubt, this was a daunting task. I know she had to have been unhappy most of the time. “What am I going to do?”
Well, I didn’t want to go through what I had seen. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to always be happy. We all know this can’t happen all the time, but you don’t have to be a slave to distress. We all know that happiness is not bought or sold. It has to be attained. You have to involve yourself with what makes you happy and is lasting and not harmful to others. How do you do that? You surround yourself with quality people, you engage in benevolent activity, you make low or no risk decisions for yourself and those who depend upon you and you don’t settle for less than what you are sure will help you attain the goals you have in life.
Sounds like a pretty broad and tough solution, doesn’t it? It certainly is, but not impossible.
Please understand that I do not consider that all have gone through what I have gone through, or that my solutions are what will work for everyone. I offer them up as one possible solution for many whom may have experienced, or are experiencing, these same issues.
—Part 1 ~ Breaking the cycle of self medication.
Years ago I had a drug problem. I’m not going to list which one/s I was ‘friends’ with, but we were tight. At some point, I wanted to stop what I was doing. I figured that if I just stopped using drugs, I would never do drugs. No. It does not work that easily. I thought I could still ‘hang out’ with the people I had been getting high with but just refuse to ‘partake.’ No. It doesn’t work that way. At some point, I thought, “A little once in a while is no big deal.” Nope, that doesn’t take your ‘user’ status off of the table. I was still a user. If you use once a year, you’re a user. Maybe not an addict, but a user. If you use drugs for non medical reasons or effects, you’re a user. Take it with a grain of salt.
As I had seen this activity in my family; mother, father, aunts, uncles, I considered it somewhat acceptable. I saw no harm in doing the same. There was no one around to tell me not to, so I did it.
Well, I eventually had to understand that the friends I was getting high with were not friends. Big bolt from the sky. They were ‘people I knew.’ Think about this: do you think when your birthday comes around, or Christmas or Easter, that these people you get high with are going to go to the store and pick out a meaningful gift or card to give you to celebrate? Or that they are going to make a gift utilizing their creative talent? Yeah, I thought so. It won’t happen. You can depend on them giving you an extra hit or a quarter or whatever. How thoughtful. That’s like giving a smoker a carton of cigarettes for his birthday. I think you get it.
This act of freeing yourself from the cycle of self medication has two parts, or, sides. One is freeing yourself from the substance, the other is freeing yourself from the idea that you will be abandoning your friends. Believe me, the first is much easier than the second. The first has no feelings, and you think the second does. You won’t be hurting anyone’s feelings by stopping using substances. There will always be a new idiot to take your place and you won’t be hurting anyone’s feelings by never seeing them again. They never were your friends, or maybe they were early in the ‘relationship.’
When I finally left everyone behind, I wanted to go back and say, “See, I did it. I’m better than you.” How arrogant and self inflating is that. The fact that you were actually an addict, or a user, is testimony that you are stupider than you look. Don’t look back. Those people don’t give a crap about you. All that’s important about you is the money you will give them so they can obtain more substance that you will pay for so they can obtain more substance that you will pay for……………∞
Well, I actually did it. Again, convincing myself of the friendship falsehood was the toughest. Maybe because I like people. But they were fake friends. Once you accept that, not doing the “user” thing is easy. No ‘using’ friends around, nothing to use. You have to acknowledge that those people are just that, people. They may have actually been friends when it all started, but they have become fellow users. They don’t care about you, you don’t need to care about them. You need to get away from them to break this cycle.
—Part 2 ~ Breaking the cycle of co-dependence.
Many times, through my life, I have seen people unable to make decisions or achieve goals without expecting someone else to push them, or enable them by making their quest easily obtainable. Unable to accept that they need to do the work themselves, not allowing someone to hand it to them, they never learn to move ahead on their own. Accomplishment does not come without cost. Not necessarily with pain or unfounded humiliation, but through self appointment. You have to believe in something doable, but if it is a walk in the park, it won’t satisfy you. Nothing easy that takes no effort is worth the time nor is it rewarding. At least not for me.
“Codependency (or codependence, interdependency ) is defined as a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (as in an addiction to alcohol or heroin); and in broader terms, it refers to the dependence on the needs of or control of another. It also often involves placing a lower priority on one’s own needs, while being excessively preoccupied with the needs of others. Codependency can occur in any type of relationship, including family, work, friendship, and also romantic, peer or community relationships. Codependency may also be characterized by denial, low self-esteem, excessive compliance, or control patterns. Narcissists are considered to be natural magnets for the codependent.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Codependence)
Ok, this is very straight-forward. My mother was a lonely person. After the divorce and my father had gone, she was devastated. She loved him like no other. She was 15 years old when they met. He was 18. I am certain he was dashing, authoritative, handsome beyond the moon. The divorce took place when I was just eight years old (eight years after the marriage,) so I really don’t know what was going on. My mother was sad at the time, my father was angry, I think mainly because he was caught or couldn’t hide the fact that he was ‘fooling around’ with college girls, while attending Grays Harbor College. There was yelling, cussing, hitting and chaos in the house. I can’t remember many exact activities, I am much, much older but I do remember the yelling and hitting. There was hate. There was distrust. There was animosity and discord.
My father used to spend a lot of time out of the house, at the bar. He was a drinker. Mother was, later on after the divorce when the smoke cleared and the dust settled. Once she knew I had a grip on ‘family life’ and that I knew my brothers needed to be protected from others and themselves, she had her freedom. She knew she could give me charge over the house and my brothers, so at around eight years old, I became the ‘father.’ This was in 1962.
Sorry, I’m getting back into stories that have been written. I’ll get back to the point and purpose of this entry.
The responsibilities my mother bestowed upon me were enough to make me grow up quick. I had to take care of everything that was immediate. Cooking, cleaning, all domestic applications for my brothers and I. She paid the bills and did everything a kid couldn’t do. This condition was totally dependent on me being a good kid and staying home all of the time. Can you see the bottomless crack opening here? Certainly, one becomes aware of the shortcuts available. When mom isn’t home, she hasn’t a clue what we are doing. Don’t leave any tracks. Make sure no one gets hurt, you don’t want to have to clean up the mess and be distrusted. Distrust brings loss of freedom.
So there was a degree of codependence. I was dependent on my mother for basic needs, she was dependent on me to take care of the brothers when she wanted to be gone. It was a symbiotic setup that I knew nothing about so I had no desire to escape. I guess in looking back, I was actually being used. Mother, like my father, didn’t like staying home. Think about that. She had children whom she couldn’t, somehow, bring herself to participate in their lives. That’s scary.
So, I knew many years later that I didn’t want to find myself in this same type of relationship, so I isolated myself. I’ve never had close friends. I’ve had friends whom I consider valuable, but I’ve never been dependent on anyone. I’ve never ‘hung’ with anyone, aside from my early years when my, still, friend, Scott and I used to ride bikes all over Aberdeen, WA. Even today I find it uncomfortable to allow people to get close to me. I wish it weren’t so, but at this point I really don’t know how to overcome this attitude. My wife and I are close, we love each other, we share everything, but, somehow, I still feel alone. I’ve broken the codependence cycle, but have I created a new cycle I can’t identify or become aware of? Maybe I have, but I will remedy that too.
—Part 3 ~ Breaking lifelong cycles that lead to failure.
“If what you were taught as a child is destructive to you and those around you now, you are doomed to fail as a respected adult, parent and spouse if you do not break that cycle. This is an inescapable truth.”
I wrote that. Feel free to quote me.
If you think that practicing the things that you were taught as a child are the way to lead your spouse and children into the future, then make sure those ways have spawned ideas and activities in individuals who have gone on to be leaders, guides, cherished examples. If they haven’t, you will only see the same failing results that have taken place in you or your families past. Do you want to see success in your children? Do you want to see success in you? I don’t have children, I have never been given the privilege, although I wish I had. As I look back, I could have been a great dad, but a failure as a role model. I’ve never made the best decisions, I’ve never done all of the right things that a child looks up to, but I have also never led a child to destruction.
My father has told me again and again, when he does speak to me, “You have to stop living in the past,” and he is correct, but that’s why I write. To let go of the past. In my life I find that I have to realize the past to let go of it. I have to make it real, words on a laptop screen or a sheet of paper, to let it go. Thinking it away doesn’t work for me. He also tells me “That’s the way I was raised,” when I have the privilege of speaking with him, which tells me that he can’t let go of the past but everyone else should. Is it because those in his life, present and past, remember what he has done to them? I haven’t forgotten, but I’m certainly trying to. I don’t consider much of what he tells me to be very credible. He doesn’t tell me much. I called his bluff around a year ago on much of what he has told me about how great of a father he has been to me. I haven’t seen him but a couple of times in the last forty years, and I had to make the trip to him whenever I did see him. He has never visited me and has told me he never will. I don’t really know of anyone who is less interested in their son’s life than my father. He has no interest in my musical career. He has never asked me about it. I wish it were not so. I really would like him to just ask me how life has been. Just those few words. Most of all, I would just like to forget it all and be rid of it. I care about my father, but I care about everyone,
Back to those ‘cycles.’
If you carry on where people in your life have gone and have had terrible motivation and results, you will reap nothing other than what they did and worse. Becoming stable and independent is the only way you will break lifelong cycles that lead to failure. Carrying on where they left off is only that, carrying on where they left off. Do you want to start something new, something beneficial to yourself and others, especially those whom you love? Don’t you want to hand down to others what can be made into even better things? I certainly do. I have no children, so I can’t hand anything off to them, although, I do want to be remembered as someone who cared about others, someone who was never afraid to lend a hand, to further a worthy and benevolent cause, to help others enjoy their lives without harming others.
Don’t accept what others have set up for you, or follow what you “feel is right,” without questioning everything. If people you look up to are failures in some part of their lives, following their lead will give you the results they accepted. Do better. Think for yourself. Realize what is right and leave the failing recipe behind. Do not allow destructive people or patterns to be a part of your life, regardless of your feelings. Ever.
Hey, thanks for looking,