Did I attract to my drug of choice because I was Codependent and needed numbing to face life? I can now see that I was Codependent first and substance addicted after. If I had not gotten help for my repeated self sabotaging choice of partners,
would I have relapsed back into drug and alcohol? Absolutely! I Was Dual Addicted / I am now a Double Winner!
The early TV era was all about “happily ever after”. No TV star had an unhappy ending. Their lives were sun-shiny without fears, doubts and insecurities. I cherished my 30 minute escape each day while watching TV. There were no negative words or disapproving frowns darting at me. While alone watching TV, no one was rejecting my hugs, smiles and giggles. Life was ‘breathable’ until Mom came home from work and commenced drilling into my 7 year old mind that I was the reason her life had been ruined.
Our TV cabinet was the size of a mini hotel refrigerator with a tiny screen the size of a mini Ipad. One program had Broderick Crawford as the Highway Patrolman. He looked like Mr. Clean in a trench coat with a lollipop stick dangling out one side of his mouth. I secretly imagined that he was my long lost dad. He was my strong, solution solving father. Mom had told everyone that she was a widow. None-the-less, I spent many years waiting for my dad to miraculously show up to take care of us.
He did show up 2 times. He did not remove the ‘illegitimate’ stamp from my birth certificate. He did not take care of us. He couldn’t. The ISM owned him. He was an active alcoholic and of no use to himself or us.
In the 1950’s women were under paid but over worked. Mom had no support from her own family because she had had a baby out of wedlock. So life was hard for us. She came home from work tired and needed to cook. We ate in a rush to hurry off to one of her several part time jobs. These low paid jobs ranged from cooking at the church to cleaning offices, from babysitting to hand washing barroom cocktail glasses. I do not remember her smiling, laughing, relaxing, praying. Due to her exhausted work mode, I always thought she was angry. Now I know she was just imprisoned with bills, aching feet, the shame of wearing rags, being cold in the winter and hot in the summer, waiting for buses, and carrying grocery bags or laundry baskets like a mule.
I did all I could to be a good girl and not cause more grief. I hated it when she started in that I was the cause of all her problems. I just deduced that some people were born to focus on bringing joy and ease to the rest of the world. I decided in my child size mind that I was one of those chosen sacrificers.
That is why I felt a very special bond with the lady star on a favorite show called Love Boat. Gail Storm was a social director on a cruise ship who dedicated her time to making people happy and fixing people’s problems on board an ocean liner. She was a doll and sang great! “Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries”,”He’s My Man” , “Summer Time” were a few of her codependent songs that I listened to in my early teens and learned word for word. The poor neighbors would hear me singing my sad heart out at the top of my lungs.
I had made up my mind to work on a cruise ship, too. But as I looked into it in high school, I discovered that I needed to get a maritime card. Back then one needed to be recommended for a maritime card and I didn’t know anyone who could do that. Resourcefully, I did the next best thing and became an airline hostess. I had a strong conviction to serve people and watch them enjoy being served. I knew I had been dealt the wrong deck of LIFE cards and was not created to receive joy. I believed that I had been designed to cater to others to make them happy. But no matter how hard I struggled to make my own mom content, I never did.
But, wow did I study and cultivate the art of pleasing men! I was their meal ticket, their free open bar, business developer, playboy fantasy, maid, gourmet cook, business event hostess, nocturnal sports mate, and any other demanded role. I even progressed to the rear and became not only a doormat but battered wife, and the wife of one man who had a small harem! I was terrorized and so emotionally abused that my body shut down twice due to just plan ole broken heartedness. It is a state that occurs in extreme Codependency.
There was an American psychologists living in the 3rd world country where my last two marriages were. She told me I was programmed to give and never receive. She pointed out my care giving professions and the marital behaviors I considered normal and acceptable. My view toward selfish spouses was just like with my cold hearted mom. “If I tried hard enough and became perfect enough, someday day I would be accepted as worthy and actually receive validation and love!” Duh! I do not have to even be in that war game to begin with!
When the student is ready the teacher appears. Into my 2nd year of sobriety I flew to America for a couple days in order to do my 5th step in English. I went to an AA meeting there, and was given a book about letting go and letting God. Two days later back in Mexico, I began to read that book over and over. It was about something called Codependency. For my first 2 years of sobriety I had needed to continue living in a toxic house of cold negativity. I was trying to be appreciated and finally loved. That book explained a lot and I had a spiritual awakening of a new way of thinking!
Terrified, I did what the book taught. I let go! I escaped to America with just my purse! I trusted God. The culture shock was traumatic! I felt so lost because everything was so technical and self-serve in my modern world! It was trust God or die! However, I had two different 12 Step programs guiding me to let God make my decisions (AA and Coda). I did trust Him. He did a great job!
I have spouse #5 now. How perfectly romantic our dating was and togetherness now is. We have never been happier! Now, I help victimized women recognize what they are subjecting their daily life to and how to stop being self destructive. I still get to give and cater and serve, but this time to the ones God puts in my pathway. I reap the joy of seeing withered hearts bloom into life flowers: happy, joyous and free! I do this between the kisses, hugs, and laughter my hubby and I enjoy together. Thank you Ms. Author of that book about letting go and letting God. Thank you, Ms. LeeAnn for bringing that book to me at my 2nd AA meeting in America!
My mom is not the only hardened heart I have known who could not receive my love and dedication. There have been many men and even a few bosses in my life who exist in that cold mode. (They had never been to ‘receive and thank you’ class). Praise God, I finally did take those classes through Coda 12 Step meetings and Coda 12 Step books.
Let me be very clear about my understanding of all this: I do not know what came first: the chicken or the egg. I do not know if my alcoholism came first or the codependence. I do know that if I had not gotten into Coda and out of my toxic environment, I would not have 12+ years clean and sober. My relapse was a reality waiting to happen!
I was dual addicted and am now I am a double winner! AA and Coda.
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Cindy O. (also known as Cindy Lizard). If you have a praise report to share with our new Cindy Lizard Gang, please click and submit your story. You will be kept anonymous and we can go from there. Thanks.
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