This article was inspired by Nicole Cameron Elephant Journal
Have you ever stopped to think about how our clients’ lives are filled with drama and intrigue? Have you ever thought about how your life is a series of drama filled events?
When I think back on my childhood, I know all too well the effects of growing up in a family that was an ever-exploding volcano fueled by substance abuse, trauma, anxiety, depression, and sudden death. In my memoir, Falling Up, I share about how being born on a fault line of trauma and emotional wreckage curated me to expect drama to be my way of life.
When we work with families, in essence, we are inviting them to resign from the drama of codependency, of creating and being a part of their loved one’s feelings, thoughts, and actions – not because they don’t love them, but because they do. Their well-intentioned, “I can take responsibility for you at any cost” has thwarted their loved one’s ability to grow and is counterproductive to achieving the goal of their becoming healthy, independent adults.
We invite these families to allow their loved ones to be the adults they are and figure out their own lives. We encourage families to stop providing all of the essential needs for their 23, 26, 34, 42 year old adults. Being supportive of an adult does not mean providing for them like they are a child.
We invite families to let their loved ones take responsibility for themselves by not bailing them out or making excuses for them. Instead, we advocate allowing them to stand or fall on their own choices. In short, we encourage families and friends to resign from being fixers.
I don’t think that most people realize that they have walked through the world being a fixer. They truly want to help their loved one, their friend, succeed and think that by looking the other way when a small transgression is made – lying, stealing, getting in to trouble, hiding in their room, yelling, belittling loved ones, being let go from work or school – that all will be ok because they can fix it for them by being a better mother, father, sister, brother, husband, wife, partner or friend. The truth is they can’t fix it. Instead they get swept up in a tidal wave of denial and a sea of despair.
Most of all we help folks who have “inadvertently twisted themselves emotionally into being a human pretzel for another” untwist themselves. We help them regain their sense of confidence and assurance as they invite their loved ones to change.
And when this works, when invitations to change are given and accepted, we discover that everyone feels physically and emotionally lighter. All our given tools and strategies are designed to encourage everyone to RSVP to life.