Welcome to the 12 Keys series of blog posts which will, month by month, explain the 12 Keys of Sanity and give you detailed ideas and activities to help you bring them alive in your life. This post is the eighth in a month-long series on Key Four. This Key is known as the Four C’s: “You Didn’t Cause It, You Can’t Control It, You Can’t Cure It. BUT, You DON’T Have to Contribute To It.”
The ability to Be A Loving Mirror (BALM) takes motivation and understanding. Last month we learned about the three relationships (that with God, self, and others) and how to develop them to help you regain your peace and sanity. Next, There are four cornerstones to help you build the understanding you need to move forward through the four foundations to the goal of Being A Loving Mirror. The first cornerstone is the Four C’s. Learn the 4 C’s well. They will play a KEY role in allowing you to experience the sanity of family recovery. This post, One Family Member’s Story is part eight of a serialization of my chapter on the 4 C’s in my upcoming book Chaos to Sanity: Transform Your Life with the 12 Keys to Sanity.
One Family Member’s Story
From the time she was a little girl, Mary was affected by addiction. Her dad was an alcoholic, her mom an overeater (though in those days it was just called ‘being fat’) and she was an only child often given the job of taking care of things in the house. The older she got, the more she felt like she was raising her parents rather than them raising her.
Dad was too sauced to make many decisions and mom too scared, so often she got to give her opinions and find solutions for things well beyond her years to find. She cleaned up after her parents, got involved in their arguments, broke up fights, and brought dad home from the bar on the nights when he was one of the last ones to leave. She tried to get him to stop drinking and mom to stop overeating, but no matter what she did, nothing worked.
Still she tried.
After all, wasn’t this what good children did? Helped their parents? Made things right?
When Mary grew up and got married, she found Tom. He was tall and handsome and sober. He didn’t drink or smoke or overeat and neither did she. He seemed as perfectly capable of taking care of himself as she was and together they’d make a perfect couple.
Only, when they got married, something wasn’t right. Tom didn’t want her hovering over him, telling him what to do and how to live all the time, and she didn’t feel she had much of a role in the relationship since the only way she knew how to relate was to take care of the people she loved.
After awhile, she noticed something was amiss. Tom wasn’t coming home as much or as early from work like he was in the beginning and once the children were born, he would go on trips by himself, stay out late in the evenings and she kept finding evidence of his having been with other women – as if he wasn’t even trying to hide it… Mary went into full gear to deal with the situation the only way she knew how.
She began tailing Tom after work to find out where he was going, monitoring his phone and Internet usage and eventually even hired a private detective to find out what was going on. No matter what evidence she found, he denied wrongdoing.
She was determined to win him back. And did whatever she could to get her husband to stop his addictive behavior to other women and liaisons. But nothing seemed to work and while neither one of them wanted to leave the relationship, their relationship with each other had deteriorated to an angry growl of good morning and nothing more.
By the time their children were teens, one of the girls began acting out with drugs and alcohol. This gave Mary a whole new focus. She began care taking, enabling, and trying to fix her daughter’s behavior just as she had been with all of the people she had ever loved.
Only now it was different. This was her child’s life we were talking about and Mary started to get desperate.
After months of dealing with the situation on her own, searching for drugs in the bedroom, grounding her daughter for being out late at night, screaming, yelling and pleading with her teen to stop risking her life and her health, Mary reached out for help.
She hired a family recovery coach who specialized in working with families affected by addiction. Together they worked through the 12keys to sanity for family members of addicts and she learned new ways of being in relationship with her daughter that started to help her daughter look at herself and take responsibility for her own behavior.
With the support of her coach, Mary also started going to family recovery meetings. She chose Alanon and Naranon to help her cope with her daughter’s behavior. After awhile, she also joined S-Anon to help her gain serenity around her husband’s sex addiction.
One of the first things Mary learned was the Four C’s. Once she realized she couldn’t change the addicts around her, she was free to work on herself. This liberated her to begin having a life she enjoyed.
No longer centering all of her thoughts around her sick family members, she learned ways to behave that would not contribute to their illnesses, while focusing the bulk of her energy on building a purposeful, meaningful life of her own.
Coaching Questions to Ponder:
1. How has guilt affected your relationship with the addict or addicts in your life?
2. In what ways have you tried to control your loved ones, attempting to fix them or manipulate their behaviors?
3. How well have your efforts to cure your loved one of their addiction worked?
4. How can understanding the Four C’s allow you a new freedom and sense of appropriate responsibility in relationship to the addict(s) in your life?
5. What will you be looking to learn in the chapters (and blog posts) ahead that you feel will be most helpful to you on your journey?
If you would like to listen to a teleseminar on the four C’s in which I shared my own family recovery story and answered questions from family members, click here .
Keep in touch!
Beverly Buncher, MA, PCC, CTPC
Family Recovery Coach
786 859 4050
Click here for a free complimentary consult!