My first visit to my very own therapist, not the marriage counselor or the family therapist for the adolescent behavior disordered female living in our home, was a relief. The therapist asked me to make her a list of everything I was responsible for in my life. Two weeks later I turned in my homework and went to the washroom.
“Well, well, here comes the walking life jacket,” she said to me as she sat at her desk, watching me walk down the hall towards her, holding said list.
With those words my axis tilted and I experienced a paradigm shift. This ‘blinding flash of the obvious’ forced me to examine and re-examine everything I thought was true about myself and the role I had chosen to play in my life. At that moment I really understood what being a co-dependent caretaker meant. I, also, understood the need to change my behavior or lose myself.
So the journey began. In the beginning I read everything I could get my hands on. I was at the public library at least once a week. There was a book outlet at the mall were my daughter worked in her college town. Whenever I visited her I checked out the self-help section to see if there was new reading material on the subject. Eventually I stopped reading so much about changing behavior and embraced the behavior change work in earnest.
The dawn of my life changing journey was almost twenty years ago. Several years into the journey, shortly after my divorce, I found myself in graduate school. There was a young woman in the program with an internship in the same village as me. We carpooled to work sometimes. She began asking me questions about my marriage and the breakup. She was married with young children. Her struggle to maintain her current life soon became apparent. One day, as I cautiously shared a little of my story with her, the phrase “care-dependent co-taker” rolled off my tongue. I literally stunned myself into silence as I realized the implications of my words.
Looking back I can see a pattern to my life changes. Realizations and epiphany’s abounded in the beginning. The pendulum swing of realizations and old behavior versus new behavior changes was extreme for awhile. Practicing new behavior years and distancing from old behaviors years were covert emotional wringers. There came a point when the best of the new was integrated with the best of the old and I did not question my motives as much. And now life is less tied to others perceptions and more to my reality.
Living an authentic life for me is embracing myself, flaws and all, for who I was and who I have become. Being the best person I know how to be is the legacy I want to leave to my daughters and grandchildren……..
©2011 Susan Kendall. All rights reserved