the weight of the world (codependency) and being lost
Posted Sep 13 2010 12:00am
A lot has been going on with my family lately. There is a lot of stress involved. I have this problem: I take on the world's problems and worry about them incessantly. I have done this my entire life. I was the first child and the first grandchild in my family. They say I always told the younger kids what to do. Once when I was four years old, someone hollered down the basement of a relative's home and said, "Is anyone down there watching the kids?". I said, "I am!! Don't worry!". And so it began.
People don't want my help all the time, or my advice. But some people do tell me a lot about their problems, and I feel that I need to try to help somehow. It is, in certain occasions, totally useless to do this. In other situations, I do help people in a tangible way. But it's the thought process that is a problem. It is the amount of time I spend focusing on other people's problems that is dysfunctional. I've been getting sick to my stomach for months worrying about a particular person; my anxiety has been through the roof. I can't stop worrying, and the worrying eats away at me, makes me miserable, distracts me from the things I need to do to live my own life, and doesn't change the other person's situation very much in the long run anyway.
One of the things I like about Al-Anon is the idea that you detach with love. That you can't cure someone's drinking problem (or other problems), and you didn't cause the problem, and that's just how it is. There are a lot of books out there about codependency, and I have looked through some of them, and found that I am described there quite well. I'm not totally codependent, but I have the signs of it. I feel that my family's well-being is my responsibility, deep-down, and the thing is, my family is never doing well. My family is always caught up in financial problems, mental health problems, drinking problems, life management problems, anger problems, etc. It seems sometimes, that they are never just, plain happy. And neither am I. I'm content sometimes, but I don't feel much happiness - or, at least not for very long. If this stress was removed from my life, if I didn't constantly take on the woes of the world, then perhaps there would be space in my life for true happiness.
I feel very lost right now. It occurs to me that I've written a sentence like that a thousand times here, which is not a good indicator of how I manage my life.
I am not sure what to do about the college degree I am going to get. I don't really want the one I am planning on getting. The only real reason I am going for that degree is convenience (and money is the other reason). I would prefer to study women's studies, which I have loved to study for much of my life, or become a social worker. But the logistics of doing that just aren't working out. I feel that I have become accustomed to a certain degree of stasis in my life, and now, unlike my younger years, I'm afraid to move. I used to move all the time, but that was then. That was before my life revolved around managing my mental illness. If I could just be FREE again, just for a while, I could do so much that I want to do. But I have to worry about not being able to find an affordable place to live near a university and not being able to handle the coursework and a job at the same time, and not being able to do what I want to do.
This is very frustrating. I feel like I am never going to have the fulfillment I long for in life. I feel like I will never write for publication, even though that is something I've always longed to do (and have done once). I would love to write about handling Schizoaffective Disorder (or Schizophrenia in general) for a publication. I would love to speak publicly about it more often. I would love a job where I was able to advocate for women and/or people with mental illnesses for a living. I don't know what kind of degree would get me that kind of job, but I'm afraid the bachelor's in public safety and administration might not be it. And that's the degree I'm planning on going for.