Today is July 4th and so the honorable thing would have been to choose a quote from a great American author to celebrate Independence Day. We Brits tend to ignore the day that our trans-Atlantic cousins decided to rebel against our colonial rule – it’s kind of like being reminded that you lost over and over again…… 🙂
Not that we Brits are bitter about such things, far from it, America gave us great things like McDonalds, Burger King and Starbucks – all great American institutions in their own right. We gave you soccer and now it seems as if you play the game better than we do, but I’d like to see you master the rules of cricket!
I’m only teasing. My best friend is American and I love her and her American ways and despite the fact that she cannot pronounce the words ‘zebra’ and ‘aluminium’ properly. She laughs at the way I say ‘double entendre’ and I mock her for the fact that she cannot get her tongue around ‘Picadilly Circus’ but it’s these inherent differences in our cultures that makes our friendship so fun.
I digress. The whole point of the post is to refer to the quote that I’ve chosen for this week. As you know, my Thoughts for Friday seem to have headed in quite a specific direction these last few months and have been largely influenced by the recent changes in my life. We’ve all faced adversity at some point in our lives and some more than others, but how we react to such adversities is what defines us as a person.
I’ve met many people in my life’s journey so far who have come from far worse backgrounds than I have, yet they have let those things define who they are instead of using them to become a more resilient individual. There are many addicts out there who come from a background of abuse and use such substances as some sort of crutch or a way of escaping just how horrible their life is. I’ll admit that I drank too much when I was younger but I always came to the same conclusion:
It never changes anything.
Abusing substances might make you feel better in the short term but it won’t provide you with a solution to your problems, it’ll merely mask the painful symptoms for a while. Nine times out of ten, you end up feeling worse for succumbing to the lure of drugs or alcohol after the fact.
For a long time, I would use my weekly therapy sessions to bitch and moan about how shitty a hand I’d been dealt in life so far. I’m not sure what I was looking for, perhaps sympathy or validation that my thoughts and feelings were justified. I was angry, bitter and depressed at how my life had turned out by that point.
Like all good codependents, I took on the problems of others and made myself the ‘fixer’, taking away the other person’s ability to help themselves in an effort to feel as if I were loved and seen as important to them. I would take on their issues and then blame them for not helping themselves, yet how could they when I held onto them so tightly?
Codependents become irrational control freaks who seek to take on the worries of the world in the vain hope that maybe they can control some aspect of their own life yet they never see until it is too late that they have no control over any of it. Codependents, whether they are the wife/sibling/parent/son/daughter of an addict of any kind, end up becoming just as messed up as the person they’re trying to control, yet they see their role as being the one to take care of and love those people who obviously need more support than we do.
Codependency is something that is all to easy to slip into and it took me a long time to realise that this was exactly what I was doing. My way of reacting to adversity was to take on the problems of everyone around me as if they were my own and it took me many years to see the damage that I was doing not only to myself but to the people around me as well.
I have every sympathy for anyone who never got the rub of the green growing up and I know firsthand what it’s like to stand in your shoes, yet I’d be remiss if I didn’t give you one solid piece of advice – one that took me many years of therapy to realise:
GET OVER IT.
It sounds harsh, I know, but the fact of the matter is that we don’t have any choice but to accept that sometimes life is pretty shitty. Crappy things are gonna happen, some people will hate you for no reason, some of the people you love the most will hurt you in the most devastating of ways, you won’t always succeed. Life throws a lot of shit your way and you either learn to duck it or carry it around with you for the rest of your life. Yes, you may have been hard done by, but having the sympathy of everyone around you is not going to suddenly make you feel like a different person.
You have the ability to let adversity make you a better person, someone who is wiser and stronger for the punches they’ve taken along the way. If someone writes your life story, do you really want it to say that you never achieved anything because life was just too hard, you didn’t have the best start in life or that too much crap came your way?
I know for one that I don’t. I want my headstone to read something like this:
Heather B Costa
She didn’t always succeed and at times made some pretty horrendous mistakes,
yet she never once gave up. When life kicked her down, she got back up again and tried harder.
She never let her past define her.
Your life is the story of ‘you’, don’t let people around you write it for you.