Once upon a time, my stepmom had an affair.
I swear to you the entire situation played out like an episode of the Jerry Springer show.
She’d met this guy on the Internet and when my dad finally confronted her, my stepmom packed up the car and hauled ass to Florida where her Internet love lived.
I’ll never forget the feeling of sick that spread through my body when I found out what happened.
Or sitting across from my dad as he contemplated suicide over can after can of Budweiser.
At that time, I desperately wanted my life to change. And so I got to work on doing everything I could to make it better.
But nothing I did worked. And within a few months, I was angrier and more depressed then I’d been the day I found out about my stepmom.
It was then that I discovered the downside of wanting life to get better.
You see, it wasn’t my life that I was trying to fix it was my dad’s.
Somewhere in my codependent brain, I believed that my well being hinged on his.
If I could make him feel better then I’d feel better. But he had to be better first.
But here’s the thing. My dad didn’t want better.
And this my friend is the downside of wanting life to get better.
Wanting your life to change is one thing but wanting a loved one to change is another.
That’s why you’ve got to get honest with yourself when you talk about making your life better.
Is it really your life you’re talking about or is it someone else’s?
If you’ve ever found yourself wanting to make your life better by fixing someone else today’s post is for you.
Below, I’ve got 3 ways to get you on track and start improving the only life you can – your own.
After you’ve had a chance to read, share your thoughts and any A-HA moments in the comment section.
I’d especially love to hear what you think about tip #3.
Remember – in this community – your opinion, experiences and insights matter. And you never know who’s going to be inspired by what you have to say.
As Helen Keller once said, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
I’ll see you next Tuesday,
#1 Watch Who You Talk or Write About…The Most
Check out this email I got from a friend who has an alcoholic husband. Don’t worry, she gave me permission to share this with you.
I just want my life to get better!!
Can’t he see what he is doing to himself? If he was truly in recovery he would take responsibility for his actions. Stop blaming me for what he does. I wish he’d stop the blame game and step up and admit his wrong doings. Stop the lies that come out of his mouth. Why can’t he just get a sponsor, go to the meetings and be honest.
Until he is honest with himself, life will never change!
Now. I want you to pay attention to what happened after she wrote, “I just want my life to get better!!”
Who did she shift her focus to? Can you see what happened?
The email shifted from wanting her life to get better to at least six different ways her husband could change.
Sure, if her husband stopped drinking, blaming, lying and took responsibility then his life would probably get better.
But what about her? Does all of that need to happen in order for her life to get better?
Does she believe that her life won’t get better until his does?
I think the last sentence is the most telling where she wrote, “Until he is honest with himself, life will never change!”
Well who’s life is she talking about?
Look. I’m not trying to pick on my friend or minimize the importance of her husband getting help. And I’m not saying that she should just up and leave him because he has a problem.
But I wanted to use this email because I think it serves as a perfect example of how caught up we can become in waiting for an addict, alcoholic, codependent or abuser to change when we want change.
If you catch yourself saying, “Until he/she ____________, life will never change,” then you may have some work to do.
#2 If The Drama Is Not Your Own Then Leave That Shizz Alone
If your head is filled to the brim with someone else’s drama then you will have no space leftover to figure out your own sh*t.
After my stepmom bolted to Florida, I got all tossed up and tangled in my dad’s drama.
And the more I worried about him, the more my needs fell off the radar.
Sure, I wanted to make major changes in my life but my focus was on the wrong person.
Fixing my dad, although it would’ve put my mind at ease, wasn’t sustainable.
The only life I could change was mine. And once I left my dad alone to sort out his, I could get on with my own.
Think of it this way. If you’re out driving and you see a car spin wildly off the road, what are you doing to do?
Are you going to then drive spastically off the road? Or are you going to pull over and dial 911?
My example is a bit dramatic I know. But I really want this point to sink in.
Trying to make your life better by fixing someone else’s is a frustrating way to go.
If the drama is not your own, then please, leave that shizz alone.
#3 How Guilty Do You Feel?
Through experience I’ve learned that guilt has two sides.
On one side, guilt can inspire depression and self-hatred.
But on the other, it can be a reliable way to gauge how invested you’ve become in your own life.
Here’s how this works.
When I shifted my focus from my dad’s life to my own, I felt incredibly guilty.
Thoughts of him drinking himself to sleep while I tended to my neglected needs brought up loads of guilt.
But instead of letting the guilt weigh me down, I let it guide me.
I discovered that the guilt I felt wasn’t because I was hurting my dad, it was because I was doing something I’d never done before – I was taking care of me.
As a result, I learned to equate guilt with progress. If I felt guilty then I figured I was on the right track.
Instead of letting guilt keep you from improving why not turn it into your guide?
I know the idea may seem a bit wacky at first but there’s no harm in giving it a try.
If it doesn’t work for you, we can always try something else.
As always, thanks for reading.
If you found today’s post helpful then please share it with your friends.
I’ll see you next Tuesday,
P.S. Here are some other posts you might enjoy that relate to today’s topic.