I've come to the conclusion that little can be gained from rehashing the past over and over to try to pinpoint where a life went astray. After all, we don't get a redo. I think therapy works more as a function of having that one person we can trust to not go away because we pay them not to.
Nevertheless, uncovering destructive patterns is the first step to healing. After that I really only have faith in behavioral focused therapies. You can't change thinking patterns, literal neuronal pathways in the brain, by reactivating them over and over again.
But for this to work, this blog, this story-telling, it seems like it would be useful to start at the beginning, wherever that is.
Unlike many codependents there was no addiction or abuse present in my family of origin. My mother was preoccupied with her crafts and her work, she made some mistakes, but she was also a pretty sane mother who looked after my health and well-being and was neither lax or too tight with her discipline. My step-father was a strong and present presence in my life from very early on, and while aloof and stoic by nature, I never doubted his fierce love for me and his family.
My mother and biological father divorced when I was only two, and because of their irreconcilable differences, he was gone. Poof. Vanished. Until I was 18 and the spotty and rare contact between the divorce and our reunion.
Unquestionably that divorce and my father's absence was a source of pain. I remember longing for him, imagining a life full of unicorns and rainbows and no pain if only he would show up on my doorstep to reclaim me and his role as loving father.
But when I have to trace back to the source of pain that would lead me to marry a binge-drinker and rager - I can't find that source in my father's absence or the largely innocuous mistakes of my well-meaning parents.
It was a series of unfortunate events and circumstance that bled me out.
There was the physical defect that lack of expertise medical care left me with. I had a mostly undetectable lazy eye at birth and the doctors didn't take my mother seriously. Then when I started walking into things in my left field of vision -- doors, tables, various other obstacles -- my mother returned me to the doctors who were baffled that the optic nerve in my left eye was deteriorating, and rapidly.
The lazy eye became a blind eye, and noticeable enough for fodder of the cruelty of children. I was teased, ostracized, picked last for games, and bullied. This would not change from elementary school to high school except that the rejection from boys during adolescence was added.
There was the heinous emotional abuse I suffered at the hands of childcare providers that my mother entrusted my care to when she was a single mother working nights. In her defense, she had no idea. I never peeped one word about what was going on. How one woman who my mother paid extra to feed me dinner was secretly feeding me only cereal, leaving me to sit alone in a darkened kitchen at the table. How I had to sleep in a top bunk at three years old and was so scared of falling in the dark I would wet the bed and have to sleep in it all night long, only to be shamed in the morning and be forced to hand wash the bedding. I remind you, I was three.
How another woman paid to look after me took the money to go play cards next door while I was left to the care of her cruel daughters who delighted in finding ways to torture me. Forcing me to watch horror movies, threatening to have their boyfriends tie me up in the basement and beat me up, cooking the one food I couldn't bring myself to swallow and not allowing me to leave the table until I ate it.
I was the opposite of a tough child. I was a tow-headed, thoughtful and sensitive virgo child who refused to ride my big-wheel because I couldn't bear the carnage of crushed ants underneath the fat tires, and who gave dead animals a proper and dignified burial under the Willow Tree where my mother planted bulbs in the Spring. I was imaginative and bright and adventurous, but I was not tough.
My spirit had no defense against such cruelties.