Abuse Hides in the Dark. Turn on Your Light.

Crisis Obsession Is Codependency

Yesterday I was feeling overwhelmed by the idea that I didn’t have enough time in the day to do everything I had set out for myself. Not just for that Saturday, but for every day coming up. I was operating from the belief that “everything” was leaving me time for “nothing.” I had turned my healing process into a schedule, and I was not going to be able to keep up with that fuzzily defined schedule UNLESS I gave up something else.

That’s not how I described it to my sister, Erin, when we talked. In the throes of overwhelm, I told Erin that I was anxious and nervous because I had sabotaged my own good intentions. I told her that the thoughts were swirling around in my head, and that I didn’t know which way to turn or what to do first.

I started to cry because the more I thought about what I was feeling, the more convinced I became that there was no way out.

So, Erin, on top of the world because she’s made a life-decision that suits her, told me, “Kellie, you are doing too much,” and that I had to let something go. She recommended that I let it all go except for my motherly duties. She said that I needed time to heal, and the other projects were not allowing that to happen.

“But,” I said. And as soon as I said it, I felt myself launching into familiar territory. The “buts” are usually reasons why I should continue staying in unhealthy situations. I’m sure my sister is tired of my “buts”.

But (!) here’s the deal. In the past, I have always always always always given up activities I enjoy when I am being emotionally battered about like a butterfly in a tornado. Whenever there has been a crisis in my relationships, I have always chosen the relationship with family OVER doing what is good for me.

What that means is that I perceive a crisis (and it’s all a crisis), and decide to mentally and emotionally obsess over that crisis until I am physically exhausted. Then, I’ll take a nap (because I need to be good to me, I tell myself) so I regain some energy to devote to obsessing over the crisis.

In the days (and months or years) that follow, I drop everything else. I drop doctor appointments, meetings with teachers, ensuring healthy food is in the house, housecleaning, time with my boys, fun stuff, financial stuff, … I drop everything EXCEPT for the obsessing thoughts, feelings and actions that merely fuel the obsession. And I do, think and feel nothing that helps to solve or end the crisis.

And that is what I have been doing for at least the life of my marriage. For 17 years, at least, I’ve spent my time and energy on obsessing over one crisis after another.

Then, because I haven’t done the things I really wanted to do, I blame the people on the other end of the crisis. Then I get angry with them. Then my anger fuels my obsessive thoughts and feelings and actions. THEY are the reason I haven’t completed college. THEY are the reason I have no friends. THEY are the reason I think so little of myself.

Bullshit. I haven’t done what I want to do because I chose to obsess over crises. One after another until I defined who I was by the crisis I lived.

So, I am not going to take my sister’s advice. Yes, I am concerned that the things I want to achieve will leave little time for anything else.

But, and here’s the really great part, if I spend all of my time doing these things, then I don’t need any more time. There is nothing else that needs my attention.

Karina Vorozheeva