Hi Readers, I haven't been blogging the past couple weeks because I was in the process of finishing my new book Let Go, Love Life (the link is on the "Books" page), family drama (which I will get into), and going back to school for the spring semester.
As you know, I am in codependency recovery from my cousin who had a substance use disorder. He is now sober and engaged to his fiancée but does not work a program. About a week and a half ago, my mom and I decided to go over to his house to at least get closure and congratulate him on his engagement. His fiancée, whom I never met before, answered the door and started yelling and cursing at us. She made it clear that we were not to come back there again or mail anything to the house. I civilly congratulated her on their engagement and walked away, calling her a mother f****er as I was walking away so her neighbor would hear (I rarely use that kind of profanity, so you could tell I was livid). My cousin must have told her lies about my mom and me. He did not even reach out to apologize for her behavior. Ten years ago, he never stood up for me when his now ex-girlfriend treated me bad, and ten years later (even though I am an adult now, this is happening again, even though he is sober.
The Lesson: What is Real Love?
Even though I am fuming and greatly disappointed in my cousin, I still love him as my cousin. However, the love that I have towards him is a different kind of love. As opposed to before where I was trying to control and fix him and would stop at nothing to be in his life because I loved him so much as he was my favorite cousin, I now am willing to let him go and do whatever he needs to do/be with to be happen, even if I am not a apart of it or approve of who he is marrying. There are a variety of reasons why he may now want me to be his life such as being triggered, unresolved anger, unwanted reminder of his active addiction, just not interested, etc. Because I love him, I have to respect what he wants, even if that includes not wanting me in his life.
I learned in my Psychology of Human Sexuality class last semester during our chapter on love and intimacy that you know when you truly love someone when you can let him or her go and can live without him or her. If you love someone, you respect their wishes as a separate human being from you. Unlike a year and a half ago, I can let him go, build an amazing life for myself without him, and have faith he will come back someday if it is meant to be. If it meant for us to ever see each other in this lifetime, the Universe (what I call my Higher Power) will make it happen in the right time and in the right way, which do not think is any time soon because he is still not well. Manipulating the situation will not do any good; it will only backfire. As they say in the recovery programs, "Love them, pray for them/wish them well, and let them be who they are."
The best thing I can do is to wish him well and pray for him while taking care of myself and living my best life. The only alternatives are to live in misery and bitterness while he lives his life not even giving me a thought and/or follow him and stalk him, which will definitely not work, make him recoil even more, and land me in jail (I'm only half kidding). I am only 20 years-old. From the time I was 10 until I was 19, I lived and breathed him when he did not even care about me. I lost 9 years to him; I do not need to lose anymore. I have my whole life ahead of me. I am now a second-semester sophomore in college with a 4.0 GPA, have an internship lined up this summer, recently took a volunteer position at my spiritual center, am working really hard to better myself in counseling and in my recovery programs, made a new great friend, declared a double-major in world religions, and wrote another book. There is so much I already have to look forward to in my life and so much more to come. My 20's are going to be an exciting my time because I am so close to getting out on my own and building my own life. As my therapist said, I do not have to wait in his "waiting room" anymore. Regardless if that day comes where we reunite or not, I have to take care of my and do what I can to live an amazing life. It is not the problems that we face; it is how we solve them. Thankfully, codependency recovery ha given me the tools to solve them.
Bria Riley is a published author, recovering codependent and adult child of an alcoholic, who is active in several recovery programs. She knows the turmoil and heartbreak of growing up in an addiction-stricken family and wants to help others who have also been affected by addiction through her writing.