The Other Side of That Story

I haven’t blogged for a while. (Is blog a noun or a verb?) I could write all the reasons why I’ve neglected my blog but I’ll resist.  Instead, I’ll tell you the other side of that story:  I’ve missed communicating with you, so I’m writing a new blog today.

Like many of you, I grew up in a less-than-functional household and lived in at least one as an adult.  A by-product of either of those dysfunctional living situations is that it made it genetically impossible for me to do certain behaviors others find themselves naturally capable of doing: choosing trustworthy friends, lovers and business associates; trusting myself, my feelings and intuition; feeling content; and gravitating toward a positive outlook on life.

That’s not even half of the inherent problematic traits thrusting me toward a doomed existence.  (See the fourth chapter in Codependent No More or read The New Codependency and take a few tests – probably the ones you resist most – for an update on the signs and symptoms of codependency.)

Before I go any further, I want to emphasize that it’s nearly impossible to diagnose codependency only by outward behaviors.  Two people can do the same thing and one will be setting him or herself up for a massive codependent downward spiral while the other person’s behavior can be clearly categorized as healthy and leading to a positive outcome.

Because codependency is an inside job – jargon many of us bandied about for years without integrating its meaning. It’s not what we do as much as why we’re doing it that qualifies any behavior as codependent.

If gaining other people’s approval, guilt or obligation motivate us, likely what we’re doing qualifies us for a read (or re-read) of Codependent Some More. If we’re doing that exact behavior because we want to, because it feels right and because we’ve made a conscious decision to do it, it will likely work out decently.

Whether we take the codependent or lighter road, that behavior will become important in our life. It may bring joy, or we could find a lesson at it when we’re feeling all victimized, used-up, and resentful.

I want to clarify something else about codependency. I dislike the word, can’t stand the sound of it, didn’t invent it and wish another word would have taken its place in the dictionary. The word doesn’t even carry an intonation that speaks to our souls – such as hush, wow or stomachache. Those words tell us something. We can easily wrap our minds around them.  But codependency?

It’s 4:00 a.m.  I stumble out of bed, slam a cup of coffee, and then start brewing another one so I’ll wake up fast. The phone rings.  A radio host from the East Coast, where it’s 7:00 a.m. starts talking to me.  Live.  We’re on the air. After the preliminary introductions, the host predictably asks the same two questions.

“So, is it Be-at-tee or Bee-tee?”

“Bee-tee.”

“Melonie, tell us…”

I stiffen.

“Exactly what is codependency?”

“I…don’t…know,” I respond.

“Ha, ha, ha.  Seriously, what is codependency?”

I am serious.  I still can’t wrap my head around that word.  I can tell you about controlling, low self-esteem, not trusting ourselves, repressing emotions, rescuing, living out a victim self-image and emotional, physical and sexual abuse.   I can explain how to get stuck in a miserable relationship rut and make ourselves uncomfortably or painfully at home there.  I can describe what it feels like to have relentless guilt run our lives.  And oh, can I explain how attractive bad boys are for the first ten minutes we know them.  But codependency?  What does that word mean?

A side-effect from growing up in a pain-filled family or living in one later can best be described as a magnetic gravitation toward negativity.  We come to believe in the power of negative thinking.

“For years, I’ve been controlled by the subconscious decision that I should quit while I’m behind,” one man explained.

After all, if we expect bad things to happen we won’t be disappointed, will we?  If something we label good should, by some twist of fate occur, we will then be pleasantly surprised (for a second), until we remind ourselves that soon the infamous other shoe will drop and we’ll be miserable again.

It’s not that we see a glass half-empty instead of half-filled with water.  We see chips in the glass that will likely lead to slices in our intestinal tract.  We see contaminated water.  We see something we don’t want or like.

That’s what life looks like too, unless we continually work on this trait. I don’t mean we should get all euphoric, expecting everything to work out without paying dues, overcoming obstacles, tests or hindrances.  We can still be realistic.

For years I’ve heard about Universal Laws, mysterious rules that govern our world at an unseen level. The problem with these laws?  No list exists. Nobody tells us the rules, like they do at a seminar, in a classroom or even on a website unless you count Moses etching the Ten Commandments in Stone.

So clearly stumbled into two of these Universal Laws.  No, three.

1-If we jump out of an airplane, we’ll fall down, not up.

2-If we eat every single thing we want, we’ll gain weight.

3-If all we see is the negative, we’ll begin to see more and more of the negative.  We’ll feel worse.  Feeling badly will become a way of life.  We’ll see nothing but the problems, the things that didn’t work out and the wrongdoings others have done to us. We’ll see our picture and think, Ick. If someone nice wants to date us, we’ll reject him or her because we know they’re fundamentally deficient if they like us.

It’s an ugly way of life.

The only antidote I’ve found for it, well a combination of antidotes and what I’m probably just as well-known for as codependency, is gratitude.  If you couple gratitude with non-dualistic thinking, or non-black and white thinking (this is good, this is bad), which then means we’ll begin to express gratitude for most if not all of life (except for sheer tragedies in which case we’ll learn it’s okay to mourn), we’ll be lifted out of that rut of negativity we’ve learned to call home.

We don’t see a recession.  We see an opportunity for the economy to come into balance.

We don’t see rejection.  We know we’ve been saved from ourselves, saved for something better.

We don’t see mistakes.  We see research for the next self-help book.

And so on.  Better yet, we don’t try to figure everything out, because figuring things out is another way of saying control.

Besides, control isn’t all bad either.  It’s human and if you’re reading this, so are you.  Unless you’re a bot in which case you’re not reading it, you’re scanning it and you probably don’t have codependency issues either.

(Bots, for those of you as unfamiliar with computer jargon as I am, are programs that scan all material on the internet looking for whatever they’ve been programmed to see.  Hmm.  Maybe they’re more like us than I thought.)

There is another side to the story.  Some of these versions we may not get to know for a while, maybe until we get to the other side, meet our Higher Power and say, “By the way, I’ve got a few things I want to discuss with you.”

Or maybe, just maybe, when we let loose of the constraints of linear thinking, we’ll already know those answers, you know, the answers to the Mysteries of Life.

So I won’t say it’s been a tough decade, what with Mom dying from Alzheimer’s disease just when I discovered her loving, nurturing side after oh, half a decade.  I won’t go on and on about how they gutted me like a deer, decompressed my spine and then stuffed artificial discs in the only problem being that my spine curves right where the implanted discs reside.  I won’t even touch the side effects of that surgery.

Instead, I’ll say that the broken circle with Mom had been healed by the time I followed the hearse to the graveyard.  I’ll say I miss her more than I ever thought possible, given that I didn’t like her that much most of my life.  I’ll tell you that I can do Yoga and I’m not in a wheelchair.

I’m not even going to get into the alleged embezzlement that with expenses now exceeds half a million dollars, including over four hundred thousand dollars’ worth of allegedly forged checks that the same bank that calls me valued customer (here’s a hint – the name starts with Bank of Ameri…) refuses to make good on, even though they promised.

Now will I mention that after being ecstatic that under President Obama the cap on my health insurance (the cap I had just reached) became removed for life, only to now have the Supreme Court take my health insurance completely away from me, leaving me uninsured and uninsurable?

Instead I’ll say that for today, all my needs are abundantly met.  I love, and I am loved.  I’ve been blessed with work that I love. I’ve met a fantastic screenwriting instructor (Corey Mandell) and am learning new ideas – learning and growing daily.

Thank you.  These are more than words that can undo our tendency toward negativity.  They change our lives and the world.  They turn a humble meal into a feast, a stranger into a friend, and a house into a home.

They turn readers into friends and family into people we love.

The other side of the story always sounds the same: Thank you.

Melody Beattie

70 comments

  1. Sharon

    This has nothing to do with your blog entry, but I couldn’t find another place to post this. I try to read your daily online meditations every day. However, I am a bit behind and am reading April 29th today. You quote Fritz Perls and then go on to write about him. The sentence starts out: “Dr. Frederick S. Penis . . . .” I laughed and laughed. Spellchecker at work!! Thanks for the unintended but great bit of humor this morning.

    • Melody

      That is funny. It’s Murphy’s law — no matter how often you edit a piece of work, there will be a typo that jumps out at you. Also, many publishers (and they make many changes from the time the pages get in) don’t have as many editors on staff anymore due to cutbacks and less dough to spend — but that’s just the way it is. But — what would life be without mistakes? Best, Melody

    • Melody

      BTW, we are putting up a “lightening up” page on I believe the Grief Club site at http://www.MelodyBeattie.net. It will have jokes (and some are genuinely funny); and for now, challenging Word Search Games. The leftover letters have a “magical sentence.” The games are fun and challenging to play, plus educational. Each relates to one of my books. It also gets us out of the “emotional” side of our brain if we go too deep into grief, crying, or obsessing about someone or something. Best, Melody

  2. Barbara

    Melodie…. are there any coincidences in life? I found \Finding Your Way Home\ on a used bookrack three years ago. It was tattered and the cover was torn, but in many ways it saved me. Grace of God kind of thing. It and O’Donohue’s \To Bless the Space Between Us\ are my favorite books now. They speak to the heart. I have used them in meetings and support groups. They are the gifts I give to my friends when they need them. Gifts of love. You have been through more pain and heartache than most. It really doesn’t seem fair. Pain and grief are such odd companions. And betrayal, well… are there really words to adequately describe it? I can think of a few… but I’m certain this is a PG blog. In spite of all that nasty stuff, it’s clear that you are indeed loved. And even more, the gift of what you’ve written gives people like me the opportunity to share the love and wisdom you have shown to others. You know, the ripple effect. You may never know the lives you have changed and saved by writing what you have and continue to do. I believe it’s the Talmud that says if you save one life, you save the world entire. A weighty concept, but beautiful in reality. So thanks…. You have my gratitude and remain in my heart and prayers. Much love, Barbara

    • Melody

      Thank you. That’s a very beautiful letter, and the thoughts and feelings behind it are beautiful and loving too. I appreciate it. Best, Melody

    • Melody

      What a beautiful and thoughtful comment. I don’t believe I’ve saved lives, but I do try to encourage people to value and save their own. Best, Melody

  3. Alice Mungia

    I was recently diagnosised after 9 months of weekly therapy which I sought out after a texting relationship failed amongst other 2011 tragedies in my life. My Coda friend recommended I read your books but I found your website instead. I don’t know how I can change and I hope I haven’t passed this part of me on to my daughters.

    • Melody

      You do need to read someone’s books — whether they’re mine or someone else’s. It sounds like you need information, as you’re saying “I don’t know how I can change.” And honest — there is a way — but you need the info about it. I know you can change — but you don’t know that yet. Also, that’s why it’s called “Living in the Mystery” — we’re asked to trust what we don’t know yet, instead of trusting what we do know. All I can do now is tell you that there is a way — and the way will find you — but you will need to do your part, too. If money is an issue, all my books are at the library. But again, it doesn’t have to be my books you read — read something on the subject matter you’re struggling to make changes in. Please stay in touch and let me know how you’re doing, and trust the process you’re in. Best, Melody Beattie

  4. Rick

    What I’ve learned over the past 25 years or so is that co-dependence is my way of rebuilding (or just building) a trust and a belief system that I wasn’t given as a child. We, the co-dependent ones, are so willing to bankrupt our emotional selves to the point of non-existence if it means that we might receive one iota of acknowledgement from the ones that we are trying to receive it from. The cruelest part is when we realize that there are those in our lives that would be willing to throw us under the bus, to keep themselves looking like they aren’t the one with the problem. we place such a higher value on others, more than ourselves because we never or rarely got that as kids from our parents….probably more so when i was a teen. at that time, my dad had just come home from viet nam and now my mom and dad were focusing on themselves and ignoring their kids….so that’s where it began for me….That’s what co-dependency is all about (for me), Charlie Brown.

    • Melody

      Very insightful comment. Eckhart Tolle in his book, The Power of Now, describes love for others as being “in the moment, present, and aware.” If we tak e that to the next level, than loving ourselves means being present for and aware of ourselves — in an attitude of caring and self-acceptance. It means living in the moment — with ourselves. So many of us looked for love as a balm to make our pain go-away, and love isn’t meant to be a “pain-killer.” That’s when dependency and unhealthy behaviors set in. It’s complicated, but I know that Life will bring us the experiences and lesson we need to learn the next thing. Thanks for your comment. Best, Melody

  5. Ariel Israel

    Alice, some people think a diagnosis is an awful thing–me, I love it! At last I know what the heck’s wrong with me! And the best thing about knowing what’s wrong with me is now we know what kind of medicine we need. Welcome. You join millions–and they all have something to teach you, me, and each other. Rejoice, and stay tuned in. Oh, about your daughters–without a doubt you passed it on to them. But now that you know it, you have the opportunity to begin repairing. For me it took almost 20 years to feel like I really had been able to pass along my own healing, but never give up. All you have to do is begin to share every single, littlest thing you learn that helps you with them. Sort of like you have your own little Coda group. You lucky girl–you’ve found your way here. And thank you Melody for the wisdom and the fortitude to give it away in the midst of storms!

  6. May

    I am continuously trying to keep my tendency to be depressed in check lately. I needed to read this in full and it lifted my spirit. There is always the other side of the story and learning your story is helping me deal with my own. I have come to know your work years ago through a friend who shared “The Language of Letting Go” with me. I have read and continue to re-read it (as well as “More Language of Letting Go”) as I find necessary. In turn, I have also shared this with others who might also appreciate the gems it contains. I admire how you make yourself vulnerable – something I struggle with (happily though, not as much as before) for fear of being rewarded with pain. In as much as you encourage an attitude of gratitude, it is also fitting that you receive it from the many people you have helped. Like me. Thank you.

    • Melody

      Thank you; that was sweet — and you’re very welcome. I’m just the messenger, however – and the message is what’s important. I shared at a group last night, and reminded myself and others that a side effect of what we’ve experienced is a tendency to see and focus on the negative and not see the blessings. It’s like we’ve got selective vision and memory. To overcome that, we do need to work extra hard to see what’s good, what’s positive, and keep it in our minds and hearts. It’s not an easy job, but it is rewarding. Thanks again — and remember, we’re not bad or wrong because we have a tendency to be negative. It’s something that protected us for many years. It’s a survival behavior. Now, it’s time to thrive, not just survive. That doesn’t mean we get all “Polly-annaish” — saying everything is fantastic. But for me, I know that I could focus on my blessings a little bit more. Your email is definitely one (blessing). So thank you. See the ripple effect — how everything we do, affects the world around us? What we do, think and say (or what we don’t do, think or say) truly can make a huge difference and help change the world. Thanks for taking time to comment out of your busy day. Best, Melody

  7. Ariel I. (Beth Copeland)

    Melody, I love that you shared how everything changes when our perspective does–yet it and hey really don’t change at all. It’s us–and God. The depth of the 1st and 3rd steps have shown me how amazingly sweet is the journey once it becomes a way of life to look for God in the dark places. I’ve found that every trial I’ve faced–before and after recovery–along with its pain, has had spiritual purpose, and I like the woman God has grown me to be. Also, thank you for talking about hating the word codependent. I do too! I hate it so much that I won’t use it. In my own work I call it he drinker’s woman,. giving a more factual idea of what’s wrong with her than codependent! You were the first I ever read on he problem. In my private practice at the time, your work brought new life to so many women–and me too. Thank you, beautiful lady, for your life. Just keep on livin’ and strugglin’ and then sharing the growth you get from it with us. With love to you. Ariel I./Beth C.

    • Melody

      Thanks much for your insightful comment, wisdom earned the hard way I presume. Thank you also for your very kind and uplifting words. I really appreciate them. Keep coming around, whenever the spirit moves you. Best, Melody Beattie

  8. Tracy

    Life sure ain’t for wimps… Melody- what a wringer you managed to work yourself through & above (I’m sort of picturing an In-“diana” Jones sort of visual- lol). I just found Codependency No More at my local Salvo’s (Salvation Army)- sorry, that’s my price range. :) Awesome book. I keep re-reading, & I’m not done yet. It IS my childhood. It very much mirrors yours- in some ways (including sexual assault). I am sick inside thinking of your loss of your son (little angel)- my daughter was hit by a 4×4 coming home from school- it was very close to deadly. My very sincere condolences for your little boy- I am so, so sorry. For all intents & purposes, I appear to be an adult alcoholic, codependent child, of an alcoholic parent (likely also codependent themselves)…yikes. But, I’m dealing with it. Lol. Seriously, I am with lots of books & info. I’m trying to give my kids a shot at not falling victim to this. They already have a mother who came out as gay at 45. Amazingly, that is the least of my priorities or worries. The important thing for them/me is that I am there, aware, & healthy. I am taking action to put myself out & into groups. I’m looking for ways to focus on things that will empower me & does not involve my kids (tending to me). It’s difficult because I usually never do anything at all for me alone. At any rate- a thanks. Don’t take on the negative reviews about your writings. You must know it comes from people who are likely personality disordered? They hate your success- lol. Stay safe & thanks for all you do, Tracy :)

    • Melody

      Thanks Tracy. It sounds like you’re doing well. I can hear it in your “voice.” I learned early on (when writing for a newspaper) that criticism and praise are just two sides of the same coin and neither are money that can even get me a ride on the bus. To work for the sake of the work (but yes, I do need to be paid) is why I write or do anything I do at all — except for these websites. I have worked hard not to commercialize them (I didn’t mean I don’t do them for the sake of the work — I meant I don’t do them for money). It’s a much more intimate way of connecting with my readers; far easier than doing city-a-day tours; and it’s something I truly enjoy. Plus I’ve been blessed with the best people on the web in my forums. Couldn’t ask for much more. Keep up the good work. It’s so ironic — we work so hard to control and change the world, then surrender to the fact that we can’t. We work on ourselves and learn that the side effect of that is truly impacting the lives of others — and that applies to each of us. Another irony and little game that life plays while it keeps us learning our lesssons and on our toes. Best, Melody

  9. Karen

    Dear Melody, There is something I want you to know. i discovered your books about 12 years ago, as I was going thru a divorce I thought would either drive me totally mad or kill me. Im not totally mad (just a simdgeon some days) and I’m not dead (although I still am amazed at why not). What I am, is a human being who still struggles in many ways, but one who wants you to know that you can ALWAYS bring me back to a place of center. I admire you and hope you have some idea how much you have helped so many of us. Whenever I feel myself slipping, I know to pick up anyo f your books (I own them all) and you can bring me back to a place of sanity. Thank you so very much.

    • Melody

      Thank you for sharing, Karen. Your words brought tears to my eyes. But again, although I’d like to take credit — you’re the one doing the work, taking the action to bring yourself back to center. I’m glad you survived, although I’m not glad you had to go through all that chaos. Divorces can be much more horrendous than people think. And — I’m just the messenger, one grateful she was allowed to bring these words to the world. (Can’t believe I just referred to myself in third peson.) Anyway, thank you for taking the time to write. It means a lot to me. Best wishes, Melody Beattie

  10. Joanne ODonnell

    Right now have no one to call I am broken been sick for a week my son been home from jail for 6 months has not been pretty he is in a program now Ive been codependent all my life since I was a kid my father was a functional alcoholic I was mentally abused for years I went for help when my son was 4 after my mother died my whole family abused me I do forgive them didn’t know where to turn their anger too so I was the one I didn’t do the drug they did well anyways over that still gets triggered once in a while my son went away a couple of days ago leaving all the wreckage he was awaay for 4 years in a maxium prison was hard when he got out ran to thereapy then couldn’t afford it after the theivery started Im sick he has two children 9 and 3 I took David the 9 year old since he was young after a while her mother took temporary guardianship and to help her out I took him on weekends and my son went away at 24 had another child another boy he was born in prison but she got to keep him been taking him since he was born david and Jordin well in the last couple of months with everything going on I couldn’t take the 3 year old because my car wasn’t working had to get another one and their was a snowstorm couldn’t get him and this week been sick all week haven’t been to work because of it told the mother I couldn’t take him on all three occasions she texted me obsessively through out the day stating Im not consistant and I cannot see Jordin anymore Im saying to myself what is wrong with this picture Im sick Im the grandmother I do not have to do what I do I have taken him for 4 years so him and the 9 year old could get to know one another and I enjoyed being with them well she texted me all day and nite of hows she is done something wrong withthis picture so tired of them using my grandchildren as pawns I am going to let go because right now I can’t be around so one so disrespectful and right now I never want to see her she is not my friend never was I was just trying to do the right thing but you know what it still hurts I love him he is awesome and he loves me just so sad and I can’t stop crying she makes it like I love one beter than the other I don’t I love and thank God Im capable I have a Savior but it is still painful cant react to her I just said the truth Im sick and can’t take him need to take care of myself I just don’t understand this world I can’t bow down to her to appease her cause she wants to go out going back to alanon and been reading codependent no more again I must have a sign on my head that saids abuse me Im so sick and tired I am not letting my son come home Love him but he has to do a whole program he never has and the last jail he was in had no recovery and was loaded with drugs he is court order to go now I pray he gets it Ive let go of alot of my family its just seems like a decentized world been spending alot of time this week by myself asking God for help gosh buy the pain is great between my son my grandson my financial situation but thank “God I still have a job well thanks for listening it usually takes me a few days to get thru this but I will and thanks for your book and knowledge Im trying to get my family dynamics from a cousin my whole family mentally abuses and it is passed on from gen to gen Ive been to therapy for it but itdoes slip especially since he has been home he more so than ever well thanks and pray for me

  11. Robinder

    Dear Melody, First, please accept my Gratitude for changing my life with your writings : the views you’ve expressed & felt – I connected. I will not go into jargon or detail in this mail as it is simply my expression of Gratitude for my discovery work. Gosh, I didn’t even ‘know’ that I can have self worth, begin to trust my instincts, and so on, always with the guidance of my HP. Today, I do many ‘normal’ things (which were ‘not normal’ for me earlier) without much thought. In quite a few situations I stop & pause and wait to hear that voice within …… sometimes I don’t hear it & today I know its okay, the answers will come when I am ready. Today I simple try & live in the present & do the next best thing I can. Ofcourse, I screw up but I no longer (for the most part) beat myself up. I am continuously learning to love myself because I believe I DESRVE it. The abuse (emotion & physical) I have suffered growing up in an alcoholic home & then, years later punishing my body with drugs & alcohol. Time for healing, time for letting go & time to express my Gratitude. You are one of the many people who have been the signage on the road of my recovery, & here & now, I am mailing this to you. Lastly, I specially want to thank you for sharing in a talk show with ……(forget the name but midway he played the song “Shine On You Diamond” ……. about “the Grace of God”. I have today. Tomorrow will be another day, with whatever it brings. Best wishes, Robinder

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