Hi, I’m Jaclyn, and I’m codependent.

I am no stranger to alcoholism.

My older brother fought a tough battle with it which led to being on the TV show Intervention in February 2008. Even after the show, it took him a few years to get sober. But he did. And I am happy to report that he has been sober for over 7 years now. I am so proud if him.

What most people don’t know is that while we were filming the show, we discussed doing a double intervention on my stepmom too.

At that time, she characterized herself as a “functioning alcoholic.” She always said that because she had a job and went to work everyday, she didn’t have a problem.

But she did. Years later, when my dad ended up in the hospital, she lost her job. And that was the beginning of the end.

In June of this year, she passed away due to complications from alcoholism.

After all of the shit I went through surrounding alcoholism – brushing it under the rug, getting angry, obligated to enable, cleaning up literal and figurative messes, swooping in to save the day over and over again – I really thought once the alcoholism was out of my life, all of the other issues surrounding it would be too.

That is, until the other night when I was scrolling through Pinterest and saw a quote that stopped me dead in my tracks.

When I read this, it was like all of the pieces finally connected and I had an “oh shit” moment.

Here it is:

People pleasing? Making other people’s problems my own? Self-esteem being dictated by other people?

I. Am. Codependent.

Anyone who has known me for five minutes knows that I live and die by what other people think of me. Happiness has ALWAYS been circumstantial and external.

I felt like I had been SEEN!

Immediately, I began to research further:

  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Taking on others’ interests as my own
  • Not knowing what I want
  • Not know how to communicate what I do want
  • Struggling to set boundaries
  • Using relationships to fill a bottomless void

This is me to a T. I started to cry. First, in relief. There was finally something that explained why I feel and act the way I do. Then, in anger. And the anger sat for a while.

“Here I am being punished yet again by the actions of someone else. Here I am again having to clean up the mess long after the person is gone.”

Then, I cried out of overwhelm. What started as a way to cope, a way to survive, is now a deeply ingrained, complicated problem that will take years and a shit ton of work to undo.

I feel…defective. I feel overwhelmed.

The challenging thing with this kind of problem and what drives me crazy about personal development, is that there’s no rule book. There’s no quick fix. I can’t binge read a self help book over the weekend and be “cured.”

This is going to be hard. But it’s worth it.

Because I want to know who I am without being defined by my relationship to someone else.

I want to learn how to say no to things that don’t serve me.

I want to know and pursue things that truly interest me.

I want to learn how to take care of myself first.

So, I will do the work. Because I deserve to be happy.


Trying Day

My dad called me today.

He hasn’t been able to speak on the phone much the last four months that he’s been in the hospital, so I damn near dropped my phone scrambling to answer it.

For the first time in weeks, his voice was clear as day and he sounded wide awake and lucid. I was so excited!

That’s when he said he needed help. He needed me to “give him the number of his main squeeze Sharon”….

Mind you, my dad has been married for some 25 years and his wife just passed in June.

Dad went on to say that he met her at work. He said he worked downstairs and she worked upstairs…

But Dad hasn’t worked in over three years.

A few days ago, he said he went outside to start his car, but it wouldn’t move and we need to call the finance company ASAP. But Dad hasn’t driven nor seen his car since March.

This is what his recovery looks like right now. A specific diagnosis? We don’t know. One doctor called it “anesthesia fog.” After being on a ventilator for so long and on a cocktail of drugs, apparently this can be pretty common. But how long it will last is a question that the doctors can’t even answer.

But this call came after another devastating blow earlier in the day that Dad’s insurance is dropping his coverage for rehabilitation benefits. He’s not “progressing quickly enough.” Dad has only been in that facility for a month and two of those weeks were spent in forced quarantine. So, two weeks of rehab? Two weeks is all he gets to recover after being hospitalized since April 1st? That’s the best we can do for our senior citizens?

And that’s pretty much how the last four months have gone. Just when there’s a sliver of hope, a setback follows. Just when we get good news, bad news is not far behind.

Now there’s talk of a suspected stroke that he needs testing for. How will that change the recovery plan?

Our conversations with the doctors these days are less about when he will come home and more about if he will come home.

Needless to say, it’s been a roller coaster of emotions the last few months. I can barely keep up with my ever-fluctuating highs and lows. I can only imagine how my boyfriend feels watching it all happen.

It seems my days are filled with constant calls with doctors (a whole gamut of doctors), conversations about insurance, lawyers, red tape, long term care plans.

To say that it’s exhausting would be an understatement. Thank God I have my older sister to help navigate this process. I try not to let it consume me now. It did for a while and I have crawled out of a deep, dark hole of depression.

I am in uncharted territory here. I am being forced to learn the very difficult lesson of relinquishing control. Let go and let God. SO much easier said than done.

I try to remind myself to take it one day at a time, one problem at a time. Don’t worry too much about what happens down the line. Just focus on putting out the fires in front of me. And, loads and loads of self care. Sometimes that means taking out my frustration on cleaning the house. Sometimes it means crying in the bathroom when no one is paying attention. Sometimes it’s sitting under the tiki hut with a glass (or three) of prosecco. Sometimes it’s taking a nap, or going for a walk.

I just have to remember, all storms run out of rain. This situation SUCKS. But, it is temporary. Eventually, everything will be okay.