HOw Can you Heal Codependency in Family Relationships and break unhealthy Patterns Established in Childhood?
That’s what we’re here to talk about today.
Codependency is a buzzword you might hear often, but it can be confusing and misunderstood.
My guest today is Brandi Merrill, she’s a life and recovery coach, a She Recovers coach, a licensed clinical social worker and a “boundary boss”. Brandi’s going to help us understand what codependency is (and is not) and how to break unhealthy patterns that may be sabotaging your health and happiness.
Codependency is an excessive reliance on other people for approval and sense of self.
It can cause you to worry about the lack of response from people, to feel anger about what you said or didn’t say in situations because you are relying on others for approval, not honor your own opinions and thoughts, and believe that putting yourself first is rude or selfish.
And codependency can make it challenging to set healthy boundaries, or cause guilt or anxiety when you do set them.
In this episode, Brandi and I talk about:
- The 4 steps to healing codependent behavior
- 7 signs of healing from codependency
- Why overly harsh or loose boundaries can cause you to avoid close relationships
- How and why codependency manifests in many family relationships
- How to break unhealthy patterns established in childhood as an adult
- The complicated relationship between codependent feelings and boundaries
The 4 steps to healing codependent behavior
- Increasing awareness – How do you contribute to codependency? What can you do differently to take your power back?
- Improving communication – changing how you communicate with people, setting boundaries unapologetically
- Editing self talk – Negative self talk is destructive to recovery. How can you reframe the words you are saying to yourself to be more constructive?
- Raising self awareness – pay close attention to your body and your feelings. Can you identify triggers that bring up feelings of anger, guilt, or resentment?
7 signs of healing from codependency
- You are comfortable being alone
- You are comfortable with sharing your opinions in relationships
- You make decisions for yourself and not for others
- You are comfortable with setting boundaries that serve your needs
- You can step back and respond to situations instead of just reacting to them
- You are comfortable with other people’s independence
- You no longer feel guilt for setting boundaries and letting go of unhealthy relationships
About Brandi Merrill
Brandi lives in Idaho and is a single mom to three amazing daughters. She’s a life and recovery coach, a She Recovers coach and a licensed clinical social worker who has provided counseling services for many years. Brandi is passionate about coaching and the transformations that are possible with the use of positive psychology and spirituality.
Her personal journey has been one of forgiveness, self love, becoming a boundary boss, and single parenting in recovery. She’s in recovery from alcohol and codependency and believes that anything is possible. Brandi is passionate about inspiring her clients to make the changes they desire and to live their best lives. Brandi also works closely with moms in recovery that have experienced loss, including time with their kids, divorce or death.
Show notes: www.hellosomedaycoaching.com/28
Links and resources mentioned:
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Healing Codependency In Family Relationships – Breaking Unhealthy Patterns Established In Childhood With Brandi Merrill
drinking, codependency, boundaries, feel, work, people, relationship, parents, sober, codependent, rigid boundaries, feeling, kids, women, healing, life, alcohol, mom, coach, recovery, family, breaking, unhealthy, patterns, established, childhood, Life Coach, Recover Coach, SHE RECOVERS® Coach, Clinical Social Worker, Counseling, services, passionate, transformations, possible, Positive, Psychology, Spirituality. personal, journey, forgiveness, self-love, becoming, boundary, boss, single parenting, inspiring, changes, live their best lives, experienced loss, time with kids, divorce, death, podcast, honor, share my story, people pleasing, partner, love, romantic relationship, family dynamics, children, Coaching, women, mothers, fathers, kids, helpful, listening, sobriety, challenge, overcoming, misconception, married, alcoholic, enabling, behavior, understanding, underneath my drinking, addiction, updated version, loss of yourself, being, unravel, symptom, managing emotions, anger, resentment, authentic to myself, manifested, angry, resentful, question myself, guilt, mental obsession, conflict, provokes, good thoughts, self-analysis, betrayal of self, excessive reliance, approval, sense of identity, healthy boundaries, trust yourself, issues, validation, need, manipulative, controlling, perceptions, showed up, childhood, adulthood, may not serve us anymore, show up, dealt with, trauma, alcoholism, emotional regulation, healing, projection, process of untangling, labeled, enmeshment, stress, problems, transferred, solve, fix, financial issues, decision, financial security, emotionally, taking care of your parents, help save, Core Energy Coaching, mindset, energy, victim, helpless, caregiver, draining, constructive, deserve better, self preservation, positive, responsibility, separation, caring, your own needs, power, without alcohol, constant companion, compassion, forgiving yourself, emotional reaction, who you are, release that thought, shaming, blaming, parenting, sober, self-judgment, selfish, respected, move through, quit drinking, conflict, anxiety, self-talk, disappointment, triggered, toxic, hostility, role model, ability, to be present, burdened, respecting your elders, important, putting my needs first, something to give to others, judgment, behavioral trait, responsible for other people’s feelings, assert my needs, worried, kept me quiet, I’m sorry, Thank you, conditioned, time, valuable, balance, skill, getting hurt, be open, overreaction, good experiences, avoid intimacy, close relationships, vulnerable, shame, ashamed, not good enough, situation, worth, purpose, learn, grow, grateful, help other people, use it for good, painful, had an affair, destroyed me, happy hour, overcome, divorce, devastating, regrets, numbing out, gave up, feel heard, guided, understood, podcast, resonates, misunderstood, weak, damaged, embarrassment, drinking problem, afraid, freedom, self-awareness, contribute, codependent, giving people permission, contributing, simple things, big things, taking responsibility, resistance, communicate, verbally, actions, inactions, verbal boundaries, listening to your body, meditation, journaling, writing down my progress, moving forward, mindful, self-help track, self-defeating, being in the moment, being present, happy people, live, visualize, achieve, excitement, figure out what works, empty chair technique, I know what’s right for me, my decision, sharing opinions, also others to have independence, stay in my own lane, past influencing the present, projecting past experience to current relationship, responding instead of reacting, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, emotional mind, past trauma ,wise mind, making informed decisions, step back before you react, unresolved traumas, forgive, key part of healing, get back to a good place, If it’s hysterical, its historical, EMDR Therapy, altruistic, beliefs, unconscious mind, inspiration
SPEAKERS: Casey McGuire Davidson + Brandi Merrill
Welcome to the Hello Someday Podcast, the podcast for busy women who are ready to drink less and live more. I’m Casey McGuire Davidson, ex-red wine girl turned life coach helping women create lives they love without alcohol. But it wasn’t that long ago that I was anxious, overwhelmed, and drinking a bottle of wine and night to unwind. I thought that wine was the glue, holding my life together, helping me cope with my kids, my stressful job and my busy life. I didn’t realize that my love affair with drinking was making me more anxious and less able to manage my responsibilities.
In this podcast, my goal is to teach you the tried and true secrets of creating and living a life you don’t want to escape from.
Each week, I’ll bring you tools, lessons and conversations to help you drink less and live more. I’ll teach you how to navigate our drinking obsessed culture without a bus, how to sit with your emotions, when you’re lonely or angry, frustrated or overwhelmed, how to self soothe without a drink, and how to turn the decision to stop drinking from your worst case scenario to the best decision of your life.
I am so glad you’re here. Now let’s get started.
Hi there. My guest today is Brandi Merrill. And we’re going to be talking about healing codependency in family relationships and breaking unhealthy patterns that were established in childhood.
Brandi lives in Idaho and is a single mom to 3 amazing daughters. She’s a Life and Recovery Coach as SHE RECOVERS® Coach, a licensed Clinical Social Worker who has provided Counseling services for many, many years. Brandi is passionate about Coaching and the Transformations that are possible with the use of Positive Psychology and Spirituality. Her personal journey has been one of forgiveness and self-love becoming a boundary boss. And I absolutely love that phrase, and single parenting in recovery. She’s in recovery from alcohol and codependency and believes that anything is possible.
And Brandi is passionate about inspiring clients to make the changes they desire and to live their best lives. Brandi also works closely with moms in recovery that have experienced loss, including time with their kids, divorce or death.
So Brandi, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. I think this is such an important topic
Thank you so much for having me, I’m so grateful to be on your podcast and that I bet you This feels like a real honor to be on your podcast. And I’m excited to share my story.
Casey McGuire Davidson 02:52
It’s awesome to have you here because I know that codependency and boundaries and people pleasing is a topic that people talk about often. But typically, it’s related to your partner or love or relationships with someone in a romantic relationship or friendships. Very rarely do we talk about healing, toxic family relationships are codependent relationships that are dragging you down in any way. As well as we often don’t talk about unhealthy patterns that are established in childhood with parents or in family dynamics, or how they play out with your own children. And I think that’s something that I know from Coaching a lot of women are dealing with, often with mothers also with fathers and with their own kids. So, I’m excited to talk to you about this. I think it’s going to be really helpful to a lot of people listening.
Yeah, I think coming into sobriety, that was my biggest challenge, once I got sober was overcoming that codependency. And you know, there used to be this misconception that codependency was somebody that was married to an alcoholic and they were doing enabling behavior. I don’t know if you’ve read the new codependency. But it’s a Brill updated version about how this has transpired into something totally different. It’s by Melody Beattie, and that book has been key in my recovery and understanding what I was, what was really underneath my drinking.
I haven’t read that and I’d love you to tell me more about that because I know Melody Beattie is one of the, she’s written one of the most popular books on Codependency, but it sounds like she’s taken that a step further to look at new codependency.
Mm hmm. Yeah, I feel like it’s a very it’s updated version and done. Just appeal to somebody that’s in a relationship with an addiction. It’s for people that also have addictions and codependency and family dynamics. And it’s not just about enabling others codependency really is about the loss of yourself from having unhealthy relationships. Yeah, that that book was key to my recovery and being all that unravel. You know, the drinking was just us, probably a symptom of the codependency.
Yeah, I totally understand that. And we will absolutely put a link to that book in the show notes of this episode. One of the things I loved that you said when we first talked about this, is that a common misconception about codependency is a lot of people think that codependent people are people pleasers. And you said that with you, and with many women. It’s about managing emotions and anger, resentment. And that codependency can come across as being me. Can you tell me more about that?
Well, I think there was some component of people pleasing, but it was not. It did not come across in a nice way for me, because I wasn’t, I guess, being authentic to myself. And so, had so much anger and resentment. You know, if I felt like my boundaries were overstepped it just didn’t come across. I mean, my, when I first read the first Melody Beattie book, Codependent No More, I had this misconception that if you were codependent, you are very nice. And you’re a doormat. And so, I was like, that’s not me. And it manifested so differently. For me, I was just so angry and resentful. And if I set a boundary with somebody in my life, then I would question myself, and I would feel guilty. And then I would feel angry and have this mental obsession about the conflict, how to basic I guess it was really just not knowing myself. That’s what was underneath all of that. And with that came so much anger for me. And I don’t know if you’ve read the Dance Of Anger by Harriet Lerner. But she really addresses that.
Casey McGuire Davidson 07:38
Yeah, I have read it. And I’ve talked with some of my clients about it, because it is really an interesting piece of work and provokes a lot of really good thoughts and self-analysis. One of the things I think you said earlier was it’s about a betrayal of self. And I know that two things that you’ve said to me, I feel a really important one is that we can’t talk about boundaries without talking about codependency and that codependency is an excessive reliance on other people for approval and for a sense of identity. And how do those two things work together?
Well, I think, you know, if you have healthy boundaries, and trust yourself, then you’re likely not going to have issues with codependency. But if people are really having a lot of difficulties with boundaries, and they’re probably going to be some codependency underneath that, you know, that validation that you need from others about yourself, maybe that you didn’t get when you were young, from your parents. And so, it’s just like this excessive dependence on what other people think. And I’ve heard it referred to as manipulative or controlling. But I really think it’s just this not knowing who you are outside of other people’s perceptions.
Casey McGuire Davidson 09:13
Yeah. And tell me about how that showed up for you. I know you say that most of this is learned from childhood and we carry it into adulthood where it may not serve us anymore. What was your childhood like? And how did that codependency show up?
Well, I had parents that basically hadn’t dealt with their own trauma. My dad struggled with his own alcoholism and was never able to get into a place of recovery. And then my mom had a brain injury when she was 8, that I feel like really inhibited her from being able to be there in the way that she needed to for her kids, because, oh, I just want to say, if you compare it to somebody that’s had a stroke, that emotional piece is so hard that emotional regulation. And I just wasn’t able to get what I needed from my parents, because they weren’t, they haven’t dealt with their stuff and their own healing. And I never got the validation that I needed or was able to trust myself with them, because there was so much projection of their issues, onto their own children. And it’s been the process of untangling myself from their issues. Because I’ve had to literally like, pretend to set it down and say, that’s, that’s not my issue. And there was just so you know, I guess, codependency can also be labeled as enmeshment. And so that’s really how my childhood was my my stomach hurt all the time, when I was little, I’m certain that I had an ulcer because I was just so stressed there just wasn’t those healthy boundaries between my parents, and I have, you know, where that wasn’t mine that was theirs. And they’re just, there wasn’t those limits that that are needed for healthy child development?
No, does that mean that their stress and their problems were transferred to you? And you were trying to solve it for them or something else?
Yes, yes. I think that probably why I went into social work is because I think at a young age, I think, maybe by the time I was 8, and that’s how old my mom was actually, when she had a brain injury that I decided that I was going to fix this. And I was taking this on, and there just wasn’t a lot of secrets in my family. Like, if there were financial issues, or there was stressed, there was no, I guess, decision made my parents part that, alright, this might not be appropriate for a child to listen to or have to deal with. I almost felt like they were children themselves. You know, and by the time I was 8, I was like, there’s something wrong here. And I need to fix it.
Casey McGuire Davidson 12:30
Yeah, I know, I mean, eight years old is so young, to be worried about financial security or emotionally taking care of your parents. I mean, I have children. And I know you do too. And I can’t imagine them having constant stomach issues, because they feel like they’re not safe. You know, whether it’s emotionally, financially, physically, or whatever it is. So, I can imagine the feeling of you need to take the burden on your shoulders to help save or fix your parents can be kind of crushing. Mm hmm.
Yeah. And I think that that’s how that anger manifested later, is that I think I felt so burdened. And so, it didn’t come across as kind or people pleasing later, I was just so mad that I didn’t get to have like a normal childhood experience to be free from those burdens, and never got the validation that I needed that wasn’t okay. Yeah, you know, they, they couldn’t even recognize that that’s what was happening.
Yeah, and I love I actually do Core Energy Coaching, it was part of my Coaching Certification, and do assessments with my clients on it. And one of the things I love that I think you’re describing is there’s definitely sort of a default mindset of, you know, different levels of energy. So, the lowest one is feeling like you’re a victim feeling like you’re helpless feeling like, there’s no point in trying because nothing will change or you’ve tried before, and it hasn’t changed. And a lot of times that’s combined with sort of a caregiver, default mindset or energy mean. And those two combined are sort of a wounded helper, which I feel like is a lot of what you’re describing. But I love when you talked about it manifested as anger, because anger actually is a higher level of energy. It’s still super draining, but it’s more constructive than being a victim because with anger, you actually feel like you deserve better and this isn’t fair and you are taking some control. It may not be the healthiest control. But you are, you know, with anger is a sense of self preservation. So that actually, you know, when you move from victim to anger that’s actually healthy and positive.
Mm hmm. Yeah. I think that it did serve me for a long time until it didn’t, because you know, it’s poisonous.
Yes, no, it’s totally draining, it’s totally difficult. And you want to move from that energy to higher levels of responsibility and separation and caring for your own needs. But it is definitely better than feeling totally without power. Mm hmm.
Yeah. And I think once you know, I mean, it’s, it’s still a struggle, but I’ve had to get to a place where I could have some compassion for my parents. And then, you know, I’m not saying I don’t have days where I don’t still feel angry with them. But I can understand that they were just a human being having their own human experience and their own childhood trauma that they weren’t able to deal with. And so, I feel really fortunate that I’ve been able to stop that pattern, I would not have been able to stop that pattern if I hadn’t stopped drinking, because I wasn’t dealing with it.
Casey McGuire Davidson 16:32
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Yeah, and I think that a lot of that work in being able to have compassion for your parents and, and that is not easy, especially when as a child, you were in such a difficult and heavy position is then also having compassion for yourself, right? And forgiving yourself. Because I always think that 90% of anyone’s strong emotional reaction to you is all about them. And only 10% is about you, or who you are, what you’ve done. And in realizing that you’re able to kind of release that thought that it was somehow your fault, or if you had been better, it wouldn’t have been that bad.
Well, and I feel like and unhealthy family dynamics like that there’s a lot of shaming and blaming, and parenting. And, you know, I mean, sometimes that still happens. And, you know, I shared with you before, that my dad passed away in May, and he took his life. And, you know, I’m so thankful that I was sober. And I had worked through some of these codependency issues, because I could have really taken that on as my fault. Because I had set some pretty rigid boundaries with him, he was still he was like, and stage alcoholism. And it wasn’t a pleasant relationship. And immediately, I kind of went to this place, like, why didn’t I call him you know, wedding night check on him. And, you know, I had to really come back to the fact that because I had to take care of myself, and that’s okay, that I had to take care of myself. There’s a lot of self-judgment that goes in with that. Because, you know, I’ve had my parents judge me and say, you know, I’m selfish when I’ve had boundaries, you know, they haven’t been respected and it’s been misconstrued as, as me being selfish or being a bitch.
We have boundaries, are often perceived as being a bitch. Yeah, it’s not okay to take care of yourself. And so, I really had to do a lot of work around that when he passed away and luckily, I think you know, once you start doing this work, you’re able to move through it a lot quicker.
Yeah. And you know, had some thoughts of like, laughs I would have done this, what if I would have done that? You know, but I had to come down to he was my dad, I was not his parent. And it was not my job to fix him. But it is my job to take care of myself and take care of my kids.
Yeah, and so that really got me through that.
Casey McGuire Davidson 20:26
And you’ve said, before that you were sort of unable to really work on this while you were still drinking. And it was, once you got sober, that you were able to establish these boundaries and heal yourself. Can you tell me a little bit about how that codependency presented, when you were drinking, and how you were able to heal that once you got sober?
Well, when I was drinking, I didn’t really care who I spent time with, as long as we had that commonality, you know, and so I wasn’t going to have preferences, and I definitely didn’t have boundaries, my values completely changed when I stopped drinking. And what I really noticed when I quit is that I was able to be more authentic to myself, my friendships weren’t going to revolve around happy hour. And you know, I was willing to let all my values go, as long as is like this where they’re somebody willing to have happy hour with me. It didn’t, it didn’t matter. And when I quit drinking, I really figured out who I was, and what my preferences were, and my likes and dislikes, and stopped mattering if somebody’s approved or not.
I mean, I spent a lot of time in my head if there was any conflict in any of my relationships, whether I can trust myself or not. Was I okay to say that? Am I okay to set a boundary? And I would just get insane anxiety and question myself. And thank God that has gotten because I spent so much time in my head and you know, you have obsessive drinking about alcohol, right? And then that turned into obsessive thinking about my relationships and feeling disappointed by other people. And I really had to change my self-talk around that. How, you know, I wasn’t a victim. And that’s really what changed for me was being able to figure out who he was.
Yeah, that’s amazing. And were your parents at a major trigger. When you were drinking? You mentioned disappointment. Are there other emotions that triggered you to drink related to that sort of toxic in mesh meant?
Oh, yes. Mostly with my mom. I have a lot of hostility towards my dad. He had been self-diagnosed alcoholic since he was 27 years old. His dad was an alcoholic. And so, from a very young age, I mean, this was out of concern. But he told me, you cannot drink. It’s in your DNA. I mean, probably, since I was 10 years old. He was terrified for me to drink. And so, the first time I drank, I was 15. He found out and he put me in inpatient rehab. And he was still drinking.
And yes, they would not let me go home until I said I was an alcoholic. And I probably drink a handful of times. And so, I was so mad, and angry. And then after that, I was like, Oh, this is on, I’m gonna drink as much as I want. I’m going to do whatever I want. I felt so controlled, which I felt like was the last thing that was going to be.
I needed him to love me. I needed him to be a role model. He wasn’t willing to quit drinking, but he really wanted to control my drinking. And I felt like it’s that projection there again, right? But he has a drinking issue. And he’s putting that on me. And he’s going to control how much I drink but he’s not going to make any changes.
Casey McGuire Davidson 24:27
I was just going to stay in with my mom, there’s a fan. My parents divorced when I was 10 months old, with my mom, you know, in her brain and in injury, you know, there was just always so much compassion I had, because how significantly that injury impacted her and her family. You know, we talked about it and how that affected her ability to be able to parent and be present. So, I had all this compassion. And it felt wrong for me to have boundaries and not have that enmeshment because she needed somebody to take care of her. And so that relationship was so much more complicated because I felt so guilty. And I think that’s where the anger came from is because I was always just feeling so guilty and responsible and so burdened.
Casey McGuire Davidson 25:24
Yeah, absolutely. I love that you work with women, to help them break these patterns, women in recovery, and do work with women who have already gotten sober, also women who want to get sober.
Oh, both Phil’s like every woman that I’ve worked with this, these codependency issues come up, these boundary issues come up. It seems to be so common for women. And I think it’s because we’re taught that it’s wrong to put your own needs first. And it’s really something I’ve tried to address with my own girls. You know, you get to say no to adults, you get to assert yourself, you get to say no, that’s not for me. It used to be different kids. Kids were not supposed to tell adults. No.
Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, because it was a sign of not respecting your elders, or, you know, talking back or whatever it is, and that is so important. And the word, selfish, you brought up and I think that’s such, I actually really don’t like that word. And a client of mine, we were having a conversation about how she was giving and giving and giving, and then totally burned out, right, she had nothing for herself. And she said, I know I need to be more selfish with my time. And I said, No, it’s not about being selfish with your time, because that’s a word that has so many negative connotations, it’s about taking care of yourself, the right way to phrase it is I know, I need to take better care of myself. And that means putting my needs first so that you have something to give to the people you love in your life. So I think that, you know, in addition to sort of getting rid of the word should, because by definition, when you say you should do something that’s a judgment of someone else, or of yourself, that you need to do something that you actually don’t want to do.
But the word selfish, I think, when applied to yourself, or actually even applying to others is, is a judgment, that is not respecting your own boundaries are what their boundaries are, right. And one thing I know would be really helpful to the listeners, because a lot of people are like, Am I codependent? Am I not? Am I just being nice? And, you know, am I just doing what I should, again should be doing is you have 10 things that you like to share that help in recognizing codependent behaviors, or loose boundaries. And I was hoping you could share them with us.
Sure, and you know, this might look different. I just put it as recognizing codependent behaviors if you don’t like and we codependency it’s not a medical diagnosis. It’s just a behavioral trait. But loose boundaries can also be another term for it. For me, it was really feeling like I was responsible for other people’s feelings, and then I would feel angry or guilty about it. I didn’t really honor my own dislikes or likes. I was like, I said before, I was always obsessing and worrying about other people’s responses, or their lack of response, if they didn’t text me back. What were they thinking? Are they upset with me? And then I would get mad if I thought they might be upset with me. How dare they be mad at me, you know?
And so, I mean, just that mental obsession, and then not being a little to articulate what my needs were in a situation if somebody said that or disagree and say, Oh, no, that’s not for me. That’s not how I feel. And instead of saying that, I would think about afterwards, I should have said that. I should have said this, you know, why didn’t I assert my needs? And you know, it was because I was worried. I’m also a Libra, so I don’t like conflict. And so that really, I guess, kept me quiet, because I didn’t but you know, I didn’t realize that. It doesn’t have to be conflictual. I would say I’m sorry, a lot. And that’s something that I’m constantly changing and texts all the time. Instead of saying I’m sorry, I’ve heard this little tool where you say thank you. Instead, because I’m sorry, kind of indicate you’ve done something wrong. And so, if somebody invites me for coffee, I don’t say, Oh, I’m so sorry, I can’t go I have this not and please don’t be mad at me. It’s more like, thanks for inviting me, I won’t be able to make it today.
Casey McGuire Davidson 30:18
Yeah, and I did do that too, because I think as women, we’re conditioned to say I’m sorry, all the time, for anything, you know, anything at all. And you know, I hate running late, I always want to be on time as sort of respect for someone else’s time. And you know, instead of saying, I’m so sorry, I’m late. And here’s the reason, right, whatever it is, I’ve tried to start saying, Thank you for waiting for me. And here’s, here’s the reason. I’m only saying, here’s the reason because I, I do feel other people’s time is valuable. And, you know, I want to be true to my word.
Mm hmm. Yeah. And I feel like, you know, it’s coming, everything for me has to do with balance. And that’s part of, you know, labor to like, our sign is the skill. And so, I, who, you know, part of my journey with this with the codependency is having really rigid boundaries, and then going to too loose and then going too rigid. And so, I have found there’s times where I do need to stand sorry. Yeah, and you know, and that’s been okay to begin with, if I don’t show up, or I forget it about an appointment. That was wrong. And I am sorry that I did that, you know. And I feel like sometimes it’s necessary. And, you know, I have to let that wall down a little bit with a rigid boundary and be able to be open to getting hurt, because that’s the thing you know, is scary to get hurt. And those rigid boundaries also prevent you from having good experiences, too.
Casey McGuire Davidson 31:57
And are the rigid boundaries, like an overreaction to your codependent behaviors and your loose boundaries that you’ve had.
for sure, for sure.
Tell me what rigid boundaries might look like.
I think rigid boundaries, the way that it showed up for me, as I avoid intimacy, and close relationships, I’ll get in dating, I’ll get close to being in relationship. And then as soon as like, I think that I might be getting too vulnerable, I find a fault in that person. And then I find a reason to be done. And not being honest about some of you know, the trauma I’ve had. And that’s really changed for me, where I can really tell anybody that I had a problem with alcohol and not feel ashamed about it.
And you know, it’s like the Brené Brown thing, where, you know, if you put shame in a petri dish and put it in the dark, it’s going to grow. But when you expose it to light and be like, Hey, this is who I am, and I’m proud of it. Then you don’t have to have those rigid boundaries, where you don’t want people to know who you are. And you’re ashamed of those things. Because I was ashamed of my childhood for a long time. Like, I felt like, I was mad at God, like, I must not be good enough, because he put me in this situation, you know, he must not love me, or he must not think I’m worth having, you know, parents are healthy.
Casey McGuire Davidson 33:33
And how do you feel now about that?
Well, I feel like there’s a purpose to it. And the purpose is that, you know, I’ve learned so much and grown so much. And I feel like I’m the person in my family. I mean, there has been generations of this, that is breaking the intergenerational patterns. And that’s a pretty big responsibility. And, you know, I feel like it’s up to me to do that. And now I feel grateful for I have these experiences, I can help other people and use it for good instead of being a victim, and, and doing the same thing to my kids.
Casey McGuire Davidson 34:16
Yeah. And so, tell me about how this healing. You know, you talked about breaking that intergenerational pattern, which is so important. How has it changed how you parent your daughters, because being a single mother is not easy?
Yeah. And, oh, it was, you know, I had gone through this period when I got married. And from the time I was little, I think this was part of my reason to why I mean, from a very young age, I think my first memory I felt unsafe. I never felt safer that I was being protected. And so, the way that I guess I wanted to fix that as I had like $10.
And I just wanted to be a mom, when I was little, I was like, I just wanna have 10 kids, like, already, I want to fix this like, right, I want to raise kids, I want to be different. So, when I had my kids, I got married, I stopped drinking, and like, that was part of my plan. And now it sounds extremely selfish, like, I’m gonna have kids, and that’s gonna make me get sober. And it worked. I had my two youngest, really close together. And so, I was pregnant, and then a nurse for a year. And then I was pregnant again, and then I nursed for another year. And then my ex-husband had an affair. And that pretty much destroyed my sobriety. And I kind of internalized that as there were red flags, this is all my fault. Why did I bring two kids into this? I knew that he wasn’t going to be faithful to me, and I didn’t listen to myself. And that’s like codependency too, right? Like, the signs were there. And I just didn’t trust myself. And, you know, that’s kind of what I’ve been learning is to trust myself throughout this process. And, and parenting, I mean, I also, that was a really hard time, my kids would leave for him for a week. And that’s really when my drinking started, because my kids were gone. And it was so painful. And they were little. And so, it was happy hour, I called my single friends. And that just continued to progress. Before that, I felt like I had overcome. I mean, what I wanted was this happy family, I wanted to raise my kids. And when that happened, it just destroyed me. And my white picket fence, I felt like I had a white picket fence. And he just like took a bulldozer and round.
Casey McGuire Davidson 36:53
Where were your kids when that happened?
Well, it happened when I was pregnant with my youngest, and I didn’t find out for about a year. And so yeah, we tried to work on it for a couple years. And when we split up, she was just, I mean, it was this process of this week actually got divorced, got back together. And, you know, she was probably 3 or 4 by the time that was all said and done. And it was devastating. And that’s what my drinking started picking up. And you know, I still have so many regrets about that, because I wasn’t present for them the way I needed to be. Because they were, they were struggling to going through that. And I wasn’t able to be there in a way that I needed to be. Because I was checked out. I was numbing out.
Yeah, it was so painful. I felt like I had, the thought process I had is, I ruined their life. I mean, my main goal is having children and having a family as it was gonna be different for my kids and was different for me.
And so when that happened, I just felt like I totally just kind of gave up.
Casey McGuire Davidson 38:03
And I love that you help women not only in recovery from drinking and codependency, but especially with mom, who’ve experienced those kinds of losses that you have, including time with their kids divorce or death, because you do have all those experiences.
And when you talk about, you know, things happening for a reason, even really painful things. I think that you need to work with a Coach who’s had the experience that that you have, and has been able to heal from that because you need to feel, you know, heard and understood and guided from someone who has, who has been there. And I love, you know, one of the things I love about doing this podcast is finding other Coaches and understanding what their experiences are and who they work with, so that women can find the Coach that resonates most with them.
Yeah, I think that you definitely have to have somebody that’s walked through the same, in a year the same choose to be able to understand because I’ve often felt part of the codependency too is feeling so misunderstood. And, you know, having somebody that’s been through the same thing, so that you don’t feel alone. And yes, it’s huge for recovery.
Casey McGuire Davidson 39:33
One, especially when they’re things that you know, we all try to sort of as a method of self-protection. Present the very best versions of ourselves. We don’t want to be seen as weak. We don’t want to be seen as damaged in some way because we don’t want judgment or embarrassment. And that’s one of the things that I found is so healing. In quitting drinking, in recovery, is you know.
I remember the first time I was on a secret Facebook group shared, I’m a full time professional woman, and I’m married, and I have kids, and they’re beautiful. And I drink way too much. And I wake up hungover, and I don’t remember some nights and all the things. And I had 25 women write me and say, me too. And, you know, I posted a picture of me and my son. And, you know, there’s so much shame and embarrassment around, like, I have a drinking problem. And I have this gorgeous five-year-old son, just the sweetest kid ever. And, you know, just having all these women say, me, too, you’re just like me, your story is just like mine, like just even the number of women saying that, because I had never shared that with my coworkers, with my friends, with my mother with anyone, even my husband. And so, it, you know, just knowing you’re not alone. And just knowing that it’s not something to be ashamed about, right? It happens.
And especially with drinking, you just, inevitably, with enough exposure, become addicted to an addictive substance, like that’s exactly what it’s designed to do. And you’re not weak and you’re not damaged. And there’s nothing wrong with you that you can’t pull yourself out of this by yourself.
I remember I was afraid to like the SHE RECOVERS® page that somebody might see that I liked it.
Casey McGuire Davidson 41:32
I was too, I was 100% afraid too. And it’s funny how, once you start making yourself do those things, how the shame just falls away. And yes, there’s so much freedom in that. And then you can actually get sober because you’re not ashamed that there’s something wrong with you. And that’s society’s perception. Like, of course, like you should be able to moderate your alcohol, you should be able to use it responsibly and, and just have substance. You know, I mean, that’s like asking somebody to use crack responsibly.
Casey McGuire Davidson 42:11
Yeah. I mean, you just have to have the right genetics and the right situation for the perfect storm.
Yeah, yeah. And you have 4 steps that you work with clients to walk them through to start healing codependency and establishing healthy boundaries, and, you know, heal from that enmeshment with your family. Can you tell us about what those steps are?
Yeah. So, you know, I just kind of likened this to the four steps that I went through, when I got sober. And, you know, I felt like the case step is awareness. The most important step and you know, I did do that, and, you know, I didn’t necessarily get sober in a bit, I did do the 12 steps with a sponsor. And that was, that was really important for me to come up with a self-awareness. And so yeah, this the self-awareness is huge, you know, looking how your personal inventory, how do you contribute to these relationships, this codependency is, I feel like, when you’re codependent, you’re just handing your power over, right? You’re giving people permission to be mad at you, you’re giving people permission to walk on your boundaries, you’re showing them that your needs aren’t important.
And so, I think it’s really important, you know, write this down on paper, like, what are the things that you’re doing, that are contributing? And you know, that’s not to blame yourself? But what can you do different, you know, to take your take your power back, and figuring out who you are? And, and I think those can be just, I mean, it’s little simple things that end up being big things that you can do. And, you know, I mean, I think like, for me, I struggled so much in taking responsibility, because I took so much responsibility when I was younger, that I had this resistance like, No, you know, there’s no side of my Like, I was hurt. And the truth is, is, you know, it wasn’t my responsibility. And what happened to me wasn’t my fault, but it is my responsibility to fix it. So that first part is that the awareness and you know, it’s different for everybody how it shows up. And the second part, I think, with the codependency is really changing how you communicate with other people verbally with actions or inactions. I have not had good luck in setting verbal boundaries and explaining my boundaries to my family. It is not received well, and usually ends up being more harmful to me in the end. And so, I have to keep my boundaries basically to myself. And show through actions. And you know, maybe sometimes that just looks like me not answering my phone, saying no.
Changing the subject, having list of what subjects are triggering for me and off topic. I don’t ask my mom advice about parenting my kids, it’s a huge trigger for me. And I know that and it’s my responsibility to be aware of that and to fix that. And so yeah, I think that the communication verbally with actions, or, you know, just even saying, Hey, hold on, or guess what I have to go, I’m sorry, you know, that sometimes that often, I feel like, it’s better than having this big discussion about your boundaries, because my experience that hasn’t went well.
And then the self-talk, I feel like, has been huge. When my dad passed away, I had to really practice this step, and I don’t feel like you’re gonna be like, just like this, this can be a progression of steps, you might go back to step one, and then be at step three, kind of like the stages of grief, you know, each day, it might be different. So the self-talk, I think, you know, if you’re telling yourself, what if they get mad, or, you know, you can switch that I have a responsibility to myself, it’s important that I take care of myself first, that’s not selfish. And that’s what I really had to do with my dad, when he took his life, and they started going back into that old story, like I had done and you know, this, if I would have just called him and you know, and I was able to identify, because awareness, I was able to literally identify those words that I was speaking to myself and turn them around, and you find the exceptions.
I’ve heard that the self-talk is like a river. And you’re not going to change the direction of a river. So sometimes I think people get really frustrated with self-talk. Because you just get mad at yourself. I can’t turn around. I’m doing it again. And so, you think about the self-talk as a damn. So, the self-talk is, you know, I could have prevented this. I could call my dad; I could have been there for him. Why couldn’t I be there for him? Well, but damn would be. I did my best. And I still had to protect myself. And that was enough for me, because I wasn’t, you know, I don’t think you can go from saying I’m awful to I’m perfect. It just doesn’t work. But you can go from, you can go to that middle place and create that down, so that you don’t go down the rabbit hole.
Yeah, yeah. Can you self-talk?
And then the last part, I think, is just really listening to your, your body. I think so many things are manifested in your body. For me, it’s always anxiety that comes up. You don’t want to push it away. And there can be a lot of, you know, dissociation, throwing your feelings under the rug. I don’t want to deal with it. How can I mean, of course, alcohol? How can I know it? What’s a different way I can admit, without alcohol, you know, is just like, I really like to recognize, okay, I have anxiety. What is it trying to tell me? And is it true? Like is, is it true, that, that this is going to happen, whatever I’m telling myself, yeah, that that’s going to happen? Is it true? Maybe it’s true? Maybe it’s not? Okay, well, what can I control? What can I do to change that?
And, you know, figuring out the self-care is so important listening to yourself. If I’m feeling frustrated, or anxious and my phone is ringing, it’s my responsibility to be like, I’m not in a place to take that phone call. And I don’t need to feel bad about it, taking care of myself, listening to my body. And, you know, I think having a self-care regimen, everybody’s looks different.
It’s important to have that yeah, that’s my and you know, that might be meditation. And that might be like some of the ones that I use as journaling. Really writing down my progress, like I need to see how far I’ve come I need to write down like, Oh my god, I had a win today. This was like I did, I’m so proud of myself. I am moving forward and growing.
I just read this book that said most it has to do with happiness, but people that are the happiest are the people that are the most mindful. I think people when they’re on this self-help track. They spend so much time on their head, like, how am I gonna fix this and you know, that becomes, can become self-defeating. So just being in the moment and being present, that’s where most happy people live.
So, I have a hard time sitting still. But I have noticed for myself, if I visualize my perfect day, I visualize what I, what I want my life to look like, I can like, really achieve that feeling of happiness, and excitement. But I can’t just sit still. So, I think everybody has to figure out what works for them.
And I think that, you know, you can use, I’ve done this a lot in Counseling, and I think it can cross over to Coaching. But the empty chair technique, if you need to practice boundaries, if you need to have somebody with somebody that you love, Harriet Lerner talks about this process of, if there’s somebody in your life that’s causing you a lot of issues with boundaries, it might be easier just to cut them out, right? And just be done with them. But if it’s your mom or dad, or your kids, that is so painful, and myself, I can’t do that. I don’t feel right about that. And so with my mom having like all these health conditions, our relationship is so complicated, but there’s this process that we’ve had to go through and are still going through so that we can have a relationship, but I can still protect myself and still be compassionate for her. And it’s taken a lot of work.
Casey McGuire Davidson 51:21
Yeah, I can completely understand that. And you also talk about signs that you were healing, like how you can recognize that you are moving to self-respect from self-abandonment. What are those signs that people should, should look to? And decide for self-respect?
Yeah, just signs that you’re that you’re healing that you’re growing and self-respect?
Well, I think you will start noticing that you question yourself last, they’ll feel comfortable honoring your own needs without feeling guilty about it. You, when I first thought divorce, my kids would leave, I literally could not spend a moment alone, I was out happy hour with my friends, anytime with myself was miserable, too much time in my head. Now, I enjoy my time alone. I can make decisions without calling somebody and being like, Hey, what do you think? Because it’s okay. You know and having them make this decision for me because I didn’t trust myself. Now, I don’t have to make a decision, ask somebody if that’s the right decision for me. You know, I’ve realized, I know what’s right for me. Not that I won’t get advice from somebody. But ultimately, it’s my decision. Sharing opinions and your relationship without feeling scared that that might upset somebody.
Also, I think and we talk a lot about, you know, that codependency can be controlling. We allow others to have independence, I think the best thing that my sponsor said to me is they get to have their feelings. And, you know, I don’t trust people that don’t have feelings. And so, this person that you’re afraid of that, you know, I’m going to manipulate their emotions, right. So, they don’t get mad at me. They need to have whatever feelings they want. That’s none of my business. And you know, if they want to discuss those with me, then that’s great. But if not that, I need to stay in my own lane, I definitely am able to, I mean, I still have negative thoughts, but I’m able to stop that like, that rabbit hole and turn them around and put that dam in there.
And then looking at my relationship patterns, I can really look at how the past is influencing the friends present and like in my relationships, like okay, you know, they say if it’s hysterical, its historical. So if something really comes up, I’m like, Alright, I’m projecting, projecting this past experience onto this current relationship, and I’m able to recognize that. And then letting relationships go, I think, you know, if there’s unhealthy relationships, it’s okay to let them go. And that’s, that’s a lot of freedom.
And responding instead of reacting has been huge. You know, that they talk a lot about its Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, using your emotional mind or your wise mind. When you’re using your emotional mind. You’re really reading reacting to past trauma, and your wise mind, you’re making informed decisions that aren’t based on your emotions because your feelings can and being able to separate that and take a step back before you react.
And then seeing your own parents for me, seeing my parents as humans with our own unresolved trauma, and being able to forgive has been a key part of my healing. And I think that, you know, I still have days where maybe one of the things don’t feel great, but it’s so much easier to get back to a good place. I use where my triggers to drink these issues, you know, when I stopped drinking, it was all my relationship issues that made me want to render the store.
Casey McGuire Davidson 55:20
Yeah, and I love what you said, and I hadn’t heard it before. If it’s hysterical, its historical. And when I hear that I think about because I’ve certainly had, you know, overly strong, and I can recognize that emotional reactions to situations. And one of the things I like now that I can recognize is that strong feelings are just, you know, there are no bad emotions, you’re allowed to feel anger, you’re allowed to feel frustration and resentment, you don’t need to drink over it, but it’s a sign that there’s just something that needs to be resolved, there’s something off in your balance. And, you know, I did EMDR Therapy, which was so helpful. I did it about a year after I quit drinking, because I’d stopped drinking, and I was doing all these things to be healthy. And yet, you know, there were some triggers, that just, I knew my reaction to, it was off the scale compared to the actual incident and EMDR really helped me I mean, unlike you, I didn’t have like the big t traumas, like an alcoholic parent, or a mother who had a brain injury or divorce. And yet, through EMDR, I was able to see that I had like, what some people call it little t traumas that are still traumatic for a child at the age of 3, or 5 or 8. And that was really, you know, processing that helped me see and be less emotionally triggered, and overwhelmed by things that were not be triggered by the actual event in real time. Mm hmm.
I think there’s so much of it, that’s unconscious, you know, they say that you are in a theta state until you’re about age 7. And kids are altruistic. So, everything that you’re told about yourself, or messages you receive, you believe. And so that’s all in the background. And so, changing those beliefs, you know, it logically and know it in your frontal cortex. You know, I know I’m not responsible, I know, it’s not my fault that my mom’s, you know, been through her stuff or my dad. But it doesn’t mean that my little girl believes that, you know, and so I think getting to that part of my awareness and be able to really can, what’s the word I’m looking for? Where I can get to her and convince her, also, you know, that re parenting process. And so, I think that’s important with the boundaries, that re parenting because you might know something like, I know all these things logically. But it doesn’t mean that that’s not background noise. Like I know, I often wake up in a bad mood, and I’m like, Alright, what’s running in my unconscious mind, you know? And then you know, I, that’s where meditation comes in, where it’s so key where you can influence your unconscious mind. Yeah, start telling yourself some new, more healthy beliefs.
Casey McGuire Davidson 58:39
And I know that there are definitely women who are going to be listening to this and what you’re saying is resonating with them really deeply. And they’re going to want to get in touch with you what’s the best way for them to learn more about you in the work that you do?
So I have a website, it’s called The Passionate Path. And I’m so passionate about this. So that’s why I named my website that and then my Instagram is also the same, @thepassionatepath. And I’m getting ready to do I want to put together a boundary class for a group of people, probably like a 4 to 6 week class, to get started, where we could move through these things together as a group, and I feel like the group dynamic can be so healing to have a group of women are able to help and support each other because it’s hard.
Casey McGuire Davidson 59:36
Yeah. Thank you so much for being here. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.
Oh, thank you so much for having me your inspiration. Thank you.
So thank you for coming on here. I couldn’t appreciate it more.
Thank you for listening to this episode of The Hello Someday Podcast. If you’re interested in learning more about me or the work I do or accessing free resources and guides to help you build a life you love without alcohol, please visit hellosomedaycoaching.com. And I would be so grateful if you would take a few minutes to rate and review this podcast so that more women can find it and join the conversation about drinking less and living more.
ABOUT THE HELLO SOMEDAY PODCAST
The Hello Someday Podcast helps busy and successful women build a life they love without alcohol. Host Casey McGuire Davidson, a certified life coach and creator of The Sober Girl’s Guide to Quitting Drinking, brings together her experience of quitting drinking while navigating work and motherhood, along with the voices of experts in personal development, self-care, addiction and recovery and self-improvement.
Whether you know you want to stop drinking and live an alcohol free life, are sober curious, or are in recovery this podcast is for you.
In each episode Casey will share the tried and true secrets of how to drink less and live more.
Learn how to let go of alcohol as a coping mechanism, how to shift your mindset about sobriety and change your drinking habits, how to create healthy routines to cope with anxiety, people pleasing and perfectionism, the importance of self-care in early sobriety, and why you don’t need to be an alcoholic to live an alcohol free life.
Be sure to grab the Free Sober Girl’s Guide To Quitting Drinking right here.
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