Confessions of a Frustrated Co-Dependent

WARNING: Confessions of a frustrated co-dependent. Things a child, no matter how old, should ever have to go through.

My mother told my sister last week, “Tell Teri to go to hell and I never want to see her again.” Obviously, intoxicated. This was a result of my discovering she was using a younger family member to drive her to the grocery (where there is a liquor store) and I informed that family member’s parent.

Two days ago she advised a family member she would be “drinking herself to death”. Same old story I’ve heard since I was a kid. Drunken slurs told to me as a child like, “Teri, this life does not matter. I want to be with Jesus. I just want to die. Death is beautiful. If you died I would celebrate. How lucky would that be.” A child. Being told by her mother that she would celebrate her child’s death.

I used to wake up and find my mother standing over me with a butcher knife in her hand. Her eyes would be lifeless. As if she was staring through me. I would cry as silently as possible so as not to startle her. My little sister always found her way into my bed and would wrap herself around me. It was a comfort for both of us.

Today I sit here furious. And bitter. And sad.

She is on another “I haven’t eaten in 3 days. I am no longer taking my medications. I am only going to drink until I die” missions.

I called 911 two days ago when she first threatened to kill herself as we cannot get into her secured building. She turned them away. Today I called her doctor and was advised to have the police accompany the paramedics as they will force her to go with them for a psych eval. Her building social worker called to tell me, that even though she had a “huge bottle of vodka” sitting next to her and a glass filled with it, the police left without taking her. And no paramedics were with them.

So I just printed off the “instructions for filing an emergency guardianship” paperwork. It states a physician must appear before the magistrate in a hearing to justify it is necessary to avoid immediate harm to the ward. I cannot get her to a hospital as she refuses transport.

She cannot live on her own, per her doctor’s own words, but I cannot force her to move until she’s no longer competent enough to make the choice. Apparently the police think she’s still competent enough to decide.

Therefore, we sit and wait. For our mother to sober herself up. Or die.

No child should EVER have to go through this hell.

I lost my mind on the social worker. I snapped. I cried. I screamed, “I’m fucking done. Let her die.”

I’ve reached out so many times for help. I just don’t know what to do anymore.

Mom, her books, and booze

This is the lady I grew up with. A bottle of alcohol always next to her. She would come home from work and pour a drink and sit down to read. I learned early on to lock myself in my room and put my headphones on and escape into my music. If I approached her, she would slur at me, “Can’t I just relax for five minutes? Just leave me alone!” Or, if I approached with happy news, “Mom! Look! I got a 93% on my test.” (A 93 was still an A back in the 70’s) Her response, “A 93? A 93? God gave you a brilliant mind, Teri. And you are wasting it. Why wasn’t it a 100%? You are disappointing God. And me.” And I would turn away, once again, belittled and shamed. Shamed for not being good enough.

She tried to drown me in a bathtub when I was 4, holding my head underwater. She told me I would be happier with Jesus. Until my dad came in and sucker-punched her across the bathroom. She landed between the toilet and cabinet.

She tried to kill my dad with a butcher knife. But, he lifted a chair in time in front of him as protection to have the blade completely penetrate the wood seat. I witnessed her hauled off in handcuffs on that occasion. I was 4 or 5.

She beat my sister relentlessly. She didn’t like her and made it clear. I got to listen to the screams from behind a locked bathroom door where I would hide for hours until it was quiet again.

She told me I was frumpy and ugly and used to show my 7th grade photo to people and laugh about how ugly I was. I had braces and a unibrow and yes, pretty hideous, but really?

When I was in my 20’s (after the bank robberies) I dressed conservatively for business. She would laugh and call me, “Margaret Thatcher” and advise me I needed to brighten myself up so people would think I was happy.

Yet, I have fought and fought and fought for this lady’s love and approval my entire life. All I wanted was for her to love me and accept me.

I know my life motto is #nevergiveup, but damn is this a tough battle to keep fighting. Please pray for strength and answers as we move forward with guardianship. And that I keep my cool and not explode in frustration again. I’m starting to reach the end of my rope with this one.

Thank you 💔

Defining Resilience Series: Step 7 – Learn to Become Our Own Hero

Defining Resilience


Step 7: Learn to Become Our Own Hero

Before diving into step 7, a reminder about resilience: it is defined as the ability to overcome adverse conditions; with healthy bonding relationships, guidance, support, and compassion as the catalysts. Basically, it entails having the capacity to bounce back from stressful or overwhelming experiences. 

What are some steps we can take to ensure we are building resilience in our lives?

  1. Focus on the positives. 
  2. Seek out and nurture supportive relationships.
  3. Utilize self-care strategies. 
  4. Take action steps to create positive change.
  5. Work on healthy habit formation. 
  6. Find a guiding hand to hold.
  7. Learn to become our own hero. 
  8. Be gentle with ourselves.

Today we will cover Step 7: Learn to become our own hero.

One of those ah-ha moments in my life came when I realized that it was not up to anyone else to “save” me. Instead, I started to look to myself for empowerment. I experienced what I call “a shift” in 2013. Think of it as a change in philosophy, a willingness to open myself up to healing and answers. I allowed myself the gift of becoming my own hero. We all have the capacity for becoming our own superhero; we just need to open our hearts, minds, and souls to the possibility.

So, how did I learn to become my own hero? A whole helluva lot of research . . . along with some trial and error. The sole purpose of my Unicorn Shadows: From Trauma to Triumph – A Healing Guide book that I am finishing up the manuscript on is to guide others through the research I completed and allow readers an opportunity to engage in the steps I utilized. 

I will give you a head start here and offer five suggestions for starting your superhero work (go ahead and put that cape on!):

  • Build your knowledge by reading, watching, listening, and absorbing all you can about healthy self-care strategies: I have a resource library full of books I have read (filled with mark-ups for ideas that spoke to my soul). I will be adding those titles to my website some time over the next few months. I’ll be sure to send you an access code once I do so you can dive into those books and articles. I also have a bookmark folder on my web browser filled with articles and websites that provide healing guidance. I would list them all, but what speaks to MY soul might not speak to YOURS. Therefore, I recommend you search for self-help topics that pique your interest. Do searches on your local library site (did you know you can check out books online, too?), Amazon, YouTube, Vimeo, web browsers, by key words, Pinterest, Facebook – the options are endless. 
  • Be open to crazy awesome options for healing: When I started opening my mind up to new possibilities for healing my trauma wounds and relieving the resulting symptoms, miracles started to happen. No, seriously. For real. I started practicing exercises such as Ho’oponopono Hawaiian healing technique, the Ah Meditation, energy healing, and so much more. Next on my list is goat yoga! Watch my beautiful podcast interview with Belinda Farrell of Huna Healing for more information on Ho’oponopono. 
  • Choose one and try it: This seems pretty self-evident, but how many times have we made grandiose plans, done the research, but then stopped right there. It’s scary sometimes to try something new. Right? But, the best way to learn if something will help you feel more empowered is to simply DO it. Give it a whirl. Maybe a few whirls. If it works . . . yay! You can add that patch to your superhero cape. If not, see the next suggestion.
  • If it does not work, file it away, see it as a learning lesson, and move on to the next idea: This can be tough, too. We feel like we are giving up. Or maybe questioning, “Why does this work for other people, but not me?” Please know that we are all different with an eclectic mix of backgrounds. What works for one person might not work for us because of genetics or experiences (such as adverse childhood experiences or ACEs) or a combination of factors. Regardless, it’s okay. Put it in the “life lesson” file folder and move on to another superhero adventure. 
  • Build your superhero portfolio to use as needed: Once you have established a collection of tools . . . think of Batman’s utility belt . . . you will feel more empowered just by having more choices from which to turn to for your self-care strategies. But, keep on adding options as you grow stronger. Get yourself ready for your superhero strut. Watch out, world. Another bad-ass trauma-warrior is in the making.

Coming up next month: Step 8: Be gentle with ourselves.

*Excerpt from my upcoming Hope for Healing Newsletter . . . I would love to welcome you onto the Hope for Healing team! Join me here!