I had it all together until about 18 months ago, when my life began to unravel. I was 24 years old and had held my family together my whole life. I was the emotional, physical & financial support to both of my parents, whom were alcoholics. I was completely codependent and for some strange reason I managed to carry this burden for a long time, seemingly unaffected.
One day in September 2015, I hit a wall, this was the unravel. I began to feel permanently exhausted. I would come home from work and go straight to bed. I had no energy so my fiance took me to the doctor, where they said I was extremely stressed. Physically my body fell apart, I suffered headaches, joint pain, IBS and my hormones were totally out of whack causing chronic menstrual problems.
For six months I continued to exist without really living. My amazing fiance had to do everything because I had such low mood and high anxiety that I couldn’t socialise, couldn’t cook, clean or do anything. Standing up and walking to the toilet was such an effort. Having a shower was so difficult that when I got out of the shower I would be so depleted, I would just sit there naked and it would take me an hour to get dressed.
The physical unravel was one thing, but the emotional unravel was really something else. As I admitted to myself and everyone else my parents addiction and my role within that, a whole wave of grief came over me. Grief for never having a happy, functional, healthy childhood had me feeling a mixture of anger, sadness, guilt and betrayel. I completely lost all of my self confidence and suffered crippling anxiety. I began to have flashbacks and remember things from my childhood I had previously forgotten. I suffered insomnia, and despite being so tired all the time, I was also, very wired.
As well as the physical and emotional unravel, the family unravel also hit me quite hard. I had realised my behaviour enabled my Mum and Dad’s alcoholism so I began to put boundaries in. Of course this did not go down well and my relationship with my family really suffered. Enforcing boundaries at first was so hard, I felt so guilty and angry at myself.
A year and a half later, things have calmed down with my family. They are more respectful of my boundaries but we don’t have the best relationship. Funnily enough I have learnt to accept this because I can’t change their addiction. My physical symptoms have improved and while I still at times get tired, I feel energised a lot more than I did last year. The emotional effects have improved the most, I’ve been through the grief process and am able to sleep.
Even though the unravel was so hard, I wouldn’t change a thing about it. I have learnt so much and gained so much freedom in the last year. I’ve dedicated my life to breaking the cycle and it starts with me.