Swimming Through Codependency

We learn in the Bible that “Without a vision people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). This is true for you and I today.

In 1952 Florence Chadwick wanted to be the first woman to swim the 26 miles from Catalina island to San Pedro on mainland California. She’d already been the first woman to swim the English Channel both ways.

For her Catalina swim the weather was foggy and chilly. She could hardly see the small boats that were flanking her to watch for sharks. She had swam for 15 hours and still she wasn’t to the shore. She didn’t feel she could make it, but her mother next to her in one of the boats told her that she was almost there! Florence swam for another hour but she was too exhausted physically and emotionally so she gave up, asking to be pulled out of the water.

When she was on the boat she learned that she was just one mile from shore. She said, “All I could see was the fog… I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it!”

Sure enough, two months later on another foggy day she made it the whole 26 miles! How did she do it? She said she kept a mental image of the shoreline in her mind while she swam.

A Co-Dependent Mom Couldn’t See the Shore

Kristi was talking with a friend who was struggling at sea and couldn’t see the shore. Her 18-year old son was in the beginning stages of an addiction to alcohol. He’s been partying and drinking through high school, which got him in trouble at school. One night the police found him passed out drunk in their front yard. Then he got a DUI.

Our friend was overwhelmed with emotions of fear, worry, disappointment, and anger. She was tired of dealing with his self-destructive behavior. But she was full of love for him and was trying so hard to get him back on track.

Kristi listened, prayed for her, and helped her to see that she was in a position of codependency. The word “addict” was scary for her to consider. She had a lot to sort through, as it’s hard for a mother in this situation to discern the difference between loving and “enabling.” Problems like alcohol dependency aren’t easily “fixed” and it requires personal responsibility and motivation from the addict. Too much “helping” gets in the way of this and is counterproductive. It’s also exhausting to be emotionally entangled with someone who keeps acting in self-destructive ways!

Kristi shocked our friend when she said, “I want you to see that you can have a great life even if your son keeps making bad choices with alcohol. You can learn to experience joy and peace even if he doesn’t change. Of course, you’re concerned for him, but his addiction isn’t your fault. You can’t make him stop drinking and you can’t protect him from the negative consequences. If you go to Al-Anon you will learn about this and meet people who understand codependency and will support you.”

“But how do I help my son?” she asked.

Kristi replied, “Finding an Al-Anon group is the best thing you can do for him. You’ll learn that there isn’t much you can do for him until he decides to get help. Mostly, what he needs most from you is prayer, boundaries, and occasionally speaking the truth in love.”

Kristi is trying to help our friend see the shore, to get a vision of a better life for herself. If she  can follow Jesus into the new life that God has for her personally it will be good for her and her family. God could even use it to be a positive influence on her son.

Do You Have a Vision for Change?

Do you have codependency traits? Our “Codependency Test” will help you see if you need help in this area.

Or perhaps there’s another area of your life that you need to address. We show people how to use a “VIM Plan” for personal growth in Christlikeness. The “V” in “VIM” is for Vision. Positive change begins with a God-given vision that inspires you to develop a rhythm of life with Jesus.

Our “VIM Plan to Be More Like Jesus” is a great coaching tool to help you or someone you’re helping to get started on the path of transformation. (Follow our tag on “Transformation” to learn more about what it takes to make real and lasting personal changes.)


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Listening for God’s Voice

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