I can Only Change Myself

For 5 years I have heard that joy is what is underneath the water surface. That everything on the surface can be in turmoil but below that is calm water. I have rolled my eyes every time that is said to me, which is often. The last two weeks have taught me that lesson hard-core. I’ve also learned a few others: the key to joy is minding my business, loving instead of fixing and paying attention to my own responsibilities and doing them. I’ve also learned when you have radical trust in God, people who don’t have that will throw major shade. I haven’t learned how to deal with that in a charitable way, so I will talk it out with my therapist tomorrow.

The thing about codependency that I didn’t really understand is that it’s all about controlling other people to do what I want them to do to make me happy. Not that I would know ANYONE (::ahem:: me) who tries to manipulate others like that or anything, but yes, that is what it is.

When I first converted I became a Judgy McJudge Face. Once I was done wrestling with all things Catholic morality, I found a good list of do’s and don’ts that made it very easy for me to measure other people up. I already have the gift of sizing people up. Being abused time and time again plus being in the hood for as long as I was, combined into making me one of these people who can tell right off the bat what kind of person you are. Even if I am smiling and waving, do not be fooled, I know if you are sketchy. If I bring you around my dog, he will confirm that sketchiness in a heartbeat. I confused that with being able to judge people to hell. That never turns out well.

I didn’t really understand where that came from because really, I hate rules. HATE.THEM. Anyone who has known me most of my life will tell you that. I rebel against everything anyone says is how something should be. I got pregnant at 16, I worked at Hooters (because my ex-husband told me that I couldn’t), I married my first husband after only knowing him for two weeks and I had four kids when everyone told me how many kids that was. I do not listen to anyone ever. Yet when I became Catholic (after a lot of not listening and having to learn for myself which is where not listening to anyone comes in handy, I’m not a brainwashed idiot) I fell in love with all the rules for some reason and then expected everyone to just follow them when they came to me with a problem.

Have a problem in your marriage? Read the Catechism. Have an issue with your children? Well, if you were Catholic then maybe that wouldn’t be a problem. Baby having nightmares? Well you should pray a novena and give your life to Jesus. I had a Catholic answer for every single problem that any friend came to me with. Yes, Jesus is the answer to everything but He never said to beat other people over the head with Him, He said to LOVE THEM. You can’t love someone who you are trying to fix. You can love someone and hold their hand while they work with Jesus to fix themselves, but that is it. You can’t try to make anyone in your own image because they are already made in the image of God.

All my codependency was triggered in the rules, logic and arguments of Catholic Teaching and I found a great tool to use to prove how right I was and I had a ruler to measure everyone up against and then a list of things people had to do to be “good enough”, including myself.

Thank God for my angel who told me what a bitch I was being to everyone in my life. Not to mention the most humbling year of my life that really made me realize that the key to life is to mind my own business. God allows freedom for a reason, He isn’t an abuser, He doesn’t impose Himself on anyone, so who did I think I was to do so? Yes, love requires truth, but we can’t use that truth to try to get anyone to be anything that they do not freely choose to be. It’s that simply and yet so hard. When I really look at my own faults though, I can see that my motives are not pure, they are all about controlling others and getting my way. They are about wanting people to be who I need them to be for my comfort and there is nothing about God’s will or willing the good of the other in that at all. It is really all about me.


Since my rude angel got all up in my face about this, I have worked hard on breaking my codependency and on loving others instead of trying to change them. I know that they only person that I can change is me.


4 thoughts on “I can Only Change Myself

  1. I shared this with a friend who I hope hasn’t given up on me, for being just like you described. (There are worse fates.) Well, there goes my judging bell, eh? Crap. Signed, Clanging Cymbal


  2. It’s interesting reading your posts because you are so much like me (or is it that I am so much like you?). I really understand your struggles.

    I spend an awful lot of time looking back on my life (I’m almost 66) and regretting being such a total, Fundamentalist jerk-face to the people who had to endure me. Oh, I meant well. I was going to please Jesus by being sure that everyone else because what I thought they should be.

    Bottom line — I have six adult kids who now don’t want to hear about it. They never saw the loving Christ in me, just the Great Judge who constantly condemns and never praises.

    There are days that remembering all this breaks my heart.


  3. I have the same issue with my oldest child. I pray for him and offer up as much as I can for him. And I also just try to love him as he is right now and not expect anything from him. I’m so sorry, I know how hard it is to know that our mistakes effect our kids. But you did keep them alive, and that is something.


  4. Sometimes I feel like I need to send out a sympathy card to all the people in my life for putting up with my BS. What’s funny though is that it’s so different from yours. I would look at someone like you and think wow, she’s doing so much and works so hard and knows exactly what she believes, that’s awesome, wish I were that way. We all have our own faults and get jealous of other people who seem so much better. All that to say, don’t forget you’ve got your good traits along with the bad. Like everybody else 🙂


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