Thursday, May 21, 2015


Labels can be useful. They tell us if food contains ingredients we’re allergic to (or maybe just hate; I’m sorry but cashews are just gross). Labels warn us against doing personal harm to ourselves like when our coffee is hot. Cause, ya know, McDonald’s doesn’t want to lose another three million dollar lawsuit. A loss against common sense, but that’s a post for another day.

Labels are also used to describe people. In high school I was labeled a dirt bag because I smoked pot and wore flannels with hiker boots (hello eighties). My best friend was labeled a slut because she slept with her boyfriends, and her sister was called a jock because she played sports.

Being called a dirt bag didn’t bother me too much. Maybe because it was true. I dressed down, I smoked weed, and I hung out with other people who did the same. That label suited me back then.

The label that bothered me when I was a teen was the one given to me by my mom; “selfish bitch.” Yeah, yeah, that’s a terribly damaging thing to say to your kid, especially in those developmental years. And, yes, that’s what led me to numb my pain with drugs. But, I understand now that my mother didn’t mean I was a selfish bitch. Those were just words. Words that meant to express her fear that she was going to lose me and she didn’t know how to cope because she was never taught herself. And, that’s okay. She did the best she could and it’s my job to do better by my kids. 

Now back to labels...

It irked me that my mother called me selfish because it simply wasn’t true. I gave of myself freely. If my friend didn’t have money for lunch, we shared mine. If someone needed help in math I was there to offer assistance. I knew I wasn’t selfish and I hated being pushed into that label. 

So, when I was labeled a codependent after Devin’s diagnosis of sex addict, I was pissed. This was just like being called selfish. It just didn't fit. I hadn’t helped my husband hide his affairs or enabled his obsession with porn. If anything, I rebelled against it our entire marriage. I yelled, I complained, I dropped hints how disgusting I felt porn was, so how dare someone say I helped him!

When I saw that word in anything – COSA, books, news articles - I avoided it like the plague. The word codependent offended me to my very core because it clashed against my independent personality and it didn't explain the trauma I was feeling. 

The more I saw it, the more I fought against it, and the more my recovery suffered. It wasn’t until I was able to heal from the anxiety attacks and step off that emotional roller coaster that I was able to see the word codependent without my hackles getting raised. And, guess what? The shoe fit and I had to wear it. It didn’t mean I had to like the style of the shoe and didn't want to change it for something else.

It meant I acknowledged those traits. Like when I told the kids dad was “busy” because he was isolating himself so he could look at porn. Or when I actually tried to control the porn he looked at by offering to look at it with him. I was finally able to see that those are codependent actions. But, I was also able to see those were actions I could change.

My concern is that people just like me, those offended by the words "codependent" or "coaddict", will not pursue a road to recovery because of the roadblock those terms can create. Those labels can stop someone from looking further into the depth of their situation, hindering any healing and growth that can happen after we've begun to recover from Relational Trauma.

I hope that one day counselors will drop the "co" words from their vocabulary when they're first meeting a partner of a sex addict. Save the labels for when the trauma is becoming a thing of the past or maybe just leave the labeling out all together.

Labels shouldn’t be so readily placed on people. In my experience, it either makes them try to conform to that label or prevents them from trying to make things better. Everyone and every situation should be looked at individually and not as a whole. It’s the only way we can be each be successful in our own way.

Have you ever been labeled?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Don’t Give Up

I wondered several dozen times if I’d ever get to a point in my self-help book where I’d stop doubting myself on every page. I had so much insecurity about my message and how to deliver it, I stymied myself. I wanted the reader to relate with me without it becoming an autobiography but I was failing miserably. 

When I doubted my choice of sharing personal stories, I went back and deleted much of what I’d written. It left me with a husk of dry, boring, and unrelatable (ß how is that not a word?) piles of words. The reader would put it down before they reached the second chapter, if they even made it that far.

But how could I help the reader unless I shared my experiences? I couldn’t. So, I’m starting to add some meat to those boring bones and it’s turning out much better than I hoped. Perhaps I’ve even created a new genre for the self-help folks; Bio-help? Hmm. Not so much.

I’m in a comfortable place as I write. My voice is strong and my message is clear (at least to me. We’ll see what my CPs say when I’m finished!). I’m in the writing groove and it’s such a relief to be there after having those ugly self-doubts bouncing around the ol’ skull.

If you’re feeling at bit on edge or doubting your ability – hang in there and don’t give up. You may just end up surprising yourself like I did. The more we write, the better we get.

And, don’t be like me, don’t let those seeds of doubt take root and stop you from trying. You never know what you’re able to accomplish unless you constantly push yourself further than you think you can go.

Keep on writing, baby! Challenge yourself!

~Note: I’m working today but I’ll be sure to pop in on everyone this afternoon or tomorrow. Be well, my friends!

This is an Insecure Writer Support Group post, come hang out with us!  It’s a time to talk about our fears and doubts, or inspire others by sharing our success and happiness.  We’ve got a great bunch of people in this group and we’d love to have you join in on the fun too.  A big thank you to it's creator, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

Don’t forget to stop by and say hello to our fantastic co-hosts:    Eva Solar, Melanie Schulz, Lisa-Buie Collard, and Stephen Tremp!