Caretaking, Enmeshment, & Victimhood in Recovery

The recognition of how I can play the role of caretaker of others in my life links to a paired sense of being the suffering victim—and was a difficult but very important insight for me to grasp and understand. Once I was able to see and accept the message it was very helpful and lifted a huge weight from me.

The burden of caretaking others—something I did far too often over the years—put me in a cycle that my inner-addict relished.

I tried so hard to create the fictional reality I wanted for myself but when things didn’t work out I felt underappreciated and misunderstood. My thinking turned to being the victim as I cradled thoughts like; “I gave up so much” or “I must not be good enough” or “life is SO unfair!” And so then of course I deserved to have my vices—after all I had earned them! Once I understood this pattern of behavior and was able to accept its truth in my life it became clear that it had been distorting my relations with others for years. Learning to no longer play God by trying to control others using a blinded disguise of caring, helping, or saving them—and then later playing victim around the failed results—has been very powerful and changed my life. I have learned the freedom of knowing that only I am responsible for how I chose to feel.

As a healthy grown man no one “makes me” feel a certain way.

I am not a victim controlled by a false sense of the power of others or the outside world. Instead I am in charge of my inside world and my own thinking. By learning to have integrity within myself I can allow others close to me. I can allow them to be who they are without it being a reflection on me or some kind of extension of who I am. Today I am in the “sunlight of the spirit”* and that simple truth allows me to walk through each day knowing that life, and my place in it, is enough.

An excerpt from the book A Year of Days – March 14


* Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism. 4th ed. New York City: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, 2001. P. 66.


One thought on “Caretaking, Enmeshment, & Victimhood in Recovery”

  1. You truly are gifted with putting pen to paper. I so identify with the caretaking role and wanting to run the show. I would always be disappointed and turn my anger toward the person I was trying to help. Usually tears were involved, feelings of being unappreciated and unloved. It was a miserable way to live. I really wasn’t aware of what I was doing and why,until I did a 4th. Step about 5 years ago. It was very evident to me at that time. To be honest it was shocking. I had no idea.
    I have since discovered other behaviors that needed to be scrutinized. It is rather freeing knowing I do not need to worry about anyone but myself. It simply is not my business.
    I appreciate your writing and I want to say thank you.

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