Thursday, February 25, 2016

My Chameleon Syndrome - A work in progress

I am amazed how reading posts on social media can sometimes trigger (in a good way) things that I should be concentrating on, but don't. I get so caught up in the day to day. Keeping my guard up and being on the lookout for things that can trip me up, or cause "failure" on my part. Being blindsided by something is a sure way to for me to lose focus. But many times I get used to being hyper-alert and I forget the simplicity of looking in the mirror and using the words that I need to use to describe where I am and where I have been. Like:
  • My panic disorder is still there, but it's being treated. Physically, mentally and spiritually. Daily.
  • I am a recovering alcoholic. Not a "former" alcoholic. Not a "reformed" alcoholic. A RECOVERING alcoholic. What that means to me is that I have two choices: Be a recovering alcoholic or an alcoholic. I didn't create the universe, so I don't make the rules.
  • I am a relational and emotional chameleon. All of my life I have instinctively (not on purpose) tried to be whatever the person in my presence needed me to be at that moment. To relate, I overcompensate.
It's common stuff. I grew up in a alcoholic/enabling/co-dependent home. The "rules" were always obscure to a child. Like an actual chameleon, I tried to constantly adapt to my environment in order to be accepted, not make waves or appear..sane, I guess. It's a bad survival instinct. A terrible coping mechanism. Go along to get alone. Subsequently, I started to lose (or never really had?) an identity of my own. It's fear based, I believe. It's not what I was created to be. The technical term is that it's bullshit.

I discovered (later in life, to my dismay) that there were ways out of this type of thinking. In one sense it was "easier" for me because I am an alcoholic. Once that term is accepted, there are counseling techniques that will go a long way toward helping. It's one of the reasons for Al-Anon and like minded organizations. Or divorce support groups, or grief sharing groups. But look at this idea in the broader sense: Other people's junk will affect me. It doesn't have to be alcohol or drug related. The 12 Steps as an example can be for anyone, for anything. And that is what I am using.

As a follower of Christ, I chose the Celebrate Recovery model, which REALLY includes everything we could ever struggle with in life. No separation of drug group, sex group, alcoholic group, food issues, etc. But, even though this model is for everyone, it's not for everyone. Meaning, some people do not choose the same Higher Power I chose. No worries. The only things you must do, are:

1. Get out of the denial that says you are not legitimately damaged (by your own issues or others).
2. Recognize that there is something/someone out there qualified to be your Higher Power.

Even if you don't buy into #2, please look over the picture I have below.

A friend of mine who I met in the teen version of Celebrate Recovery, printed up some truths about co-dependency. They are in a lot of their literature, so this is not self-invented. I keep it on the wall in my office at work and read it a lot!

I challenge anyone to read it and honestly assess if you SEE yourself this way......

..Horrible picture I know, but better n' nothin'.

After reading these over and over I realized that I didn't believe some of them about myself. Some scared me! Most just poked at my heart and said, "You should see yourself this way and practice what is said here in your daily life. And you don't bucko! Not at all".

So what to we do?
Give ourselves permission to try. No one has the right to take our individuality away OR keep us from discovering it! Spouse, significant other, parent, sibling. None of them! You were not created to be someone else's play thing. Now that doesn't give us permission to lash out at people who love us and use them as excuses for our hateful behavior. Don't be a victim. Don't be a martyr. Investigate who you are!

Look again at some of those examples: "I communicate what I am feeling and why", "I have not allowed someone else's anger (or sarcasm, or fear, or self doubt, or arrogance) to determine what I say or do", "I am aware of what I want" (I'm horrible at that one), " interests are a priority" (wow! really?).

Why I chose Jesus?
You can stop here if you want. I'm not a Bible thumper. I value other people and respect their point of view. In many cases I understand it and have lived it. I value authenticity over religion. So I will say this as my explanation: In my experience, investigation and journey, I have chosen the only authority I have ever encountered who is qualified to define me, love me without condition and yes, "re-parent" me. No other person, philosophy or discipline has the right to do that. Nor the wisdom to even try.

So tell me what YOU think. Comment below or email direct ( Don't worry about offending me if you disagree. Like it says above: "I value my opinion and the way I do things".

Love and peace,


  1. Thanks for writing another thought provoking piece. I love that image with all the questions. I feel really good that I can honestly say that most of those apply to me. I am still working on my relationship with God, my heart goes one way and my head always takes me another, but most everything else is something that 20 years ago I would have had to answer a huge no to, and now I can say yes. Its been a lot of work but I love that kind of work. I love being a work in progress and always having something to improve about myself. The journey of life is the absolute best part for me and this post helps remind me of that, so THANK YOU!

    1. Thanks so much for your thoughts! I agree. There are people out there who will NEVER get this far. I get the head and heart going in two different directions. What some people (even Godly people) don't get is that we never "arrive". We are always works in progress. It's an amazing journey, but the you's and me's of the world are only on a journey because we took those first, few, scary steps. It's not about where you are now, so much as where you're going. At the same time, there is a lot to be said for enjoying the rest stops we visit along the way.