This morning in my men’s group we talked about Crazymakers. I had heard my counselor friends use the word for years, but I ran across the topic again from a part of The Artist’s Way- A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron, which discusses recovering a sense of identity. A Crazymaker is someone who makes you crazy. They disrupt your natural rhythm. “Often larger than life, they acquire that status by feeding on the life energies of those around them,” says Cameron. Crazymakers can be parents, spouses, children, employers, clients, people at church and ex-spouses. Sometimes, the Crazymaker is you. I think we all have the potential to be Crazymakers during different seasons of life, but being in the presence of a chronic Crazymaker will make your head spin.
Cameron goes on to write about the following characteristics of a Crazymaker:
-Crazymakers break deals and destroy schedules;
-Crazymakers expect special treatment;
-Crazymakers discount your reality;
-Crazymakers spend your time and money;
-Crazymakers triangulate those they deal with;
-Crazymakers are expert blamers;
-Crazymakers create dramas –but seldom where they belong;
-Crazymakers hate schedules –except their own;
-Crazymakers hate order; and
-Crazymakers deny that they are Crazymakers.
People who live with Crazymakers may become codependent, which is a maladaptive (bad) coping strategy. It is a way of living in which we create the path of least resistance to keep ourselves as comfortable as possible around a Crazymaker. It is walking on eggshells. It can be considered “relationship addiction” because people with these behaviors preserve the one-sided, destructive relationships with the Crazymaker when logic would dictate otherwise. When your thoughts compulsively revolve around appeasing the whims of the Crazymaker, you are acting codependent.
What if you are married to a Crazymaker? Or maybe worse –you are the Crazymaker? What do you do? Cameron spends about five pages identifying what makes a Crazymaker and exactly four lines explaining what to do about it. She says get a book on codependency and join a 12-step group. One often recommended is Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life by Dr. Henry Cloud. Christian theology explains your identity is in Christ, not the Crazymaker. (Romans 7:14-25) Codependency is a byproduct of fear. It is the need to control that which may be uncontrollable. We can only truly control what we say and do. In Al-Anon speak, it is the Three C’s filter —I Didn’t Cause It, I Can’t Control It and I Can’t Cure It.
Not all Crazymakers are created equally. Highly successful people can be Crazymakers because they need the energy of a team of people to get big things done. This can be bad, but it can be good too. A dad trying to get his kids out of the house in the morning may temporarily resemble a Crazymaker, but he will tell you and I agree that his temporary crazymaking may be called for in some instances.
When the crazymaking goes clinical, it gets scary. If you are living with an addict or an abuser, it could be time to end the relationship. If you work for a Crazymaker, it may be time to get a new job. If your client is a Crazymaker, you may refer her to another professional –one you don’t like very much. Another book Dr. Henry Cloud wrote is Necessary Endings, which may also be worth checking out.
There is no divorce lawyer hook in this post, but I think the concepts are worth considering as it relates to how we spend our time and energy. How much of your energy is being drained by the Crazymaker in your life, and how do we get it back? We have a finite amount of spark in any given day, and often channeling it in productive ways is the biggest challenge we face in our post-modernist lives.
Craig Robertson is a family law attorney practicing throughout Mississippi.