Local author speaks up about codependency, dysfunction and her faith in God

, alexa.talamo@shreveporttimes.com 12:30 p.m. CST February 17, 2016MAPLE SUDDS Fall 2015 (1) Revised

Shreveport resident Maple Sudds said her book, “No Blood in a Turnip: Memoirs of a Codependent,” took her 21 years to write. In her book, Sudds describes a turbulent relationship with a drug-addicted husband she first married for love, and the pain and turmoil she felt watching her two sons climb an escalator from school suspensions to incarceration. The snapshots are all told by a natural storyteller with a strong sense of humor, resilience and faith in God.

Read the entire story …

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No Blood in the Turnip, Memoirs of a Codependent, took me 20 years to write and saved my life.

coverThe year was 1993 and from my life experiences to date, I felt that I had been through the fire and came out pure gold. I knew what life was all about and decided to become a part-time drug counselor.

In the classroom everyone had their own personal stories of addictions.  I felt that I was the only “normal” one there.  I had never been drunk, done drugs, smoked, gambled nor shoplifted.  I thought drug counseling was my calling and I felt an air of self-righteousness, because I wasn’t like “those” people.  I did not have a disorder, because, my life had been centered on my family, church and being a “good” Christian.

I wanted to become a drug counselor to help people. I was asked if I had any problem with addiction.  “No, but I know how devastating it can be, because my husband made my life a pure hell!”  Oh Lord! Please don’t let me start crying.

I shared my story. Had I ever attended an Al-Anon meeting?  “I don’t need no Al-Anon program! My life is fine now, ‘cause that’s all in the past.”

The facilitator suggested Al-Anon because I seemed to be carrying some emotional baggage.  “Emotional baggage!?”  He stated that while I was telling my life experiences that I had a dazed look and was crying.  “Well, if you’ve been through what I’ve been through, you would cry too!”

He suggested that before I can help anyone that I need to be in a recovery program myself.  One of the students said that I was an enabler.  “How did I enable them? I was doing my part as a wife and mother. I did everything that I could possibly do to help them and get them to do what was right but nothing worked.”

I was getting confused because I knew I did not have a problem. They just want to dump on me because I’m not like them. One student stated that I have codependent characteristics? I was defensive and refused to read an assigned book, Codependent No More and it went onto a shelf to collect dust.

Fast-forward to 2003. I had been writing and rewriting my life story.  I attended church every Sunday and this one Sunday I was crying and asking them to pray for my oldest son and puzzled why both my sons went in and out of jail like a revolving door.   Friends said “It’s not your fault and they are just like their father.”

I remembered the book the facilitator had suggested and took it off the shelf.  This was a reality check.  I took my children to church every Sunday but what were they witnessing at home?  I have learned so much and share it in my book.  No Blood in the Turnip, Memoirs of a Codependent, took me 20 years to write and saved my life. Perhaps my life experiences were no mistake; it was just my path.

We should all learn from our mistakes.

Originally printed in the Shreveport Times – March 4, 2015

My life has been very restricted. I’ve never been on an airplane nor Greyhound bus. One year in August, I rode to California with the driver not turning on the air-conditioning (liked to have passed out)! I was given a paid train ride back in the private sleeper car; liked to have frozen to death.

In the ’80s because of family issues I visited Dallas more times than I care to recall; Dallas traffic gave me panic attacks. I visited New Orleans twice, Hot Springs, Arkansas, once, and very few places in my home state of Louisiana.

Hindsight is always 20/20.

I wished I could go back to my school-aged days. I would study harder, go to college, graduate with a degree (probably in psychology or sociology).

I wished wisdom came before age; I wouldn’t have made so many mistakes in my younger days. Reality: I have many regrets. However, because February was Black History Month, I don’t want to have the regret of not encouraging the younger generation to be all that you can be. Life is not a dress rehearsal. You only have one!

Stay in school, get an education. If possible, go to college. Have a goal in life other than just surviving. In the words of the basketball sport commentator Kenny “The Jet” Smith, “black people need to get out of the surviving mode and get in the striding mode.”

And it starts at home. I’m not saying that out of arrogance but out of humility, because one bad decision can cause a lifetime of regrets. I’m one to speak in that I’ve made many. Having raised two sons in a destructive home environment, half their adult life had been spent incarcerated. One is presently awaiting sentencing on a drug charge with the possibility of life. As it is said, “The choices that we make, can dictate the life we live.” I can’t undo my past, but I can encourage parents to be a strong role model for your children. Have integrity. Lead by being an example. We all make mistakes but learn from them.

A recap: I haven’t had an adventurous life, but I have an abundant life — a part-time nanny with a generous family, a member of a fitness center, where I’ve made acquaintances with many people and a very special young man whom I call “My Jesus Friend.” And best of all I have my health and strength and half of a mind. At 70 years old, I’ve learned to appreciate life’s simplest pleasures.

Stay in school, get an education. If possible, go to college. Have a goal in life other than just surviving. In the words of the basketball sport commentator Kenny “The Jet” Smith, “black people need to get out of the surviving mode and get in the striding mode.”

And it starts at home. I’m not saying that out of arrogance but out of humility, because one bad decision can cause a lifetime of regrets. I’m one to speak in that I’ve made many. Having raised two sons in a destructive home environment, half their adult life had been spent incarcerated. One is presently awaiting sentencing on a drug charge with the possibility of life. As it is said, “The choices that we make, can dictate the life we live.” I can’t undo my past, but I can encourage parents to be a strong role model for your children. Have integrity. Lead by being an example. We all make mistakes but learn from them.

A recap: I haven’t had an adventurous life, but I have an abundant life — a part-time nanny with a generous family, a member of a fitness center, where I’ve made acquaintances with many people and a very special young man whom I call “My Jesus Friend.” And best of all I have my health and strength and half of a mind. At 70 years old, I’ve learned to appreciate life’s simplest pleasures.

 

Red City Review

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No Blood In the Turnip: Memoirs of a Codependent by Maple Sudds

Taking its name from the well-known adage (you can’t get blood from a turnip), No Blood In the Turnip tells the remarkable story of Maple Sudds as she progresses through the various stages of life, from childhood to young adulthood and finally to motherhood.  Throughout the years, Maple is confronted by a variety of obstacles that begin to alter the way she behaves around her family – in particular her father, and, later, her husband.  Maple’s father is absent during the majority of her childhood days, and yet she needs him in order to be provided with basic necessities like food, clean water, and a roof over her head.  Without even realizing it, her unresolved issues with her own father lead Maple to pursue a marriage with a similarly inhibited husband.  Codependent (if you’re unfamiliar with the word) is the term given to “one who has let another person’s behavior affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person’s behavior.  This painful fallacy leads many people into unproductive – and even destructive – marriages, by preying on optimism and making a person believe that he or she can really change their spouse’s behavior, that they are helping them become better people.  Truthfully, though, it’s only another form of enabling.  After realizing her mistake, Maple seeks to turn things around in order to help her two sons avoid making the same mistakes with their own families later on.

No Blood In the Turnip is a smart mix of memoir and social sciences textbook; readers get an excellent blend of both research and story.  Throughout her book, Maple muses upon the self-defeating aspects of codependency, and how it tends to propagate problems in future families by rewarding (or at least letting go unpunished) these destructive behaviors.  She posits that by improving the family dynamic today, we can help ensure a stable family structure further down the line, a theory that makes great sense.  Maple’s story shows how even unconscious learned behaviors can actively impinge upon your happiness, and, hopefully, will inspire readers to take a closer look at their own lives and gather the courage to make a change.

To purchase a copy of No Blood In the Turnip, click here to find it on BookLocker.com

Testimonial from Sharon P. Burford

The old saying, “You can’t get blood from a turnip,” characterizes something that is extremely difficult. Maple is a woman who has lived an interesting, though challenging life.  I met her one evening while she was babysitting for a family member.  Her inner strength and spiritual countenance were evident in her quiet demeanor and in the wisdom of her eyes.

Life was not easy for her. As I read the draft of No Blood in the Turnip, I was reminded of one of my favorite poems by author, Langston Hughes – “Mother to Son” in which a mother tells her boy that “Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.”  Maple’s life was like that.  She tried to control the situations and people around her, but it was not an easy task – actually it was impossible.  As she struggled through life, she looked for any crevice or hand-hold to hang on or climb up, and she never gave up.

Maple began to keep a journal of her actions and her thoughts.  This book, No Blood in the Turnip, is comprises of her life events, her trials and her tribulations.  The book reads like snapshots taken in random sequence.  Each snapshot gives a bit of history, a lot of emotion, and the story of a woman who just keeps on trying to make things better.

Not to say that Maple was always perfect; it is just not possible to survive the streets of Mooretown without a bit of anger, fear and manipulation. When her whole world seemed to be slipping away, she tried to control, to “patch,” and to hold on too tightly.  She had a picture in her mind of the life she wanted for her family, but the men in Maple’s life were not always easy to deal with and not always helpful as fathers, husband and sons.  She fought so hard to save her marriage and to keep her sons from the dangers of drugs and life on the streets. She tried to lead and control their paths, but it was not meant to be.

The book is also a testimony to faith; a reminder that God is always with us.  Sometimes the only light in the darkness is the one that comes from faith.  God always gave Maple “just enough light for the steps she was on.”  His voice was heard in the darkest moments. Her relationship with Jesus, her church community and her family kept her going when many other people would have given up on themselves and others.

The book is filled with hope that her sons still have the opportunity for better lives that are productive and blessed.  With this book, Maple, shares her story and her healing.  She hopes that others faced with similar trials will learn from her mistakes and make wise choices.  She wants other women to find their faith, develop their talents, and learn to live without destructive relationships.

I hope you enjoy reading No Blood in the Turnip as much as I did.

Sharon P. Burford
Professional School Counselor
Shreveport, Louisiana