Super Dad: A Memoir of Codependency and Redemption

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Overview

When WILLIAM BURROWS parks his car off a New Jersey highway at 2 a.m., he’s ready to end it all. A whiskey bottle and bag of pills are within reach. Twelve months earlier the British expat had moved his family to the US, only to see their problems—and his—worsen. His two teenage daughters, living in long-term residential units, were diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). His mentally ill wife also was in a crisis ward.

Burrows had done what he’d always done. Choked down his tears. Buried his fears. Put on his “Super Dad” cape and attempted to save everyone. He’d also turned to alcohol to cope with his own psychological entrapment.

That night along the highway, an unlikely phone call saves Burrows’ life. The next day he checks himself into a hospital where a therapist tells him he’s the most codependent person she’d ever met. It’s the day his life changes.

SUPER DAD, a fiercely candid memoir, offers rare insight into a husband and father’s inner turmoil as he copes with his family’s mental illness. The story speaks to men who, while meeting the needs of family members, lose themselves.

Burrows’ narrative represents an emerging trend: Around 2014 psychological researchers started recognizing that men can be codependent. Previously, it was thought to be a women’s issue.

Some 120 million Americans, like Burrows, fight addiction cycles—a tangle of enmeshed problems they don’t comprehend. Men are foremost among them. In 2019, 7 percent of men were diagnosed with an alcohol abuse disorder, compared to 4 percent of women. And almost three-quarters of those who die from excessive drinking are men—some 68,000 a year in the US alone.

While therapists have started studying how massive stresses affect men, the dilemmas of codependent men remain chronic. Unlike women, few men discuss their relationship problems with friends and family. Instead, they internalize their pain. Many are in denial, suffer silently, have an addiction, and/or become numb to their own needs and feelings.

Into this void comes Burrows, opening a fearless conversation. SUPER DAD is a breakthrough book about male codependency and living with dependents who have BPD. Burrows models fluency in the language of feelings, an ability to be vulnerable, and a willingness to ask for help and show compassion and empathy—all skills traditionally viewed as inconsistent with the rules of "being a man.” These strides will facilitate the emotional journeys of many who face the same struggles.

 

The memoir also presents a complete case study (cause-effect-recovery) of Burrows’ life, making it useful to therapists, social workers, and others who help people like him.

What Others are Saying

Margalis Fjelstad, PhD, LMFT (Co-author of three BPD-related books including Stop Caretaking the Borderline or Narcissist)

"Super Dad records the process of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and final acceptance of the reality that no matter how much he tries, no matter how much he loves, or finds health services, or gives up his own well-being, or spends more time or money working to fix and save his wife and the rest of the family, that he has a breaking point, and he can’t do it all."

 

"Unlike many memoirs, this story doesn’t end there. This is also a story of healing and redemption. Burrows shares his path to his own self-healing—emotionally, physically, and spiritually."

 

Margalis wrote the foreword and dedicated one of her monthly newsletters to share my insights.

Randi Kreger (Best-selling co-author of six BPD-related books including Stop Walking on Eggshells).

 “...reads like something all the men I know who have married people with BPD would want to read.”

Andrea Lien (Editorial Director, Consumer Segment, Hazelden Publishing)

"...very well-written and greatly needed." 

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