Meeting in Print
December 2019 (Ed. 14)
"Special Revisited Edition"
In This Issue:
Welcome to the quarterly issue of Meeting in Print a CoDA recovery and support publication. Please join us in appreciating this “Special Revisited Edition” containing essays and poems from previous Meeting in Print issues.
Recovery is for everyone, and we hope you enjoy reading these shares again. Meeting in Print contains CoDA-approved literature, including shares, uplifting quotes and artistic material from CoDA members. We hope you find this issue both enjoyable and insightful. Please feel free to contact us with comments and suggestions – and, as always, your contributions!
Your Meeting in Print Subcommittee
We welcome you to Co-Dependents Anonymous, a program of recovery from codependence, where each of us may share our experience, strength, and hope in our efforts to find freedom where there has been bondage and peace where there has been turmoil in our relationships with others and ourselves.
Most of us have been searching for ways to overcome the dilemmas of the conflicts in our relationships and our childhoods. Many of us were raised in families where addictions existed -some of us were not. In either case, we have found in each of our lives that codependence is a most deeply rooted compulsive behavior and that it is born out of our sometimes moderately, sometimes extremely dysfunctional families and other systems. We have each experienced in our own ways the painful trauma of the emptiness of our childhood and relationships throughout our lives.
We attempted to use others -our mates, friends, and even our children, as our sole source of identity, value and well-being, and as a way of trying to restore within us the emotional losses from our childhoods. Our histories may include other powerful addictions which at times we have used to cope with our codependence.
We have all learned to survive life, but in CoDA we are learning to live life. Through applying the Twelve Steps and principles found in CoDA to our daily life and relationships both present and past -we can experience a new freedom from our self-defeating lifestyles. It is an individual growth process. Each of us is growing at our own pace and will continue to do so as we remain open to God's will for us on a daily basis. Our sharing is our way of identification and helps us to free the emotional bonds of our past and the compulsive control of our present.
No matter how traumatic your past or despairing your present may seem, there is hope for a new day in the program of Co-Dependents Anonymous. No longer do you need to rely on others as a power greater than yourself. May you instead find here a new strength within to be that which God intended -Precious and Free.
Co-Dependents Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women whose common purpose is to develop healthy relationships. The only requirement for membership is a desire for healthy and loving relationships. We gather together to support and share with each other in a journey of self-discovery – learning to love the self. Living the program allows each of us to become increasingly honest with ourselves about our personal histories and our own codependent behaviors. We rely upon the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions for knowledge and wisdom.
These are the principles of our program and guides to developing honest and fulfilling relationships with ourselves and others. In CoDA, we each learn to build a bridge to a Higher Power of our own understanding, and we allow others the same privilege. This renewal process is a gift of healing for us. By actively working the program of Co-Dependents, we can each realize a new joy, acceptance, and serenity in our lives.
“The Truth About Myself”
The bad guys from my past disappointed me because I wanted them to be something they couldn’t, just like my father couldn’t be the Dad I needed.
My childish mind would tell me those guys were going to give me love and take care of me, and when they couldn't I'd be disappointed and angry. I would end the relationship; my abandonment issues would kick in, and I would repeat the same experience with a new fella.
New beginning, same ending.
I got so tired of repeating the same pattern with different guys that I finally realized something was wrong with me and my thought process regarding relationships. I asked the God of my understanding to show me what was wrong. When I was ready to face the truth about myself it was revealed.
I was still 6 years old emotionally. I started all my relationships like a child does. I didn't know who I was or what was best for me; I just wanted company, someone to play with. When my adult self would surface and evaluate the state of the relationship, I would reject the 'playmate' because he wasn't an adult.
My loneliness and fear of abandonment would surface again, so I would repeat the same process with someone new.
I’ve been stuck in that pattern for years. I finally realized that if I was ever going to be with a healthy man I needed to be healthy first. I found CoDA and checked into life.
My mother and father couldn’t grow up or show up for me no matter how bad I wanted them to. That wasn’t my fault, and I can’t change them or anyone. Change is a road we choose for ourselves. CoDA helped me to finally see that. I knew my childhood wounds were running my life, but I didn’t know how to change.
In CoDA meetings I identified with signs and symptoms and learned that my fear of abandonment was very strong. I realized I don’t know how to deal with emotions in a healthy way.
I would be overwhelmed, but not know what that was. I would feel lonely, but not know what loneliness was. I just knew I was feeling some sort of anxiety, and I looked to others to comfort me instead of going to the God of my understanding about all of it.
I was so deeply wounded in my childhood that I stopped feeling to protect myself from pain but then lost the connection to my feelings.
I was aware of other’s feelings but not my own. I learned how to manipulate others feelings to try and get them to be there for me.
Codependency as I understand it is about trying to exist through other people. It’s far more than a lack of self-worth with me; I lacked self-knowledge. I didn’t have an identity as a person, so how was I going to be able to identify my feelings?
How could I know to go to the God of my understanding when I was sad or afraid or lonely or overwhelmed when I didn’t even know the difference between those feelings? I am still learning about myself. Step 4 is an eye opener.
In that dysfunctional family, I had to completely check out in order to survive, and I was checked out for a long time.
I knew how to ask the God of my understanding for material needs, but I didn't know how to ask for help in dealing with emotional triggers that would make me seek out male attention or act out sexually. I couldn’t see that part of myself, the scared little girl part.
CoDA taught me how to identify my feelings through listening to others share their feelings and experiences. Today I can identify and let others know how I feel.
A line from one of my favorite movies is “Feelings are like kids, you don't want them driving the car, but you don't want to stuff 'em in the trunk either.
Feelings that I suppressed in my childhood and teen years still come up, and I don’t want to stuff them or try to fill a void with bad company. I know that’s my pattern. Steps 1-4 and CoDA help me stay present.
"Who Am I?"
Born as a butterfly
After so many things in my early life
Absorbing so many negative beliefs
Hearing all of these and believing
I was hiding
In a cocoon
Then, on a very difficult night
CoDA came into my life
Finally a relief
I was in the dark
Dying through the minutes
Through the pain
Through my mind
Expecting too much
Living too less
One speaking voice
And I found myself petrified
Hearing my life
Through other lives
I could shout at that moment
But I didn’t
So I heard all my life
In pieces, in each voice
As a puzzle
It made me feel stronger
It made me choose the steps
I stopped running
Running my mind, my body
And started to walk
Step by Step
And here I am
A butterfly again
"Just Around the Corner"
I knew something was “wrong” with me, but considering my mother was a paranoid schizophrenic, I thought I was doing pretty good.
Relationships were always hard. I seemed to attract the sickest people in the room. I struggled with conflict, felt unappreciated and seemed to always develop resentments toward co-workers. I was fired from my first three jobs all after they had become toxic for me. I married the most broken man I could find and spent 18 years trying to heal him with my love. I thought if I could just do, or not do, say or not say something, then he would change and I'd be happy.
When he suffered a stroke at age 36, that sealed the deal; he needed me! I didn't feel lovable, so I settled for being needed. I took care of him in every way including controlling all the finances, supporting us by working two jobs and setting aside my needs. In return, he would lie to me about his addiction to pornography, spent money we didn't have, and resented me for over controlling.
After nine years together, I discovered he had hidden $14,000 in credit card debt. He always missed important events, such as our daughter’s baptism party because he was at my dad’s house looking at internet porn. I would believe him every time he'd promise to try to do better, but then didn’t change. In the end, all I felt was a crushing sense of obligation.
In 2010, I got laid off by the board of directors of the company I co-founded. I felt blindsided by them and my business partner. A month later, my mom was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer and died just five months later. By the end of the year, I divorced my husband after finding myself “in love” with the first man to offer me what I was craving. He was 20 years my senior, still in a 30-year marriage to someone else, and I believed everything he told me. I knew it was wrong, but I felt compelled to continue the relationship anyway.
I spent the next nearly five years repeating the pattern of trying to control the relationship, thinking if I could make him change, I'd be happy. When I became fearful my depression was impacting my ability to parent my young daughter, I turned to counseling.
My therapist explained my childhood experience was a lot like living with an alcoholic. Unpredictable, as erratic behavior was the norm at my house. My home life was isolating and scary. We couldn’t talk about it, and the only feelings that mattered were my mom’s. I, of course, knew it was all my fault and if I had any doubt, my mom reminded me.
She was delusional with both auditory and visual hallucinations as well as a religious fixation and paranoia. She'd say God's will was for her to be a housewife and mother, but it was never what she wanted for herself. I remember her leaving the house in tears and my dad going after her. The three of us kids standing there. I didn’t understand what was happening or when they’d be back. I not only internalized this rejection, but I came to believe God's will equaled misery and therefore He could not be trusted.
Sometimes she'd say she hated me and wished I was never born. She tried to kill herself on a family vacation when I was eight. I was ten when she blamed me for a miscarriage, saying I didn't love it enough. She found my diary and wrote over my writing that my thoughts were hateful lies. I tried to pray every day that God would make things better, but He never did fix her or take us away. I learned that God didn't answer prayers, not mine anyway. In my child's mind, all my anger turned toward my mom, and my dad became my white knight.
I tried to show him, in every way a kid could, that I was worthy of saving. I tried to be the perfect child, even becoming valedictorian of my high school class. My dad loved me, but he never picked me...always putting my mom's care ahead of us kids. I know now that he did the best he could.
In CoDA, I learned that it was possible to mend, and in the three years since joining, I have already seen miraculous changes in myself, my understanding of what I do and why, and in my life as a whole. I have seen the promises begin to come true and issues that once boggled me, I can now handle with serenity.
When I'm brave enough and aware enough, I use the tools of recovery: meetings, books, a new relationship with God, as I understand God, a sponsorship group, the 12 steps, self-care, and inner child work to find peace where there has been turmoil in my life and relationships. I realized my irrational child had been driving my emotional bus, and she was not old enough to drive!
Part of my recovery has to be proving to her that she can trust me to take care of her and that it is safe to trust God too. Seeing is believing, and believing leads to seeing. I heard Him tell me over the radio...not like that crazy way my mom heard Him, but in that funny way we all do...as I turned off my car, just after thinking about how scary it is to trust because I can’t see what’s around the corner and if He’d just show me first it would be so much easier, I heard someone on the radio say, “You won't know what's around the corner, until you GO around the corner!”
Over time, I have moved through the steps and have seen evidence that they are working as I live them out. I try to keep my focus on myself and use the recovery patterns to help me learn what healthy behaviors look like. I recognize that I have choices and have a newfound belief that I am enough. God is doing for me what I cannot do for myself. The gift of awareness allows me to recognize when I’m getting the co-dependent crazies, and then I can choose to use my new tools of recovery to short circuit them.
Seeing my past with new eyes allows me to see how God was answering my prayers, even if His answer was different than the one I wanted. I can see now how my pattern in love relationships has been unconscious, dysfunctional attempts to heal the rejections from my childhood.
I am setting boundaries of my own and respecting other people’s boundaries, focusing on asking “What can I do to take care of me in this situation?”, growing in my ability to accept what is, let go of what was and have faith in what will be. I am replacing the “should” in my life with “could.” When I was finally ready, I surrendered my idea of what I wanted and God gave me so much more than I could’ve imagined. I dove into my recovery. I’m now remarried to someone working as hard on himself as I am on myself. I now have an equal relationship. We each think about ourselves and each other. I was even able to leave a toxic job on my terms instead of being fired like I had been in the past.
What I'd like to leave with are a few random nuggets I have received on my short recovery path so far:
“In My Head”
I’m in my head
The holidays are upon us
I need a friend
The snow falls gently, breathless
Each tiny flake individual and unique
Yet the same: cold, drifting the same path
Like people—each fingerprint different
Yet the same
I sit alone among the crowd
All moving toward the same path
The sweet promise of a smile
Did you walk in my shoes? Even one mile?
I look to my Higher Power
I’m not alone
I’m in my head
"Beneath the Bricks"
Being in an unhealthy relationship for 20 years was taking a toll on me. I was feeling constantly overwhelmed and exhausted, hopeless and helpless.
What pained me most about my life was living "beneath the bricks"...knowing that my real self was buried under there somewhere deep down. There was so much I needed to accomplish, so much I was capable of creating, doing, and spreading. Yet, it sat beneath the cocoon, hibernating...waiting for the layers of hardened molten to chip away. One chisel at a time.
And then came CoDA. At first, I was skeptical, yet something was awakening inside. I cried at my first few meetings feeling so desperate and hopeless. Slowly, slowly things began to shift. I started feeling clearer, brighter, and more connected to God. I worked and worked for over a year, speaking to my sponsor, going to meetings, praying, and I am so grateful to say I'm seeing things shifting. I have more energy, and I'm taking responsibility for my life with the help of God. And as I continue to trust the process, I tell myself, "Patience my dear, patience."
There’s hope for me when I look up
Only doubt when I look down with expectation
Everything is okay when I focus on what is real
Love for myself and others
When I feel lost, there is the anchor to
Ground my soul
Connected to my Higher Power
My true self
The essence of Me
Yes, it is okay to know who I Am
"Today I will rejoice in my abilities”
We thank our Higher Power
for all that we have received from this meeting.
As we close, may we take with us
the wisdom, love, acceptance, and hope of recovery.
“I will be who I am and I am enough.”