Meeting in Print
December 2018 (Ed. 10)
Special Double Issue
"We’re Not Alone"
In This Issue:
Welcome to the quarterly issue of Meeting in Print, a CoDA recovery and support publication. 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 family 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 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.
I was raised in a white, suburban, upper middle-class family. Although there was no alcoholism, thanks to recovery I do see that my mother has demonstrated an addiction to food, and my father has been her codependent enabler. I have jokingly called my family “the frozen chosen,” because even though we went to church, we worshipped the God of Reason, not the God of the Heart. My self-esteem was very low, being the younger sister to a brother who excelled in school. Thanks to recovery, I can now see with compassion that he was using his intelligence and wit to compensate for his own social low self-esteem. I experienced him constantly correcting me and others. From that I learned to censor myself until I had the “right” answer or could say something perfectly. Unfortunately, I internalized that judgment and perfectionism and also applied it to other people, even if silently.
In high school, I excelled socially and in extra-curricular activities since I felt that the academic side of things was my brother’s domain, and there was no way I could compete with him. Once in college and away from my brother, I did excel academically. In hindsight, I see that my drive to excel in any realm was motivated by my own low self-esteem. I needed external symbols of my self-worth.
Throughout my early adulthood I had various relationships that never seemed to last more than 9 months. Thanks to recovery, I see now that I was using each partner to bolster my self-esteem, either by playing a helping role toward them or by using their local-celebrity status as evidence of my worthiness. Through recovery I realized I was either controlling them through helping or idolizing them as better than me. I either played God or made them God. I vacillated between controlling people and deferring to people. Recovery helped me see that clearly.
Then I moved with my partner at the time to another state for graduate school. It was my first experience of cohabitation with an intimate partner. While a fulltime student, I also worked as a nurse in stressful situations. I noticed my own heightened anxiety. At home, that seemed to manifest in controlling behaviors – controlling of my partner, of my dog, of my home environment. There were times I truly felt crazy. Recovery has helped me put this in perspective.
I eventually left that state and came back home. While finishing my master’s thesis and continuing to work part-time as a nurse, I had a limited social life. I rationalized that I was trying to give myself some space to integrate my previous experience. Recovery has helped me see in hindsight that I was isolating myself out of shame from my controlling behaviors. But, unfortunately, I had not found 12-step recovery yet. One day, I encountered my former physician during a weekend retreat. He followed up with an invitation to go out, which I initially declined. He persisted, and I eventually accepted. But then I broke it off after the third date because something just wasn’t right. He appealed, and I agreed, rationalizing that I “should” give relationship a chance as part of my healing. Early in our relationship, he confessed he had a drug problem, though he used different words to describe it. I felt so disconnected from my heart that I did not take it seriously.
I began a 9-week writing workshop. It involved daily journaling, which I was not to go back and read until I was 6 weeks into it. Then, the assignment was to read it with a highlighter in hand and to mark recurrent themes. On page after page this phrase appeared: “I want to break up with him, but I can’t. He is a drug addict. Does that mean I am codependent?” I fancied myself a strong, intelligent woman. In my mind, there was no way I could be codependent. Plus, I kept convincing myself that he couldn’t really be a drug addict since he was a physician. I thought co-dependence meant being in an abusive relationship and not being able to leave. My relationship was not abusive, but I did feel trapped. I felt like I had to have the “right” reason to leave, and I couldn’t figure it out, much less say it perfectly. The old experience of feeling stifled and of censoring myself was alive and well. What I did know was that addictive behaviors were coming up in myself, mainly around food and spending, and I couldn’t understand why.
Seeing the newspaper ad for CoDA on that Saturday morning, just 15 minutes before the meeting started, was truly a miracle. I walked down the street to this building and sat down in the room. As I heard the patterns of codependence and other people’s shares, I knew I was in the right place.
At first I felt so much shame – how could I have wound up in a relationship like this? But now in recovery, I see that codependence is a deeply rooted, compulsive behavior and has nothing to do with strength or intelligence. My low self-esteem was at play in that relationship. He was older and a physician – and so as a nurse I wanted to impress him. A friend helped me “bookend” the break-up meeting: I went to her house beforehand and practiced what I would say, and then again afterward to report on how it went. I have since learned that “bookending” is a tool of recovery.
Coming to CoDA has given me the opportunity to look back at all my relationships – with myself, with God, with friends, family, and with intimate partners. The three main lessons that I have learned are (1) the importance of staying on my side of the street; (2) paying attention to my motivations; and (3) the empowerment that has come from connection with a power greater than myself.
(1) Staying on my side of the street has helped me to glean the gifts of growth out of any situation. When I find myself focused on another’s behavior or attitude, I now have the tools to turn the focus inward and ask, “What’s here for me?” I have heard it said that finding one fault in another person is worth finding a thousand faults within myself, which I have found to be true. Staying on my side of the street allows me to keep growing and to stay out of the victim role. It also nurtures a sense of empathy, because I’ve noticed that the more aware I am of my own feelings and needs, the more I can truly connect with another person.
(2) Paying attention to my motivations is a lesson I learned during the CoDA Winter Retreat. Someone was talking about gift-giving and shared that now, because of recovery, she examines her motivations before giving gifts. I have learned to apply this examination of my motivations to most everything I do. Am I motivated by fear, guilt, revenge, fixing, or low self-esteem? If so, will my actions be satisfying? Or am I motivated by love, growth, and learning? I have learned that WHY I do something is just as – if not more – important as WHAT I am doing (or not doing).
(3) Finally, connection with a power greater than myself. Step 2 says, “We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.” And Step 11 says, “Sought through prayer and meditation to increase our daily conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.” Although I have completed advanced studies in philosophy and religion, nothing has facilitated my connection with the Divine like 12-step recovery has. Step 1 taught me that I am truly powerless over others. Step 11 taught me that I can tap into God’s will and receive empowerment to carry it out. What a relief it is that I don’t have to figure everything out or be perfect. In recovery, I have learned to say such helpful phrases as, “that’s not in my budget right now,” and “that’s not going to work for me.” In this way and many others, recovery has been very freeing from the people pleasing and achieving I had been so addicted to.
I am now married to my new partner of 5 years, and recovery continues to give me tools to learn and grow in relationship with myself, my higher power, my partner, and others. Taking 20 minutes each morning for “11th Step time” of prayer and meditation helps to ground me in spirit and has been a wonderful way to start each day. Doing recovery readings with my partner each morning has been an experience that nurtures humility in our relationship. Navigating drama and conflict in my home group meeting has allowed me to learn to walk through conflict rather than stifling or censoring myself. Sponsoring others has deeply enriched my own recovery, as I learn the 12 steps in a new way each time a sponsee shares work with me. Attending meetings and hearing other people’s shares reminds me that we are learning and growing together.
I have found this to be true: it works if I work it. My participation in CoDA is a way of staying healthy, accountable, and self-aware. I continue to learn and grow and transform. It is also an opportunity to be of collegial service to my sisters and brothers in recovery. I have heard so many stories and struggles, and while it’s tempting to depreciate mine as not as important as theirs, recovery has taught me not to compare but to share. This I have seen to be true: Each person’s struggle is real, and each person is a unique and precious creation. Recovery has been a real gift in my life, one that I plan to continue to share with others.
"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 along the same road
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
“What’s Control and What’s Asserting Boundaries? A Newcomer’s Approach to Step One.”
I’d written this in response to Step 1.
So how do I know that I’m controlling others or merely trying to assert my boundaries?
After all, any relationship is a relationship of adjustment, give and take, two or more unique different individuals trying to come together....be it just as co-drivers on a busy road, or parent and child, or man and a woman in a close relationship... and each is trying.
This is my limited understanding...If I try to assert myself from an undercurrent of fear and
anxiety and shame and guilt and fear of being shamed, or arrogance and anger... then I’m in “unhealthy controlling behavior”...and operating out of the classic “victim, persecutor, rescuer” mode.
If, however, I assert myself out of confidence—not arrogance, but confidence by which I mean the lack of anger or anxiety or fear, and am merely expressing myself (not trying to force an outcome) with a view to work together on a mutually acceptable outcome for both parties, then I’m not in an unhealthy controlling relationship. So the thought process may be like:
1. I value this relationship and would like it to be healthy.
2. I express myself without that undercurrent of fear and anxiety and anger and arrogance. I keep checking within what I’m feeling inside to see where I’m operating from... Health or Unhealthy.
3. I also express myself with a feeling of trust. I trust that the other person will also respond from health, but I am open minded to realize that maybe I’m in recovery and the other person may not be...so I’m open to the fact that the other person may listen to me or maybe even try to control me in return.
4. My response to the other person’s response/reaction again needs to come by going back to point 1.
I know it sounds so mechanical and intellectual, even to me, but I guess for me it’s like learning to drive a car.... the ignition in neutral, then the gear, then the reverse or drive forward, the brake, the clutch, the change of gear, the acceleration, the de-acceleration .... the initial fits and starts, possibly even a few bangs (Ha ha) ... and slowly and steadily to do this almost intuitively and reflexively (with a lot of God's Grace in it).
Of course to achieve this stage I first need to dig deep within myself, clear up the blocks in this car of mine, the electric circuitry, the fuel gauge (I need to not be running in empty), my fuel needs to be clean, my brakes need to work, my windshield needs to be clean, I need regular
servicing and repairs, etc., etc...God.
It almost seems so ideal if I can get this car of mine going in this crazy unhealthy traffic of people in my life...
Every instant one of two things happen. Either I am in recovery or I am in relapse. Sometimes an event happens, and I react to it out of my Old Codependent Self Defeating Behaviours ... I act out of fear and anxiety and fear of Shame and guilt. Whatever I do with that undercurrent to me is relapse.
In the old days it was always that.
But nowadays there are instances when I sense I’m in the above self defeating behavior, and I accept my powerlessness and my disease, and I do not fight it or run away or freeze... instead I hand it over to my Higher Power, and with that power of my Higher Power I respond from strength and confidence and then whatever I do has a better chance to create health rather than sickness.
Do I achieve that all the time? Hell no.
But even if I do it one out of ten, that’s good enough for me right now.
Because slowly I know it’ll become two out of ten and so on and so forth.
Yes. Today I come from that sense of hope rather than that old sense of hopelessness.
“im new to codependency”
so far i have read some stories and read about codependency and what it is. i have searched for meetings near me and i have e-mailed someone in codependency…i have watched a video about the 1st step and wrote answers to the questions. this is what i have wrote so far.
in my infancy something happened to me. i forgot it for years then when in my 30's and during my second marriage i started to get memories and started to see this memorie all the time so much so i couldnt sleep. i was clean and sober. I started to get vivid nightmares and also panic attacks. years later when in psychology i spoke of that memorie and i have spoken of it since a few times to therapists counsellors and AA sponsors. the memorie has never changed. it was a memorie of sexual abuse. though to this day i cannot recall who it was or if it was real or distorted...for the last few years it went away. i no longer think about it.
again when i was 9yr old i had an experience that i do recall...a counsellor told me that it was sexual abuse however i question that. and the person is not alive to ask. at age 14yr i was sexually molested by an older man. at age 16yr i was raped by an older man.
i did try to talk to my mother many years ago just after my second marriage broke up. i tried to ask her about my memories: i got one out—about my sister.
the second one i tried to talk to her about was being raped at age 16yr. she got angry, shouted, and pointed her finger to the side of her head shouting “you’re mad thats why you see head doctors”...so i never got to ask my mum about anything and my mum died many years ago.
As a child i was moved around a lot including different countries from age 9yr up to age 14yr. then at age 16yr i had to leave home at my parent’s request…
my father drank every day but was not a bad person; worked hard, functioned. he wasnt a bad person to me, but he was quiet when sober and lively when drunk and he seemed more for my sister than me; he didnt get angry often or for nothing. he didnt hit me. my mum got drunk occasionally and smoked cigs and played bandits. she also worked hard. both my parents often worked nights. slept in the day and dad went to the pub often. he wasnt at home much. at nights grandad watched us. later we watched ourselfs. work was very important to my parents.
furniture was spotlessness in the home. it was very important to my mum.
we were fed, clothed, got took to doctors, schooled.
we were taught right from wrong.
mum was a lapsed Christian. she said religion had drove her mad so she left church.
dad was an atheist.
my parents argued all the time. dad would slam out and go to pub.
my parents did illegal things…money things.
my mum could be violent. she threw a steel poker at my sister; it hurt her arm. i took my sister to the casuality, but my sister stopped me from telling the doctor what happened. she wouldnt let me but i did tell him but she said i was lieing. i wasnt.
my mum tried to stab my dad with a big knife. he caught it in his hand as it was near his chest. i froze. my sister grabbed her, pulled her back, he got 18 stiches in his hand.
my mum wasnt like that every day just a few occasions. she once grabbed me and hit my face...
my mum was over worked and had problems with my dad. he was a womaniser and didnt help with money much. my mum had been abused violently by her mother as a child and also her first marriage he had been very violent to her and she lost her children/my half siblings to him.
she was not a bad mother. she just got very angry a lot and occasionally violent.
i was shy as a child and young teenager.
i was a bit of a clown at school.
my first boyfriend was at age 16yr. i have had many since and also 2 broken marriages.
all my relationships have been bad.
some worse than others.
in childhood mum said don’t talk of the thefts they did.
all my family, uncles aunts etc displayed and still do abusive behaviours.
we werent to cry.
there wasnt talk about feelings.
while in AA, i first went there in 2001. i learnt to avoid people. i became isolated.
i was abused in there by some too.
im not sure if i try to control people or not. i let people do what they want. even if it’s not what i want.
“Put aside their own interests in order to do what others want.”
“I consider my interests and feelings when asked to participate in
i have most of my life felt not good enough. this feeling increased after i went to AA.
i dont know why or where it started. i know at high school i always felt less than other kids.
It’s not often i feel superior to, but there have been occasions when i did.
i think it may have came from my mum…
…i dont know how to ask for what i want and need. i do know how i feel but find it hard to express.
im not sure when or how i started to deny my own thoughts and feelings but i do.
i dont make demands on people. i dont think the world revolves around me.
i know a relationship wont make me whole. i have knew this for years. i used to think i had to be in one. i used to think i had to be married. my mum was the first person to make me think that, but later friends and men have.
i stayed celibate for 9yr…alone isolated in and out of AA.
then i started to see men again...
one didnt last long…i stayed alone for 1 year then met another. it lasted 2 yr. i didnt see him often. he was emotionally abusive…. i ended it and moved away. that was 2 and half yr ago.
i stayed alone for 2 yr then recently saw another man. it lasted 2 weeks. he was verbally abusive and stole money from me and again womaniser.
i have now been alone for 6 months.
all my partners have been very hard drinkers or alcoholic.
some have also been class A drug users…
of course i wasnt perfect in it either.
i responded to them in anger… and one of them i hit back once…i cheated on 2 of them…
i find in my relationships with men and friends that i am the giver; they are the takers. i do for them they do nothing for me.
i keep thinking it’s the type of men i end up with.
but they are the only type of men i meet or take interest in me…
i have lost 3 homes and all belongings due to relationships.
i have moved away due to men i knew
i have been in casualty a lot and battered wife’s homes.
lost self respect.
it has affected my 3 children, and they have of course got resentments to me for having been a victim.
i have tried to make it up to them.
there have been a few not many but a few occasions when my 2 eldest children have also stole from me and been verbally abusive to me. my kids are all adults now.
and i may have lost one baby before it was born. Maybe not sure if it was the punch to my belly and other things that led to that or not.
i have very low self esteem and dont think im good enough or worth anything. i dont think im loved or loveable.
i think people pretend to love or care because after they proclaim to love or care or like they take me for a mug.
and my mum told me this at times: i think men see “mug” wrote on my head and see me coming and set about to do stuff to me. my mum often told me men will use me and leave me…
i have decided to stay away from men. and most people…
i comply with what people want, but now i want to get what i want.
what i want is a man that treats me right and is there because he likes and wants me.
one that talks to me right, give and take and helps…talks to me right. if i cant get a good relationship then i best not have any, and at my age now it’s not so much a big deal to me to be alone. im also used to being and living alone.
i do enjoy my own company; however, no man is an island.
the isolating i get and have always had can make me feel crazy at times.
i moved around a lot and have always been isolated and i find it hard to make friends.
and it can make me end up with the wrong company or partner just for the sake of company.
i have done a lot of work to forgive others. over 2 decades. i have put my past relationships in my past.
i have in my past made amends to some people including some x-partners.
i no longer have any contact with any x-partners.
i find it difficult to forgive myself for having affected my children.
i find it difficult to get rid of low self esteem, shame and remorse, but i try to.
i have used the i word a lot and made spelling errors, but im writing…so hope it dont bother no one.
though im ok alone, i would like to have a good relationship before i die…
thank you for reading this
“Before I speak, I ask myself ‘Is it truthful, is it kind, is it necessary?’”
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.
Affirmation: “Today I choose confidence. Today I choose peace. Today I choose love for myself.”