Meeting in Print
September 2017 (Ed. 5)
"Path to Serenity"
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.
“Challenging Codependency Like My Life Depends Upon On It”
I always believed something was wrong with me. I knew I wasn’t wanted by mom before I even had words. I couldn’t know that she’d never loved dad, and she had felt growing despair that she was never going to have her own life. She was sad and overwhelmed at having a 6th child. But her paranoia, detachment, anger, and hopelessness were all very clear to me. Dad was even more absent. Between his work and friends he had a separate life. He didn’t take time with me, and the same was true for most of my older siblings.
Early on, I tried to make people like me, but it didn’t seem to work. Deep down I believed I wasn’t loved because I wasn’t good enough, so I decided to prove that. In despair and anger I became the official black sheep of the family being defiant, destructive, and deceitful. By the age of nine I was an adept thief, liar and vandal. At twelve I started getting high, and eventually I became hooked on many street drugs.
After many consequences and lost trust I was arrested with drugs and my life crashed. I was locked up for a year of residential recovery houses. It was a hard awakening. Most of the others in my halfway house were much older convicts who were there as an alternative to imprisonment. I was literally scared straight.
However, I did become a regular attendee of AA and NA programs. Here I adopted a way of life that got me sober and taught me some self examination. Doing my first 4th step I began to see my dishonesty, selfishness, and constant fear.
With all my usual medications gone, there were few ways left to escape the deep, old discomfort with myself. The anxiety and shame that I'd felt for all these years was just raw and in my face. I became very aware of my constant negative feelings; in fact I was being overwhelmed by them.
So unconsciously I turned to a new drug. With my parent’s divorce and the breakup of my family there was a new position open; I repackaged myself as the family rescuer/hero, a role which I clung to for the next 20 years. This role helped me feel worthwhile, needed and important. I traded “acting out” for people pleasing, perfectionism, and control.
Whether it was getting good grades or doing favors, I was constantly striving to accomplish things so that I could get approval and then feel okay about myself. Yet no accomplishment was ever enough to let me to really love myself. Often, the harder I strove, the stronger I felt the always underlying feeling of “Not Good Enough!” So, I diligently pursued accomplishment into my 30’s before I finally felt overwhelmed by the endless chase for conditional approval.
Yes, this striving also had benefits. I gained some esteem and found myself competent at many things. I could be hardworking, persistent, and a clear communicator. I had new goals and values that were actually healthy.
However my hero/ rescuer life role also got me into a work addictive pattern of perpetual busyness. I started becoming over extended, angry and becoming a resentful martyr victim.
On a tip, I decided to try Co-dependents Anonymous.
In my first meeting I was stunned and relieved to find a whole room full of folks who had as many problems with the word “NO” as I did. Through their stories I saw how my hero/rescuer pattern kept me striving and anxious. My own best was never good enough for me. I was striving endlessly to feel okay about myself by rescuing others. My CoDA fellow’s stories helped me to see that I was highly tuned in to other people’s discomforts.
My fellows encouraged me to pay attention to my negative thought patterns. At first it was overwhelming to witness my mind’s constant negativity. This stunned me because I actually prided myself on being positive. Somehow I needed to develop new thoughts and beliefs. That process began with awareness and acceptance. One day at a time I started seeing that my thoughts and feelings are not my identity.
After a few years I started to feel better. I was saying “no” more and putting more effort into relations with people who would give in return. Yet the core shame was still there. I still had a most powerful craving and habit of striving to be liked and loved.
My drug and work addictions were very visible activities with very visible consequences. The actions of people pleasing, and perfectionism were much harder for me to see and even harder to surrender.
Yet fully feeling the pain of trying to be everything to everyone was actually healing. It stopped me in my tracks as I saw I could be enslaved to this misery forever. I realized I had to challenge my codependency as if my life depended on it. I've really been in a battle to change my core beliefs about myself. With the help of my higher power and my fellows I began a new level of sobriety then; I challenged myself to abstinence from people pleasing or hustling to prove my goodness.
Without the “medication” of others approval I could finally feel the size of the hole in my heart. It was a huge old lie that I wasn’t worthwhile or good enough. In that honest moment I knew that I could never fill up this hole up from the outside. The only salvation I could find had to come from deep within. It had to come from both my Higher Power’s love and my own. I needed to become my own best friend and I needed to really let in God’s bottomless love. Letting in God’s unconditional love empowered me to claim my own permission to feel self love and joy. However, the visible form of my blossoming was new self loving choices in all of my relationships.
In first setting new boundaries I was afraid that honesty and boundaries might hurt people. This fear of taking care of myself first was trained in early by parents and authority figures who used both fear and shame to control me. I came to believe that doubt and second-guessing were evidence of my caring and good conscience, but they're not. That chronic self-doubt is the voice of perfectionism, which keeps me cut open and bleeding. When I stopped caretaking I felt guilty, but it was just a withdrawal symptom from caretaking itself.
Today, my recovery from codependency seems about being more balanced. I know now I can both challenge and accept others. I believe with my higher powers’ help I’m actually rewiring my own conscience. God is doing corrective surgery on my codependent instincts because they’re so faulty! It’s like finding that the dashboard on my car has bogus warning lights. I know now that the guilty thinking and feelings that arise for me after I set a healthy boundary are probably not my conscience, but better understood as strange withdrawal symptoms from people pleasing.
I now practice recognizing my dysfunctional beliefs and replacing them daily with the loving truth: that I am good, lovable, and entitled to happiness. I know now that I can only love myself when I’m authentic. I don’t have to perform, have an artistic expression, be nice, rescue others, or be responsible as others define it. I am enjoying being authentic for my own sake, and it’s a great relief to really understand that others are responsible for themselves.
By Charlie B.
You create your own reality
by thinking the thoughts you think
by believing the beliefs you believe
Do you like your reality?
If so, great! If not, why not start changing it?
Today. Do your beliefs about yourself
reflect who you want to be
or are they leftover negative conditioning
from a past long gone?
From rainy-day people’s opinions
of how they wanted you to be?
Take back your opinions about yourself
Take back a positive reality
Submerge into beliefs that shout:
I am human, therefore I am imperfect and that’s ok
I am me. I am who I am meant to be.
I am becoming the me that I want to be...
complete with frizzy gray hair
or none at all...
and little child’s dreams
I am the best I can be
I make my own reality
I believe in miracles
By Stella S. (2001)
“Serenity and Hope”
Today I have grown
this neediness I let go
serenity has creeped
into my soul.
This hope I had longed for
is taking root
Down this once-dirty ole shoot-
Letting go-I'm growing old
Serenity and hope gaining control.
It's settled down the old bones-
not as loud.. Serenity and hope-
has been my shroud.
I have seen the miracle-
In this very moment-
Serenity and Hope-
Has hit my soul.
By Richard L.
"I take full charge of my life today. I let serenity flow into my life."
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.
Keep coming back; it works if you work it—so work it; you’re worth it!