Meeting in Print
March 2020 (Ed. 15)
“Hope Springs Eternal”
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.
I went to my favourite place the other day. A housewife always has a secret favourite place, and mine is the rubbish dump. I hate it and I love it; I hate the trip there, and I love the trip home when the trailer and the back of the car is empty, cleansed, just.
This time as the dump boss helped me throw stuff into the bins, he said, "We can't take this. It is asbestos. Normally we would have to turn your whole trailer around and you would have to take the whole load home. No one will touch it."
Asbestos is all right, if it is left in place in a building, and my bedroom is surrounded by a bottom wall of asbestos on the outside, I suspect. But, the particles of dust when asbestos is broken are dangerous and poisonous.
At the bottom of my mind is a piece of asbestos. It has been peacefully controlling what I remember and what I do for most of my life. This year it floated to the top and allowed itself to be seen. This is the year I broke my own mind. The favourite thing in the life of a codependent, in my case, is the asbestos.
If you come to visit me and say something wounding or do something terrible, don't worry, I
have already forgiven you. Next week I will not remember what you said or did.
When you mention you visited, I would not be able to remember the visit, and if you persist in wounding me, I will not be able to remember you at all.
The funny part is, this year, I went a little crazy and I did not realize. I decided I needed to build another house. My friend came to help me choose a site with a view of the sea and a view of the mountains. We walked all over the land discussing the best site. Then I had a vague memory of being somewhere where I could see the sea and the land. I went inside the house and opened the curtains that someone had closed months before. I had forgotten that I could see the mountains and the sea from my bedroom.
A friend came to visit. I was wearing my nightie dress day and night for two days. I gave him dinner. I went out to the garden and pulled out a lettuce and put it on the plate. I had nothing to go with it. My daughter mentioned that it was bok choy, not lettuce, and it needed to be cooked. My friend pulled out an ice cream bean plant, put it on the plate, and we ate that.
This year it became necessary for my mind to forget the emotional memory of thirty-six years of marriage and that meant forgetting the emotional memory of bringing up my five children because if I remembered that, I would remember my husband being there.
I also forgot how to cook, completely, and I forgot about eating.
The asbestos had broken.
Memories of how to cook came back a little bit at a time, and they were very simple: eggs and bread. I could not remember how to make vegetable soup. Each memory of something I could cook was connected with love to the memory of the person who had cooked for me. When I remembered soup, I remembered the monks, when I remembered fried bread, I remembered my mother, and the recipe from the Depression she made.
I could not go outside the gate of my home for months. Sometimes sadness, contained in a piece of asbestos, needs to breathe.
The art of forgetting is a high practice of the codependent mind. The woundedness of the codependent is like the secret poison of asbestos. Buried, it can exist without correction. When it is exposed it brings the possibility of death to those who breathe it. Day by day, this year, I have practiced remembering. Sometimes I have to remember the same thing over and over again.
It is a meditation not of silence, but of rage, grief, memory upon memory overlaying, and the heart of a little girl. She is me and we are codependent. Over a lifetime we have practiced woundedness and lashing out, and now we are willing to remember. I am patient with her, and she is patient with me. As we recover one memory at a time, we are grateful, we are humbled. By listening to others, we remember to breathe, and to give our power to forget away. We let codependence melt, in the presence of 'we know not what' maybe God. We are brave together. We remember.
"Hole In My Soul"
Hiding behind a smile day after day,
Teeth grinding, jaws sore,
Shielding the hole in my soul,
Never knowing the score.
Not sure if I can keep this up,
Unable to deal with the pain,
Cursed upon waking,
Once again I put on my mask,
Just long enough to fulfil whatever task.
Days under covers in my dark cave,
Each time I grow weary of playing this game,
Feels like a death as demons gnaw at my brain,
I can feel myself slip into insanity.
Humor's my weapon, my sharply honed tool,
Protecting myself, while shielding scared fool,
Am I to die without ever having lived,
Will I leave this body when I have so much to give?
Truth lies enshrouded in murky depths,
Clutching to hope,
I haven't succumbed yet.
Clinging to hope like a flotation device,
Everything good comes with a price,
I know deep inside my fate is not sealed,
By dropping this mask, as truth is revealed.
"The Voice in the Turning Tide"
At some level in my existence, I realized that I had lost everything by doing it my way. It was 2014 and I had been to several CoDA meetings, and I realized that I had been conned into tying my heart to my parents or my husband, and in doing so had torn it out of my soul. With their deaths I found nothing left of my heart for my own life.
Prior to CoDA, I step out into the gray day and cannot hear my voice. Deafness in my head is so familiar. How profound my confusion; how sweet the struggle between things. The thoughts are so many; the foolish dreams of being connected to others that I almost believe I have a purpose – to struggle to be "one" with another. But the bitter reality of my codependency climbs like vines; its roots have pushed down the voice of my soul like jackhammers through the 50 years of my lifetime.
On the fourth Saturday that I had been going to my CoDA meeting, prior to the meeting, I thought: “Why do I need this CoDA group?” I knew I’d go because as a codependent I always want to please, and so I was going to feed that part of me.
But that morning I welcomed the limbo of childhood that comes with distractions. That fateful day’s distraction was my walk to the mailbox.
I live near an old deserted riverbed, and I noticed the flowers somehow growing up out of the dry dirt. My puzzle of “who am I” was temporarily forgotten. I got the mail, and of course it was junk mail. I opened the advertisement and realized I was looking for more instructions. And it hit me that I give my power over to others because I don’t believe I can find it in me anymore.
On that day, as I walked back to the house, I accepted that I was truly in chains. That my life-long purpose of trying to read others’ minds to know how to act was all I knew. And on that fourth Saturday, the tide of my codependency rose up and drowned my voice. All I had left was my ears. And I was given the grace of hearing one little sentence. The CoDA First Step: “I admit I am powerless over others.” I got down on my knees. “I accept that my life has become unmanageable.” In my mind, I imagined that I had rolled down, down the sandy river bed to its very bottom. Fading went the pings from the world topside. My eyes opened to the bright cold water as it turned from yellow to amber brown. “I am doomed. A doomed being, groomed to follow the bidding of others, to seek their ambiguous purpose, to follow the lead of brothers and sisters still haunted by a dead mother and a father who was never completely alive. It felt I was fossilized and worn down, like a round rock, dried in a dusty ancient riverbed. But the tide returned. I heard “Believe that a power greater than you can restore you to sanity.”
My story begins on a dirt road in a magnificent canyon, trees dappled brown and green, a dry riverbed with flowers somehow thriving there. And I am listening to my own voice. I’m humming a melody vaguely familiar, coming from help that I really can’t explain, but I know it’s there for my good. And it is by the grace of “a power greater than I,” and my willingness to surrender – and the support of CoDA – that I am beginning to find my heart and my soul.
“It Is Salt”
the little girl sitting on a chair in the middle of an empty room
has moved position
after a lifetime of listening to threats, bullying, advice, fury,
never being enough,
she is standing.
it wasn't one therapy session, it was hundreds,
time and again, trying to get up.
it wasn't one CoDA meeting, or one book, or one meditation
it was many.
she is putting one foot on the stair in front of her,
and beginning to climb the staircase.
she does not look back,
to anything behind her,
voices, friends, family, belief,
it is salt.
she is the person watching herself now,
patient, with disinterested compassion,
no need to punish the girl on the chair anymore
all these years,
the voices were inside the little girl
now they are silenced
she has decided to silence them
she is ready to stand,
to grow up
in peace, she carries the little girl
in her arms
finally, it is over,
we are one.
A whisper of hope arises in spring when buds appear and clouds do bring
the gentle rains which wash away the grayness of winter’s day
and snow’s small ridges so do melt as sun’s warm rays at last are felt.
The portent of the blooms to be just waiting for the chance to see
the green envelope their small roots, the tiny buds and may shoots.
The sun with all it’s eastern glory alerts the day to a new story.
The puffy clouds dance in the sky, the birds do chatter up on high,
the trees about explode with green as if delighted to be seen.
Each new day brings small delights as daybreak on the earth alights
and smiles on all things around as hope and lightness do abound.
"I look within to find my treasures.”
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 respect myself and I deserve respect from others.”