Meeting in Print
June 2020 (Ed. 16)
“Progress, Not Perfection”
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.
"Letter to a Friend"
I hope all went well with your Zoom call with your family this past Saturday. I was disappointed that I didn't get to “see” you during our scheduled Zoom meeting, but I understand how family issues and relationship issues come up for people. Well, I guess if I’m honest, and being honest is what this letter is all about, I should say “No, I don’t understand how family issues come up.” I was actually quite hurt that you couldn’t attend our monthly get-together turned Zoom call, again. That leads me to the topic I wanted to address regarding friendships and abandonment and the feelings I've experienced on and off my entire life:
Conversationally speaking, do you ever wonder, or have you ever thought to yourself "What am I doing wrong?!" Do you ever feel like you've trusted the wrong people, made the wrong job decision, chosen the wrong friends, etc. etc.? I've felt like that in the past and have made measures to change this pattern, but once in a while it hits me all over again that I've still made the wrong choices.
When you called the other day to say you couldn’t make the Zoom meeting and probably wouldn’t be in the monthly get-together anymore, it hit me pretty hard—that same feeling of abandonment. Granted, this feeling only lasted a few minutes, and I was then restored to clarity—that of the abundant joy I have each and every day; but still the feeling and thought that I had chosen the wrong person—yet again—to trust with my feelings hit me hard.
That is what brings me to this heartfelt and difficult email.
Last winter when I discovered a truth about someone (you know who) I was devastated. I have in the past had very few people I could trust with my feelings, thoughts, ideals, and plans. Well, let’s see here, again I already agreed to be 100 percent honest in this email, so in actuality I honestly have had no one in my life that I could trust 100 percent.
Because of abandonment, early in life I chose the wrong people to trust—meaning I trusted everyone! I never had parents to help me navigate relationships. My parents were emotionally unavailable, so any danger that ever came my way I had to deal with alone. If I chose the wrong kids to hang around, no one was there to help guide my path or put an end to the danger I was being led into. Even though I knew better—due to abandonment and the need to have someone care about me—I trusted untrustworthy people and was always devastated when betrayed. As I got older, I realized I could not trust anyone, so I lived my life that way—not trusting anyone.
Once I started recovery, I discovered the safe people—those who were educated regarding functional versus dysfunctional behavior. I've always steered away from drama, so it was easy for me to pick up on those individuals who were drama free. And you were one of those drama-free, safe people.
So, after I told you my decision on the matter that had devastated me, I honestly thought I would have a daily check-in or at the least a weekly check-in with you in order to maintain some security and to feel I was worthy of love and sympathy. Mostly, I was hoping that you cared about me and the problem in my life and therefore cared enough to check-in on me. But this didn't happen. As a mater-of-fact, you were less available than ever. As it happened the holidays were upon us, and I know the holidays are about family time, so I understand that everyone gets busy at that time, and thus the same “busyness” and family obligations occurred for you.
Actually, I’d like to say that I understand how family obligations take over a person’s time and energy during the holidays, but I do not know that world. I cannot speak to abandoning a friend due to family obligation. My family does not do family gatherings, so “No” I have never had a family obligated to me.
Traveling then occupied your time. Of course, I was immensely thrilled for you to have experienced such adventures, but again it was abandonment for me—no one to talk to regarding my current pain at the time, and it went on for several months—several very rough, gut-wrenching months—without a confidant—again.
Again I asked myself, did I misplace trust in someone again? It took me a couple of weeks to figure out who to share my pain with. I decided you were the safest choice. Did I have too high of expectations in expecting you to be there for me? Is it really so unreasonable to ask that someone care about me and the pain I am suffering?
One of our mutual friends always talks about speaking my truth and asking for what I need. Side story: I had a best friend several years ago who stopped responding to my texts, calls, and emails. Over the past two years I have only seen her once! This was upsetting as I considered her my closest friend. Based on our friend’s advice, I contacted her about it and just asked her what was wrong. She responded a day later with a blasting text stating that she couldn't please everyone, and she has been working on herself for the past two years, and her life was a mess, and she didn't appreciate me pulling on her like everyone else had been doing, and that she can't please everyone! I first was taken aback and then began to laugh, as this “people pleasing” was actually what I had taught her—to stop trying to please everyone. Bottom line here was that I asked for clarity on our friendship and she responded in anger. So for almost the first time in my life I reached out to someone—in a kind and loving manner—asking gently what the problem was and what was keeping her from communicating with me or wanting to talk with me, and I ended up getting yelled at anyway. Later, the text exchanges were calmer, but again the abandonment was loud and clear. I don’t feel our relationship will be the same now. I already feel the distant, polite texts from her, which is exactly what I wanted to avoid.
So here is me stating my truth and asking for what I need:
Bottom line is that I have felt abandoned by what I thought would be a friendship between us. I looked to you in the beginning as an intelligent person in whom I could share intelligent thoughts. I always looked forward to seeing you—but life took over and your talents brought you elsewhere—elsewhere being that of significant importance into the lives of many—and your own, but again this busyness to me feels like abandonment. In the beginning of our friendship you often told me how much you admire me and look to me for strength. Well, I needed your strength to get me through a tough time and you were not there. I’m mostly disappointed that you were not there for me when I needed you the most—a time of the most devastating pain that I have ever felt and needed a friend.
I'm going to state in a kind and gentle and loving matter: I hope we can one day connect up again. I hope you feel that way too. I think you are an awesome person, and I just feel so disappointed that our friendship cannot sustain itself.
I’ve learned a lot through recovery work over the past several years. I can say no to the bad and yes to the good—I deserve the good. I don’t have to meet everyone’s expectations, and it is not my responsibility to take care of everyone. I also need to weigh my expectations to reality and the availability of others, such as you—as not everyone is available, nor can everyone meet my expectations. I lean mostly on my Higher Power as my friend and confidant instead of people.
And so my recovery work will continue, and I hope you can be a part of that.
Love and peace,
Your friend in recovery
"Letting Go of Control"
Third Step Question : Why do we use the expression “let go” in the program?
We use it because we entered CoDA mounted on the horse of insanity. From the long-ago beginning of our childhood we galloped along on that horse. As life went on, we progressively hauled up on the reins, until the animal bolted. It is only due to the modicum of sanity that we still possess and the crisis that overtakes us sooner or later, that we realize that what awaits us at the end of the road is a cliff and death. That is when we come to CoDA.
Over time, we have learned that those reins cannot suddenly be loosened; that is not how things work. If we let go of them abruptly, we can just as well kill one another while we fall. So, we come to the program. Even when we begin to slowly loosen our grip, we hold on to the reins for quite some time. First, we loosened our grip of the reins when we accepted our powerlessness, then we loosened that grip a bit more when we admitted that we do not have any superpowers. Later, we loosened our grip on those reins even more when we accepted that we were truly in the dark about the path that we were on, that we knew nothing at all about our own selves.
What does this expression mean to me?
By the time that I came to CoDA, my crazy horse had taken on a will of its own. It raced at lightning speed and chose the shortcuts and the turns. What is worse, unfortunately for me, on its own the horse had gone deep into a dense and terrifyingly dark forest. In this headlong race I had been thrown up against the sharp-edged thorny branches of fir trees, so my face and body were cut to ribbons. The reins that I held in my hands did not help me to control the horse, only to feed the illusion that I was in control.
Just when it seemed that no one, and nothing, could stop us, in a remote part of that forest a gleam of light appeared that dissipated the darkness somewhat, as when at night the sun’s rays are reflected on the moon and briefly illuminate the land. The brightness was weak, but it enabled me to orient myself and to direct my horse of insanity in that direction. As we had been running on instinct and heading downhill, the horse could not pull up, no matter how much I hauled on the reins. But when we got to the clearing suddenly the denizens of the forest - the spirits of the trees - appeared and suddenly, forcefully, they grabbed his legs and got up on his back and amongst all of them they succeeded in stopping his mad rush.
I was so tired and wounded that I fell to the ground and stayed there awhile, with my eyes closed, moaning. But I was also resting and breathing the delicious smell of the earth, something I had forgotten long ago. Then, with the help of the kodama tree spirits and the dryads, I got slowly to my feet.
I recall that when I got up, the horse was still by my side: erect, black, sweating and as exhausted as I was. His eyes clearly signaled that he was as unable as I was to keep going, that that was something that he neither wanted, nor was able to do. I hugged him and stroked him: in the end, he had accompanied me all my life. I did not blame him for anything. I leant toward his ears and told him to be calm, that the worst had already happened and that his mission with me had ended, that it was no longer necessary to keep on carrying me. Even now, he is still here, by my side, like a familiar, immobile old totem.
It has been a long while since I’ve had the reins in my hands. Sometimes when I’ve wanted to recall the feeling of riding him again and I’ve even been on the brink of saddling him up, I end up looking at him with compassion. I see him, and his tired eyes remind me that neither he nor I have the strength to go back to riding, or to retrace our route. That is when I let go of the unhealthy desire: I recall the cold, the fear and the despair that I used to feel while we galloped along, out of control, through the shadowy forest. Then, once again, I move my hands closer to the hands of the tree spirits. I allow their energy to travel through me and I just lie down on the grass to enjoy the sunlight and to feel its delicious warmth on my body.
For me, letting go of the reins means NEVER AGAIN GETTING ON THE CRAZY HORSE, whether it be my own horse, the horse right next to me or one that I own. That is what it means
“Step Away Fear”
Step out of the way fear
I don’t have time for you today
I have new goals to reach
I have new friends to make
I have to reach high
I don’t have time to let my dreams die
There’s love in the air
I can find it if I try
Let go of me shame
There’s no time for your game
I will live my life free
Just how I was meant to be
There were years of my life,
That I could not speak,
I could not get
answers to the questions I seek.
CoDA has given me a voice,
A safe place to be.
A place for inner healing,
and all I must do is speak.
I am silent no more.
Allowing my vulnerability to shine!
As I heal my trauma inside.
As if my life depends on it.
Hoping my words might
To my inner child,
telling her she’s ok,
There’s no need to be meek
Come out from under the bed
Take hold of her older self’s hand
-Photo by Maria S.
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.
Affirmations and Promises
“Today I view my childhood without shame.”
“I am no longer controlled by my fears. I overcome my fears and act with courage, integrity, and dignity.”