My co-dependency recovery started on October 20th of 2009 when I walked into my first co-dependency workshop. It was there that I first realized that I had been codependent most of my life. I hadnít realized how controlling I was or how admitting I was powerless over people would change me. But after a few workshops there was no question I had a problem.
The whole co-dependency idea frustrated me at first; I'd been doing so well. In fact, my relationship with God was strong and I marveled at what He had carried me through thus far. I had survived repetitive childhood sexual abuse, been clean from drugs for over eight years, alcohol for almost three, and my battle with bulimia had ended six years prior also. Not to mention that God had spared my life after three suicide attempts. And then He even blessed me with my second son after doctors insisted Iíd never get pregnant again. Life was great! As a matter of fact, I should've been the one helping others get past their struggles. I was a miracle. Indeed, God is and has been miraculous in many ways. But there was another part of me that was miserable, in pain, and wondering why I didnít feel so grateful. It was time to face another area that was holding me back from Godís best.
After my unhealthy marriage ended in divorce, I hadnít realized that my relationship with my former husband was not completely over. Obsession to control how he cared for our boys when they were with him kept me in bondage. How was he going to take care of them without me when he couldn't even care for them with me? When we were married, I had to tell him to pick the baby up when he cried or heíd let him cry. What would happen if I wasnít there to remind him? Horrible thoughts crept and taunted me every time he had them. Everything he did and didnít do for them was wrong: from what they ate or watched on T.V. to him properly caring for their physical needs. Would he remember not to leave the baby in the bathtub unattended? I just had to remind him of everything! So I insisted that he go to therapy to deal with his "issues" so that my children would get what they deserved: A healthy attentive father. Guilt of everything I had put my children through had me convinced I had to do something to fix the problem. And the problem must have been my former husband since I was doing everything for everybody all the time. So he agreed to go to therapy. The problem was that he went for me, not for him. So I was left feeling angry when his behavior hadnít changed. I even questioned if he had went to the scheduled appointments. Something should have changed by now! I drove myself insane trying to control how he should be and what he needed to be doing to become a better person.
Now that I see how co-dependency has affected my life, I realize that it was me who had to deal with my own issues. Since I came from an abusive background, I hadnít realized how attempting to gain control had driven me to insanity and hurt others. I had trouble being at ease unless something or someone had to be fixed. So I sought out problems to cure the ďcrazies.Ē Unfortunately, the unhealthy behaviors and relationships left me drowning in deeper turmoil. Because excessively pleasing and helping people -even if I was hurt in the process- was routine when I was a child, I hadnít realized that it had followed me into adulthood. My attraction to needy and emotionally unavailable people set me up to relive my childhood experiences. I attracted unhealthy people because I was unhealthy. But through recovery I am learning thereís a better way.
Apologizing to my former husband and children for my inappropriate behaviors in the past and as they come has freed me to accept my imperfections and also eliminated a load of chaos. Through God and recovery, I learned that Iím responsible for my behavior and nobody elseís. The false message: ďItís your responsibility to fix people and unfixable problemsĒ has been changed to: ďGod is in control, period.Ē
Although we have good and not so good days, I see every day as an opportunity to use my new tools. I counter negative thoughts with grateful ones and try to edify and build people up instead of tearing them down. I try not to control my former husband or anyone else. And when I slip here and there I take responsibility for my behavior, apologize if necessary, and then try to do better next time. Life is a process and it goes on even when Iím not telling people what to do or what I think they should be doing. And it goes on with less stress and strife. Before recovery I would have never believed it! Calmness erupts when I allow life to happen naturally instead of trying to force it along. If my boys are safe and happy, I'm okay. And I know they love their dad and need him just as my former husband loves and needs them. Through much prayer, God has settled my heart in this area.
Before recovery, I thought that co-dependents were only loved ones of people with alcohol and/or drug addictions. But my problem with controlling others instead of taking care of and being responsible for me put me in the same category. Thank you, God, for showing and leading me to a much needed recovery. Your healing hand reaching down as I continue on my journey toward eternity: One day at a Time.
ďEver since you took my hand, Iím on the right way.Ē Psalm 16:11b (The Message)
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