The 12 Traditions:
8. Codependents Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
The traditions are helpful guides as we work our recovery in fellowship with other codependents. If I put a price tag on my service work, I’m obligated to perform a personal service which diverts me from the spiritual purpose of my 12th step work. If I seek other kinds of payoffs for my 12th step work, such as praise for speaking at a meeting, then I’m right back to manipulating others. On the other hand, if I let my higher power speak through me, I may witness another’s spiritual journey out of isolation, enriching my own life and sanity.
As I understand the 8th Tradition, it means first that money should not change hands for our 12th step work because there is no science or therapy that will cure codependency. CODA offers no precise definition or diagnostic criteria for codependency. In the CODA book and our literature, you won’t see the authors listed on the title page with degrees behind their names. CODA doesn’t license sponsors to treat codependency. Our secretary and other servers haven’t earned certificates of recovery. We don’t speak at meetings because we have expertise in a particular field. We don’t receive program calls because we’ ve taken classes.
Second, we don’t need to pay for professional help because we have something that’s priceless: help from our higher power and this fellowship. Our challenge as recovering codependents is to share our spirituality by writing our CODA literature, by serving as sponsors, by serving in any other capacity that’ s right for us, by speaking at meetings, and by taking program calls. The 5th Tradition reminds us that our group’s primary purpose is spiritual. The 7th Tradition reminds us that we are self supporting through our own voluntary contributions. In addition to our money for CODA expenses, our contributions include our abilities and our time.
With help from our higher power and this fellowship, each of us may identify how the disease of codependency works in our own lives and how we may recover. Our spiritual dilemma lies in our use of long standing destructive patterns of living to control our lives. By allowing no room for a power greater than ourselves to work through us, our self-will isolates us from others and traps us in unhealthy situations and relationships. We come to CODA motivated by a desire to move out of our isolation and into healthy relationships, to support one another, and to follow spiritual principles.
When we’re ready we begin working the steps with a sponsor. We can’t recover from our codependency if we go it alone. We improve our relationship with our higher power in the first three steps, beginning our journey of spiritual transformation with our admission that we are powerless over others. Humility in admitting we need help from a power greater than ourselves is the key to regaining our sanity. Next we improve our relationship with ourselves in steps 4 - 7 and our relationships with others in steps 8 and 9. In step 10, we become accountable for our behavior in our day to day relationships with our higher power, ourselves, and others. In step 11, we continue to grow spiritually as we pray for God’s will for us. Having had a spiritual awakening, we share the love and healing energy we’ve received from this program in our 12th step. My character defects are removed as my spirituality grows within me, as I grow in love for my higher power, myself, and others, and as I share my spirituality with others.
We have to give it away in order to receive it. Sponsorship in CODA is a 3-way partnership which includes our higher power and a healthy and conscious relationship between two equal human beings who accept themselves and each other "as is". Our job as a sponsee is to respect our own and our sponsor’s boundaries and to be willing to work for our recovery. Our job as a sponsor is to guide by example, to point out our sponsee’s codependent behavior when asked, and to share our experience, strength, and hope. The job of higher power has already been filled. God is in charge, not us.
In conclusion, CODA is nonprofessional because there is no profession that can cure codependency. By working the steps with our sponsors, we build relationships with our higher power, ourselves, and others that are based on spiritual principles. As we allow our higher power to speak through us in our 12th step, we freely share the love and healing energy of this program. The 8th Tradition reminds us to be willing to accept the opportunities our higher power gives us for spiritual growth.