I celebrated my 13th anniversary in CoDA last
week. What a journey!
Before CoDA, I was severely depressed. I thought of suicide, not because I wanted to kill myself, but because I couldn’t see how to live my life differently, and life was painful. I hardly left the house. I spent a lot of time in bed or on my couch, avoiding the world. I felt “less than.” I couldn’t form new relationships. I was dependent in my primary relationship. I had scars—physical and emotional. I waited for someone to rescue me.
Then I read that there was an organization called Co-Dependents Anonymous. I assumed there would be no meetings near me. In my negativity, I assumed there would only be meetings in the city, where I didn’t want to drive. But there were CoDA meetings in my area, close to home, easy to get to. No excuses now---I could and did go to a meeting.
The meeting was in a church basement, and I was raised Jewish. I had never been to any 12th Step meeting. It was difficult for me to do anything unfamiliar, because I had been living like a hermit. But that night, in that room, I heard people share about things that I had been feeling. I realized that others felt and thought as I did. I identified with so much that I heard in that musty basement. I had been suffering from “terminal uniqueness”—the idea that I was different from everybody else. I thought life was harder for me than anybody else. Turns out there were people in the world like me, after all.
During the break, I felt uncomfortable. I felt like everybody knew each other, that everybody else had people to talk to. I felt like an “outsider,” the same role I played in my family. (Big surprise there) But I knew I had to keep going back. I went back to that meeting and to many others over the years.
I gradually learned to identify my feelings. I learned to make decisions. I shared using “I” statements. I learned that I couldn’t control others; no matter how hard I tried. (It hadn’t worked, but I had kept trying anyway.) All change seemed hugely risky to me. I was afraid of the tiniest steps, and was slow to make changes. Only when I became willing to try new behaviors could I hope to change anything in myself or in my life.
I practiced new ways of behaving in old relationships. I let go of unhealthy ones. I learned I could love. I began to feel the love that others felt for me. I was able to communicate with my parents in a new and better way. I let go of a lot of resentments. I gradually learned to speak for myself.
Slowly, very slowly, I formed new relationships.
My recovery journey—so far—is 13 years. It continues because I need to stay in touch with my Higher Power and my fellow codependents. I continue doing service to keep my recovery strong.
I have come to believe in the power of the CoDA Fellowship.
CoDA was there for me when I was desperate, and I want it to be there for every codependent, including myself. I thank everyone who attends meetings and carries the message of recovery.