27 March 2011

From love to dysfunction

Step One of CODA says, "We admitted we were powerless over others - that our lives had become unmanageable."

About seven months into my sobriety, my life was turning around. I was feeling better about myself but I was still struggling with the past. With this struggle my future was hazy, making my present anything but serene.

We had a family counselor who eventually gave me the courage to look ahead and accept whatever would happen. His advice? He told me that the 12 steps worked so well with my sobriety, maybe I could use them with my marriage.

It was like I got slapped in the face. I knew this was the answer, but I never thought about it. I knew the 12 steps worked with my alcoholism, so why couldn't they work with my marriage? The key though was the word - work. Doing the 12 steps with my marriage meant "work" for me. It didn't mean that the 12 steps would save my marriage or end it.

What I was hoping and praying for, was a sense of peace and serenity. If the 12 steps could accomplish this, than yes, the steps would work. Unlike the 12 steps of AA, every time the word "we" was used, I substituted the word "I."

So Step One said, "I admitted I was powerless over J- and my life had become unmanageable." The first time I said it, the first time I wrote it, the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders. Sobriety started my journey on reclaiming my life, but it wasn't until I began working on my co-dependence, that I began my journey of independence from all addictions.

I would do these 12 steps, the exact same way, I did them before. This time instead of reading AA literature I read Al-anon, Emotions Anonymous, and CODA material. I listed how J- controlled my life. How my reactions were a direct result of her actions.

Alcoholism showed me how I was not only hurting myself, but destroying others, while co-dependency showed me that I put no value in my own life or opinions. I became a being whose only purpose was to fulfill the needs of others.

After writing two pages on how I tried to control the environment around J- and how it affected me and the people around me, I understood the power someone can have over me - if I allow it.

So with power and a strong belief in my Higher Power, I boldly made a commitment to myself which, by the Grace of God, I have been able to stick too.

The statement? "I will never accept the actions of others as my responsibility."

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