I get scared sometimes. This is one of those times. I read an article recently about the importance of having an "informed group conscience". I have been reflecting on my past experiences with the Traditions. This group was formed out of these personal experiences. I have shared my experience strength and hope in regards to the Steps and my own recovery but I have come to realize that I haven't shared my experience strength and hope as they relate to the Traditions.
A couple of years ago I was diagnosed with "Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome". I was borne into a dysfunctional family system. Rage and violence were the norm. My childhood was one of chronic fear. There were a series of life threatening situations that were a part of my childhood. I survived by disassociating. To escape my family of origin I became pregnant and married at a young age. I no now that I subconsciously recreated my childhood in my marriage. I continued playing out these childhood patterns in my marriage. I remained stuck in this marriage for seventeen years living from crisis to crisis, from life threatening situation to life threatening situation. Slowly over the years I found my soul dieing. With each crisis I found myself not caring if my life came to a violent end. Anything seemed better then continuing to survive as I was surviving. I bottomed out in my seventeenth year of marriage and sought out CoDA.
In those early months of recovery I found the strength I needed in the fellowship to end that destructive marriage. In that first year of recovery I sought out another relationship. This time the patterns of my codependency played out in a more subtle fashion. I again chose a partner who was unhealthy for me. This time I chose someone who was active in their sexual addiction. I again exposed myself to life threatening circumstances by risking my health.... exposing myself disease. It was a short lived relationship and I credit my program and the fellowship in helping me end another destructive relationship much quicker this time.
It was after this relationship ended that I found myself alone for the first time in my life. I have found in my recovery that great pain always precedes great growth. It is during this painful period of my life that healing really began for me. I began having lucid dreams about my childhood. Childhood memories long buried began surfacing at first through my dreams and then through flashbacks triggered by sounds, smells, and situations presented to me throughout my days. It was during this difficult time that I had to rely on my program. I had heard a lot about willingness in those early months. The willingness to go to any lengths to get better. I had to rely on my program, my Higher Power, and the fellowship to see me through this difficult time. I didn't understand what was happened to me and I thought I was going crazy. The feelings attached to these flashbacks and dreams were overwhelming for me. I can only describe them with one word terror. I sought out therapy and was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. In order for me to get better I had to relive the traumas of my past with a therapist, allow myself to experience the feelings that I had not allowed myself to as a child and young adult, and begin healing from them.
I relied on my home group a lot during this painful period of my life. They truly became my family. Each member played a role in becoming substitutes for the voids in my own birth family. Members at different times modeled for me healthy relationships as they stepped into the roles of mother, father, sisters, brothers, and friends as I began to heal. Each member was instrumental in helping me in my journey of healing.
It was towards the end of this painful period that the dynamics of my home group began to change. As members from other CoDA groups began attending my home group the atmosphere changed. Power struggles and cliques began to form. The unity of our group began to deteriorate. The concept of principles over personalities was lost. I experienced what had once been a safe, nurturing environment turn into a unhealthy, toxic atmosphere. My program called on me to address the problem during a group conscience. No one ever said this is an easy program. This journey for me has been one of constant challenge, courage and hard work. There was much fallout from addressing the Tradition violations in my home group. As members began to drop out of this group I had to face the reality that the foundation of this group was crumbling and was jeopardizing my own recovery. I needed to walk away from the group. The group became inactive a short time later. The only other CoDA meeting available in this area also began to deteriorate and die.
myself without my support system. I had to remember what I had come to learn
that great pain precedes great growth. I was searching for answers to what had
happened to our group. I realized that I needed to study the Traditions and look
for the answers there. I turned to the roots of the program, to where it all
started in AA. I read what was available in that program. "AA Comes of
Age", "The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions", "Pass it
On", and "Dr. Bob and the Good Old-timers", were books that were
instrumental in helping me understand the importance of the Traditions. I was
amazed to learn how uninformed I was. This experience became one of those
"spiritual awakenings" that have become the rewards of my recovery. I
developed a deep love for these Traditions. They became as important to my
recovery as the steps were.
small group was borne out of this experience with the Traditions. It was the
hope of this group to become more informed about the Traditions to insure the
safety of our meeting. It was agreed
that we would devote one meeting a month to studying a Tradition.
Recently when I stumbled across the article about the Traditions, I had to
examine my own behavior. As I look back over my last year and a half history
with this meeting,, I realize that I haven't been responsible enough in sharing
my experience, strength, and hope in regards to the Traditions. There is still a
lot of fear that crops up in me from these experiences. Part of the process for
me has been learning that I have choices to make. Awareness, acceptance, action,
and accountability have become the guideposts in my recovery. It is no longer
acceptable for me to tell myself that Traditions violations don't affect me, my
group, or CoDA as a whole. Although it would be easier and feel safer to ignore
violations and tell myself it doesn't affect me, I have a responsibility to
myself, my group, my region, my state, and the fellowship as a whole to find the
courage to address violations as they happen. I have come to understand what it
means, as our Big Book states, that it is the responsibility of every member to
address Tradition violations. Each violation, no matter how small, starts a
crack in the foundation and if left unpatched weakens us all.
saved my life. If I hadn't found CoDA when I needed it I am not sure I would be
alive today. I no longer need to stay stuck in my pattern of victimization. I
like what the CoDA Book says about the promises: "They are being fulfilled
among us sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we
work for them." Recovery is hard work but many of the promises have been
fulfilled in my life. I know if I continue to work hard I can look forward to
receiving many more gifts. It is not always easy to do the right thing but I
have learned that I can no longer take the easy way out in my recovery and
expect to continue to grow.
know that with everything I have been given in this program, that I have a
responsibility to give back. As I search for God's will for me and a purpose in
my life, I realize that giving back even a fraction of what I have received will
give my life greater meaning. A couple of years ago I attended a speaker meeting
at the local AA clubhouse. Above the podium I read a slogan that has remained
with me. It read: "I am responsible. When anyone, anywhere reaches out a
hand to AA, I want the hand of AA to be there. For that I am responsible."
remain responsible and ignore Tradition violations. I have experienced the void
in my life when a safe meeting was not available. I want CoDA to grow and be
available for anyone who searches us out. I carry the responsibility of sharing
my experience, strength and hope about these Traditions. In order to ensure that
CoDA strengthens and grows I must practice these principles in all my affairs. I
hope in sharing my experiences with the Traditions that I have taken a step in