I came to CoDA thanks to my neighbor at the time. She had been talking to me for months about CoDA and going to meetings. Finally I went to my first meeting January 5th 1990, in Danbury CT. I knew my life had become unmanageable and even though I was in therapy, I needed more. My marriage was slipping away, and I was looking to fix it anyway I could. Little did I know what a gift I was about to give myself by choosing the path of recovery.
For the first few months I just kept showing up at the Friday night meeting. At the time I couldn’t tell you what kept me going back. But today I know it was my Higher Power leading the way. Many times I’d find myself getting angry or rationalizing why I shouldn’t go to the meeting. I was too busy, too tired, my kids needed me, or flat out my husband didn’t want me going. But during the week I found myself flashing back to things people shared and I would find my way back to that Friday night meeting of CoDA. The first six months I found it impossible to speak my first name aloud, and it was almost a year before I was able to share in a meeting. The loving support found in the meeting was what I needed. There was no pressure, just unconditional acceptance. It was at this meeting that I experienced acceptance for the first time in my life. I will always be grateful to the people at that meeting for that gift. I was allowed to grow in my recovery at my speed.
The concept of anonymity in is special to me. Anonymity allowed me to be me for the first time in my life. To this day I hold anonymity in very high regard. This is a corner stone in the foundation of my relationship with myself. My relationship with myself started to take hold in my recovery. I learned about myself through my 4th step. I got to know the values and imperfections, which, together, make me who I am. I found the courage to divorce my husband and fight for custody of our two children. This process was a very long three years, during which I faced a lot of truth about what my marriage was not and some of the patterns I had repeated from my childhood. My relationship with my Higher Power (God for some) was tricky. I had been raised in a religious household, but I needed to leave the God of my childhood behind, as he was a judgmental and punishing God. My Higher Power of my understanding today is one of unconditional acceptance and love. A Higher Power without judgment and punishment—a spiritual relationship rather than a religious ritual relationship. I could never have gotten to this point in my recovery without the sharing of other people at the meetings. The sharing helped me realize I had a right to choose and validated my understanding of my Higher Power; I was not forced into someone else’s perceived ideals. With a relationship with my Higher Power I was able to continue to work on my relationship with myself. I knew I was not alone. And the only way out of the fear I experienced is through the fear. I had spent so much time avoiding dealing with issues in my life. With the help of my Higher Power slowly I was able to let go and have faith that I didn’t need to control things in order to feel safe. I had survived life growing up in a dysfunctional home, now I wanted to live life. I was able to reach out and create healthy relationships with other people in recovery who were working on themselves. I worked on learning to trust my Higher Power, myself, and others. It was only through CoDA I was able to heal enough to be willing to date and get into a committed relationship. I was truly blessed in finding a significant other that was also in a recovery program and committed to his own personal growth. We have just celebrated 20 years together. I am grateful to have his support in my life. In my work life I was able to place principals above personalities.
The reality of the world is not everyone is in recovery or wants to be. And that’s okay – it’s a choice. The boundaries I have learned to set through my recovery have saved my sanity. With caring for aging parents with health issues and then their passing over the last 9 years, I found it very challenging to deal with family members. New life skills that I learned over the years helped me to deal with this very challenging time in my life. The promise of the program that "I learn that it is possible for me to mend – to become move loving, intimate and supportive. I have the choice of communicating with my family in a way which is safe for me and respectful of them" played out during this time. I won’t say it was easy. I will say I couldn’t have done it without what I have learned in CoDA. I continue to keep my recovery fresh by doing service work. I can share what I have learned with others, reinforcing what I have learned about myself and passing on the hope of recovery. I do what I can, choosing what is right for me in order to take care of myself. I celebrated my 26th CoDA birthday in 2016. I have so much to be grateful for thanks to CoDA. I hope to continue to share my experience, strength and hope as I continue on my recovery journey. "It works if you work it, so work it, you’re worth it!"
Olean – 7/24/16