Co-NNections Recovery Stories

Dena 7-11-17

A long time ago I saw a Ziggy cartoon where the title character was wearing a sandwich board sign that simply said "I’M SORRY". Many people didn’t get it or thought it was stupid but I understood. I got it. I had felt that way my entire life. Apologetic. Shamed to be present in a world where I seemingly had no place. Where I never fit in. Was never good enough. My only sibling was seven years my senior. It was like having three parents –always with the eyes watching me for mistakes, untruths, awkwardness, failure. When I read Orwell’s ‘1984’, I understood perfectly. Big Brother had been with me forever. The story felt too familiar to be enjoyable. I got it, 100%.
Never good enough. Never complete. Never self-sufficient. Always searching for something, but what was it?
I took my last high school final at 11:30 am one grey January day and was on a plane by 3:30 that afternoon. My parents were under the impression I was off on a vacation. I had saved birthday and Christmas money for years; I had no intention of returning. I was 17 years old. Seventeen years, four months, eleven days. The next few decades did little to dispel the feelings of unworthiness. Amazingly bad relationships, some stupid, some downright dangerous. Nothing that fit. I blamed myself–too stupid, too clingy, too fat. After a while I blamed them too–too distant, too critical, too cold. Where were all the good men? Had the Marines truly absconded with them all? I mean, they were always "looking for a few good men", but did they have to take them ALL?
 I was lonely and felt worthless and empty without a partner. I was brought up to believe a woman needed a man to be complete. Yet historically I knew this was not always true. There were plenty of strong single women. So. THAT must be it –I was not STRONG enough. Great. One more negative trait.
 I had plenty of BTN relationships: Better Than Nothing. Slowly I realized, that phrase was also untrue. Often, nothing WAS better. Nights spent at home with books, music, and my cats, WERE better. I tried to accept the fact I’d probably be alone forever.
 Fast forward to 2016….if there was such a thing as a BTN marriage, I had one. Twenty two unsatisfactory years. I was still unhappy, still didn’t fit in anywhere, still never good enough. Sad but also mad. Dammit I was lonely and tired of watching other people being happy. I sat down and made a list of attributes I desired in a relationship. Rereading it I realized I had not one of them. Bummer.
 One crisp October morning I logged onto a social media site. A friend request–What? Someone from fifty years ago looking for me. How odd. Sure. Why not.
 During the hours of catching up via texts, messages, and a phone call or two, he told me of Codependents Anonymous. Hmmm. Intriguing. I am not, by nature, a joiner, but spent a long time reading about CoDA online and we spoke of it with each phone call. He sounded so happy and joyous to have this in his life.
 I located a meeting halfway between home and work. As the hectic crush of yet another retail Christmas approached, I attended my first meeting on a Saturday morning before I went to work.
 I was home. I fit in. No one made fun of me or my concerns and problems. Warmth seemed to fall around me. No one thought I was stupid or incomplete. I was accepted, listened to. I was literally welcomed with open arms, receiving the first hugs I’d had in months if not years.
 With all the upheaval in my current life, it appears my Higher Power steered me in the right direction last October. I feel accepted, welcomed, acknowledged, and useful. My strange life journeys prove to be fodder for tales of recovery, passed on to others who understand them. The more I read in CoDA, the more I know I am in the right place for this time in my life. Where I had turmoil I now have peace. I pray a lot more. I feel included in life.
 I have a purpose.
 I am good enough.
Dena F. 

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