Co-NNections Recovery Stories



I know I was raised to be a very compliant child. Shy to extremes, I was very quiet and most fearful of a very strict parental unit, household environment and religious educational system. I learned early on to please others, get rewarded for that and always do the right thing! I certainly had the “fear of the lord” ingrained in me early on. I even created “sins” to confess because I wasn't sure I committed any.

So my middle name growing up was “fear.” I was an excellent student, helpful sister and daughter and
never even considered what I liked, felt or wanted to grow into as a person. All that mattered was
being what you wanted (a clone, of course!), pleasing others and being a model child. My younger
siblings were more unruly, but I never rocked the boat…until the teenage years.

Meeting boys triggered rebellious behavior in me. My parents were shocked, of course (as I attended
all-girls' schooling.) To me, my feelings at the time were just typical, but clearly that was not allowedor ok. I was supposed to do certain things in a certain way, to live the life my parents planned for meand not to ever dream of who I was as a person or give into any desires to explore life on my own. Repression kept me in line—until it didn't. I did not go berserk, but any deviant behavior felt very wild to me. I found myself leaving college, working full-time, moving out at age 19, drinking with partying people in the 70s (of course!). And out in the world with few tools for responsible living as I had been geared only toward higher education and proper marriage partners my entire life.

White Gloves and Party Manners was a fav book, given to me at an early age. Yuck! So I dated and
finally married (my #1) who was someone my family liked. I gave up trying to be with those others
that would shock the family, as they were really not suitable for commitment in a relationship. But
marriage to #1, although interesting for a time (and I became mom to my first son and lived in
California too) ended in divorce and I returned to NJ; I became a single mom til #2 came into my view:
a very active alcoholic, which I was fast approaching as well (my son started living with his dad.)
Of course the family was shocked and disapproved. It seemed I was really still just reacting to my
family as I swung from good behavior to bad, never really finding my own balance or sense of myself. I
lived to still please others, just not my family.

Marriage #2 ended, I jumped into recovery: Al-Anon, open AA, CoDA. Realizing then my own demons,
I willingly entered closed AA, and continued to delve into who I was , wanted, needed, felt in CoDA.
Lots of terrible relationships came and went during this period. I met hubby #3 in the rooms of
recovery, married now 16 years, son #2 came along for me. I had a stroke in 2001, our son was
diagnosed with autism the same year and my #1 son was living with us full-time.
Today I have 20 years in AA, 15 in CoDA/Al-Anon/Nar- Anon and do lots of recovery 12-step service.
Left side impairments remain post-stroke, yet my life is full. Our younger son is doing well and will be
15 soon (older son recently turned 30). I've had three articles published in a stroke-connection
magazine and am an avid family support for those with special-needs children. Life is good
I no longer live in the shadows of others or need to take my identity from other people. Only pleasing
other people no longer works for me. I am an individual who knows my highest power walks with me
daily. I do not blame others for my life but know I am a work in progress,

Doing the best I can with what I have. Ego has no place in my existence. I can have identity, feel my
feelings and dream my dreams without ego. I can still give to others and not take from my central
core, zapping the life out of me. Being a channel/conduit of our loving source of Goodness helps me to never become depleted. I gave myself away so easily to so many over my years, it is only amazing
grace that has restored me to this point and helps me to keep moving forward, one precious day at a
time. I do think I needed to lose myself to regain my life. I am eternally grateful to god, the fellowship
of recovery and my wonderful children for the blessed life I experience today. Life does not have to be
easy to be wonderful! As Mother Teresa said: “We can do no great things in this life…but we can do
small things with great LOVE!”

Sue B – 4/23/14

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