Co-NNections Recovery Stories

Donald B

I’m in my fifteenth year in recovery in CoDA and twenty in all recovery. I got into recovery by first needing to address many decades of alcohol and drug use. However, in the process, I found that I was not attaining the “happy, joyous and free” promised by those fellowships. At first I allowed myself to believe the nonsense that I had somehow ‘not worked the program right ‘. I had heard many of the unhealthy ideas that sometimes run amok in the rooms of recovery, and actually began a descent into suicidal ideation and planning because I had no boundaries around other people’s opinions. It took a while to get on the other side of the unhealthy messages from unhealthy people in the fellowships, but I ended up hearing what I needed to hear, and was informed that the addiction based programs do not possess the tools or depth necessary to address the traumas that occur in childhood and that effect the rest of our lives. It is far more than “selfishness, self-seeking….”

When I walked into the rooms of CoDA I found the tools, the people and the venues that I would need in order to go deep and to find and begin working through the causes of my difficulties. I’m glad that I did, but I had no idea how deep and painful the process would be. Let me say at the outset that I was taught and believe in the well-known adage that in order to recover we must become willing to do “whatever it takes” to get the recovery that we are seeking and that the process is neither easy nor a pretty one.

When I read the introduction to Peeling the Onion, i discovered that the process that we are engaging in is primarily “emotional work” and in practice that has meant remembering many painful events in my life that reach all the way back to childhood and to allow the painful emotions associated with them to surface so that I could finally work through them to completion or to “Finish My Business With Them” as I’ve heard some members say. I realized that meant that I needed to lean on the Fellowship –the people in the program hoping that they would be able to sit with their emotional pain and with mine. I also needed to be in meetings where other members did the same. While I have not always found members who were able to do such deep work themselves, i did find several who were willing to dig deep. I also made up my mind to do the hard emotional work no matter what others were doing. This was one of the first applications of the tools of CoDA to my life: asking myself what I need, what I feel and what I think and then acting on it.

I find no use in soft-peddling the nature of recovery work, and I have both experienced and observed that it is frequently messy and painful. But I’ve taken solace in another statement by CoDA, that in order to empower myself to do the work I must allow my pain to overcome my fear of doing the work. I learned over time to trust the process, the program, the people and a higher power of my choosing to provide the assistance that I need. I also came to understand that that none of those external influences that do the hard work to give me my recovery. My higher power, sponsors and recovery friends did not attend meetings for me, nor did they work down into the pain of my past or do the grieving And feel anger, numbness and more; they did not get a sponsor and work the steps and many other principles of the program for me. I did that work myself. I did it with the help of those external agencies. In doing so, I began to contemplate and to own the CoDA Promise that says that “we will come to believe in our own capabilities.” I think that is one of the greatest gifts that results from the hard work of recovery. My sponsees frequently say the same of their own work as they come to realize that the program and Fellowship offer a bona fide path to their own Freedom.

That’s a powerful idea to someone who lived over four decades in a state of disempowerment by an abusive, neglecting and abandoning family, religion and a higher power that informs their troubled thinking and behavior. Today, with the help of the people, tools and venues offered by CoDA I am more likely to take action in my life that supports my desire for a healthy relationship with myself, others and a hiigher power that offers no judgment, conditions nor that gives others the ideas or fosters abuse. (Yup, I’m one of many who have had to do some higher power shopping). In fact, it is a lot like the hp in a couple of the stories in the Coda Big Book –one that starts with and supports compassion. I am grateful for the Coda Fellowship and all of the hard work that members have done and continue to do to keep the doors open for me and so many others who have suffered.

I am grateful that there actually is a place to heal deep pain and create a healthy life that offers serenity and a quiet enjoyment in life. I could not and would have believed that was possible before Recovery In CoDA.

With Gratitude,

Donald B – 04/04/2018

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