Co-NNections Recovery Stories

Opening Envelopes

When I was a schoolgirl I coped with some types of fear with physical acts of courage, such as shouting and charging two boys who were throwing rocks at a friend and me as we walked home from school. To an extent, rage fueled my action that day: rage at the idea of stoning anyone, at the helpless tears of my frightened friend and at the father of those boys, who stood watching their actions without comment and then scoffed when I asked how he could condone what the boys had done. Other types of fear, such as travel to unknown places, opening an envelope (who knew what dire news it might convey?) or telling someone that I felt threatened by their words or actions, left me paralyzed, unable to see how I kept myself unhappy and isolated by giving those fears free reign and by failing to express what I was feeling.

Working a protracted Step One in CoDA provided me with insight into the tangled web of social, religious, familial and sexual strictures that created my codependent patterns of interpreting the world. As I learned to recognize those circumstances that trigger my avoidance of life’s challenges, I also learned that Step Three provides me with significant tools to face my fears, one moment at a time. I use the phone to discuss problems with my sponsor. I pray and meditate to seek my HP’s guidance as I work to detach from situations that used to baffle me. I benefit from the inventory of my defects as well as my strengths that I assembled in working Step Four: that inventory helps me to be kind to myself, to replace the constant, negative chatter that governed my outlook before program with affirmations and prayer. Yes, Step Four taught me that it is important to see my part in a situation, but it also taught me that I am powerless to change the actions of another person. With that realization I felt I was let off one huge codependent hook!

Working the Twelve Steps has given me the tools to brave travel to distant places, to open my mail—even if it comes from the IRS—and to practice speaking up or removing myself from a situation where I am uncomfortable. I no longer wallow in resentment because I have stayed in a dangerous situation rather than facing reality and seeking somewhere safer to live. Each of those changes in my life has shown me that when I maintain constant contact with my loving HP it is possible to shrug off the burden of fear and live a life that is more joyous and free than the one I endured prior to coming to CoDA. These days, when I go to bed smiling, I know that the serenity I am experiencing, the lessening of the fearfulness that used to rule me, derives from making a conscious decision, morning and evening and even moment to moment, to surrender my will and my life to a power greater than myself.

Yolanda A – 4/25/18 

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