Here is my story:
In October of 2009—after several hospitalizations—I was diagnosed with Severe Depression and Anxiety and admitted into the Intensive Outpatient Program at the hospital. I began working on my issues of depression and was told repeatedly that I was codependent. It was suggested that I attend CoDA meetings as well as therapy. I screwed up the courage, found a meeting and went.
It was the third week of October. I got lost (I am also directionally challenged). I was tearful and upset when I knocked on the door of the meeting. Even though I was late they allowed me to enter. I sat and listened. I was too anxious to hear much, but the group was warm and welcoming and I was given pamphlets and information. I went to my second meeting in Glenview. I was very nervous; again I was treated with warmth, understanding and compassion. As I listened, I realized they were speaking a language I understood. I felt as if I belonged and was no longer alone.
I am the oldest of 6, had an alcoholic father and a mentally ill mother, and my grandparents were also alcoholic and mentally unstable. Secrets were common in my family. The secrets were destructive. I was praised for caring for my brothers and sisters, doing chores and being good. I was raged at and made to feel that I was nothing. It was a rough childhood. I was abandoned by my mother repeatedly and also have abandonment issues, which worked right into me being codependent.
My desire to be loved was stronger than I could deal with and I spent many nights crying myself to sleep. My first suicide attempt was when I was 13. Throughout the years I have tried many times. I had five children and held many jobs. I raged, I was unhappy. I was promiscuous. I stayed in relationships too long. The men in my life were emotionally not present and/or alcoholics. I allowed myself to be battered. My life was totally unmanageable.
I spent my first two years listening and finding the sources of my codependency. I attended workshops, retreats and conferences. I worked the steps with another member. I went out with groups for fellowship and attended two meetings a week. I knew I was very much the victim type but hadn’t yet realized I was also controlling. I I told my story at a conference and afterward people kept coming up and thanking me for sharing. They called me brave. I was shaking inside, I sure didn’t feel brave, and yet so many people over the years have come up to me and told me my story and shares have helped them.
I have realized the how and why of my codependency and I have felt the continuing pull of it, even now after almost 10 years in the program. I know I will not ever graduate from this program, but I am changing, and have changed so very much. I am almost the person I want to be, thanks to CoDA!
Barbara M. – 8/1/19
Here is my story: