Having been raised in physically and mentally abusive environments I developed coping mechanisms to help me get by in life. For over 50 years I’ve used these tools and they became who I think I am as a person. If I remove them, then do I cease to exist?
I’ve been working on my codependent issues in CoDA for six months and I’ve learned that they’re nothing more than character defects. I need to pinpoint them and eradicate them. The problem is that these behaviors are ingrained so deeply and didn’t just get there overnight, nor will they be gone overnight either. It’s going to take patience, diligence and hard work to disable these deeply ingrained core issues. They are things that I’ve given life to as a way of survival along the way, which gave me courage and strength to go on. Attending CoDA I am now seeing that I don’t need these tools any longer so I’m trying to let them go to make room for healthier behaviors.
I just recently adopted a stray dog who lived through hurricane Maria on the island of St. Croix. This dog has been going through so much the past couple years—as I have. While I was fighting for my life in the ICU and spending most of 2018 in various hospitals as a result of my alcoholism, this pup was fighting with his own set of tools on the devastated streets of St. Croix and then in the shelters.
It’s funny because I can see his behavior patterns and I can pinpoint what probably happened in his young life just by watching the patterns. I don’t think I would’ve been able to do this if I hadn’t been going to CoDA, but being in CoDA is helping me see my codependent patterns as well as those of others. I also can see this dog’s patterns.
For instance when I’m walking him in the neighborhood and he sees trash cans which someone has put by the curb he wants to jump on them, tip them over and scavenge for food. He is so worried that he won’t have food. He checks his food dish throughout the day and he’s very obsessed with the kitchen. I just tell him, “We don’t need to do this anymore!”
He doesn’t need to do it because he has food now, he has a warm place to sleep, he has a home and loving family, he’s learning that water is not the enemy and that he doesn’t have to search for a place to hide anymore when the sun is going down.
To watch him play out these behaviors which probably saved him early in his puppyhood just breaks my heart and it makes me think of my own codependent patterns and how I really don’t need to do this anymore. I need to detect what my core issues are, eradicate them, and replace them with healthy behaviors. And I won’t have room for the healthy unless I toss out the behaviors that don’t work or have a place in my life anymore. So throughout the day when I catch myself engaging in a character defect or I see my dog acting out of fear or old behaviors from his early days I just say aloud: “We don’t need to do this anymore!!”
Pamela W. – 6/25/2019