On page 9 in our Co-Dependents Anonymous book, the second paragraph states: “Behaviors that may have served us well in our childhood are now causing our lives to deteriorate.”
After reading this I recalled that as a child I had to numb my sense of danger in order to get along with my sexually abusive dad. I was small and did not have a close relationship with my mother, and dad told me not to tell her of his sexual acts or she would be mad. Since dad was my main caretaker and mom did not act like she wanted me around much, I did what I could to comply with his wishes. I fought off the more painful and scary sexual abuse, but without some compliance he was cold, emotionally distant, and he used this to gain control. In a sense I “compromised” wherein he could use my body, but it was in a gentle way that I could handle on a daily basis, and in return I got other emotional needs met. I had to numb my sense of danger to allow this to happen.
I left home at 16 because of the abuse and my family’s denial of it. I had come out with it all at age 14. My mother believed me at first, but soon sided with my father, then my older brothers followed their stance and they all treated me as the scapegoat. The loss of my family was confusing and I was in denial of their abandonment for years.
Later in life, after years in recovery, I recognized that I continued to use the people-pleasing tactics taught as a little girl to get along in the world. I would numb myself to danger and trusted the words a person said without weighing their actions into the equation of whether to trust them or not. I pushed down my desires thinking others’ were more valuable. I did not do this consistently because a part of me also knew I was worthy and important, but I simply did not have the skills, knowledge nor wisdom to discern and cultivate relationships that treated me as I wanted and thought I ought to be treated.
It took many years in recovery rooms, reading recovery literature, studying and applying the Steps, being involved with service, praying, meditating, being willing to try new things and be imperfect at it, and to try some more in order to gain the trust I have today in my Higher Power to provide healthy relationships for my life and for me to recognize what that looks and feels like.
I have many varied relationships today and some get little of my time and others more. Not everyone gets the same amount of time and intimacy in my world. And there are some whom I had close relationships with for a season, but there came a moment in time that we were no longer a good fit for my well-being and so I had to learn to let them go. Sometimes fully and sometimes they just have a much smaller part in my life. All done with the spirit of love. No drama needed. While holding close to the belief I have a loving God who made and knows me well and will provide healthy others who fit well for my well-being and me for theirs.
I am grateful today for the people who come and go in my life, those who fit for a season or lifetime, and for my sense of self that knows I have a loving, caring and protecting Higher Power.
Stephanie T. (Indiana)
July 13, 2020