I started to attend CoDA meetings about 17 months ago. My mother was an adult child of an alcoholic and I identify with many of the patterns of behavior. My relationship with CoDA has evolved. Like any meeting, there are times when I get a lot out of the meetings and other times when I don’t. There are times when I have wanted to stop going. My therapist has encouraged me to look at the meetings as a laboratory of what may be happening in other parts of my life and my feelings about it. That is sound advice, and it has kept me going back.
Recently I learned something very important that had to do with a cup of coffee of all things. Early on in my CoDA experience, I decided to let people know that I was open to going out for a cup of coffee. I was finding it difficult to get to know people in the meeting since the meetings last one hour and are fairly structured. I had several people express an interest in having a cup of coffee which made me feel good. Over time, as I continued to reach out to people, I found that some people were interested, some seemed interested but not really, and then others seemed to misinterpret the gesture which hurt my feelings.
That experience reminded me that I am attending CoDA meetings for myself. I can’t look to others to validate me in the meetings. I have to validate and take care of myself. My focus was off. I was focused on how other people were responding to me instead of focusing on how I was responding to myself. I had to ask myself a tough question, “Who was I attending the meetings for?” I am learning that if I am working harder than someone else to go out for a cup of coffee, I am working too hard. I have learned that there are times when I need to step back and let the process work. When I step back, it also gives someone else space to move forward if they want to or not. I can’t take things personally. CoDA keeps reminding me that I am not a mind reader. I have no idea what someone else may or may not be thinking or feeling unless they let me know.
As I continue to validate myself, I hope to be better able to reach out to others without worrying about if, when, and how someone else may or may not respond. It is not about the response; it is about my willingness to put myself out there while I lovingly take care of myself in the process.
Thanks, CoDA, for one more lesson in self-care! Who wants to go out for a cup of coffee?
Mike H. 8/25/2023