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  From the earliest I remember I have never felt safe inside myself, and I could not understand why.
 
My father was brought up in one of the most exclusive sects in the world. When I was sixteen I had a religious experience and became ‘saved’. My parents also had a religious experience, and our family became a preaching family. My father re-attached the legalism of his childhood to the new religion we embraced. I married the son of another hell fire preacher, and my brothers ran an evangelism events programme for men. My mother preached, as did my stepmother.
 
It was the perfect safety net for my codependence. All I had to do was follow the rules. I no longer needed to risk feeling unsafe. Unfortunately, I felt less safe inside myself than ever before, and I developed chronic horrific migraines, anxiety, and depression, which culminated in a massive breakdown, and a strong urge to suicide.
 
I left my husband after 36 years, got divorced, and began the journey out of the cult. Having practiced the art of shunning others myself, now I got to have the experience of being shunned. My children and I have RTS (Religious Trauma Syndrome) and a kind of imitation C-PTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). The grieving, loss of structure, friendships, beliefs, religious security, family, reputation, has been awful, but I am beginning to feel safe inside myself for the first time.
 
CoDA gave me a safe place to learn how to feel, how to be, how to listen and to be listened to. It took a year before I began to trust anyone at CoDA, or myself. The anxiety and dread lessened, as I sat with my feelings, and began doing the Steps.
 
When I arrived at my first meeting, I looked around, and I found people just like me — "doormats" — I realized what a horrible thing fear had done in my life.
 
Now I just kick the door in, and walk through into life. I no longer care what other people think, I do what I want to do, for me. I have got my life back.
 
I am safe. Thank you CoDA.
Maria S.
 

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