Being in CoDA has taught me a lot about my control patterns. I’ve recently realized that I can’t help but want to control the emotions of everyone around me. And more importantly, I have worn myself down into a pattern of deciding for my loved ones what they should be thinking or feeling.
I suffered sexual abuse as a 10-year-old. My family covered it up because the perpetrator was my brother. I am 30 now, but I am still firmly entrenched in the victim role. This means I can’t stand it when members of my family don’t react how I would like them to. I can’t perceive them as anything but disappointing or thoughtless when they don’t meet my expectations. Although I feel that my family has been less than adequate when it comes to offering me emotional support, I have also come to realize that it isn’t just about me. I know that for a long time I have been ignoring their own possible internal dialogue. I throw that out because I want to be angry. I want to stay in the victim position and view them all as failing me. I think a long time ago I decided that as I am the victim, everyone should be giving me what I need – whether they like it or not.
CoDA has helped me learn to be more accepting of people’s struggles. Meetings enable me to remember that while I am struggling; my loved ones also have their own battles that I may know nothing about. So instead of reacting indignantly when people don’t give me the response I want, I can now take a step back and a deep breath – reminding myself that while the trauma happened to me, the associated suffering isn’t only mine. Just because my family might not feel what I feel, that doesn’t mean they aren’t struggling as much as me or in a different way. Knowing that my own feelings and thoughts are not necessarily “right” has enabled me to let go of some anger and start to behave more rationally.
Today I can fully accept that I am not a mind-reader, and my intuition isn’t always correct. I am now seeing some real change, as with practice and continued support in meetings I am starting to respond rationally, rather than reacting on impulse.
Laura – 6/7/16