In my journey of recovery from codependency, I have taken up writing my thoughts and feelings down, as is usually suggested in any recovery program. It’s amazing to step outside of that for a few moments and look back on previous weeks or months to see where I was at any given moment in time. It’s such an imperfect journey. This song by Francesca Battistelli has been my anthem over this last year.
I’ve been working Step 4 again over this last month- probably in a much deeper way than I had previously done in my journey. For anyone not familiar with the 12 steps, Step 4 is when you “make a searching fearless moral inventory” of yourself. There are different ways that different recovery groups or sponsors may have you work Step 4, but the process I’ve been following goes through identifying character defects and assets, fears/anxieties, angers, and resentments.
I found the process of identifying my character defects easy. Not so easy- identifying my assets. Perhaps it’s just how we are as women- not boasting about the things that we feel are our strong points. I mean, I had to literally google search character assets and read a list to get my mind going down that path. Anyways, I digress….
I learned SO much about myself in this process, and I really don’t think I’m close to being done with Step 4 work.
I learned that I have lots of thoughts and feelings that I am not proud of. I have more anger (secondary emotion to fear, I believe) than I ever realized. I have an appropriate amount of resentment for everything I’ve went through and the pain that was brought on me and those I love. And while I have a LONG way to go towards letting all of this go, I am for what feels like the first time in my life accepting of it. I am giving myself grace to feel this anger and resentment so that I can process it and move on, whereas previously I would have simply not allowed myself to feel. I can’t tell you how many counselors I’ve told “I don’t get angry” or “I’m not bitter.”
But the truth is – before I understood alcoholism as a disease or codependency as something that I was dealing with, I was mortified by the actions and behaviors that the disease caused. I rightfully was angry with the behaviors of alcoholism (rather than the person). But that’s a key learning from step 4- being angry or resentful at institutions or behaviors or situations is all still anger and resentment. It took some deep diving to even begin to identify the bitterness that was buried, because I had buried so many of the situations themselves as a means of simply getting through and surviving.
This past week at my codependency recovery group meeting, I talked about one resentment that I identified in particular and was feeling again lately– that is, how whenever my husband would make his attempts at recovery, some more sincere than others, my entire world seemed to have to be put on hold. My partner working recovery actually meant that my workload increased significantly! Whether that meant taking the kid(s) to AND from school, single parenting every night so he could go to meetings, putting the focus on my healing on hold so that I could be attentive to his recovery, never getting any “time off” to go to the gym or see my friends or just go to Target by myself, walking on eggshells so as not to mess up his recovery, etc… it was always on me.
Or did I just PUT it on me?
One woman at my meeting responded by speaking straight to me the other night, saying something that God needed me to hear – “Survival is a slow death.”
Thinking to the first lines of that song above-
“Sick and tired of being sick and tired
Had as much of you as I can take
I’m so done, so over being afraid.”
Survival is a slow death.
Surviving is what I had been doing, friends! Just getting through; getting by! That was the old behavior. I would stop my whole world to focus on him- what he needed, what I could do or even what I shouldn’t do to keep him on the straight and narrow, what his desires were, how I could help facilitate them. How I could rearrange the chess pieces.
Let me say it again for the people in the back. BULL SHIT.
CODEPENDENT NO MORE, right?
My needs are just as important.
My recovery is just as important.
My feelings- whether anger, resentment, sadness- are just as important.
My healing is just as important.
For the love of all things holy, as I type this today- I’m 33 weeks pregnant! Even if I wasn’t on this journey of recovery from codependency, I am creating a life! My body is performing the greatest miracle that exists – darn it, I am making eyes and arms and legs and a heart and lungs and growing a brain! My needs are arguably the MOST important, not because I’m pregnant, but especially because I’m pregnant. And if I wasn’t expecting, they would STILL be as important as his.
And there is nothing wrong with that. Nothing at all. In order to deal with my anger and resentment, I am going to be unapologetically selfish in establishing my self-care plan. I need to take care of me. My needs, my recovery, my feelings, my healing.
That doesn’t mean that I’m going to litter my calendar with spa days, but that’s what I’ll do if I need to. That doesn’t mean I’m going to check out of parenting my kids or taking care of my responsibilities at work or at home, but I know I can make adjustments if necessary and bring in a babysitter if that’s what the situation calls for.
I will accept my fear and resentment, and then I will deal with it and let go of it.
Can’t wait to fill you in on more of the journey.
Thanks for listening 🙂