I walked out of my comfort zone and into a small conference room on a Saturday in January five years ago. I took a seat and waited anxiously. My therapist had told me growing up in a home with family dysfunction had led me to rely on certain behaviors to create the illusion of safety. These behaviors, which included caretaking, perfectionism, people pleasing, avoiding, controlling and fixing, were now making it difficult for me to have healthy, loving relationships. She explained the term co-dependency and recommended I try Co-dependents Anonymous (CoDA).
My life had continued to spiral more and more out of control since I lost my job, my mother died of cancer and my 18 year marriage finally ended all in the same year. I felt like I was drowning. I hoped this could be a life jacket. Over time, as I listened to people sharing and read over the list of fifty-five Patterns of Co-dependence, I started to see how my beliefs about what I could and couldn’t control were mixed up. As awareness crept in, I became simultaneously overjoyed and overwhelmed. Happy to have a name for the problem, I knew I would have a long way to go in healing my pain.
CoDA is different than other fellowships like Alanon. In CoDA, the only requirement for membership is a desire for healthy and loving relationships. Other 12 Step groups support people or friends of people who have addictions such as alcohol. CoDA supports people to create healthy relationships starting with themselves, whether or not addictions exist in their lives. I was repeating old patterns in my adult relationships, often attempting to use others to stop my pain and create my happiness. In CoDA, I am learning to rewire old beliefs, set boundaries, uncover deeply rooted behaviors and feel my feelings for me. I know I am not alone. By actively working the program of Co-Dependents Anonymous, I am realizing a new joy, acceptance, and serenity in my life.
For more information about co-dependency, Co-Dependents Anonymous or to find a meeting near you, go to www.CoDA.org