Stepping away from professional victims

Today I am writing about letting go of unhealthy relationships. I have a person in my life that is always in a crisis. I have stepped in and saved them from themselves many times. No, they are not an alcoholic or an addict. What they are is a professional victim. It took me a while to realize how codependent my relationship was with this person. It took me even longer to realize how much I enabled them. You see, in my mind, I was only trying to help them turn their life around. In reality I was playing God.

But, no matter how much I helped them or saved them, their life never got any better, because somewhere along the way in their life’s journey, they became a professional victim. I cannot even begin to describe to you how difficult and heart breaking it was to me disengage from them and their problems, and allow them to live with consequences of their own making. You see I love this person and I want the best for them. Separating myself from their problems was like having and itch and not being able to scratch it only a thousand times worse.

It took me even longer to stop feeling guilty because I stepped away from them. It took me even longer to stop being angry with them for not doing anything to help themselves or for not accepting the help that was offered.

My enabling was more than running interference between someone and their consequences. It was tolerating and accepting their unacceptable behavior as well. It was allowing them to tell me all of the chaos in their life, and destroying my peace of mind worrying about them, and then watching them turned around and do the same thing over and over again. It was allowing my life to be disrupted because they did not plan or accept responsibility for their life.

Their rights end where mine begin. Which means that I have a choice of continuing to allow this person’s chaos to disrupt my life or I could walk away. It brakes my heart that this person feels abandoned by me. Intellectually I know that I am doing the right thing, so why did it not feel right. I’ll tell you why it does not feel right, because I am codependent as all get out with this person.

The only reason that I can finally allow them to be responsible for their own mess ups is because of my recovery program. Enabling is enabling regardless of whether it involves and alcoholic or addict or not. I have finally accepted that I have done all I can do.

I have been protecting them and helping them since we were children. The truth is that my helping does not help. Nothing changes in their life when I help because I am not in charge of their life they are. I can see now that this person did not want my help to help them change, they wanted my help to help them continue the way they are.

The more I pulled away the more they tried to suck me in. I had to finally close the door completely on allowing them to share with me their problems. I don’t want to know about their problems and I certainly don’t want to hear about them either.

Today I guard my peace of mind. The only way that I can do that is to “live and let live.” God is not on vacation and I am not in charge.

The 10th Step helps to keep me from backsliding

When I walked through the door of my first recovery meeting, I was one hurt, broken and wounded chick-a-dee. I felt defeated and defiant. I was hurt and angry. But most of all I felt rejected, inferior and unloveable. All of my life rejection had played a key component in defining how I valued myself. Needless say the sting of rejection helped me to build walls and keep people at arms length. I did not believe that anything could make the hurt inside me go away. I heard what they were saying, but at that time, I was not capable of applying it to my life. I was just too broken.

But I kept going back, and kept going back, and kept going back to those meetings. You know why? Because it was the only place where I felt like they truly understood my pain. Outside of my meetings there were plenty of people telling me what I should and should not do. Of course those people had never walked in my shoes. I also had a lot of people that felt sorry for me and commiserated with me, which helped me to continue to wallow in self-pity.

One big way I coped was through denial. It can’t hurt me, or it can’t hurt me as bad if I don’t acknowledge it. Denial may have minimized the hurt but it did not eliminate the hurt. What it did was make me walk on egg shells and jump through hoops trying to keep everything in my life running smoothly. No matter how well I coped with things on the outside, I was shattered on the inside.

One big revelation that came out of sitting in those meetings is that no matter how hard I try, I cannot run from my feelings. I can try to deny or suppress them all I want too, but they will only manifest themselves in some other way in my life. They will affect and infect and contaminate all of my relationships.

Without addressing a hurt it never goes away. And if I don’t address it it marks me in a negative way as a victim and it also makes me as a participant in my own hurt and victimization. I know now that real or misperceived hurts have to be evaluated and addressed in order for me learn, heal and move past the hurt. Without addressing my hurts I will continue to wallow in my own misery.

Working my way through all of the first nine steps helped me to get in touch with myself. These nine steps helped me to know where my boundaries were in relation to other people in my life. Through this process I learned how my past affected my life and how it made me think and feel about myself. These amazing steps opened my eyes to things in myself that were good and things that were not. They gave me insight, wisdom and guidance about how to improve myself as a person and how to improve my life.

But what they could not do, was give me assurance or insurance that guaranteed that I would never be hurt again. They could not guarantee that I would never mess up again or that I would always do things right or that other people would always do right by me. Life is not always fair and I still live in the real world.

So I guess that is why there is a Tenth Step. it is the Tenth Step – “Continued to take personal inventory and when we are wrong promptly admitted it.” The tenth step is the step that helps me to keep my life real and on track and keeps me from walking backward. I believe it is the tenth step that keeps me from backsliding. It is the barrier between the a happy healthy life and the wounded painful life as it use to be.

This is how I learned to be at peace with me

I lived two different lives. I had a public life and I had the real life. The public life was what I wanted other people to see and believe about me. The real life, the reality, had me hanging on by a thread. I have been in conversations where I have heard people say things like, I would not put up with that, why doesn’t she leave. I have even heard someone say she likes being miserable or she would do something about it.

It is so easy to judge someone else’s life when we haven’t lived it. It is very easy to say what we would and would not do, when we have not been tested. It is another thing all together to walk through the fires of hell in life and come out the other side whole. The thing is, that you don’t come out the way you went in. The thing is, that the fires of hell transform us. They either engulf us and destroy us or they refine us.

The first step of accepting that I was powerless over other people’s behavior freed me from feelings of guilt and shame. It wasn’t my fault, it was not because of something I did or did not do. In fact it wasn’t about me at all. That step said to me that if I even fantasized about trying to control the uncontrollable, my life would become insecure, chaotic and crazy. We were two separate people. They were responsible for their thoughts and behavior and I was responsible for mine.

Whoa! Then that wonderful second step pointed me in the right direction. You see, without the gift of believing in a power greater than me, the first step would have stripped away all possible hope in my life. That awesome second step, believing that there was a power greater than me that could restore me to sanity, that was my get out of jail free card. With the restoration of sanity in my life I can now begin the process of becoming who I want to be, regardless of what the other people in my life chose to do about their life. Sanity gives me the ability to make better decisions for my life and my well being.

But sanity doesn’t produce wisdom over night; or didn’t for me anyway. It wasn’t like Bingo! All of a sudden I always made the right decision. What it did was open my eyes and made me more aware. It pointed me in the direction of the next Step. Sanity, peace, joy and happiness in my life came from giving up that self-will that pushed me to try and force solutions that I wanted.

When I surrendered my will and my life over to God’s care I accepted that no matter what happened in my life I was going to be okay. I may not get everything I wanted, the way I wanted it, when I wanted it. But I would get what I needed and what was best for me. I learned from bitter experience in the past to be careful what you wish for because you just might get it. So trusting God with my life helped me to get the wisdom to know the difference over things that I was responsible for and things that I needed to walk away from.

In our recovery program they sum up the first three steps as Step One – I can’t do it. Step Two – God can. Step Three – I will let him.

In the Fourth Step I make a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself – not someone else – but of ME. That’s right, a searching, fearless and moral inventory of me. Oh my stars. Now I have to peel the scab off of the wounds in my life and drain out the poison and infection.

The Fifth Step is pretty amazing. We admit to God to ourselves and then another human being our wrongs. Why is God the first person we admit all of our hurts, habits and hang-ups too? It all goes back to the third step where we said we trusted God. When we see ourselves through Gods eyes, we see our life through the grace of his forgiveness. The Fourth and Fifth is not about condemnation, it’s about restoration. By seeing our life through God’s eyes, through God’s grace, we can do it without vilification. It is not about blame it is all in helping us to understand how we got this way and what we need to do to get better.

My 12 Step journey is a journey of love. I did not like or love myself when I started and through these steps I have learn to be at peace with me.

No one else’s life is more important than my own

In one of my recovery programs they talk about the three C’s. The first C is I didn’t Cause it. This one revelation opened my eyes to a key component as to why I enabled. Many times I enabled because I felt guilty. I felt guilty because somehow I felt like their problem was my fault. I felt guilty being happy. How could I enjoy my life when their life is so messed up? I felt guilty when I had money and they couldn’t pay the rent. Never mind that they couldn’t pay the rent because they spent their rent money on alcohol. I felt guilty that I had an empty bedroom and they had nowhere to stay because they got kicked out of the last place they lived. I did not cause them to make poor choices in their life, and it was not my responsibility to disrupt my life to clean up their messes.

I did not cause them to drink or drug, or gamble or whatever addiction they had. Their addiction is not my fault period, plain and simple, it is not my fault. There is nothing that I could do, or not do, that caused their addiction. I did not cause them to make poor choices or bad decisions. I did, by the way, help them to continue to make bad choices and bad decisions because of my enabling. I did everything in my power to prevent them from suffering the consequences of their poor choices by fixing their problems for them. How could they learn from their mistakes if I prevented them from learning their lesson by fixing their problem for them? Why would they want to make changes in their life if I made it easy for them to continue on the path they were on?

Intellectually I understand that. I totally got it, but even though I understood it, there were still times I felt guilty for not stepping in and playing super-hero in their life. In my mind, I may justify my super-hero measures as only trying to help them. But, in reality I am the villain. The definition of a hero, is that a hero, is someone who faces adversity through self-sacrifice and does something for some greater good. Enabling is not for our alcoholic’s greater good. On the other hand, the definition of a Villain, is that a Villain, is usually someone who does something that tends to have a negative effect on other people.  

I had never thought of myself as the villain before. I saw myself as a victim caught up in their chaos and insanity. In my head I knew what I needed to do, but in my heart I did not believe it. I was short-sighted. I was more afraid of the consequences now if I didn’t jump in and save the day. In the beginning I had to white knuckle it and force myself to mind my own business. Over time it became easier. I know now that my enabling hurt them and it hurt me.  And it kept both of us trapped in chaos. My enabling never solved their real problem, but it did help perpetuate their problem and it help them to continue on their path of self-destruction.  Even now, every once in a while, a situation in my life will pull me towards wanting to cross that boundary line. It is especially difficult for me to be objective when I am emotionally invested in someone else’s life. When I do feel like I want to play super-hero in someone else’s life, I call someone in my program and talk it out.

It has definitely been a challenging and interesting journey growing up in recovery. Some lessons I learned through pain and some through grace and forgiveness. Always, always, always, I have to be careful to look at my motive. Am I doing the right thing for the right reason? Is this my responsibility or is this someone else’s responsibility? By reminding myself that no one else’s life was more important than my own, it becomes easier for me to live and let live.

Life changing pain

What does it take? Why does one person reach out and embrace any opportunity available to heal and change? Why do others hang onto their hurts like it is a wall of protection, and live their whole life miserable? I lived miserable for a long long time before I was willing to take down my wall. They say in our program that we will not change until it hurts us more to stay the way we are, than it does for us to change. When I first heard that I was not so sure I believed it. I was so beaten down that I had given up hope. I had surrendered to my misery.

Don’t get me wrong I tried a lot of different things to make the pain go away before I felt completely defeated and gave up. I tried self-help books, I went to seminars and workshops, and I sought out fortune tellers as well. I would have short burst of hope. I felt good while I was their, but when I went back to my reality all of my good feelings slowly faded away. I was raised in church and attended church regularly. But the problem with church for me was that from the time I was a child I did not believe what they were trying to tell me. In church we sang, Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world. Then I would go home with my dysfunctional family and I wondered why Jesus wasn’t there to protect me. I did believe there was a God, I just did not believe that he would help me.

Then one day a friend bullied me into going to a 12 Step recovery meeting. I went with a closed mind. Everything they said, I had a “yes but, that doesn’t apply to me” attitude. But I really had no where else to go. I had burned a lot of bridges. I had exhausted my friends and they were too frustrated with what they perceived as my unwillingness to help myself. My friends were wonderful. But they did not understand my life. How could they? They were quick to judge and offer advice even though they had never experienced any of the hurts in my life or anything like it. I believe that in the back of my mind there was this voice saying, what did they know about pain? My family was as messed up as I was, so they were no help. I really had no where else to go, so I kept going back to the meetings.

In my mind, I was critical and judgmental of everyone there. My life was still spiraling out of control at warped speed. But slowly over time I began to see transformation in the lives of other people. I could see other people’s life getting better even though they were in the midst of deplorable circumstances. I could identify with “those people.” When I saw other people in my circumstances began to laugh and enjoy life, that was when it became too painful for me to stay the way that I was.

People come in all shapes and sizes, from different backgrounds, with different experiences. We are alike in many ways but different in many more. I have come to realize that what rocks my world may be boring to someone else. What talks to my heart may fall on deaf ears to another person. For me, it was a 12 Step recovery program that unlocked the prison of pain and suffering in my life. The treasures that I have found working these steps and applying them to my life is beyond measure. I personally believe that God uses every resource there is to help us find our way. I believe that God used these 12 Steps for me to find him, and I believe that he used them to strip away the ugly in my life so that I could find the beauty.

No, I do not believe that 12 Step programs are the only way.  I have seen people be transformed through their church and their faith.  I have seen them be transformed through professional counseling.  I have seen people latch on to something in a workshop or seminar or in a self-help book that has helped them heal and grow.  We have a pretty smart and awesome God and he meets us where we are.  He led me to a 12 Step program and it was through that program that I built and strengthen my faith enough to trust him with my will and my life.

 

Recovery is not rocket science but not necessarily easy either

Most of the time when I write about the experience strength and hope that I have found through my recovery meetings it involves one of the two alcoholics in my life. From time to time, I write about my dysfunctional childhood and my untreated codependent parents. Most of the time when people think of codependency it is associated with alcoholism, but I am here to tell you there are many codependent life issues that have nothing to do with alcoholism that gets ignored and untreated because it is camouflaged and disguised with other labels for problems in our life.

We’ve all heard that quote that hurt is inevitable but suffering is optional. I have been fortunate enough through my recovery journey to attend many different types of recovery programs.
One that is dear to my heart does not really label our life issues under the alcoholic and codependent label. They use the phrase, hurt, habit or hang-up. I love that because, in my opinion, there is not a person on this planet who does not have a hurt, habit, or hang-up that causes issues in their lives. We all have hurts at one time or the other but “suffering is optional.”

Recently I have been bombarded with challenges from a family member that has mental health issues. They are healthy enough to be cunning and manipulative and they don’t even drink or use drugs. Their life does not have to be the way that it is. Before I even realized it, I was caught up in their craziness…. again! But yesterday was the last straw. I was finally able to see how I had become an enabler to this person and how miserable I felt dealing with them. I did things for them, that I should not have been doing by the way, because I felt sorry for them, because I felt guilt, because I am so blessed in my life and they are so miserable. I even got caught up in trying to save them.

Yep, me, and old timer in my recovery programs was totally sucked into their problems. Intellectually I knew better and I knew what to do. But you see, since childhood I have emotionally been looking out for this person and I had put them in their own exemption category without even realizing it. For some reason I can’t explain to myself, I have been running interference for this person for as long as I can remember. Unconsciously resentment has been building in me. Yesterday, over something small and insignificant, my resentment boiled over.

Thank goodness I had some recovery under my belt or I would have shot my mouth off and been sucked into guilt and feeling sorry for them again. And, the cycle would have continued. For the life of me I don’t know why I have not seen it before now. But hey, better late than never. I was distraught and I called my sponsor. She was unavailable. I got her voice mail. So I called someone else and got her voice mail too. I left both of them messages. It wasn’t long before one of them called me back and talked me off the ledge. Just talking on the phone I could feel all of the stress being lifted. They said the things to me that I already knew. I was powerless. Every time my family member decides to show up into my life, I allowed them to make my life unmanageable. My sponsor’s words were not rocket science stuff, it was just the basics. But yesterday I needed someone to say it out loud back to me.

I just have to share one little thing that she said that put things into perspective for me. She said, “Their failure to plan is not a reason for my life to be disrupted.” Duh! I told you it wasn’t rocket science. The wisdom of the steps and this program are plan and simple. Their has been many times that I have made them hard to implement because I was not willing to let go of control. Yea, it really is quite simple; Every time I try to play God in someone else’s life it always comes back to bite me. Through the steps, the slogans, and member to member contact there is no doubt in my mind that “it works it you work,”

Alcohol imploded our happy ever after dream

I thought I had done a pretty good job of keeping our dirty little secrets behind closed doors. To friends and family I put on academy award performances. We were the perfect little family. Even the pictures lied. Happy holidays, birthday celebrations, school plays, dance recitals, picnics etc were all captured on film. They proved that we were a happy little family. Only behind closed doors we weren’t. All of the pictures were taken before the sloppy drunk stage.

What we did, where we went, who we were friends with and who we weren’t, were all predicated on alcohol. I can truthfully say that we had no close friends that did not drink. Except for children events we did not go to parties or social events that did not include alcohol. When I looked at my life I simply could not imagine it without alcohol. That is strange in away, because I hardly ever drank and couldn’t care less if I had a drink or not. Since we did not have friends that did not drink I thought that if he stopped drinking we would lose all our friends. I did not want my husband to stop drinking. I just wanted him to drink responsibly.

At my first recovery meeting they told me that alcoholics could not drink responsibility. Alcoholics had one of two choices; drink or not drink. There was no such thing as responsible drinking for an alcoholic. Not drinking at all was not the solution that I wanted, and therefore I was caught in an uncompromising dilemma. Not to worry. I had an answer to that problem too. There was no way my husband was an alcoholic; He was educated, he was an attorney for heaven’s sake. He just needed to do a better job controlling his drinking. So I only used those meetings like a band-aid. You know, like when things were really really bad and I had no where else to go. I certainly did not want to talk to my “friends” about it.

No one in the meetings tried to convenience me that my husband was an alcoholic. They just told me the facts about alcoholism and they left it up to me what I did with that information. In fact, all of my recovery meetings were focused on me. And that made me very uncomfortable because I believed that if he drank responsibility I would not have any problems. It is interesting to me how skewed and distorted my thinking was back then. My priorities were unrealistic. No matter how hard I tried, or what I tried, there was not a darn thing I could do to force the solutions that I wanted. I was in complete denial.

For a long time denial was the coping mechanism I used to survive. Other times it was the excuse I used to keep the status quo. If I didn’t acknowledge it-it wasn’t true. But denying it did not change my reality and it did not buffer me from the consequences or the pain. I was hanging on by a thread, and still I was not willing to acknowledge to myself that just maybe, my husband was an alcoholic and my life was going to change whether I liked it or not. Either alcohol was going to implode the dream life I wanted, or I was going to have to admit the truth of my reality and start making decisions that were good for me and my children. My dream life was going down wether I liked it or not. I had a choice to go down with the ship or I could choose to get in the life boat.

Right about the time I was getting the courage to stand on my own two feet my husband got sick. I am talking life threatening sick. It felt like it was almost a reprieve. The doctors told him he could not drink any more. I thought sobriety was going to solve all of our marital problems. It didn’t. He was the same broken person only without alcohol and he was not happy about that one bit, and I was the same broken person with unrealistic expectations. The reprieve was short lived and our marriage and our lives did indeed implode.

My saving grace were my recovery meetings and my program. They challenged me to be honest with myself. They gave me support but they did not give me pity. They did not tell me what to do, but they helped me to ask myself the right questions so that I could make informed decisions about my life. Working through the steps helped me to keep the focus on me and to stay in the moment. I took care of what I needed to take care of today. And the next day I started that process all over again. I did make plans for the future but I left the results up to God.

My healing and recovery was up to me

When I was in the middle of the worse storms of my life, I could not see that my greatest anxiety was because I believed that someone else’s life was more important than mine. I sacrificed so much trying to control and save my husband from alcoholism. I was confused to say the least. For some reason, I could never explain, I really did not believe I could be happy if this man was not happy. Therefore, when I heard them say in a meeting that I could be happy whether the alcoholic was drinking for not I thought they were crazy.

Looking back I can see that part of the reason I was so wrapped up in his life, was because I believed that his problem meant that I was deficient in some way. Another reason is that I believed that I needed him in order for me to feel complete. Learning to make choices that were good for me seemed selfish and unnatural. Up until I began to recognize that I was just as important as everyone else on the planet, ALL of my decisions were predicated on being validated by someone else.

It never occurred to me that other people did not define my self worth. It took me a while to learn that I am the only person that determines my self-worth. Other people could try to make me feel bad about myself, but it was up to me whether I was going to give them that much power over my life. It was what I believed that mattered. Intellectually I understood that, but in my heart I did not believe that. You see, the real problem was inside of me.

The courage to change the things I can, me, meant that I had to challenge my thoughts, my beliefs, and my attitude. Negative thoughts and feelings about myself were so ingrained into my heart and mind, that learning how to think a different way was, without a doubt, the biggest challenge in my life. I had to challenge every negative thought and every negative feeling. I had to squash that insatiable unquenchable need to jump in and try to make everyone else happy even at my own expense.

The hurt and disrespect I had received from the cradle to the day that I walked into my first recovery meeting, had wounded me to the center of my being. At my first meeting they told me that I did not get this way over and that recovery wasn’t going to happen over night either. They weren’t lying. From that first meeting until now I have spent my life rewriting my emotional DNA. Looking back at the healing that has transpired in my life, I am blown away with thankfulness for the happy life that has emerged out of the ashes of my hurt. I truly believe that there is no way in this world that I could have done this on my own.

When I started this journey I was still living in chaos. I had a lot of outside interference challenging me every step of the way. One of my biggest problems was dealing with my victim mentality. I knew that I was messed up but I believed that it was someone else’s fault. My sponsor said, So what if it was someone else’s fault! You are the only person that can fix it now. So what are you going to do about you? She helped me understand that the past was the past. The only way that I could remain a victim would be if I decided to remain a victim and continued to set myself up for more hurt. Sure the hurts that happened to me were not right. But now that I knew better I had a choice to learn from those hurts and move on, or I could choose to remain in the pain.

There is a saying that says, “When it becomes more difficult to suffer than to change – then you will change. Change, for me, was not easy but it was beyond worth it.

I had to fake it until I could made it

Ha! What in the world was I thinking? So many times I allowed myself to get sucked into a “spirited debate” trying to talk reason with someone who was completely unreasonable. They were so much more clever than I was. They knew exactly which of my buttons to push to revert me from the truth. They knew exactly how to make me react in the most unreasonable way. When it was all over I was angry with myself for being so out of control.

My recovery program was a reality check for me. Since the focus of my program was on me, it required me to look at those situations where I lost control. It required me to look at why I did the things I did, and why I allowed myself to become unhinged by a cunning manipulative person. This program helped me to see where I started slipping and sliding in my life; where I had surrendered and allowed my peace of mind to be decided by someone else.

As long as I allowed myself to be sucked into those senseless discussions I was at his mercy. How many times was it going to take for me to accept that I was not dealing with a normal reasonable person, therefore, logic was not going to make a difference?

Every step of my recovery journey was learning and recognizing where the sinkholes were so that I did not fall in and disappear and lose myself respect and my self-esteem. I had this extraordinary sponsor and she was very good at helping me to recognize the places in my life where I seemed to get derailed. What were the issues that seem to make me become unglued? What were the “straws” in my life that seem to “break the camels back?” How many times did I argue the same issue? What were the things he said that seem to send me right over the edge of insanity? Before I got into my recovery program I never analyzed it that way. I just reacted.

Recognizing these issues gave me an opportunity to learn how to respond in a different way. There were hurts and insecurities inside of me that generated an automatic negative reaction. A lot of healing would need to happen before those hurts did not create those automatic responses. That too, healing the hurts, was part of the recovery process. So in the beginning I had to do things consciously until I could do them unconsciously. In the beginning I had to fake it until I could made it. In other words I had to practice saying and doing things differently until I could do them differently. The slogans helped me a lot. I would ask myself, “How Important Is It, for me to respond or react to his antics? What did I hope to gain? What did I have to lose? How many times, how many different ways was I going to keep trying to make him understand?

Pride and fear were the motivating force that pushed me into engaging in his idiocy. At what point in my life did I allow myself to be reduced to this obsessive desperate person trying to make my fantasy a reality? By allowing myself to become ensnared in his madness I become someone I did not like. I was the only person that could stop it. I could not change his behavior but I could change my reaction to it. Oh ho ho. I am here to tell you it is a whole lot easy to say than it is to do. It was like having an itch that needed to me scratched. But now I recognized that if I scratched I would take the scab off and my sore was never going to heal. There was no quick fix. But what choice did I really have? I could stay miserable or I could do whatever I needed to do to change so that I could be at peace in within myself.

The changes I had to make in myself were not easy but they were worth it.

I used to have a picture in my office of and arrow flying through nothingness. The caption was that if you aim at nothing you will hit it. Healing and recovery is not an accident. It is a deliberate choice, a decision and a commitment on our part to stay the course and do whatever we need to do to be transformed from hurt, misery and victimization into serenity and peace through self acceptance and self respect. Or that is how it was for me anyway.

Many times I was my own worse enemy. The negative talk in my head defeated me before I even attempted to try. So many things in my life I had no control over. They weren’t fair and they weren’t right and they should not have happened. But at the same time I too contributed to the problems in my life. I was culpable in contributing to the problems by the decisions that I made. Looking back, it is astounding to me how many times I made the same decision over and over again expecting a different result. It was absolutely mind blowing to me how many times I set myself up to experience the same pain and disappointment before I decided to make different choices in my life.

The truth was that my parents and my alcoholic had become my excuse to fail or even to fail to try. Walking around in a cloud of denial allowed me to live the lie and excuse myself from all responsibility. Living in denial pushed me to the limits trying to force the fantasy I wanted for my life. Many times I had trapped myself by my own choices. Many times I did not make a decision at all, but in not making a decision I was choosing to keep the status quo. I was living half a life, because I was too wrapped up into his life to pay attention to my life. You see, to make a decision would have required me to do something about me; it would have required me to change.

Identifying my character defects came through working the steps. Interesting enough one of my most grievous defects was the negative way I treated myself. How could I expect anybody else to like me when I did not even like me? Sorting through the jumbled emotions of my life to determine what was real and true, and what was not, was not easy. I learned through the fourth and fifth steps that I was not as good or as bad as I thought that I was. That fifth step is pretty ingenious when you think about it. “Admit to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

I was so new to recovery I was not experienced enough to have the wisdom to know the difference over were my responsibilities and what were not. I was new to trusting God with my will and my life, and I was never quite sure when I was “making God’s will” my will. It took a third party, my sponsor, to help me look at my life objectively and honestly. I did not need someone to tell me what to do. I needed someone to help me find the truth. I needed someone to help me look at my life with an open mind and without prejudice and condemnation. I needed the facts of my life period. Only in this way could I put the past in the past and make informed decisions about my future.

I made a conscious decision to give this program a chance. No one else could make that decision for me. At the same time, I cannot make that choice for anyone else either. I am powerless over other people’s decision to grow and change, but I am not powerless over making that decision for myself. Everyday brings us many choices – peace and happiness or sorrow, misery and regret. We can wallow around in self-pity or we can choose to learn from our situation and find the happiness we deserve. It was always just beyond my finger tips until I wanted it bad enough to change the way I thought and the way I approached my life. The changes I had to make in myself were not easy but they were worth it.