Codependency Journal

Postby sunrisewatcher » Wed Oct 04, 2017 7:09 am

04-Oct-17

I'm pleased to have recently learned what codependency is.

I had heard the word before, and researched it. What I read suggested that codependency is limited to families hurt by alcoholism (and other addictions).

But that information was quite incorrect. At root, codependency is not about addiction. I will explain this in a future post.

I believe I am, and everyone in the house I grew up in, are codependent.

In this public journal I will: hold myself accountable for my own growth and healing; accept guidance from this community; and, by sharing my vulnerability, hopefully help others.

Best,

sunrisewatcher
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#1

Postby sunrisewatcher » Thu Oct 05, 2017 12:47 am

05-Oct-17

Codependency Reading List

My goal is to have healthier habits in my daily life, and I'll start by learning from these books/resources:

* The CoDA big blue book 1997
* Local CoDA meetings (i.e., 12 step program)
* Boundaries Cloud & Townsend
* Where to Draw the Line Anne Katherine
* EQ 2.0 Bradberry & Greaves
* Six Pillars of Self Esteem & Honouring the Self Nathan Branden
* Safe People Cloud & Townsend
* It's the Way You Say It Carol Fleming

Already finished (and will share my learnings in a future post)
* Boundaries for Codependents Rokelle Lerner

*****
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#2

Postby sunrisewatcher » Sat Oct 07, 2017 12:50 am

07-Oct-17

Insightful comment from Boundaries for Codependents by Rokelle Lerner.

I've changed over the references from 'alcoholic' to just 'dysfunctional'.

"In many [dysfunctional] families ... [a]ttention is focused on the [dysfunctional] parent, not the children, who learn to match what they feel to the mood swings of the parent.
...
When children focus on their parents and neglect themselves, they never develop the inner resources that help them to know how to feel, think, or behave in a given situation.

[These children] may come to view ... separat[e emotions] as disloyalty.

If Mom is angry, the children assume they have caused it. If Mom is depressed, the children are depressed and tiptoe around the house. These children may never clearly find their emotional boundaries and have difficuty deciding whose feelings belong to whom."

This describes me & my childhood, and my goal now is to sort myself out.

I wouldn't want my own children to go through the same.

I hope these posts will not be about wallowing in my past. I need to find ways to understand, heal myself and move on.
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#3

Postby sunrisewatcher » Sun Oct 08, 2017 1:39 pm

08-Oct-17

I went to my first CoDA (Codependents Annonymous) meeting.

Few observations:
1. It felt really good to be there.
2. Just like Disco Stu, the 12 Step programs do not advertise
3. CoDA walks a fine line.

Without further ado I will dive in and tell you more!

1. It felt really good to be there.

Identifying your patterns is helpful. :D
They provided a lot of written material, which I found extremely applicable to my own life. :shock:
Other members of the group spoke of their experiences, which turned out to be similar to mine. :o
I bumbled my way through a few sentences of self-conscious intellectualising (a coping strategy). Maybe next time I will actually manage to share correctly - in sharing, we are meant to identify and share our feelings (this is very hard for codependents to do).

(OK. Let's practice this skill now, from the comfort and safety of home! How did I really feel?)
Answer: I felt Angry :x that I didn't get access to this help earlier in my life! Frustrated!

There, I said it! I was angry!!!!!!!!!! Even if no one else likes or approves of my anger, even if my anger may be an inconvenience to the people around me, or hurt or offend them, makes no difference. I am me and me was angry!!!! The Anger was there and I can identify it as MINE. Me, myself, I, I felt angry!!!! Angry!!! ROAR!!!!!! (Take that Mum and Dad!!!! Baby child is angry!!!) Angry Angry Angry!!!!!

Holy smokes that felt good. Like a fresh breeze through my upper body. Geez... I should feel my feelings more often. That felt very (physically) healthy! I think I will sleep well tonight.

OK, moving on.

2. Just like Disco Stu, the 12 Step programs do not advertise
As noted above, in light of how much value I got out of the meeting (a lot) and the fact it cost me $8 (incl parking) versus the $$$hundreds, maybe thousands that I have already spent on therapy and self help books... in light of all that... I afterwards felt a little angry :x that it had taken me such a long time to find this group and identify myself as codependent.

I will write a proper "What is codependency" post soon. It needs to be a stand-alone post.

But back to CoDA being such a well-kept secret. Well, they can't advertise, partner up, or self-represent in the media, because it's against thier rules. OK, fine. Here are my gripes beyond that.

CoDA, AA and all the other 12 step programs are not respected by mainstream medicine and mainstream media. They are:

    1) disrespected and ridiculed in TV and movies. The message is always "12 steps is for losers" or an almost-joke "What's worse than having your life ruined by alcoholism? Being sent to daggy, dorky AA meetings!"

    2) not EVER mentioned by psychologists and psychiatrists as a potentially helpful option. They'll sell you SSRIs, upper, downers, EMDR, brain electrocution, and years of expensive talk therapy, but they will not mention the established, low-cost support group that meets every week in your local area.

(I feel Angry angry angry!!!!!!)

3. CoDA walks a fine line.

There's an almost contradiction in the CoDA literature.

On the one hand, you're told you need CoDA.
(You are powerless without CoDA and your life is unmanageable; CoDA will bring a "miraculous change" to your life; you should attend 2-3 meetings per week; at the start you should attend for 6 weeks in rapid succession; you need to work the steps; the steps will allow you to realise a new joy, acceptance and serentity; you say aloud: "we rely on the 12 steps ... for knowledge and wisdom"; you need to get a sponsor; you need to share your phone number with group members; you need to bring a gold coin to every meeting; you need to chair meetings in future; be a sponsor in future; etc etc.)

On the other hand, you are empowered as a self-reliant individual.
(Affirmations you learn include "I am an adult, capable of taking care of my needs. Therefore I can never really be abandoned."; "I remain my own person"; "I make my own decisions and I approve my own behaviours."; "I reach out for help when it's necessary"; "I create safety in my life"; "I seek my own approval first.")

This is not an inconstency per se. And CoDA simply must both of those perspectives so that everyone can relate to the program - no matter their cultural background or their progress along the 'path' of recovery.

I am very alert to inconsistencies (because I have trust issues, and I value others' feelings and opinions more highly than my own, and because of skills I've needed in some jobs I've had). Also, I've learned that some "salvation" groups start all nice... they want you to "surrender" your old life... and then they end up all cult-ish. I will try to keep an eye out for that with CoDA.

It's simply something I will monitor in future meetings and literature. Staying open minded at this stage.


I will let you know how it goes!
Cheers.
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#4

Postby sunrisewatcher » Mon Oct 16, 2017 3:59 am

16-Oct-17

More observations on CoDA meetings...

There are plenty of active alcoholics, overeaters, etc in these meetings.
I think you become like the people you hang out with.
Not sure CoDA for me.

Their literature is fantastic, however. Let's give it a few more weeks and see how it goes.
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#5

Postby sunrisewatcher » Fri Oct 20, 2017 1:45 am

20-Oct-17

Continuing to attend meetings and see benefits. :-)
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#6

Postby sunrisewatcher » Fri Oct 20, 2017 9:54 am

20-Oct-17
As part of my recovery, have made a promise to myself that I won't date or have sex for 12 months.

(Obviously, I am instead going to have LOADS of sex with myself. ;-)
Bought myself some beautiful new bedsheets and essential oils to celebrate. WOOT!)
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#7

Postby sunrisewatcher » Sun Oct 22, 2017 10:29 am

22-Oct-17

CoDA is useful. I highly recommend it.

Going to CoDA forces you to be humble. That has not traditionally been my speciality, but I am willing to learn and improve.
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#8

Postby sunrisewatcher » Mon Oct 23, 2017 7:48 pm

23-Oct-17

In CoDA, I'm gradually learning...
- how to listen
- to be less judgemental (At age 34, lightbulb moment, I FINALLY get it)
- how to slow down & just be.
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#9

Postby sunrisewatcher » Mon Oct 30, 2017 2:05 am

30-Oct-17

The book Women Who Love Too Much by Robin Norwood is teaching me a great deal.

Still going to CoDA meetings. At CoDA, I practice clear and simple speech.

Going deep inside myself is painful, shaming and humiliating. And yet, I do it.

Journalling, crying, stroking my velvet pillow, and drinking too many cups of tea.
I can get through this.
I can face the facts.
I want a future that's better than my past, and I am willing to work for it.

My lifestyle:
Work is just work. It's for money, not to shore up my identity. I drink very little coffee, do very little skin picking, less people-pleasing, and have more boundaries in place.

I have more joy, more acceptance, and definitely no men for a good, long while!!!!

Toodles :D
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#10

Postby sunrisewatcher » Thu Nov 09, 2017 5:28 am

Whoa! Can't take too much more of CoDA. The meetings are SO repetitive, reminds me of the monks from 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail.'

And there's SO much pressure to do service! Argh.

Life's too precious and short to get involved in their cult-like organisation.

I've gone in, I've got the learnings, and now I'm going to get OUT of CoDA.

Many helpful resources for me to continue with individual work, such as Robert Firestone (he's wonderful for me right now), Pia Mellody, Melody Beattie, John Bradshaw, Robert Burney, Alice Miller, Daniel Mackler (with a large grain of salt), Theun Mares, Harriot Goldhor Lerner, and more.

Not to mention meditation, dream analysis, and the entire spiritual and esoteric tradition.

And my own actions in the world! The best teacher of all :)

Thanks for everything CoDA. It's been swell, you helped me to grow, but now it's time to move ON.

xox
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#11

Postby sunrisewatcher » Mon Nov 13, 2017 1:51 pm

On second thoughts, I still have more to give and receive with CoDA. simply getting wiser about how i do it, and how i allow myself to feel about it.

Also, getting benefit from another fellowship, called ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholics & Dysfunctional Families). it's helpful, too.

I met a wise fellow traveller who told me, don't worry about sponsorship and service. heal at your own pace. take your time. use the fellowships. don't let them use you.

i liked that advice.

This journey I'm on. It has many names. They include Purification, Recovery, Shadow Work, Inner Child Work, Long Dark Night of the Soul.

This journey is EXCRUCIATING.

I am tearing away layer after layer of my false self, egotism, denials, defences, etc.

Also facing some hard truths about some people close to me.

These truths about my life and my self are HURTING me.

I feel like I've been turned inside out. Like an overripe fruit splitting open. All the mess and smells exposed to the light of day.

I realise this is a cleansing process. I'm becoming a healthier person.

To change up the imagery, I'm taking that journey from caterpillar into butterfly. A great journey to take.

But in the meantime, here I am today - formless, directionless sludgy goo - hiding away from the world in a chrysalis. Feeling overwhelmed and confused.

And this reminds me:

"Tears may last for the night. But joy comes in the morning."

Time to get 8 hours of refreshing sleep. Goodnight and God bless. xox
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#12

Postby sunrisewatcher » Sun Dec 03, 2017 12:23 am

Continuing to attend CoDA and ACA.
CoDA once a week, and ACA when I feel like it (usually once per fortnight).

Getting lots of positive messages from the universe that I am on the right track.

CoDA has been enormously helpful in getting me to this point.

Positive messages from the universe/my higher self:

#1
Recently started painting botanical watercolours. Love it! And some of my paintings look quite lovely.

#2
Eating better.
Less comfort eating. Fewer sugar cravings.
Noticing that feeling of fullness. So I can stop eating right there.
Taking my (disgusting, bitter) herbal tonic every morning.

#3
Was involved in a near-miss car accident yesterday. Normally, I am a very careful, aware and defensive driver so this was a rare event indeed. The situation was about 60% the fault of unsafe road design, 30% my fault and 10% the other driver's fault. In other words - my fault. Anyway -- we both hit the brakes and both our cars came to a shuddering halt, with the edges of our cars about 10cm apart. No contact. No damage. The guy gave me the thumbs up and a big smile, I figured out the situation, did the same to him, we both burst out laughing (nervous shock I guess) and that was that. Thank you, Universe, for protecting us both.

#4
I have a friend who is going through a rough patch. She was only days way from going into hosp. for 4 weeks for rTMS therapy for depression. She said it was her only option and that she "had to" make a decision by a certain day because that was the date of her psychiatrist appointment.

I know better than to judge and tell people what to do, so I just let her talk a lot.

When she was finished, I said:
- "It's your body and YOUR choice."
- "Forget the doctors' schedules. YOU need to be comfortable with it."
- "You don't need to do it NOW. The option of rTMS will always available to you, at a time of your own choice."
- "I don't know what depression is. Whether it's chemical, psychological, spiritual, or something else. I don't know if depression should be muffled over with treatments, or if the pain should be faced head on. I don't know that stuff. What I know is that I'm here for you."

About ten days later, I called her yesterday, fully expecting that she was in hospital doing the rTMS. Imagine my surprise when she calmly told me she has chosen not to start rTMS. Instead, she was at the airport, just about to fly to visit her sister and go to a Christmas party with a group of her oldest friends. She said she'd decided socialising would do her more good than a bunch of magnets.

Well... I think that's great. Talk about turning a negative into a positive! I could feel her courage growing.

#5
Someone very close to me recently revealed she has had a medical procedure to donate her ova to her best friend, because that best friend has longterm fertility problems.

Usually I would jump on her throat and tell her all the things that could possibly go wrong in future.
Instead, I just let her talk. I validated her feelings, and I acknowleded the potential for a positive outcome.

I did mention a couple of things, planted a few seeds, but I kept it direct, simple and neutral.

Usually, I would judge her for her "stupidity" and "naivety". But instead, I allowed myself to be awed by her generosity, her good intentions, and her courage.

#6
In another example, I've recently taken on some casual shifts in a warehouse to get extra cash (so I can change my living arrangements, which will support my recovery goals). At the warehouse, my best buddy at work is a short, stocky girl from an ethnic minority. She lives in the outer suburbs and has never been to university. Usually I would struggle to form a comfortable relationship with someone like that. But, it's not like that at all. It's easy and fun. We look out for each other. She has wonderful interpersonal skills. She's very open and easy. She always talks about her family. I am learning so much from her. Practical things. She's enriching my life.

#7
Also, as the result of a lucky fluke, I received some enormous, positive news that goes to the very heart of my identity. It answers a question that's been gnawing away at my soul since earliest childhood.

I texted my therapist and called my BF, but after that, it was late and I was still overwhelmed with emotion and uncertainty. So, I called my national crisis support hotline. The counseller asked me some great questions, including:
- "In what ways does fear control your life?"
- "What's the benefit of facing your fears?" (A GREAT QUESTION!!!!)
- "What new things could happen in your life, if you had no fear?"
- "If you knew for sure that everyone else was safe and happy, what would you then allow yourelf to do for yourself?"

#8
I've been on the wait list for ages, for a garden plot in the local community gardens, so I can grow some organic food. Well, my number came up! And now I have an allotment! I feel like a real winner :)

#9
Standing up for my needs and priorities. I had crucial conversations this week with both my new boss at the warehouse, and the farming manager at the community gardens. In both cases, I was clear and simple, and I got what I needed. It feels so good to stand up for myself, to treat my own needs as valid and important, instead of always shrinking away from confrontation.

As you can see from these 9 examples above, the universe is on my side right now. Things are slipping into place. New doors are opening.

Christians would say this is God's grace.
Psychologists would say I am empowering myself with my new skills.
I say, it feels good. Let there be more of it!

I'd also like to include a list of other things I am doing (and will continue to do!) to support my recovery.

**List of other stuff I'm doing to support recovery and personal growth**

*Working -- not for prestige or bolstering my false self -- but for money that will give me the practical things I need so I can support my own recovery and support my inner peace. The money I need to have so I can stand on my own 2 feet, and make decisions independently of my parent's preferences, interference, and manipulation.

*Spending lots of money on Chinese remedial massage to release muscular tension in shoulders, spine, neck, head, jaw, etc. ... As they say, "When the mind is ill, heal the body. When the body is ill, heal the mind."

* 8 hrs sleep every night.

*Spending the money to be able to drink flouride-free, chlorine-free, filtered water.

*Clean diet.

*Grooming and hygiene (I find this really boring and pointless, but I am MAKING THE EFFORT anyway). I do have a beautiful figure, and I'm tall, so I should let myself shine. Looking groomed encourages others to treat me well, which in turn supports ease and simplicity in my life.

*Guided meditations at home.

*Seeing my NEW therapist (She has experience with Gestalt & inner child work & adoption & intellectual disability).

*Joined an adoption support group. Their next meeting is coming up next week. Looking forward to checking it out.

*Looking for an Intellectual Disability support group, to make myself more aware of issues faced by family of people with IDs.

*Bought myself a new phone and SIM as I want a reliable phone on a fast network, to support a smoother and simpler life for myself.

*Playing relaxation music in the car when in traffic.

*Regularly setting myself achievable "mini" challenges in my interactions with others.

*Educating myself about....
Emotional child abuse,
Dysfunctional Families,
Intellectual Disability,
Adoption Reunions,
Survivor Guilt,
Toxic Shame,
EQ,
Social Awkwardness,
Feldenkrais,
etc.

*Reading Rudolph Steiner, Jung, Marlyse Carroll (book title "Am I going mad?"), and esoteric historian Jonathan Black.

*Overcoming sarcasm.
A work colleague gave me some great advice about my sarcasm.
Me: "Sometimes I am very sarcastic."
She said: "Sarcasm can be powerful as a revelation of truth, but it is indirect, which makes it not as strong as simply saying what you think."
I said: "Do you think sarcasm is weak and passive?"
She said: "Yes, I do think so. I always stand up for myself and let people know my needs. If people don't like what I have to say, that is their problem."
Me: "Wow. I am learning from you."

*Watching John Bradshaw.

*Dissolving layer after calcified layer.... of fear, defense, protection, delusion, cruelty, isolation.



OK, that is all my news for now!

Catch you later for more info about my recovery from codependency. I hope I can not only heal myself, but also through this journal, be a role model or inspiration to others on a similar path.

God bless. xox
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#13

Postby sunrisewatcher » Sun Dec 03, 2017 1:08 am

P.S.

I had a life-changing experience at one of my fellowship groups. I can describe it without any identifying information, and it's worth sharing, so I will do so.

A group member described their own history of abuse, and their history was toe-curlingly awful. One of the worst stories I've ever heard.

Why was this so life-changing for me?
We have all read stories in the newspaper about awful child abuse.
What was different about this?

What made it life-changing was the WAY this person spoke and carried their self.

Calm and simple. Relaxed, serious, and composed.
Zero self-pity.
Zero sadness.
Zero shame.
Zero blame.
Zero anger.
Zero humour.
Zero resentment.
Zero awkwardness.
Zero excuses.
Zero conditions, ifs, buts or maybes.
Zero drama.

This person stated the facts, and then moved on to describe their recovery.

I was filled with awe and reverence for this calm, composed, present and PLEASANT person.


And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is what recovery from abuse looks like.
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#14

Postby sunrisewatcher » Mon Dec 04, 2017 8:52 pm

Quote of the day:

"The cure for the pain is in the pain."

- Rumi
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