2020 was a heck of a year, wasn’t it? My favorite commercials were the ones where 2020 is a woman who meets Satan on Match.com. So apropos!! But guess what? If you’re reading this, you made it through it. For some of you, your recovery program is stronger than ever, but for others, you may feel as if you’ve gotten lost somewhere or as if you’re not as connected to your recovery as you were before all this. Don’t worry, this is completely understandable and totally normal. What we went through with this pandemic was unprecedented! We people in recovery had to adapt. We can be grateful we learned that we can stay connected and continue building a solid program of recovery by whatever means necessary. 2020 taught us to keep putting one foot in front of the other as a community.
I really missed all those warm hugs I used to get from my sober friends. I missed the intimacy of small, in-person, group meetings and the fellowship of large group meetings. I remind myself, though, the important thing is I stayed sober. My takeaway from 2020 is: if I want to continue to stay sober, I have to make sure my program is working for me, today, on today’s terms.
In Part One of this series, I gave you Melody Beattie’s definition of codependency from her book, “Codependent No More.” She says, a codependent person is someone “who has let someone else’s behavior affect him or her, and is obsessed with controlling other people’s behavior.”
This was the playbook for my entire life. So, now that I understood codependency, what could I do about it? Imagine trying to change a pattern of behavior that you have been learning since birth and have been practicing faithfully for your entire life. Unlikely right? Unless…you are highly motivated to do it. By the time I got sober from alcohol, the depth of my misery was awfully motivating.
I’m sitting in the pick-up line at my son’s elementary school four years ago. I arrived really early so I had some time to do some sponsor suggested reading. I had gotten through a couple chapters when a light came on in my head. The realization was as clear and as startling as if someone covered my head with a big bell and rang it, cartoon style. I immediately called my mom and brother, and proclaimed, “We’re codependent!”
Still early in my recovery from alcoholism at that point, I obviously didn’t take any time to process this insight, nor did I resist taking my family’s inventory–two no-no’s in my recovery program. My first responses to the realization were not perfect, and may be laughable now, but my acceptance of this relationship debilitating aspect of my personality was definitely progress and it began to change my life for the better. Far better.
I spent my first holiday in recovery in rehab. The structure of living in a recovery facility made it simple to stay sober. (Notice, I didn’t say “easy.”) I was surrounded by people in recovery. I went to meetings 2-3 times a day. I was fed at regular times. I had a bedtime and a time to get up for breakfast. I did things I was told to, such as call people for support and help clean up after dinner. All of it simple. I rarely had to think about what to do next. The next right thing was always just the next thing on the schedule.
What about now? There is so much to do and so much craziness to navigate in the real world. How do we know what the next right thing is?