When I first attended Celebrate Recovery, I was there to check out the program for Ricky. I didn’t think I was the problem; he was the problem! A lady introduced herself to me (she is still a very dear friend) and I explained why I was there. She gave me some handouts and suggested I read them.
That first night at Celebrate Recovery, my problem was given a name. “Codependency”. I had heard the term many times before but never knew what it meant. Better than knowing the name, Celebrate Recovery gave me an understanding of what codependency is and how it affects my life. When I read the handout, all I could say was, “Oh my gosh, this is me!”. Here’s what my life looked like:
- My good feelings about who I am stem from receiving approval from you.
- My mental attention is focused on pleasing you.
- My fear of rejection determines what I say or do.
- My fear of your anger determines what I say or do.
- I put my values aside in order to connect with you.
- In my case, “you” means everybody else. The list goes on and on and on…
I had to know more…I had to understand, so I began the journey. It was a journey that led me to great discoveries of how the things from my past really affected me. I learned how the hurts in my childhood shaped who I had become and the part they played in the unhealthy choices I had made throughout my life. I learned that it was ok for me to acknowledge my pain and feel it for what it was. I learned how to understand my feelings but not let them control me. I learned what boundaries are and how to set healthy ones. I learned that it is ok to fail and to admit when I have. Most importantly, I learned that I do not have to live in fear. Fear controlled so much of my life. Fear of failure, fear of abandonment, fear of people, and fear of not being in control. Fear of people knowing I was such a “fake”.
It took me through a process of getting real with myself and more importantly, getting real with God. It’s not like He didn’t know but He wanted me to know. He did not want this chaos for my life. Working the steps helped me to understand who I am in Christ, who He really created me to be, and the kind of life He really wants for me.
My sponsor gave me insight to help me understand when I was being codependent. She was a great support and encouragement to me in times of struggles and failures. She celebrated with me when I succeeded and made healthy choices for my life. She held me accountable when I was not focusing on my issues and trying to fix someone else. She provided me with tools to help me not cave into my codependency. The phrases, “get off the dance floor”, and “stay on your side of the street”, were my sanity saving mantras.
However, what I learned did not stop life from happening. In July of 2006, my life began spiraling out of control. Ricky was in and out of treatment programs and his abuse was not only verbal and emotional but it was now, also physical. In August that year, I left my job of 16 and a half years, the only place where I had any confidence in myself. During the first week of employment at my new job, I found out Ricky had been having an affair and I received an e-mail telling me that my stepfather, Gary, had passed away from cancer. That very same night, I found out I was pregnant.
There were days Ricky was excited about the baby and then days he did not believe the baby was his. Dan told my children that I wanted to start a new family and did not want them any longer and they believed him. My relationships with them were ripped apart by the vicious lies he told them. Thanksgiving came and only my daughter came to see me. My 11-year-old son spewed words of hatred that ripped my heart apart. Ricky went on a “run” the night before Thanksgiving and left me in a position to confess to my mother, who was visiting, of his addiction. The day after Thanksgiving, I went in for an ultrasound and was told that my baby was very sick and would not survive.
On December 31st, 2006, my baby was delivered by c-section and taken to heaven a few short minutes later. I was anemic and had lost so much blood that I almost died with her. A dear friend from CR sat by my bedside all day. Ricky was not there. When he finally came to see me that night, he stayed for 10 minutes, took my car keys and said he would be back in an hour. He did not come back. Instead, he headed for the Oregon border. I laid there that night with a heart so broken, all I could do was cry and beg God to let me die. He said “No”.
Over the next several months in 2007, I walked through my “dark valley”. Ricky was in and out of jail and rehab and falling deeper into his addiction every day. I lost a close friend to alcoholism. Threats were made against my life and my children’s over drugs. I kept finding digital recording devices all over my house and car. Any possession I owned, worth anything, was hocked or used to buy drugs. My daughter ran away from her father’s and I entered into another custody battle for her. Life had become a nightmare and I couldn’t seem to wake up.
I came home one day after work, to find every single item of clothing and every single pair of shoes and every stuffed animal I owned, slashed to pieces. I filed for a restraining order and a kick-out order, but they were not granted. A few days later Ricky was taken to a Recovery Ranch in Nevada and told if he did not complete the 6-month program, I would file for a divorce. He lasted 45 days and my divorce was final in May 2008.
On September 24, 2007, I crashed. Dan arrived at my house with the sheriff to take my daughter back. She was crying and didn’t want to go but the sheriff threatened if she didn’t leave with her father, they would pick her up and put her in the car. She left. It was an awful, heart wrenching scene. At that point, I could take no more. I was done. Done being strong, done holding on, done looking for the blessings. God had been telling me to grieve but I didn’t how or where to start. I called a couple of people from CR crying incoherently. When I hung up, I went to the store and bought a bottle of liquor and began to drink. Late that night, God sent another dear friend from CR, to just sit with me as I drank the entire bottle and grieved my heart for every loss and hurt the year had brought me. I cried and drank for hours on end while she just sat and listened. No judgments, no condemnation, no disapproval; just compassion and grace.
A few days later, I met with my counselor and told him that I didn’t even know what to hope for anymore. I had no more hope. So that’s where we started. I had to learn how to hope for hope. I had to learn how to live by faith and know in my heart that if I did what God would have me do (the right things), everything was going to work out the way it should and I would be ok. I began praying for and clinging to God’s promises and the Full Serenity Prayer became my hourly prayer during the hardest and darkest of times.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.”
Romans 5:3-5 “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us…”
Romans 8:28 “We know in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
I had to learn God would not waste a hurt or disappointment in my life. I had to learn He had a greater purpose for my life. I had to learn what trust was and I had to learn how to forgive.