The Codependency Trap

For the most part, I had a relaxing day yesterday as my schedule has changed leaving me more time for myself. I still attended my three Fellowship meetings, one being CoDA (Codependent Anonymous). I’m glad there was one because yesterday afternoon I almost fell into a codependency trap.

Many of us as addicts like to focus on other issues instead of ourselves. For instance, I drank to escape the feelings of anger, frustration, fear, anxiety, guild, shame, etc. As I grew up as an adult, I began to focus on the well being of someone else, trying to fix them and their problems. In turn I felt it helped me fix my problems. In reality, I only destroyed many relationships with other people, as well as myself. I was just inviting more insanity into my life whether I was in active addiction or in recovery.

Here is a good example of a codependent based on what happened yesterday with me and one of my roommates. I knew the previous day my roommate wasn’t feeling well. I saw him briefly in the morning. However, throughout the day I began to worry. I wasn’t sure if he was busy with things he needed to do, therefore was out and about. Or was he was still laying in his bed all afternoon either sick or in a depressive state.

Late in the afternoon before my CoDA (Codependent Anonymous) meeting, which he usually attends, I sent him a text, “out and about or in your room?” No response. I asked around. No one had seem him all day. I knocked on his door – still no response. Fear crept in – was he in another depressive state, was he so sick he really should go to the doctor, is he possibly dead? I started to panic while attempting to tell myself, “It’s not my life. I have no control over other people (Step 1 of CoDA). I’m not getting involved.” So off to the CoDA meeting I went explaining my codependent issues were in full swing, thus grateful for the meeting.

But, I had to do one more thing before the meeting got started. It was an automatic response. I sent a text to my other roommate, “Can you knock on [roommate]’s door and peek in to make sure he’s okay?” Then I didn’t look at my phone until later in the meeting when I felt that buzz (a message). I never look at my phone during a meeting. The chairperson even looked at me sideways. But my other roommate responded, “I’m not going to knock on his door and just barge in . . . he say’s he’s okay, so I ran LOL”. Whew. Now I was complete.

These are behaviors I’m working on with both programs, Alcoholics Anonymous and Codependent Anonymous. One, I’m not going to pick up a drink and I can’t control other people. Instead I went to both a CoDA meeting and an AA meeting right after. Two, I made a mental note to write a journal entry of the experience. Now it’s in front of me, I won’t forget it and I can learn from the experience. Three, I need to identify those feelings I was going through, feel them but not act on them.

In other words, it’s okay to worry about another’s well being. However, if I believe in a Higher Power, knowing my Higher Power has a plan, I don’t need to get involved not matter what happens. Everything is going to be okay as it should be. That in itself, is the real message I need to hear and learn before falling into another codependent trap.

Balance in Recovery

Based on my own experience in the past, I know immersing myself into recovery can be beneficial but it can also be dangerous. To much recovery one can become overwhelmed. So the point is to achieve a balance in recovery and our mundane lives. It’s called “me time”.

During my last recovery period, I dove into recovery with such a passion, I hardly made time for myself. Though the circumstances were different, as it was my first time in recovery, everything about my life became about recovery. In a sense, I lost a part of me.

As one comes back from a relapse one must ask themselves, “What is going to be different this time around?” With my codependent issues, I need to take time for self care. From time to time, we need to step back to ask ourselves, “Are we doing to much?” The real question is just how much is to much?

For instance, here is an example of a typical Monday:

  • 8:00 am – Wake up, get coffee, meditation music, pray, write in my journal
  • 9:00 am – Take care of myself (shower, shave, brush teeth, etc.)
  • 10:00 am – Meet with my case manager for a weekly one on one
  • 12:00 pm – Noon AA meeting
  • 3:00 pm – Outpatient treatment group
  • 8:00 pm – Evening AA meeting
  • 12:00 am – 2 am – Put the head to the pillow

In summary, five hours of my day is involved in recovery. But I’m also living in a supportive living program, so I’m always bumping to guys and talking recovery at other times, let’s say another two or three hours. In the end, my life in recovery is a full time job. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to concentrate on my sobriety in such a fashion.

But there are days, like yesterday, I have to step back and say, “Michael, enough is enough. Take a time out for yourself.” After treatment group, I walked with a guy from our program to the gym. The Dollar Store was next door, which is where I headed to pick up some things for my CoDA meeting tonight. It’s a little over a mile, approximately a 20-25 minute walk. I needed such a walk to decompress.

I didn’t go to a physical meeting at all. Unfortunately I missed the noon meeting because my case manager was on vacation, so another individual did my one on one but I had to wait for a bit (which I understand). In the evening after the long walk, I was simply done going anywhere. It’s rare I go to the Monday evening meeting if I’ve gone to the noon meeting. Last night, I put personalities before principles (my bad, I know).

Instead, I found a online CoDA meeting at 9pm. It was an interesting experience. The person who ran the group did a really good job of driving the meeting, keeping people on topic and avoiding cross talk. Since we only have one meeting a week here, I might put one or two in my schedule.

I had a few things to do such as getting paperwork ready for the CoDA meeting. I volunteered to print up the “readings” since we don’t have formal ones and we’re still reading out from a brochure. I also bought sheet protectors and a binder. All courtesy of the Dollar Tree, something I can work with on my budget. I also pumped out two short letters to previous employers about my address change for my W-2’s.

A friend of mine, I’m sure I’ve spoken about him here, who I have codependent issues in the past, is at the tail end of a prison sentence. He is scheduled to be release in March 2019. Throughout the years, he’s been to quite a few facilities. I double checked to find where he was only to see he was at a prison that is 30 minutes from me. Honestly, I got excited. But, recognizing my feelings, I had to step back and ask, “Mike, do you really want to open this door?” It’s been suggested by many I shouldn’t. But I wrote a letter anyway. It was just a short note of what happened, where I am and to see where he’s at. I will only write to him depending on how he responds, if he responds.

Lastly, I’ve gotten back involved in a game called Achaea . It’s a role playing, text-character based MUD (Multi-player User Dungeon). Here’s a screen shot:

I’ve been playing a variety of characters since late 1997 when it was new to the then “gaming industry”. The company, Iron Realm Entertainment, has done a good job of keeping the material fresh. Over the years, there have been a lot of changes. Some good, some bad. The producers (as they like to call themselves), do listen to their players. We, the players, have some input on how the game is run! This is my life away from the mundane world and at times it can be stressful, so all in moderation too!

Oh goodie (squeal)! A friend just let me know she won’t need my help for something today. This means, besides two AA meetings, I have a completely open day all to myself. But I have a few must-do’s, so I’m going to take care of them right now. I’ve been up since 6:30 am too, so a nice nap after the noon meeting may be in order too! ** rubs hands greedily**

Let’s get this day rolling . . .


Codependency – A New Focus

Definition:
co·de·pend·en·cy
noun

“excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner, typically a partner who requires support due to an illness or addiction.”

I would have been eleven years sober today if it wasn’t for my relapse in April 2018.  Could of, would of, should of . . . I don’t beat myself up about it.  It happened. I can’t change the past.  I need to concentrate on moving forward.  However, what I learned in the last ten years of my sobriety is for me to stay sober I must develop codependency  skills.

In 2008, when I was in treatment for the first time for my alcoholism, a counselor pointed out a huge part of my life revolved around others, therefore causing more harm than good in my own life.  I had never heard of the term codependency. She asked me to read, “Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself” by Melody Beattie.  Just after two pages of opening her book I thought, “Oh my God, this book is all about me!”

During all those years of sobriety I didn’t take action on my part when my codependency problems cropped up.  It was the same cycle for my alcoholism. I knew I had a problem but I didn’t do anything about it.  This time around, I am because codependency is part of the reason I’m starting over in my sobriety.

I am reading “Codependent No More” and working through the exercises.  I also had the companion workbook on hold at my local library.  Lastly, there is a CoDA meeting which just started up in the area I’m attending on Wednesday nights.  Therefore, like sobriety, I’m immersing myself in reading and learning all about codependency.

If you have any experience in the matter, I look forward to any comments, suggestions, or thoughts you have.