Some of my feelings have been stored so long they have freezer burn.
— Beyond Codependency
There are many sources of pain in our life. Those of us recovering from adult children and codependency issues frequently have a cesspool of unresolved pain from the past. We have feelings, sometimes from early childhood to the
present, that either hurt too much to feel or that we had no support and permission to deal with.
There are other inevitable sources of pain in our life too. There is the sadness and grief that comes when we experience change, even good change, as we let go of one part of our life, and begin our journey into the new.
There is pain in recovery, as we begin allowing ourselves to feel while dropping our protective shield of denial.
There is the pain that leads and guides us into better choices for our future.
We have many choices about how to stop this pain. We may have experimented with different options. Compulsive and addictive behaviors stop pain — temporarily. We may have used alcohol, other drugs, relationships, or sex to stop our pain.
We may talk compulsively or compulsively focus on other people and their needs as a way to avoid or stop our pain. We may use religion to avoid our feelings.
We may resort to denial of how we are feeling to stop our pain.
We may stay so busy that we don’t have time to feel. We may use money, exercise, or food to stop our pain.
We have many choices. To survive, we may have used some of these options, only to find that these were Band-Aids temporary pain relievers that did not solve the problem. They did not really stop our pain; they postponed it.
In recovery, there is a better choice about how we may stop pain. We can face it and feel it. When we are ready, with our Higher Power’s help, we can summon the courage to feel the pain, let it go, and let the pain move us forward — into a new decision, a better life.
We can stop the behaviors we are doing that cause pain, if that’s appropriate. We can make a decision to remove ourselves from situations that cause repeated, similar pain. We can learn the lesson our pain is trying to teach us.
If we are being pelleted by pain, there is a lesson. Trust that idea. Something is being worked out in us. The answer will not come from addictive or other compulsive behaviors; we will receive the answer when we feel our feelings.
It takes courage to be willing to stand still and feel what we must feel. Sometimes, we have what seems like endless layers of pain inside us. Pain hurts. Grief hurts. Sadness hurts. It does not feel good. But neither does denying what is already there; neither does living a lifetime with old and new pockets of pain packed, stored, and stacked within.
It will only hurt for a while, no longer than necessary, to heal us. We can trust that if we must feel pain, it is part of healing, and it is good. We can become willing to surrender to and accept the inevitable painful feelings that are a good part of recovery.
Go with the flow, even when the flow takes us through uncomfortable feelings. Release, freedom, healing, and good feelings are on the other side.
Today, I am open and willing to feel what I need to feel. I am willing to stop my compulsive behaviors. I am willing to let go of my denial. I am willing to feel what I need to feel to be healed, healthy, and whole.
Stop making excuses for other people.
Stop making excuses for ourselves.
While it is our goal to develop compassion and achieve forgiveness, acceptance, and love, it is also our goal to accept reality and hold people accountable for their behavior. We can also hold ourselves accountable for our own behavior and, at the same time, have compassion and understanding for ourselves.
When we claim powerlessness, we are not claiming irresponsibility. We have no power to control others, what they do, what they did, or what they might do. We’re stating that we are willing to end an ineffective life based on willpower and control. And we’re beginning a spiritual, mental, and emotional journey in which we take responsibility for ourselves.
We are not victims. We are not helpless. Accepting powerlessness when that is appropriate enables us to begin owning our true power to take care of ourselves.
Today, I will avoid making excuses for my own or someone else’s behavior. I will let consequences and responsibility fall where they belong.
Step Ten says: “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.” It does not suggest that we ignore what is right in our life. It says we
continue to take a personal inventory and keep a focus on ourselves.
When we take an inventory, we will want to look for many things. We can search out feelings that need our attention. We can look for low self-esteem creeping back in. We can look for old ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving. We can look for mistakes that need correcting.
But a critical part of our inventory can focus on what were doing right and on all that is good around us.
Part of our codependency is an obsessive focus on what’s wrong and what we might be doing wrong — real or imagined. In recovery were learning to focus on what’s right.
Look fearlessly, with a loving, positive eye. What did you do right today? Did you behave differently today than you would have a year ago? Did you reach out to someone and allow yourself to be vulnerable? You can compliment yourself for that.
Did you have a bad day but dealt effectively with it? Did you practice gratitude or acceptance? Did you take a risk, own your power, or set a boundary? Did you take responsibility for yourself in a way that you might not have before?
Did you take time for prayer or meditation? Did you trust God? Did you let someone do something for you?
Even on our worst days, we can find one thing we did right. We can find something to feel hopeful about. We can find something to look forward to. We can focus realistically on visions of what can be.
God, help me let go of my need to stay immersed in negativity. I can change the energy in myself and my environment from negative to positive. I will affirm the good until it sinks in and feels real. I will also strive to find one quality that I like about someone else who’s important to me, and I will take the risk of telling him or her that.
Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
— Step Ten of Al-Anon
Once we have worked our way to this Step, we can maintain and increase our self-esteem by regularly working Step Ten.
This Step incorporates the process we have gone through in Steps Four through Nine. We do not work this Step to punish ourselves or to hold ourselves under a constantly critical and demeaning microscope. We do it to maintain self-esteem and harmony in our relationship with ourselves and others. We do it to stay on track.
When an issue or problem emerges and needs our attention, identify it and openly discuss it with at least one safe person and God. Accept it. Become willing to let go of it. Ask God to take it from us. Have a change of heart by the willingness to make whatever amend is called for — to do what is necessary to take care of ourselves. Take an appropriate action to resolve the matter. Then let go of the guilt and shame.
This is a simple formula for taking care of ourselves. This is how we change. This is how we become changed. This is the process for healing and health. This is the process for achieving self-responsibility and self-esteem.
The next time we do something that bothers us, the next time we feel off track or off course, we don’t have to waste our time or energy feeling ashamed. We can take a Tenth Step. Let the process happen. And move on with our life.
God, help me make this Step and other Steps a habitual way of responding to life and my issues. Help me know that I am free to live, to allow myself to fully experiment with and experience life. If I get off course, or if an issue arises that demands my attention, help me deal with it by using the Tenth Step.
I used to spend so much time reacting and responding to everyone else that my life had no direction. Other people’s lives, problems, and wants set the course for my life. Once I realized it was okay for me to think about and identify what I wanted, remarkable things began to take place in my life.
We each have a life to live, one that has purpose and meaning. We can help our Higher Power give direction and purpose to our life by setting goals.
We can set goals annually, monthly, or daily in times of crisis. Goals create direction and pace; goals help us achieve a manageable life that is directed in the course we choose for ourselves.
We can help give our lives direction by setting goals.
Today, I will pay attention to setting a course of action for my life, rather than letting others control my life and affairs.
I know I’m controlling, but so is my husband. Possibly more controlling than I am. Each time I set out to leave him, each time I started to walk away, he knew exactly what to say to pull me back in. And he knew I’d respond. He knew how to say exactly what I needed to hear to keep me where he wanted me. He knew what he was doing, and he knew what
I would do. I know, because after we began recovering, he told me so.
Some of us are so vulnerable to words.
A well-timed “I love you.” A chosen moment for “I’m sorry.” An excuse delivered in the right tone of voice. A pat on the head. A dozen roses. A kiss. A greeting card. A few words that promise love that has yet to be delivered can spin us into denial. Sometimes, it can keep us denying that we are being lied to, mistreated, or abused.
There are those who deliberately set out to sway us, to control and manipulate us through cheap talk! They know, they fully understand our vulnerability to a few well-timed words! Break through your naivete. They know what they’re doing. They understand their impact on us!
We do not have to give such power to words, even though the words may be just what we want and need to hear, even though they sound so good, even though the words seem to stop the pain.
Sooner or later, we will come to realize that if behavior doesn’t match a person’s words, we are allowing ourselves to be controlled, manipulated, deceived. Sooner or later, we will come to realize that talk is cheap, unless the person’s behavior matches it.
We can come to demand congruency in the behavior and the words of those around us. We can learn to not be manipulated, or swayed, by cheap talk.
We cannot control what others do, but we can choose our own behaviors and our own course of action. We do not have to let cheap, well-timed talk control us — even if the words we hear are exactly what we want to hear to stop our pain.
Today, I will let go of my vulnerability to words. God, help me trust myself to know the truth, even when I am being deceived. Help me cherish those relationships where there is congruity. Help me believe I deserve congruity and truth in the behavior and the words of those I care about.
Try that piece there. Okay, now try it here. Wow We got a corner piece in. Good going. We’re getting there.
Prayer: Help me open my heart. Show me that love is real. Send me exactly what I need, when I need it. Help rue trust that you are already showing rue love every moment.
Thank God when a piece to that puzzle of love finally fits.
Gratitude Focus: We can be grateful that we’re giving the love we always wanted to get.
we talked about going on a treasure hunt and looking for values. Some of them would be gained the hard way. Some handed to us by a friend. Some would be worked out in us as a result of going through tough, sometimes painful circumstances in our lives. We also talked about how important it is to remember that once we get handed a value, it’s because we’re going to need to use it, probably all our lives. We talked about how important it is to actually practice these values. Just reading about them is like reading a book about exercise. It doesn’t do any good until we apply the ideas in our lives.
Action: It’s hard to work on the value of love. It’s tougher yet to open your heart. But doing your best to work on—and live by-your values is something you can do.
Are you willing to be a warrior? Are you willing to collect those pieces of your heart and of love as you go along—even when they don’t make any sense at all?
Inventory Focus: Can you trust that there’s a beautiful picture coming together, even when you don’t know what that picture is? It’s been said by every holy book, religion, and psychiatrist worth his or her degree: the goal of the spiritual path is love.