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CoDA Weekly Reading from

A Life Without Shame

I can't imagine a life without shame, despite how unhealthy it is for me. I continue to follow it and self pity (which for me is shame and victimhood mixed together) down the highway to hell... and to me that's the powerlessness. Step 1 mentions powerlessness and unmanageability. A lot of my Step 1 work deals with understanding what that looks like in my life. What was suggested to me was to act as if and transform the shame into guilt using the tools of CoDA and the accountability from Steps 4 and 5. Step 1 also mentions that I am powerless over others.... which reminds me (along with the serenity prayer) that I can only control/change my thoughts, feelings, actions... and that pretty much anything else is going to create insanity and unmanageability. When I am around/relating to my abusers or "narcissists" in my life.... parts of me get activated that have been around for so long (because let's be honest, I wouldn't have survived my family of origin without those parts/behaviors). At times I have even had narc and abusive tendencies to protect myself from them.... then I end up coming off as insane/emotional/like I'm a narc but I'm not. These behaviors helped keep me alive for this long. However, they got less and less effective and more and more damaging. The good news is in CoDA I can now identify those behaviors and exchange them for different ones that 12-Step recovery suggests. Life is still going to be life... pain and struggle is still very much a part of my life... but I walk through it TOTALLY different, generally with way less wreckage/paralyzing fear and way more tools/friends/fellowship/sponsors/home group/H.P. The program is like a blueprint for me. I don't have to figure it out... I was told that figuring it out is not a Step, Tradition, or principle.

Spiritual tools I frequently practice with but am not perfect at:1. "Act as if" – it doesn't mean I'm faking it, but it does mean freedom from the story I tell myself and freedom from what things are "supposed" to look like.2. Shifting thoughts – like changing a handbag or letting them mindfully float on by like clouds.3. Sit through the discomfort/don't act, fix, manage, or control – when I don't know what to do, I practice recovery and wait for more to be revealed; doing the next right thing; 24 hours at a time.4. Visualization – mentally putting things on a shelf because it's not a ‘today problem’ and won't be sorted out with a ‘today solution’. I imagine a bookshelf in an old library with one comfy chair, a small antique lamp, and a modest fire. The shelf is tended to by my H.P. and I put things there that I can't, won't or aren't ready yet (don't have the willingness or don't have a path forward). This is how I manifest loving detachment from things inside myself that seem urgent, things I would usually act impulsively on, I just put them up there to deal with another day. I think this is an idea that revealed itself to me during Step 6 and Step 7.

Anonymous 5/23/2023

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