by: Kimberly Sprintz. Women Empowering Women Support Groups
(Part One of Two)
As a sponsor, I have many questions asked by those new to CoDA or ACA without a formal "sponsor," by anonymous messages, or even by other sponsors in the program. I have a journal of responses that I took significant time drafting an answer to their questions and wanted to share those anonymous questions since they resonate with so many codependents and or those who are in unhealthy relationships. I hope they inspire you too. Feedback below is always welcome; multiple views and opinions are healthy to hear and even healthier to consider. The process of recovery is an individual one, and there are many paths you can take along your journey.
The following are directly asked questions from people seeking my advice and guidance. I prefaced it with; "I am sharing my experience, strength, and hope. I know you will do what is best for you, and my response may not be what you need, and that is ok. It takes courage to ask for help; thank you for trusting me." I must note that I have removed any specificity that could break confidentiality and anonymity guidelines. Lastly, these individuals are NOT from our group; they are from an online forum group for Codependents.
Anonymous Question One:
My mind goes to this place where it’s because of me and wishing I were good enough. My parents are very transactional and maybe I hate my body because I feel like if I were more attention-worthy that I could earn more time, love, and attention from them. What can I do?
Consider "we may choose won't a belief (that you aren't good enough). The internal narrative can be changed to, "I am worthy of love and attention from my mother, but they aren't capable of showing it to me." The truth of the revised narrative is reinforced when it replaces the false belief.
When we use false beliefs that connect to our "body" (your body is unacceptable), the mistaken belief, in your case, is being rewarded with food. I had to do the 4th step on food because relationships with our thoughts, and things we become attached to, even things we need like food, can become another unhealthy relationship. Food equates to comfort and safety, add sugar,, and you have a mighty reward.
Food can be used to fill in the absence of the attention we seek but is counterproductive, and adds to a person's shame (self-harm). A false belief in your case is the idea that if you were to become this "ideal weight,," you believe they will give you the attention you desire and deserve. The truth is people are either capable of being loving and attentive or not,, and unfortunately, even our parents can be incapable of being what you need. If someone is incapable of providing the attention we seek, and we obtain this ideal weight or body, their attention would still be lacking. Love is unconditional,, and just because someone we care for believes that transactions can replace their attention and affection doesn't mean you have to agree and adhere to their belief. You can communicate with them (in person or by email) and let them know you would prefer time with them over anything else. Give them an example of what you'd like to have instead…or not. You can engage with them in a way that is respectful to yourself and them, and sometimes that means distance.
WE ARE ALL INHERENTLY worthy; we aren't lacking anything. We are not broken; we can choose to reward ourselves with truth and take care of ourselves because we CAN. Self-love is not selfish; we deserve to care for ourselves and are not obligated to "wait" until others pay us attention or tell us they approve…we don't EARN love; we DESERVE love,, and only people capable of being healthy can give unconditional love.
Anonymous Question Two (same person):
Why do I perseverate over their issues? Because I feel less than like I don’t deserve? That they are affirming that deep core belief that "I’m not good enough and don’t deserve to have or to be loved how I need to be"?
Photo: ACA Family Types (adultchildren.org)
You perseverate because your inner child doesn't understand and falsely believes you can still DO something to MAKE them see you; she is fantasy thinking. This causes your adult self to experience feeling rejected,, and then you get stuck in a shame spiral. A sponsee of mine said her mind understood, but her heart wasn't there yet. We are incapable of perfection; we can only continue to do the best we can, and "that is enough" (another sponsee told me that too).
I hope sharing this information helps you see what applying and practicing the principles of our twelve-step program looks like, and how reaching out to your sponsor, trusted advisor, counselor, etc., is a great way to get through something before it becomes too unmanageable.
Women Empowering Women Support Groups