It wasn’t until I finished my steps, and looked back, that I realized how truly unmanageable my life had become. Step One reads, “We admitted we were powerless over others—that our lives had become unmanageable.” Looking back, I see that I am no longer in crisis/survival mode as a result of completing my steps. Those promises are real and are the payoff of the commitment that I made to work my steps.
Many women come to our group after some vital realization—for me, it was the realization that staying with my husband meant sacrificing my wellbeing for his. I finally realized that he would drain me—emotionally, physically, and financially. How did I get to this point? It was my codependency at work. And it took a hypothetical two-by-four smacking me in the face to realize how out of control my life was.
By the time that I started Step One, I understood that the script that I was following—the patterns that I repeated—were dysfunctional. As the Codependents Anonymous book says on page 31, “We gain an understanding of how our powerlessness developed in our childhood, but knowing this is not enough. We must see the unmanageability of the codependent behaviors we carry into our adult lives.” It was time for me to abandon the coping mechanisms that I picked up along the way—that had gotten me through situations up until now. As the CoDA Welcome reads, “We have all learned to survive life, but in CoDA we are learning to live life.” Words like “survive” and “gotten me through” are not sufficient for a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle.
It would be easy to blame ourselves or others for our current situation, but I will stress to you to be compassionate with yourself. Committing to working your steps is a huge emotional undertaking and a significant investment in yourself. It is, perhaps for the first time in your adult life, you deciding to prioritize YOU. The Codependents Anonymous book discusses this on page 32: “Rather than blame, we attempt to review our childhood and adult experiences that are the roots of unhealthy behaviors. We acknowledge how powerlessness and unmanageability developed in childhood and gradually manifested themselves in our adult behavior and relationships.” As you start your steps and consider Step One, I urge you to be kind and compassionate toward yourself. Carry gratitude for the ability to look back on your experiences and reframe them. This is not something that we have to do—it’s something that we get to do. This is a gift that you are giving to yourself, and it will not come easily. Keep your eye on the prize: those Promises are waiting for you.
As I close this blog post, I wonder:
- What was most challenging about Step One?
- What was most rewarding about Step One?
- Did you become triggered while working Step One? Do you know why?