3 months, 16 days

Things are going well, generally. I’m still keeping on top of the Uni work, I think, doing a bit every day. For my main project I’ve written about half the introduction, which is good news because the introduction is always the hardest part of a report to write. So there’s nothing to worry about on that score, I guess. I’m still getting to lots of meetings, as well, and the relationship with the sponsor is still a working one. I think we’re finally going to get on with the steps together this weekend; we should be meeting at some point on Saturday so I can get step 3 done and make a start on step 4. I’ll be looking forward to it because it’s way too long since I left my program at step 2. It’s a good thing I’m looking forward to doing step 3 now – a month ago I wasn’t. So in a way maybe it’s good that my program was left on a hiatus all those weeks ago. If I’d jumped straight into step 3 after finishing step 2 with the first sponsor, I may not have been ready.

There’s still a bit of fear every time I go into a meeting. Last night, for instance, I felt only a bit less nervous on my way to the Tuesday meeting that I always attend than the first time I went there in July. You may say ‘a bit less nervous’ is a good sign, but it would be nice if I was ‘a lot less nervous’. So I feel like on the social side of things, I’m changing very slowly, and I don’t like it. I was able to share about this last night – the main chair had talked about the socializing after meetings being as important as the meetings themselves, and I forced myself to admit in front of the room that I still didn’t get how to feel comfortable in those post-meeting situations, where everyone is standing around chatting. I talked about finding it impossible to approach people I don’t know very well, so that people have to approach me if they want a conversation with me; I also said that I still can’t always respond when someone does approach me. Being sociable has never come naturally to me, in my whole life, and it’s beginning to look like it will take a very long time for me to learn to feel differently about it.

I’m afraid to say that there is someone in the meetings who is avoiding me completely. It’s not just me avoiding him. So he must in some way feel differently towards me than he did a few weeks ago, when we were friends. I’d love to say that doesn’t bother me, but of course it would hurt me if it turned out to be true that he does dislike me now. Still, I’m not ready to do anything about it. I can’t do anything about it. It’s hard enough for me to behave normally with friends all the time. It wouldn’t be in my nature to go up to this person, take him aside and sort things out. I wouldn’t know what to say. The reason I know I’ve done something to upset him is because I know what he’s like – though I haven’t known him for long, I know him well enough to know he’s just like me, and if it was the other way round, I’d be behaving just the same. I am behaving just the same. We’ve come to feel awkward with each other and neither of us knows how to rectify it. We’re both painfully similar and I guess it’s just as hard for him to deal with that as it is for me.

I’ve actually spent so much time thinking about this, I’m embarrassed. I’m doing exactly the same thing that I’ve done with people before, those who started off friends and quickly became enemies because of the co-dependency issues that I have in my head. Hardly any friendships and none of my ‘serious’ relationships could ever last because I either got too dependent on them or they got too dependent on me. Mostly it was the former, but none of these ‘relationships’ ever lasted long enough to really become important.

My relationships with anyone are fraught with difficulties and awkwardness, insecurity and mistrust. I don’t just get nervous walking into meetings because I’m scared of talking to strangers; I’m scared of seeing people I know, just in case they’re pissed off with me for something I’ve done. Usually no one’s pissed off with me for anything, but at any given time I’ll generally feel awkward with about four or five people in the room, just because I haven’t spoken to them for a while, or I once caught them looking at me in a funny way. All the evidence I’ve got for this particular person’s ‘resentment’ towards me comes from looks that he’s given me recently, as well as the fact that I feel resentful towards him – my feeling resentful towards him makes it easy for me to believe that he must be resentful too.

I haven’t shared about this issue in meetings yet. It would be far too honest and profound. Just thinking about it makes me feel a bit cold. When I get onto steps 4 and 5 with my sponsor I know I’m going to have to tell him about how I can’t be normal with certain people – to tell the truth I’m not looking forward to that part of the program. No one likes doing step 4 and 5. That’s why they’re the most important steps. This particular problem that I have with feeling awkward around certain people is one of the main reasons I first turned to drink, and if I don’t get it out in the open in step 5 I could eventually turn to drink again. I might feel like I never want to drink again at the moment, but I don’t know what’s around the corner. The programme is just for today, which means that we have to work it fully and refrain from getting complacent every single day for the rest of our lives. The progress I’ve made in the past 109 days may well be greater than I can give it credit for at the moment, but I still have so much progress to make. I was talking about my dreams last week, the things I’d like to have in my life, such as a good job, a partner, and a home of my own – these are not just naïve clichés, they are things that normal people can and regularly do have.

A few people in the meeting last night talked about becoming ‘normal’ thanks to their programs and how happy that had made them; I really want to be normal too, because once I am normal, I know that the things I want will really start to come to me. At the moment my head isn’t normal, it’s ill. I don’t love myself. So I can’t expect a partner to love me. In the past the partners I’ve been with had such power over me, because I gave it to them. I was never on an equal footing with anyone. As for jobs, I had no power there either because I wasn’t really choosing the jobs properly, I was just taking anything that came along. In the future I want to go about these things differently, but can I really do it better next time? Could I really choose the ideal job and partner and be happy with them? These things seem very uncertain, which is, I suppose, what has always scared me about them. I’ve said it a million times, but life is uncertain, as well as strange, and difficult, and complex. What’s happening to me in recovery is that I’m finding out so many truths about life and I’m beginning to accept them; I’m slowly exposing myself to the real world, to honesty, and to love. This process of opening up, which I practice a little bit every time I share in meetings and speak to my sponsor on the phone, is bringing me forwards into the world and, I hope, making me a little bit more normal.


5 thoughts on “3 months, 16 days

  1. How does your co-dependency manifest itself? Can you help us understand how it works?

    Also, how good, honestly, are your mind-reading skills?

    Be well.

  2. Co-dependency manifests itself in many ways. One way is when I go to a meeting or social gathering or party etc. (you can imagine the multitude of situations that occur in life where we expect to see people) and I don’t see the good friend that I’ve been expecting to see; the whole occasion is ruined and I can’t speak to anybody, because I would have relied on that friend to ‘look after me’ (just by speaking to me at the times when I couldn’t interact with anyone else).

    Another way is when someone who was a friend doesn’t reply to a text, or doesn’t return a call, or gives me a ‘funny look’, I go off them because I can’t trust them any more. Basically if someone doesn’t meet my high standards of behaviour at all times then I find it hard to continue being normal with them. This also happens when I don’t see someone for a long time.

    It is precisely because I can’t read people’s minds that I have to go on behaviour when making judgements about people – if I was more trusting of people then it would be easier to simply ignore the negative things that happen (like when someone gives me a funny look) but it is in my nature to ignore nothing. I know I sound crazy and weird. I hope my explanation has made some sense.

  3. Is this really co-dependency?

    My understanding that you would need to have some kind of carer-patient relationship (or sober friend-addict) where the carer/sober person gets a gain from the patient/friend being in the ‘ill’ condition, and thus hinders the recovery by sustaining the addiction.

    Sounds like something else.

  4. What you’ve described is one-way dependency. Co-dependency implies more of an equal standing between the components of the relationship. CODA (Co-Dependents Anonymous) is for anyone who becomes emotionally dependent on friends/partners.

  5. I beg to differ, but you’re describing emotional dependence and a need to learn to be emotionally responsible, NOT co-dependence: there is no third party involved.

    for example, http://ezinearticles.com/?Emotional-Dependency-or-Emotional-Responsibility&id=22073
    Emotional dependency means getting one’s good feelings from outside oneself. It means needing to get filled from outside rather than from within. Who or what do you believe is responsible for your emotional wellbeing?

    There are numerous forms of emotional dependency:

    Dependence on substances, such as food, drugs, or alcohol, to fill emptiness and take away pain.
    Dependency on processes such as spending, gambling, or TV, also to fill emptiness and take away pain.
    Dependence on money to define one’s worth and adequacy.
    Dependence on getting someone’s love, approval, or attention to feel worthy, adequate, lovable, and safe.
    Dependence on sex to fill emptiness and feel adequate.
    When you do not take responsibility for defining your own adequacy and worth or for creating your own inner sense of safety, you will seek to feel adequate, worthy and safe externally. Whatever you do not give to yourself, you may seek from others or from substances or processes. Emotional dependency is the opposite of taking personal responsibility for one’s emotional wellbeing. Yet many people have no idea that this is their responsibility, nor do they have any idea how to take this responsibility.

    What does it mean to take emotional responsibility rather than be emotionally dependent?

    Primarily, it means recognizing that our feelings come from our own thoughts, beliefs and behavior, rather than from others or from circumstances. Once you understand and accept that you create your own feelings, rather than your feelings coming from outside yourself, then you can begin to take emotional responsibility.

    Contrast this with these patterns from http://www.coda-uk.org/index.cfm?pageid=40:

    * I believe most other people are incapable of taking care of themselves.
    * I attempt to convince others of what they ‘should’ think and how they ‘truly’ feel.
    * I become resentful when others will not let me help them.
    * I freely offer others advice and directions without being asked.
    * I lavish gifts and favours on those I care about.
    * I use sex to gain approval and acceptance.
    * I have to be ‘needed’ in order to have a relationship with others.


    In all of this, I realise that I am an ‘outsider’ who only knows you from your blog. I’m sure there’s lots I don’t know. But right now, this is what I’m seeing. I hope this is useful to you.

    Be well.

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