Hi! My name is Becky, and my son is a recovering addict. I work the steps of recovery for co-dependency. This is my story:
My first exposure to Recovery began over 11 years ago, in California, when my husband was asked to start up a program at our church where we were serving. After a year of preparation, the core group of people meeting weekly were just about to go through our launch of Celebrate Recovery (my husband was the Pastor in charge of adult ministries) when our son came home from his senior year in college. He told us that he was struggling with an addiction, that he couldn’t stop, and that he needed help. All of a sudden…what was for others, became for us.
At the recommendation of a family counselor, our son began a hospital based out-patient program. My husband and I attended the family meetings every week. We learned a lot about our son, ourselves, and our family through that program, but quite often I felt alone and I didn’t know who to talk to.
It was at my son’s encouragement that I started to attend Alanon meetings. My husband was already attending meetings, and our son was working his program, but I wanted to be anonymous. I thought, “I am not sure that this pastor’s wife could expose all her hurts, habits and hang-ups to everyone.” It turns out, I wasn’t ready.
It was during this period that Celebrate Recovery launched in our church in Southern California. I pitched in. I made meals, helped out, hosted meetings for the leaders in my home, and attended some of the large meetings, but I didn’t really work the program. At that point I was doing these things to support our son, but quickly found that I had much to learn, that this was a “family disease, and that I, myself, had some work to do also.
Now, looking back, I can recognize codependency taking shape in my life about the time of my parents’ divorce. I was in the 8th grade, and I took on a whole new set of responsibilities. I was the one who tried to make it all better for my little brother. I always wanted to be there for my mother, thinking my efforts would keep her from experiencing the pain of my father’s betrayal. In front of my father I kept up appearances, and never let slip my heartache at seeing my family fall apart.
You see, a codependent assumes responsibility for others’ feelings and behaviors. A codependent feels guilty about others’ feelings and behaviors, and a codependent has difficulty expressing feelings. It turns out, I struggle with an addiction to people, behaviors or things.
It was when I officially began to “work the steps,” and did my own homework, that I changed. I have learned so much. I have a safe place to share at Celebrate Recovery (the program I serve and work the steps in.). I am learning to be more honest and open, less judgmental, and more understanding. I am a better listener. I was able to allow our son to work his own program. We have more unity as a family. I have a deeper understanding of recovery and denial, and I’ve experienced love and forgiveness from our son. He has eleven years clean and drug free, graduated with a degree in Business, works for a large corporation, and participates with our family as much as possible. I am so grateful that he came to us, and that he was willing to do the hard work required!
Today, I serve others in recovery. I meet with individuals and mentor, lead step studies, and just try to be used by God through sharing my experience, strength and hope through Celebrate Recovery.
I no longer focus on what other’s need to change. I focus on what I can do differently, one day at a time, and I try to encourage others through my example. A critical step for me was to be honest, and allow God to show me my part, and how that affected myself and others.
I love what my favorite prayer says. Many of you know the short version of this. I want to share the whole thing.
God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time,
accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it;
trusting that You will make all things right
if I surrender to your will;
so that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with You in the next. Amen
I am deeply grateful for all I have learned and continue to learn. I have learned to “act” rather than “react.” My life is more balanced and at peace, and my self-worth is not dependent on others. I have learned to set healthy boundaries with others, and some limits for myself.
I am grateful for my family, friends and faith that have sustained me, and made me a better person.
Becky Yount is a group exercise instructor at Saint Mary’s Fitness Center, and shared this post as part of Mental Health Awareness Month.