I’m not saying that I’ve got addictions licked, but compared to the Co-DA stuff they are a walk in the park.
- Alcohol addiction, easy – don’t drink. Easier said than done yes, but there is a thought, which leads to a feeling, which leads to an action. You can work backwards on that one. Stop drinking, which will help you control your feelings over time, which will eventually help calm and retrain your mind.
- Sex addiction, a bit tougher because most of this lives within my mind. It’s not the actual act of sex that is addictive it’s the dopamine hit that I get when building up to and then acting out my bottom line behaviours. Same logic applies as AA thought. I have an inappropriate thought, which we all have from time to time, only the sex addict instantly jumps into the wilful entertainment of fantasy. The thoughts become obsessive and I start to convince myself that the only way to get rid of these thoughts is to act out, which I do out of compulsion. For me sex addiction is about obsessive compulsive behaviour. Once I identify that in myself I was half way there.
- Co-dependency, frickin’ mind field. Believe it or not we are naturally social beings and we feel good about ourselves when we do good deeds. At least I do anyway. Say for instance, I smile at a stranger in the street, I take my neighbours bins in after the bin men have been, I call a friend to see how they are and to have a chat. Simple little things that don’t affect my live in a negative way. The same logic still applies to Co-DA as it does for AA and SAA. I have a thought, that thought leads to a feeling and that feeling leads to an action. The only problem this time is that as a co-dependant, I have to stop and evaluate the intention and motivation behind every thought, feeling and action. This requires a lot of mindfulness. Whenever I feel myself losing control, I meditate. I find that if I meditate for 20 minutes everyday I remain present and in control of my mind.
When it comes to co-dependency, I like the concept of ‘other-esteem’ that I read recently. A healthy person creates their own self-esteem from within, co-dependants look for ‘esteem’ externally. This is ‘other-esteem’.
So why have I found it so difficult to generate my own self-esteem all these years? Today I found the answer.
Ben, Tom and I met up to go to a Co-DA meeting this evening, but the meeting no longer exists due to lack of support. Instead we bought some soft drinks and found a bench and had our own mini-meeting.
What struck me as I was listening to both Ben and Tom was their lack of self-worth and self-esteem. I’m not long out of depression, in fact I would say that I’m a recovering depressive and will be for the rest of my life. This is because I have been to that place and it will always haunt me, but today, my mind is no longer unmanageable. I can still clearly remember the soulless agony of believing I was this huge burden on the world and that the universe would simply be better off without me.
It’s really simple for me to sit here and say this now, but you know what, it is that simple. The answer is…
Love. I have never loved myself until just recently.
I had a pretty good childhood. Both my parents were around and from what I remember they were both loving in their own way, I think. I certainly remember them telling me that they loved me enough times.
At the age of 11 we moved house to a totally different area and my life changed. I started to blame myself and hate myself for who I was. I was ashamed of who I was and how I was perceived by the world. I was totally unaware of this back then, but as I looked back through my memories this evening I realised that there came a point in my early teens where I didn’t love myself any more. I’m not even sure I ever ‘loved’ myself. I’ve never had any real self-worth. I don’t know where this lack of emotional connection with and for myself came from but this is the reason that I looked for external approval and validation for everything in my life. I lived off other-esteem and when that dried up, so did what little self-worth I had left.
I never loved myself. I never knew who I was. I never trusted myself or had any real faith in myself. I was confused. I was lost. I felt alone and I felt less worthy than every body else.
I didn’t know how to love myself. I didn’t know what love was. I thought love was what I felt for someone else, not for me. When people used to tell me to love myself I would hear the words, but I would actually have no idea what they were talking about. Love myself? What the heck’s that and how do I do that? I was emotionally retarded.
At some point I confused lust and sex for love and indulged myself in my sex addiction, but it’s only recently, when I met my conscious-self and realised that I can love the real, present and aware me that I finally found peace.
So how do I deal with co-dependency? I guess just like every other fellowship. 1 step at a time, 1 day at a time.
I need to remember to be kind to myself and to look after myself. I can help others, but not at the expense of my own physical or mental well-being. So far I’m finding the trick is to make sure I own my own emotions. At the moment I’m full of love and it’s almost overwhelming, but my need to be the helper/fixer is always there.
I wish someone could have taught me how to understand the difference between consciousness and thought from an early age. I would have learnt to love and accept myself and would have possibly avoided many years of pain, trauma and suffering. That’s in the past now and in this moment I am eternally grateful that I now know the difference and that I now know, love and accept myself.
One last thing… I had to laugh yesterday when I asked a couple of people at SAA ‘why we don’t get a sponsor at Co-DA?’ They laughed and replied, ‘because they would become co-dependent on each other’.
I’ll leave it there. Thanks. It’s good to be here.
Peace be with you all.