My life is starting to feel like an Eminem album. Now we will write about volcanoes meeting tornadoes. Now we will write about recovery. Now we will write about relapse, mom’s spaghetti not required.
If I haven’t made it clear, let me start here. My name is Jamie and I’m codependent. I lead with that every time I talk in my weekly 12 step meeting where I am surrounded by codependents like me. For an hour each week, we talk about topics related to our addiction, problems we are having with our disease and the help we are trying to find.
I found CoDA in March. I talked myself out of attending Zoom/Skype/Phone meetings for about six weeks because my crippling social anxiety was out of control. I was terrified calling into my first meeting, but let me reassure you, oh ye socially anxious, while sharing is encouraged, no one will make you. This isn’t ninth grade math class. You can hide behind your text book. Sharing with others is an important part of your recovery, but no one will make you until it’s time. Skype and Zoom calls? You don’t have to appear on camera. It took me weeks to be comfortable with it. But, now, I look forward to meetings. I need them.
Step One: I admit that I am powerless over others and my life has become unmanageable.
My life has been unmanageable since the 8th of July when I had a multiple hours conversation with my still legally, but not really husband of 20 years and 364 days. About money. About how we were going to divide the financial benefits and burdens of 20 years of love, children, family, home, resentment, pain and bitterness. Dawn arose the next morning and I loaded the girls up in the car so I could be anywhere but home on the anniversary that was but wasn’t.
It was a good tactic, but I was already relapsing and I have been since then. As of today, I’ve spent nearly a month pushing away from recovery. Not actively. I want recovery. I want it so much, but I keep taking the first drink.
My sponsor does her work from the AA Big Book, so a lot of our discussions are based around the idea of the first drink, literally or figuratively. When it comes to Big Daddy, I can’t keep the drink out of my hand. Oh, I get so frustrated, angry, mournfully sad that I can’t do the one simple thing I must really do.
Well, it’s not really simple, is it? After 22 years. I read a post, this past week, from a woman who talked about still loving her ex. She explained like I’ve always explained having new babies. I can hold him in my heart and love him from there, while acknowliding that is where he must stay and, maybe some day, allowing my heart to grow to make room for someone new. Maybe. I’m a long, long, long way away from that as it should be. Reading that made me feel free. I’ve spent six months trying to unlove Big Daddy or, at least, love him less or differently and I can’t get it to work. Maybe it will work better if I don’t have to. We’ll see.
Step Two: Came to believe a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity.
In all of this has been my struggle to let go. It seems wrong to let go of Big Daddy. It goes against every single instinct I have. I’ve spent half my life circling Big Daddy, being in his orbit and it’s cold out here in the solar system with the sun that used to warm you being just a little dot some place you can’t reach.
I know what the answer to this is. I know it requires something that I have spent the last decade pushing away from me. Sometimes, I’m able to see it, oddly, a prism-y shimmer. Sometimes, I’ve managed to pray and felt heard and answered and that’s really new for me. My conflict, though, sits heavy as I work through my own dysfunctional relationship with my Higher Power (or HP or occasionally Harry Potter because why not?) The idea is that I most only want to believe. That it’s enough. And, I do, but man, someone up in my head (one of the Four, I’m going to write about them soon) is resistant. Is it the addict? Is she worried about how she’ll get her fix if we let Higher Power take control? Is it the Angry/Sad one? Is she afraid that I won’t let her drive the control panel anymore? Is it the child? No, it’s probably not her. Who wouldn’t want to spend time with a shimmery rainbow prism cloud that loves you. Is it me? Is it because I can’t admit I was wrong about a Higher Power?
My sponsor reminds me of practice, not perfection. I pray. Sometimes like a Catholic on the rosary and sometimes the actual Hail Mary because if I’m making up a Higher Power for myself like I’m at some great metaphysical Chipotle, I want a dash of Mary. Hail Mary on the big beads, the serenity prayer on the little one. Sometimes, I repeat what I read from the Big Book “Higher Power may I find you now. I ask for your protection and care” and sometimes I pray “thy will be done, not mine” but I’ve let up on that one because I didn’t always like what happened after.
Listening to God/Higher Power/Holy Spirit/the Lord/the Universe after so many years of NOT is hard. It takes a quiet and stillness that I often find hard to muster. I meditate and then pray immediately after. I pray when things are hard or when I can’t stop crying. Six months later and there’s still far more time crying than I would have thought possible. I could have filled an ocean for Big Daddy and I probably have.
Step three: Made a decision to turn my life and will over to God as I understood God.
This is where I am.
This is why I’m relapsing.
This is why I have to find a way to let Big Daddy drift away because I can’t turn over control of everything when I’m still holding on so tightly. From 400 miles away. Higher Power is asking me to let go of Big Daddy. And, I don’t want to. And so, I take the first drink. Over and over again.
How do you let go of someone you don’t want to let go of? I’m open for all answers.