Early in my codependency recovery, I became acquainted with a quiet voice of knowing that sometimes came to me when I was journaling and inquiring into myself. The voice brought me words of truth about my life. No condemnation, just clarity.
I was not yet a Christian, and I knew no name for this gentle assistance in my soul. I felt it came from beyond me. I called it “the spirit that helps me know myself.”
I know this spirit as the Holy Spirit now, and I seek the truth he brings: the vital, blessed, and sometimes very difficult truth.
At the beginning of recovery, I was afraid to search myself. I’d had therapy that worked deeply in me and made me grow. But what would I find when I looked at myself from the fresh perspective of codependency recovery?
Although I have functioned in the world as a friend, a professional, an artist, and even as a daughter and sister and wife, I have spent a lot of time not knowing the whole truth about why I did what I was doing — particularly in forging relationships, clinging to them, or abandoning them.
Like many of us codependents, I came from a troubled family. I learned to adapt to others and deny what I knew for the sake of peace and the hope that neither parent would fall apart or walk away.
As an adult, I often gravitated to troubled people who had the emotional fingerprint of my mother or my father. I adored them and molded myself to them. I tried to get them to keep me and never let me go.
I didn’t understand what I was doing at the time. It is embarrassing to remember and sobering to understand how my behavior deprived me, other people, and God of my authentic presence and real love.
In the recovery meetings, I gradually felt safe and brave enough to describe my pain and fear and admit my mistakes. I found a gentle, wise, trustworthy sponsor. I began to trust a higher power, and I began to feel valuable.
I started to glimpse and claim a true self, independent of anyone’s attention or approval. I wanted to know this new self and to live without trying to be anyone else.
The truth was my ground to stand on, and it was the path forward.
Three years into recovery, I became a Christian. To believe now that my self, my life, was made by God with loving intention, and belongs to God for all time, has impressed on me that it is my serious responsibility to understand exactly who I am, to discover and steward my gifts, to remember that God made me unique for work in the world that no one else can do, and to be thoughtful in my commitments, with gratitude to God who gave me life.
I lived more than 50 years without this understanding of who I am. I’m gratefully continuing to recover and grow.
My old behavior patterns are embedded deeply in me, and I have to go back to the beginning over and over, living the cycle of my Christian spiritual life and my recovery: conviction, surrender, prayer, inventory, redemption, forgiveness, gratitude, service.
A few years ago, during a silent prayer vigil in the wee hours of Good Friday morning, these words settled into my mind:
Until you show up exactly as you are, you will never know how much you are loved.
With God’s help, I’m getting closer.
- Bette Jo G.