12-step recovery for those of us who love alcoholics or addicts. We share our experience, strength, and hope as we use the principles of the Al-Anon program in our lives. We talk openly and honestly about the problems and challenges as we face alcoholism and addiction in our friends and relatives. We share the tools and solutions we have found that let us live a life that is serene, happy, and free, even when the alcoholic or addict is still drinking or using.
CODA saved her life – Geraldine – 357
Can CODA help when you grow up in dysfunction, and then love a controlling, gaslighting partner as an adult?
As a child, Geraldine lived in fear of her mother's anger, which often resulted in beatings. She became her siblings' protector, and felt that it was her job to soothe her mother's moods, and to take care of her mother. At school she was shy and withdrawn. She just couldn't comprehend what the teachers were saying, so she did not do well.
As her GSCE exams were approaching, “one day, it was like a thought came into my head and said, ‘If you don't do this, you're proving everybody correct.’” She says, “Even to this day, I don't know how this has happened. This is somebody who hadn't bothered doing any work. [I] deemed [it] as being completely useless. I just started to work. I thought, I'm going to do this.” And she did, gaining the highest mark in 5 out of 7 exams.
With that, she could to go on to college (for those of us in the US, this would be similar to a 2-year technical college, as opposed to “university”). She says, “That was transformational for me, not academically but personally. I went from this really introverted, severely introverted and very depressed, teenager to this extroverted young woman who made friends.”
With the help of her higher power, she made it into university, where she discovered her profession, which she loves. But then “I crashed around when I was 30. I hit a rock bottom. I think probably, I was on the verge of a breakdown. My life had changed. I think … the job that I did was almost forcing me to meet myself, the bit of me that I'd suppressed.
“I ended up in therapy for 10 years seeing this therapist three times a week. I was in a bad way. It was all those things that I thought were normal, being beaten, being depressed, suicidal. I remember even saying to my then partner, ‘my mom used to beat me, but it never did me any harm.’ I really believed that until the bubble was burst. The pain that I felt, the suffering that I felt was so awful and realized that actually, that wasn't the way life was meant to be.”
She left the man she had been with for a decade. “He wasn't a bad bloke, but I surrendered so much to him. And I realized that what I'd done was I'd literally gone from home to him.
“So he was the other controlling person. I felt I had to find myself and I couldn't do it within the confines of that. Relationship and I had to leave him.”
She began to forge an independent life. Then, “this guy walked into my life and and I thought, ‘I've met my other half, my soulmate.’ I never thought that I was going to meet somebody at this stage of my life. I fell completely hook, line and sinker in a way.”
But it wasn't all wonderful. “I sensed that something was terribly wrong with the relationship that I was in.” Of course, she thought it must be her fault. “But as time went by, I thought there's something else that's going on here. … I felt like I was losing myself inside this relationship. And I was terrified. I guess I was so enmeshed with my mom, I started to become enmeshed with him, but he was a really sick man who was deliberately manipulating me to become enmeshed so that I would lose myself completely.”
Luckily, she had come to Codependents Anonymous (CODA). Her brother was in Cocaine Anonymous (CA), and she loved going with him to his meetings. She loved the 12 steps. She once said, somewhat jokingly, “maybe I've got to become a coke addict and I can join.” Her brother responded, “that's not a good idea, Geraldine, but why don't you go to CODA?”
In CODA she started to really find herself, and also found support in another member who had been i...
Domestic Violence and Other Unacceptable Behavior – 356
If Acceptance is the key to serenity, what do you do about unacceptable behavior and domestic violence?
Kathy H joined the Recovery Show to talk about her experience with domestic violence, and the strength and hope she has found in recovery.
We started with some definitions for unacceptable behavior and domestic violence.
Definition of Unacceptable Behavior
* any conduct that is unreasonable, regardless of the level of stress, frustration or anger experienced, because it compromises health, safety or security* From Law Insider* Unacceptable – too bad to be accepted, approved of, or allowed to continue* From Cambridge Dictionary
Definition of Domestic Violence
Does that only start when a spouse physically hurts another spouse? The answer is no – domestic violence starts much sooner than physical violence.
Domestic violence is defined as a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.
It includes behaviors that physically harm, intimidate, manipulate or control a partner, or otherwise force them to behave in ways they don’t want to, including through physical violence, threats, emotional abuse, or financial control.
Multiple forms of abuse are usually present at the same time in abusive situations, and it’s essential to understand how these behaviors interact so you know what to look for (National Domestic Violence Hotline).
Some examples of abuse that are part of domestic violence include:
* Physically hurting you, children or pets* Reckless driving* Abandoning you in unfamiliar places* Trying to isolate you from family and friends* Financial control* Humiliating comments* Damaging belongings, throwing things, punching walls, kicking doors* Threats of violence* Gaslighting you by pretending not to understand or refusing to listen to you; questioning your recollection of facts, events, or sources; trivializing your needs or feelings; or denying previous statements or promises.* Verbal abuse
So many of these items sound and feel small taken just one at a time. They are so easy to trivialize, minimize, and overlook. Taken together they slowly, over time, cause a person to question their own feelings, instincts, and sanity, which gives the abusive partner a lot of power.
Kathy's experience is perhaps too neatly summarized here: “I experienced many types of gaslighting starting very early on in our marriage, attempted control of my friends, financial control, reckless driving, abandoning me and my child in unfamiliar places, and mean comments for 13 years before I finally saw through the denial and confusion. But I will say that in between those low points, there were very good times where my husband was great. Every time I would think “FINALLY! He has realized that what he was doing was wrong for so many reasons. And then at some point it would all pick back up again. It’s all a cycle which makes it all that much more confusing.”
What did living with domestic violence feel like? “Living with domestic violence was like living in a circus fun house of weird mirrors. Things always felt off kilter but I couldn't understand wha...
A Son’s Addiction – 355
How can recognizing powerlessness over a child’s addiction make it easier to detach and not enable them?
Jacob joins us to tell his story and how he stopped trying fruitlessly to fix his son's addiction.
He picked a couple of readings from ODAT — Jan 29 and Feb 11, saying that they have been and are important in his ongoing recovery.
As I read Jan 29, it is about (not) enabling our addicted loved ones. How has this reading spoken to you? How have you followed its suggestions? What benefits have you gained?
I see Feb 11 as speaking about powerlessness over our loved one’s addiction. How has this reading spoken to you? How has your behavior changed as a result?How have you gained by recognizing your powerlessness and the unmanageability of trying to exert control?
Readings and Links
We read from One Day at a Time in Al-Anon, Jan 29 and Feb 11.
An upcoming topic is The Effects of Recovery. What effects have you experienced in recovery? How do these contrast with the effects that alcoholism or addiction had on you? Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email email@example.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
Music from the Show
Disturbed – Down with the Sickness
Tool – Right In Two
Tool – The Pot
Making Decisions – 354
Do you have trouble making decisions? What have you learned in recovery helps you make decisions?
Eric, Spencer, and several of you share about indecision and making decisions. Our conversation was guided by these questions.
* Definition: * a choice that you make about something after thinking about several possibilities* the ability to decide quickly and without pausing because you are not certain:* She acted with decision, closing the bank account and calling the police.* something you choose; a choice* If the enemy of serenity is indecision and hurry, why then is it suggested to “Don’t just do something. Sit there”? huuhh??* There seems to be a contradiction for me between indecision, in its negative connotation, and a taking a healthy pause before making a decision. How do you understand this?* Are you ok with asking for help? Guidance? “Suggestions” Who do you turn to when in doubt about a making a decision?* How do I apply the acronyms; W.A.I.T., T.H.I.N.K., STOP, J.A.D.E. and exercise the Al-Anon pause without feeling anxious and indecisive?* Why Am I Talking?* is it Thoughtful, Honest, Intelligent, Necessary, and Kind?* Stop, Take, Observe, Proceed. (https://www.mindful.org/stressing-out-stop/)* (don’t) Justify, Argue, Defend, or Explain* Can you embrace the notion “When in doubt, don’t”?* How do you feel about the phrase “I don’t have to win anything today”?* Are you ok with the answer “I don’t know”? when feeling confronted or forced to make a decision? “NO,” as a complete sentence?* Is not making a decision, a sometimes healthy decision in and of itself?* Can I sit in the A of Acceptance (from the three A’s) as long and until I feel good about my decision? How do you “get there”?* Do you believe that “Urgent things are seldom important and important things are seldom urgent”?* Is the rocking chair ok to use sometimes to wait for guidance? Going back and forth and getting nowhere? Can I sit with this and actually allow myself to enjoy it sometimes
Readings and Links
We read from How Al-Anon Works, p. 69 (soft cover) (Just for Today slogan), p. 104 (Chapter 16, 12 Traditions), p. 50 (Chapter 8, Step 3).
We discussed The Eisenhower Decision Matrix: How to Distinguish Between Urgent and Important Tasks and Make Real Progress in Your Life (Art of Manliness)
Jess wrote about a grief meeting on InTheRooms, Thursdays at 9am Pacific, 12pm Eastern. She sent a link about the therapist who leads that meeting, and an article Ambiguous Grief During the Covid Pandemic.
A listener recommended the book You Can't Make Me Angry by Dr. Paul O.
Marilyn told us about the Al-Anon group, Any Faith or None AFG, in Lawrence, KS. For information, email firstname.lastname@example.org. She says, We study the principles and tools of the program from a secular perspective. Anyone is welcome.
An upcoming topic is the effects of recovery. How are the effects of alcoholism or addiction countered by the effects of recovery? What have you gotten from working a recovery program? Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email a href="mailto:feedback@therecoveryshow.
Voices – 353
What is on your mind?
This episode is built from your voices, sharing your experience, strength, and hope. Sharing your dilemmas and questions.
Readings and Links
Some of you sent suggestions of books or other resources.
Many Voices, One Journey Al-Anon's story of growth and recovery as experienced by individual members and the fellowship as a whole over Al-Anon’s first 60 years.
The Grief Club by Melody Beattie was recommended by Craig, who says it is “a powerful book on grief and grieving.”
Gina wrote, I first learned about my inner child with a Reparenting workshop from an ACA zoom conference last year. There is a great recording of the workshop you can download online for a couple bucks. I highly recommend it!
She also suggested a reparenting check-in worksheet and handout available on the ACAWSO.org website.
Finally, she mentioned Bill Wilson's writing on emotional sobriety.
You can contribute to our conversation. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email email@example.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
Music from the Show
New Christy Minstrels – Today
Inner Child – 352
How is your Inner Child? What can you do to heal its hurts and help it grow?
Becky joined Spencer to talk about how she has come to know and heal her inner child. Our conversation was guided by these questions.
* I’m not really familiar with inner child work, can you tell me briefly what it means for you?* Please share some of your story, so we can understand where you started.* What happened to bring you into recovery?* Tell us about your recovery journey.* How has working with your inner child helped you?* What tools have you learned and developed?* How have you integrated this work into your life?
Becky says that she is “perfectly imperfect”, and she tries to remind herself of that every day.
Readings and Links
The reading we opened with can be found in an essay by Brené Brown, titled “The Midlife Unraveling“.
Eric sent us a notice about the Connecticut State Al-Anon Convention, March 19-20, 2021.
Talk to us
Please leave a voicemail at 734-707-8795 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
Music from the Show
Mary Lambert – Secrets
Tom Odell – Heal
Just what I needed
My circumstances don’t allow me out of the house in the evenings so this has literally changed my life. I’ve never gone to Al-Anon but this has given me a pretty good idea what it’s about and has helped me immensely. Thank you!
Take Al-Anon Anywhere
This podcast does a fantastic job of communicating the help for living a serene life that the al-anon program offers whether the alcoholic (addict) is still drinking or not. An excellent showcase of the al-anon program lived out.
Incredible Service and Meeting Alternative
I found this podcast before I found Al-Anon and it brought be to the rooms of Al-Anon. This program literally saved my life. I realized that I am not alone, that I have choices, and that my job is not to fix everyone else. I attend weekly meetings, listen to this podcast weekly, and listen to past episodes as my program needs it - which is frequently! I especially like the Open Talk episodes and listen to them all the time. Keep up the great work and service!! This is truly a blessing for many.