For many years, January 11th-March 25th were emotionally difficult times for me. Fortunately last year and this year, I have been able to look at both dates and the time in between with gratitude. 10 years ago today (Thursday, March 25th, 2010, the door of my cousins' house of addiction, codependency, and intergenerational brokenness closed behind me for the last time after the worst turn of events. However, the physical pain from being hit and shoved around and the knee-jerk emotional pain from being cut down by intoxicated verbal weaponry would compare nothing to the pain I felt the following 8.5 years before I finally got into my own codependency (primarily to the one cousin) and adult children of alcoholics recovery at 19. The poem "They Call it Post-Traumatic" by my professor Rev. Dr. Nadine Rosechild Sullivan says that the word "Post Traumatic” is really a misnomer because we experience “new” trauma each time we relive it. Fortunately, I have learned and know today that “Life is only 10% of what happens to you and 90% how you look at it.” Ernest Holmes, the founder of my faith New Thought-Religious Science/Science of Mind says, “Change your thoughts. Change your life.” My great first counselor and spiritual teacher Vince DiPasquale taught me to think of “trauma as not trauma, but rather a teachable moment” and to think “What can I learn from that person/situation that troubled me at the time?”
Fortunately today, by the Grace of the Divine, my cousins are sober productive members of society, who are in fact contrite for what happened. However, they have an odd way of showing it. I have learned in my codependency recovery to screw my expectations because they are nothing but “premeditated resentments.” Even though it aches my heart (especially because of the events of the past few months if you have been following me on here) that they do not want to make amends the way I would want them to, I know now that is it because it solely their feelings and where they are at on their journey.
In the meantime on my journey, I am reading a book titled “Radical Forgiveness” by Colin Tipping. Even though I have accomplished what Tipping calls “Traditional Forgiveness” (more geared towards the human realm called “The World of Humanity”) it is best that I now try to accomplish “Radical Forgiveness” (more geared towards the spiritual/metaphysical realm called “The World of Divine Truth").
The bottom line is that control of any kind is an illusion. We CANNOT control another person, including in retrospect by trying to analyze why they did what they did and how to fix them (what I drove myself insane doing for years). They were acting out of their own best knowledge out of the unresolved pain in their lives. The best thing/only thing we cannot do is take control of turning our own lives around from the situation by practicing self-care and self-help and looking at what the tough teachable moment taught us. We come into this world by ourselves, and we are going to transition from it by ourselves. We cannot hold onto “victim-consciousness,” which is the idea that a person wronged me and is thus responsible for my life being bad or unhappy.
I have re-listened to spiritual practicioner Brenda Schuck’s motivational talk “Is it Really all G.o.d. (Good Orderly Direction)?" (video featured above) from two Sundays ago at our last in-person celebration service two Sundays ago. The answer to that question is a big YES! Everything in our lives is in Divine Right Order (love that term). The Universe is our back and is willing to have fun if we are willing to dance with it. Everything in my life both good and bad happened FOR me, not to me. Gratitude is the best anti-depressant in the world. Just a disclaimer: I am not claiming that neither myself, life, or recovery is perfect. My life is just easier than it used to be
I know you have probably heard "Coronavirus this, and Coronavirus that" a million times, especially this past week as conditions are rapidly changing. Here is New Jersey, restaurants and bars are only open for take-out until 8PM; all nonessential businesses are closed at 8PM many people are working from home or even not at all with and without pay depending on their work; all students are schooling from home; all nonessential travel is discouraged; and the vast majority of self-help meetings and spiritual communities are closed. With all of the craziness in this world and social distancing, maintaining mental health/recovery can be difficult. Celebrity addiction interventionist Kristina Wandzilak addressed this issue today on her Facebook and Instagram stories. She said something along the lines of "Social distancing does not mean cutting off emotionally," and "This can be a dangerous neighborhood for those of us in recovery, especially those in the early days, when we are confined to our homes and meetings are closed." Even for those who have not been through addiction or codependency, a time like this can be detrimental to their mental health because they are left at home with their thoughts free to run wild in the past, future, and everywhere in-between. Here are some of the great suggestions I have received from different sources.
I hope you are maintaining peace and serenity amid all this craziness in the world over the coronavirus. While it is important to take all of the health precautions to care for your physical body, remember to care for your mental and spiritual health as well. Love and faith will triumph over fear and control.
This semester (by the way my college moved online for the rest of the semester due to all of this craziness), I am taking a lot of interesting classes. Most of them are counting towards my women and gender studies minor and world religions double-major. The only psychology class I am taking is Stats in Psych, which is definitely not one of those fun psychology classes. However, I have learned this semester that the benefit of interesting often comes with the downfall of emotionally hard/triggering, especially is you are an adult child of addiction or any other adversity.
Opening our Eyes to the World (the Not-So-Pleasant Parts of It)
College has been more of a worthwhile experience than I ever thought it would be. I enjoy having a more liberal arts/social science and humanities program of study rather than a utilitarian program of study because I am learning a lot about the world, life, and humanity. I now know why American colleges require general education classes for all majors becaue a well-rounded education helps a lot in this world. I have learned that a college degree, regardless of the subject, is vital in today's world because it expands your mind and opens your eyes to the world, including the parts of it that are not so pleasant.
I absolutely love world religions studies and women and gender studies. In a way, I kind of like them more than psychology (but they have a psychology component anyway so they co-exist well in my well). However, as you can imagine, a lot of senstive, controversial, and triggering issues are raised in the readings, movies, and class discussions, especially when it comes to the intersection of religion and gender/ sexuality (the main reason I have these two programs of study together). This has caused me to have some mild depression, anxiety, trouble sleeping, and thus emotional burnout, which has convinced me a career in any type of social work is not for me. I even had to talk to my therapist about it. It is even more difficult studying these issues in a time of such upheaval in this country and -most importantly- these issues are directly or indirectly related to your life or the life of a loved one. I never predicted that these interesting classes that I was so eager for and ended up absolutely loving would emotionally drain and trigger me.
Here are some coping strategies that have worked for me:
The Essentialism of Quality Sleep
(Please excuse the all bold font in the second half of this post. Technical difficulties).
Sleep has been something I battled with forever as a night owl and overthinker. After over 20 years, I finally achieved a regular sleep pattern where I get enough sleep each night due to having four full days of school per week and typically working all day on Fridays. Since I tend to be tired on Friday nights, I go to bed early and end up not waking up too much later on weekends either. Having a regular sleep pattern where I get enough sleep has affected my mental health and functioning in the following positive ways:
Two Paths: Which One Will Work for You?
Happy March! Here in South Jersey, it is fortunately coming in more like a lamb than a lion. Spring is coming! Last semester, I took a Behavioral Addictions course and the same issue was brought up throughout the course that is often brought up in Codependent's Anonymous, Al-Anon/Nar-Anon, and Adult Children of Alcoholics Meetings: What defines recovery? For substance use disorders and certain behavioral addictions (e.g. gambling disorder), abstinence is the core of recovery (e.g. not drinking, using drugs, or gambling completely). However, when it comes to addictions such as codependency (being addicted to a person), food addiction, sex addiction, shopping addiction, internet addiction, and even addiction to weeding ( the act of weeding in a garden, not the drug weed. A woman who had that addiction was actually featured in my online course), that abstinence route is either difficult or even impossible to maintain. Harm-reduction is the method on maintaining recovery for these type of addictions.
My Transition from Abstinence to Harm-Reduction
I consider my official codependency recovery date October 23rd, 2018 because that was when I realized I was POWERLESS over my cousin and was willing to start working on me. For a good 8 months, I did not look up my cousin or his family on the internet or drive by his house or any of his family or friends' houses. One day, my mom came home from work and broke the new that she heard through a mutual friend of hers and his mom's that he does not live with his mother anymore. I had to know where he was living because I was A. Curious as hell and B. Felt like I needed to know if he was living in my town so I can be prepared to run into him. So I looked him up on WhitePages (sure enough, he was living with his girlfriend just 10 minutes away from me in my town), which led to me driving by his house to see what kind of car he was driving, and checking Facebook to see what he was up to. I felt super guilty an felt like I threw 8 months away, but my now former counselor assured me that on slip-up did not derail all the progress I made, especially on the mental level. I asked about harm-reduction, but she did not think it was good for me at the time. Surely, I got back on the abstinence train, for only 3 months...
My mom ended up running into his uncle in the grocery store and he broke the news that he was doing well and working for his girlfriends father. Honestly, I would have rather have heard that he was doing terrible so it would be more of an incentive to stay away from him. Hearing that he was doing well made a million questions flow through my mind, especially "Would he speak to me if I reached out?" The holidays were coming, and it made me think of him more and more. I decided that I wanted to reach out to him and his mother, especially him, to at least mend old wounds. over the course of two months, I ended up calling his mother, writing his mother, messaging him on Instagram, writing him twice, going to his house twice, and finally leaving a letter attached to my newest book on his doorstep, telling him that I was letting him go, loved him, and am always here from him. None of them yielded the result I wanted: to talk to him. By my old abstinence program, I completed violated my codependency recovery. During this time, my life did not become unmanageable, I did not make any negative chances in my recovery, and I did not use focusing on my cousin to distract me from my own pain. So to say that I trashed my recovery would not be fair. Which begs the question: What is recovery for me going forward?
I brought this question to my current counselor (my former one just moved on to another internship), and she agreed that I am at the point now where I can do harm-reduction, which would be reducing the harm of engaging in activities that were previously problematic. As she put it, "You can do some things while not doing other things." I agree that 7 months ago, it was not the right time to make that change, but now I think I am ready. The abstinence route definitely served its purpose for a time. I needed that almost one year to start putting iodine on wounds and look at myself, but it has proven itself impossible to execute in the long-term because he is still my cousin, I love him, and would like to know where he is at in the world and today's technology makes it difficult to carry out. In face, I believe the relapse rates for substance addictions are so high and successful lifelong recovery rates are so low because medical science has not advanced to make block the reaction in the brain's reward system when the substance is present, making abstinence the only way to recover. Believe me; I have a dad who has still not achieved recovery from alcohol use disorder after 20 years. For my homework for the next two weeks, I have to draw up a new recovery plan which may include:
Only googling and checking social media accounts I am not blocked from every 4-12 months (1-3 times a year) if I desire and do quick drive-bys if I am in the area no more than twice a year or for a valid reason, on the conditions:
The harm-reduction method is still experimental for me. It may work or not. Whether or not abstinence or harm-reduction works for you depends on a variety of factors such as the type of addiction you have, the severity of it, psychosocial history, culture that you live in, emotional/mental state, etc. Consult a professional, support group of people seasoned in recovery, and the logical side of yourself to determine which is best for you.
This blog is not intended to be dogmatic (tell you what to do) or sway you towards a specific recovery program, religion, or spiritual movement. As the founders of Alcoholics' Anonymous said, "Everything here is merely suggested; take what you like and leave the rest." In this blog post, I am going to be talking about the importance of working a program, which has the off-shot topics of being a part of a community and having contact with the Higher Power of Your Understanding. When I mean "program," I mean anything that helps you find inner-peace on your journey.
Why Community and Conscious Contact?
When I attended Al-Anon, it was often mentioned, "There are a lot of sick people out there (from their family of origin issues) that don't have a program." In a motivational talk titled "Why Go to Church?" at Mile Hi Church, a large New Thought-Science of Mind spiritual center in Colorado, the minister mentioned the quote, "Addiction grows in isolation but is arrested in community." The theme of this motivational talk was not about going to church/spiritual center out of moral obligation or obeying a god sitting on a throne somewhere in the sky world because the New Thought-SOM spiritual movement is not religious and dogmatic like that. Rather, the main theme of that that talk was about the importance of having a community and place to connect with the Higher Power of Your Understanding to the degree that you are comfortable for your Highest Good.
Last week at my home spiritual center (picture above is of their beautiful altar), my minister was talking about how she did not have a community or connection to a Higher Power for much of her adult life until she found New Thought in her 40's because the Catholicism that she was raised with did not speak to her soul. She said that she had a closed heart and lacked self-love during that time because she felt empty without that conscious contact with a Higher Power. When I was on a hike with several women from my spiritual center today, one of the practicioners said she felt a spiritual (soul) void before she came to New Thought after leaving the Episcopal Church of her youth that she grew in conflict with.
Alcoholics' Anonymous was founded on the principle of recovering from alcohol use disorder by connecting with others who struggle and sharing ideas on solutions. When my counselor was giving a lecture on "G.o.d. as I understand G.o.d." this week, he talked about how there are many paths to recovery/spirituality. Twelve-Step programs work for many, but there are also 12-Step-alternative programs, religious-based programs (e.g. Celebrate Recovery, Recovery Bible Groups, Buddhist Recovery Groups, etc.), spiritual movements, and many other types of programs out there. The key is finding the program/ path that works for YOU. If someone else such as your parents, children, friends, others in a recovery program have judgements, dislikes, or disagreements, do not take it personally. That is THEIR problem, NOT YOURS. It is about what YOU do well on. I and many other members of my recovery programs say, "The whole world can use a program." Today, there are 12-Step Programs for any type of problem such as Emotions Anonymous, Codependents' Anonymous, and Adult Children of Alcoholics/Dysfunctional Families and non-12-Step-Programs such as Recovery, Inc.
My Personal Experience with Needing Concious Contact and Community
Before I got into an Al-Ateen meeting, I read Al-Ateen literature, but I did not learn anything from it. Only when I started attending meetings and hearing others' stories and solutions was when I started to learn. Growing up as a casual Catholic and later Evangelical Christian, my mom and I went to church every week. She would always tell me the importance of having "God in my life" and going to "a church." These were ideas I resented because neither religion was for me. Even though I do not subscribe to either religion, believe in that concept of the Higher Power, or believe in mandatory church attendance for morality or to please the Higher Power, I now understand what she meant: having conscious contact with a Higher Power and having a program as a self-help guide is beneficial. My mom had the right idea but wrong religion for me, but it still gave me a foundation. When I was reaching age 18 and finally got my mom to stop bugging me, I was not in an spiritual community for about 2 years, declared myself agnostic leaning atheist, and swore I would never be a part of a spiritual community again because I violently disagreed with the Evangelical Christian religion. During this time, I progressed to my worst in my addiction of codependency (I was still in active codependency when I was actively practicing Christianity because I always had a lot of doubt about it but there were numerous other factors as well such as low self-esteem and trauma that attributed to my addiction). When I got into codependency recovery, I started to miss having a spiritual community even though I was active in Al-Anon, which I considered my spiritual community at the time and practiced the principles religiously. I believed in the Universe (G.o.d
as Divine Energy) at that point, and I thought, "I wish there was a place that is like a church, but not really a church in a traditional sense, where people sing positive songs and learn Universal Self-Help Truths." I looked into the Unitarian Universalist Church and the Episcopal Church because it was a liberal type of Christianity, but I still did not feel like either was a good fit for me. My counseling center had a New Thought-Science of Mind (aka Religious Science) spiritual center on-site. After months of reading and researching about it, I decided to give it a shot one Sunday in June of 2019. It took a while to feel comfortable with going regularly, and now I go almost every Sunday. The reason I go is because I always feel better after going there, always learn something new to help myself and understand humanity, and love being a part of a community of people who think like me about spirituality and the Higher Power. I no longer attend Al-Anon, but I get the same recovery benefits from my spiritual center, self-help lectures, and counseling. At this point in my journey, those three things do it for me.
Working a Program
I know that I mentioned 12 Steps, spiritual movements, religion, and Higher Power a lot in this blog post. If you have an issue with the 12 Steps, spiritual movements, religions, or a supernatural Higher Power, I completely understand. That is where you are at on your journey, and I respect that because I have been there. In fact, I believe everyone should respect where each other is on their journey. When I talk about "spiritual" or "spirituality," I am referring to having an awakening to your personal soul/spirit, not a particular religion or spiritual belief system. The main point of this blog post is to find a program that works for you and work it. By a "program," I mean any belief system (preferably a community but if that does not seem to work for you at this point in your journey, I get it) that can guide you on your journey. Remember your Higher Power can be the program itself. It does not matter if you are in recvery from codependency, adult children of alcoholic/dysfunctional family issues, substance addiction, behavioral addiction, or just the craziness of life. You will benefit from some source of self-help. Famous addiction interventionist Kristina Wandzilak said, "The most effective medicine for all human suffering is human connection. It transcends medical research and science. Addicts are dying for connection. We die of loneliness, isolation and shame long before any substance. At the end of the day, all we have is people. Find yours. Your life and recovery depends on it. Doesn’t matter where, recovery rooms, religious communities or spiritual movements, they will celebrate your life and one day, when you least expect it, they will save it." There are many paths to one destination (recovery, spirituality, inner peace, etc.); find yours.
He Would Not Close the Door; I Had to Do it for Him and -Most Importantly- For Myself
I know this has been an ongoing saga for the past few months with me trying to reach out to my cousin who I had the codependency problem to at least for closure. However, he has been merely sending implicit messages and playing mind games such as blocking me on Instagram, sending letters back, and even had his fiancé curse us out. Last week, I was going to leave a letter attached to a book on his doorstep to find after he got home from work since I knew he gets home from work before his fiancé. However, I did not want to risk his fiancé getting it first and sabotaging it, and it was a rainy day that day so I knew the letter and the book were going to get wet. After consulting with my mom, we decided it would be best for me to go knock on the door before his fiancé got home from work to try to talk to him just one time to end this game of chicken. After all, I have not seen him in 6 years. However, I was not expecting to talk civilly with him; I was expecting for him to react the same way his fiancé did. If I was going to be kicked off his property, I wanted MY COUSIN to do it, not some woman who was a stranger to me. I knocked twice, and he did not answer. I said to him through the door " I guess this means that I don't have a cousin M anymore, and you don't have a Cousin Bria anymore." I ended up leaving a copy of the revised version of my first book that tore us a part 6 years ago just to make a point. I saw him come out and retrieve it through my rearview mirror a I was driving up the street. However, I felt like that was not closing doors just yet...
The next day, I went back with a letter that said:
I am writing you this letter to ensure you that I will NOT be coming near your house anymore or making anymore attempts to contact you. However, I just want to let you know how I feel and we can both go on and live our best lives. I came to your house the other day because I was hoping to look you in the eye after 6 years. I wanted to talk to you like two 20 year-old and 30 year-old civilized adults and give you a copy of my newest book on spirituality, but I was not expecting to talk to you. I expected you to come out and tell me to get off your property. There was no way in hell I was going to end this game of chicken with your fiancée, who I do not even know and does not even know me, kicking me off your property in such unnecessary rage. She had no right to treat my mom and me that way. If I am going to be kicked off your property, I wanted YOU, my cousin, to do it. But you couldn’t even do it. You had to have a woman, who is not even a part of this because this is between you and me for the past 10 years long before you met her, do it. If you heard me talking to the door, I made a statement saying, “I guess this is a message that I don’t have a cousin, M, anymore, and you don’t have a cousin, Bria, anymore.” What I meant by that is you do not act like my cousin, so I guess you don’t want to be bothered. I then decided to leave the revised version of the FICTIONAL story that drove us apart 6 years ago instead of my newest publication because I wanted to make a point that it was a fictional story. I saw through my rearview mirror as I was driving up that street you came out and retrieved it. The bottom line is if you do not want to be bothered, that is PERFECTLY FINE, but you never communicated that with me. You just kept sending implicit messages such as blocking me on Instagram, sending letters back, and having your fiancée fight your battles. If you would have sent me something back saying that you did not want to be bothered, I would have stopped immediately. I am willing to close this door, but you are not. I think you are not communicating with me because you A. don’t know how and/or B. want to play mind games-YOU LOST. I am closing the door to this waiting room by letting you know how I feel and then letting you go. As I learned in my recovery (if you decide to read the book that is attached to this- completely your choice whether you want to read it, store it, throw it away, shit on it, burn it, etc.), I learned that if you truly love someone, you can let them go and live without them. I have already created a wonderful life for myself in my young adulthood in college studying psychology and world religions with a minor in women and gender studies, in multiple recovery programs, in therapy, on a spiritual path that speaks to my soul, many great friends, 2 parents who love me and proud of me, and having 2 jobs that I love. Believe me. I don’t need a cousin who treated me the way you did without apologizing and treats me that way you still do. However, even though I hate your actions, I will ALWAYS love you as my cousin. I am sorry for some of the things I said and did years ago to try to fix and control you because I was very young ( a lot changes between 14 and 20) and did not have the tools that I do now from my recovery. I have changed a lot, but if you have one version of me stuck in your head, that is your problem, not mine. If you experience an epiphany one day, even if it is decades from now, know that I am always here for you. My phone number will always be XXX-XXX-XXXX. Sorry this is the way it has to be, but you want it this way and I respect it."
attached to a copy of my newest book to show him how much I evolved. I left it on the doorstep when it was only him at home. I did not even need to knock; the dog started barking, which did not happen the day before. I ran back to my car and saw him come out once again to retrieve the cargo on his porch. I swung back around the street to exit the development and saw him standing on the edge of his driveway on his phone. I then drove to my therapist appointment and read her the above letter, and she thought I did an excellent job telling him how I felt without being accusatory and closing the door.
The Moral of the Story
The moral of the story is the other person will not always be willing to close the door. That is when you have to take initiative yourself as the healthy, recovering person to close it by any peaceful, non-violent means that you see fit. You cannot control what others do; you can only control what you do. It was not the outcome that I was hoping for, which was making amends with my cousin and having a cousin relationship with him going forward (in an ideal world), but I could not expect any different because he has a pattern of being unhealthy. My therapist told me when it comes to doing this type of stuff there is a happy medium between being angry, mean, and accusatory and too nice to the point that you are kissing up to still get the person's approval. She said she feels my letter and course of action met that happy medium because it validated how I felt by using "I" statements as much as possible, was firm which meant I was standing up for myself, and respectful because I apologized for my role and acknowledged his wishes and promised I would respect them. I was told I was setting boundaries for both myself and him.
That prior session, my therapist read me something from Instagram that talked about not waiting in someone else's "waiting room." In that session after I closed the door, my therapist said that it sounds like lifted the weight off my shoulders, left it in the waiting room, walked out, and locked the door. That visualization helps me a lot. Looking back, that waiting was cold, lonely, and dark; I do not have to wait there anymore and should not have to wait there anymore because he may never come out. It goes back to that basic principle I realized when I first got into recovery just over a year and half ago: it will happen in the Universe's time, not my time and I have to take care of myself in the meantime. If it never happens, there is a Greater Purpose for that. I do not have to miss out on anymore beautiful things the world and the Universe has to offer me while waiting in that cold, lonely, dark waiting room for someone who may never come out.
The Recovery Process
Addictions still remain a mysterious disorder. While understanding of addiction and addiction treatment has made much progress over the last decade, there is still much to learn about the disorder and -more importantly- how to effectively recover from it. By the way, I am not just talking about substance addictions such as drugs or alcohol. I am also talking about behavioral addictions such as codependency, adult children of alcoholic patterns that are often similar if not identical to codependency, and emotional addictions such as rage, jealousy, victimhood, or martyrdom.
According to the book Learn to Value Your Childhood by Vince DiPasquale, there are six stages to the recovery process: 1. self-knowledge, 2. developing a support system/recovery family, 3.self-parenting or family reconstruction, 4.developing a positive attitude, 5.family of origin work, and 6. inner child work. The first stage of self-knowledge is intellectual recovery. I have also heard Vince DiPasquale himself call it "education" in his lectures. This stage is just scratching the surface, where you may read self-help books, listen to lectures, research different programs, and attend different meetings. However, the mistake that many people make, including myself, is to stay in that stage. The problem with staying in that stage is you never get down to do the real work where you see results.
My Personal Story
I started learning about addiction and recovery from the time I was 11 years-old when I saw the show Addicted with Kristina Wandzilak. For years, I read numerous books articles on addiction and codependency and watched every TV show about addiction and codependency. I realized I was a codependent when I was about 13, but I thought my education was enough to cure myself. Heck, I wrote books on the subject while my life was at the peak of unmanageability. I entered Al-Ateen when I was 16 and quickly picked up on the tools and principles. When I turned 18, I transitioned to Al-Anon, where I picked up on more tools and principles at even a faster rate. I spoke at anniversary meetings as a representative for both Al-Ateen and Al-Anon. I even spoke at a convention in front of 200 people and got a standing ovation. BUT, it was all from the head, not the heart. I could easily talk a good talk, but I was not able to apply the principles in my life to yield results. I hit rock bottom the summer after I graduated high school when my problem cousin was released from prison and showed signs that he was not getting better or willing to reach out to me. I fell into a depression and went through emotional withdrawal. One night in Al-Anon, I heard a share that completely shifted my thinking and I got proof that my cousin still possessed the behaviors of the diseases of addiction. I decided it was time to take care of me, so I went to therapy the following week and opened up all of my childhood wounds, ready to work on them. From there, I started talking about my most painful wounds. I started putting into practice what I was learning such as mirror affirmations, asking for help everyday, and reading my meditation books 3X a day. A year and a half later, my thinking is a lot more positive, I do not feel the need to control nearly as much, I love myself without conditions for the first time, and I know that the only place peace can come from is inside myself. I still have a long way to go, but I have made great progress. I have learned that our hearts have to break for the light to shine through. Once we are willing to let our hearts temporarily break apart completely) because they are already hanging by a thread by the pain we are stuffing down), we can begin to put the pieces back together.
The Consequences of Intellectual Recovery Instead of Real Recovery
From my own experience and others' experiences, intellectual recovery only leads staying the same in your pain and angry about not making progress and making your life even more unmanageable. Intellectual recovery makes our lives even more unmanageable by us using our knowledge to fix everyone but ourselves. We become bitter because others are not making process when we are the ones we should be worrying about making progress and controlling and rigid about the rules of the book. I have seen people in self-help meetings be so controlling and rigid about how to run the meeting because they have all the book knowledge from religiously attending for 20 or 30 years but not making any progressing in letting go of control in their families, work, or the meeting itself. The term "two-stepper" describes a person who jumps from Step 1/12 to 12/12. They jump from acknowledging they have a problem to wanting to carry the message by saving the world, even if it does not want to be saved lol (codependency).
How to Achieve Real Recovery
If you are a good codependent like I am, you want the cure and you want the cure now. The key is you have to be willing to pull the band-aids off your wounds and put iodine on them. It will hurt temporarily, but you will be genuinely healed and free forever. The subsequent stages, especially when you et to family of origin and inner child work, are all about that. There is no one-way to do recovery. You have to find the combination of paths to recovery that works for you such as rehabs, psychotherapy, 12-Step Programs, 12-Step-Alternative Programs, an established religion, a spiritual movement, a personal belief system, alternative therapies such as yoga, meditation, reiki, hypnosis, etc. Remember, the broken pieces in your heart let the light shine of self-awareness and healing shine through.
Hi Readers, I haven't been blogging the past couple weeks because I was in the process of finishing my new book Let Go, Love Life (the link is on the "Books" page), family drama (which I will get into), and going back to school for the spring semester.
As you know, I am in codependency recovery from my cousin who had a substance use disorder. He is now sober and engaged to his fiancée but does not work a program. About a week and a half ago, my mom and I decided to go over to his house to at least get closure and congratulate him on his engagement. His fiancée, whom I never met before, answered the door and started yelling and cursing at us. She made it clear that we were not to come back there again or mail anything to the house. I civilly congratulated her on their engagement and walked away, calling her a mother f****er as I was walking away so her neighbor would hear (I rarely use that kind of profanity, so you could tell I was livid). My cousin must have told her lies about my mom and me. He did not even reach out to apologize for her behavior. Ten years ago, he never stood up for me when his now ex-girlfriend treated me bad, and ten years later (even though I am an adult now, this is happening again, even though he is sober.
The Lesson: What is Real Love?
Even though I am fuming and greatly disappointed in my cousin, I still love him as my cousin. However, the love that I have towards him is a different kind of love. As opposed to before where I was trying to control and fix him and would stop at nothing to be in his life because I loved him so much as he was my favorite cousin, I now am willing to let him go and do whatever he needs to do/be with to be happen, even if I am not a apart of it or approve of who he is marrying. There are a variety of reasons why he may now want me to be his life such as being triggered, unresolved anger, unwanted reminder of his active addiction, just not interested, etc. Because I love him, I have to respect what he wants, even if that includes not wanting me in his life.
I learned in my Psychology of Human Sexuality class last semester during our chapter on love and intimacy that you know when you truly love someone when you can let him or her go and can live without him or her. If you love someone, you respect their wishes as a separate human being from you. Unlike a year and a half ago, I can let him go, build an amazing life for myself without him, and have faith he will come back someday if it is meant to be. If it meant for us to ever see each other in this lifetime, the Universe (what I call my Higher Power) will make it happen in the right time and in the right way, which do not think is any time soon because he is still not well. Manipulating the situation will not do any good; it will only backfire. As they say in the recovery programs, "Love them, pray for them/wish them well, and let them be who they are."
The best thing I can do is to wish him well and pray for him while taking care of myself and living my best life. The only alternatives are to live in misery and bitterness while he lives his life not even giving me a thought and/or follow him and stalk him, which will definitely not work, make him recoil even more, and land me in jail (I'm only half kidding). I am only 20 years-old. From the time I was 10 until I was 19, I lived and breathed him when he did not even care about me. I lost 9 years to him; I do not need to lose anymore. I have my whole life ahead of me. I am now a second-semester sophomore in college with a 4.0 GPA, have an internship lined up this summer, recently took a volunteer position at my spiritual center, am working really hard to better myself in counseling and in my recovery programs, made a new great friend, declared a double-major in world religions, and wrote another book. There is so much I already have to look forward to in my life and so much more to come. My 20's are going to be an exciting my time because I am so close to getting out on my own and building my own life. As my therapist said, I do not have to wait in his "waiting room" anymore. Regardless if that day comes where we reunite or not, I have to take care of my and do what I can to live an amazing life. It is not the problems that we face; it is how we solve them. Thankfully, codependency recovery ha given me the tools to solve them.
Description:"We are not human beings have a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience" and true spirituality is "having an awakening to your own personal spirit/soul/self" are the greatest lessons that author Bria Rose Riley learned in her codependency and adult children of alcoholics recovery. Through a series of vignettes, she shares the Universal Lessons that she has learned and applied from her personal experiences, observations, and reflections and the people she has encountered on her journey, various recovery programs, New Thought-Science of Mind spiritual teaching institution, and writings of great spiritual teachers of the past and present. She shares these Universal Truths with you to strengthen your soul on your journey in this earth school, allowing you to shine like the amethyst that you already are.
Bria Riley is a published author, recovering codependent and adult child of an alcoholic, who is active in several recovery programs. She knows the turmoil and heartbreak of growing up in an addiction-stricken family and wants to help others who have also been affected by addiction through her writing.