My Quest In To The Light – Part 6

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Growing

I felt God speaking to me about not giving up, not settling for where I was, and that life didn’t have to be this hard, that He had more for me.  I knew I had to find some relief and healing from my pain.  I worked in the substance abuse and mental health field for 10 years so I knew all of the counselors in my town and was not comfortable having any of them take me on as a client. I racked my brain to think about where I should go and what I should do, then I remembered a wonderful professor I had in college that also had her own private practice.  I was able to track her down and schedule an appointment to come see her.  She remembered me from college and thought I was a good student. She agreed to take me on as a client.

Before my first counseling appointment I found a college text book on my bookshelf called “Another Chance – Hope and Health for the Alcoholic Family” by Sharon Wegscheider Cruse.  I had kept it from a class I had taken with my counselor 11 years prior on “Addiction and the Family”. I have no idea why I kept it, but it proved to be a very important book for me when I found it again.  In the book is a chapter on spirituality.  It was a fascinating chapter, and as I read it again I saw it with new eyes. When I read it 11 years before in college it meant nothing to me, but now it meant a great deal.  After I read it I wanted more than anything to get help and to heal. God was calling from within me, “I am here.  I have always been here.  I did not leave you or abandon you.  I am sending help to heal this pain once and for all.”  That chapter on spirituality was the first thing I read on my recovery journey.  I made a copy of it and put it in a binder, along with many other healing notes, papers, worksheets, articles, and photos I have collected along my healing path.  But that chapter on spirituality is marked as “the first”.

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The day finally came for me to have my first appointment with my counselor.  I had to drive an hour and a half one way to get to her.  I listened to my favorite music and cried the whole way.  The healing had already begun and I hadn’t even seen her yet.  I got there a little early so I parked my car in a church parking lot across the street from her office.  Those few minutes of waiting in the car seemed so surreal. I was anxious and nervous.  I wondered if this was the right thing to do.  I tried to talk myself out of going through with this, but then I prayed to God that He would give me the strength and courage to see it through.  I believed I owed it to myself to see if she could help me. I had been in pain for long enough and it was time for a change. I knew I couldn’t keep doing the same things and expecting different results, and I didn’t know how to do things differently on my own yet.  I knew I needed professional help.  And I knew that I needed to do this a long time ago and I never did it.  This was happening now and I chose it.  I made this choice.  That had never happened before so it was a big deal for me.  I had never chosen to do something because it was what I wanted. I had never chosen to do something to take care of me.  Every major life decision I had made up to this point was to make someone else happy or to gain some neurotic acceptance and false love.

I arrived at my appointment and my counselor was waiting at the gate.  She remembered me from so long ago in college and she was happy to see me.  We embraced and she led me to her office, a small building behind her home and gardens. There was a worn, old, comfortable sofa in the room so I had a seat.  She pulled out a notebook and a pen and took notes while we talked. She asked me how I was feeling right now and where it was in my body and how it felt in my body.  We always had a “check-in” to begin our sessions to ground me in the present moment and help me connect with my emotions and be in my body.  I immediately began to cry, the pain wanted to come out so badly.  After we discussed my feelings I told her I needed help in fulfilling the decision I had made to marry the baptist and I needed help in keeping my commitment.  I told her I was unhappy in the marriage but knew I could not get out of it.  This was my second marriage for goodness sake, I had to make this one work.  I believed that I was the problem and if we could work on my issues and heal my pain I should be able to keep my commitment.  After we talked a while more she helped me realize that there were many different options that I had, besides just settling for staying in an unhealthy marriage.  She told me that after we discussed all of the options and several other issues I would be able to choose the option that was best for me.  She always gave me homework before the end of each session.  I had to journal about each day of my week and bring my notes to discuss for the next session.

After I did this for several weeks we were able to identify that I had an issue with codependency. I was care-taking others (mainly my husband) to earn my worth.  I really didn’t know anything about codependency so before I went home from that session I stopped at a bookstore (I am a sucker for a good self-help book) and purchased a book called “Codependent No More” by Melodie Beaty.  Most codependency books are about the alcoholic and their codependent spouse. You know the one who enables the alcoholic, covers up for them, takes care of all of their responsibilities, and completely neglects and abandons themselves?  This book was about alcoholism and codependency so I had to read between the lines.  I was not married to an alcoholic, but my life had become unmanageable because I was care-taking my narcissistic, narrow-minded, bully of a husband to earn my worth and value and I completely neglected myself.  I purchased the book and hid it in my purse for fear that he would find it and be angry.  He believed that I was going to counseling so “that lady could talk some sense in to me so I would start acting like the “good baptist wife” I was supposed to be.”  Little did he know that we were discussing all of my options and I was smuggling books in to the house that would help me understand things more clearly; certainly not something he would approve of.

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We slept in separate rooms at night and I relished that time to be alone and read.  When I began reading the codependency book I was fascinated, astounded, and shocked at the contents.  I was finally getting an explanation and a better understanding of why I felt the way I did, why I acted the way I did, and why I made the decisions I did. There was a checklist of codependent characteristics in the forth chapter that was particularly eye-opening for me.  There were 234 items on the list and I had marked all but seven items.  So now I was convinced I was codependent.  My eyes were wide open to the fact that I had these issues.  I was no longer in denial.  Now what?

I continued my counseling sessions, my journaling, and reading codependency books. These healing rituals were taking me down a very unfamiliar path.  It was one of possibility, opportunity, growth, and self-discovery.  I would have a tremendous amount of healing and growing to do and some difficult memories and feelings to revisit, but I was loving where I was headed.  I was finally headed toward the light.

 

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