My name is Diane, and I’m a grateful believer in Jesus who has victory over love and relationship addiction and codependency. I’m overcoming pride, judgmental thoughts, and grief.
I’m the oldest of four. My father was an alcoholic and my mom was a critical, judgmental codependent. Both parents brought their own baggage into the marriage, which flowed downhill to us kids. So, like many families, ours was dysfunctional.
As a result, I grew up believing love was conditional and I had to earn it and prove I was worthy of love. This led to feelings of unworthiness and insecurity, and to people-pleasing, perfectionism, codependency, and love and relationship addiction. I was not raised in church but accepted Christ as a teenager. I quickly turned back to the world. Soon after, I discovered I could get the attention, affirmation, and affection I needed from boys by using my body. I mistakenly equated sex with love.
I used sex, love, and relationships to feel valuable and loved. They were just a means to an end, a temporary fix to dull my emotional pain. These choices would initially produce good feelings of love, affection, and acceptance. But shame, guilt, and the pain of rejection came afterward.
I was always looking for the next emotional fix. I used others to give me the emotional high I needed to mask the ugliness and insecurity inside that I couldn’t face. Love and relationships were my drugs of choice—I used them like others use drugs or alcohol.
I quickly grew disillusioned with each relationship and moved on to the next. I’ve had many broken relationships, four failed marriages, and four children. Three of my children have struggled with alcohol issues.
I began attending church again in my 30s. I got baptized and rededicated my life. But I was still living in the world and for myself, not for God. Eventually, I turned away from God and the church again when my third marriage failed, and I stayed away for 13 more years. I was so focused on my husband’s faults that I couldn’t see my own. I turned back to what I knew, to what had always comforted me, my love and relationship addiction.
In 2013 I found myself alone after my fourth marriage failed, and I was distraught over my son’s addictions. Just like all of my other relationships, I had expected my husband to fulfill all my emotional needs and affirm that I was worthy of love. But he didn’t. He couldn’t. I stopped caring about him. Just like my parents, I had dragged my children through all my dysfunction and sin. I passed it all on to them.
It was here that I finally felt truly broken and weary. It was here that I turned my face to God and begged for his forgiveness—again. But this time I was ready to finally surrender it all to him. Matthew 11:28 spoke volumes to me: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (NIV).
At my first Celebrate Recovery® meeting in September 2013, I quickly realized that this was exactly what I needed for my own healing. For the first time in my life I took off my mask and was honest about my faults, shame, guilt, failures, and insecurities. I finally stepped out of denial and admitted that I was powerless and that my life was unmanageable. At Celebrate Recovery I felt loved and safe. I felt accepted for who I was, not for who I wanted others to think I was. I started attending weekly and got into a 12-step group.
In the introduction to the 12-step program, John Baker says, “You will begin to experience the true peace and serenity you have been seeking, and you will no longer have to rely on your dysfunctional, compulsive, and addictive behaviors as a temporary ‘fix’ for your pain.” I didn’t really believe it, but I was desperate, and I had just enough faith to believe that maybe God really could and would heal me. And surely but slowly, he did.
I never wanted to go back to my old life. So I just kept moving forward, one day at a time. I faithfully worked my recovery program, and God was faithful to heal me.
After five years, I am a different person than I was when I started Celebrate Recovery. God has removed all the shame and guilt from my past. He has taught me how to take responsibility for my part in all my poor choices and broken relationships. I have learned how to forgive those who have hurt me, as well as myself, and to let go of resentments. God has filled the void. Now I’ve been single and celibate for 5 ½ years.
I learned how to let go of my son and what it meant to turn him over to God. It wasn’t easy to admit and accept the fact that I couldn’t change my son (or anyone else for that matter). I couldn’t fix him. I couldn’t help him. And I couldn’t save him, which is God’s job. All I can do is love him and work on me.
I truly believe God brought me to Celebrate Recovery to prepare me for what was to come. Eighteen months ago, my son lost his battle and died from a heroin overdose. My relationship with Christ, my church, and my Celebrate Recovery family have been my strength. Though Satan tried to steal my son from me, the victory belongs to the Lord because my son was saved! He is healed. He is whole. He is happy. I know I will see him again!
And John Baker was right. I now have true peace and serenity because of Christ! Celebrate Recovery changed my life. Now I’m yielding myself to God to be used to bring this Good News to others, both by my example and by my words.