My name is Jeni, and I’m a believer who struggles with Co-Dependency and Adult Child of Family Dysfunction.
When I was young, my parents got a divorce right around the time I was in 1st grade. My mom remarried, and I found myself with a stepdad who I did not want. I was angry that he had a place in my life and would argue with him often. They eventually divorced, and my mom remarried, and I found myself again with another stepdad with who I argued with all the time.
When I was around 12, my dad started to become less involved in my life, leaving me confused and feeling abandoned. I feared I did something wrong. So I began to perform. I tried to be this perfect kid to earn his love and approval. This started the unhealthy habit of trying to be what I thought everyone wanted me to be, which I carried right into adulthood.
I met my husband, Johnny, in college ministry. Johnny drank while we were dating, but I didn’t know the full extent of how much.
He continued to drink for the first 3 1/2 years of our marriage. He thought he was hiding it from me. However, I could see that his drinking was out of control. But I was afraid to confront him. I was afraid if I did that, he would leave me. I honestly thought that he wouldn’t believe I was worth putting up with my anger. In my past, arguing and confrontation always equaled divorce. I didn’t know who I was angrier at, him for lying to me or myself for not calling him out on it.
While I was pregnant with our first daughter, Johnny realized he needed recovery. He started attending Celebrate Recovery and eventually started working to celebrate recovery. At that time, my relationship with my mom was extremely co-dependent. Even though I was married and out of the house, I couldn’t break away from the feeling that I had to take care of her. I often put her opinions and needs above Johnny’s.
I knew I needed recovery, but stubbornness, denial, and fear held me back. Thankfully, my pain eventually outweighed my fear, and I realized that my life was unmanageable and I needed recovery.
At the very beginning of my recovery, I remember working on Principle 1 Step 1 and the idea of being powerless; I wrote and shared: “I am powerless to heal from my childhood hurt and anger alone.” Matthew 19:26 (ESV) encouraged me, “‘With man, this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’” It was the first time I began to realize how much hurt I hadn’t truly dealt with.
Going into Step 4, I had a lot of fear. Fear that it would be too hard or too painful, or that I would do it wrong. But looking back, it was where the real grieving process started. I had never looked into past events before and realized how they were affecting my choices in my present adult life.
I realized that I had never forgiven my mom or grieved the divorce of my parents, which was shocking to me. So I allowed myself to grieve the loss of the family that I knew and my lost sense of security, and it was so healing.
I also realized that I was a very angry child growing up. I think that stems from never being able to process how I was feeling. In my house growing up, the family secret was denial. We were masters at “whatever happened in the past, did not happen.” As a result, we never talked about things or how we were feeling.
Through Celebrate Recovery, God has given me countless victories in my life. I’ve been able to forgive my mom and make my amends to her as well. A beautiful thing recovery has given me is the ability to see my mom not just as my mom but as her own person, with her own story, her own hurts, and emotions. We have built a new relationship, which is healthier, and I am so thankful that she is a part of my life.
I used to fear that my feelings made me a burden and that people wouldn’t think I’m worth it. But thanks to recovery, I’m learning to be honest about my feelings. And even better, people aren’t running from me when I do. It is actually strengthening my relationships.
I love that Johnny and I get to do recovery together, and I love that my kids are growing up around recovery. I know that no matter how hard I try, I can’t control what choices my kids make as they get older, but I love that they know about recovery and know where to find healing. I also love that they see Johnny and me working through our recovery. They see us cleaning up our side of the street, owning our issues, and working through our hurts, hang-ups, and habits. I know that this is making an impact on their lives.
Recovery is an amazing journey. As a whole, I’ve had victory over anger, resentment, bitterness, jealousy, guilt, shame, and fear. When I was younger, I was drawn to the verse 2 Corinthians 1:4 (GOD’S WORD Translation), “He comforts us whenever we suffer. That is why whenever other people suffer, we are able to comfort them by using the same comfort we have received from God.” It gave me comfort that one day, God could use the hurt in my life to help others. I love that Celebrate Recovery gives me the chance to do that.
If you would like to learn how to start your own Celebrate Recovery ministry, to contact your Celebrate Recovery Rep, please visit: https://crgroups.info/. To get involved in an already existing Celebrate Recovery ministry near you, please visit: https://locator.crgroups.info/.