By Bob Newby, West Region Director for Celebrate Recovery
I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ. I struggle with codependency showing itself in anxiety, avoidance, people-pleasing, and control. My name is Bob.
Growing up, nurturing was hit or miss…it mainly seemed a miss for me. I grew up with the pain of feeling ignored, marginalized, and unimportant.
My insecurities and hurts led me to abuse alcohol at a young age. The first time I got drunk, I was only 14, on a deer hunting trip with my dad and his buddies. By the time I was 17, I was regularly drinking to cope with my emotional pain.
During the fall semester of my freshman year of college, a man named Jim came to my dorm room and invited me to a Bible study. I really wanted to come, because I had lots of questions. I had been reading the Bible on my own off and on for a couple of years. This man had joy and peace that transcended his circumstances. Jim had what I wanted. I could see Jesus in my friend Jim. I soon put my trust in Jesus. Jim became my best friend and, for the next two years, he discipled me in the faith.
As a new Christian, I learned to trust God about my grades. I came to believe God loved and accepted me just as I was. In fact, he delighted in me just the way that I was. The first verse I memorized was Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (ESV).
I was welcomed into a very loving, close-knit Christian fellowship group on campus. I learned how to memorize scriptures, study the Bible, share my faith, and disciple younger believers. Some of my closest friendships were made during this time. My deep hurts from feelings of inadequacy were significantly addressed by my new faith in Jesus and the warm, accepting, loving fellowship of believers I was a part of. I stopped abusing alcohol during this time because my new friends didn’t drink, and I didn’t feel the need to because Jesus took much of the pain away.
So I should have lived happily ever after, right?
While my anxiety about grades significantly decreased over the years, I became anxious about other things: money, my marriage, my kids performing well, and my career. My codependency was going to play itself out in the context of my adult life.
In 2003, we discovered a close family member had been self-medicating by using marijuana. My feelings of needing to control the situation heightened to an all-time high. I based my emotional well-being on how this family member was doing. I was extremely angry at this person for lying and making poor choices. But I didn’t know how to help. So, I reached out for some help.
It was at this time I started going to family counseling. After a few months of appointments, I began to understand some of my codependency.
In 2004, I started to attend Celebrate Recovery regularly. I began going to Open Share and talking about what was on the inside. I started becoming more reflective about my emotions and verbalizing my feelings. In Celebrate Recovery and counseling, I learned to focus on my side of the street.
I worked through the fourth step for the first time. I made a list of people I needed to forgive and a list of people I needed to ask forgiveness from. Celebrate Recovery did wonderful things for my closest relationships. I was able to deeply forgive those who hurt me, and I was able to make amends to those I hurt.
I made amends with my two adult children for the times I overreacted, and the times I tried to control them when they were in fact, young adults. Today I have loving and supportive relationships with both of my children. I owe so much to Celebrate Recovery for helping me humble myself, make amends and forgive others.
In October 2020, my closest and younger sibling, Mary, died within ten weeks of being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. We had been making retirement plans together. That dream ended quickly with Mary’s passing. I felt intense sadness and grief and am continuing the grieving process.
In December 2021, another sibling of mine, Linda, died from cancer.
The past two years have been years of sadness, grief, and loss.
I give myself permission to grieve these losses. But, because of Celebrate Recovery, I am OK with not being OK.
The hurt I felt as a child, not feeling like I measured up, and comparing myself to others, is fuel to share how much God loves us. People are loved and have value.
My codependency did its best to ruin my closest relationships. But God used my codependency to lead me to the doors of Celebrate Recovery. I have found forgiveness, supportive relationships, serenity, and purpose through these doors. I found a safe place to process my feelings without someone trying to fix or judge me.
Celebrate Recovery is an amazing tool to move you toward a more secure, comforting relationship with God and others who care and understand if you struggle with anxiety, people-pleasing, substance abuse, or controlling behavior.
To find the nearest Celebrate Recovery, go to www.celebraterecovery.com. There is a group finder that has a list of the groups in your area.
Thank you for letting me share my story with you.
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/.