By Jeni Baker, Co-Global Executive Director
Hi, my name is Jeni, and I’m a child of God who struggles with co-dependency and I’m an adult child of family dysfunction. I first got into recovery 9.5 years ago when I was finally willing to admit that I was in emotional pain and that my desire to control everything and do it all on my own power was making my life unmanageable. Even though I have been in recovery for a while now, going through the pandemic has shown me just how important it is to keep working on my own recovery. New issues may pop up, or in my case, old hang-ups and habits can creep back in during times of stress and pain. My struggles with control and codependency came roaring back during the pandemic. Everything felt chaotic, a big trigger for me, and my life suddenly had no routine to it. We were all home all the time, and even though it was kind of fun for a couple of weeks, we all quickly began to feel the effects of being isolated.
I began to really worry about my kids’ mental health during the pandemic. So, my old behavior of over-functioning and controlling kicked in and I became convinced that if I could just come up with the right combination of chores, healthy eating, and exercise, then I could fix my kids. Thankfully, I was in a step study at the time, and through working the steps I was able to realize that I was feeling scared and out of control myself, and my unhealthy way of dealing with that is to try and control and fix someone else. Instead, I was able to acknowledge that I was feeling scared and out of control and turn that over to God and trust in Him. Trust that He is in control. And I got many chances to work on apologizing to my kids when I attempted to control them to make myself feel better.
I have also learned a lot about my codependency during this time. The pandemic brought a lot of pain into my life, and not just my life. I know it brought pain into everyone’s life. For me, the pain helped me look even deeper into my recovery and my past and learn some new things.
I started recovery thinking that it was all about my current struggles with codependency and that I just needed to stop said behavior. And then, as I found healing and began learning more about codependency, I discovered that childhood hurt is most often the root of codependency. These codependent behaviors that I struggle with, such as enabling, controlling, or dismissing my own needs for the needs of someone else, all formed as survival techniques in my childhood. These behaviors were necessary for me to feel safe growing up in a dysfunctional home. Learning this truth has helped me look at my struggle with codependency a little differently.
These behaviors are all ways to self-regulate and help me feel better when I feel out of control, when my emotions feel out of control, or when my circumstances feel out of control.
So, for me, recovery from codependency looks like becoming aware of my codependent behaviors and realizing that I no longer need those patterns of behaviors or belief systems to feel safe, or to make me safe. I had to unlearn the survival tactics I learned and needed in my childhood. Once I was aware of my behaviors and understood the why beneath the behaviors, then I was able to make healthier choices moving forward.
I am currently in my second online step study since the pandemic, and I cannot stress enough how staying active in recovery has made a difference in my life. I need to be working the steps and principles daily. The steps are not meant to be one-and-done but are meant to be done continually. My life has had lots of change since I started recovery, and thankfully I’m not the same person I was 9.5 years ago. By staying active and connected in my recovery, I’m able to recognize much faster if old habits or hang-ups are popping up and choose a different response or behavior. Or choose to fight against old beliefs that threaten to take hold.
The verse that God is using to encourage me in my current season of recovery is Psalm 119:114, “You are my hiding place and my shield; I wait for Your word” (NASB). This verse reminds me when I feel stressed, chaotic, or overwhelmed, that instead of turning to control to find comfort and protection, I need to turn to God because He is my comforter and protector. Thank you for letting me share.
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/.