The Trouble with Recovery

The Trouble with Recovery

Can I tell you what codependency recovery feels like for me?

I feel like a recovering alcoholic working with people drinking wine all day. I ABSORB everyone’s codependency and feel like an absolute crazy person.

I have been going to counseling for two years now. I have charted out all the abuse that I can remember happening in my formative years. I have processed how I felt then and how it makes me feel now. I’ve read all of it out loud to my counselor and discussed it. I’ve cried out all the tears I put away for too long. I’ve made the list of my character defects and processed them with God. I’ve made a list of people I have wronged due to my character defects. I’ve asked forgiveness to the ones I’ve hurt along the way. Now, I process how I feel and I raise awareness to others.

Yet, after going through the 12 steps in codependency recovery, I find myself still in the battle. It’s a daily. Battle. Today, I’m tired and I want to run to my car and hide there for a few hours… maybe a few days. You know, grab my dog, gather up my friends, and hit the road. Take a vacation with all the money I don’t have. Somebody drop me a line over here!

The chaos of everyone’s dysfunction is just hanging in the air like an electric field and I’m too tired to pray about it. To do the exercises to get me centered. I want to go the lazy route and just shove all the chaos deep down.

My codependent self wants me to not process today because I’m afraid. I am embarrassed by how I’ve responded to life and I want to be hard on myself. My toxic shame wants to take away the lessons that could be learned from scenarios I reacted to instead of responding in a healthy manner. Basically, I either want to distance myself from life and shove everything down or embrace everything in a self-deprecating manner. Ew.

But here’s the thing… I shouldn’t do that. Why? Because life is too good to live in misery.

Thanks to the work I’ve done, I am only a few steps away from peace. Before, I was carrying years’ worth of unprocessed emotion. Now, I have a much lighter load and I’m learning every day to give it to God.

Recovery is a process. There are times of bliss and times of lesson-learning. Both are valuable endeavors. So, press on in your recovery! I’ll be working today out with God despite my desires to hide in a hole.

Happy processing!

Recovery is a Process

Recovery is a Process

Lately, I’ve been struggling more with my body image. It’s something I need to take time to surrender to God, but there are also issues I need to address.

My tendency is to be a chaotic eater. That’s where you want to be healthy, but live such a chaotic life that in the moment of ravenous hunger, you settle for whatever is closest and most readily available (fast food is a popular one). I also zone out with my food. I’ll be eating away and look down to realize it’s “suddenly” gone.

When my body image and eating issues start getting out of hand, I go to the book Intuitive Eating by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. Their book has helped me tremendously in working through my emotional eating.

Lately, I’ve found myself fearing the idea of not having enough food or being left hungry. I think it may be because at my job I work at the front desk and don’t have the freedom to move around the building like my coworkers. If I have a need, oftentimes I have to put it off because of my responsibilities at the front. This could lead to me feeling trapped, so when it is time to eat, I feel like I have to over eat since I don’t know when my next opportunity will be. This is just a guess because I’ve been ignoring what I’ve been doing for a while.

Like the title of this blog says, recovery is a process. There’s no magic wand to swoop in and fix your problems. It’s a walk with God where you feel your pain, bring it to Him, and work through the pieces He brings to your attention. God is good to gently guide us through recovery one step at a time. I went through the Intuitive Eating book one time and experienced a release of food guilt that I’d been carrying around for a very long time. I think this time through, I’ll develop new and healthy habits when it comes to eating and food choice.

I’m excited about the possibilities, but am aware the process is not oftentimes easy. Eating is so tied in to our emotions on a subconscious level. I understand that my eating patterns serve as coping mechanisms for dealing with stress, boredom, and twisted ideas of pleasure.

So, here we go into the recovery process with food!

Dealing with Shame from Authority

Dealing with Shame from Authority

This week, I’m going to write about a personal experience from my childhood. The point is to show you that no memory is too insignificant to process in regards to recovery. It’s also to show that God is faithful to bring us healing when we ask.

Ever since I’ve had jobs, I dealt with anxiety towards my bosses. I’d set high expectations for myself, work hard, and feel like I was running from reprimand. The thought of doing something wrong haunted me. I would feel sick at work and obsessively think about stupid things I had done or said. If my boss asked to speak with me, I always assumed it was a bad report.

This past month, I started processing why I feel so much shame at work and I asked God to reveal to me what I needed to see.

As I was going to bed one night, a memory flashed in my head. It was a memory I hadn’t thought of in a long time. On a family vacation, in the middle of the night, I had gotten up and was scared. At home, when this would happen, I would go into my parents’ room and sleep with them. Here, we had so much family around, I wasn’t sure where everyone was sleeping. I made it to a bedroom where my grandparents were sleeping and snuggled up with them. At some point, my grandmother realized there was someone else in her bed and was somewhat startled. She startled speaking loudly, which woke me up, and by some force of nature, I ended up falling on the floor. When she realized who I was, she yelled, “Get back in your bed!” I was mortified. I ran back to the room I was staying in and dove into the covers. My desire was to never leave my new safe haven for the rest of the trip. I was humiliated and traumatized by the rejection. The next morning, my grandmother told everyone what had happened like it was hilarious. I was further mortified by the whole occurrence.

Once that memory popped into my mind, it surprised me how embarrassed I was about it. As an adult, I didn’t want to tell anyone. In my head, I was thinking, Surely this little incident couldn’t be affecting my work relationship with bosses… right?

I wrote a letter to God about it and read it to my counselor. She told me some very helpful elements about my story:

  1. I didn’t do anything wrong
  2. I wasn’t given appropriate coping mechanisms to deal with separation anxiety
  3. My grandmother showed me I had bad ideas and that I was wrong
  4. That led me to believe I had the potential for wrong/bad ideas
  5. This led me to doubt my abilities and fear getting in trouble for my ideas

Basically, the unprocessed shame I experienced in that moment kept me wrapped in fear, doubt, and guilt into the future.

Here’s how the scenario should’ve gone down:

When I was scared and would go to my parent’s bedroom, they should have brought me back to bed and instilled in me healthy coping mechanisms for fear and loneliness (praying, reassurance, etc.). My grandmother should’ve done the same. This would’ve validated my feeling afraid, but helped me learn how to overcome that fear by seeking God.

However, my parents and grandparents were doing the best they knew to do. They weren’t shown the proper way either. After talking through all this and asking God to remove my anxiety and shame from this memory, it was astounding how different I felt at work! I can’t express the peace and certainty that sits with me now. Can you believe it? From unpacking one, traumatic (but seemingly silly) childhood memory!

I know there’s more to my periods of anxiety at work, but God has been gracious to give me a little respite. I can tell that I feel more freedom now to be genuine with my bosses. God is in control, therefore, I don’t need to worry. I can have peace in all situations.

So, if you have a memory hanging around and it seems ridiculous, process it! See what God does with it. When we keep our shame to ourselves, it grows. When we share it with someone we trust, it is destroyed in the light.