Sunday, December 21, 2008

Codependence

I approached the door to Agora, nervous about attending a group gathering that promised to be social, personal, and intimate--everything I wanted to be but didn't have the courage. The door was locked. I walked around the side, where the "Big Room" entrance was located. It was locked as well. My anger, embarassement, and self-loathing rose up inside of me. Lights were on, but doors were locked: I wasn't welcome. I would not try to be social again! Taking that step was big for me, and getting shut out was hurtful.

"Damn them for this! I drove all the way out here, just for rejection! I KNEW I shouldn't have done this! I'm a fool to think I could fit in!" I thought as I drove away.

I mentioned to Pastor Jeff the next day that I had come to attend the group meeting that he had encouraged me to get involved with. I was a few minutes late due to work, I explained, and had raced over to the church. But I had wasted my time.

He apologized and said, "They lock the door for security reasons. Please try again! They would love to have you!".

Naw, I'm one shot Kristi. You only get 1 chance to hurt me, and then I shut you out. At least, I had been like that. But God was working on that part of me...

I had been attending Agora for about a year, and was slowly working on getting out of my ultra thick shell. It has been a very slow process, and full of self flagellation. I found myself ending a relationship that was not healthy for me, and that was consuming me. I needed a diversion, and I knew it.

There was a ladies group being formed--a chance to study a book--and it was guaranteed to make an wonderful impression. Other ladies' groups had met before, and I regretted not attending them. So I decided to buck up and give this group thing one more shot. The group was called "Women at the Well", and details about it were vague. I need not purchase a book prior to the first meeting, according to Linda, the facilitator. We could buy the books from her, at the first class. She seemed excited to have me. This felt promising. The title of the book was merely, "Love is a Choice", as far as I knew. Sounded quaint.

The first class had women of all ages. As Linda began to describe the class and the book, she began talking about codependency. What??? I looked at the book I had just purchased from Linda, and the cover read, "Love is a Choice: The Groundbreaking Book on Codependent Relationships." I felt duped. The "C" word had not been used in any of the previous descriptions of the class. Yet here it was in front of me. I didn't know what codependency was, but it didn't matter--I didn't have it. I looked around the room for an easy exit. There was no sneaking out of this room. I was already looking for a reason to miss all future classes. I could always blame work. Saying, "You guys may be sick, but I'm not!" didn't sound very nice. After listening, I realized I was the only person completely ignorant of the term "codependent" and its meaning.

So I decided to listen. I looked down, in a very disinterested way, and read the first couple of lines from a workbook Linda had given every attendee. It gave 10 traits of a codependent. Check, check, check, check. I recognized 8 of them in myself. I was shocked. It was listing very personal traits of mine, all of which I hated and felt unable to change. I'm not the only person struggling with these issues? I can overcome these feelings? There is hope for me? I realized that I was not there on accident. By the time I left the class, I was anxious to read the book.

"Why didn't you tell me I'm codependent?" I asked my sister over the phone. She is a therapist, and had slowly brought many of my behaviors to my attention over time.

"You weren't ready to hear it Kristi. You have to be ready to make a change," she replied. That's when I realized it's time to make a change. God brought me here to address these issues, so if HE thinks I'm ready, I must be.

I spent the next 10 weeks soul searching, letting go, and questioning everything around me. I had a word for my craziness, and it was codependency. I had a book on how to overcome it. And I had other women who understood my perspective. It was priceless.

2 comments:

Jeff said...

The first step took guts. The second one must have been excrutiating. I'm so glad you gave them a second chance.

We have all benefitted from you're becoming involved in the lives of this community.

Thank you.

Kristi said...

The irony is, we locked the doors a few times when we met as well, because the shop wasn't open and we needed that mental security.

I was just ready to beat myself up for any reason at the time.