I’m doing well with my commitment to the Codependents Anonymous (CoDA) programme these days. A while ago I became the secretary for my local meeting, so now I really need to go every week. Being secretary means I facilitate the group, making sure everyone gets time to share should they wish to and maintaining the ground rules of the session. I also arrive early for the meeting in order to arrange the room. That’s the best part. While the room itself is nothing special, the energy it holds is one of real serenity. I love getting those ten minutes in there on my own before everyone arrives. I always feel so calm.
Today we had a short reading from a great little book called ‘In this moment daily meditations’. I am really resistant to any form of meditation or mindfulness, but I religiously read one of these to myself each day and reflect on it. When we focus on the daily reading in the meeting, it’s even better, as I get to hear everyone else’s interpretations and reflections too.
Here’s a snippet from today’s meditation that hit home for me:
I have learned from experience that I never know what is going on in another person’s life or mind at any given time. When I feel someone is responding or reacting inappropriately, I need to allow them to be who they are at that moment. Not everything is about me. Life has its ups and downs and emotions are triggered by those ebbs and flows. I’m finally learning that I am not in control.
It suddenly dawned on me as I listened to these words, that I just can’t help but want to control the emotions of everyone around me. And more importantly, I have worn myself down into a pattern of deciding for my loved ones what they should be thinking or feeling. I am so firmly entrenched in my victim role, that I cannot stand it when members of my family don’t react how I would like them to. I can’t perceive them as anything but disappointing or thoughtless when they don’t meet my expectations.
However, I do know that lately my family has been less than adequate when it comes to offering me emotional support. I know this because I know them and how they have supported me through simpler hard times in the past. They are more than capable. But what I choose to ignore is their own possible internal dialogue. I throw that out because I want to be angry. I want to stay in the victim position and view them all as failing me. I’ve decided that as I am the victim, everyone should be giving me what I need – whether they like it or not.
This was all very relevant today, as I read a letter from my dad last night. I’ll share more about that later. But in essence, he said nothing new. He apologised again for not responding better when he and my mum discovered my brother had been abusing me 20 years ago. And he said he loves me. Although I already knew that, it was nice to hear it again and this saved his words from being a total let down.
In light of the CoDA reading, I found it useful to remind myself that he has his own battle going on. He wrote a bit about how hard this all is for him, and my instant reaction was to be indignant that he could feel sorry for himself when he knows what I’m going through. But when I step back and take a deep breath, I can see that this is of course incredibly difficult for him. Just because he isn’t feeling what I feel, that doesn’t mean he isn’t struggling as much as me or in a different way. I suppose noticing this required me being a little more generous and a little less angry.
So this coming week I am going to continue to try stepping back before reacting. I will do my best to breathe and consider that my own feelings and thoughts are not necessarily ‘right’. I am not a mind-reader and intuition isn’t always correct. I know this is much easier said than done, but maybe with some practice I can continue to respond rationally, rather than react on impulse.
Photo: Adrian Malec, Creative Commons.