Codependents Guide to the Twelve Steps

Submitted by on Tuesday, June 26, 2012No Comments
Codependents Guide to the 12 Steps

Codependents Guide to the 12 Steps by Melody Beattie

Why you should buy, ask for, or steal your own copy of Codependents Guide to the Twelve Steps

Studying this book changed my life.

If you know anything about my story you’ll remember that it was a sick and highly dysfunctional ‘A.A. group’ that fed and blossomed my own latent ‘codependency’ issues that would eventually drive me into Codependent recovery.

For the uninitiated, my working definition of Codependency is when we place our autonomy or happiness in the hands of other people; intentionally or unintentionally, to survive the relationship or situation or to control the relationship or situation. We can be the classic ‘victim’ or we can be the classic ‘controlling’ personality. Sometimes we can be both, but in all cases of such dysfunction we are feeling crazy, chaotic, or controlled; Either by other people, situations, or even our own thoughts or emotions. And that’s all ‘codependency’ is. It’s not a ‘disease’ but it is a ‘DIS-Ease.’ [See my Codependency page here for more information and resources.]

So if you do not know that part of my story, that’s all there basically is to it except to clarify one point:

“No fellowship or people in the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous actually caused my low self-esteem, my fear or hatred of people, body dysmorphia, self-harming inclinations or my generalized anxiety. Indeed not. This particular fellowship or some of the people in it, simply provoked past memories of abusive, bullying, power-hungry, controlling personalities that I’d been previously at the whim of. One may say I was PTSD activated. That would not be dramatic at all. In fact, I put the alcohol down so of course not only am I not numb for the first time in a long time, but I am feeling every thing all over again – that I’d tried to drink away. And being an [unrecognized at this point] Highly Sensitive Person was obviously of no benefit (or so it seemed). In retrospect it was precisely the HSP antagonism that spurred me deeper into the Great Undoing.”

Buying all the Al-Anon, Codependent, and similar books [When I Say No, I Feel Guilty, The Four Agreements , Byron Katie’s Loving What Is]  I could get my hands on, I started reading. I found a lot of hope and freedom in what I read. And more than that, it felt like I had arrived home. It felt as if I had finally discovered the Great Reality of Truth. It resonated deep within my Spirit that this was Truth, which was Freedom, which was Reality.

The main messages I would receive would be…

  1. My emotions – no matter what they are –  are okay.
  2. I can take care of myself to the best of my ability.
  3. I can make mistakes in any process I am in.
  4. I do not have to internalize shame or blame.
  5. I can say No.
  6. I can change my mind.
  7. I can detach.
  8. I can enforce boundaries.
  9. I am not responsible for your feelings.
  10. I can be free.

My Codie Recovery Facebook Page

A 2011 Codependent Story

I’d not yet gone through Codie’s Guide to the 12 steps when a series of synchronicities had my meeting back up with a friend (I’d known from that A.A. group) I’d not seen in a few years. I’d worked the Steps with her before but in the context of Alcoholics Anonymous. And although I could see her relationship dependence those years ago, I’d said to her what my sponsor said to me, “After a year of sobriety I’d like for you to go to Al-Anon.” However, in the interim, although she was sober, her focus on unhealthy people and relationships  – in addition to my own new relationship trying to survive baggage from our respective past relationships  – was making me a walking mess of blathering crazy myself. So, we parted sponsorship. This was great for me because I got back into Codependent recovery which I desperately needed.

This time when we re-found each other – through a series of perfect synchronicity and most fortunate events – her multi-year story revealed she had really been through it since I last saw her. Her sanity had suffered as well as her sobriety. She’d lost her sobriety and had not been able to regain it. She’d gotten into gambling and near bankruptcy. She lost her business. She lost her home. She lost her car. She lost her mind. She was currently without relationship, still heartbroken over her last relationship, drinking, and on pills she suspected she had grown addicted to.And still going to A.A.; Still trying to get sober again.

I remember that day at the coffee shop clearly. I remember being struck by her honesty in her story. We talked of the synchronicities we’d find ourselves ‘listening to’ to end up back with each other. In hearing her story my Spirit was struck so clearly, “Codependent recovery can help her.” The suggestion my sponsor gave me in having a year of sobriety before attempting Al-Anon/Codependent Recovery worked for me; But I’d tried that with my friend before, years earlier, and she hadn’t gotten a year sober yet. In short, I suggested we start the Codependent Recovery journey right away despite whatever else was going on. And we did.

These next words are hers

I had been struggling with Alcoholism for 18 years when my friend/sponsor said “let’s go to an Al-Anon meeting.” I was at the point where I was willing to try anything. So we went. *Then she suggested that we go through the Codependents’ Guide to the Twelve Steps. This started an amazing journey for me. Working through the steps in this way has given me “a new attitude and outlook upon life.” (One of the promises of working the twelve steps.)

I am still a member of Alcoholics Anonymous and still believe I need that. But I’m not sure I would still be sober without the Codie’s twelve step work. I’m quite sure I would not be.

I’ll list for you here just a few changes in me as a result of working the codie twelve steps.

  1. I no longer feel the need to fix everyone.
  2. I am more confident about decisions.
  3. I don’t take things as personally as I used to.
  4. I am more open-minded.
  5. I no longer feel that I have to be perfect.
  6. I’ve learned that I don’t always have to say yes and that I can say no and mean it.

Rock the Boat SynchronicityI still have days when I revert back to old behavior but I can now step back when I feel “off” and take a look at myself and not someone else. *Today marks 16 months of sobriety for me. Free from alcohol and free from the behaviors of others. I am truly blessed. (*My emphasis.)

To see my friend and others find the happiness and peace that I began experiencing – and still do – as a result of this “Codie Journey into Freedom” is amazing and validating in that it was not just some weird fluke that just happened to ‘take hold.’ I have seen, with my own eyes, this woman grow, prosper, and thrive. I have been there when a painful Illusion has shattered to be replaced by Freedom, and her smile beams while her eyes get big and light up. I have seen moments her entire being glows in recognition of seeing God. And this recovery, for me, is truly seeing the face of God. It is the recognition of Truth within myself that Codie Recovery has enabled me to remember. And yes, the synchronicities. The synchronicities show me I am on the right track.

Suggestions for Codie Guide to the 12 Steps Book Study

  1. Get the book. Whether you need to ask for, steal, or buy Codependents’ Guide to the 12 Steps (by Melody Beattie), get it. This is the primary resource I do highly recommend for the annihilation of dis-eased and painful living, no matter what other ‘recoveries’ you may be in or none at all. I am serious about this part. Get your hand on that book and do not give it back! Make it your Bible for the next few weeks of this Study/Meeting. :) The links on this page will take you Amazon where [disclosure] I make about 5 cents if you buy it new. If you are in financial straits, you can also buy it USED through Amazon.
  2. Get a friend. In our case we had a couple of other people we invited to join our weekly meeting, but this was the tricky part. Codependent Recovery is not for people who you think need it or even if THEY think they need it. It is for people who want it and are willing to show up and do the work. I know scores of people who could benefit from this and only a small percentage who claim they want it. And even so much tinier than that are people willing to go to any lengths to get it. To be honest, it’s rare. So, do not get discouraged if people don’t jump in and stay in. One friend is good. One who has already beaten down the path is even better. And if you can’t find such a person, no fret. Start where you are, no matter where that is and just do your best. If you have noticed all my talk of synchronicity and you happen to be HSP or otherwise metaphysically or spiritually inclined, do not worry. Your Advocate on this journey is already getting ‘notified.’ [Trust & Believe.]
  3. Make a folder. This is for your own work, so it is all in one place. I put stickers on mine and decorated it. In this way we can refer back to our Chapter Activities and see where we were or how far we have come. I get those three pronged heavy paper folders with pockets and add paper.
  4. Plan to meet once a week. Once a week for one hour was good for three of us. Adjust the length if you need to. We met in our homes. We tried to rotate the meetings from house to house since we all lived quite apart.
  5. Read the Book. Study the Book. Mark it Up. Do the Activities. Mark your folder up. We read about a Step a Week. Sometimes a step would generate so much discussion we’d continue it into the next week. Oh and if skip meetings, do not read, do not do the Activities or throw any easy surface answer down for the Activities just to say “I did it” you are not going to get much from this experience. And you’re dis-servicing your meeting mates who you went into agreement with to go through these Steps.
  6. The Meetings. Our first meeting was an introduction. We had our books and folders. We agreed on our schedule. We made commitments to attend. Our format was generally that we’d read each Step and do the Activities at the end of each Step before our next meeting. Then the next week we’d share our Activities work. We would share in a general way if we did not feel comfortable reading our Activities aloud, remembering that doing the Activities was for us; our self-reflection; NOT to be judged. In our case, we were all friends and familiar with 12 Step Anonymity and protocol. We had an Opening Preamble similar to A.A. and Al-Anon in that we read the Codie Steps along with a welcome message, purpose, and Serenity Prayer. And then ended the meeting, “Who you see here, what is shared here, is a trust. Please let it stay here.” We would express relating with something we read. We would have a question regarding something and ask. It was all very informal, relaxed and two out of three of us did have Codie Recovery before doing this book study while all three of us had 12 Step experience so that may explain our need for the little formalities that would foster a ‘recovery oriented’ frame of mind.

Codependents Guide to the 12 StepsWarning: How fast can a meeting that has no structure turn into a hang out?

About as quickly as an intended Codie Recovery meeting without structure will have the Controlling personalities trying to fix, manage, and control the Controllable personalities. So it might be a great idea if those participating were to familiarize themselves with The Twelve Traditions of Codependents Anonymous (Also on Page 256 of  Codependents Guide to the 12 Steps).

We opened our meetings reading the Traditions for a few weeks until we’d gotten used to the idea this was a Recovery Meeting despite the comfort of it being in our home and the familiarity of sitting with friends.

I hope I have given you some ideas

Thanks for reading & let me know what worked for you or if you did go through this book, how has your life changed? Yes, I would love to read some testimonies and you may help others with your stories.

Books I Mentioned Earlier that spring-boarded my Codie Recovery Journey

When I Say No, I Feel GuiltyThe Four AgreementsLoving What Is - 4 Questions that can Change your Life


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