Today’s reading references Step One of the CoDA Program. The author uses today’s meditation to stress the power of the word “we,” in Step One. Recovering codependents are not alone. When we take one step forward, we’re pulling the rest forward as well.
I am admittedly still working through Step One. I still find moments when I need to remind myself that I am powerless over others.
I can only control myself.
As I work through Step One, there’s been a vacuum left behind–a void no longer filled with the anxious preoccupations of control and manipulation. And yet CoDA doesn’t seem to offer much advice on how to fill that void.
But when I find myself with a lot of extra time on my hands, it inspires new feelings of helplessness. Codependents often lose touch with themselves so severely that in recovery, it’s not uncommon to experience a hand-wringing helplessness as you confront the obvious: “I can only control myself, but I’ve forgotten who I am to such a degree that I don’t know how to do that–I don’t know how to help myself.”
That’s largely why I’ve been on a quest to learn new things. Granted, I know how to do a lot of things, but there are many areas of my life where I still very…helpless. And simply put, I’m tired of feeling that way.
When I helped him change the rear brake pads on my car last weekend, it wasn’t the most enjoyable task. But I had the rewarding feeling that came with being the one to order and pay for the parts, getting down on the ground (and in the mud) to help him, and being able to assist with something that has historically baffled me.
And then my check engine light came on Tuesday morning, and I immediately took it to an auto parts store to have them use their OBD scanner to read the fault code. What transpired over the next several hours was dogged learning.
Learning is empowering, but being able to apply that learning is, too.
More work is needed on the rear brake pads–a sensor needs to be changed. Last weekend, he borrowed most of the tools we needed from the neighbor, a retired auto mechanic. Back and forth. Back and forth. One piece here. Another piece there.
It seemed like a lot of downtime in the cold and mud.
And if I do intend to do more self-service on my car–and maybe bigger projects in the near future–I want to be empowered to do that–not just with the knowledge of how, but the tools to do.
So, I did something I never expected to: I bought a driver and socket set for both SAE and MM. (American and Metric.) I haven’t told him I bought it–I don’t need to, but I am excited to share it with him.
This morning, it occurred to me that these tools–literal tools–are tools that are not just helping me perform car maintenance. They’re also helping me in my recovery.
I’m unlearning helplessness.
Unlearning helplessness is important to me. Helplessness inspires a perpetual victim mentality, and turns my inward focus outward–in search of a rescuer or caretaker to fill in the gaps. Do we need to mention the triangle again?
It’s time to break the cycle, and if a driver and socket set helps me do that, that’s not a waste of money or time. In fact, it may be one of the most valuable things I’ve done in a long time.
When I think about it sitting in the back of my car, I smile. It’s something I decided to buy because it’s something I wanted. Because it’s something I needed. Because it’s something that will help me be less helpless.
When I walked out of the store last night, my new set in hand, I saw a woman who standing alongside her car, accompanied by one of the auto parts store employees. Her hood was up, she had her arms crossed, and a bewildered look about her. She passively watched the employee as he ducked under the hood checking various components.
She looked helpless.
I don’t want to be helpless anymore, I thought. I don’t want to be her anymore.