This last week, I passed my 10 year anniversary in the AlAnon program.
This is a testament to the woman who walked through those doors. She was so CONFUSED. She was so TIRED. She felt so INADEQUATE.
She saw through a lens of so many conflicting beliefs and ideas. She had no idea of the depth of her programming, quietly dictating her decisions, just below the surface of consciousness.
Everything she had been taught about love and life wasn’t working.
She had poured out her love without restraint. She had been selfless. She had given her time, energy, finances, home, and resources, with no limitations. No requirements. No standards to have them.
And yet, it wasn’t enough.
At home, her fiancé stole from her. Pawned her things. Forged her checks. Lied to her constantly. Manipulated her for things he wanted. Refused to contribute any share of responsibilities. Stayed out late into the night and came home wasted and drunk. And yet, he still resented her for not giving MORE of herself.
Somehow, SHE was the one who felt like a failure. She had failed to make him happy. She had failed to love him well enough to be loved back. Her loyalty to HIM had not been good enough to keep him loyal to HER.
She had done all the things a great woman was supposed to do. She had diligently gone to school, achieved a great GPA, gotten her degree, bought a house, was involved in church, had a job serving vulnerable teen girls, helped others whenever she could. Check, check, check. She was a GOOD WOMAN, worthy of love, right?
It was this crushed, defeated, wounded woman, who walked into the rooms of AlAnon for the first time, 10 years ago. All of the achievements, service, diligence, discipline, love for others, and love for God was not ENOUGH. Instead, she felt others’ constant and heavy hands, demanding more and resentful when she had nothing more to give.
AlAnon was the first place no one asked anything of her. Instead, they gave her permission to value taking care of herself - for the first time ever. They were the first people to have ever asked her what she did to love on HER that week. They were the first ones to tell her it was ok to say “no”, even when that person got angry. They were the first ones to love her without giving advice or instructions or judgment. They were the first people to hold her pain, with complete understanding, without trying to fix it.
And they were also the ones who gave their garage codes, house keys, and emergency numbers out to her when she needed them, 7 years later.
Because yes, that is how long it took for me to unravel a lifetime of programmed codependency. That is how long it took for me to learn to give myself permission to reclaim my entitlement to MYSELF.
Although I have expanded far beyond AlAnon today, AlAnon set the foundation. It sent me on a journey of reclamation and freedom. I will forever be grateful. In so many ways, I owe AlAnon my life.
If a woman like me, who was so incredibly and deeply programmed to function in codependency, can recover and reclaim herself, anyone can. You are only hopeless if you give up on YOURSELF. You are only powerless to change if you believe you are. <3
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