I’m definitely not an alcoholic — I hardly ever drink. But I’m pretty sure I’m a co-dependent. I find recovering alcoholics to be most charming and alluring. There’s just something about them that draws me like a magnet. A relative of mine had joined a CODA (co-dependents anonymous) 12 step group at the end of a bad relationship with a compulsive gambler and from what she said, working the 12 steps with this group along with the group support was very helpful to her. Knowing this about myself and having been involved in some co-dependent relationships myself, including one fairly current one, I decided to check out one of these groups myself (This was about 20 years ago).
As the 12 step groups suggest, I tried several different groups at first to see if one fit better than the others, and I thought that I had found one that was pretty good. Usually in a 12 step group, there is no cross talk so after the opening talk, each individual gets a turn to have their say without any feedback or anyone telling them what they should do about a particular situation. I found that to be very refreshing and much more helpful than hearing other people’s advice. Sometimes, just having people listen and hearing other people’s stories can be quite healing. I think I went to three or four meetings of one particular group and I noticed that slowly, but surely, there began to be some cross talk, and more and more advice giving. I had almost decided to leave that group and try another when one day, an incident occurred that helped me make up my mind.
A lost dog appeared outside the picture window of the room of the church where we were meeting. It looked bedraggled and cold. The entire group stood up, went to the window and the rest of the group session turned into a discussion about what to do about the dog. Everyone wanted to help the dog. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing in itself, but in the context of the purpose of a co-dependent’s anonymous group, we were supposed to be working on our co-dependency in the group, not acting it out on each other or on the dog.
It was as though someone were passing out bottles of beer at an AA meeting in order to help the alcoholics. I decided to move on and look for another group that wasn’t acting out their addiction right in the middle of the meetings.