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I've been a recovering co-dependent for a little over three years. I was married 12 years, separated, got back together 22 months, and am now separated again since September, 1995. My divorce is in the final stages.

Knowing who is responsible has been one of my issues. I must discover and admit, as the steps point out, where I need to improve and work on myself in areas of conflict; however, it would be unhealthy for me to accept total responsibility for all the problems in the relationship. At the same time, I must avoid finger pointing and blaming. Somewhere in the reality-middle is my self-growth, my recovery, my assuming responsibility for the areas where I can grow and change. I want to be sure I never use my recovery as the ultimate form of denial and say things like: "Well, my ex is not in recovery and it's up to her to deal with her stuff, blah, blah, blah."

It is true the other party must deal with their stuff. But as the person in recovery, I have a responsibility to live the steps (as Step Twelve suggests), and find the path of serenity for myself and in so doing, lovingly point others to the path of serenity as well.

What if a relationship is so bad that I can't stay and professional help is not an option? (For example, my ex-wife refused to consider counseling.) Then it's my responsibility to take care of myself without using recovery as an excuse to abandon the other party or inflict more pain than necessary in the process of leaving.

For me, the insanity begins when justifying and defending my perspective of reality becomes more important than discovering God's will and waiting patiently in the calm center.


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next: The Twelve Steps of Co-Dependents Anonymous