The Twelve Steps of Co-Dependents Anonymous: Step Three

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.

Step Three was a long, heavy sigh. The weight of a dead man lifted off my heart and my mind. My life began fresh, clean, and new. I experienced what some would probably describe as a religious conversion. But I like to say a spiritual awakening, using the words of the program.

My life was a wreck. With the help of my therapist, I discovered and took responsibility for the choices that brought me to that low point. This is what recovering people call hitting bottom.

What had I done? You name it. I'd managed to exile from my life everyone who mattered to me most. My wife, my children, my parents, my in-laws, my co-workers.

How did I do it?

By advising them how to run their lives. By shaming them. By ripping off their masks and betraying their vulnerabilities. In a thousand ways, I emotionally and psychologically hurt and devalued those closest to me in the name of love and care. I was a pro at chasing people out of my life. I couldn't understand why no one appreciated my efforts to help them see "reality" as I saw it. So I ranted and raved. And of course, my perspective was 20/20, perfect, right, and everyone else's was myopic, misguided, immature, etc. There was absolutely no tolerance for any perspective but mine. There was absolutely no questioning the infallability of my own thinking.

All this was my way of denying my feelings. Of avoiding pain and loneliness. Of avoiding fear and risk. Of seeking to make everyone dependent on me so I would never be abandoned.

The result? I found myself utterly alone, out of work, out of money, out of the house, separated from my wife of 12 years, and out of the church.

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For the first time, I was face-to-face with my feelings. Fully conscious of my pain. Totally alone. Full of self-pity, anger and rage. Scared and frightened of being completely on my own. Aware that no one was dependent upon me for anything; they all wanted independence from the tyrant I'd become in their lives. Everyone gladly abandoned me in favor of positive, encouraging, uplifting family and friends.

I wanted out of my body, out of my life, out of my head.

By God's grace, I realized (and am still realizing) all the damage I'd done. When there was absolutely no one left in my life, I was left only with my unknown self. And I was miserable. Even I couldn't stand me. I'd denied the real, inner me for so long, I had no idea who I was. I was a shell of a person, a being created from my own insane thinking and acting.

Fortunately, I had been brought up to believe in God. I was in therapy at the time, and my therapist, also a "believer" was just as exasperated with me. He could not break through my defenses, so he suggested I try a CoDA meeting. I went to a particular meeting for about two months, but then it disbanded. I tried another. This one opened my eyes. Step One and Two followed soon thereafter.

God brought me to the point of despair for my own good. When there was no one else to whom I could turn, the only decision I could make was Step Three.

I decided to abandon my way and my will in favor of God's way and God's will. After all, I was convinced that 33 years was enough time to prove whether I was right, and I was now convinced of how wrong I had been. I was ready to honestly admit: "My way does not work. I am ready to try another way. I am ready to be shown the way. I am willing to relinquish the fantasy-control of my life and be a follower. I am ready to let go of my self and my way."

In that moment, a self-directed life became a God-directed life.

next: The Twelve Steps of Co-Dependents Anonymous Step Four

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, December 30). The Twelve Steps of Co-Dependents Anonymous: Step Three, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 17 from

Last Updated: August 7, 2014

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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