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Days 370 - 389

posted Jul 20, 2017, 9:42 AM by Kelley Likes
SATURDAY - THURSDAY

After a week long technology fast, I feel amazing. I believe I was spending too much time reading stuff and looking at stuff. I really didn't have much to show for my wasted time. The world did not end because I didn't open my computer.

I took some time to think about codependency and its effects on children. I was bullied as a child. Four of my five children were bullied. I believe this is because codependent children are prone to playing the victim. They are already down, so it is easy for others to pick on them.  In another thought, it's like we were looking for more reasons to have others pity us. I found myself playing the same old sob story of how my life sucked, over and over, day after day, year after year. It wasn't until I worked the steps that I realized I'm no longer defined by the horrors of my youth. 

This past Sunday, I had the opportunity to talk in church. As I was waiting, this warning voice, which didn't seem right, kept saying "No codependency talk." But when I prayed, I felt I was to give the talk I had prepared. Funny how Satan wants to stop people from progressing in their lives. After my talk, much of which had to be left out due to time constraints, three woman came up to me. One, I know well. The other two, women I've never seen, introduced themselves as visitors, both from Utah, just passing by, who decided to stop for sacrament meeting. One had just been diagnosed with codependency and wanted to know what to do next. The other, had never heard of codependency, but realize that's what was "wrong" with her. It was an amazing day. We chatted for 45 minutes and I told them where to go for the "next steps" on this journey. 

I've updated this website so the steps are listed on the My Journey Welcome Page. Recovery is amazing. It truly is. Enjoy my talk on codependency and self-reliance!  

Hi, as the Bishop said, my name is Kelley Likes. I’m happily married to the man of my dreams. We've been married for 24 years. I have 5 amazing children. Taisha is 23. She’s attends the singles ward and is a student at Georgia Tech, studying chemical engineering. Xanthos is 20, he is currently serving a mission in Salt Lake City, Utah. He will be home in a little less than 10 weeks. Zerin, is 18 and is vacationing for 3 weeks in Korea. She is in the process of submitting her mission papers and we are anxiously awaiting her call. Mali is a sophomore at Marist School. She loves to play the ukulele, sing, and wants to be something in the world that involves other languages, preferable German or Korean. Daxton is 7, he will be 8 next week. He’s excited to get baptized. He wants to be a youtuber when he grows up. We have two puppies and two turtles. I’ve lived in Wisconsin, Iowa, North Carolina, Utah and Georgia. We’ve lived in Georgia for the past 19 years. I am a teacher at Marist School. This will be my 11 year there. I teach Introduction to Computers, Financial Management, Multimedia Production and design, where we do stop animation and radio broadcasts, and E-Business and website design. I write all of my curriculum and I’m the fun teacher. I write children’s books, young adult novels, and blog. I own a self publishing company and have recently learned that I like camping.

Before I begin I wanted to take a few minutes tell you a little about my upbringing. I was born in a dysfunctional home. I was raised by an abusive alcoholic stepfather and an emotionally absent abusive mother. I’ve spent most of my life defined by the abuse I endured. For the past year, I’ve been in recovery for codependency. Now people have this weird perception that codependency means I need someone in my life. Codependency is not that nice.

There are two forms of codependency, original and inherited. Mine was inherited from my codependent mother, who inherited it from her mother, the original codependent in this chain, she was the wife of an alcoholic. I am in recovery for something I never asked for, but once I found out what I was, I am responsible to no longer be that corrosive person. Codependents live their lives in a state of everything is ok.

For example, my lovely daughter, who is also in recovery for codependency, told me that before she learned she was codependent, she would always pray that everything would be at least ok. Now, in recovery when she prays, she asks that everything will go well and work out because she realizes she deserves more than just ok.

We have moments of joy, but our lives are chaos. We thrive on it actually, because chaos is the only thing which allows us to feel. It’s kind of like a flooded river. Occasionally you will see a bit of debris floating along, that would be our moments of happiness. They are fleeting among the torrents of our lives.

We live two lives, the ones others see, which is generally a caring person who does everything for everyone, and the person only those close to us see. The angry absent person. Codependents are filled with rage. Constantly angry at people we love who don’t do and live as we think they should live.

Codependents manipulate, control, belittle, shame, and withhold love and affection as a means of controlling those we are supposed to love. Not because we want to, but because this is how we were taught we should live. We learned, from early ages, from emotionally void parents how to live our lives. We constantly bring up others past mistakes in order to shame and control. We push away those we love because we don’t know how to trust. We don’t know how to love, because deep down we don’t love ourselves. We just want validation from people, generally parents, who will never give us that validation.

Codependents isolate themselves from family members and find it difficult to have friends and maintain intimacy in relationships. Most codependents don’t even know what intimacy is, they live in a bubble, which they think keeps them safe.

And yes, this is what I was to my husband and children. When I realized it, I wanted nothing more than to change. But how does one change? How do you undo 43 years of caustic norms and vacant parenting? I, as a codependent, learned from an early age, I had to do it all myself, only my way was the best, because no one could do it as good as I could, it was just easier if I did it all myself, in fact, I don’t need your help, because I wouldn’t want to burden you. For this, however, I needed help. I am now a recovering codependent. I do not find myself living in the world of codependent behaviors. My family is becoming healthy and happy. I began a 12 step program to help me overcome codependency. I attend meetings and reach out to others. I ask for help.

Now, you might not be struggling with codependency, or maybe you are, that’s for you to figure out. You may be struggling with unemployment, underemployment, lack of education, financial stress, debt, or wanting to start your own business but lack the know how of where to begin.

The church has started an initiative to help with self-reliance. Like codependency, self-reliance can have a weird definition. Self-reliance does not mean you rely on yourself. Self-reliance, is in fact, the ability, commitment and effort to provide the spiritual and temporal necessities of life for self and family.

Self Reliance means using all the resources available to be the best person you can be. It means developing your talents and knowing your skills and abilities and knowing you are capable of making your own decisions. It means not depending on others to provide what you need and can provide for yourself, given the right tools and skills.

Dallin H. Oaks said, “Whatever causes us to be dependent on someone else for decisions or resources we could provide for ourselves weakens us spiritually and retards our growth towards what the gospel plan intends us to be.”

The Church based self-reliance program offers 4 twelve week classes. Attendance is mandatory and so is participation. There isn’t a teacher to stand at the front of the room and dispel knowledge, but rather a group of individuals sitting around, going through different steps, working together for a common purpose and learning from each other. It’s kind of like a 12 step meeting. Participants learn to trust and rely on fellow class members for support throughout the week.

Those who successfully complete the class receive a certificate of completion from the LDS Business College. The materials studied are at a college level with faith based principles throughout.

The four courses are Personal Finance, Growing and Starting My Business, My Job Search-Finding a better job, and Education for Better Work.

The Personal Finance Self-reliance group is for those who want better control over their finances. Group members will learn how to eliminate debt, protect against financial hardship, and invest in the future. They will create a financial plan and follow a budget. Spouses are encouraged to attend together, though, in the class I’m facilitating, there are a lot of single adults.

The My job search Find a Better Job self-reliance group is for those who are looking for work or a better job. Group members will learn to identify opportunities, network, present themselves professionally, and prepare for job interviews. They will also set goals for contacts and interviews
The Education for Better Work self-reliance group is for those who need additional education or training to get a job. Group members will research, create, and present career and education plans. They will also spend time each week practicing skills that will help them be more effective learners.

The Starting my business self-reliance group will help you learn to make wise business decisions as you start or grow a business. The goal of this group is not only to help you with your business; it is also to help you act in greater obedience and faith in the Lord and receive His promised blessings of temporal and spiritual self-reliance. Members practice key business principles for self-employment such as record keeping, marketing, and cash management.

Each of these classes focus on putting the Savior at the head of your life. Turning your life over to Him to see what He can do.

Kind of like steps 2 and 3 of Codependents Anonymous:

Step 2 : Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
Step 3 : Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God.

And for some of us, this is a terrifying thought. I mean after all, aren’t we doing ok on our own? Except, here’s the problem. It wasn’t called the plan of OKness. It’s called the plan of Happiness.

The following is from the October 2015 Conference talk by President Deiter F. Uchtdorf entitled, It Works Wonderfully,

“Sometimes, the truth may just seem too straightforward, too plain, and too simple for us to fully appreciate its great value. So we set aside what we have experienced and know to be true in pursuit of more mysterious or complicated information.”

At a recent CoDA meeting, when talking about how easy the steps were and hard it was to accept how easy they were, one man said, It is an extremely simple program for extremely complicated people.

President Uchtdorf continued: One way is by asking the right questions—the kind that help us ponder our progress and evaluate how things are working for us. Questions like:
  • “Does my life have meaning?”
  • “Do I believe in God?”
  • “Do I believe that God knows and loves me?”
  • “Do I believe that God hears and answers my prayers?”
  • “Am I truly happy?”
  • “Are my efforts leading me to the highest spiritual goals and values in life?”
If you are not happy, why are you living the way you are living. If you are blaming others for the life you have, you are probably codependent and in victim mode. You are in control of your emotions and your happiness. You are not an island of yourself, and the church has programs dedicated to helping you find that joy and reach your goals.

From President Uchtdorf: This beautiful gospel is so simple a child can grasp it, yet so profound and complex that it will take a lifetime—even an eternity—of study and discovery to fully understand it.

And all of us, as members of the Church, we need to make a conscientious effort to devote our energy and time to the things that truly matter, while uplifting our fellowmen and building the kingdom of God.

Living the gospel doesn’t need to be complicated.

It is really straightforward. It could be described like this:
  • Hearing the word of God with earnest intent leads us to believe in God and to trust His promises.
  • The more we trust God, the more our hearts are filled with love for Him and for each other.
  • Because of our love for God, we desire to follow Him and bring our actions in alignment with His word.
  • Because we love God, we want to serve Him; we want to bless the lives of others and help the poor and the needy.
The more we walk in this path of discipleship, the more we desire to learn the word of God.

These are a lot like the twelve promises of Codependents Anonymous:

1. I know a new sense of belonging. The feeling of emptiness and loneliness will disappear.
2. I am no longer controlled by my fears. I overcome my fears and act with courage, integrity and dignity.
3. I know a new freedom.
4. I release myself from worry, guilt, and regret about my past and present. I am aware enough not to repeat it.
5. I know a new love and acceptance of myself and others. I feel genuinely lovable, loving and loved.
6. I learn to see myself as equal to others. My new and renewed relationships are all with equal partners.
7. I am capable of developing and maintaining healthy and loving relationships. The need to control and manipulate others will disappear as I learn to trust those who are trustworthy.
8. I learn that it is possible to mend - to become more loving, intimate and supportive. I have the choice of communicating with my family in a way which is safe for me and respectful of them.
9. I acknowledge that I am a unique and precious creation.
10. I no longer need to rely solely on others to provide my sense of worth. 
11. I trust the guidance I receive from my higher power and come to believe in my own capabilities.
12. I gradually experience serenity, strength, and spiritual growth in my daily life.

It’s interesting how similar these concepts are. I live my life by these 12 promises.

President Uchtdorf continued: The gospel is beautifully simple, and it works beautifully.

If you ever think that the gospel isn’t working so well for you, I invite you to step back, look at your life from a higher plane, and simplify your approach to discipleship. Focus on the basic doctrines, principles, and applications of the gospel. I promise that God will guide and bless you on your path to a fulfilling life, and the gospel will definitely work better for you.

Sometimes we feel discouraged because we are not “more” of something—more spiritual, respected, intelligent, healthy, rich, friendly, or capable. Naturally, there is nothing wrong with wanting to improve. God created us to grow and progress. But remember, our weaknesses can help us to be humble and turn us to Christ, who will “make weak things become strong.”Satan, on the other hand, uses our weaknesses to the point that we are discouraged from even trying.

I learned in my life that we don’t need to be “more” of anything to start to become the person God intended us to become.

God will take you as you are at this very moment and begin to work with you. All you need is a willing heart, a desire to believe, and trust in the Lord.

Exaltation is our goal; discipleship is our journey.

As you exercise a little faith and begin your walk as a peaceable follower of our Lord Jesus Christ, your heart will change. Your whole being will be filled with light.

God will help you become something greater than you ever thought possible. And you will discover that the gospel of Jesus Christ is indeed working in your life. It works.

I want to add my testimony to that of President Uchtdorf. I know that change is possible. I know that Heavenly Father wants us to turn our lives over to him and trust in him. I am grateful I took that leap of faith a year ago. I am grateful for the ability to learn and to grow, to change norms, learn how to set boundaries, and know I am a daughter of a loving Heavenly Father. If you found yourself nodding along, or nudging a spouse about any of the topics I’ve discussed, maybe it is time for a change. Time to step outside of your comfort zone and put your faith in God’s plan for your life. It is my hope to offer each of these classes, in the upcoming year. I believe they will help you reach your goals and increase your faith. Codependent anonymous meetings can be found at CoDA.org. Heavenly Father is truly aware of you. He loves you and sincerely wants you to be the best person you can be.
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