This was the day I went to my first twelve-step meeting.

My close friend and roommate, Austin, had been in Alcoholics Anonymous for about 11 months. I was soooo jealous. I WAS. He was working the steps like his life depended on it, and I had spent 11 months watching his anger issues dissipate, his shyness slowly begin to erode, his emotional maturity grow by leaps and bounds. I went to a meeting with him, expecting it to be a room full of gloomy people sobbing about how they couldn't drink anymore, and instead found a room full of happy people saying incredibly wise things about life.

I wanted what he had. I wanted it BAD.

My relationships were killing me. My shame was killing me, not that I knew what to call it at that point. I guess I would have said... social anxiety, maybe? I think I just didn't even know that my fear of people, of what they would think of me and what they would do about it, was a thing with a name. Many names, really; codependency is a good a name for it as any.

I knew that my (entirely, devoutly platonic) relationship with the utterly insane and abusive woman whose kid I was for no reason co-parenting (in an attempt to save him from her) was out of control and ruining my life. I knew that I was getting all up in other people's business in some of my other relationships, trying to fix and control things that weren't mine to fix or control.

That's literally where it ended. I didn't know any of the other things I would come to understand over the years: that my spending and debting was out of control, that my relationship with work was equally unhealthy, that my relationship with food and my body was anorexic even if I didn't act on it, that my relationship with my partner at the time was BATSHIT INSANE. I didn't know that I had been sexually and ritually abused, probably not even that I had been physically abused; I repressed a lot of that and just didn't recognize that that's what some of what I had experienced was called.

All I knew was that I had found other 12-step programs where I might be able to get what my friend had, for myself, and picked one.

I remember, the meeting I went to, the script said something like "We suggest that you try six meetings before you decide whether CoDA is for you." I was like, "Fuck you, I already know that this is what I need!!" I have made my home in many individual 12-step fellowships over the years as my focus and needs changed. But that night, hearing the steps being read for me and people like me for the first time, I knew that I was home.

fast-forward ten years....