I’m usually really good at keeping secrets, but today, I’m letting you in on two biggies. First, my family has THE best sugar cookie recipe, which you’ll find below. Second, my family has THE worst trouble holding their liquor.

A Co-Dependent Needs A Dependent

In 2015, I entered recovery for my co-dependency. So, if I’m co-dependent, whose drinking hurt me? Who’s secret am I keeping and why? The idea of co-dependence comes directly from Alcoholics Anonymous. The term acknowledges that the problem of alcohol misuse affects the person who drinks AND the family and friends who constitute a network for the individual.

The cornerstone of many recovery groups is anonymity, but there is a movement to break the stigma of mental health and addiction. How can help I break the stigma and still protect my family secrets?

Signs Of Co-dependency

Protecting people and worrying about other people’s opinions are symptoms of co-dependency. People-pleasing and needing to be perfect are also common characteristics of co-dependents. I don’t need to worry about what other people think of me or my family. Nor do I have to be perfect to find acceptance in this world. In recovery, I learn to focus on my behaviors, and changing my behaviors will keep me busy for a while.

Recovery is a renewing of my mind. Many of my past secrets festered into problems because I had no healthy tools to process tough topics. I didn’t have boundaries, and I didn’t know where my responsibilities ended and others began. I share my past secrets with my friends in recovery because they teach me how to untangle myself from co-dependent relationships.

Sharing The Right Secret

Today, I am committed to keeping my family’s secrets. It doesn’t really matter who hurt who or why I go to meetings. I speak out about how miserable my life was before recovery to share the good news of improved mental health. I don’t have to justify my journey even when I am tempted to do so.

I will, however, share one closely guarded family secret, my Grandma Davis’s Sugar Cookie recipe. This recipe defines us. It also reminds me that some sweet memories co-existed with a sometimes painful past.

Grandma Davis’s Sugar Cookie Recipe

(Probably brought over from the old country – Paula Deen has used it, too. But we had it first)


  • 1 cup butter – real butter not margarine
  • 1 ¾ cup powdered sugar – the first of many “secret” ingredients. Most inferior sugar cookies use white sugar.
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 ½ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Secret Ingredient: 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Super-Secret Ingredient: ½ teaspoon almond flavoring – seriously, if you share this recipe with anyone – leave this ingredient out!


Put butter into a large mixing bowl and blend with mixer on medium until smooth. Slowly add powdered sugar and mix on low or your kitchen will be covered in dust, so I’ve heard. Next add the egg, baking soda, cream of tartar and flavorings. (Wink. Wink.) Finally add flour. Mix until smooth.

Let this dough chill in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours. Since I come from a long-line of people-pleasers, I roll out the dough and cut into holiday shapes. Bake the cookies at 375 degrees for 7-8 minutes, and then spend hours decorating them.

One last tip, if you share this recipe with anyone, tell them to set their oven to 350 and bake for 10 minutes. I’ve got to keep some of my family’s secrets safe.

coloring book purple pic

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Pam Carver

Pam is the author of two books: Co-dependent In The Kitchen, and Find Your True Colors In 12 Steps. She's also a contributing editor for Reach Out Recovery. She's a recovery advocate who likes long walks on the beach and chocolate.


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