I date my codependence recovery as starting on June 3 1986. As with any milestone, there was recovery that occurred before that – I had been clean and sober for exactly 2 years and 5 months at the point (the story of my early recovery is for another issue) – but this particular day marked a breakthrough in consciousness to a whole new level that changed the direction and focus of my life. (That day I made a conscious commitment to codependency recovery even though I wouldn’t have known to call it that at that time.)
On June 3rd 1986 I washed my car. This probably doesn’t sound like an earthshaking event but it was in my life. I had owned this old pinto for over 2 years at that point. It had done me great service. I had bought it for $375 when I was about 3 months sober and had driven it 25,000 miles – and had never washed it.
On that day, I broke through the codependent cycle of “should”ing on myself about the car. I stopped beating myself up and calling myself a slob, and lazy – and just washed the car. And then I asked myself “why haven’t I ever washed this car?”
I went home to do some writing and was pretty amazed at what it revealed. I realized that I was still reacting to life out of the religious programming of my childhood – even though I had thrown out that belief system on a conscious, intellectual level in my late teens and early twenties. The writing that I did that night helped me to recognize that my emotional programming was dictating my relationship with life even though it was not what I consciously believed.
I realized that the belief that “life was about sin and punishment and I was a sinner who deserved to be punished” was running my life. When I felt “bad” or “bad” things happened to me – I tried to blame it on others to keep from realizing how much I was hating myself for being flawed and defective, a sinner. When I felt good or good things happened I was holding my breath because I knew it would be taken away because I didn’t deserve it. Often when things got too good I would sabotage it because I couldn’t stand the suspense of waiting for god to take it away – which “he” would because I didn’t deserve it.
I could suddenly see that I had been playing a game, with that punishing god I learned about in childhood, for all of my adult life. I tried not to show that I enjoyed or valued anything too much so that maybe god wouldn’t notice and take it away. In other words, I could never relax and be in the moment in Joy or peace because the moment I showed that I was enjoying life god would step in to punish me.
I realized that on some level deep within me (I didn’t know anything about inner children or the magical thinking child at that point) that I was afraid that if I washed that car god would notice that I valued it and then cause the car to break down at a time when I didn’t have the money to fix it.
I said to myself – this is no way to live life, I need to change this. So that night I started to focus on changing the subconscious programming from my childhood. I didn’t know how I was going to do it – but I was determined to find out. (That was an act of Love for myself that at the time I wouldn’t have known to call Love.)
Besides the writing I did that night, I also did some reading. In reading I discovered something that I adapted for my daily prayers. Only in retrospect, years later did I realize the significance of the change that I made that night. I had always said the serenity prayer many times a day in my early recovery. It was like a life preserver that I would cling to all of the times I felt I was drowning. That night I changed the way I said the serenity prayer by adding another line to the end of it.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage the change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Thy will not my will be done.
In adding “thy will not my will” I was aligning myself with serving the will of The God-Force / Goddess Energy / Great Spirit and surrendering my life to being an instrument of service in the Universal Divine Plan. I was in actuality working the 3rd step each time I said the serenity prayer in this way. (Working the Third Step)
The change in focus on that day lead me to read certain books, attend workshops, do much writing, and start to go to Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings. (Co-Dependents Anonymous was not founded until October of 1986.) I was not from an alcoholic family but was starting to realize that my family was dysfunctional and it wasn’t just me who was screwed up.
I went to ACA meetings sporadically. I used to say that I went to meetings for a year before I ever spoke in one. Looking back now I find that kind of hard to believe (that it was that long) but it was I am sure at least 8 or 9 meetings over the course of 5 or 6 months before I spoke. And when I spoke for the first time what I spoke about was that I had realized that I had been sitting in the meetings comparing my story to the other peoples – and thinking that they had it much worse than me. That I didn’t really have any right to speak up because I wasn’t from a raging alcoholic home and didn’t get beaten in childhood. That was, of course, my disease minimizing and invalidating my own pain. The other thing that I mentioned is that I had realized while sitting in that particular meeting that I had spent my whole life thinking that I was a frog who needed a princess to kiss me before I could become a prince – and that that wasn’t true, that I was a prince already. (Several years later when I moved from Taos New Mexico to California I answered my door one day to find a large stuffed frog sitting on my doorstep. It was a going away gift from my CoDA group in homage to the frog self image that I talked about in meetings.)
So for over a year, I was pursuing my healing of the childhood programming on mostly an intellectual level. It wasn’t until I set myself up to feel abandoned and betrayed on my birthday (one of my old regular patterns for special days) that I became willing to do the emotional healing – and started actively pursuing emotional healing (another story for another issue).
In the meantime, in the late summer of 1986, I had gone to work in an Chemical Dependence Treatment Center. I had been pursuing an acting career in Hollywood since 1975 and had been very good at being a suffering artist. It was a perfect path for both my codependence (suffering I learned real well from the church that taught me I was a sinner who was here to do penance for being born a sinful, shameful human) and my alcoholism (everyone knows that artists need to drink a lot and do drugs). As a result of doing Positive Affirmations and consciously trying to reprogram my subconscious beliefs I surrendered to going to work in a treatment center and giving up the suffering artist types of jobs that I had done for years.
I first went to work as a counselors assistant and then was later promoted to therapist because I was qualified for the higher position. I had received my Masters Degree many years before but had abandoned using the knowledge and skills I had in order to pursue my acting career.
For my birthday in 1987 (the one that sparked my pursuit of emotional healing because I set myself up to be abandoned) I received a number of cards at work. Someone at work said “You should let Marianne read your cards.” “Read birthday cards?” I responded very skeptically. “Yes, she reads cards.” “Birthday cards?!?!?”
To say I didn’t take this seriously is a gross understatement. Marianne was someone who worked on our unit part time and the next time I saw her I mentioned it to her in a very humorous way. She responded “Yes, I am a psychic and I read birthday cards among other things.”
This was all a big joke to me. I had never heard of such a thing and said so – and I would kid around with her about it the next few times I saw her. I had gotten a message earlier in my recovery that it wasn’t part of my path to pursue experience of a psychic or paranormal nature. Not that I didn’t believe that there was Truth in many supernatural type of phenomena – just that I was supposed to focus on tuning into the Truth within me and not be looking outside for the answers. The thing I used to say when someone would try to get me to go see a psychic or have a tarot reading done or something of that nature was “If I am supposed to get a message from a psychic the Universe is quite capable of bringing the psychic into my path. I don’t have to go looking for answers in that way.”
Well, that is what happened. Marianne came storming into work one day and said to me “I have to see you right now!” We went into a private room and she proceeded to read my mail for me – that is tell me all the things that were going on inside of me that I wasn’t talking to anyone about. I was quite shaken about how much she knew about the secrets I was carrying and the feelings I was hiding. As I was sitting there in shock at her revelations, she asked to see my birthday cards. I still had them at work in order for her to read them one day. I gave them to her and she looked them over. She pointed out that every birthday card I had gotten that year had at least one musical note on it. She said that was “about the song that you are becoming.”
A few weeks later I made an appointment to see her for a paid psychic reading. One day before the reading I was walking down a street in Studio City where I lived and a song came to me. I knew that when she had said “the song I was becoming” she had not meant a literal song but was rather referring to my Spiritual Path. But the song that came to me was so perfect that I couldn’t wait to tell her. When she came over I started speaking the words of the song to her and made one of those “Freudian” slips that was absolutely perfect. I said:
“Jeremiah was a ‘boy’frog, was a good friend of mine.
Never understood a single word he said but he always had some mighty fine wine.
I always helped him drink his wine.”
A boy who believed he was a frog that needed a princess was who I was. And I had never listened to much of what my inner child said to me – had pummeled that part of me into submission and at the same time I let that child’s wounds run my life. I was never much for wine but I drank whatever was available.
So, it was a perfect song for me. And the chorus is:
Joy to the world. All the boys and girls.
Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
and Joy to you and me.
Out of the intervention of this psychic angel named Marianne a new level of consciousness was opened, and a new direction to steer was revealed. At a time when I had never experienced what I know now is True Joy in my life – I was given the message that my path was about Joy and carrying a message of Joy to you and me. The name of my company was born that day – even though I had no idea there would ever be a company.
In that same session, Marianne channeled a message to me from my inner child. My inner child said to me that I was resisting because of I was so terrified of all the pain and rage that I was carrying and that what I couldn’t see was all of the Joy and Love and Peace that was on the other side of that pain and rage. The channeled message from my inner child ended with my inner child saying that who he was – was my wounded soul.
That reference to my inner child being my wounded soul along with the musical theme of the song I was becoming planted the seed that with the help of some Saguaro cactus (part of the 30 Days in treatment story mentioned just below) was to grow into becoming the title of my book “The Dance of Wounded Souls.”
My pursuit of emotional healing lead me into depths of pain and rage that I would never have thought myself capable of surviving. It led me into a 30 day treatment program for Codependence that was the greatest gift I ever gave myself. (As I mentioned above the pursuit of emotional healing is a story for another issue as is the 30 days in treatment.)
After that wondrous treatment experience I was lead to move from LA to the place where I had been in treatment – Tucson, Arizona. Being in Tucson lead me to Sedona where the most frightening and freeing experience in my life took place – as I got to confront evil manifest and consciously take a small part in returning the Energy Field of Collective Human Emotional Consciousness to positive alignment with the Truth of a Loving God-Force. (This is talked about in the Trilogy and in another issue.)
Then I was lead to Taos New Mexico where I started writing the Trilogy and learning how to access the Mystical Truth that I was to be a messenger of in this lifetime. Before I had ever been to Taos I knew that I was going to be there about a year before going someplace “where the mountains and ocean come together.” That place was Cambria California where in 1991 I first gave the talk that was to become the book Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls. (Miracles)
After two years on the coast I was led back to Taos for some more Karmic settlement and learning before returning to California in the winter of 1994-95 to raise the money to publish my book. (Leap of faith and miracles in another issue.)
After publishing my book and returning to Cambria, I wanted to get a personalized license plate for my car that said Joy to You & Me – in the appropriate number of letters of course. But it was not available. What was available was Joy2Me U – so that is what I got. At the time I understood the message from the Universe. Joy to me and you is healthier for a recovering codependent than you and me. I need to heal myself first, protect myself first, nurture myself first and foremost before I can be of service to you in a healthy way. I am in the process of learning to Love myself – and it is an incredible gift that through doing what I need to do to learn about Love, and sharing my process with you – I get to be an instrument for helping you remember who you are and learn to Love your self first.
On February 28th of 1998 I uploaded the first, very crude pages of my web site. When I signed up with my server I choose the same letters as my license plate for my screen name – which also then became part of my web site address. In February of 1999 I purchased my own domain and launched Joy2MeU.com.
So that is the story of where the name of my company “Joy to You & Me” came from and how it transmuted into Joy2MeU.
Next month, I will share a story from another part of my journey.
With Wishes of Joy & Love to Me and You,
This story is part of the Premier Issue of the Joy2MeU Journal published online in April 1999. The Joy2MeU Journal is a body of Robert’s writing compiled between that time and the end of 2004. To learn more about the Journal see the Journal Information page. Here is a page that currently includes special offers for books, subscriptions and MP3 downloads.
June 3rd, 2015 – As I say in the article above, on this day 29 years ago I realized that I was living my life beating myself up when things looked and felt bad in my life and holding my breath waiting for the other shoe to drop when things felt and looked good. I was afraid to show I enjoyed or valued anything lest it be taken away. A Truly horrible way to live that is what codependency created in my life. The commitment I made on that day 29 years ago led me to discover a formula for inner healing that is the exact opposite of how my codependency worked. I learned that when things looked and felt bad that was the time that I most needed to nurture and love myself – and that when things felt and looked good that I should enjoy the heck out of it, because this too shall pass. Everything changes and gets different in life – that is the nature of life. It wasn’t personal punishment for being shameful and sinful as I had been taught.
The commitment I made that day led me to my life’s work – teaching other people how to be more loving to themselves and learn to be able to feel Joy in the moment for a whole lot of moments of most every day. This is what I teach people in my books and telephone counseling and Intensive Training Workshop. I am eternally grateful that my Higher Power gave me the courage and willingness to follow my path where it has led me – and to be able to help other people by sharing my recovery process – by sharing my experience, strength, and hope. ~ RB