A Higher Power of my own understanding – the beginning of empowerment

“This revolutionary idea was that an unconditionally Loving Higher Power exists with whom the individual being can personally communicate.  A Higher Power that is so powerful that it has no need to judge the humans it created because this Universal Force is powerful enough to ensure that everything unfolds perfectly from a Cosmic Perspective.

This reintroduction of the revolutionary concept of an accessible Loving God has been clarified to specifically include the concept that the individual being can define this Universal Force according to his/her own understanding, and can develop a personal, intimate relationship with this Higher Power.

In other words, no one is needed as an intermediary between you and your creator.  No outside agency has the right to impose upon you its definition of God.”

“Enlarging my perspective means changing my definitions, the definitions that were imposed on me as a child about who I am and how to do this life business.  In Recovery it has been necessary to change my definitions of, and my perspective of, almost everything.  That was the only way that it was possible to start learning how to Love myself.

I spent most of my life feeling like I was being punished because I was taught that God was punishing and that I was unworthy and deserved to be punished.  I had thrown out those beliefs about God and life on a conscious, intellectual level in my late teens – but in Recovery I was horrified to discover that I was still reacting to life emotionally based on those beliefs.

I realized that my perspective of life was being determined by beliefs that I had been taught as a child even though they were not what I believed as an adult.  That perspective caused my emotional truth to be that I felt like life was punishing me, and that I was not good enough – that something was wrong with me.  I felt like a victim of life, like a victim of myself, at the same time that I was blaming others for not making me happy.

I had to start trying to find a concept of a Higher Power who could Love me even though I was an imperfect human.  If my Creator is judging me then who am I not to judge myself?  On the other hand if the Goddess Loves me unconditionally then who am I not to Love myself?  And if the God/Goddess/Great Spirit/Universal Force Truly Loves me then everything has to be happening for reasons that are ultimately Loving. . . . . The only way that I was able to make significant progress in the process of stopping self-judgment and getting rid of the toxic shame was to become conscious of the larger perspective.  When I started to believe that maybe a Higher Power, a Universal Force, existed which was Truly All-Powerful and Unconditionally Loving then life started to become a lot easier and more enjoyable.” – All quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

Twelve step recovery is a program of empowerment.  Many people erroneously assume that the fact that first step involves admitting powerlessness means that 12 step recovery disempowers people. The Truth is exactly the opposite.

It was only when I admitted that I was powerless to control my drinking that I gained the power to stop drinking.  As long as I was trying to control my drinking out of ego and will power, I was powerless to stop drinking alcoholically.  It was when I opened up to getting help from a power greater than myself that I gained the power to transform my life.  (There are some people – alcoholics – who can stop drinking using will power.  They are what is referred to in the program as dry drunks.  They are some of the most miserable, resentful, angry people on the face of the planet – because they have no spiritual belief system that is Loving.)

In the beginning for me, that power greater than myself was just the group – the people I met at AA meetings.  Those people shared their stories, their thoughts and feelings, in a way that I identified with.  Previously I had thought I was the only one who thought those kind of insane thoughts and had those kind of feelings of utter despair and hopelessness.  When I first got to AA, I realized that I was not alone – I felt a connection to these people, felt a part of something larger than myself.

I however, had a real problem with the talk of God that I heard at meetings.  I was raised in a shaming religion that taught me I was born sinful and shameful.  I was emotionally and spiritually abused as a young child by being taught that God loved me but might send me to burn in eternal damnation in hell.  I was taught that being human was shameful and sinful. (In one of my articles in my series on sexuality, gender, and relationships, I explained that it is not necessary for a person to be raised in a shaming religion to get the message that it is shameful to be human: Sexuality Abuse – the legacy of shame based culture.)

So, I had a real problem with even using the word God.  And this was not just because of my personal experience, but also because of what I had learned about the history of the planet.  I saw that throughout history “God” had been used as an justification for genocide, torture, plunder, and rape.  I saw that a civilization based upon the “command” to go forth to subdue and conquer, not only destroyed peoples and cultures that were much kinder and more Loving than the conquerors – but was an integral part of going a long way towards destroying the planet we live on.

In my younger days I had been involved in activism with Native Americans – whom I could clearly see had been victimized by subdue, conquer, and slaughter mentality of the dominant culture.  I found much beauty and harmony in the respect for nature and natural laws that was involved in the Native American concept a Higher Power – The Great Spirit.  In the beginning of my book, I state some reasons that I wrote it – which included the following sentence.

“This is my way of standing up for my Truth, and of honoring “All My Relations,” which is a Native American term that refers to the Great Spirit whose essence is present in everyone and everything.  We are all related to everyone and everything.”

If I had been told in January 1984, at the beginning of my recovery from alcoholism, that the only way I could quit killing myself with alcohol was to accept the standard version of “God” – I would never have gotten sober.  I would have been dead long ago.  But what I was told, was that I needed to find a concept of a Higher Power that worked for me – a Higher Power of my own understanding.   That was what saved my life – the revolutionary concept that I could develop my own idea of a Higher Power, and develop a personal relationship with that Higher Power that did not have to conform to what anyone else believed.

So, in the beginning of my recovery, I allowed the fact that people in meetings – whom I identified with – seemed to have found a way to live life that worked for them, to help me stay sober one day at a time.  I used the group as a power greater than myself, while I worked on trying to find a concept of a Higher Power that would work for me.

In those early days, I would call that Higher Power The Great Spirit – or The Force.  I remembered clearly that when the Star Wars movies first came out, I strongly resonated with the idea that “The Force is with you.”

It was when I was about 3 months sober that a book came into my life that altered my life, and my perspective of a Higher Power, immeasurably.  The miracle of the “coincidence” of discovering that book – a book that reached out and grabbed my attention from the paperback rack in a grocery store – is something that still reduces me to tears of Joy and Gratitude 20 years later.  I quoted that book several times in my book – and in this article I am going to use a quote from an online book I wrote that includes a quote from my book within it.  That online book is the one that I wrote about the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001.  I wrote that online book because I saw the terrorist attack of 9/11 as a blatant manifestation of the human condition of codependency – and I will in this series of article be touching on some of the cultural and international manifestations of codependency that are causing the world conditions we are facing today.

“One of the first things I was guided to, when I was only about 3 months sober, was a mind boggling, paradigm smashing book called Illusions by Richard Bach.  It presented me with concepts that it took me years to understand intellectually.  But I knew instantly that the book was full of Truth.

“In order to become aligned with Truth so that we can stop the war within and change life into an easier, more enjoyable experience, it is vitally important to become clear in our emotional process and to change the reversed attitudes that we had to adopt to survive.  Those reversed attitudes are what cause our dysfunctional perspectives – which in turn, have caused us to have a lousy relationship with life. 

I am going to quote from a book now, and again a little later, that is my own personal favorite book of Truth.  I feel a great deal of Truth in this book.  It has guided me and helped me to remember my Truth and to become conscious of my path.  It was a very important part of my personal process of enlarging my perspective – of being able to see this life business in a larger context. 

It is a book called Illusions by Richard Bach.  This is one of my favorite quotations from that book. 

The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. 

What a caterpillar calls the end of the world the master calls a butterfly.

The “depth of your belief” is about perspective.  If we are reacting to life emotionally out of the belief systems we had imposed on us as children we will then see change as tragedy and feel that being forced to grow is shameful.  As we change our attitudes toward this life experience, when we can start viewing it as a process, a journey, then we can begin to see that what we used to perceive as problems are really opportunities for growth.  Then we can begin to realize that even though our experiences in childhood have caused to think of ourselves as, and feel like, lowly caterpillars – we are in Truth butterflies who are meant to fly. 

We are all butterflies.  We are all Spiritual Beings.

I used to use the caterpillar – butterfly quote a lot when I spoke.  I would usually say something like “a measure of your Spiritual Awakening” instead of “mark of your ignorance” in order to soften it a bit.  We codependents are such experts in beating ourselves up and shaming ourselves, that we tend to see the word ignorance as being something that is our fault.  In fact, the word ignorance refers to a lack of knowledge, of not being informed.  The reason we didn’t know how to set boundaries, or have healthy relationships, was because of ignorance caused by not having anyone to teach us – no healthy role models, no resources for learning how to be healthy.  We not only did not have resources to teach us how to relate to life and other people in a healthy way – we were taught the very opposite of healthy behavior in most cases.” – Attack on America – A Spiritual Healing Perspective

The caterpillar and butterfly quote was incredibly powerful to me.  I saw quitting drinking as a great tragedy – as the end of life as I knew it.  And gratefully it was the end of life as I knew it, and the beginning of life as an adventure in learning to Love.

It was the concept that I could develop a belief in a Higher Power of my own understanding that helped to empower me to realize that I had a choice in the beliefs and definitions about “God” that I was allowing to dictate my relationship with life.  It was this revolutionary concept that started me on the path to realizing that I was Lovable – that I could reconnect with, and access, an Unconditionally Loving Universal Force in a way that would help me remember that I am a beautiful butterfly that can Fly.

So are you.  At least, that is my Spiritual Belief.

Sacred Spiral

The Dance

It is possible to get personally autographed copies of my books from my website Joy2MeU  or You can get my Books, eBooks, and Audiobooks through Amazon,  Books or eBooks through Barnes & Noble, or eBooks through Kobo.

x-ill

Grateful acknowledgment is made for permission to quote from: Illusions  “The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah” by Richard Bach.  Copyright 1977 by Creature Enterprises, Inc.   Reprinted in Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls by Robert Burney by permission of Bantam Doubleday Dell, New York, NY.

 

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My Sobriety Date: January 3rd, 1984

“I feel that my life Truly began on January 3rd, 1984.  That was the day I entered a chemical dependency treatment center (aptly called the Independence Center) and started to learn how to live life clean and sober.  One of the reasons I was able to stay clean and sober was because I had a considerable amount of ego strength.  I had some strengths and talents that caused me to think that I was better than other people.  That ego strength was my defense against the shame I felt at the core of my relationship with myself.  I had a capacity for denial and rationalization that had helped me buy into the lie that other people were to blame for the failed wreckage my life had become.

I used that ego strength – and the false pride that told me I was better than other people – to help me stay sober.  One of the ways I did that was to make my sobriety date very important to me.  If I drank again, I would lose my sobriety date – and there was no way I wanted people who had less sobriety than me to get ahead of me.  My twisted, distorted codependent thinking allowed me to turn sobriety into some kind of race that I was winning over some people.

My ego strength helped me to stay sober in the beginning of my recovery.  It helped me to stay sober long enough to get into recovery from my codependency.  My recovery from codependency led me into starting to dismantle my ego defenses.  Breaking through my denial and rationalizations helped me to start getting emotionally honest with myself.  Emotional honesty forced me to start owning the incredible reservoirs of grief and rage I was carrying.  By the spring of 1988, my ego defenses had been weakened enough that the dam broke and my feelings started pouring forth.  That was when I got the gift of entering another treatment center where I started learning how to deal with that grief and rage.

In that treatment center in Tucson Arizona I met one of the people who was going to turn out to be a true angel on my path.  A person who would come to my rescue in the summer of 1988 after an unimaginable experience had revealed to me my Karmic mission in this lifetime.  He offered me the use of his cabin in Taos New Mexico.  It was in Taos that I started writing.

I later got to watch this “friend indeed” – whose name was also Robert – die because his codependency would not allow him to stay clean and sober.

“As a young child Robert got the message that he wasn’t lovable but that if he was successful enough and made enough money he might earn the right to be loved. He was successful and made lots of money but it did not work to convince him that he was good enough. 

My friend had no permission from himself to receive love. When I published my book I listed him among people who had touched my life on the Acknowledgments Page. When he saw his name listed there he cursed me (his generation, and mine, were taught to relate to other men that way, to say ‘I love you’ by calling each other names) and cried briefly (which he felt was very shameful) and then he drank. In his relationship with himself Robert was too shame-based to believe that he was lovable. 

I believe that the great majority of Alcoholics are born with a genetic, hereditary predisposition that is physiological. Environment does not cause Alcoholism. Robert was not an Alcoholic because he was shame-based – it was because of his shame that he could not stay sober. He had a blustery, ‘hail-fellow-well-met’, in your face kind of ego-strength that was very fragile. As soon as he got sober his ego defenses would fracture and the shame underneath would cause him to sabotage his sobriety. 

That doesn’t mean that people who can stay sober don’t have shame. Some of us just have more ego defenses that buries the shame deeper. That is good news in early sobriety because it helps one to stay sober. It can be bad news later on because it can cause us to resist growth and to not have the humility to be teachable.  The reason that I am alive today is because I was able to go to treatment for Codependence in my fifth year of recovery while working as a therapist in a treatment center. I had sworn that I would kill myself before I drank again and the feelings which were surfacing had me close to it when I went to Sierra Tucson. That was where I met Robert.” – The Death of an Alcoholic – codependency kills alcoholic

One of the cornerstone principles of the twelve step process is humility.  Humility is required for growth to occur.  On one level what humility means is to be teachable – to be open to growing and learning. ” – Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life Chapter 6: ego strength and self worth 

Sacred Spiral

On January 2nd, 2018 I am putting this blog post together using excerpts from different places in my writing where I talk about getting sober.  Tomorrow I will be 34 years clean and sober.  An unbelievable miracle that I have achieved one day at a time – sometimes an hour at a time, sometimes 5 minutes at a time.  I have immense gratitude for the gift of sobriety – as I say in the quote above, I feel like my life began on January 3rd, 1984.

I am doing this for my self primarily – as a review and a reminder of how far I have come and how blessed my path has been.  There is a lot of really valuable information in these excerpts I am sharing, and hopefully it will be helpful to some of you who read it.  Part of what has been so valuable for me to remember over these years however, is that first and foremost I am doing what I need to do for my self and my healing – that it helps other people is part of the magic and miracle of recovery.

“There were two interrelated things that I had to get clear about when I started working as a therapist:  One is that I am powerless over other people – over the pace of their progress, over whether they hear what I am saying to them, over where their path leads.  I watched a good friend die of Alcoholism (which is in a column in the Alcoholism section) and saw how clearly he helped other alcoholics stay sober because he couldn’t – he did more to keep more people sober than many of the sober people I know.  I can’t know what someone else’s path is – therefore I can’t tell them what is right and wrong.  What I can do is help them see themselves clearer (especially as to understanding how their childhood experiences have dictated their lives), see their choices and the possible consequences clearer, and know that we are Spiritual Beings going to boarding school not taking a test we can fail.

Which brings me to the second thing, which I believe is a Spiritual Truth – I teach best what I need most to learn.  I teach people how to Love themselves because I am trying to learn how to Love myself.  I learned to always listen to what I was saying because, though I have no control whether anyone else hears me, I do have the power to choose to hear myself – and there is always something in what I am saying that applies to me and my process in that moment. . . . .  I am in process just as my clients are – just as we all are.  There is no hierarchy as far as I am concerned – just one wounded person/Magnificent Spiritual Being sharing what has worked for me with another wounded person/Magnificent Spiritual Being. I am doing what I need to do for myself, to heal myself – it doesn’t have to do with anyone else – that it helps other people is just a bonus (and an opportunity to settle Karma).” – Inner Child Healing – Choosing a therapist or counselor with discernment

So, this is me being selfish (and indulgent as I often am in my writing) – and it will bring me great Joy if it is helpful and enjoyable to you. 🙂

Sacred Spiral

“Twelve step recovery is a program of empowerment.  Many people erroneously assume that the fact that first step involves admitting powerlessness means that 12 step recovery disempowers people. The Truth is exactly the opposite.

It was only when I admitted that I was powerless to control my drinking that I gained the power to stop drinking.  As long as I was trying to control my drinking out of ego and will power, I was powerless to stop drinking alcoholically.  It was when I opened up to getting help from a power greater than myself that I gained the power to transform my life.  (There are some people – alcoholics – who can stop drinking using will power.  They are what is referred to in the program as dry drunks.  They are some of the most miserable, resentful, angry people on the face of the planet – because they have no spiritual belief system that is Loving.)

In the beginning for me, that power greater than myself was just the group – the people I met at AA meetings.  Those people shared their stories, their thoughts and feelings, in a way that I identified with.  Previously I had thought I was the only one who thought those kind of insane thoughts and had those kind of feelings of utter despair and hopelessness.  When I first got to AA, I realized that I was not alone – I felt a connection to these people, felt a part of something larger than myself.

I however, had a real problem with the talk of God that I heard at meetings.  I was raised in a shaming religion that taught me I was born sinful and shameful.  I was emotionally and spiritually abused as a young child by being taught that God loved me but might send me to burn in eternal damnation in hell.  I was taught that being human was shameful and sinful. (In one of my articles in my series on sexuality, gender, and relationships, I explained that it is not necessary for a person to be raised in a shaming religion to get the message that it is shameful to be human: Sexuality Abuse – the legacy of shame based culture.)

So, I had a real problem with even using the word God.  And this was not just because of my personal experience, but also because of what I had learned about the history of the planet.  I saw that throughout history “God” had been used as an justification for genocide, torture, plunder, and rape.  I saw that a civilization based upon the “command” to go forth to subdue and conquer, not only destroyed peoples and cultures that were much kinder and more Loving than the conquerors – but was an integral part of going a long way towards destroying the planet we live on.

In my younger days I had been involved in activism with Native Americans – whom I could clearly see had been victimized by subdue, conquer, and slaughter mentality of the dominant culture.  I found much beauty and harmony in the respect for nature and natural laws that was involved in the Native American concept a Higher Power – The Great Spirit.  In the beginning of my book, I state some reasons that I wrote it – which included the following sentence. 

“This is my way of standing up for my Truth, and of honoring “All My Relations,” which is a Native American term that refers to the Great Spirit whose essence is present in everyone and everything.  We are all related to everyone and everything.”

(Quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls)

If I had been told in January 1984, at the beginning of my recovery from alcoholism, that the only way I could quit killing myself with alcohol was to accept the standard version of “God” – I would never have gotten sober.  I would have been dead long ago.  But what I was told, was that I needed to find a concept of a Higher Power that worked for me – a Higher Power of my own understanding.   That was what saved my life – the revolutionary concept that I could develop my own idea of a Higher Power, and develop a personal relationship with that Higher Power that did not have to conform to what anyone else believed.

So, in the beginning of my recovery, I allowed the fact that people in meetings – whom I identified with – seemed to have found a way to live life that worked for them, to help me stay sober one day at a time.  I used the group as a power greater than myself, while I worked on trying to find a concept of a Higher Power that would work for me.

In those early days, I would call that Higher Power:  The Great Spirit – or The Force.  I remembered clearly that when the Star Wars movies first came out, I strongly resonated with the idea that “The Force is with you.”

It was when I was about 3 months sober that a book came into my life that altered my life, and my perspective of a Higher Power, immeasurably.  The miracle of the “coincidence” of discovering that book – a book that reached out and grabbed my attention from the paperback rack in a grocery store – is something that still reduces me to tears of Joy and Gratitude 20 years later.  I quoted that book several times in my book – and in this article I am going to use a quote from an online book I wrote that includes a quote from my book within it.  That online book is the one that I wrote about the terrorist attack of September 11, 2001. . . . .

“One of the first things I was guided to, when I was only about 3 months sober, was a mind boggling, paradigm smashing book called Illusions by Richard Bach.  It presented me with concepts that it took me years to understand intellectually.  But I knew instantly that the book was full of Truth.

In order to become aligned with Truth so that we can stop the war within and change life into an easier, more enjoyable experience, it is vitally important to become clear in our emotional process and to change the reversed attitudes that we had to adopt to survive.  Those reversed attitudes are what cause our dysfunctional perspectives – which in turn, have caused us to have a lousy relationship with life. 

I am going to quote from a book now, and again a little later, that is my own personal favorite book of Truth.  I feel a great deal of Truth in this book.  It has guided me and helped me to remember my Truth and to become conscious of my path.  It was a very important part of my personal process of enlarging my perspective – of being able to see this life business in a larger context. 

It is a book called Illusions by Richard Bach.  This is one of my favorite quotations from that book. 

The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. 

What a caterpillar calls the end of the world the master calls a butterfly.

The “depth of your belief” is about perspective.  If we are reacting to life emotionally out of the belief systems we had imposed on us as children we will then see change as tragedy and feel that being forced to grow is shameful.  As we change our attitudes toward this life experience, when we can start viewing it as a process, a journey, then we can begin to see that what we used to perceive as problems are really opportunities for growth.  Then we can begin to realize that even though our experiences in childhood have caused to think of ourselves as, and feel like, lowly caterpillars – we are in Truth butterflies who are meant to fly. 

We are all butterflies.  We are all Spiritual Beings.

I used to use the caterpillar – butterfly quote a lot when I spoke.  I would usually say something like “a measure of your Spiritual Awakening” instead of “mark of your ignorance” in order to soften it a bit.  We codependents are such experts in beating ourselves up and shaming ourselves, that we tend to see the word ignorance as being something that is our fault.  In fact, the word ignorance refers to a lack of knowledge, of not being informed.  The reason we didn’t know how to set boundaries, or have healthy relationships, was because of ignorance caused by not having anyone to teach us – no healthy role models, no resources for learning how to be healthy.  We not only did not have resources to teach us how to relate to life and other people in a healthy way – we were taught the very opposite of healthy behavior in most cases.” – Attack on America – A Spiritual Healing Perspective

The caterpillar and butterfly quote was incredibly powerful to me.  I saw quitting drinking as a great tragedy – as the end of life as I knew it.  And gratefully it was the end of life as I knew it, and the beginning of life as an adventure in learning to Love.

It was the concept that I could develop a belief in a Higher Power of my own understanding that helped to empower me to realize that I had a choice in the beliefs and definitions about “God” that I was allowing to dictate my relationship with life.  It was this revolutionary concept that started me on the path to realizing that I was Lovable – that I could reconnect with, and access, an Unconditionally Loving Universal Force in a way that would help me remember that I am a beautiful butterfly that can Fly.” – A Higher Power of my own understanding 2 – the beginning of empowerment

Sacred Spiral

“I am what researchers are now calling a “Type A” alcoholic.  That means that my genetic predisposition to alcoholism was so strong that the only way I could have avoided being an alcoholic was to never have taken a drink.  I got drunk the very first time that I had the opportunity to get drunk.  I also had a blackout the first time I got drunk.  A black out is when someone loses consciousness even though they are still walking and talking and appearing to be somewhat normal.  There is a gap in the memory (What did I do last night?) because of the effect of the alcohol on the brain.  I would wake up the next day not remembering anything after a certain point in time.  I wouldn’t know how I had gotten home, where my car was parked, and sometimes I wouldn’t know who I was with.  I had blackouts – with increasing regularity – starting with the first time I got drunk and continuing for the 17 years that I drank.

Alcohol saved my life.  I think that I would have killed myself if I had not discovered alcohol.  I was so terrified of life and people and felt so inadequate to cope with life.  Alcohol (and later drugs of various types) gave me permission to be human – which the environment I grew up in had not.  With alcohol I could loosen up and interact with other people.

At the end of my drinking days – which had been hell for a number of years – the Universe led me through many applications of the Cosmic stick to go home to Nebraska for the Holidays in December of 1983.  While there my parents – who had learned about alcoholism because a cousin of mine had gotten sober – did an intervention on me.  They asked me to go into a 30 day treatment program.

I can remember sitting with them in the office of the person who did the intake evaluations and feeling completely trapped.  By this time I had no money and no car, and I had been counting on them to be good enablers and loan me the money to get me going again.  The thing that really got me though was when my father said to the intake person “We want to get help for him because we love him a lot.”

I had never before heard my father use the term love in reference to me.  [He still to this day has never been able to tell me that he loves me. (My father died in May 2005.  On his death bed I told him I loved him – and the best he could say in return was “Same here.”)]  I can remember thinking at that moment, “Oh crap, now I have to do this.”  As if his using the word love was some sort of currency that obligated me to do whatever he wanted.

So I went into a treatment program in Lincoln Nebraska.  For the first two weeks I really resisted being there.  I thought the people were weird and I certainly didn’t need any of this religious God crap that they were talking about.  I called friends back in LA and complained about how I was locked in this horrible place.  (No doors were locked.)

The turning point came for me when some druggy friends back in LA offered to buy me a plane ticket back to the coast.  That was the point where I had to admit to myself that I had a choice.  I had spent my whole life being the victim because I didn’t believe I had choices – now I had a choice.

So I had to take a good look at myself and my life and see if I wanted to return to the way I had been living.  When I looked at how messed up –

(God, what an understatement.  As I wrote that last sentence, I started crying remembering what a hell I had been living in.  At some point in treatment I realized that the song that described what my life had been like was Desperado – “Your prison is walking through life all alone.”  “You’d better get down off you fence and let someone love you before it is too late.”  After I got sober I swore to myself that I would kill myself before I would ever take another drink.)

When I took a realistic view of what hell my life had been, I had to admit to myself that I didn’t ever want to live that way again.  So I turned down the plane ticket and surrendered to trying to learn the things that those weird people were trying to teach me.” – The Path of one Recovering Codependent ~ the dance of one wounded soul The Awakening Begins in the Joy2MeU Journal

Sacred Spiral

“12/24/11 ~ As my 28th sobriety birthday approaches in 10 days or so, I have been reflecting back on what an incredible miracle my life has been since January 3rd, 1984.  This page was originally just an article in a series of articles on “A Higher Power of my own understanding” – an article in which I talk about how the 12 step program of Alcoholics Anonymous saved my life.  Two years ago, on my 26th sobriety birthday I added some quotes below the article from some of my writing in which I talk about my drinking and early sobriety.  This year it was very appropriate for reasons that shall be obvious, that I share something I have shared in AA meetings on many occasions – including I am sure in many of my birthday meetings – but I don’t think I have ever written about.  (It possible I have, since I have written so much – but oh well.)

When I first got sober in a 30 day treatment program in Lincoln Nebraska, I got very afraid as it came time to leave treatment.  I felt like I had been in a safe haven for almost 30 days, and I wasn’t sure how I would fare back out in the world again.  (This was when I learned a very important lesson about working the third step when I went to see my counselor right before I was to get out.)

I couldn’t conceive of staying clean and sober for a year.  I couldn’t remember the last time I had gone for more than 3 days without something – drugs or alcohol – to take the edge off.  The one exception to that was one time about 2 years before I got sober when I quit drinking for 30 days to see if I wanted to die as much when I wasn’t drinking as when I was.  It wasn’t much of a test however, as I was still smoking some dope occasionally – plus I was starring in a play and having an affair with a married woman who was in the play with me, so had plenty of distractions to help me in my dry period.  At the cast party for the play I had a beer and just kind of forgot about ever thinking that drinking was a problem.  I was back to drinking alone to black out within a couple of weeks after that.

Anyway, I couldn’t imagine a year sober – and at the same time, I saw people who made it to a year and then drank again.  I was afraid of making it a goal to get to a year – because it was such a long time away, and also because I didn’t want to set myself up to feel like if I got there I had it made.  So, I decided to make my goal to reach 100 days – which was an impossibly long period for me at that point.  And then once I got to 100 days, I made my next goal 1000 days.  I would mention when I took my birthday cake after I reached 1000 days that my next goal was 10,000 days.  It seemed like an unfathomably distant goal.  Well, some time this year – in May I think – I passed 10,000 days clean and sober.  Mind boggling!  Talk about a miracle!!

As you can see from the comments I added two years ago after the article – I am Truly a miracle.  Among those comments below above is a quote from an article in my Joy2MeU Journal entitled: The Awakening Begins.  I decided to add an excerpt from the next article in that series – entitled: The Emotional Awakening Begins – to this page to commemorate my 28th sobriety anniversary and to be reminded of how far I have come since 1984.

“When I first came to recovery I knew a lot about emotions and had almost no permission to feel them personally.  I had no permission to feel them personally because my emotional programming from the role modeling of my parents in childhood taught me that men have only one emotion – anger – and that it wasn’t OK to be angry at women – since my mother’s definition of love included the belief that you can’t be angry at someone you love, meaning it was not OK for me to be angry at her.  My emotional palette, in terms of my personal unconscious relationship with my emotions, consisted of one color – anger – that was only truly acceptable to feel towards men.  Consciously, in my personal view of my self, I believed I was a very emotional person with a full palette.

I also knew quite a lot about emotions because I had spent many years in Hollywood pursuing an acting career.  I understood the human emotional process enough to see clearly that all humans had the same basic emotions – no matter how different their outside circumstances, or the details of their stories may have been.  When I had the right role I could play an audience like a emotional musical instrument. 

In retrospect, I believe that my acting was one of the reasons I was still alive.  I got much needed emotional release through the characters I played.  It was the type of emotional release that did not do anything for me personally in terms of healing (it is very important to own our feelings, crying for someone else is emotionally dishonest – the reason someone else’s pain affects us is because it triggers our own) – it just allowed me to vent some emotional energy, which kept me from exploding or imploding.  (The other major reason that I was still alive is that I had alcohol and drugs to help me keep the pain at bay.  Without alcohol I do think I would have killed myself before I was 21 because I was so emotionally isolated and had so much pain and rage stuffed inside – in fact I made a bet with a friend my freshman year in college that I wouldn’t live to graduate, the bet was a case of beer.)

Whenever I started working on a new character, the first thing I would try to decide was what the characters ‘gut level fears’ were.  I would pontificate to other actors about how people were driven by their gut level fears – and feel very proud of my ability to create real living breathing character studies based on my methods.  (I specialized in very intense characters who were very wounded – alcoholics, addicts, loners, crazy people, etc. – like “duh” I wonder why.  I even once for an on camera personalization exercise did Hamlet’s soliloquy ‘To be or not to be’ where he is contemplating suicide, using a drink instead of a dagger as the prop.  My acting teacher was convinced I was suicidal – I thought it just showed how brilliant I was that I was able to ‘act’ suicidal.  Denial is an amazing thing!)

So, my focus as an actor was on what fears drove my characters – but I personally had no fear.  When I first went into the Chemical Dependence Treatment Center where I got sober I heard people at meetings or in lectures mention being afraid.  I have a very clear memory of sitting in one of my first AA meetings where someone talked about being afraid and thinking “Who are these people!  So afraid.  I’ve never been afraid – they stuck guns in my face and I wasn’t afraid.  These people are wimps!”

I had no permission in my subconscious programming, in the definition of what I learned men feel from my male role model, to have fear.  I was incapable of consciously acknowledging fear in my personal process because it was unacceptable.

My self image on a conscious level was of being Mr. Nice Guy.  I would do anything for you, and I was always pleasant and entertaining.  My self image on an emotional level – my protective armor that I wore unconsciously – was of the ‘man in black.’ The strong quiet type that you didn’t want to mess with because you could see in my eyes that messing with me would be very unpleasant.  (This was a defense I developed when I was being a revolutionary and carrying a gun – I was in some pretty hairy situations and the defense served to keep me alive.)  I had a force field that I put up around myself to protect myself.  I knew how to put off vibes that said very clearly ‘stay away.’

One of the important breakthroughs I had during my 30 days in treatment came in my third week there.  My counselor was not sure how to handle me because of my intensity and the fact – which, since it was where I derived much of my ego strength, I made very clear – that I was a ‘Hollywood Actor.’ (The treatment center was in Nebraska – a long way from Hollywood.)  So, in consultation with the other counselors they decided to keep me off balance by switching me between therapy groups – and giving each of the male counselors a shot at me. 

There were three primary groups for men and usually a person was in one group the whole time they were in treatment.  In my third week, I showed up for group and was told that I had to go to a different group.  They refused to tell me why this was happening.  In about the middle of the week, I was in a group where for the first time I got to experience a full-on mirroring of myself.  The previous week in my primary group I had been confronted about putting up a barrier to scare people away – and I had responded by denying it and tearfully saying how I loved people and would never try to scare them away.  Well, in that other group I got to sit and watch another man get confronted about the same thing and deny it just as I had done – and I saw myself in him so clearly that I had to immediately point out that I could see he was not being honest because watching him I realized that I had not been honest.

At the end of this week of switching back and forth between the three groups, I was in a group with a grizzled old counselor who had been around for many years.  He asked me if I had learned anything from all the switching around and then sat and listened patiently while I expounded on all that I had learned. 

    When I was done, he asked quietly and quizzically “And you didn’t know why we were doing that, did you?”

    “No,” I said “I had no idea.”

    Then he sweetly smiled and drove home the point, “Well, maybe it is not important for you to know why something is happening then.”

    Shot the heck out of some of my control issues right there.

This treatment center worked with what was called the ‘Minnesota model’ in dealing with emotional issues.  What that meant was that they identified 6 primary feelings and forced us patients to identify our feelings only using those words.   The 6 were mad, sad, glad, hurt, afraid, ashamed.  That drove me crazy.  One of the defenses that I used to distance myself from my feelings was not naming them.  They forced me to start naming my feelings.  I couldn’t say “I was confused,” or “irritated” or “apprehensive” or “annoyed” etc.  I had to name a feeling.  It really drove me crazy since I did not know on a personal level what feelings really were, let alone what I was feeling.

I was forced to start trying to figure out what I was feeling – and to stop being in my head all of the time.  One of my primary defenses against feeling my feelings was to be in my head.  In my early recovery I had to start paying attention to what was happening in my body from the neck down – because that is where emotions manifest.

Since I was so out of touch with my feelings, I had to come up with clues for myself.  Things that I could notice that would be a clue to me that feelings were going on.

By the time I got done with the 30 day program I was really in touch with my fear.  I realized that rather than never having been afraid – the truth was that I had been afraid of everybody and everything since I was a kid.  I was absolutely terrified of leaving the treatment center because I was so scared that I would drink again.  I could see clearly what a hell my life had been and I did not ever want to go back to living the way I had been.  I swore to myself that I would kill myself before I took another drink.

So wanting a drink became my most important early clue to tell me that I had some feelings going on that I needed to deal with.  When I caught myself, while watching TV, really watching the beer commercials, I would have to stop and say, “whoa, that beer really looks good – I must be feeling something.”  Or when I was driving down the street and noticing every cocktail sign and liquor billboard –  that would be a clue that I needed to do a little emotional inventory.

One of the classic moments came because of a friend who was a musician.  He was having trouble staying sober while he was playing – so a few of us would go to an AA meeting on Friday or Saturday night and then go to whatever Lounge he was playing at.  It was a very good opportunity for me to be around drinking with a bunch of safe people and get used to not drinking in a social setting.  But there was one night when I realized that I had some feelings going on that made it unsafe for me to be in a bar.  My clue came when I started tearing up while my friend played what to me was a very sad ballad.  It was real progress for me to recognize that I was emotionally vulnerable and needed to get out of there.  Pretty funny in retrospect.  The sad ballad was “Jose Cuervo, he was a good friend of mine.””  – The Path of one Recovering Codependent ~ the dance of one wounded soul The Emotional Awakening Begins in the Joy2MeU Journal

A very valuable lesson – I don’t have to know why something is happening in order to accept that it is part of the Divine Plan somehow.  Things often haven’t gone the way I wanted them in the last 28 years – and over and over again I have been grateful when I looked back and saw the perfection of my Higher Power’s plan for me. (Something I talked about in the comments I added to my working the third step page (next excerpt) in commemoration of this birthday.)  Onward and upward for the next 10,000 days.  Happy Birthday to me!!!!!!!!”  – Joy to You & Me and Joy2MeU Update February 2012

Sacred Spiral

“I celebrated my 17th sobriety birthday on January 3rd.  17 years is pretty much incomprehensible for someone who couldn’t go for 3 days without a drink or a drug.  It doesn’t seem like it went fast though – rather it seems like I have lived 7 or 8 lifetimes since 1984.  It is important for me to remember where I came from, and how far the Spirit has lead me on this journey.  As they say, the qualities of my problems has greatly improved. 😉

It is especially important for me to remember that right now, because I have been going through one of those difficult times in recovery.  There are times when everything is flowing fast and furious, with miracles popping up every time I turn around.  Then there are other times when it seems dark and murky – like I am trying to move through quick sand and not making any progress.

When I am in one of the difficult times, it is so important to observe myself so that I can catch myself when I start going into shame and judgment.  This disease is so insidious and powerful.  It puts up huge resistance to change and then turns around and tells me that I am not changing fast enough – that I am not doing enough, not doing it “right.”

As I say many times on my web site, the challenge for us is to have compassion for ourselves, and to accept wherever we are at as being a perfect part of the process, rather than punishment for being bad.  My critical parent voice wants to beat up on that wounded little boy in me whose father raged at him, who couldn’t protect his mother, and who was taught that god was judgmental and punishing.

I have to call on the defense attorney within to stand up to the prosecuting critical parent and the judge who wants to sentence me to suffering.  Sometimes it is easier than others.  Sometimes it is important just to accept that I am feeling overwhelmed, alone, and worn out – and to let myself indulge a little.  A few days ago, I let myself just kind of wallow in the part of me that feels like a wounded animal who wants to crawl into my cave and lick my wounds.

Accepting and embracing that part of me for a few hours – allowing myself to crawl into bed with a book and some chocolate – allows me to get through it and come out on the other side in a way that fighting it never does.  The disease wants to tell me that when I am feeling bad it will last forever.  That is a lie.  Accepting where I am at without shame and judgment and reminding myself that this too shall pass is an important part of maintaining some sense of balance today.

I think part of what I have been going through is a planetary thing – the process has cycles and this seems to be a murky one.  Part of it is the changes I am making in my life that I spoke about in my last newsletter.  Being in transition is always a difficult time.  I sometimes think about how it must feel to be a caterpillar in the cocoon – being torn apart and put back together as a butterfly.  That is kind of what happens in recovery – except we get to be conscious of the tearing apart process in a way that I am sure caterpillars are not.  A dubious gift if you ask me.

I also, have just gotten aware in the last couple of days that I may have had some denial going over the holidays.  I thought I had sailed through the holidays without hitting any of those pot holes of grief over being alone – the pot holes that used to be huge abysses (is that a word?).  I even congratulated myself on how I had succeeded in taking all of the emotional charge out the holidays – when I used to really feel lonely and have great sadness over being alone.

It seems I may have some of that grief and loneliness after all.  It is natural in my process that, sometimes when I am consciously choosing to focus on the part of the glass that is full, I overshoot a little and indulge in a little denial about the part that is still empty.  Oh well.  Got caught being human again.” – Joy to You & Me and Joy2MeU Update January 2001  
Sacred Spiral “On January 3, 2002 I will celebrate 18 years of being clean and sober.  I have actually been clean and sober now for longer than I drank and used.  An amazing miracle that has unfolded one day at a time.  Some of those days were excruciatingly painful – full of hopelessness and despair.  In early recovery, I didn’t make it through those days sober because I wanted to be sober – or because I wanted to be alive.  I made it through one day at a time because I was terrified of returning to, and getting stuck in, the hell I had been living in for the last 4 or 5 years of my drinking.

There is an old AA saying that: Alcoholics Anonymous doesn’t open up the gates of heaven and let us in – it opens up the gates of hell and lets us out.  When I got released from my alcoholic hell, what I found myself experiencing was life.  The very thing I had been drinking to cope with!

What I realize now, is that I was released from alcoholic hell and found myself in codependent hell.  My relationship with my self and with life condemned me to codependent hell – and alcohol and drugs had given me a vacation of sorts from dealing with the fact that I did not have a clue of how to live life in a functional way.

I am very, very grateful now that I am a recovering alcoholic.  If I had not found alcohol and drugs, I would have killed myself in one way or another in my late teens or early twenties.  My 17 plus year drinking career kept me alive long enough to be present when planetary conditions changed so that the New Age of Healing and Joy could dawn in human consciousness.  Long enough to have available to me, the tools and knowledge to be able to heal my wounded soul and learn to live life in a way that works.  Long enough that first Adult Children of Alcoholics, and then Co-Dependents Anonymous meetings, were available to help me in my healing process.

The dysfunctional dance of Codependence is caused by being at war with ourselves – being at war within.

We are at war with ourselves because we are judging and shaming ourselves for being human.  We are at war with ourselves because we are carrying around suppressed grief energy that we are terrified of feeling.  We are at war within because we are “damming” our own emotional process – because we were forced to become emotionally dishonest as children and had to learn ways to block and distort our emotional energy.

We cannot learn to Love ourselves and be at peace within until we stop judging and shaming ourselves for being human and stop fighting our own emotional process, until we stop waging war on ourselves.

Detachment and Delayed Gratification

I can see now, that the reason I was able to stay sober was because of two concepts that are invaluable to any healing or growth.  The first one made the second possible.  It is the first of these concepts that is the single most important step in the inner healing process – the one that I stress so much to anyone I am working with on how to change and improve the quality of their lives.

That concept is detachment.

Codependence is a compulsively reactive condition.  I had gone through life like a pin ball – bouncing / reacting from one point to the next, from one person to the next.  It was never my fault.   Someone, or something else, was always to blame for how messed up my life was – for how awful I felt inside.  I focused on blame and resentment because the only alternative that I knew was to blame myself.  I was at war inside of myself – and because I was taught to look outside for definition and worth by the society I grew up in, I tried to assign the blame externally for that internal war.

At the core of codependency is shame about being human.  This shame was caused by a polarized, black and white intellectual paradigm that empowered the perspective that the only alternatives for evaluating worth, for determining value, are right and wrong.  Human beings are incapable of being perfect based upon a perspective in which the only alternatives are right and wrong.

Codependency is a dysfunctional relationship with life, with being human.  It is the dance I learned to do as a little kid.  It is a dance whose music is generated from fear and shame, to a rhythm dictated by black and white thinking.  It is a dance characterized by movement between extremes – blame them or blame me, overreact or underreact, less than or better than, success or failure, win or lose, etc., – which makes balance impossible.  There is no middle ground in a dance that can only be done right or wrong.  There can be no inner peace.

Since I was continually attempting to do life perfect (or rebelling by going to the opposite extreme) according to false beliefs about the nature and purpose of being human, I could never have any inner peace.  I judged my self and my life experience, both consciously and unconsciously, out of a dysfunctional polarized belief system – so that it was not possible to stop being at war within.  At the core of my being I felt like I was a defective monster, some kind of shameful, unlovable loser – and I tried to deflect some of that pain by blaming others.

No wonder I drank.  Alcohol – and later drugs of various kinds – saved my life.

The first thing I had to do to get sober was to detach enough from my personal reality – from my hellish emotional pain and shame, from the intellectual garbage generated by my twisted codependent thinking – to become conscious of the reality that alcohol was not working for me anymore.  I had to get conscious enough to be able to realize that it had been many years since alcohol had given me the relief and good feelings that it had when I started drinking.

With any addictive, mind / mood altering substance / behavior, the very thing that brought some relief from the internal war and mental anguish – the substance or behavior that gives us feelings of being high, of rising above our lives of quiet desperation, of feeling good –  becomes something that we feel is necessary just to feel normal.  Then eventually, normal becomes very low indeed.

I had to detach from myself enough to look at my life from a perspective that allowed me to see that maybe my behavior had something to do with why I was so miserable – but that is was not because I was a shameful being.  The twelve step concept of powerlessness – the idea that alcoholism was a disease rather than a weakness of character – allowed me to detach and view my behavior, my drinking and using, with enough objectivity to start seeing reality with more clarity.

Once I surrendered to the reality that alcohol was hurting me rather than helping me, then I could make some effort to start living life differently.  It was necessary for me to get a detached, objective look at myself in order for me to get honest enough with myself to decide that it might be better for me to get sober.  I did not stop drinking because I wanted to stop drinking.  I stopped drinking because alcohol and drugs were not working for me any more.  When I was able to look at reality with some detachment, I could see that what I thought was the solution had actually become the most pressing problem.

The second concept that was so valuable in staying sober and starting to change my life, was the concept of delayed gratification.  When I first started recovery, I thought that living life one day at a time was a revolutionary concept for me.  But looking back now, I can see that living life one day at a time is what I had been doing all my life.  The difference was that I had been living out of instant gratification.

As I describe on my page The codependent three step – A Dance of Shame, Suffering, & Self-Abuse, codependency is a vicious, compulsive, self-abusive dynamic – an prison that we are trapped in as long as we are reacting.  In my codependent dance I was the victim of myself, I was my own perpetrator, and I rescued myself in ways that were ultimately self abusive.   The shame and pain I was feeling was causing me to feel like a victim, the critical parent voice in my head was beating me up for being a stupid loser, and I was rescuing myself with drugs and alcohol.

In early recovery, I learned to think the next drink through to the consequences before picking it up.  In other words, think about how I would feel about myself tomorrow if I take a drink today.  And be conscious enough to tell myself the truth that I didn’t want just one drink – I wanted oblivion, unconsciousness.

So, I started living life one day at a time from a detached place of consciousness that was aware of cause and effect – and understood that not indulging in instant gratification today would help me to not hate myself so much tomorrow.

Detachment allowed me to start aligning myself with the way life really works – cause and effect – and choosing delayed gratification one day at a time.” – Co-Creation: Owning your Power to Manifest Love

I have often said that Gratitude is not nearly a big enough word to describe how grateful I am and how blessed I feel to be in recovery.   January 3rd 2018 is my 34th sobriety birthday and I am profoundly, deeply, everlastingly grateful for the gift of recovery in my life.

“I am profoundly, deeply, everlastingly grateful for the gift of the 12 steps.  The process of learning to apply the Spiritual Principles in my life has changed my life from an unendurable hell to an adventure that is exciting and enJoyable most of the time.  The twelve steps work.  That is the bottom line.  They work to help a person transform their experience of life into something better.  They work to help a person learn to develop a relationship with life and self that allows room for inner peace, happiness, and Joy.  The twelve step process works to help a person open up to Love.” – The Miracle of The Twelve Step Recovery Process – a formula for integration and balance

Sacred Spiral

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There are probably 5 or 6 million words in the two subscription areas of my site that I quote from in this entry.  I have a page with special offers on lifetimes subscriptions to those password protected areas: Dancing in Light and the Joy2MeU Journal.  Millions of words of content not available on Joy2MeU.

Codependency book-Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls by Robert BurneyIt is possible to get personally autographed copies of my books from my website Joy2MeU  or You can get my Books, eBooks, and Audiobooks through Amazon,  Books or eBooks through Barnes & Noble, or eBooks through Kobo.

 

x-illGrateful acknowledgment is made for permission to quote from: Illusions  “The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah” by Richard Bach.  Copyright 1977 by Creature Enterprises, Inc.   Reprinted in Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls by Robert Burney by permission of Bantam Doubleday Dell, New York, NY.

 

“I am inserting a note here for anyone who feels offended by what they see as a violation of the Eleventh Tradition of AA’s Twelve Traditions.  The 11th Tradition of AA is:

Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.

I routinely break my own anonymity in regard to the fact that I am a recovering alcoholic / addict and codependent because I do not believe I would be alive today if Betty Ford had not broken her anonymity in the late 1970s and brought the subject of alcoholism out of the closet into public view.  She is one of the people I dedicated my book to because I believe that I personally owe her a debt of gratitude for her courage and honesty.  Breaking my own anonymity is one way that I carry the message of hope that saved my life.  Anyone whose black and white thinking is causing them to rigidly interpret the Twelve Steps and Traditions enough to be offended, desperately needs to get into codependency recovery in my opinion.” – Robert Burney 2/10/04 

Illusions “The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah.”

My Sobriety birthday is tomorrow and in the course of putting together a blog about my experience of being clean and sober since January 3rd 1984, I came across a journal entry that doesn’t quite work in the blog post I am writing but which I wanted to share. In this journal entry I am talking about a couple of the powerful early influences in my recovery.

The first was Richard Bach’s book Illusions “The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah.”  I discovered this book in a grocery store book rack when I was about 3 months sober.  The title resonated so strongly with me that I knew I had to buy it though I had no idea what it was about or why I related to it.

Everyone has a time in their early Spiritual Awakening when some specific influence – a book, a teacher, a workshop, etc. – impacted them to a huge degree.  At the time we are ready to hear – the teacher appears.  This has happened again and again in my recovery – but the first real powerful awakening stimuli always sticks with us.  Illusions is to me a great book of Truth.  And it gave me a new huge paradigm to start exploring in my quest for Spiritual meaning in life.

The story of Illusions is that Richard Bach is out flying around the Midwest in an old biplane making a living by giving people rides.  He meets someone else who is doing the same.  This other person turns out to be a former mechanic who got in touch with his inner power and started working miracles.  He soon had people flocking around him because he was “The Messiah.”  He kept trying to tell people that they could do anything he could do because they were all connected to the Divine also.  But they wouldn’t listen to him.  Rather they wanted him to fix them – they didn’t want to do the work themselves.

He got tired of not being heard so one day he quit.  Here is an excerpt from the prologue to Illusions.

“And when the throng pressed him with its woes, beseeching him to heal for it and learn for it and feed it nonstop from his understanding and to entertain it with his wonders, he smiled upon the multitude and said pleasantly unto them, “I quit.”
 
For a moment the multitude was stricken dumb with astonishment.
 
And he said unto them, “If a man told God that he wanted most of all to help the suffering world, no matter the price to himself, and God answered and told him what he must do, should the man do as he is told?”
 
“Of course, Master!” cried the many. “It should be pleasure for him to suffer the tortures of hell itself, should God ask it!”
 
“No matter what those tortures, nor how difficult the task?”
 
“Honor to be hanged, glory to be nailed to a tree and burned, if so be that God has asked,” said they.
 
“And what would you do,” the Master said unto the multitude. “if God spoke directly to your face and said, ‘I command that you be happy in the world, as long as you live.’ What would you do then?”
 
And the multitude was silent, not a voice, not a sound was heard upon the hillsides, across the valleys where they stood.
 
And the Master said unto the silence, “In the path of our happiness shall we find the learning for which we have chosen this lifetime. So it is that I have learned this day, and choose to leave you to walk your own path, as you please.”
 
And he went his way through the crowds and left them, and he returned to the everyday world of men and machines.”
 
Here is a quote . . . from my book paraphrasing a story in Illusions.
“The prologue to Richard Bach’s Illusions contains a story about a colony of creatures clinging to the bottom of a stream. Here is a paraphrasing of that story.
 
“One day one of those creatures became bored with the life of clinging and decided to see what would happen if he let go and got swept up into the stream. He wanted to see where the stream would carry him.
 
All of the other creatures laughed at him and made fun of him. “You can’t let go of the rocks, you’ll just get battered and bruised!” “It’s insane to let go of the rocks!”
 
This creature, though, wanted more out of life than just clinging to the rocks. He wanted to find out where the stream went. So he let go of the rocks – and sure enough he got battered and bruised and had to grab hold again.
 
All of the other creatures ridiculed and laughed at him.
 
But he said, “I am going to try again. I believe that the stream knows where it is going. I want to see where the stream will take me.” So he let go again – and he got battered and bruised again. And then he let go again, and again, and again.
 
Each time he got a little less battered and bruised. Each time he got a little closer to being swept up in the stream.
 
Then finally one day he had let go enough times that he did get swept up into the stream. He was caught in the flow of the stream and swept forward.
 
He was flying!
 
As he flew along with his heart full of Joy and excitement he passed over another colony of clinging creatures that was downstream.
 
They looked up at him and cried, “Behold! There is a creature like us and he is flying! It must be the Messiah!”
 
He looked back at them and shouted as he was heading down stream, “No! You don’t understand. You can fly, too, all you have to do is let go. You are as much messiahs as I am.”
 
That is what this is all about! The second coming has begun! Not of “The Messiah,” but of a whole bunch of messiahs. The messiah – the liberator – is within us! A liberating, Healing Transformational Movement has begun. “The Savior” does not exist outside of us – “The Savior” exists within.
 
We are the sons and daughters of God. We, the old souls, who are involved in this Healing Movement, are the second coming of the message of Love.
 
We have entered what certain Native American prophecies call the Dawning of the Fifth World of Peace. Through focusing on our own healing the planet will be healed.
 
We all have available to us – within – a direct channel to the Highest Vibrational Frequency Range within The Illusion. That highest range involves consciousness of the Glory of ONENESS. It is called Cosmic Consciousness. It is called Christ Consciousness.
 
This is the energy that Jesus was tuned into, and he stated very plainly, “These things that I do, you can do also.” – by atoning, by tuning in.
 
We have access to the Christ Energy within. We have begun the Second Coming of the message of Love.
 
The dawning of the Age of Healing and Joy is the dawning of the Fifth World of Peace when humans will learn to walk in balance and harmony.
 
Now that is some pretty wonderful news, wouldn’t you say?” – Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls quoted in  – The Path of one Recovering Codependent ~ the dance of one wounded soul The Awakening Begins in the Joy2MeU Journal 
Sacred Spiral
 
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The Joy2MeU Journal includes a personal journal of my recovery process as well as my personal story “The Path of one Recovering Codependent ~ the dance of one wounded soul.”  In it I share the story of my recovery.   I have a page that includes special offers on lifetimes subscriptions to the password protected areas of my website Joy2MeU.com: Dancing in Light and the Joy2MeU Journal.  Millions of words of content not available on Joy2MeU.

Codependency book-Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls by Robert BurneyIt is possible to get personally autographed copies of my books from my website Joy2MeU  or You can get my Books, eBooks, and Audiobooks through Amazon,  Books or eBooks through Barnes & Noble, or eBooks through Kobo.

x-illGrateful acknowledgment is made for permission to quote from: Illusions  “The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah” by Richard Bach.  Copyright 1977 by Creature Enterprises, Inc.   Reprinted in Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls by Robert Burney by permission of Bantam Doubleday Dell, New York, NY.

Chapter 5: Codependency = conditioned reactive programming ~ Pavlov’s Dog

Dr. Ivan Pavlov, a professor of physiology (the science of organic functions/processes,) won the Noble Prize in Medicine in 1904 for his study of the physiology of digestion. His study of the physiological process of digestion in dogs led him to studying the link between digestion and the autonomic nervous system. He found that he could train dogs to associate the ringing of a bell with food so that they would start salivating – which gave the stomach the message to start the digestive process – every time a bell would ring. Thus the term “Pavlov’s dog” entered language referring to conditioned reflexes that are learned as opposed to innate and natural.

The work of Dr. Pavlov formed the foundation for work of psychologist’s such as B.F. Skinner, who studied and refined his theories and in the process founded the field of behavioral psychology.

This branch of psychology ignores the unconscious which traditional psychoanalysis focused upon, in favor of behavior modification. Behavior modification uses positive or negative reinforcement to train animals or people to change their behavior into that which is more acceptable to whomever has power over that animal or person.

Behavior modification techniques are used extensively in institutions – prisons, mental hospitals, juvenile facilities – to control behavior and attempt to change behavior patterns.

Some years ago, I worked for a period of time in a Boys Home that employed behavior modification techniques. As much as I needed the money at that time, I couldn’t do the work for long (although long enough to be able to afford to buy my first computer.) It broke my heart to see wounded boys being treated like animals who needed to be trained.

Unfortunately in a dysfunctional society, behavior modification has it’s place because the medical and mental health systems are out of balance and dysfunctional.

The Dance

“Our mental health system not only does not promote healing – it actually blocks the process. The mental health system in this country is designed to get your behavior and emotions under control so that you can fit back into the dysfunctional system.” – Text in this color is used for quotes from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

That a person’s behavior doesn’t fit into the accepted norms of the dysfunctional society is identified as the problem that needs to be changed. The underlying causes of that symptomatic behavior are not really addressed in institutions that structure their programs to rely on behavior modification techniques.

Behavior modification can be functional in terms of bringing about a temporary change in a person’s behavior but unless the causes are addressed there is no real fundamental healing that takes place. Psychoanalysis focused upon an intellectual understanding of cause – and it is ultimately dysfunctional because emotional healing is not a component of the work.

“What the researchers were beginning to understand was how profoundly the emotional trauma of early childhood affects a person as an adult. They realized that if not healed, these early childhood emotional wounds, and the subconscious attitudes adopted because of them, would dictate the adult’s reaction to, and path through, life. Thus we walk around looking like and trying to act like adults, while reacting to life out of the emotional wounds and attitudes of childhood. We keep repeating the patterns of abandonment, abuse, and deprivation that we experienced in childhood.

Psychoanalysis addressed these issues only on the intellectual level – not on the emotional healing level. As a result, a person could go to psychoanalysis weekly for twenty years and still be repeating the same behavior patterns.”

Focusing on symptoms and intellectual understanding while discounting the emotional trauma at the core of the programming, are manifestations of the dysfunctional perspectives of codependent cultures. Emotionally dishonest and dysfunctional cultures do not produce medical and mental health systems that are holistic – that treat the whole person.

I will discuss in more detail in later chapters the emotional component of human beings and the dysfunction that is manifested in human systems – including medical and mental health – at all levels by the false beliefs and masculine feminine imbalance caused by planetary conditions. The main point I want to make in this chapter, is that codependency is an effect of behavior modification.

Sacred SpiralCodependency = conditioned reactive programming

Awakening from the bondage of ego programming

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder / Brainwashing / Behavior Modification / Conditioned Reflex

Codependency is a conditioned reflex. It is a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Codependence as Delayed Stress Syndrome.)  It is an effect of brainwashing, the result of behavior modification. Codependency is condition, or dis-ease, that is caused by environmental conditions and conditioning rather than a phenomena which is genetic or innate to human nature. (Disease = a disturbance in a natural process, an abnormal condition which disturbs normal organic structural integrity / process.)

The forms of behavior modification that cause codependency are both intentional and unintentional. Parents use some behavior modification techniques in teaching children how to behave. These are not inherently bad or wrong in and of themselves. Some of them may be useful tools in teaching social and survival skills to children. The intentional behavior modification techniques can also be abusive depending upon the intellectual paradigm / beliefs that are providing the standards for judging what behavior is acceptable. (i.e. If a parent believes that children should be seen and not heard they will be abusive in attempting to get the child to behave “properly.” On the opposite end of the reactive codependent spectrum, a parent who does not want to abuse their children in the ways they experienced in childhood, will often go to the other extreme, giving the children too much power and not setting proper boundaries for their behavior – this is a form of unintentional behavior modification and is also abusive.)

It is the unintentional behavior modification that is normally the most damaging. I spoke of the most powerful form of unintentional behavior modification in the third chapter of this work – role modeling.

“The single most important influence in the development of a person’s relationship with their own emotions is role modeling. Mom and Dad were our primary role models for how a male emotional being and female emotional being behave, for how they relate to, and express, their emotions. (As well as for how male and female relate to each other.) The cultural role models that we were exposed to – through books, movies, television, etc., – play an important factor also, but our primary role models were our parents.

The direct messages we got – both verbal (big boys don’t cry, little ladies don’t get angry, there is nothing to be afraid of, etc.) and behavioral (punishment for expressing emotions) – and indirect messages (the ways we interpreted and internalized the behavior of other people – parents, teachers, peers, etc. – as being personal punishment, as being our fault) we got both from our parents and from society play a part in that development, but role modeling has the greatest impact.” – Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life Chapter 3: Emotional Honesty

“If a culture is based on emotional dishonesty, with role models that are dishonest emotionally, then that culture is also emotionally dysfunctional, because the people of that society are set up to be emotionally dishonest and dysfunctional in getting their emotional needs met.

What we traditionally have called normal parenting in this society is abusive because it is emotionally dishonest. Children learn who they are as emotional beings from the role modeling of their parents. “Do as I say – not as I do,” does not work with children. Emotionally dishonest parents cannot be emotionally healthy role models, and cannot provide healthy parenting.”

Both intentional and unintentional behavior modification experiences play a part in creating codependency. A codependent society – that discounts the emotional and spiritual components of a human’s being and evaluates worth based upon external conditions (money, property, and prestige) and comparison to others (prettier than, smarter than, etc.) within a polarized (black/white, right/wrong) framework that defines wrong as shameful – conditions the people who grow up in that society to feel ashamed of their feelings and their humanity.

We were conditioned to “keep up appearances,” to keep our defectiveness secret. What would the neighbors think? Keep the family secrets – deny the elephant in the living room. (Referring to a metaphor about the power of denial in alcoholic families – denying the effect that alcoholism has on a family is like ignoring an elephant standing in the middle of the living room.)

We saw how our parents denied reality – and how much power they gave to what other people thought (or came from a family that lived the other extreme of rebellion and flaunting outrageous behavior in which case we felt ashamed because our family was different) – and we formed attitudes and beliefs based upon what we were feeling and hearing, seeing and experiencing. The reality we experienced in our homes – which were supposed to be our sanctuaries – was the only reality we knew. Those environments were where we learned how to live life and how to relate to other people. The conditions in our families dictated the behavior modification we experienced and internalized.

“We grew up having to deny the emotional reality: of parental alcoholism, addiction, mental illness, rage, violence, depression, abandonment, betrayal, deprivation, neglect, incest, etc. etc.; of our parents fighting or the underlying tension and anger because they weren’t being honest enough to fight; of dad’s ignoring us because of his workaholism and/or mom smothering us because she had no other identity than being a mother; of the abuse that one parent heaped on another who wouldn’t defend him/herself and/or the abuse we received from one of our parents while the other wouldn’t defend us; of having only one parent or of having two parents who stayed together and shouldn’t have; etc., etc.

We grew up with messages like: children should be seen and not heard; big boys don’t cry and little ladies don’t get angry; it is not okay to be angry at someone you love – especially your parents; god loves you but will send you to burn in hell forever if you touch your shameful private parts; don’t make noise or run or in any way be a normal child; do not make mistakes or do anything wrong; etc., etc.

We were born into the middle of a war where our sense of self was battered and fractured and broken into pieces. We grew up in the middle of battlefields where our beings were discounted, our perceptions invalidated, and our feelings ignored and nullified.

The war we were born into, the battlefield each of us grew up in, was not in some foreign country against some identified “enemy” – it was in the “homes” which were supposed to be our safe haven with our parents whom we Loved and trusted to take care of us. It was not for a year or two or three – it was for sixteen or seventeen or eighteen years.

We experienced what is called “sanctuary trauma” – our safest place to be was not safe – and we experienced it on a daily basis for years and years. Some of the greatest damage was done to us in subtle ways on a daily basis because our sanctuary was a battlefield.

It was not a battlefield because our parents were wrong or bad – it was a battlefield because they were at war within, because they were born into the middle of a war. By doing our healing we are becoming the emotionally honest role models that our parents never had the chance to be. Through being in Recovery we are helping to break the cycles of self-destructive behavior that have dictated human existence for thousands of years.

Codependence is a very vicious and powerful form of Delayed Stress Syndrome.”

Sacred Spiralrelationships horizontal and vertical

It is the nature of organisms of every living species on the planet to survive and propagate. The definition of “organism” is “an animal or plant internally organized to maintain vital functions.” (New Illustrated Webster’s Dictionary, 1992) (I also believe that the planet Earth itself is a living organism – Gaia – but that is another discussion.)

There is some element within all living things that strives for survival. The higher up the evolutionary ladder an organism is, the more mental capacity it displays. This mental capacity – intelligence – gives it the ability to process information and adjust it’s behavior to maximize chances for survival.

The vital difference between human beings and even the most intelligent of animals is consciousness. Consciousness for human beings includes not only a capacity for self awareness – the ability to have a conscious relationship with self – but also a consciousness of something larger than self. This consciousness of something larger than self is what has driven human beings throughout history to seek some kind of supernatural force / higher power which gives meaning and purpose to life beyond mere survival.

“Codependence and recovery are both multi-leveled, multi-dimensional phenomena. It is very easy for me to write hundreds of pages about any single aspect of codependence and recovery – what is very difficult and painful is to write a short column. No facet of this topic is linear and one-dimensional, so there is no simple answer to any one question – rather there are a multitude of answers to the same question, all of which are True on some level.

So in order to facilitate writing a short column on this month’s topic, I am going to make a brief point about two dimensions of this phenomena in relationship to empowerment. These two dimensions are the horizontal and the vertical. In this context the horizontal is about being human and relating to other humans and our environment. The vertical is Spiritual – about our relationship to the God-Force. Codependence is at it’s core a Spiritual disease and the only way out of it is through a Spiritual cure – so any recovery, any empowerment, depends upon Spiritual awakening.” – Empowerment

“We are not animals – not that there is anything wrong with being an animal – but we have a consciousness of something larger, something beyond ourselves. We have a memory of some other place – of some place kinder and gentler and more Loving.

We are Spiritual Beings.”

As I say in this quote from my book, there is certainly nothing wrong with animals. Animals are a perfect part of the conscious living energy that is The Great Spirit. They are connected to the Spirit just as humans are. Your dog or cat or horse or whatever, may in fact be a part of your Self. Everything is part of the energy of ALL THAT IS. Everyone and everything is experiencing the Spiritual Evolutionary process. All human beings in reality have experienced not only being animals, but being part of the elemental forces of the planet.

“You have experienced being wind, rain, and fire as well as mineral, plant, and animal and can in special moments access emotional memories of those experiences. So you are not crazy for feeling at One with a tree or a bird or a speck on the wall.” – The Dance of the Wounded Souls Trilogy History of the Universe Part I

I am not going to get into metaphysics or quantum physics in this chapter. I just want to make the point, that believing that one can communicate with the spirit of a loved animal – either alive or dead – is not necessarily crazy. That animals spirit may be some aspect of your Self that you have manifested in this life to help your self in your journey of Spiritual Awakening.

I am going address the phenomena of consciousness in relationship to the horizontal human experience – consciousness of self – in the remainder of this chapter and the vertical, Spiritual component, consciousness of Self in the next chapter.

(For anyone who has issues, is triggered, by references to spirituality or a higher power, please stick with me long enough to investigate what I have to say in the coming chapters – or you can check out my web pages Spirituality for Agnostics and Atheists or spiritual integration by clicking on these links. It is important to start awakening to how our childhood experiences have impacted our lives, so if the term Spiritual Awakening is causing you problems, think of it as what it also is, an intellectual awakening – an expansion of awareness.)

In a holistic approach to healing, it is vital to address both dimensions for a multitude of reasons. The most important in terms of this chapter, has to do with innate reflexes as opposed to conditioned reflexes. On the horizontal level, the innate programming for human beings carries the same priority for humans as does the innate programming of animals – survival. On the vertical level, survival is not the first priority. Our first priority on the vertical, in relationship to our Source – as Spiritual beings having a human experience – is to reconnect with Love, with our Source.

The survival programming that is innate to our nature as human animals in relationship to the horizontal has been in conflict with our vertical, Spiritual yearning to return home to Love – because planetary conditions caused the illusion that we were disconnected from our Source. This conflict has been at the core of the human dilemma. Planetary conditions have changed in a significant manner in recent history, making it possible for the first time in recorded human history for us to start learning how to integrate the vertical into the horizontal.

“A Transformational Healing Process has begun on the planet Earth. Due to a profound change that has taken place in the energy field of Collective Human Emotional Consciousness, resources are now available to us to do healing that has never before been possible in recorded human history. Human beings now, for the first time, have the capacity to directly address the core issues of the human dilemma.”

The purpose of codependency recovery and inner child healing is to clear up our relationship with the horizontal – with self and how we relate to everything and everyone in our human environment – so that we can learn how to integrate the Spiritual into the physical and bring some balance and higher meaning to this human dance we are doing. We are here in body at this time to manifest Love into this human experience. We cannot do that without first learning how to access Love for our self. In order to do that, it is necessary to awaken to how the environments we grew up in conditioned us to live life in a way that is dysfunctional in relationship to the Spiritual / vertical component of our being – in a way that does not work to help us reconnect with Love.

Sacred SpiralAnimals are trained – Human Beings are emotionally traumatized

Dr. Pavlov showed that repeatedly ringing a bell right before feeding a dog could result in a conditioned reflex. That a dog could be programmed in a way that caused an alteration in the dog’s internal processes, in it’s relationship with eating. He also showed that if the dog experienced the bell ringing without being fed enough times, it would revert to it’s normal digestive processes. In other words, conditioned reflexes can be unlearned.

This true in human beings also – which makes recovery from codependency possible. However the process – both of the programming and of recovery from the programming – is much more complicated and complex in human beings.

Human beings are only in part animal. Human beings are a composite of four essential elements / dimensions of being. Those four are components are mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual. Mind, body, and soul are three parts of a four part equation.

Animals do not have the intellectual capacity to define themselves in relationship to their environment. They do not have consciousness of self. Animals are not capable of self awareness. They live life in reaction to innate and/or conditioned reflexes / instincts.

Human beings have the ability to define self individually in relationship to their environment. Human beings have the capacity to remember the past and envision the future. Human beings have a relationship with self that is defined by their perspective of self in relationship to life, to other human beings, to everything in their environment. The quality of this relationship to both self and external stimuli is characterized as the person’s self worth or self esteem.

An animal does not have a sense of, or capacity for, such a relationship with self. Animals do not have self worth. Animals just are. They live in the moment being perfectly the animal that they are. Their life experiences – the intentional or unintentional behavior modification that life brings their way – can alter, distort, change their reactions to their innate reflexes / instincts but they adapt and go on surviving / maintaining their vital functions.

A dog can be abused so that it cringes and grovels – or so that it attacks and kills – but these are conditioned reflexes that are expansions of / adaptations of / distortions of their innate natural reflexes / instincts. A dog in the right environment can unlearn these conditioned reflexes over time. It does not cringe and grovel because it has low self worth, or attack and kill because it believes it is better than whatever life form it is attacking – it is reacting to distortions of it’s natural instincts. The behavior modification training it has been subjected to, the conditioning that it has experienced, has taught it to react in a certain way to certain stimuli (the ringing bell) in alignment with it’s survival reflexes.

Animals with higher intelligence can also have distinct, individual personalities and a capacity for emotional attachment. Animals have the capacity for emotional reaction.

Dogs are certainly capable of emotional reaction and attachment. And this emotional attachment can be so great that it will sacrifice it’s survival for the person / people it has that attachment to – but this is true rather the dog has been treated lovingly or abusively because part of it’s innate reflex programming is loyalty to it’s pack, which is part of it’s survival programming. Dogs have been selectively bred for centuries to see humans as their pack leaders. Dogs have been bred to be codependent upon humans – to see humans as their higher powers.

(This brings to mind an old joke. God made dogs to be a companion to humans. After a period of time, one of the angels came to God and said, “We have a problem. The human beings experience the dogs behavior and look into the dogs eyes and start thinking that they are god.” God said, “Well, I’ll fix that.” And God created cats.;-)

A dog who was abused as a puppy will cringe and shrink back (somewhat similar to internal feeling which causes the classic codependent form of codependency) or snarl and bite (one of the counterdependent flavors of codependency) when anyone attempts to touch it. This is a conditioned reflex. This can be seen as the result of emotional abuse, but it is not the result of the animal having a damaged self image.

An animal can be emotionally abused, but it does not have a conscious relationship with self that can be affected by that emotional abuse. When a human being is emotionally abused (and any type of abuse – physical, sexual, verbal – is also emotionally abusive Emotional abuse is Heart and Soul Mutilation) it is traumatizing because of the effect it has on the being’s relationship with self. It is because humans have the capacity for self awareness that emotional trauma has such a huge impact on our lives.

For a human being, any kind of abuse is doubly traumatic. The abuse itself – and the effect that the abuse has on the person’s relationship with self, their self image. The effects of childhood abuse are more long lasting and traumatic than the incidents of abuse in and of themselves. The capacity which human beings have for self awareness – a relationship with / perspective of self – dictates that any emotional trauma suffered in early childhood, when we are forming the foundation of our relationship with self, is internalized and integrated into our perspective of self. That core relationship with self then dictates how we relate to life and other people.

Emotional trauma directly affects one’s relationship with self – ones self worth and self image. Emotional trauma is internalized and becomes a part of the emotional, behavioral defense system adapted by the element of a human’s being that is responsible for helping a human survive on a horizontal level – the ego.

Ego – consciousness of self

The ego is the part of our being whose job it is to help us survive. It is a part of our internal structure that is organized to maintain vital functions, that fights for survival. It is the ego that defines our relationship with self according to it’s survival programming and to the conditioning it experienced in early childhood. The ego is the part of us which determines our perspective of self – our self image.

A dog who was abused as a puppy can unlearn their conditioned reflexes by spending enough time in a safe and loving environment. Although a safe and loving environment can be very valuable to a human being who is healing from their childhood wounding – the emotional trauma they experienced because of behavior modification experiences in early childhood – love from external sources is not enough to heal a person’s relationship with self.

“It is necessary to own and honor the child who we were in order to Love the person we are. And the only way to do that is to own that child’s experiences, honor that child’s feelings, and release the emotional grief energy that we are still carrying around.”

Intellectual knowledge of healthy behavior, experiences of a spiritual nature, faith in a Loving Higher Power, can help a person change their relationship with other people and life to a certain degree. It will not however, change the way a person reacts in the relationships that mean the most to them – it will not help them to open their heart to love and to being loved on the most intimate levels. Romantic relationships are the arena where our buttons get pushed, where our deepest wounds are triggered – which activates our emotional defenses.

We are not capable of having a Truly healthy romantic relationship, a Loving emotionally intimate relationship with another human being, until we start healing our childhood wounds in relationship to the trauma we experienced from the people we first opened our hearts to. Our parents were our first loves – and we were wounded in our relationships with them because they were wounded. We internalized and incorporated the conditioning from those initial experiences of opening our hearts to emotional intimacy into our relationship with self.

It is not our relationship with our parents that we need to heal in order to open to Love, it is our relationship with our self – the self image we formed because of our relationships with them. The healing we need to do is internal, in our relationship with self. Our ego adapted defenses to protect us in the environment we grew up in. In order to change our relationship with self we need to change our childhood ego programming.

“Codependence is an emotional and behavioral defense system which was adopted by our egos in order to meet our need to survive as a child. Because we had no tools for reprogramming our egos and healing our emotional wounds (culturally approved grieving, training and initiation rites, healthy role models, etc.), the effect is that as an adult we keep reacting to the programming of our childhood and do not get our needs met – our emotional, mental, Spiritual, or physical needs. Codependence allows us to survive physically but causes us to feel empty and dead inside. Codependence is a defense system that causes us to wound ourselves.”

The ego is not a bad thing, it was just programmed very dysfunctionally in early childhood. Our ego defenses are set up to protect us from the pain and shame of feeling unlovable and unworthy. The subconscious ego programming from my childhood was heavily invested in trying to protect me from the shame of admitting that I felt fear – or any other emotion that I thought made me less of a man.

“The ego is the part of us that is charged with responsibility for our survival. The ego is the seat of the disease of codependence.

Being born into an emotionally dishonest, fear and shame based, Spiritually hostile environments (based on separation rather than connection), caused us to be emotionally traumatized in childhood. In response to that emotional trauma our egos adapted some very dysfunctional programming. (Functional in terms of survival, but dysfunctional in terms of helping us to be happy and at peace within.)

For some of us, the wounding started in the womb where we: incubated in our mother’s fear and shame; or got addicted to adrenaline because of the emotional volatility of our mother’s life; or could feel our mother’s waiting for us to arrive to give meaning and purpose to her life; or felt how unwelcome we were because she had already had too many children and was feeling overwhelmed; etc.

We exited the warm nurturing cocoon of our incubator into a cold, harsh world. A world run by Higher Powers (parents and any body else bigger than us – siblings, grandparents, hospital or orphanage personnel) who were wounded in their childhood. Gods who were not emotionally healthy, and did not know how to Love themselves. Our egos were traumatized – and adapted programming to try to protect us from the pain of emotional trauma that felt life threatening.

The people we Loved the most – our Higher Powers – hurt us the most. Our emotional intimacy issues were caused by, our fear of intimacy is a direct result of, our early childhood experiences. Our lives have been lived in reaction to the intellectual paradigms our egos adapted to deal with emotional trauma.

The part of a child’s brain that is logical and rational, that understands abstract concepts (like time or death), that can have any kind of an objective perspective on self or life, does not develop until about the age of 7 (the age of reason.) As little children we were completely ego-centric and magical thinking. We did not have the capacity to understand that our Higher Powers were not perfect. We watched their role modeling, experienced their behavior as personal, and felt the emotional currents of our environments – worry, frustration, resentment, fear, anger, pain, shame, etc. – and were emotionally traumatized.

Our ego adapted itself to the environment it was experiencing. It developed emotional and behavioral defense systems in reaction to the emotional pain we experienced growing up with parents who were wounded codependents.

If you have ever wondered why it is so much easier to feel Spiritual in relationship to nature or animals, here is your answer. It was people who wounded us in childhood. It is people who our egos developed defense systems to protect us from.” – Reprogramming our dysfunctional ego defenses

The human left brain (logical, rational) is on one level – in it’s relationship to the ego – a rationalization computer, capable of rationalizing any behavior that the ego deems necessary for survival. (Even if this rationalization results in death. A suicide bomber for instance, is someone whose damaged ego perceives a martyrs death as preferable to a life of feeling like an oppressed and powerless victim. This is a wounded human being who has been forced by cultural programming / conditioned reflexes to channel a great deal of their emotional (and sexual) energy into self righteous victimization – into anger, rage, and religious fanaticism.)  It is possible for wounded humans to rationalize committing monstrous acts because the ego’s damaged programming. “Death before dishonor” is not such a noble cry when you take into account that dishonor for a man could mean admitting fear or crying. When one understands the emotional dynamics of codependency, it becomes readily apparent why emotionally dishonest patriarchal cultures manifest a lot of war and violence.

Our ego desperately fights to hang onto denial and rationalization – because to the ego it feels like a fight for survival, literally a life and death struggle. No one wakes up one morning and says, “Hey maybe I will do some emotional healing today – that sounds like fun.” We start doing this healing work because we are in so much emotional pain. We start doing it because we have hit an emotional bottom where rationalizations and denial no longer work. We start doing it because we have reached a point where emotional dishonesty is killing us – literally.

As long as we allow our ego programming to dictate our relationship with life, we will live life based upon fear.

“This human experience is a process that involves inherent conflict between the continuously changing nature of life and the human ego’s need to survive. In order to insure survival (which is the ego’s appointed task) the human ego needs to define things. What is food? What is friend or enemy? Who am I and how do I relate to them? What can hurt me and what brings me pleasure? It also learned that it is healthy to have a fear of the unknown (it was important to check an unknown cave for saber toothed tigers before strolling into it.) As a result, the ego fears change and craves security and stability. But because life is constantly changing, security and stability can only be temporary.” – Loving and Nurturing self on your Spiritual Path

“Fear of the unknown is a natural, normal part of being human. It has a purpose – and deserves to be honored as something which serves us. But, like our relationship with all the aspects of our being, our relationship with that fear is dysfunctional.

The damaged ego responds to it’s programming by generating fear of the things we learned to fear as a child: making mistakes; doing it wrong; being emotional; speaking our Truth; taking risks; being alone; not being alone; whatever. We then empower the fear by focusing on it, magnifying it, and generally giving it the power to define us and our life – or by denying it, which also gives it power because in denying our fear we are denying our self and reality. Going to either extreme results in the inability to see the situation clearly.

Because our ego was programmed to react to life from fear, negativity, scarcity, and lack (again due to emotional trauma we experienced, and the messages and role modeling of the adults around us) the disease focuses on and magnifies fear – and then it scrambles around trying to find something to cover up and repress the very fear it is generating. The disease blows the fear way out of proportion and then leads us to addictive and/or compulsive behavior as a way of stuffing the fear.

This is the essence of the dysfunction. We live our life reacting to fear, and the shame, that the disease empowers and then “helps” us avoid by causing us to focus on something outside of ourselves as the cause and/or the cure for the core place within us where we feel empty – where we feel unlovable and unworthy.” – The Recovery Process for inner child healing – through the fear

Allowing fear and shame to define and dictate our life experience is not a pleasant way to experience being human. Living life in reaction to our conditioned reflexes, to the programming our ego’s adapted in early childhood, does not work to help us relax and enjoy life. It is dysfunctional if we want to become free from the past and have the capacity to experience happiness, inner peace, and Love.

The way I found to start having some freedom from the past is to consciously start changing my ego programing and become willing to heal my emotional wounds. I was led into this conscious healing process by working a twelve step program to help me quit living in the emotional hell that alcoholism had created in my life. I did not get conscious that this was what I was doing until I started my conscious codependency recovery on June 3, 1986 – at two years and five months clean and sober.

Getting into recovery from alcoholism saved my life and led me to codependency recovery. Codependency recovery taught me how to live life in a way that allows me some freedom from the conditioned programming of the past – that allows me to have a great deal of serenity and Joy in my life today.

“It is the process of striving for integration and balance of masculine and feminine within (integration of Spiritual Truth into our relationship with our mental, emotional, and physical levels, balance between mental and emotional, between rational and intuitive, between feeling and thinking) that allows us to find some balance and harmony in our relationships with ourselves and with life. This striving for integration and balance (which working a Twelve Step program brings to an individual’s life – even if one is not conscious that that is what is happening) allows us to reach a place where we can be happy in the moment the majority of the time – happy, Joyous, and free.”

Unfortunately, there are many people in twelve step programs who have not been willing to get emotionally honest with themselves – who are scared of feeling the feelings because they haven’t changed the subconscious programming that keeps them in denial. That denial and emotional dishonesty keeps them stuck in bondage to the ego’s false self image.

One of the reasons that I feel compelled to keep writing more about this process is because there are so many wounded codependents out there who do not know how to do the integration and reprogramming work that will help them open up to Love. Hopefully, some of the ways that I am explaining the wounding and recovery process in this online book will speak to some of those wounded codependents – especially to all of the suffering codependents in Alcoholics Anonymous.” – Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life Chapter 5: Codependency = conditioned reactive programming ~ Pavlov’s Dog

Sacred SpiralCodependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light  Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life is available in a subscription area of the Joy2MeU website entitled: Dancing in Light

A special offer for that subscription (as well as for the Joy2MeU Journal) is available on this special offers page.

The first two chapters of this online book are available through my regular website – the first chapter is a response to an online article about codependence that I found very codependent (thus the title of the first chapter): The codependency movement is NOT ruining marriages!

I have published two other chapters of this work as blogs: Chapter 8 Codependents as Emotional Vampires and Chapter 13: Changing the Music: Love instead of fear and shame.

Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light  Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life is the third book of what I think of as the Wounded Souls Trilogy along with Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls A Cosmic Perspective on Codependence and the Human Condition and Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light Book 1 Empowerment, Freedom, and Inner Peace through Inner Child Healing. (This is different from The Dance of the Wounded Souls Trilogy Book 1 – “In The Beginning . . .” which is a Magical, Mystical Adult Spiritual Fable that was in fact the first book I wrote – but have never finished.)

I am going to be preparing Book 2 for publication in the coming months.

Discernment part 2: Loving and losing

December 10th, 2015 – someone made a comment on this blog that I published 6 months ago while I was out of town over the weekend and I decided to post it again.  It is good stuff.

Emotional pain, feeling hurt, is an inevitable part of this human experience we are having – just as loss and grief are unavoidable parts of life. There is no happily ever after when we find our Prince or Princess, when we do life “right.” Judging and shaming our self for having been hurt is part of the inner war that is codependency.

The Dance

“The dysfunctional dance of Codependence is caused by being at war with ourselves – being at war within.

We are at war with ourselves because we are judging and shaming ourselves for being human. We are at war with ourselves because we are carrying around suppressed grief energy that we are terrified of feeling. We are at war within because we are “damming” our own emotional process – because we were forced to become emotionally dishonest as children and had to learn ways to block and distort our emotional energy.

We cannot learn to Love ourselves and be at peace within until we stop judging and shaming ourselves for being human and stop fighting our own emotional process, until we stop waging war on ourselves.” – Quotations in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

I realized in my codependency recovery that getting hurt was not the biggest problem for me – it was the way I beat myself up, and blamed myself, when I got hurt that felt unbearable. Judging and shaming myself for the pain and heartbreak I experienced caused me to live a life of suffering.

“When I had first gotten sober, I had noticed a saying on some bumper stickers or wall hanging or someplace. That saying was “The pain is mandatory, the suffering is optional.” What I was really beginning to realize at this point in my process was that the suffering came about because of resistance to feeling the pain – and anger and fear. By changing my attitudes, I was changing my perspective and giving myself permission to feel the feelings. I was starting to allow them to flow instead of putting all my energy into damming them, suppressing them. That is where the suffering really comes from – denying my own emotional reality.” – Joy2MeU Journal – My Spiritual Path: 30 Days in the Desert – Falling Apart and Breaking Through II

I had to deny my own emotional reality in childhood because in my parents were my Higher Powers whom I was incapable of seeing as anything but perfect. I felt like it was my fault I was hurting, because something was inherently wrong with me. In my adult life I was still emotionally reacting to life out of the intellectual beliefs I had adapted in childhood – out of the interpretations of an immature egocentric mind. Until I started separating my adult perspective of reality from my childhood subconscious and emotional programming, I was incapable of having compassion for my own pain.

Until I started to learn discernment intellectually, I was set up to keep allowing my childhood experiences to dictate my relationships with life – and with love. In this quote from one of the articles in my Healthy Relationships series, I have done what I suggest in the article – that is, I have inserted “love” into the quote from my book everywhere it says “life.”

“We learned about life (love) as children and it is necessary to change the way we intellectually view life (love) in order to stop being the victim of the old tapes. By looking at, becoming conscious of, our attitudes, definitions, and perspectives, we can start discerning what works for us and what does not work. We can then start making choices about whether our intellectual view of life (love) is serving us – or if it is setting us up to be victims because we are expecting life (love) to be something which it is not.”Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls by Robert Burney

Consciousness raising is a process of enlarging the intellectual paradigm which we base our relationship with life upon. As I have stated previously in this series, our beliefs, attitudes, and definitions determine our expectations and perspectives – which in turn dictate our emotional relationships to everything and everyone in our environment. And when I say everything, I am not just talking about objects. Everything includes ideas, concepts, opinions, etc.

In order to have healthier romantic relationships it is very important to examine our concept of romantic love. If we do not have a healthy concept – realistic definitions and beliefs about – romantic love, then we do not have much chance of having a healthy relationship. If our concept of romance is based on the fairy tales and books, songs and movies, from our childhoods, then we are set up to be disappointed in our romantic relationships.

Read the quotation above and substitute “love” everywhere it says “life” and you might better understand why you have felt like a victim in romantic relationships. We were set up to be victims in romance because we were taught that it is a magical paradise where we will have all of our needs met – and live “Happily ever after”. We were taught that getting the romance was the goal and that after that everything was smooth sailing.” – Healthy Relationships – Part 6, Romantic Love as a Concept

As long as I saw love / life as a black and white test of my worth, as a competition that could be won or lost – with winning taking me to happily ever after and losing causing me to judge myself as unlovable because of my hurt and heartbreak – I was not only incapable of loving and allowing myself to be loved, I was incapable of really living.

Living our life trying to avoid getting hurt keeps us from Truly being alive. It is Truly better to love and lose than to never love – but until I started changing the programming that told me I wasn’t lovable I was powerless over my patterns. I was unable to be discerning in the choices I made about who to get involved with because of my codependency. I was incapable of really receiving love because I did not believe I was lovable at the core of my relationship with myself.

My ego interpreted emotional pain in childhood as a threat to survival, and adapted a defense system to try to protect me from being hurt emotionally. That defense system – my codependency – does not want me to relax and be in the moment, because then I might get hurt. It does not want me to take risks, to venture into the unknown. In one of the first installments of my personal journal in the Joy2MeU Journal, I shared part of an email I had written to a friend about how important it was for me to start learning how to take power away from the old tapes – from the codependent programming that had been running my life.

“. . . . . . A client was admiring the bouquet of flowers that I had in my office and I told her the story of why I often buy flowers for my office. About two years ago I did a workshop at a church in the San Fernando Valley on a Sunday afternoon. When I was packing my stuff up getting ready to leave they gave me the flower arrangement from the Sunday service. I didn’t want it. I watched my reaction – which was I didn’t want the flowers – and the thought that I saw pass through my mind was “Why do I want those flowers, they will just die.” I immediately recognized that for what it was, an old tape. When I discover old tapes dictating my reactions I need to do something to counter them – so I started buying flowers to put in my office.

Why have flowers when they are just going to die? . . . . . .

Why take a risk if I will fail?

Why open up to Love if I am just going to get hurt?

Boy is that my old stuff! – my disease talking.

I don’t remember if you ever heard me give my talk before it became a book – but I used to always end my talk with quoting the words to a song that was perfect for ending the talk. I couldn’t use it in the book because they wouldn’t give me copyright permission. The song was The Rose.

“Some say Love it is a river that drowns the tender reed,
Some say Love it is a razor that leaves your soul to bleed.
Some say Love it is a hunger – an endless aching need …
I say Love it is a flower – and you it’s only seed.

(This next part is the part that really speaks to me of the way that I lived most of my life)
It’s the heart afraid of breaking that never learns to dance,
It’s the dream afraid of waking that never takes a chance.
It’s the one who won’t be taken that never learns to give,
It’s the soul afraid of dying that never learns to live.

When the night has been too lonely and the road has been too long,
and you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong.

Just remember in the winter far beneath the winter snow,
Lies the seed that with the sun’s love in the spring becomes the Rose”

So once more I get to work on countering all the old tapes and all the seemingly concrete evidence to the contrary and tell myself that: YES :

It is better to Love and lose than never Love,

it is better to have flowers that are beautiful for a few days than not to enjoy the flowers. . . . .” – Joy2MeU Journal  The Path of one Recovering Codependent ~ the dance of one wounded soul My Unfolding Process – Dance 2 July 1999

As long as I was not in recovery from codependency I was trying to avoid being hurt by not taking the chance of opening up to someone who was available to love me. This was my codependency’s way of trying to keep my shameful, defective being a secret. In my unconscious codependent defense system this translated behaviorally into being attracted to women who were unavailable so that I could blame them. Thus my attempts to have a relationship became self fulfilling prophecies – repeating behavior patterns. Having my heart broken meant that either I was a loser or it was the other person’s fault – so I needed to blame it on her to keep from falling into the bottomless abyss of pain and shame within me.

The ridiculous thing about this, one of the things that makes codependency such a stupid, dysfunctional defense system, is that feeling rejected by anyone could throw me into that abyss.

“It is a defense adapted by my ego in an attempt to keep me from opening my heart so that it can be broken again. If my heart is broken again, I have to make it your fault because the only other option in a polarized perspective of life is to admit that I am to blame. To blame myself is to plunge into the abyss of pain and shame at the core of my being – the unendurable, hopeless, want to die, place within me where I feel shamefully unlovable and unworthy.

This is the behavior that I was powerless to change until I started to get emotionally honest with myself. The intellectual and emotional programming from my childhood set me up to be incapable of having a healthy intimate relationship.

Codependency is very dysfunctional. It hurts just as much to be rejected by an unavailable person as by an available one. As long as we are reacting out of our inner child wounds, we will take any perceived rejection as personal – as a reflection of our shameful defectiveness.

Until I started to consciously work on changing the ego programming which was keeping me in denial and emotional dishonesty, I was unable to change my core relationship with self – I was unable to see through the false self image, was unable to see my self with any clarity.” – Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light Chapter 4: False Self Image

There is nothing we humans beings want more than to feel Loved – in my opinion.

“On one of my web pages I state that romantic relationships are the greatest arena for Spiritual growth available to us. I believe that this is the Truth because it is the area that is most important to us. Recently I saw a communication from the Dalai Lama in which he stated a very simple Truth: we all want to the same thing, to be happy and feel Loved. I would simplify that even further to say: feeling Loved makes us happy – so ultimately we all want the same thing, to feel Loved.” – Healthy Relationships – Part 5, Healthy Joyous Sexuality

This is a reflection of our desire to return home to LOVE – to reconnect with our Source. On a human level it manifests as a desire to feel Loved by other human beings – and especially to feel Loved by one other human being in a romantic relationship, in a relationship that includes physical union.

“Everything on the physical plane is a reflection of other levels. Ultimately, the strong sexual and sensual desires of human beings really have very little to do with the actual physical act of sex – the True compulsion to unite is about our wounded souls, about our endless, aching need to go home to the God/Goddess Energy. We want to reunite in ONENESS – in LOVE – because that is our True home.” – Jesus & Mary Magdalene – Jesus, sexuality, & the bible

Our codependent programming causes us to believe that love has to come from external sources and validation. That feeling loved by another person will fill the hole in our soul. It cannot. When we think another person is the source of love for us, then we are making that other person our higher power.

I believe that the great quest for all of us old souls who are doing this healing is to feel Loved. Before we are open to that however, we need to heal our relationship with ourselves enough to start believing that we deserve Love. Doing the inner child healing work is an act of Love that is a Loving thing to do for our self.

As long as we are looking for that Love externally, we are looking for love in all the wrong faces and wrong places. That doesn’t mean that another person can’t help us access that Love – what it means is that it is important to remember that the Source of that Love is accessed internally, not found externally.

“You are together because you resonate on the same wave lengths, you fit together vibrationally, in such a way that together you form a powerful energy field that helps both of you access the Higher Vibrational Energy of Love, Joy, Light, and Truth – in a way that would be very difficult for either one of you to do by yourself. You are coming together to touch the face of God. You are uniting your energies to help you access the Love of the Holy Mother Source Energy.

You are not the source of each other’s Love. You are helping each other to access the LOVE that is the Source.

The Love that you see when you see your soul in the others eyes is a reflection of the LOVE that you are. Of the Unconditional Love that the Great Spirit feels for you.” – A Wedding Prayer / Meditation on Romantic Commitment

If we are not open to accessing Love internally – through our Spirit – then we will not be able to take in and hold love coming from another person. We won’t feel like we deserve it on a gut level – so we will sabotage it in some way.” – Joy2MeU Update Newsletter 2 June 2003

Sacred SpiralThe Update Newsletters I used to write regularly are often very long and contain a lot of really valuable information about the recovery process as I share my processing through my issues.  This is taken from the second page of the Newsletter portion of the June 2003 Update.  (the sharing there starts off with The Road gets Narrower – and begins a discusses about being alone and loneliness that continues in Newsletter Discernment Part 1)

This excerpt is actually less than half of that Newsletter 2 page – the page continues with My Terror of Intimacy about 1/3 of the way down the page.

Joy2MeU Journal Logo

Joy2MeU Journal

There are two quotes in this excerpt from The Joy2MeU Journal.  The Joy2MeU Journal is “a body of work in a password protected part of the site where Robert is publishing the story of his Spiritual Path (11 part), a ongoing personal recovery journal (58 installments), and portions of his Trilogy (14 Chapters of a Magical, Mystical, Spiritual Fable) and Attack on America (11 Chapters) books not available on regular Joy2MeU site.

Also quoted is Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life – which is part of Dancing in Light another subscription area of the site that includes “some of the most sophisticated of my writings – dealing with very advanced levels of recovery and some revolutionary and controversial perspectives on metaphysics, spirituality, and enlightenment.”

Special offers for either / or both subscription areas of my site are on the special sale page.

Grave Emotional and Mental Disorders – AA language for Codependence

The Dance

Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls

 ““We are all carrying around repressed pain, terror, shame, and rage energy from our childhoods, whether it was twenty years ago or fifty years ago. We have this grief energy within us even if we came from a relatively healthy family, because this society is emotionally dishonest and dysfunctional.

    When someone “pushes your buttons,” he/she is activating that stored, pressurized grief energy. She/he is gouging the old wounds, and all of the newer wounds that are piled on top of those original wounds by our repeating behavior patterns.” – quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

    When I first got into recovery one of the things that I was told was that ‘all I had to change was everything’. I had no idea what that meant back then. Now I know that it means that I needed to change my attitudes, beliefs, and definitions about myself and everything in my life. I needed to start surrendering my way of seeing things, of doing life.

    One of the first surrenders that I had to make was to let go of doing things ‘my way.’ (I used to sit in bars and get tears in my eyes over Frank Sinatra’s recording because I was also doing it ‘My way.’)  I had to start listening to those weird people who were telling me that I could live without alcohol. Then I had to start letting go of my belief that life was impossible without drugs and alcohol.

    Every time I go through a surrender in my recovery I am letting go of some of the ego definitions that have defined my relationship with myself and life. I have to let go of the attitudes and beliefs that I adapted because of the emotional trauma that I suffered as a child (which are still buried in my subconscious until I became willing to look at them.)

    There is an old AA saying that, ‘AA doesn’t open up the gates of heaven and let us in it opens up the gates of hell and lets us out.’ What we are let out into is life. The only way that I had known how to deal with life up to that time was to drink and use. The Twelve Steps are a formula for learning how to deal with life in a Spiritual way, and they saved my life.

    Unfortunately, the Twelve Steps as practiced in AA are not always enough. Not because the Twelve Step process is not enough – but because the way it is practiced in AA leaves out a vitally important level of healing. That is the level of healing the emotional wounds. We can deal with our grave emotional and mental disorders by having the capacity to be honest with ourselves. That includes being emotionally honest with ourselves. And the only way to achieve emotional honesty is by releasing the grief energy that we are carrying around – the pain, terror, shame, and rage from our childhoods.

    Until we deal with our emotional wounds, we do not have the ability to be emotionally honest in the moment. Until we change our relationship with our own emotions it is impossible to be comfortable in our own skins.

    Emotional energy manifests in the body. Our attitudes, definitions, and beliefs (subconscious and conscious) dictate our perspective of life and our expectations of ourselves, others, and life. Those perspectives and expectations set us up to react emotionally to life events. If we have not dealt with the old wounds then we will live life in reaction – overreacting (or underreacting to keep from overreacting) – when our ‘buttons are pushed.’ Our fear of our own reactions determines the quality of our relationships. Until we go back and heal our childhood emotional wounds we cannot successfully change the old tapes – we cannot achieve a healthy, emotionally honest relationship with ourselves and others.

    Grave emotional and mental disorders is AA language for Codependence. Codependence is all about having a dysfunctional relationship with self: with our own bodies, minds, emotions, and spirits; with our own gender and sexuality; with being human. Because we have dysfunctional relationships internally we have dysfunctional relationships externally. Because we cannot be emotionally honest with ourselves we aren’t really being totally honest with anyone ever.

    Bill Wilson would have loved to have had the tools we have available to us today. He would have run to an ACA or CoDA meeting because that is where he could have found the roots of the depression which tormented him.

    Codependence Recovery is ninth step work, making amends to ourselves and others by changing the attitudes and behaviors that have caused us to hurt ourselves and others. And we cannot make those amends without owning the feelings. We are powerless to substantially change the behavior patterns in our most intimate relationships without doing the grief work.”

Sacred Spiral

Logo of Joy2MeU

Logo of Joy2MeU.com website

The key to codependency recovery is the inner child healing work I describe on my site joy2meu.com   A key element of that work includes learning to set internal boundaries.  The formula that I pioneered for inner healing – which includes learning to set the internal boundaries –  is something that I teach people through telephone counseling  (It is now possible to get phone cards for very cheap rates from many places in the world – and also to use Skype for free from anywhere.)  I talk about how the phone counseling can work to really change a persons life for the better in a short period of time on this page which includes some special combination offers.

Reading my book Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls  (links to all of my books in both hard copy and ebook format are on that page) would really help you take your understanding to a whole new level.  Understanding codependency is vital in helping us to forgive our self for the dysfunctional ways we have lived our lives – it is not our fault we are codependent.

In the last few years I have also published two more books that can be very helpful. Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light Book 1 Empowerment, Freedom, and Inner Peace through Inner Child Healing and Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth.  I have special offers for either or both of these books (or for all three of my books) on this special sale page.

I also offer periodic day long workshops in San Diego to teach people how to apply my inner child healing formula.   (There is now a downloadable MP3 recording available of my Life Changing workshop – and I have a page with special offers for both the workshop recording and an MP3 download of Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls. )

Codependency causes us to feel like the victim of our own thoughts and feelings, and like our own worst enemy – recovery helps us to start learning how to be our own best friend.  Getting into codependency recovery is an act of love for self.

The Miracle of The Twelve Step Recovery Process – a formula for integration and balance

I am profoundly, deeply, everlastingly grateful for the gift of the 12 steps.  The process of learning to apply the Spiritual Principles in my life has changed my life from an unendurable hell to an adventure that is exciting and enJoyable most of the time.  The twelve steps work.  That is the bottom line.  They work to help a person transform their experience of life into something better.  They work to help a person learn to develop a relationship with life and self that allows room for inner peace, happiness, and Joy.  The twelve step process works to help a person open up to Love.

As I explain in my book Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls, planetary conditions caused human beings to develop a relationship with being human that was reversed to Love and Truth.  The reason this human experience is so screwed up is because humans have been doing life backwards – looking outside for Truth and Love, for validation, meaning, and purpose.  Outer dependence is dysfunctional.  It is the reason we do not know how to love our neighbors as our self – because we do not know how to Love our self.  It is the reason we have war and poverty, pollution and child abuse, rape and bigotry.  This world would be a much nicer place if everyone was working a twelve step program.

The good news is that there has been a major change in those planetary conditions, and a new age – an Age of Healing and Joy – has dawned in human consciousness.  The human condition is changing.  We have entered a new time in human evolution – a time in which we are learning to manifest Love into the world by learning to access Love for self.  The twelve step process has played a major role in the Spiritual Revolution that is taking place on this planet.  The mystical gift of the twelve steps greatly accelerated the process of bringing the planetary energy field to critical mass so that this change could take place. In this series of articles I am sharing my perspective of the twelve steps.

Book cover

Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls

“I believe that in a hundred years historians will look back and pinpoint this milestone as the single most important event in the twentieth century.  This milestone was the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous in Akron, Ohio, in June of 1935.

Besides the invaluable gift of sobriety that AA has given to millions of Alcoholics, it also started a revolution in Spiritual consciousness.

The dramatic success and expansion of AA facilitated the spread of a radically revolutionary idea which has traditionally, in Western Civilization, been considered heresy.  This was not a new idea but rather a reintroduction and clarification of an old idea, coupled with a formula for practical application of the concept into day-to-day human life experience.

This revolutionary idea was that an unconditionally Loving Higher Power exists with whom the individual being can personally communicate.  A Higher Power that is so powerful that it has no need to judge the humans it created because this Universal Force is powerful enough to ensure that everything unfolds perfectly from a Cosmic Perspective.

This reintroduction of the revolutionary concept of an accessible Loving God has been clarified to specifically include the concept that the individual being can define this Universal Force according to his/her own understanding, and can develop a personal, intimate relationship with this Higher Power.

In other words, no one is needed as an intermediary between you and your creator.  No outside agency has the right to impose upon you its definition of God.

The spread of Alcoholics Anonymous, and the other Anonymous programs which sprang out of AA, is the widest and most effective dissemination of this radical revolutionary concept that has ever occurred in Western Civilization.

Mystics, gnostics, and certain “primitive” peoples have, throughout recorded human history, understood the Truth in this concept – but the “organized religions” of urban-based civilizations have persecuted, tortured, and crucified any messengers or groups of people who believed in a Loving, personal God or Goddess – because it threatened the power of those organized religions’ control over the masses and therefore their very existence.  This time the dissemination of the message has been effective because:  The time was right; the revolutionary concept was camouflaged as part of a successful treatment for a fatal, incurable disease; and it was accompanied by the Twelve Step Spiritual program.” – quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

Codependency: A Dance of Black and White Thinking and Toxic Shame

“One of the core characteristics of this disease of Codependence is intellectual polarization – black and white thinking.  Rigid extremes – good or bad, right or wrong, love it or leave it, one or ten.  Codependence does not allow any gray area – only black and white extremes.

Life is not black and white.  Life involves the interplay of black and white.  In other words, the gray area is where life takes place.  A big part of the healing process is learning the numbers two through nine – recognizing that life is not black and white.

Life is not some kind of test, that if we fail, we will be punished.  We are not human creatures who are being punished by an avenging god.  We are not trapped in some kind of tragic place out of which we have to earn our way by doing the “right” things.

We are Spiritual Beings having a human experience.  We are here to learn.  We are here to go through this process that is life.  We are here to feel these feelings.”

There is an acronym in Twelve Step Recovery, that like many simple sayings, it full of Truth.  That acronym is HOW.   The letters stand for honesty, openness, and willingness.  It is vital to be willing to start looking at life and self from larger perspectives, willing to take the action necessary to align with healing.  To be open to changing our attitudes, to feeling our feelings.  And it is so vital to start being willing and open to getting more honest with ourselves.

“We were powerless out of ego-self to do anything any different than we did it.  We are powerless out of ego-self to heal this disease.  Through Spiritual Self, through our Spiritual Connection, we have access to all the power in the Universe.

We need to have the willingness: willingness to get to a new level of self-honesty; willingness to start listening to the Loving inner voice instead of the shaming ones; willingness to face the terror of healing the emotional wounds.”

Codependence is dishonest.  It is an emotional defense system adapted by humans to try to survive the pain of feeling unworthy and unlovable.  From a codependent perspective there are no choices – only two extremes, black and white.  Right or wrong.

Because as small children we did not have any perspective or discernment (prior to the age of reason, which occurs about 7 as our brains develop) we were incapable as viewing our parents as anything other than perfect Higher Powers.  Our God and Goddess.  Because our Higher Powers were wounded and did not know how to Love self, we were wounded and got the message that something must be wrong with us.  Toxic Shame.

“That shame is toxic and is not ours – it never was!  We did nothing to be ashamed of – we were just little kids.  Just as our parents were little kids when they were wounded and shamed, and their parents before them, etc., etc.  This is shame about being human that has been passed down from generation to generation.

There is no blame here, there are no bad guys, only wounded souls and broken hearts and scrambled minds.”

Out of our codependent relationship with life, there are only two extremes: blame them, or blame me.  Buy into the belief that they are to blame for what I am feeling – or I am to blame because I am a shameful unworthy being.   The emotional pain of feeling unlovable to our parents – which is a reflection of unbearable anguish of feeling separated from The Source – can feel like a bottomless pit of agonizing suffering.   At the core of our wounding is the unbearable emotional pain resulting from having internalized the message that God – our Source – does not Love us because we are personally defective and shameful.

Our addictions, compulsions, and obsessions;  our continuing quest to reach the destination, to find the fix;  our inability to be present in the now through worrying about the future or ruminating about the past;  are all tools that we used to avoid the emotional pain.  Our behavior patterns and dysfunctional relationships (of all kinds, with other people, with money, with our gender and sexuality) are symptoms.  Codependence is a defense system that was adapted by our damaged egos to try to avoid falling into the abyss of shame and pain within.

We formed our core relationship with self, other people, and life based upon this feeling of toxic shame.  Like the corruption at the foundation of Western Civilization, there is corruption in the foundation of our relationship with self.  Reflections.

In order to start changing our ego programming and healing our emotional wounds, it is necessary to start Loving ourselves.  We start Loving ourselves by opening up to the possibility that maybe we are Lovable.  We start Loving ourselves by using our will power to start changing our attitudes, beliefs, perspectives, and behaviors – in order to start changing our relationship with self, with our own emotions.

We are Co-Creators of our human experience, but for most of our lives we were allied with the disease – lived life out of the fear, lack, scarcity, separation programming of the damaged ego.  We were powerless to change our ego programming out of the false self, the ego self image, that was based upon the dishonesty inherent in black and white thinking.

Our paths unfolded perfectly to bring us to a point where some life event, or series of events, brought us to our knees, caused us to hit an emotional bottom that made us start being honest enough with ourselves to see that we needed some help.  When we started to seek help, we opened up to allowing the Universe to start guiding us with carrots instead of using the stick.  We opened up to becoming willing and honest enough to start learning the lessons we are here to learn instead of being trapped in repeating our patterns.

Recovery – aligning with Love instead of shame

The tool, the gift, that I discovered when I was willing to start asking for help was the Twelve Steps.  The Twelve Step Recovery program that was developed by Alcoholics Anonymous is a work of mystical Spirituality.  It is a formula for integrating Spiritual Truth into day to day human life.

“The Twelve Step Recovery process is so successful because it provides a formula for integrating different levels.  It is by recognizing that we are powerless to control our life experiences out of ego-self that we can access the power out of True Self, Spiritual Self.  By surrendering the illusion of ego control we can reconnect with our Higher Selves.  Selfishness out of ego-self is destroying the planet.  Selfishness out of Spiritual Self is what will save the planet.”

One of those principles – that really scared me when I first heard I had to develop it – was humility.  I equated humility with humiliation because of my toxic shame.

In Truth, humility really means to see clearly.  To see that as a human being the reality is that I am not perfect.  There are some areas I am strong in – that I have gifts, abilities, talents, skills – and some that I am weak in.  None of us human beings are perfect in our humanness – we are all perfect in our Spiritual essence.

One person will be talented in one area but weak in another.  Because we got the message in childhood that we were supposed to be perfect, that it was shameful to be ‘wrong’ – and we were taught to look outside and compare ourselves to determine our worth – we focused on our strengths as proof we were better than others.  Which also meant we needed to deny our weaknesses – or deny that the areas in which we were weak had any importance.  Humility is about owning both our strengths and our weaknesses – and realizing that all human beings have both strengths and weaknesses.

Looking outside of ourselves for self-definition and self-worth means that we have to judge people in order to feel good about ourselves.  There is no other way to do it when you look outside.

We were taught to have ego-strength through judgment – better than, prettier than, smarter than, richer than, stronger than, etc., etc.

In a Codependent society everyone has to have someone to look down on in order to feel positive about him/herself.  This is the root of all bigotry, racism, sexism, and prejudice in the world.

True self-worth does not come from looking down on anyone or anything.  True self-worth comes from awakening to our connection to everyone and everything.

The Truth is that we are like snowflakes:  Each individual is unique and different and special and we are all made from the same thing.  We are all cut from the same cloth.  We are all part of the Eternal ONENESS that is the Great Spirit.

When we start looking within and celebrating the Truth of who we Truly are, then we can celebrate our unique differences instead of judging them out of fear.”

When I started to open up to the concept that there was a Higher Power who Loved me Unconditionally, then I could start getting past the shame to seeing the gray area.  Then I could start to stop reacting out of the black and white, fear based programming of my damaged ego.

When I started to be open to seeing myself more clearly, then I could start to see that I had more in common with other human beings than I had differences.  Then I could start to see that thinking I was better than someone else because of a gift is false pride.  A gift is just that – a gift.  Talent, intelligence, looks – those are gifts to be cherished and cultivated, not standards for feeling better than another human being.

Through working the twelve step program, I could start to understand that every cloud has a silver lining.  (I just flashed on my mother in childhood telling me that every curse is also a blessing – in regard to my emotional sensitivity I believe.  We do hear messages of Spiritual Truth from early on – it is applying them to our lives that we need some help figuring out how to do.)  A gift also carries obligations with it.  Though feeling pride about a gift was false – what I could take pride in was the action I took to cultivate that gift.   (Which of course I had not done in some cases because of the black and white thinking and toxic shame – I was afraid to take a risk because I was sure I would fail.  Another thing to realize I was powerless over and forgive myself for.)

Through starting to see myself more clearly – by stopping with the shame of self and judgment of others to protect myself from that shame – then I could more easily see that we were more alike than different.  Then I could start to be open to believing that maybe I had worth and deserved Love – and that you did also.

Feeling shameful and reacting to life from fear, caused me to focus on how I was different (and better, or worse) than you.  The more I could start to see that I am not perfect and that it is OK – the more I could access the acceptance to allow you to not be perfect.

That helped me to stop taking other peoples behavior so personally.  When I started understanding how I had been reacting – started seeing myself more clearly and accepting reality, I could also start seeing that what you were doing was not really about me, it was you reacting to your wounds.

The more clearly I saw myself within the framework of a Spiritual recovery process, the easier it became to see that I had not been seeing myself or you clearly – or life.

Working the steps, applying the principles in our lives

Twelve step recovery is a blessed gift.  Unfortunately not all twelve step groups are utilizing them to their full capacity.  In Alcoholics Anonymous for instance, there are many people who are stuck in a black and white perspective that causes them to keep focusing on the symptom of drinking for many years after they have gotten sober.  Of course, one of the reason they do this is because they are scared of doing the emotional healing and facing the toxic shame – so they get stuck in a rigid black and white perspective.

This disease / condition of codependency is so powerful and insidious because the programming is so ingrained and so much a part of the human condition.  The key to changing the conditions in the world is honesty and clarity.

The first three steps of the twelve step program basically involve: Step 1. getting honest enough to recognize that what we have been doing is not working;  Step 2.  getting willing to open up to some help from outside;  Step 3. asking for help.  The next step – the 4th – involves taking an honest inventory and starting to see ourselves with more clarity.  When we start getting more honest with ourselves, the 11th step tells us how to access the power to change our lives – through prayer and meditation.

In other words, life breaks us down enough to make us surrender – to make us start the process of stopping our ego programming from defining our life experience and dictating our relationships.  Then we develop a level of consciousness that allows us to look at the gray area.  We are then able to observe ourselves objectively enough to see that what we have been doing isn’t working for us – and can start to be open to the possibility that maybe we are not shameful beings, but we have been living life by some dysfunctional programming.  Once we start detaching from ego-self and developing a higher level of consciousness, we are directed back inward to seek the Truth.  Prayer and meditation not meaning, necessarily, formal practices but rather developing a conscious relationship, and ongoing communication, with our Spirit – with our intuitive guidance.

We start to align our consciousness with Spiritual Self so that we can use our will power to change the negative programming and stop the self abusive behaviors that we adapted to protect ourselves.  And as the 10th step dictates we need to keep taking a daily inventory – we need to be willing to stay open to messages from the Universe so that we can catch ourselves when we are being dishonest with ourselves.

Honesty with self is absolutely vital to recovery and healing – to raising our consciousness.  As we start to awaken to Spiritual Truth, we can start to peal away the layers of dishonesty that we have wrapped ourselves in out of our codependent defense system.  It is very painful to start getting honest with ourselves.  We feel ashamed as we start to see how dishonest we have been.

The Truth shall set you free – but it will be a very painful process.

It is vital to face the pain of taking inventory of how we have been dishonest.  What makes it possible to start to see ourselves, and our behavior patterns, more clearly is starting to believe that maybe we are not shameful.  Maybe we do have a disease – a compulsively reactive condition – that we have been powerless over.  Maybe there is a Loving Higher Power.

By starting to stop the dishonesty of believing that others are completely to blame, we can also stop empowering the lie that we are to blame because we are defective.  By stopping the blaming, we can start taking responsibility – owning our side of the street.

A very important part of the process of taking responsibility is making amends.   Cleaning up the wreckage of our past.  Even though we were powerless over our behaviors because of our ego programming, because of our codependency, we still have to take responsibility for the behaviors and their consequences.

The purpose of making amends to others is to heal our Spirit, to clear our conscience, to dump any baggage from the past that we are still carrying.  We do this for ourselves.  Often the other person doesn’t even remember an incident that we make amends for.  Sometimes the other person is hateful and bitter still.  We can still make amends for our side of the street, even if they are not owning their side of the street.  We are not making the amends so that we can all make up and be friends – although that is certainly possible sometimes – we are making them to free us from the past, we are doing them as a Loving thing to do for our self.  We do not have the power to get others to do what we want them to – so we need to focus on what we do have the power to change.  We can shine the Light of Love and consciousness into any dark corners within so that we can stop giving power to the past.

Making amends is about forgiveness.  Healing the wounds from the past is the Loving thing to do for ourselves.  Seeing more clearly so that we can own our responsibility in situations that we are still carrying resentments about, helps us to let go of those resentments.  Carrying a resentment doesn’t hurt the person we are resentful of – it hurts us.

I have found that the reason I had resentments that I couldn’t let go of, was because I hadn’t forgiven myself.  I was holding onto feelings of self righteous indignation about how I was victimized, because I couldn’t face the shame of admitting that I set myself up in some way.  By trusting that person, or letting them into my life, or whatever.

Making amends for the ways in which our behavior has hurt others is part of the process of healing self.  And making amends is much more than saying “I’m sorry.”  Making amends is about changing the dysfunctional behavior patterns.  Making amends is about doing what it takes to stop empowering the dysfunctional attitudes and black and white thinking so that we can change the behaviors.  It is about becoming willing to face the terror of healing our emotional wounds, so that we can stop reacting and hurting other people and our self with our behavior.

The steps help us to move into a growth paradigm – a relationship with life that helps us see problems as opportunities for growth instead of punishment.  Applying the twelve step principles in our life helps us stop taking other people’s behavior so personally – and learn to protect ourselves from their behavior if necessary.   As we forgive ourselves for our past behaviors, and learn to see life and self with more clarity and more Love – we see others with more clarity and more Love.

By taking power away from the polarized thinking and the emotional wounds from the past we can stop being our own worst enemy.

“Because of our broken hearts, our emotional wounds, and our scrambled minds, our subconscious programming, what the disease of Codependence causes us to do is abandon ourselves.  It causes the abandonment of self, the abandonment of our own inner child – and that inner child is the gateway to our channel to the Higher Self.

The one who betrayed us and abandoned and abused us the most was ourselves.  That is how the emotional defense system that is Codependence works.

The battle cry of Codependence is “I’ll show you – I’ll get me.””

We need to learn to see the gray area.  It is never just black and white, right and wrong.  There are always multiple levels involved in this experience of being human.  It is vital to stop empowering black and white thinking.

There is a simple prayer that sums up this process.  It is a formula for learning how to live life in a healthy way.  It, like the Twelve Step Recovery process, is a Divinely inspired work of Mystical Truth.  It is called the Serenity Prayer.

God,

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

(The Serenity Prayer is generally thought to have been written by Reinhold Niebuhr)

God / Goddess / Great Spirit, please help me to access:

the serenity to accept the things I cannot change (life, other people),

The courage and willingness to change the things I can (me, my own attitudes and behaviors),

And the wisdom and clarity to know the difference.

(My personal adapted version of Serenity Prayer)

This link will take you to different interpretations of The Twelve Steps on a page of my site.

The last section of this article is a short excerpt about the Principles of Twelve Step Recovery along with my version of the of the first three steps from intellectual and emotional levels as I understand and apply them – originally published online in 1998.  At the bottom of the page is a disclaimer to let you know that Alcoholics Anonymous has not approved any deviation from their approach to the Twelve Steps and any reference I make to the steps is not meant to imply otherwise.

The Twelve Steps are a formula for integrating the Spiritual into the physical so that powerlessness can lead to True empowerment.

Twelve Step Principles & tools include:

Self-Honesty, willingness, Acceptance, letting go, surrender,

Faith, Trust, honesty, Humility, Patience, openness, Courage,

Responsibility, Action, Forgiveness, compassion, Love.

“When I became willing to surrender the old attitudes and beliefs, to surrender to feeling the feelings, to surrender trying to control things over which I had no control, then I accessed the power to change myself and my relationships.  I became empowered to change my life into an experience that was defined by Joy, Love, and Peace instead of fear, anger, and pain.”

There are two points of powerlessness with Codependence

The first is intellectual – when we first realize that there is something that’s not working and that maybe we have to change, to learn a different way.

The second comes after we have intellectually learned what boundaries and healthy behavior are but we cannot stop acting out the old patterns in our closest relationships – we watch ourselves saying things we don’t want to say, and doing things we don’t want to do.

This is when it is necessary to do the emotional healing.

Here is my version of the initial steps from these two different levels.

Intellectual Steps

Step 1. I acknowledge and accept that I am powerless out of ego-self to control my human life experience, and that the delusion that I should be in control has caused pain and suffering in my life.

Step 2. Came to remember that I am a Spiritual Being who is part of the ONENESS that is the Unconditionally Loving, ALL-Powerful Universal Force, and that believing in that Force can help to bring balance, harmony, and sanity to my life.

Step 3. Made a decision to ask the Force to help me align my will, my actions, and my life with the Universal Power.

Emotional Steps

Step 1. Admitted that I am powerless to substantially change the learned behavioral defenses and dysfunctional attitudes from childhood until I deal with the emotional wounds of my childhood experience.

Step 2. Came to remember that I am a Spiritual Being who is part of the ONENESS that is the Unconditionally Loving, ALL-Powerful Universal Force, and that believing in that Force can help to bring balance, harmony, and sanity to my life.

Step 3. Made a decision to ask the Force to help me face the terror of healing my emotional wounds.

Sacred Spiral

This is excerpted from an article by the same name on my website Joy2MeU.com  It is the first in a series of articles on the twelve step proces.  The second article in that series is The Miracle of The Twelve Step Recovery Process Part 2:  The First Three Steps – 1, 2, 3, and a 1, 2, 3

The key to codependency recovery is the inner child healing work I describe on my site:  A key element of that work includes learning to set internal boundaries.  The formula that I pioneered for inner healing – which includes learning to set the internal boundaries –  is something that I teach people through telephone counseling. (It is now possible to get phone cards for very cheap rates from many places in the world – and also to use Skype for free from anywhere.)  I talk about how the phone counseling can work to really change a persons life for the better in a short period of time on this page which includes some special combination offers.

Reading my book Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls  (links to all of my books in ebook format are on that page) would really help you take your understanding to a whole new level.  Understanding codependency is vital in helping us to forgive our self for the dysfunctional ways we have lived our lives – it is not our fault we are codependent.

In the last few years I have also published two more books that can be very helpful. Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light Book 1 Empowerment, Freedom, and Inner Peace through Inner Child Healing and Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth.  I have special offers for either or both of these books (or for all three of my books) on this page:

I also offer periodic day long workshops in San Diego to teach people how to apply my inner child healing formula.   (There is now a downloadable MP3 recording available of my Life Changing workshop  – and I have a page with special offers for both the workshop recording and an MP3 download of Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls. )

Codependency causes us to feel like the victim of our own thoughts and feelings, and like our own worst enemy – recovery helps us to start learning how to be our own best friend.  Getting into codependency recovery is an act of love for self.

Sacred Spiral

Although my book and articles make reference to Alcoholics Anonymous, the principles and Twelve Step program of A.A., this does not mean that A.A. has reviewed or approved the contents of this writing, nor that A.A. agrees with the views expressed herein. A.A. is a program of recovery from alcoholism only – use of this material in connection with programs and activities which are patterned after A.A., but address other problems, or in any other non-A.A. context, does not imply otherwise.