My Terror of Intimacy

What we want the most is also what terrifies us the most.  It was more comfortable for me to sabotage myself and beat myself up than to Truly open up to Love.  I was more comfortable beating myself up for being defective than I was in taking the risk of believing that I was Truly deserving of Love.

This was not at all a conscious thing – it was a result of the compulsive reactions of my codependency.  I was powerless to choose someone who was actually available, and capable, of Loving me as long as I was unconsciously reacting to life out of my childhood emotional wounds.

Book cover

In our disease defense system we build up huge walls to protect ourselves and then – as soon as we meet someone who will help us to repeat our patterns of abuse, abandonment, betrayal, and/or deprivation – we lower the drawbridge and invite them in.  We, in our Codependence, have radar systems which cause us to be attracted to, and attract to us, the people, who for us personally, are exactly the most untrustworthy (or unavailable or smothering or abusive or whatever we need to repeat our patterns) individuals – exactly the ones who will “push our buttons.” 

This happens because those people feel familiar.  Unfortunately in childhood the people whom we trusted the most – were the most familiar – hurt us the most.  So the effect is that we keep repeating our patterns and being given the reminder that it is not safe to trust ourselves or other people 

Once we begin healing we can see that the Truth is that it is not safe to trust as long as we are reacting out of the emotional wounds and attitudes of our childhoods.  Once we start Recovering, then we can begin to see that on a Spiritual level these repeating behavior patterns are opportunities to heal the childhood wounds.

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

I compared myself to others and thought I saw that they had reached happily ever after – and since I had not, that was evidence which reinforced the false belief that I was shameful and defective.  My patterns caused me to pick people who could not give me what I needed because of my emotional wounds – and those repeating patterns seemed to be evidence that reinforced the false belief that I was unlovable and defective.  Insidious and incredibly powerful is this codependency.

As the quote in Discernment part 1 from my article Feeling the Feelings – grief / emotional energy release stated:

“4. We are attracted to people that feel familiar on an energetic level – which means (until we start clearing our emotional process) people that emotionally / vibrationally feel like our parents did when we were very little kids.  At a certain point in my process I realized that if I met a woman who felt like my soul mate, that the chances were pretty huge that she was one more unavailable woman that fit my pattern of being attracted to someone who would reinforce the message that I wasn’t good enough, that I was unlovable.  Until we start releasing the hurt, sadness, rage, shame, terror – the emotional grief energy – from our childhoods we will keep having dysfunctional relationships.”

We keep repeating patterns in an attempt to earn the love we are so starved for – on some level the little child within us is still trying to earn our parents love.  We are still trying to prove we are lovable by winning the love of someone who resonates as being similar to our parents.  Until we start learning to be discerning so that we can separate the child’s emotional truth from our adult reality, we keep looking for love in all the wrong places and wrong faces.  Until we start seeing life in a spiritual context that allows us to start understanding our powerlessness and forgiving ourselves for the “bad” choices / “mistakes” we have made in our adult relationship choices, we are blocked from Loving our self.  Discernment is necessary to start really owning our deep emotional pain from a perspective of having compassion for ourselves instead of shame and judgment.

In relationship to romance my patterns meant being attracted to women who were not available to me on some level, and rejecting any woman who was available.  This was the counterdependent pattern I mentioned in the update that spawned these Newsletters.

“It was vital for me in my recovery to see that I actually felt less loneliness when I was alone – because my patterns were more of the counterdependent type, trying to convince myself I didn’t need other people.  My fear/terror of intimacy issues were so powerful that I effectively had a relationship phobia.  Those of you whose patterns were more classically codependent, tended to make the relationship your higher power and hold on for dear life because of inner child fears of being alone.  These are two extremes in the patterns I have observed in how codependents react to fear of intimacy – to be isolated and alone most of the time or to stay in relationships that aren’t meeting our needs out of fear of being alone.  The third major pattern is to go from relationship to relationship, often being more codependent in some (trying to take a hostage / make the other person our drug of choice) and counterdependent in others (resisting being someone else’s drug / being taken hostage.)” 

I did not feel Loved in childhood because my parents were wounded – and because the concept of God that I was taught was a punishing one, the pain in my life felt like punishment. (The pain of life feels like punishment even to people who were taught a metaphysical, Loving concept of God in childhood, because the emotional experience of life does not match the metaphysical Truth.  Sometimes people who were taught about a Loving God in childhood have more trouble getting past their feelings of betrayal than someone who was raised in a shame based religion like I was.)  My inner radar caused me to be attracted to someone who felt on some emotionally energetic level like my parents.  The extremes of the spectrum that I experienced in childhood, dictated how I related to intimate relationships – to opening my heart to another human being.

“For most of my adult life, I effectively had a relationship phobia.  The extremes I learned in childhood were completely unavailable (my father) and completely enmeshed (my mother.)  In my first sexually and emotionally intimate relationship (not any true emotional intimacy because I was incapable of it then – more accurate would be to call it emotional attachment) I got completely enmeshed with a woman I met in college.  She was the one who really initiated me into being sexual.  We got engaged to be married.  I caught her in bed with my best friend – literally, caught them in bed.

I realized in retrospect in recovery, that she had almost certainly been the victim of incest from a young age – and was a sex addict.  The pain of that experience, was to say the least, incredible.  I was so much in denial of my feelings, and so codependent, that I stayed engaged to her for another year and a half.

I did not again in the next twenty years, make the mistake of getting involved with someone who was available enough to have the power to hurt me like that.  I pursued only unavailable women.  I always had someone unavailable that I was obsessing over, trying to figure out how to get her to see how wonderful we could be together.  (This was completely unconscious and something I only realized looking back at my patterns in recovery.)

The other extreme for me, was allowing myself to get physically involved with women I did not really want to be with, with women I did not feel a strong attraction / energetic connection to.  Then I would be the unavailable one.”  –  Joy2MeU Update May 2001 Newsletter 2

Since the only options I could see in a romantic relationship were unavailable or enmeshed, being alone was actually the option in between the extremes for me.  Settling for being in a relationship with someone who wanted me more than I wanted her (being the unavailable / counterdependent one) made me feel as if I were incapable of loving – and caused me to feel incredibly isolated and alone because I could not be (did not even want to be) the prince she thought she needed.  When I was in a relationship where my self worth was dependent upon her (codependent pattern) – where she was the princess who could turn me from a frog into a prince – then she was my higher power, my drug of choice.  Addicts have an incredible need to protect their supply.  When I was enmeshed in a relationship I needed to try to take her hostage, keep her under my control, to protect my supply.

In the May 2001 Newsletter processing about my fear of intimacy issues (quoted just above and referenced in the Update) I made a big breakthrough in consciousness by uncovering and discovering some layers where I was still empowering black and white thinking – and therefore victim feelings – in relationship to women.  It was a breakthrough that took me to a level of consciousness that for the first time felt like I had reached in my personal process the level of consciousness that my book had been written out of 10 years earlier. (Joy2MeU Update – August 2001)  I was rocketed into a whole new dimension of consciousness because it also helped me to make a great leap in my capacity to have compassion for myself.

“As I am putting the final touches on this Newsletter on June 15th so I can post it, I had another insight into why I have been so terrified of intimacy.  It was not just the shameful unworthiness that would cause a woman to go away, that was so painful.  It wasn’t abandonment that hurt so much – it was the betrayal, which I felt was the consequence, the punishment.  I am sobbing as I get in touch with the pain of that little boy who felt like he was punished for that unworthiness.

The excruciating pain of finding my fiancé in bed with my best friend was the proof of, and felt like punishment for, that unworthiness.  It was only in recovery when dealing with my emotional incest issues, that I realized how my mother had betrayed me.  She always told me how wonderful I was, how special and gifted – she acted as if the world revolved around me.  But she never protected me, or herself, from my father.  My mother was my first love.  She was my Goddess.  The fact that she allowed my father to terrify and traumatize me – she who was perfect in the eyes of that little boy – obviously meant there was something wrong with me. 

I got in touch with the fact that my mother betrayed me years ago.  What I had never seen before today, was the connection between the two betrayals – and the common theme. 

My fiancé’s betrayal was just a repeat of my earliest experience of loving a woman.  Both situations involved betrayal by the primary woman in my life, and the primary man.  The excruciating pain I experienced as a young adult was only a fraction of the devastation felt by that little boy.

That poor little boy.  His first experience of love, the first loves of his life – his God and Goddess – punished him.  Terror of intimacy is a pretty appropriate response.  I have some work to do with this issue”.  –  Joy2MeU Update May 2001 Newsletter 2

Intellectually accepting that we were powerless does not change the core programming.  Being willing to plunge into the grief (the black hole of emotional healing as I describe it in my book) was what led me to peeling away enough levels to really understand that powerlessness on a gut level – so that I can truly start having compassion for myself, Loving my self.  I needed to really own that little boys pain in order to start changing my patterns in my adult relationships.

(In Discernment 1, I mentioned that by learning discernment and peeling away the layers I was able to see the silver lining, to be grateful for, my relationship phobia – which means I came to see a silver lining to this betrayal I experienced in my early twenties.  What I realized is, that the combination of my alcoholism and the rage I was carrying towards my mother, would have made me powerless to not be abusive had I married this woman and started having kids.  I may have spent most of my adult life alone, but at least I didn’t have a family that I terrorized for those years.)

Set up to fail in romance

Codependency is on a very simple level giving power over our feelings of self worth to external sources.  Learning to be discerning – to separate / draw boundaries in our perspective of – our issues, and the levels and layers of those issues, is vital in seeing our self and life with more clarity.   It vital in the process of learning to Love and to create the potential for having a healthy romantic relationship.

“Starting to practice discernment in relationship to the mental level of our being helps us to start taking responsibility for the emotional level.

My attitudes, beliefs, and definitions set up my perspectives and expectations – which in turn dictate my emotional reactions.  It was vital for me to start seeing how the beliefs I was empowering were responsible for the expectations that were setting me up to feel like a victim of other people.  It was vital for me to start seeing myself clearly enough to stop buying into the illusion that what I was feeling was your fault.

“A very important part of my process of finding some balance in my life – of learning how to see myself and how I relate to others and life more clearly – was to get clear that everything in my process relates back to me and my growth process.   I had to get past my codependent belief that I was doing something for you – or you were doing something to me.” – Sharing Experience, Strength, and Hope – My Recovery Process

. . . . . . . .  It is vital to start learning how to be discerning in our relationship with life in order to achieve some integration and emotional balance.  It is empowering to start having a perspective of life that allows us to see a separation, a boundary, between the vertical – our Spiritual yearning to return home to Love, to reconnect with our Source – and the horizontal – our needs for human interaction and stimulation.  Once we stop unconsciously allowing our feelings of self worth to be emotionally enmeshed with our external relationships, then we can start seeing both our self and our Self more clearly.   Then we can start seeing other people and life with more clarity.” – Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light Chapter 9: Codependency = Emotional Anorexia

Starting to discern the difference between a codependent relationship and a healthy relationship helped me to start seeing the concepts of romance and love with more clarity – helped me start to understand the difference between a healthy interdependent relationship and a dysfunctional, codependent relationship.

“Codependence and interdependence are two very different dynamics.

Codependence is about giving away power over our self-esteem. Taking our self-definition and self-worth from outside or external sources is dysfunctional because it causes us to give power over how we feel about ourselves to people and forces which we cannot control. Any time that we give power over our self-esteem to something outside of ourselves we are making that person or thing our higher power. We are worshiping false gods.

. . . . . . . . Interdependence is about making allies, forming partnerships. It is about forming connections with other beings. Interdependence means that we give someone else some power over our welfare and our feelings.” – Codependence vs Interdependence – healthy relationship vs dysfunctional

Giving away power over my self esteem and giving away some power over my feelings are two separate issues that I could only start discerning the difference between by starting to see what a dysfunctional concept of romance I learned in childhood.  Our fairy tale perspective of romance was compounded by our experience of love in childhood, so that we were totally set up to be incapable of having a healthy romantic relationship.  I had no idea what Love really is because of my childhood experience of love.

“I don’t remember how the particular insight that I am writing about here came about – whether I heard it, or read it, or just had the thought occur (which would mean, to me, that it was a message from my Higher Self/Higher Power – of course any of those methods would be a message from my Higher Power.)  In any case, this particular insight struck me with great force.  Like most great insights, it was amazingly simple and obvious.  It was to me earth shattering/paradigm busting in it’s impact.  The insight was:

If someone loves you, it should feel like they love you.

What a concept!  Obvious, logical, rational, elementary – like ‘duh’ of course it should.

I had never experienced feeling loved consistently in my closest relationships.  Because my parents did not know how to Love themselves, their behavior towards me had caused me to experience love as critical, shaming, manipulative, controlling, and abusive.  Because that was my experience of love as a child – that was the only type of relationship I was comfortable with as an adult.  It was also, and most importantly, the relationship that I had with myself.

In order to start changing my relationship with myself, so that I could start changing the type of relationships I had with other people, I had to start focusing on trying to learn the True nature of Love.

This, I believe, is the Great Quest that we are on.  Anyone in recovery, on a healing/Spiritual path, is ultimately trying to find their way home to LOVE – in my belief.  LOVE is the Higher Power – the True nature of the God-Force/Goddess Energy/Great Spirit.  LOVE is the fabric from which we are woven.  LOVE is the answer.

And in order to start finding my way home to LOVE – I first had to start awakening to what Love is not. . . . . . 

. . . . Love is also not an addiction.  It is not taking a hostage or being taken hostage.  The type of romantic love that I learned about growing is a form of toxic love.  The “I can’t smile without out you,” “Can’t live without you.” “You are my everything,” “You are not whole until you find your prince/princess” messages that I learned in relationship to romantic love in childhood are not descriptions of Love – they are descriptions of drug of choice, of someone who is a higher power/false god.

Additionally, Love is not being a doormat.  Love does not entail sacrificing your self on the altar of martyrdom – because one cannot consciously choose to sacrifice self if they have never Truly had a self that they felt was Lovable and worthy.  If we do not know how to Love our self, how to show respect and honor for our self – then we have no self to sacrifice.  We are then sacrificing in order to try to prove to ourselves that we are lovable and worthy – that is not giving from the heart, that is codependently manipulative, controlling, and dishonest.” – The True Nature of Love – part 1, what Love is not

We need to start being discerning in relationship to the concepts of love and romance – and start taking action to change that programming before we start to have any chance of having a healthy relationship. 

One of the core components of Codependency is black and white thinking.  For this reason it is possible to quit drinking and using without being in recovery from codependency – because to drinking and/or using is an “either or” “black or white” issue.  Life is not black and white.  Issues with food, spending, relationships, etc. are not black and white.  These issues exist in the gray area of life.  What we are seeking is balance – and in order to find balance we need to learn to practice discernment.

When I was learning how to take responsibility for my feelings by getting honest with myself about my expectations – one of that last layers I peeled was in relationship to romance, to “falling in love.”  My Higher Power – who can sometimes be quite literal and show an amusing sense of humor – brought a wonderful opportunity for growth to me on April First 1990.

“One of the biggest areas in this culture where we are trained to come from a victim perspective is in relationship to romance.  We are taught about “falling in love” as if it were a camouflaged hole in the sidewalk that we were powerless over falling into.  Falling in love is a choice – which is what I got to get real clear on starting on that April Fools Day in 1990 

Falling in love is a state of mind which is very different from Loving someone.  Love is a vibrational frequency that we can tune into (more on that in the article next month.)  What we learned growing up was love that was an addiction – with the other person as our drug of choice, our Higher Power.  (See Toxic Love )   Love is not something that someone else gives to us – it is something that another being can help us to remember and access.  (See Wedding Prayer or Adventure in Romance.)

I understood much of this only theoretically – and not that much – that afternoon in the meadow by the sea.  What I had gotten real clear on by that time is that buying into being a victim was disempowering and dysfunctional for me.  So that evening I got real clear with myself.  It went something like this:

“OK.  Let’s look at this.  Here is a beautiful woman who feels like she might be my soul mate.  Having that powerful an emotional, energetic reaction to her could mean that she is my soul mate but it is much more likely to mean that she is unavailable in a way that is perfect for my patterns.  I have choices here.  (Empowerment is all about owning that we always have choices – Empowerment & Victimization page.)  I can run away in fear that she is a repeat of old patterns but if I do that I won’t learn anything. I can choose to explore what this connection with her is – in which case I will probably get hurt.

Since getting hurt is an inevitable part of life and I definitely need to learn some lessons about romance and emotional intimacy – I think that I will explore what our connection is – but do it differently than I ever have before.  I will make a commitment to myself (our first commitment needs always to be to our self) to learn whatever lessons I need to learn from this woman and will remain alert so that I do not buy into any victim beliefs.  I am choosing to go into the emotional place that she will lead me to learn lessons about my self.  I will not buy into the belief that she is victimizing me.  When I am hurting because: she is not doing what I want her to;  when she is not opening up to the potential of how wonderful we could be together;  when she is reacting to her fears and wounds; I will always remember that I choose to venture down the path this way and that any feelings that result will be my responsibility – they will be the consequences of my choice.  They will not be her fault.  She does not have the power to hurt me unless I give it to her – and I am choosing to give her some power over my feelings.”  Joy2MeU Journal Premier Issue  Newsletter April 2, 1999

I learned to stop giving power to the illusion that I was the victim of love.  Since I realized that falling in love was a choice, I have played with the energy of falling “in love” a few times but have only chosen to dive in head first / “fall in love” one time.

“As a reminder (since it is a year later): in writing my May 2001 Update I realized I that my fear of intimacy and deprivation issues had broken the surface for me to look at.  That spawned 3 pages of Newsletter processing about my fear of intimacy issues.  In the second of those 3 pages I talked about the polarized, black and white, thinking that is a fundamental dynamic of the condition of codependency.  I described how this black and white thinking affected the way I related to romantic relationships.

“The rut for me in respect to romance is for my thinking to be either (1) I will never have another romantic relationship, or (10) we will move in together and be fully immersed in the relationship.  A watered down, less powerful version of the choices I learned in childhood from my role models – either completely unavailable or completely enmeshed.

My thinking in relationship to a relationship, is much healthier and more balanced than it used to be – but it still tends towards the extremes within the spectrum of what is I believe is possible.  It feels more natural for me to completely let go of the idea of having a romantic relationship or to think in terms of what it is going to be like when we are living together, then to think in terms of getting to know someone gradually.  Kind of like, either pretend the water isn’t there, or dive into the deep end without looking first to see what may be just under the surface.

It is easier for me emotionally to not even consider going in the water than to gradually ease myself into the shallow water – because if I am even looking at the water it gets me in touch with grief about being alone.  The abyss of wish-to-die pain and desperate loneliness from my childhood – the deprivation issues that I spent so much of my life either denying or allowing to run my life – do not have anywhere near the power they used to because of the healing I have done.  It is relatively easy now for me to separate out the childhood feelings of loneliness – and they do not any longer have a life threatening feeling of desperation to them.  But I also have been very deprived in my adult life – of Love, companionship, affection, touch, sexual fulfillment, etc. – because of my patterns.  So the grief around those deprivation issues still has power because the deprivation is still happening.” – Newsletter part 2 May 2001 – posted June 15

So, it is easier for me to let go of the idea of ever having a relationship, then to be open and willing to explore a relationship – because being conscious of wanting a relationship triggers my deprivation issues. . . . . . 

. . . . . . . . The romantic within who wants the fairy tale, is the archetypal part of me that I have talked of elsewhere as having always swung between the extremes of allowing the fantasy to rule or locking that part of me in an inner prison and wanting to ignore it.  The one who has the frog self image and wants to worship the princess who can turn me from a frog into a prince.  The romantic is always looking to dive right into any attractive swimming pool – never looking to see if there is even water in the pool, let alone if it is full of big rocks.” – Joy2MeU Journal The Path of one Recovering Codependent ~ the dance of one wounded soul My Unfolding Process – Dance 12 June 2002

In that instance – which I describe in my article An Adventure in Romance – Loving and Losing Successfully – the other person dove into the pool, fell “in love” with me, and invited me in.  When I accepted the invitation and dove in, she got scared and ran away emotionally.  And I was able, when that woman seemingly rejected me, to own my responsibility for my feelings and not blame her.  I also did not blame and shame myself.  There was great emotional pain / hurt / grief, but I did not buy into shaming and blaming myself for being hurt – an incredible gift!  I did Truly Love and lose successfully.

“I have learned:

That when I know who I am and have my self-esteem rooted in my Spiritual connection then I have nothing to fear from intimacy.  I can be hurt for certain because I will be choosing to give some power away over my feelings – but hurt is part of life and well worth the adventure of Loving and Losing.

That it is Truly possible to do enough healing to be able to open my heart to someone and then not take it personally when the other person “rejects” me – because I Truly know in my gut that she is just reacting to her wounds not to some inherent flaw in my being.

That I can have my worst fear of abandonment and rejection appear to come true and not give it any power because I do not have to buy into the disease telling me that it is my fault – that I did something/said something/am something that is wrong/a loser/a mistake/unlovable/unworthy.  This is such a gift – to know that I can keep the critical parent shut up and out of the game is Truly an Amazing Miraculous reward for being willing to do my healing.” – An Adventure in Romance – Loving and Losing Successfully

Having the freedom to not feel the victim of “falling in love” with someone who was unavailable in some way, has saved me countless hours of obsession and agony in those intervening years.  It has been an invaluable asset in learning how to be present in the moment to enJoy my life journey today without feeling I am incomplete because there is no princess in my life – instead of putting so much energy and time into trying to force someone else to play a part in my dream, or beating myself up for being unlovable.

And choosing not to fall “in love” doesn’t mean that I can’t be open to Loving a woman.  “Falling in love” is a temporary condition – a kind of temporary magical insanity that feels delicious and wonderful.  Loving another being in a romantic relationship can be a dynamic, growing, expanding gift if both people are committed to their individual healing so that they can keep returning to some kind of balance and clarity in the relationship.  It can include recurring periods of feeling “in love” for all of the years of the relationship – but expecting the magic of feeling “in love” to last, to be present all of the time, is a set up.

“Being in Love is a wonderful, magical feeling.  It fills us with energy and lightens our spirit so that we feel we are soaring on the wings of Love.  It is wonderful to feel that energy.  What is dysfunctional is expecting it to last forever.  It is important to know that the feeling of being in love is not going to last forever, or be there all of the time.  Two people who are working on emotional intimacy – who are communicating and working through issues – can recapture that feeling again and again for years and years, but it is not going to always be the reality of your relationship.” –  Healthy Relationships – Part 6, Romantic Love as a Concept

It is in some ways sad that since 1990 I have had only one occasion to choose to “fall in love” – a reality that is directly related to both my issues and to the fact that my “road gets narrower.”  I am actually not sure I am ever going to choose to dive in head first again – because I am don’t think that is part of a healthy, realistic relationship.  However by owning that I have that choice, I can play with the energy of falling “in love” while exploring the pool / learning to Love someone as a person in reality rather than just casting her in the role of the princess of my dream.  I can act as if, treat the other person as if, I am “in love” with her in the moment, while still staying grounded in reality enough to have boundaries and not lose myself in the illusion that the dream of happily ever after has come true.

In my personal process, my terror of intimacy was so huge that it has taken years of pealing away layers to discover pockets of black and white thinking that were blocking me from being available to explore a romantic relationship.  One of the gifts to me of this web site – and especially the processing I have done in my Joy2MeU Journal – is that it has brought me to the point where recently I have been getting to play with the magical energy of “in love” while learning about giving and receiving Love in relating to a woman in recovery.  The processing that I did in those May 2001 Newsletter pages peeled off a huge layer – as did subsequent processing first in July of 2002 and then in October and November of last year.  More will be revealed about whether this relationship opportunity will continue and/or where it will take me, but it has led to breakthrough after breakthrough in my process of learning to open up to Love.  It has been / is a magnificent gift in my life.

By learning:  to separate my self worth from emotional attachment to another person;  to separate the emotional truth of my childhood from the emotional energy of Truth which is my intuition;  to see romance and love from a more realistic, adult, recovery perspective;  to recognize the reactions coming from the magical thinking romantic part of me so that I don’t deny reality in my desire to have the dream come true;  are all areas where learning to practice discernment has helped me to make major progress in getting past my terror of intimacy.

As I have stated elsewhere in my writing, in every relationship break up that I have ever dealt with, it was letting go of the illusion / dream of the relationship that caused more grief than letting go of the actual person.  We want the dream so desperately that we deny and rationalize abuse and deprivation in a relationship – blame the other person or blame our self – and sometimes settle for the illusion of not being alone.  We hold onto the dream – deny and rationalize the reality of the relationship – because of the desperate loneliness of the wounded child within us.  Separating the dream from the person can help us to see more clearly – can help us to let go.

It was not possible to become an empowered, conscious co-creator in my life until I could see my self and my issues with more clarity – until I could start to separate the different issues and levels of those issues.  As long as my self worth was bound up in the outcome of a relationship, it was necessary for me to try to control that relationship – to try to manipulate the other person to live up to the role I had cast her in as the princess who could turn me from a frog into a prince.  As long as my inner child terror of abandonment, betrayal, and rejection was involved in determining my perspective of a relationship, the thought of the relationship ending felt life threatening.  Until I could start separating the reality of romantic relationship from my fairy tale of what a relationship “should” be – I was incapable of having a healthy romantic relationship.

I realized early in my recovery, that I had a pattern in my human relationships – friendships as well as romance – of sacrificing my self and my needs in the now for illusion of connection.  With a woman whom I was romantically attracted to, I sacrificed my self for the “potential” of the future, the possibility that she would be the princess who could transport me to happily ever after.

No one can transport me to “happily ever after” because there is no happily ever after in these bodies on this plane of existence.  It is not part of the reality of this human experience we are having.  The reality is that a romantic relationship takes a lot of hard work and willingness to work through issues that come up.  It is not a destination, it is the start of a new chapter in our life adventure, a new stage of our journey.  It is an opportunity for growth and healing.  We do not get to know how long any particular stage of our journey is going to last – and if we try to make it into what we think it “should” be, we miss out on experiencing what it is.  By letting go of the destination and being present in the moment, we can “Love as if we have never been hurt” – some of the time.

“The more you do your healing and follow your Spiritual path the more moments of each day you will have the choice to Truly be present the moment.

And in the moment you can make a choice to embrace and feel the Joy fully and completely and with Gusto.

In any specific moment you will have the power to make a choice to feel the Love in that moment as if you have never been hurt and as if the Love will never go away.” – A Wedding Prayer / Meditation on Romantic Commitment

I cannot stress enough how important it is, how empowering it is, to start to see life as it is and learn to make the best of it – instead of allowing false beliefs about life and love to cause us to be blocked from learning to Love our self.  We were emotionally traumatized in childhood and programmed with a bunch of false beliefs that cause us to have an appropriate and unavoidable fear of taking the risk of loving and losing.  Discernment is a key to learning how to move through that fear so that we can take the risk of Loving

Learning to separate feeling hurt from blame and shame – so that we can stop beating our self up for having our hearts broken;  learning to see life, our self, and other people more clearly so that we don’t deny reality in our quest for the dream;  learning to own and release the grief from our childhood and our adult life so that we can be present in our own skins in the moment instead of reacting out of regret for the past or fear of the future;  learning to see life as a journey of growth and healing, of experiencing and learning, instead of as a test we can fail;  are all parts of the process of learning to give and receive Love.

It was vital for me to stop buying into the belief that I was a victim:  of love;  of deprivation;  in romantic relationships – so that I could stop allowing fear to run my life.

“Love as we have been programmed to understand the concept, is one of the great victimizers in our culture – and one of the biggest excuses for unhealthy behavior. 

Whenever someone I have been working with answers the question “Why do you stay?” – in a relationship that is abusive or with someone who is unavailable – with the line “because I love him/her,”  my response is “No, what is the real reason.”  Because the “love” is never the bottom line.  The bottom line is always fear.  Fear of being alone, of not being able to support self, of never having another relationship, of getting in a worse relationship, etc. 

If we are living life in reaction to fear, we are being victims – and there is no chance of us being healthy in a relationship if we are making our choices in reaction to fear.”  –  Healthy Relationships – Part 6, Romantic Love as a Concept

We will always feel fear – the key is to not allow fear to define and dictate our lives for us.  That is why it is so important to have a spiritual belief system that gives us the courage and faith to move forward in life and in Love.  We need to enlarge our perspective of life so that we can separate Truth from false beliefs in order to open up to accessing the Love that is our True nature.

The more we enlarge our perspective, the closer we get to the cause instead of just dealing with the symptoms.  For example, the more we look at the dysfunction in our relationship with ourselves as human beings the more we can understand the dysfunction in our romantic relationships.

Sophisticated Discernment

When I refer to the sophistication of the online book I have been writing for the past year, it is primarily the levels of discernment that I discuss in that work that I am referencing.

“I do not have any idea at this time when I will be writing the new chapters for the beginning of this book, or how many more chapters I will be adding at the end – as I say, to be revealed.  I just felt that it was time to begin this separation because as written, the chapters from 3 onward took on a whole new tone and focus than the first two had.  It has been obvious to me for quite awhile that they were different works.  Now the process of separating them has begun.  Another ironic note since separation is one of the themes in this online book.  As the detachment section of this Author’s Foreword states: 

“One of those paradoxes is that in order to get in touch with our ONENESS with everything, we must first be able to define our self as separate from others.  And in order to become an integrated whole being, we must first separate and own all of the different parts of our self within.”

In Book 2, I discuss the importance of separation on multiple levels in regard to a number of different issues, including:  separating ego strength from self worth and separating our feelings of self worth from our emotional relationships to external sources.” – Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life Author’s Foreword

Learning to separate our feelings of self worth from our emotional relationships to external sources is a complicated and complex process that involves reprograming our ego defenses to align with how life really works instead of how we learned it worked in childhood.  The attitudes, definitions, and beliefs we learned in childhood have been dictating our perspective and expectation of life – have been the determining factor in our relationships and emotional reactions to life.  In recovery we need to be willing to take a clear look at all of those attitudes and beliefs in order to change our perspectives and relationships.

One of the reasons that our perception of, and relationship with this life business has been so out-of-balance is that we have lacked the ability to discern between different levels.  The twisted, distorted perspective of life that humans have evolved is, in part at least, the result of trying to apply the Truths of one level to the reality of another. . . . . .

. . . . . . So we have four levels, perspectives, on which “happily ever after” is a concept that contains at least some Truth.  However, applying that Truth to the physical plane in the form of believing that you will achieve “happily ever after” when you get married or find your mate is obviously a false and dysfunctional belief that has resulted from human inability to discern between levels.

Human beings have also tried to apply realities of the physical level to the Spiritual level with the disastrous result that humans have come up with an image of the God-Force that fights wars.  This image of the God-Force, with the characteristics of a war-like male, is completely out of balance because it is not the image of a balanced male warrior – it is the image of a male with no feminine side.

In Chapter 14 I talk about separating the Metaphysical power of the name, message, and symbolism of the Master Teacher Jesus Christ from the angry, vengeful, Old Testament male image of god that is at the foundation of so much of the war we see manifesting in our world today.  In Chapter 15 I talk about the masculine feminine imbalance that has dominated human evolution on this planet and how the message of Love taught by Jesus brought feminine energy into the concept of god in Western Civilization.  I also point out how this is one of those good news / bad news situations.  It is bad news because people that are stuck in black and white thinking don’t have the capacity to pick the baby out of the bathwater – thus truth is seen as a question of right and wrong, us versus them.  Some people feel the resonance of Truth in the message of Love and accept the dirty bathwater with the baby – while others reject the shame and judgment and throw out both.  I used to throw out both because of the shame based religion I grew up in.  My recovery helped me to find the wisdom to separate and discern so I could pick the baby out of the bathwater.  The wisdom to discern the difference is the key to balance, inner peace, and freedom.

The teachings of all the Master Teachers, of all the world’s religions, contain some Truth along with a lot of distortions and lies.  Discerning Truth is often like recovering treasure from shipwrecks that have been sitting on the ocean floor for hundreds of years – the grains of Truth, the nuggets of gold, have become encrusted with garbage over the years.

In the process of escaping from my black and white thinking and trying to discover a Spiritual belief system that supported the belief that I was Lovable and worthy, I was led to question any belief that didn’t support Love and my intuitive belief that we are all ONE.

In my personal recovery, I found that I needed a Spiritual container large enough to allow for the possibility that I was not a defective, shameful being.  I searched until I found some logical, rational means to explain life in a way that would allow me to start letting go of the shame I was carrying and start learning how to be Loving to myself. – Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light   Chapter 14 Spiritual Manifesto

The bottom line for me in my quest to find a concept of a Higher Power that could Love me can be summed up in a couple of places I quoted myself in Chapter 12Codependency in New Age Movement. 

“What matters are questions like:  How does this information apply to my healing process today?;  How can this message help me see myself more clearly?;  Can the information help me to forgive myself and be more Loving to myself?;  Is the information and the way it is being presented about Love – does it support Love or is it empowering separation?” – The True Nature of Love part 6 – Twin Souls, Souls Mates, and Kindred Spirits

“There is Truth in all religions, spiritual belief systems, esoteric practices, etc. – but there is also twisted, distorted misinformation in them all. . . . . If our intellectual paradigm is limited, then we cannot see and hear clearly.  If our emotional wounds are being allowed to unconsciously run our lives then we are incapable of Truly understanding our intuition.” – My Spiritual Belief System and the New Millennium

The bottom line to my message in the Spiritual Manifesto of Chapter 14, is that the meaning and purpose of life is Spiritual.  We are on a journey to reconnecting with Love – to learning how to Love our self so that we can open up Loving, and being Loved by, other human beings – by our neighbors.

The reason that we have not been Loving our neighbor as ourselves is because we have been doing it backwards.  We were taught to judge and feel ashamed of ourselves.  We were taught to hate ourselves for being human.

We are here to learn to Love ourselves so that we can Truly Love our neighbors.  We’ve been doing it backwards:  hating our neighbors like we hate ourselves.

It is kind of a cosmic joke, see.  We have been taught that we are human and that it is bad and shameful, and that we have to somehow earn the right to be Spiritual.  The Truth is that we already are Spiritual and there is nothing bad or shameful about “being human.”

We are Spiritual Beings having a human experience.  We are here to experience feelings and touch and Love.  The goal of the healing process is not to reach someplace where we are above all the human experiences and feelings. We are here to feel these feelings.

As I say at the end of that chapter:

“It is certainly not necessary for you to agree with my beliefs – but please for the Love of Jesus (or Allah, or The Goddess, or Jehovah, or whatever name resonates for you as a representation of a Loving Higher Power) and for your self, question any belief you are carrying that is blocking you from opening up to Love.” – Chapter 15 Spiritual Manifesto

Love is our quest.  Recovery from codependency – the inner child healing work – is a path to reconnecting with Love, to learning to give and receive Love.  It is a terrifying, painful, Joyous, fascinating, awe inspiring journey.  I recommend in highly. 😉 ~ Robert 7-7-03” – Joy2MeU Update Newsletter 2 June 2003

Sacred Spiral

The 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 the rest of a page on Loving and Losing that I first published in July 2005.   The page both were taken from is 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 discussion about being alone and loneliness that continues in Newsletter Discernment Part 1).

In that Update and the Newsletters I was talking about the latest chapters in the online book I was publishing at that time.   The sophisticated discernment was referring to that work: Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life – which is part of Dancing in Light a 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.”

Joy2MeU Journal Logo

Joy2MeU Journal

There are 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.

Special offers for either / or both subscription areas of my site are on this sale pageFor the rest of July 2020, I am offering a free subscription to either The Joy2MeU Journal or the Dancing in Light sections of my website to anyone who emails me at joy2robert7@gmail.com

Due to the pandemic I am now offering myA Empowering & Life Changing Workshop on Zoom. An Intensive Training in Robert Burney’s Spiritual Integration Formula for Inner Healing / Codependency Recovery / Inner Child Healing – on Zoom – https://www.joy2meu2.com/workshop-zoom 

 

Chapter 3: Emotional honesty

We learned about life as children and it is necessary to change the way we intellectually view life 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 is serving us – or if it is setting us up to be victims because we are expecting life to be something which it is not.

(Text in this color is used for quotes from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls)

In the course of writing this article – which seems to be turning into another online book – I realized that though I talk a lot about the importance of emotional honesty in my work, I probably do not give a lot of down to earth, easily understood examples of what the term means to me.  So, I decided to start this Chapter 3 with an example. 

It was focusing on the dynamic of expectations that was the key for me in starting to get emotionally honest with myself.  Starting to understand the cause and effect relationship between my emotional reactions and my expectations was essential for me to start understanding why my relationship with life was so dysfunctional.  I, of course, in my codependency, had swung between the extremes of feeling, and believing, that it was all my fault because of my shameful defective being – and being angry and resentful at other people, the system, something or someone external to my being. 

The twelve step recovery application of the disease model in the treatment of alcoholism – the concept that I had been powerless over my past behaviors because I had a disease – helped me to take enough shame out of my perspective of myself to start seeing my life with a little bit of objectivity.  The spiritual approach of the twelve step program – that there is a Power greater than myself that is on my side, The Force is with me – helped me to shift my intellectual paradigm enough to start to see life as something other than a test I could fail by doing it “wrong.”  The definition of insanity that I heard in my first days of recovery – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results – caused me to start focusing on cause and effect. 

It was the concept of powerlessness that led me to start becoming empowered to take responsibility for my life.  Instead of viewing life through a perspective that was black and white – either I had to be perfect or I was shameful – I was able to start to see what my part had been in how painful and miserable my life experience had been.  How I had some responsibility – how I was creating cause in my life that had negative consequences – but that it did not mean that there was something inherently wrong with me.  I started seeing that my relationship with life was dysfunctional, was not working, and that I could take some action to change that relationship.

Insane Expectations – Road Rage

The specific area that opened me up to a new perspective on my insanity, was starting to understand what my part was in the road rage I was experiencing driving on the streets and freeways of Los Angeles.  Looking at the cause and effect relationship between my expectations and the rage I was feeling at all the stupid blankety blank drivers in Southern California greatly accelerated my process of becoming emotionally honest with myself – and opening up my mind to a Spiritual Awakening, a paradigm shift in consciousness.

“There is an old joke about the difference between a neurotic and a psychotic. The psychotic truly believes that 2 + 2 = 5.  The neurotic knows that it is 4 but can’t stand it.  That was the way I lived most of my life, I could see how life was but I couldn’t stand it.  I was always feeling like a victim because people and life were not acting in the way I believed they “should” act.

I expected life to be different than it is.  I thought if I was good and did it “right” then I would reach ‘happily ever after.’  I believed that if I was nice to people they would be nice to me.  Because I grew up in a society where people were taught that other people could control their feelings, and vise versa, I had spent most of my life trying to control the feelings of others and blaming them for my feelings.

By having expectations I was giving power away.  In order to become empowered I had to own that I had choices about how I viewed life, about my expectations.  I realized that no one can make me feel hurt or angry – that it is my expectations that cause me to generate feelings of hurt or anger.  In other words, the reason I feel hurt or anger is because other people, life, or God are not doing what I want them, expect them, to do.

I had to learn to be honest with myself about my expectations – so I could let go of the ones that were insane (like, everyone is going to drive the way I want them to), and own my choices – so I could take responsibility for how I was setting myself up to be a victim in order to change my patterns.  Accept the things I cannot change – change the things I can.”  Serenity and Expectations – intimately interrelated

Expecting other drivers to drive the way I think they “should” is absolutely, incredibly insane.  Talk about egotistical and arrogant.  I, being an excellent driver myself (how many people do you know that don’t think they are excellent drivers?), knew how people should drive – I was right and anyone who didn’t drive the way I thought they “should” was wrong.  I felt extremely, righteously justified in ranting and raving and cussing out other drivers – sometimes cutting them off and giving them the finger, while wishing I had a laser mounted on the roof of my car so that I could just vaporize them.  Luckily, this was in the days before people started shooting each other on the Freeways, or I may not have ever made it into recovery.  Actually, this was something I continued to do into my first few years of recovery.

Detaching enough to look with some objectivity at how I was relating to driving a car in L. A., allowed me to awaken to how insane it was to allow my emotions to be dictated by such a ridiculous expectation.  Then I was also able to look at my emotional reactions and get in touch with how dishonest I was being emotionally in relationship to other drivers.

What I came to understand about my emotional experience of driving, was that one of two things was happening.  One was, that other drivers were scaring me.  The way they were driving – either too slow or too fast, cutting me off, swerving back and forth between lanes, etc. – was causing an actual fear of survival reaction.  That kind of primal human emotional response that is generated by a sudden loud noise or any perception of a threat of physical harm.

When something scared me, and I reacted to the fear with anger – that was emotionally dishonest.  I wasn’t owning my true feelings.  In reaction to the jolt of fear energy that shot through me, I became the angry, self righteous victim of the other drivers “idiocy.”  The reality that this happened almost every time I drove on the freeway, just proved to me how many idiots there were out there – because I was relating to the experience from a victim perspective.  It was impossible for me to have any serenity because I was giving other drivers the power to throw me into anger – which often triggered the suppressed rage I was carrying at how unfair, unjust, and painful life was.

Once I started to look at what my part was in those emotional reactions, at how I was setting myself up with my expectations, then I could start to take responsibility for changing that which I have the power to change.  I learned to accept the thing I cannot change – other drivers – and change the thing I can, my attitude towards other drivers.  It was when I realized that this anger was emotionally dishonest, and what my part in empowering that emotional reaction was, that I was able to start taking back the power over my feelings that I was giving to those “idiots.”

After that, when something another driver did scared me, I would own the fear.  I would say out loud, “That scared me.”  Then I would say a prayer for the other driver.  I would ask that the other driver be helped to become happy, joyous, and free (knowing that the process of them opening up to that possibility would involve having their denial ripped away so they were not so unconscious – a prayer both Spiritually aligned and humanly selfish 😉 – and would offer up the incident as an amends for one of the thousands of times I had done something while driving that scared other drivers.

(During my years pursuing an acting career in Hollywood – the role of suffering artist being perfect for both my alcoholism / addiction and my codependent martyrdom – I lived out the romantic vision of the struggling actor by making my living by waiting tables and parking cars and driving a taxi.  Driving a cab for several years – often stoned – really built up the number of driving amends I owe.  Seeing those incidents as Karmic – what goes around comes around – also played a part in helping me to stop buying into the belief I was being unfairly victimized on the freeway.)

The second thing that I realized was happening, had to do with fear also.  This was the fear that caused me to try to control life.  That fear caused me to be very self obsessed.  I was getting angry because those people were getting in my way.  The immature, self centered perspective of life which was dictating my relationship with life, caused me to think and act as if I was the only person who was important.  I reacted out of an ego selfishness that told me these idiots should get out of my way because I had places to go and things to do that were much more important than anything they were doing.

This ego driven, self centered fear was directly related – both as cause and effect – to my unconsciousness, my inability to be present in the moment.  I was always caught up in the past or the future, and related to driving in traffic as a great inconvenience that was slowing me down. (Which, also, sometimes led to me driving too fast and cutting between lanes.)

The society I grew up in taught me that reaching the destination was what I should focus upon, was the thing that was vitally important.  I was always striving to reach the destination where I would be fixed, where I would be respected and loved.  When I reached that destination (college degree, fame and fortune, the right relationship, the Academy Award, etc.) then I would live “happily ever after.”

I was forever in pursuit – either of the illusive “happily ever after,” or for something to distract me from, or kill the pain of, feeling defective because I had not already reached the destination.  I was always bouncing between the extremes:  trying to figure out how to control my life, how to do the “right” things, to get “there” – or working on going unconscious (with alcohol, drugs, obsession, rumination, food, whatever) to escape the pain of being “here.”  Being “here,” being present in the moment in my own skin, was too painful because I had a dysfunctional relationship with my own emotions – and was carrying a ton of suppressed grief energy.

And it was so painful emotionally because the subconscious intellectual paradigm that was dictating my relationship with self and life, was insane, delusional, and dysfunctional.  I could never relax and enjoy life (without some chemical help, either from a substance or from an illusion/fantasy about love or success that would affect my brain chemistry) because wherever my life was at that point – according to the critical parent voice in my head – was not good enough and was my fault, or their fault.  I was always feeling like a victim. (Empowerment and Victimization – the power of choice)

I needed to start letting go of that destination programming and start learning how to be in the moment.  To actually be present and conscious while driving my car.  (What a concept!)  To start relating to driving as being a perfect part of my journey, a classroom – a wonderful arena for Spiritual growth.

When the rush hour traffic was disrupting my plans of getting someplace by a certain time, I would practice my Spiritual program.  I would take some deep breaths to get into, and conscious of, my body.  Then I would thank the Universe for this wonderful opportunity to practice patience and acceptance.  I would take some steps to let go of the urgency I felt – the inner child’s fear of doing it “wrong,” the feeling that the world would come to an end if things did not go the way I had planned them.  I would remind myself that life was a journey, and that this moment was a perfect part of that journey.  I would talk to my inner children and tell them it was okay – that if I was going to be late, that was a perfect part of God’s plan.  I would let go of my picture of how I thought things have to unfold for me to be okay.  I would affirm that I am Unconditionally Loved and am being guided on my journey.

I would look around me, to see if there was something the Goddess wanted me to see – and that perhaps, was the reason I was stuck in traffic.  I would remind myself that it was possible that this delay was really a wonderful gift.  That perhaps because I was being delayed:  I would not be in a traffic accident later that day:  or the timing would be perfect for me to run into someone I needed to see, that without the delay I would have missed;  or something to that effect.

I would remind myself that I am not in control of life, I am not writing the script, so:

I need to surrender the illusion that I am in control;
remember that I have a Loving Higher Power who is in control;
and be willing to accept reality as it was being presented to me, and take whatever action I could to make the best of the situation – to align with God’s will so I could flow with the Universal plan.  (Work steps 1, 2, & 3 – the dance of recovery.)

That action may just be to relax, be in the moment, and do some prayer and meditation (talk and listen to The Great Spirit – which can certainly include expressing my irritation for the delay.)  The action may be to figure out an alternate route, get off the freeway at the next opportunity and take surface streets – but not with that feeling of life and death urgency, rather with sense of adventure.  “This is an interesting twist, let’s see how this unfolds.”

I started to learn to take responsibility for my feelings – to own the things I have some control over.  Learning how to be emotionally honest with myself allowed me to start becoming empowered to take responsibility for my life and stop empowering insane expectations.  By focusing on letting go of the belief in victimization that was caused by my attitudes and perspectives – the mental level of my being – I could greatly decrease the feelings of victimization, the amount of emotional energy that was being generated on an emotional level.  I still had some feelings of being victimized, but I could be nurturing and Loving in relationship to those feelings – and set some Loving boundaries with my inner children who were reacting out of the immediate gratification urgency of a child.  (I am just going to die if I don’t get what I want!)

I learned to develop an observer self – a mature, recovering adult with a Spiritual perspective – that could tell the critical parent voice to shut up with all the shame and fear messages, and assure my inner children that everything was going to be okay because there is a Higher Power in charge of my life. (Learning to Love our self)

Twisted and Distorted is the Dance of the Emotional Cripple

We are set up to be emotionally dysfunctional by our role models, both parental and societal.  We are taught to repress and distort our emotional process.  We are trained to be emotionally dishonest when we are children.

Early in my recovery, it was vital for me to start realizing how emotionally crippled I had been by the role modeling and messages I had experienced growing up in an emotionally dishonest and dysfunctional culture.  I had to become conscious of how dysfunctional my relationship with my own emotions was, in order to start healing the dysfunction in my relationship with my self and life.

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.

In order to find out who we are, we have to start being emotionally honest with ourselves.  And in order to be emotionally honest with ourselves, we have to start changing our perspective on our own emotional process.

As a child, I learned from the role modeling of my father that the only emotion that a man felt was anger.  From my mother, whose definition of love included the belief that you cannot be angry at someone you love, I learned that it was not okay to be angry at anyone I loved.  That left me with very little permission to feel anything.  That did not mean that I did not have feelings – it meant that I was at war with my own emotions, that I could not be honest with myself about having them.  As long as I could not be honest with myself emotionally there was no way I could know who I was.  Until I started owning the grief and rage from my childhood, the sadness and hurt and fear that I had denied all of my life, I was incapable of being honest with myself, incapable of knowing who I Truly was.

I remember very distinctly the thoughts I had in one of my first AA meetings when several people at a podium spoke of being afraid.  My thought was, “Who are these people – talking so much about being afraid.  I was never afraid.  They stuck guns in my face and it didn’t scare me.”

I did not have permission from my self to acknowledge that I felt fear, because I had learned growing up that real men do not feel fear.  I was emotionally crippled because I did not have permission to own my fear – or my pain or sadness.  I had no permission to be emotionally vulnerable – “weak.”  So, like the manly man I was trained to be, instead of owning that I was afraid or hurt, I got angry.

The Truth, as I soon came to understand it, is that I had really been scared of everyone and everything.  I was scared because I knew I was not perfect, and I was sure that other people would discover what a shameful loser I was.  Scared that I would fail the life test – that I would never reach “happily ever after.”  Afraid that I would never find someone to Love me.  The little boy inside of me was scared that god would punish me for being unworthy – scared of being condemned to burn in hell forever.

While pursuing an acting career, I would pontificate to other actors, sharing my wisdom about the key to building a true character – which was to understand the characters gut level fears.  I maintained that all people were driven by their gut levels fears, and that any other levels of motivation were in reaction to that level of fear.  I was a very good actor.  I could really make characters come alive because of my insights into the human emotional process.  However, I personally was not afraid of anything.

Talk about emotional dishonesty.  The power of denial is truly awesome.  I could see other people with some degree of clarity, but I did not have a clear perspective of my my self.

What is so insidious about codependency, is that it is entrenched in our core relationship with self and life.  The intellectual paradigm that determines our perspective of our self – and therefore how we behave in relationship to life and other people – is subconscious until we get into recovery and start becoming conscious enough to stop being the victim of false beliefs, of delusional and insane expectations.  Until we start becoming conscious, we are powerless over our behavior because we cannot see our self with any objectivity.  Since the only choices in the polarized perspective of life (that was imposed upon me in childhood) were right or wrong – and wrong was shameful – my ego tried to protect me from the toxic shame I felt at the core of my being with denial and rationalization.

To own the incredible pain and shame I felt at the core of my being, the self hatred I felt towards myself for being imperfect and unlovable, felt like a threat to my survival.  So, my ego kept me in denial of any feelings which were not acceptable to the perspective of being a man I learned in childhood.

The subconscious beliefs that were dictating my relationship with self, told me that fear was not an acceptable emotion for a man – so I had to deny that I had any fear.  My subconscious intellectual paradigm, the beliefs that were defining my relationship with my own gender and emotions, severely limited my perspective of myself.

As long as I had a distorted and twisted perspective of my own emotions it was impossible to see my self with any clarity.  I was powerless to understand my self and my behaviors until I started to get emotionally honest with my self.  It is not possible for a person to be honest in relationships until they start getting emotionally honest in their relationship with self.

Control and fear – thinking to avoid feeling

Attempts to control are a reaction to fear.  I attempted to control life because I was so afraid.  As I explain in my book Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls, human beings have been doing life backwards due to a condition of reversity in the planetary energy field of Collective Human Emotional Consciousness.  One of the effects of this condition, is living life focused externally – trying to control things over which we have no control – while simultaneously judging and shaming ourselves because the way we are living life is not working.

I spent most of my life doing the Serenity prayer backwards, that is, trying to change the external things over which I had no control – other people and life events mostly – and taking no responsibility (except shaming and blaming myself) for my own internal process – over which I can have some degree of control.  Having some control is not a bad thing; trying to control something or somebody over which I have no control is what is dysfunctional.  It was very important for me to start learning how to recognize the boundaries of where I ended and other people began, and to start realizing that I can have some control over my internal process in ways that are not shaming and judgmental – that I can stop being the victim of myself.

I had to deny any emotions that were not acceptable to my subconscious programming in order to feel that I had some control of my life.  Since the only acceptable emotion to the definition of being a man I had learned growing up was anger – and even anger was only acceptable to feel in relationship to other men – I had to deny almost all of my feelings.

As a child I had to learn to disassociate, to not be present in the moment in my own skin, because the emotional pain was too great.  The primary way I learned to be unconscious early on was to be in my head to avoid the feelings.  Later on, I would use drugs and alcohol to escape being present “here” – in my body in the moment – but even then being in my head was my primary defense against feeling my feelings.

I would fantasize, intellectualize, and analyze.  I would focus on something or someone outside of myself – and was always caught up in the past or future.  I was not capable of being present in my own skin in the moment because it was not okay to feel my feelings.  Because I was living in so much fear – at the same time I could not acknowledge that I felt any fear – I had to put a great deal of energy into denying that fear.

I would escape from my emotional reality by thinking about the future – creating grandiose fantasies of a positive nature (rehearsing my Academy Award acceptance speech, or fantasizing about the unavailable woman I was currently obsessing about) or of a negative nature (worry, impending doom, financial insecurity) – or ruminating on the past, either beating myself up for something “stupid” I said or did, or wallowing in resentment and self pity about how someone had victimized me.  This is very dysfunctional because it generates more emotional energy.

“Worry is negative fantasizing.  It is a fantasy that is being created in reaction to feeling fear.  It is not real – it is something that is being created because my mind has slipped into the old familiar rut of right and wrong thinking.  Worry is not a feeling – it is a reaction, an negative emotional state, that is created by the perspectives of a belief system that empowers illusions like failure.  The sooner that we can pull ourselves out of that rut and start seeing the situation as part of a learning process – shift back into a recovery perspective – the less negative emotional response we will generate in relationship to the situation.

Emotions do not have value in and of themselves – they just are.  What gives emotions value is how we react to them.  We were programmed to react negatively to emotions and adapted defenses to try to keep from feeling emotional energy.  Being in our head worrying about the past or the future, is a defense against being in our own skin and feeling our feelings.  But it is dysfunctional – it does not work.  Reacting negatively to our feelings generates more feelings.   The more we worry, the more fear we generate. . . . . . .

When I catch myself worrying then I know that I am not being emotionally honest with myself.  Worry is a symptom that tells me I am avoiding some feelings.” – Discernment in relationship to emotional honesty and responsibility 2

In order to start getting emotionally honest with myself, I had to start becoming aware of the ways in which I was avoiding my feelings.  I learned to observe myself so that I could be conscious enough to catch myself when I was thinking to try to avoid feeling.

I realized that any time I was worrying about “what if,” or fantasizing about “if only,” or obsessing about a woman or the outcome of a situation, it was sign that I was being dishonest with myself emotionally.  I started to become aware of all the ways I had been taught by society to keep my feelings at bay.  The ways I talked and thought that helped me stay in denial of my feelings.

“Emotions are energy.  Actual physical energy that is manifested in our bodies.  Emotions are not thoughts – they do not exist in our mind.  Our mental attitudes, definitions, and expectations can create emotional reactions, can cause us to get stuck in emotional states – but thoughts are not emotions.  The intellectual and emotional are two distinctly separate though intimately interconnected parts of our being.  In order to find some balance, peace, and sanity in recovery it is vitally important to start separating the emotional from the intellectual and to start setting boundaries with, and between, the emotional and mental parts of our self. . . . . .

. . . . . . . I had to become aware that there were such things as emotions that lived in my body and then I had to start learning how to recognize and sort them out.  I had to become aware of all the ways that I was trained to distance myself from my feelings.  I am going to mention a few of them here to help any of you reading this in your process of becoming emotionally honest.

Speaking in the third person.  One of the defenses many of us have against feeling our feelings is to speak of ourselves in the third person.  “You just kind of feel hurt when that happens” is not a personal statement and does not carry the power of speaking in the first person.  “I felt hurt when that happened” is personal, is owning the feeling.  Listen to yourself and to others and become aware of how often you hear others and yourself refer to self in the third person.

Avoiding using primary feeling words.  There are only a handful of primary feelings that all humans feel.  There is some dispute about just how many there are primary but for our purpose here I am going to use seven.  Those are: angry, sad, hurt, afraid, lonely, ashamed, and happy.  It is important to start using the primary names of these feelings in order to own them and to stop distancing ourselves from the feelings.  To say “I am anxious” or “concerned” or “apprehensive” is not the same as saying “I am afraid.”  Fear is at the root of all those other expressions but we don’t have to be so aware of our fear if we use a word that distances us from fear.  Expressions like “confused,”  “irritated,” “upset,” “tense,” “disturbed,” “melancholy,” “blue,” “good,” or “bad” are not primary feeling words.

Emotions are energy that is meant to flow: E – motion = energy in motion.  Until we own it, feel it and release it, it cannot flow.  By blocking and repressing our emotions we are damming up our internal energy and that will eventually result in some physical or mental manifestation such as cancer or Alzheimer’s disease or whatever. – The Journey to the Emotional Frontier Within

Someone could ask me if I was afraid, and I would respond, “No, I’m not afraid.  A little concerned perhaps, but certainly not afraid.”  Saying, “I am feeling some fear.” is a quite different energetic experience from saying, “I am a bit apprehensive.”  Naming and claiming the feeling is an important part of emotional honesty.  There is power in the way we express ourselves.  It is very important to start becoming aware of the emotional energy in our bodies.  In order to be present in our own skins in the moment, it is necessary to be consciously in touch with our feelings.

There was no way that I could start changing the way I was relating to life until I started to own my fear.  Fear is not a bad thing – just as sadness, pain, and anger are not negative or bad in and of themselves.  Emotions are a vital part of our being that need to be owned, honored, and respected.  Denial and repression of emotions is what leads to negative consequences.

Emotions have a purpose, a very good reason to be – even those emotions that feel uncomfortable.  Fear is a warning, anger is for protection, tears are for cleansing and releasing.  These are not negative emotional responses!  We were taught to react negatively to them.  It is our reaction that is dysfunctional and negative, not the emotion.

Human beings have a fear of the unknown for a reason.  It is part of our survival programming.  Because I did not have permission to own my fear, I was very out of balance emotionally.  It was impossible for me to own that I had fear and still feel that I had worth as a man, so the only options I had – according to the subconscious programming of my childhood – were to deny my fear or feel that I was defective as a man.

“Fear is an emotion that exists to serve us.  It provides a warning system to help us be aware of potential danger.  It is appropriate and healthy to be aware when we are driving.  To be conscious of potential threats.  It is important for us to be in touch with our fear so that we can pay attention to it when it sends us a message.

What is not functional is to completely empower fear or to deny it.  The 1 or 10 extremes of the disease.

Emotions are an incredibly powerful and important part of this experience we are having of being human.  Emotions are a vital part of our being – and dictate the quality of our life experience.

“Emotions have two vitally important purposes for human beings.  Emotions are a form of communication.  Our feelings are one of the means by which we define ourselves.  The interaction of our intellect and our emotions determines how we relate to ourselves.

Our emotional energy is also the fuel that propels us down the pathways of our life journey.  E-motions are the orchestra that provide the music for our individual dances – that dictate the rhythmic flow and movement of our human dance.  Our feelings help us to define ourselves and then provide the combustible fuel that dictates the speed and direction of our motion – rather we are flowing with it or damming it up within ourselves. . . . . . .

 . . . . there are two primary transformers from which emotional energy is generated.  Our ego self and our Spiritual Self.  Our ego was traumatized in childhood and programmed very dysfunctionally. The ego is the seat of the disease of codependence.” – Discernment in relationship to emotional honesty and responsibility 2

The ego is the part of us that composed the score and conducts the music for our dance of codependence.  It composed that score based upon the definitions, attitudes and beliefs it adapted in early childhood due to what our emotional experience of being a human child felt like.” – Newsletter part 2 May 2001 Update

Denying my fear was dysfunctional and emotionally dishonest.  Focusing on fear, giving it a great deal of power, is also dysfunctional – and can be immobilizing.  The extremes of the disease of codependency.

In writing the May 2001 Joy2MeU Update just quoted, I shared how I caught myself making a statement that set off alarm bells in my codependency control center – my observer self.  Observing and listening to myself made me aware that my fear of intimacy issues were up to be looked at again.  I subsequently did 3 Newsletter web pages of processing about those issues (and another 3 pages in my journal pages of the Joy2MeU Journal) in which I uncovered a level where I was being emotionally dishonest with myself – and was empowering some black and white thinking.

Recovery is on an ongoing process of uncovering, discovering, and recovering.  We have layer upon layer of wounding – which means layer upon layer of denial, emotional dishonesty, and rationalized perspectives.  We keep peeling another layer of the onion and getting to a deeper level of honesty – both intellectually and emotionally.

June 3rd will mark the 16th anniversary (now 34th) of my codependency recovery.  (The Story of Joy to You & Me )  There are still times when I find the process irritating.  But the benefits have been incredible.  It is through healing my relationship with my self that I have found an incredible inner peace.  That I have learned to be present in the moment – and have some moments of Joy – every day.   Recovery works.

Focusing on the future or the past, blaming them or blaming me, underreacting or overreacting (stuffing my feelings until they exploded forth in ways that made me feel crazy and ashamed,) feeling triumphant over “winning” or wanting to die because I was such a loser, were the rhythms of my dance of codependency.  As long as I was in denial and unconsciously reacting to life I was doomed to “keep doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results.”  Unconsciousness doomed me to ride on a merry go round of cause and effect – never getting anywhere different emotionally.  As long as I was incapable of being emotionally honest with myself, I was doomed to keep repeating the patterns that dictated my emotional reality.

Codependency recovery is the path to finding enough freedom from the past to find happiness and Joy in being alive today.  I highly recommend it. 😉

Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light   Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life   Chapter 3: Emotional honesty

Sacred Spiral with tail pointing to the right signifying going toward.

Codependency 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 is available through my regular website:  Chapter 1:  The codependency movement is NOT ruining marriages!

I have published some other chapters of this work as blogs including:

Chapter 2: Romantic Relationships & Toxic Love ~ Marriage & Divorce

  Chapter 4: False Self Image,  

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

Chapter 7: Multiple levels of selfishness

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 publishing this Chapter 3 as a Blog on the night before the 34th anniversary of my conscious codependency recovery which I count as starting on June 3rd, 1986.  

Due to the Pandemic, I am currently doing my Empowering & Life Changing Workshop in Robert Burney’s Spiritual Integration Formula for Inner Healing / Codependency Recovery / Inner Child Healing on Zoom  There are workshops scheduled for Western Hemisphere, Europe, and for Australia and New Zealand.

 

“easier to be a channel for Love to flow through than a receptacle for Love to flow into.”

I posted my first crude website in February of 1998 – at the urging of a friend in Santa Barbara where I was living at the time.  The following year in February 1999, I launched my own domain Joy2MeU.com,  In Update Newsletters that I started sending out for the first site and continued to do for the second site, I was sharing my recovery process in a pretty intimate level with people who had signed up for my Update Newsletters.

I did this because I felt it was important for me to be a role model that it is okay to be human.  This is something that I talked about in the first Newsletter I sent out on July 1, 1998.

“Another incident also comes to mind.  I had just started in a therapist position at an outpatient chemical dependence program in Van Nuys California a little over 10 years ago.  One evening in a Family Group I was talking about how grateful I was to be in recovery and I teared up – I did not cry, just teared up.  The next week the Clinical Director came marching into our office and needed to talk to me about something he was quite disturbed about.  He proceeded to lecture me about getting emotional in front of the clients – this psychiatrist who was on anti-depressants because he was suicidal over a relationship breakup – warned me to never let it happen again.  I was not far enough along in my recovery at that point to confront him but I do remember thinking to myself – “Then who is supposed to be the role models?”

The thing that was the most damaging to us was the role modeling of the emotionally crippled adults we grew up around – the role modeling is what taught us the dysfunctional definitions of who we are as emotional beings.  It is vitally important, in my opinion, that we have some beings who are willing to role model what emotionally healthy behavior is – which includes being emotionally vulnerable at times.

Traditional therapy/counseling in this society is set up as a one up-one down situation – that is, the therapist is set up as the expert who treats the poor unfortunate patient.  I happen to agree with something Ram Dass once said about this – “If you meet a therapist who thinks you are the patient – run!”

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 had someone in a workshop say to me one time “Boy, you really know this stuff!  You have really studied this, you are kind of like an Olympic athlete or something in this area.”  My immediate reaction – as it so often is – was to react out of my disease: “That’s because I was so sick.”  But then I caught myself and changed it to wounded. All of the old souls who are doing this healing – in my belief – were born at a heart chakra level of consciousness and then had to shut down our hearts.  That is why is hurts so much – we were expecting something kinder and gentler than what we were born into – I have always felt like I was in the wrong place – like someone screwed up in the Transporter room and beamed me to the wrong planet. 

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).” – Newsletter for July 1, 1998 – Joy to You & Me Newsletter I

In October of 2000, I started posting my Update Newsletter online primarily because I didn’t want to send out large emails – and my Updates were increasingly getting longer as I shared my recovery with the people on my mailing list.  That Update Newsletter turned into a two part one that took a deep dive into my fear of intimacy issues.  One of the reason that writing is such a valuable tool in recovery, is that as we write, nuggets of Truth come bobbing to the surface – often in ways that scared me about what I was uncovering.

I had noticed recently that I haven’t posted a new blog since June – and that I hadn’t updated that one in June.  I made a point to commit to getting to writing another blog here at some point – and that point came today, September 4th, 2019.  I updated the June blog about the events in my life starting back in April that started with spilling coffee on my wireless keyboard continued into a opportunity for growth involving my car. (Cars have proven quite a catalyst for growth in my recovery.)

At some point in the time since I committed to doing a new blog, this one from October of 2000 came to my attention, and I realized that it was probably time for me to revisit.  It has some really valuable processing that I am sure many people will find helpful – but as I say in the quote from my first Newsletter above, there is always something that I need to be reminded of when I share my experience, strength, and hope with others.  So, this blog is going to share how this writing uncovered the insight in the title of this blog – and where it led me.  I hope you find it valuable.

Sacred Spiral with tail pointing to the right signifying going toward.

“. . . . the other purpose that evolved for these updates has been to share my process with you.  With my original Joy to You & Me site the Newsletters I sent out became a process sharing space because my recovery was so intimately connected to the evolution of the web site.  As I state in several places on the site, I believe in sharing my experience, strength, and hope.  I also believe that sharing my fear, anger, and pain is an invaluable part of my role as a teacher.  The core of my work is to get across the message that it is not shameful to be human.  In order to do that, it has been necessary for my own recovery, and for my mission to be open and willing to: be vulnerable, to share embarrassing Truth, to demonstrate my own humanity – with it’s resistance, fear, and procrastination.

In my opinion, as long as the teachers and so called experts (in healing, Spiritual enlightenment, recovery, whatever) are “keeping up appearances” they are giving power to the disease.  Without role models that tell us they are human and that it is OK to be human beings involved in an ongoing healing process – then it is possible to interpret their messages of how wonderful their lives have become as validating that there is a destination to be reached and that anybody who hasn’t reached it yet is doing something wrong, is somehow shameful.

My life is indeed wonderful compared to what it was.  I am very grateful and full of wonder at how free I am of the old programming – and at the capacity I have to be happy and peaceful in the moment now, no matter what is happening in the outer circumstances of my life.  But my life doesn’t feel wonderful all of the time.  There is an ongoing process that involves new levels of surrender, new insights, new changes in perspective, etc.

Having the choice to view the part of the glass that is full and be grateful, happy, and peaceful in the moment – at the same time we can have a consciousness, without shame and judgment, that there are still areas where growth is necessary – is what integration and balance are about in my opinion.  The goal of this dance of recovery is to have the capacity to dance with Joy and Love for as many of the moments of today as possible – and also to have the capacity to be Loving and nurturing to ourselves when we are dancing with the fear, pain, and anger that are an inevitable part of this human experience we are having.

So, anyway, my vision at this point is to use the online Newsletter portion of these updates to share my process – which will at times include discussion of the newest articles, additions, and/or news on the web sites – with those of you who want to take the time to go to the web page that this update Newsletter will appear on; and to point those of you who do not have the time or interest in my process at the New page for news of the web sites.

. . . .  In this update Newsletter I am going to be talking about opening to receive good stuff – Love, abundance, Joy – and how much resistance the disease can throw up to try to sabotage things.

To all the Magnificent Spiritual Beings reading this Newsletter,

I had a couple of really wonderful “God-shots” this past Sunday.  “God-shots” are messages that come out of the blue – unexpected surprises that are messages from my Higher Power telling me that I am on the right path, doing what I am supposed to be doing.  (Actually the term God-shot is a term I hadn’t used in quite awhile – and while I was walking by the ocean in the fog earlier today, I decided to use a different term:  Goddess Strokes.  I like this better – a little gentler and more accurately descriptive, not such a macho sounding term. 😉

Goddess strokes can come in a variety of forms.  They can involve seeing a whale or some dolphins, some deer or hawks, at a particularly perfect moment.  This morning I looked out my window as I sat here at my computer, and a hummingbird came flying up and hovered there looking in at me for a moment.  In the Medicine Cards, the hummingbird is a symbol of Joy – and a reminder to me of the goal and the purpose of my path – Joy to you & me.

Goddess strokes can involve the perfect words of a song being the first thing I hear when I start my car.  (Although not recently as my car radio hasn’t worked for a while.)  Or flicking the channels on the TV at the perfect moment to hear the message I need to hear.  Or hearing that perfect message in the middle of a movie, or buried in a book that has nothing to do with healing.  Those messages can come from a billboard beside the road or a snatch of conversation overheard.

The most powerful ones usually come from people.  In person, or through an e-mail – over the phone or in a letter.  Sometimes when I am feeling low, when I am feeling as if my Higher Power has abandoned me, some feedback or message will pop up out of nowhere to remind me why I have chosen this path.  To remind me that I teach best what I most need to learn.  To remind me to surrender to being Unconditionally Loved.

This past Sunday, I did a workshop in Santa Barbara.  I do my workshops there at a Unity Church.  I do them on Sunday so I can set up a table with my books on it in the morning through the two morning services.  Doing workshops, or any speaking in public – or for that matter in private counseling sessions in person or on the phone, or any opportunity to share my experience, strength, and hope – is always a type of Goddess stroke for me anyway.  Anytime I have a chance to speak my Truth, to share the beliefs and knowledge which I so passionately embrace, I get to touch the Divine.  I get to be a channel for Love to flow through.  (One of the things I want to talk about in this Newsletter is that it can be easier to be a channel for Love to flow through than a receptacle for Love to flow into.)

On Sunday, before the reward of reminding people of Truth and Love in the workshop, I got a couple extra gifts.  One had to do with someone I had never met, while the other related to a Mother and daughter that I had worked with.

The person I had never met, was a man who passed on a couple of years ago.  The woman who had been married to him came to my workshop.  I knew her because she contacted me several years ago to get a copy of the audio tape set of my book – and had later come to a workshop or two.  It has probably been a year or so since I had seen her last.   She made a point of telling me several times something that she had told me previously – something that obviously meant a great deal to her.

What she wanted to reiterate to me, was how important my tapes had been to her husband while he was dying.  She had bought the tapes for him because he had a terminal illness.  She told me again how important those tapes were to him, and how he had listened to them over and over again in the last months of his life.   She said they were the only thing he wanted to listen to – and again expressed her gratitude to me for how much my words had helped her husband find peace and serenity while he was in the process of dying.

What a gift!  What an affirmation!  What Joy to be able to be of that kind of service to another human being and his Loved ones. 

She had told me this previously, as I mentioned – and in many ways I had felt the same reaction to her words as I did on Sunday.   I was profoundly grateful for the gift of such positively affirming feedback.  I felt a deep and awesome humility for the gift I have been given of being able to be a channel of Truth and an instrument of Love that can so profoundly touch the lives of other human beings.  I felt a great pride in the fact that I have been willing to do the work and follow my path in such a way as to be available for this kind of service.  I also felt a great deal of Joy.

My reaction to her gratitude was also different in some interesting and subtle ways.  Perhaps because of my growth over the last few years, or maybe because of the intensity and passion with which she conveyed her gratitude, I was conscious in a whole new way, on a much deeper level, of the gift those tapes had been to her.

Watching a Loved one go through any intense experience – and dying certainly qualifies as an intense experience – can in many ways be harder for the one who is observing, than for the person actually going through the experience.  I had not really been fully conscious previously, of how great a gift it must have been for her to have her husband accept and relax into his dying process.  How that must have helped her to flow with the process with a degree of serenity and peace.  I had always previously accepted that she was telling me what a gift my tapes were to her husband – I had never been fully conscious of what she was saying about what a gift they were to her.

A very cool process, this recovery.

The other wonderful Goddess stroke that I received came when a woman, who I had worked with briefly while I was working with her daughter, came up to me to tell me the latest news.  I worked with her daughter for a period of 4 or 5 months in the later part of 1999.  While I was working with her daughter, I convinced her to come in for a few sessions on her own.

Her daughter turned 16 while I was working with her.  She was acting out and rebelling completely.   I never knew what bright, fluorescent color her hair was going to be – or what new body piercing or tattoos she might have – when she came to see me.  She was acting out in very dangerous ways: sexually, with alcohol and drugs, with strange people in dangerous situations.  Her mother was terrified for her and was reacting with anger and attempts to control.  Mother and daughter were stuck in a reactive dynamic that could have been the death of both of them.

The news she had to share with me was how wonderfully her daughter was doing.  How she had finished high school and was in college through scholarships and grants that she had arranged for herself.  How she had lost weight and gone back to her natural hair color.  How when a relationship she was in ended recently, she had responded to her mother’s offer to travel to the city she is in to help her through the emotional crisis by saying, “The little girl in me wants you to come, but I think it is better for me to learn how to go through this on my own.”

Now, is that cool or what?!? 

It sounds like a happy ending – but actually what it is, is a happy new beginning.  They were able to make a transition that ended one chapter of both of their lives – a period where they were totally enmeshed and negatively empowering each other – and started a new healthier beginning to the next chapter of each of their separate but interrelated lives.

The mother needed to let go of the outcome of her daughter’s path, at the same time the daughter needed to let go of punishing her mother for the past so that she could stop reacting and start taking responsibility for her own life choices.

I Love it when people hear what I am teaching them and start applying it in their lives.  It gives me great satisfaction and real Joy to see someone applying the tools that I share with them.  I feel very grateful that I can play a part in helping others to live their lives in a happier, healthier, more Loving and functional way.

Playing a part is all I do however.  I have no control over the outcome either.  I am powerless over rather people hear me.  I am not the one who is responsible for this happy new beginning – any more than I would have been responsible if the daughter had died of a drug overdose and the mother ended up in a mental institution.  If that had been the outcome, it would have been a perfect part of the Divine Plan somehow, some way.

I sure do love the happy new beginnings better than the ones that do not come out so nicely.  I have had to deal with a lot of grief over clients and friends who could not hear.  I also have felt a great deal of Joy when sharing my experience, strength, and hope have proved a benefit to others.

I realized early on in doing therapy, that defining myself by how my clients did was codependent.  I had to learn to let go of the outcome of counseling others.  I had to get real clear that I was powerless over rather anyone else heard me, but I do have the power to choose to listen to myself.  And I do teach best what I need most to learn.

External Validation

In case you are wondering about whether – in the instances above – I was giving too much power to outside validation, I thought I would talk about that a bit.   There is nothing wrong with enjoying validation, affirmation, and recognition from other people or outside sources.  It is if we define ourselves by that outer validation, and think we have to have it to be OK, that we are being codependent.  It is when we jump through hoops in an attempt to get that validation from people that we are being manipulative and dishonest – which is, of course, what many of us learned to do in childhood.

As with all aspects of codependence recovery – it is a question of balance.  Life and recovery occur in the gray area between black and white.  What we are trying to do is maintain some kind of sense of balance in relationship to this dance we are doing.  That involves, as I tried to communicate in the later articles in the Recovery Process for Inner Child Healing series I just finished, being conscious of multiple levels simultaneously – or as close to simultaneously as possible.  And being able to have internal boundaries so that I am choosing how I respond rather than reacting out of the old programming.

Example:  There have been instances, over the years, where I have had the opportunity to be in close proximity to someone that had been a client of mine while they were talking to someone else.  These opportunities have given me a chance to hear the former client use words in describing some aspect of the recovery process – that were the same words I had said to them – as if it were a revelation they had arrived at themselves.  This gives most of me a great deal of satisfaction because I have worked hard over the years to find the best ways of helping people discover the Truth within them in ways that help them not feel dependent on me.  But at the same time, my ego reacts in a negative way saying “hey wait a minute, I told you that.”

In my recovery, I have gradually over the years been able to turn down the voices coming from the ego/from the wounded inner child places/from the disease – and turn up the volume of the small quiet voice of the Spirit.  I have learned how to realign myself with the Spirit instead of giving so much power to the disease – the old wounds and old tapes, the damaged ego.  But if I were to maintain to myself or to you that I never have those reaction, that would be denial.  (That was part of the reason why I did a little ranting in the news addendum to the last Update about a quote from Marianne Williamson that I believe conveyed the message that being a human in process is somehow shameful.)

This is a relative process.  Progress not perfection.  We can gradually increase the percentage of the time our conscious awareness, our attitudes and mental focus, are aligned with recovery instead of with the disease.  We do not get to wipe out the old ways of thinking and emotional reactions completely – what we do is gradually disempower them.

I can remember a time in the spring of 1989 when I raged at God about how sick I was of the recovery process.  I said something to the effect that I was sick of only being relatively happy – the great tool in recovery where we stop and force ourselves to focus on the part of the glass that is full and be grateful, instead of giving power to the disease’s focus on the part that is empty and feeling like a victim – and that I wanted to be happy without having to compare where I am now to how bad it used to be.

It was about a year later, that one day I realized that I had crossed a line someplace along my path.  That I had shifted my relationship with life enough that my life was now more aligned with Recovery than with the disease, that my life was more defined by Joy, Love, and peace than by anger, pain, and fear.  That I was having moments where I was just happy to be alive period – without having to force myself to look at the relative improvement.

Forcing ourselves to own the power to change our attitudes from negative to positive, working at learning to align with Love instead of fear, are important parts of the process.  The dysfunctional programming is deeply embedded in our relationship with life.  It can be changed gradually.  It will never be changed completely.  Our wounds never go away – they gradually have less power to dictate how we live today.

We are works in progress – in process.   We are evolving back to an awareness of who we really are.  But there are levels and layers of gunk to be removed.

One of the most important ways in which we know we are making progress is through feedback from other people.  It is vital to get feedback from other people in order to see ourselves more clearly.

It is important not to define ourselves by that feedback, but rather to see it as just a part of an information gathering process.  We need to have feedback, knowledge and information, in order to align ourselves with changing the things we need to change.

One of the first things I needed to do was to stop accepting feedback from abusive, shaming people.  In my disease, I always gave the most power over how I felt about myself to people who judged and shamed me.  Because I was judging and shaming myself so much I gave more credence to people who judged and shamed me than to people who told me good things.  (Of course, my ego wanted to grab onto the good things and blow them way out of proportion – the old overreaction of telling myself I was “better than,” in order to deny the part of me that felt “worse than.”)

I had to realize – that though there might be a grain of Truth in the messages that were shaming – that my first job was to protect myself from abuse.  I could then sift through the details of what the person said to see if there was any Truth to look at – but I needed to first reject the shame.  (This is really about working the first step – taking the shame out of our process by accepting powerlessness so that we can see more clearly.)

As I learned to be discerning and have boundaries about who I listened to, at the same time I was learning to have internal boundaries to stop giving power to the disease and the feelings of the wounded children within, I was able to start seeing myself and reality more clearly.

I learned to give power to the positive feedback – not as proof of my worth – but rather as messages of encouragement from my Higher Power.

Example:
I have inner child places within me that:  are starving for love, affection, and touch;  are desperately romantic and aching for my princess to come;  that believe I am not worthy of receiving love in a romantic relationship but that I will never be complete without one;  that are profoundly lonely.  I also have an emotional reality that as an adult I have – because of my issues and patterns – been very deprived of companionship, love, affection, touch, etc.  Because of these factors, I would be emotionally triggered by songs.  All those wonderfully codependent songs about the type of codependent love we learned about growing up.  By giving power to those songs I was at the effect of them – so that I could be driving along in a good mood and have a certain song throw me into my deprivation pain.

What I did is change my relationship with those songs.  I choose to believe that those songs were about my relationship with my Higher Power rather than a woman loving me.  That turned those songs from emotional triggers that threw me into pain to messages of encouragement that could sometimes – because of perfect timing – help me to access Joy. 

The same thing can be done with feedback from other people.  We do not define ourselves by what others tell us.  We can look at what others tell us as messages. 

The ones who are shaming and abusive are demonstrating for us how the disease works.  Once we are able to start having a more objective view of the process (to stop taking it personally), we can see them reacting out of their own fears, out of their wounded inner child places.  They are being used to communicate with us and help us learn about our own wounds and the disease.  They are teachers who – by acting out of their disease – are forcing us to start protecting ourselves by learning to have boundaries.

The ones who are telling us good things are passing along messages of encouragement from our Higher Power.  Goddess Strokes.  That way, it doesn’t matter what their motive or agenda of is – because the are just being a channel, rather they know it or not.  It doesn’t matter if they are being dishonest and codependent – they are still capable of being a channel, and of giving us an opportunity to practice receiving.

My resistance to opening up to receive Love would cause me to minimize positive feedback by telling myself that the other person wanted something from me, or was just being kind, or whatever.  I spent several years in recovery practicing saying just plain “Thank You.”  Instead of minimizing (oh it was nothing), joking it away, turning it back on them (oh you are really the one who ___), or dismissing it because I suspected the other persons motives or mental health.  The feeling deep within was that if someone was loving and positive towards me, it was either a sinister plot or there must be something wrong with them.

By seeing them as channels rather than the source, it doesn’t matter what their motives are.   By seeing positive affirmation and validation coming from other people as Truly originating from my Higher Power, then I can be grateful to them for being a channel – not feel obligated to them because they are being kind to worthless, shameful me.

Now, through the miracle that this writing process is for me, we have come back around to “it can be easier to be a channel for Love to flow through than a receptacle for Love to flow into.”  I didn’t know I was going to write most of the above – and do not think I have ever quite broken the process of discerning between giving power in a healthy way to what other people say versus giving power to other people in a codependent way, in quite this manner.  I find it quite useful – I hope you do also.

Anyway, what is up for me now – and for the last few months since my last update – is being open to receive.  I am at a point of being in the process of surrendering the ingrained programming that life is a struggle.  And I do not mean that I am thinking that I have gotten to happily ever after.  What I mean is that I have gotten to a point of doing a paradigm shift in my relationship with life away from the valiant survivor fighting the noble fight against all odds.  I have been saying for most of my adult life it seems like, that I have learned all the lessons I need to learn from poverty – now it is time to learn the lessons that will come with wealth.

This little joking bit of Truth, was usually said in relationship to money – but it is much deeper and more inclusive than just about finances.

I am talking here about abundance on all levels.  In the ability to relax and enjoy life.  In opening up to more Love from other people – and in particular to Love from one person in a romantic relationship.  In having a safe and comfortable space to live in.  In having a level of comfort in my relationship with material things.  In not having to be afraid every time I drive the 130 miles to Santa Barbara that my car will break down.  In terms of health and physical condition.  In terms of having fun and laughing and dancing.  In terms of success for my book and my work.  Everything.

What I find facing me, is an opportunity to relax into the flow of life in a way, and on a level, I have never experienced before.   And parts of me are really resisting.

The rebel in me does not want to give up the battle because that part of me thinks it is defined by battle.  The incredible resistance that I have encountered to Loving my own body is rearing it’s head and fighting for all it is worth.  Some of my inner children are terrified of trusting my Higher Power.  And at the core, as usual, is my fear of intimacy.” – Joy2MeU & Joy to You & Me Update Newsletter October 2000

Sacred Spiral with tail pointing to the right signifying going toward.

It was at this point that I took the deep dive into my fear of intimacy issues.  So, I will share that in another blog in the coming days.  I have over 50 Update Newsletters with millions of words of processing in them.  Anyone who wants to check them out can see the list on the lower part of my siteindex page.  

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.

Book coverReading my book Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls  (links to all of my books in hard copy, ebook, and audiobook format are on that page – or you can get Books, eBooks, and Audiobooks through Amazon, or eBooks & books from Barnes & Noble  or eBooks thru Kobo ) 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: and also on this page on my mobile friendly site

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. 

I now have a mobile friendly site index with listings of over 170 of my articles on Mobile Friendly sites,

Intellectual Discernment – shutting up the critical voice

The Dance

“One of the difficulties in this healing process is that even after we start to awaken to being butterflies, a part of our mind keeps telling us that we are low, crawling, disgusting creatures.

Taking the power away from that part of us is the key to the healing process.  A key to stopping the war inside. We need to take the shame and judgment out of the process on a personal level.  It is vitally important to stop listening and giving power to that critical place within us that tells us that we are bad and wrong and shameful.

That “critical parent” voice in our head is the disease lying to us.  Any shaming, judgmental voice inside of us is the disease talking to us – and it is always lying.  This disease of Codependence is very adaptable, and it attacks us from all sides.  The voices of the disease that are totally resistant to becoming involved in healing and Recovery are the same voices that turn right around and tell us, using Spiritual language, that we are not doing Recovery good enough, that we are not doing it right. 

We need to become clear internally on what messages are coming from the disease, from the old tapes, and which ones are coming from the True Self – what some people call “the small quiet voice.”

We need to turn down the volume on those loud, yammering voices that shame and judge us and turn up the volume on the quiet Loving voice.  As long as we are judging and shaming ourselves we are feeding back into the disease, we are feeding the dragon within that is eating the life out of us.  Codependence is a disease that feeds on itself – it is self-perpetuating.”

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

It is vital in codependency recovery / inner child healing to start recognizing how many components there are in our own inner landscape.  In order to start discerning what we have the power to change and what we do not have power over, we have to first become more aware of our own internal dynamic.  It is so important to stop looking outside of our self for the problem / solution, for the rescuer / villain.  Then we can start to become aware that the problem is inside of us, and that it is not because we are shameful or defective – it is because we are wounded and programmed dysfunctionally.

We have our own perpetrator, victim, rescuer triangle going on within us.  The perpetrator is the critical parent voice, the victim feelings come from the wounded inner child places, and we try to rescue ourselves from the pain and shame with compulsive and addictive self defeating behaviors focused on some external source.  Those self defeating behaviors do not work to stop the pain within except to give us a temporary distraction, so that gives the critical parent voice more fuel to beat up on our own inner children, which causes more pain which drives the compulsive and addictive behavior.  A truly vicious self perpetuating cycle of self defeating behavior – or as I call it in an article on my web site, A Dance of Suffering, Shame, and Self-abuse – the codependent three step.

In the second of my two articles on obsessive thinking, Obsession part 2, I use a quote from my book where I say that I spent most of my life doing the Serenity Prayer backwards – trying to control things I can not control and taking no responsibility (except for shaming and blaming myself) for my own internal process which I can have some control over.  The shame and blame is part of the disease dynamic – and it is vital for us to stop empowering that shame and blame.

The “critical parent” voice in our head is a manifestation of our damaged ego programming. The ego is the part of our being whose responsibility it is to help us survive.  Because of the emotional trauma we suffered due to the reality that our parents were wounded in their childhoods – and the dysfunctional programming of the emotionally dishonest, Spiritual hostile cultures we grew up in – our egos got programmed very badly.  Our egos got programmed to relate to life from a perspective of fear and shame, lack and scarcity.

The critical parent voice developed to try to control our own emotions and behavior so that we could survive in the dysfunctional environments we were born into.  In that development, it adapted the same tools that were used on us:  fear, shame, and guilt.  In recovery, we are working on reprogramming that critical voice to stop reacting out of fear based upon shame so that we can start learning how to be more Loving to ourselves – and how to relate to life and other people in a way that is more functional in terms of allowing us to get our needs met and enjoy life.

It is vital in recovery to start learning how to tell that critical voice to “shut up!”  It has been the play by play announcer that has been defining our lives for us.  It is time to start learning how to have a more Loving, objective, and nurturing play by play announcer inside our own heads.

Like the emotionally wounded inner child places within us, the critical parent voice is just a part of us.  We can start learning how to have some control over that part of us.  We can start learning how to be discerning about what is going on in our minds so that we can see ourselves and life with more clarity and Truth.

When I say, in the quote from my book above, that the disease is always lying – I do not mean that there isn’t some truth in what it is saying.  However, because it is programmed to relate to life from a black and white / right and wrong perspective, and to believe that being human (making mistakes, not being perfect) is shameful, what it does often is take a grain of truth and blow it way out of proportion.  The reality that the inner child places within us are reacting out of life and death urgency causes the critical voice to magnify, twist and distort that grain of truth into a shaming, blaming, all encompassing indictment of our self.  The pain of being shamefully “wrong” / defective then causes us to want to blame it all on something / someone else because the only choices in a black and white perspective are to blame them or blame me.  To blame me throws me into that deep dark pit of pain and despair within where I feel inherently unlovable and unworthy.

In order to stop being the victim of our self and our wounding it is vital to start setting boundaries with that critical parent voice – to start learning how to stop the inner child abuse that is part of the disease dynamic.  Recognizing that it is not telling us the whole truth, that it is the result of faulty programming and polarized perspective, is the first step to starting to see that the critical parent voice is not an inherent part of our being.  It is not an integral component of who we are – it is a part of us that was created by programming and wounding, it is a part of us that we can have some control over, that we can change.

Then we can start practicing some discernment and use the magnificent tool that is our mind to start reprogramming the part of our mind that has been our own worst enemy.  Then we can start counteracting all the negative messages with positive messages.  Positive affirmations are a very important tool in this process.  The reality of our codependency is that we are programmed to negatively affirm ourselves hundreds of times a day – and that is on a good day, on a “bad” one we can get into the thousands.  We need to stop empowering the negative programming and start choosing to introduce positive programming into our own internal process.  This is one of the ways that we start relating to our self in a more Loving way. 

It is vital to start recognizing that any fear or shame based messages, any black and white messages, any “should”s, “have to”s, “must”s – are coming from the critical parent voice.  We can learn to start countering the shame based messages with Love based affirmations, the fear based messages with faith based messages, the “should”s and “have to”s by affirming that we do have choices, that we do have access to wisdom.

In learning to access that wisdom – the “small quiet voice”, the voice of our Spirit / True Self that never speaks with shame and judgment – we can start our own internal environmental clean up program.  We can learn to stop the toxic waste that is spewing out the critical parent voice from polluting our own internal landscape. 

We have choices.  We have access to the power and wisdom of the Spirit.  We can learn to be more Loving to our self by developing an internal defense attorney, an internal “knight in shining armor,” to defend and rescue our self and our inner children from the programming of our childhood.

Sacred Spiral with tail pointing to the right signifying going toward.

This article is part of a 9 part series of articles focused on the Serenity Prayer.  The first article in the series is Applying the Serenity Prayer – Wisdom through Discernment (mobile friendly version.)

I have a special Holiday 2018 Offer Page available until the end of February, with special offers on my books, MP3 audio downloads, Life Changing telephone / Skype counseling and Workshop.  I recently announced that I will be doing my Life Changing Workshop in Morro Bay California on March 24th.

Chapter 7: Multiple levels of selfishness

I want to clarify and expand on the response I wrote in 1998 to reflect what I reiterate in so much of my writing, that recovery is not black and white – there are multiple levels to everything, including our motives. 

“Codependence is a disease of reversed focus – it is about focusing outside of ourselves for self-definition and self-worth.  That sets us up to be a victim.  We have worth because we are Spiritual Beings not because of how much money or success we have – or how we look or how smart we are.  When self-worth is determined by looking outside it means we have to look down on someone else in order to feel good about ourselves – this is the cause of bigotry, racism, class structure, and Jerry Springer.

The goal is to focus on who we really are – get in touch with the Light and Love within us and then radiate that outward.  I think that is what Mother Theresa did.  I can’t know for sure because I never met her, and it can be difficult to tell looking from the outside where a person’s focus is.  Mother Theresa could have been a raging codependent who was doing good on the outside in order to feel good about herself – or she could have been being True to her Self by accessing the Love and Light within and reflecting it outward.  Either way the effect was that she did some great things – the difference would have been how she felt about herself at the deepest levels of her being – because it does not make any real difference how much validation we get from outside if we are not Loving ourselves.  If I did not start working on knowing that I had worth as a Spiritual Being – that there is a Higher Power that Loves me – it would never have made any real difference how many people told me I was wonderful.” – The codependency movement is NOT ruining marriages! Chapter 1

I believe that Mother Teresa probably accessed the Truth within her and started focusing on that – which led her to do for others.  What is typical of a Spiritual Path in the beginning of awakening to consciousness, is that maybe 10% of the levels of our motives are focused on Higher Truth – our intuitive guidance – and 90% about stopping the pain.  As I said in an early chapter we don’t just wake up one morning and say, “Hey, I think it would be fun to do some emotional healing today.”  We start our healing process because we are in pain. 

As we commit to following our Spiritual Path wherever it leads – to our own Higher Self being True – that percentage increases over time because having the faith to commit to following a Spiritual Path produces miracles which increase faith.  If Mother Teresa was a Truly Enlightened being, maybe by the end of her life her focus was 90% on serving her Soul, the Higher Truth she had accessed through her inner channel – and only 10% of the levels involved in her motives still coming out of damaged human ego self, out of trying to earn Love, to prove worth.

I am just kind of pulling those percentages out of thin air, in order to try to make a point that recovery is about progress not perfection.  We make gradual progress in becoming more conscious and focusing on higher purpose rather than the baser / humanly selfish levels.  We were never doing things completely out of ego selfishness, we just had to lie to ourselves about it because we were taught it was shameful.  It is not a black and white dynamic.  Our motives are never just codependent – we do care.  It was because we were taught that it is shameful to be selfish that we had to learn to be dishonest with ourselves.  It is because we are not owning all the levels of our motives – including the selfish, self serving ones – that we are not seeing ourselves clearly.  Codependency in relationships starts with our relationship with our self.  It is our relationship with ourselves that is dysfunctional – which causes us to be dishonest and manipulative with others.

When I was being nice to people while still completely unconscious to my disease, it was in part because I am a good person, a nice person – a being with a True heart connection.  But I was blinded to my True Self by all the dysfunctional messages I had gotten in childhood.  Those messages were both directly stated – by my parents and teachers, by the Spiritually abusive lies of a shame-based religion, by other people, including other children – and indirect from:  the role modeling of the adults in my life;  from fairy tales, books, movies, songs, etc.;  from the interpretations of my undeveloped mind based upon how it felt to be a human child.  I suffered emotional trauma because of the behavior of the wounded human beings around me.  So my perspective of myself – as a physical, emotional, spiritual being – was distorted and warped.  I could not see myself clearly – so could not see life and other people clearly.

So, I was doing nice things for other people in part because of who I Truly am – but I had to lie to myself and tell myself that the only reason I was doing those things was because I was a nice person.  I was dishonest with myself about the fact that I had expectations of getting something in return – that I was in part at least, being manipulative.  That dishonesty led me to feeling like a victim of other people not doing what I wanted them to.  (see Serenity and Expectations.)

It was this dishonesty with self that kept me being a victim, a negative co-creator in my life.  When I got into recovery is when I started to make a transition to being a positive co-creator in my life.

Sacred Spiral with tail pointing to the right signifying going toward.

unhealthy selfish vs healthy selfish

The Dance

“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.

It is because there is more than one level of reality that life is paradoxical in nature.  What is True and positive on one level – selfishness out of Spiritual Self, can be negative on another level – selfishness out of ego-self.  What a caterpillar calls the end of the world, God calls a butterfly.

Humans have always had expressions that describe the paradoxical nature of the life experience.  Every ending is a beginning.  Every cloud does have a silver lining.  For every door that closes, another door does open.  It is always darkest before the dawn.  Every obstacle is a gift, every problem is an opportunity for growth.”

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

One of the messages that most of us got in childhood growing up in a codependent society was that it was bad to be selfish.  We all have within us an archetypal inner child that is completely self centered and wants immediate gratification.  What I call the king/queen baby.  “I want what I want and I want it now.”  It comes in the stage of early childhood development where we are developing a sense of individual identity.  A couple of the big words at that age are “no” and “mine.”

Because the societies we grew up in were stuck in a polarized view of life, we got the message that selfishness was wrong, bad – and that unselfishness was good.  Since one of a child’s jobs is to manipulate his/her environment to survive, we learn to manipulate to get what we wanted.  Since we got the message that it was not OK to be emotionally honest – both from direct and indirect messages, and from the role modeling of the emotionally dishonest adults in our life – we learned to be emotionally dishonest with ourselves in order to cover up our “shameful” selfishness.

All of us are human, and – as I talked about in my January 2002 Update – have levels of motivations that are selfish and self serving on a human level.

“Awakening to my responsibility as a co-creator of my life so that I could align with the process of reprogramming my ego defense, was made possible by the dawning realization that I wasn’t the only one suffering in an emotional hell – that maybe my reality was not being caused by some inherent defect in my being.  That maybe, just maybe, being human wasn’t shameful – and that being imperfect and selfish was a natural, normal part of being human.

I need to keep reminding myself of the fundamental motives – of my need to focus on me and my process, remember I am not doing something for you – so that I can keep aligned with the selfishness of Spiritual Self that is at the heart of the recovery process.  (One of my phone clients suggested that I coin a new word to get away from the negative connotations of selfish – Soulfish, was her suggestion.;-)

In my understanding, the Truth that resonates in the phrase “To thine own Self be True” is about being True to Spiritual Self – the part of me that Knows I am connected to everyone and everything in LOVE – in order to escape the tyranny of unconsciously reacting out of wounded, dysfunctionally programmed ego self.  Ego self is reacting to programming that is trying to keep us separate from others so they do not find out how shameful we are.  (If you are not clear on what I am talking about here see Powerlessness & Empowerment – why the 12 steps work.)” – January 2002 Update Newsletter 

Being honest with our self about selfishness out of damaged ego self – owning it, learning to accept it without shame and judgment – is what allows us to start taking power away from it so that we are not letting it dictate and define our life today.  Denying that we have base ego centered motives is part of the dishonesty of codependency – is a reaction to toxic shame about being human.  One form of codependency is deluding ourselves into thinking that we are doing things for other people just out of the kindness of our hearts and are not expecting any payoff for what we are doing – it is emotionally and intellectually dishonest.

“In order to get clear on how to connect to others in a healthy way we must first realize and define how we are separate from others.  On the level of our physical being, our ego-self, we are separate and need to own that before we can open up to consciously experiencing how we are connected to everyone and everything.  We need to see our relationship with ourselves clearly in order to see our relationships to others clearly.

One of the things that I had to get clear on in order to start learning who I am was selfishness.  I had been taught that it was bad to be selfish and that I should do things for others.  I learned to steal energy from others through what I was telling myself were unselfish acts.  I was just being a “nice guy” and did not expect anything in return – Bull.  I always had expectations – I just was not being honest with myself about them – because I had been trained and conditioned in childhood to be dishonest with myself emotionally and intellectually.

I had to come to a realization that there is no such thing as an unselfish act.  If I rescue a stranger from a burning car wreck, it does not have anything to do with the stranger – it has to do with my relationship with myself.  I believe that every thing a human being does has a pay off – and it was a very important part of my growth process to start looking for those pay offs.  I had to learn to get honest with myself and stop buying into the illusion that anything I did was for some one else.  I had to stop looking outside for the energy boost I got from doing something nice so that I could own that the energy boost came internally.

The power / energy / juice that we need comes from within – not from outside.  People, places, and things can sometimes help us to access the power that is within us – but they are not the source of that power.  The source is within!” – The True Nature of Love, Part 4 – Energetic Clarity

We access the Source Energy, are connected to our Higher Power, internally – through our inner channel.  The outer / external dependence, the reversed focus of codependency, causes us to think that treating another person with respect and kindness earns us worth – proves to our self and others that we have worth.  This is reversed and dysfunctional in my opinion.

What I believe is healthy and functional is owning that we have worth as Magnificent Spiritual Beings having a human experience – and then we can see and honor other people because they are also Magnificent Spiritual Beings who have been wounded by this human experience.  It is by consciously owning that we have worth inherently – that we are children of God / The Goddess, part of The Great Spirit, extensions of The Universal Force – that we start treating others with respect and kindness because they are also manifestations of the Divine.

And Loving other wounded humans, treating them with respect and kindness, includes setting boundaries with them if their behavior is abusive.  We can Love their being while protecting our self from their behavior.  Allowing another human being to treat us with disrespect out of their unconsciousness is not Loving – it is enabling them to stay unconscious.  We demonstrate respect for their Spiritual Self by respecting our inherent worth (which comes from the same place their inherent worth comes from) enough to set boundaries with them about their codependent behavior.

“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.”

If I do something nice for another person, the payoff is that I feel good about myself because I am acting out of my higher nature, my True Self – it helps me tune into higher vibrational frequencies and thus get an internal energy boost.  When we are in the moment tuned into higher vibrational transcendent emotional energy is when we feel like our spirit is soaring – is when we are accessing Love and Joy energy from the Source.  Treating another being with respect and dignity is an affirmation of my inherent worth, and my connection to them – and helps me to plug into higher vibrational frequencies, recharge my spiritual batteries as it were.  It is also, often, a way to settle Karma – which is another payoff that serves selfish motives on a higher level.

Treating another kindly out of codependence, in order to prove to myself I have worth, is a reaction to the judgments and shame I feel about myself – and often I am judging the other person as being less than me because I am acting better than them.  If I delude myself into thinking I am being nice to them just for their sake, then I will feel like a victim if they are not nice in return.

“We were taught to be caretakers instead of care-givers.  That is, to take our self-definition – our ego-strength – from what we do for others, rather than giving to others out of our Self as an expression of Love.

This is a matter of focus:  Codependence is a disease of reversed focus.  If you are taking your self-worth from what you are doing for others, you are going to end up being the victim, because they are not going to do what you want them to do in return.  (“After all that I’ve done for you!”)

If you are giving as an expression of self-worth then you do not need anything in return – and that is when you really get the gifts.

Giving should be an expression of the Love we have accessed within – not a way of gaining ego-strength by helping people whom we are judging to be less than us.”

A key difference between healthy behavior and codependent behavior – as I talk about in my article about setting boundaries (Setting Personal Boundaries) – is that we let go of the outcome.  If I am setting a boundary to try to get a certain outcome – that is being controlling and manipulative.  If I am nice to another person to get something in return without owning my selfish motive – that is codependent.  I set a boundary to protect myself and let go of the outcome.  I treat people with dignity and respect because it feels good.  I am being True to my Self by doing so – and I let go of taking how they treat me in return personally.  (This means not allowing the external to define us – rather it is positive or negative.  If they affirm and validate me, that does not prove my worth – just as, if they abandon and abuse me that does not prove my defectiveness.)

And again, this is a relative process.  If I set a boundary, of course I may want a certain outcome – that is human – but I let go of thinking that I need that outcome to be okay.  In my recovery I have learned to set a boundary because it is the kind thing, the Loving thing, to do for me – and I am willing to accept the outcome that is presented, which often includes owning my sadness that I didn’t get what I wanted.  Often in my interactions with other people I want something in return, that is natural and normal – the point is to be direct and honest about it, not indirect and manipulative.

Part of the paradox and irony of recovery is that the more we let go of trying to get external validation to prove our worth, the more external validation we receive.  As long as we think we need that external validation to prove our worth, it won’t work to meet our needs – as I said in Chapter 4 when I was talking about ego self image.

“I could not truly accept / take in / own the external validation because I thought I was living a lie.  I thought I was a fraud and was fooling you when you liked me.” –  Chapter 4: False Self Image

There is nothing wrong with external validation – it is codependent to buy into the illusion that we need that external validation to prove our worth.  This is something I talked about in my Update for October 2000 where I tried to explain how we achieve some balance between different levels:

“In case you are wondering about whether – in the instances above – I was giving too much power to outside validation, I thought I would talk about that a bit.   There is nothing wrong with enjoying validation, affirmation, and recognition from other people or outside sources.  It is if we define ourselves by that outer validation, and think we have to have it to be OK, that we are being codependent.  It is when we jump through hoops in an attempt to get that validation from people that we are being manipulative and dishonest – which is, of course, what many of us learned to do in childhood.

As with all aspects of codependence recovery – it is a question of balance.  Life and recovery occur in the gray area between black and white.  What we are trying to do is maintain some kind of sense of balance in relationship to this dance we are doing.  That involves, as I tried to communicate in the later articles in the Recovery Process for Inner Child Healing series I just finished, being conscious of multiple levels simultaneously – or as close to simultaneously as possible.  And being able to have internal boundaries so that I am choosing how I respond rather than reacting out of the old programming.

Example:  There have been instances, over the years, where I have had the opportunity to be in close proximity to someone that had been a client of mine while they were talking to someone else.  These opportunities have given me a chance to hear the former client use words in describing some aspect of the recovery process – that were the same words I had said to them – as if it were a revelation they had arrived at themselves.  This gives most of me a great deal of satisfaction because I have worked hard over the years to find the best ways of helping people discover the Truth within them in ways that help them not feel dependent on me.  But at the same time, my ego reacts in a negative way saying “hey wait a minute, I told you that.”

In my recovery, I have gradually over the years been able to turn down the voices coming from the ego/from the wounded inner child places/from the disease – and turn up the volume of the small quiet voice of the Spirit.  I have learned how to realign myself with the Spirit instead of giving so much power to the disease – the old wounds and old tapes, the damaged ego.  But if I were to maintain to myself or to you that I never have those reactions, that would be denial.

. . . . . . . This is a relative process.  Progress not perfection.  We can gradually increase the percentage of the time our conscious awareness, our attitudes and mental focus, are aligned with recovery instead of with the disease.  We do not get to wipe out the old ways of thinking and emotional reactions completely – what we do is gradually disempower them.” – Joy2MeU Update – 10-20-2000

As I say in the quote from 1998, it can be hard telling where a person’s focus is while looking from the outside.  It is what is going on within, in our relationship with ourselves, that determines rather our motives are more about being healthy than about reacting codependently.  As we become more conscious of, more aligned with, Spiritual Self, we start owning our inherent worth more and looking outside for validation less.

That is when we can start to Truly Love our neighbor as our Self – and stop letting the fear and shame programming of ego self dictate how we see, and relate to, both our self and other wounded humans / Magnificent Spiritual Beings.  It was vital for me to start getting honest with myself about my selfish motives so that I could take power away from the levels that were in reaction to my damaged ego programming.  As long as I was denying my human selfishness out of a false sense of shame, I was doomed to keep myself trapped on the codependent merry-go-round – looking outside for the solution to a conflict that exists within.

Looking externally to try to heal my wounded soul is what caused me to be trapped in a self perpetuating squirrel cage of self defeating behavior.  The dynamics of codependency – the fact that I was energetically drawn to people who felt familiar, who resonated emotionally with what I experienced with my parents growing up – dictated that I was attracted to people who would not treat me with kindness and respect in return, thus reinforcing the toxic shame, the feeling that there is something wrong with me.

“In our disease defense system we build up huge walls to protect ourselves and then – as soon as we meet someone who will help us to repeat our patterns of abuse, abandonment, betrayal, and/or deprivation – we lower the drawbridge and invite them in.  We, in our Codependence, have radar systems which cause us to be attracted to, and attract to us, the people, who for us personally, are exactly the most untrustworthy (or unavailable or smothering or abusive or whatever we need to repeat our patterns) individuals – exactly the ones who will “push our buttons.”

This happens because those people feel familiar.  Unfortunately in childhood the people whom we trusted the most – were the most familiar – hurt us the most.  So the effect is that we keep repeating our patterns and being given the reminder that it is not safe to trust ourselves or other people

Once we begin healing we can see that the Truth is that it is not safe to trust as long as we are reacting out of the emotional wounds and attitudes of our childhoods.  Once we start Recovering, then we can begin to see that on a Spiritual level these repeating behavior patterns are opportunities to heal the childhood wounds.

The process of Recovery teaches us how to take down the walls and protect ourselves in healthy ways – by learning what healthy boundaries are, how to set them, and how to defend them.  It teaches us to be discerning in our choices, to ask for what we need, and to be assertive and Loving in meeting our own needs.  (Of course many of us have to first get used to the revolutionary idea that it is all right for us to have needs.)”

As I discuss in my January 2002 Update, it was my base human level of motivation – wanting to stop the pain, stop living in an emotional hell – that caused me to open up to starting to become conscious of Spiritual Truth.  Becoming sick and tired of being sick and tired brought me to a point where I surrendered to learning how to live life differently.  Once I surrendered some of my ego definitions that were keeping me in bondage I started to listen to my intuition – started tuning into Truth from my Higher Self / Power.

Then I could start looking at myself with more clarity and start seeing how dysfunctional my behavior patterns had been.  Then I could start seeing, that yes I am a nice person, but most of the levels of my motives for behaving in the ways I was behaving towards other people was coming from my childhood programming.

Then I started to realize that a very large part of what I was calling being “nice” to others was based upon protecting myself, on selfish human motives.  I was rationalizing when I told myself that I was behaving in a certain way to protect other people’s feelings.  It was important to get honest with myself so I could start seeing how I was taking ego strength from my rationalized concern for others – it was part of how I tried to convince myself that I was worthy, that I was a good person.

I needed to get honest with myself in order to see the selfish motives.  Then I could start to see that the reason that I was being nice to someone was not just because I didn’t want to hurt their feelings – it was much more about protecting myself.  It was what I learned to do in childhood to:  avoid confrontation;  keep someone from getting angry with me;  keep from being abandoned;  try to earn love;  etc.  My defense system was set up to protect me from doing things that I thought would cause me pain – like:  setting boundaries;  speaking my Truth;  asking for help;  being vulnerable;  etc.  So, there was a level of my motives that was about caring for others – but there were more levels that were selfish, were part of the survival programing my ego had adapted in childhood.  My behavior patterns were being driven by the emotional wounds and programming of childhood but I had to rationalize my behavior as only being about the level where I did care about others.

I needed to realize that, yes those people who I was judging for not being nice, were very often abusing me out of the selfishness of their wounded ego – but that in allowing myself to be abused I was also reacting out of ego selfishness.  Both the abuser and the abused are reacting to the programming of their wounded ego.  Both are being a victim of their codependency.  Both the bulldozer who is running over other people and the doormat who gets run over are being selfish out of damaged, dysfunctionally programmed ego self.

I needed to get honest with myself in order to own that it was okay to be selfish and protect myself, but that the ways I was doing it were dysfunctional, dishonest, and unhealthy.   Then I could start to learn new, healthier ways to protect myself and try to get my needs met.

Levels of Motivation

We always have multiple levels to our motives for doing something.  What we need to do is learn how to see ourselves with more clarity so we can be honest with ourselves intellectually and emotionally – and can be discerning in our choices of behavior.   By recognizing how the conditioned programming and emotional wounds of our childhood have dictated our lives, by becoming aware of the ways in which we have been limited and powerless in our relationship with our self and life, we can start becoming empowered to change that programming and heal those wounds.  By accepting our human imperfection, our selfish and self centered ego driven motives, we can stop that level of our being from dictating our life.  We are allowing ourselves to be run by the dysfunctional survival drive of the damaged ego – by the instant gratification needs of the king/queen baby – rather we are rationalizing that instant gratification out of arrogant self righteousness or denying it because of our shame.  There can be no balance as long as we are reacting to extremes.

We need to learn to be discerning about our motives so that we can pick the baby out of the bath water.  Then we can change and disempower the dysfunctional levels and honor the “right on” levels.

“What I have found is that in many instances even though the levels that I can see, that I am conscious of, are mostly dysfunctional – arising out of the false beliefs and fears of the disease of Codependence – on deeper levels there are “right on” reasons for behaviors for which I was judging myself.

. . . . . . .  As another, more universal example, when I started to learn about Codependence, I used to really beat myself up because I found that I was still looking for “her,” even though I had learned about some of the dysfunctional levels of that longing.

I had learned that as long as I thought that I needed someone else to make me happy and whole I was setting myself up to be a victim.  I had learned that I was not a frog who needed a princess to kiss me in order to turn into a prince – that I am a prince already, and just need to learn to accept that state of Grace, that princeness.

I had come to understand that those levels of my longing were dysfunctional and Codependent – and I judged and shamed myself because I could not let go of the longing for “her.”

But as my awakening progressed I realized that there were “right on” reasons for that longing, for that “endless aching need” that I felt.

One of those “right on” levels was that the longing was a message concerning my very real need to attain some balance between the masculine and feminine energy within me – which begets dysfunctional behavior when it is projected, focused, outward as I had been taught to do in childhood.

And on a much deeper level I came to understand that I am – and have been, ever since polarization – looking for my twin soul.

As I become discerning I could learn to pick the baby out of the bathwater, that is, not judge and shame myself for longing for “her” – and throw out the dirty bath water, that is, not take action based on, or give power to, the dysfunctional belief that I am a frog who cannot be happy until I find my princess.

By learning discernment we can begin to become conscious of the reasons that are dysfunctional and based on Codependent beliefs and fears (the dirty bathwater) so that we can change the way we react to those levels, can stop giving them power, and we can honor that there are “right on” levels by not shaming or judging ourselves (the baby) even if we are not sure what those reasons are.”

The Universe used my “looking for her” longing to teach me some very vital lessons in my recovery in the later part of 1988 and through much of 1989.  This was a crucial time in my codependence recovery after I had gone through a 30 day treatment program that spring.  I was living in Taos New Mexico and didn’t have a car for almost a year.  It was actually quite an enjoyable year not having a car – it made winter a completely different experience for me because I was walking everywhere I needed to go instead of having to worry about the car starting, scraping ice of the windshield, and such things.

At that time, I was desperately trying to get clear on how to discern the difference between my intuitive guidance and the impulsive reactions of my codependent ego programming and emotional wounds – between my will and God’s will.  I had realized by that time that when I met someone who felt like my soul mate, it was much more likely to be an attraction based upon familiarity – i.e. someone who was unavailable in a way that would fit my codependent patterns.  I was selfishly trying to get clearer on how to know God’s will so that I wouldn’t set myself up to get hurt.

That summer had given me a huge wake up call that caused me to see that life wasn’t going to be all sweetness and light now that I had been through treatment and learned how to do my grief work.  I had spent most of that summer in Sedona Arizona, and had gotten a very interesting warning from the Universe when I first moved up there.  One day I was walking in the desert surrounded by the beautiful red rock mountains of that area.  I was thinking about how wonderful it was going to be now that I had done so much deep emotional work and learned so many new tools.  I was day dreaming about how exciting it was going to be able to have healthy relationships.  All of a sudden from out of the underbrush burst this mad looking dog barking and snarling and hurtling right at me – and then right past me.  I hadn’t even caught my breath after that scare when the strong odor of skunk wafted by.

The message from the Universe:  I may be a lot healthier, but I still need to watch out for mad dogs and skunks.  The mad dogs in my understanding are the abusive, aggressive codependents – and the skunks are the martyr, victim codependents.  In  other words I needed to learn to be discerning about who I open up to, who I invest time and energy in, because the world is full of wounded people – including, as I already knew, some that claim many years of recovery.  I realized that day that recovery was going to be on ongoing adventure – not some stroll through the park.  And that it was very important for me to stay conscious and pay attention so that I didn’t set myself up with insane expectations, so I didn’t allow the magical thinking inner child to lead me into believing that I had reached happily-ever-after.

Only a short time later I had an experience that really showed me how important it was to be discerning and trust my intuition.  A milestone experience that revealed to me my Karmic mission in this lifetime – that changed my life and altered my path in the direction it has been on since.

It was shortly after that milestone experience in August of 1988 I moved to Taos.  My first few months in the area I lived in a friends ski cabin on Taos Mountain – as I mentioned in the last chapter.  With winter approaching I moved down to a casita – a little studio apartment heated by an adobe fireplace – just a block from Taos Plaza.  Shortly after that I surrendered my car because I couldn’t make the payments.  A walking winter it was to be.

In the latest installment of the personal journal I share in my Joy2MeU Journal, which tells the story of my recovery and spiritual growth process, I wrote about this very vital lesson.  Here is an excerpt from the The Path of one Recovering Codependent – the dance of one wounded soul.

“. . . . . . In his cabin on the mountain, and during the rest of the time I was in Taos, many mystical, miraculous, and magical things happened to help me to better understand the process, the dynamics, my path, everything.  It was in that cabin that I started writing what became the Trilogy.

One of those magical things happened one day as I was out for a walk.  The cabin I was staying in was at 11,000 feet, which was above the ski area of Taos Mountain.  In those days there was an off season in Taos – a time when there were very few tourists around.  There were actually two off seasons.  One in the spring after the ski resort closed until summer started, and one in September, October and early November before the resort opened on Thanksgiving.  What that meant was that I was about the only person on top of that mountain on that day as I was walking.

I was walking along wondering if I would ever have a loving relationship, and probably complaining to God about it a bit.  (One of my phone counseling clients shared an insight he had in an Al-Anon meeting recently – one that I like a lot.  He said he had this image of himself as a child on a trip in the car, asking, “Are we there yet?”  “How long until we get there?” etc.  Anyone who has ever taken a trip with a kid knows this one.  The insight was this:  that pestering, irritating, impatient complaining is probably exactly what it feels like to God when we are constantly wanting to know about the future.  Sounds pretty accurate to me.  Except, of course, the Goddess is quite amused by this, as are we on a higher level – since we are part of the Great Spirit.;-)

Anyway, as I am walking along asking “When am I going to have a relationship?” – all of a sudden a woman comes riding up on a horse.  A beautiful woman that looked enough like the image of my dream woman to really get my attention.  We started talking and discovered that I had gone to high school with some of her cousins in the little town I grew up near.  It seemed like an answer to my prayers.  Hurrah.

Well, it was a message for sure – but not what I thought it was.  Even then, I was far enough on my path to realize that it probably wasn’t what I wanted it to be.

I got her phone number, and in one of our first phone conversations, the topic of what was called Taos Furniture came up.  A type of furniture made in Taos that I thought was really uncomfortable and impractical.  I voiced that opinion.  It turned out that she made Taos Furniture.

I already knew by that time that there are no mistakes.  I knew that the foot in the mouth statements I made were a perfect part of the plan somehow.  I realized that this woman’s appearance on the mountain at the specific time she had ridden up was a message from my Higher Power.  Something to this effect:

“Pay attention.  A miracle can happen any time, any where.  I work in mysterious ways.  You don’t get to know the timing or the reasons.  Yours is to follow where you are lead and keep the faith.  Know that I am with you always.”

This message got reinforced over and over again after I moved off of the mountain into town before the winter set in.   During the rest of the year that I lived in Taos that time, I was really focusing on learning how to follow where I was lead.  I knew that I needed to pay attention to what got my attention.  I came to understand that my HP would get my attention in the way that worked best – which in many cases, was my deprivation issues – my search for Her, my dream woman.

I was without a car that winter (Miracles) so would walk everywhere I needed to go.  As I was walking I would keep asking my HP, at every corner, should I go this way or that way.  I was following whatever path it felt like I should follow to get to wherever it was that I was going.  Often as I was walking through the Plaza, or along the street, I would see what appeared to be an attractive woman across the way, go into a certain store.

That had gotten my attention, so I would go into that store.  It would never be about the woman I saw go in there.  There was always something else, someone else, I needed to see.  There was always some other reason for me to make that detour – even if it was to get the timing of my arrival at the post office just right so I ran into someone I needed to see there.

I got the message real clearly:  that sometimes the Universe uses something, or someone, to get my attention so I alter my path slightly on a different heading – but that I needed to let go of any expectations or projections of where that heading was going to take me.  I learned that I got directions to veer off on a different heading not to get me where I thought I was headed, but rather to get me to a point a little farther down the path where the Universe would once again get my attention and say, “Okay, now come this way for a while.” I needed to keep following where I was led while letting go of the outcome – letting go of projecting any fantasies about the destination I was headed towards.

A wonderful lesson to learn.  Follow the guidance and let go of the outcome.” – My Unfolding Dance 14 – posted July 2002

An invaluable, priceless lesson.  My job is to show up for life today and pay attention.  Pay attention to what gets my attention without judging and shaming myself.  The Universe uses whatever works to get my attention and to motivate me to follow where it wants me to go.  The things that get my attention most effectively usually have to do with my human desires, with longings and unfulfilled needs – that is not shameful, it is human.   Follow where I am led and let go of the outcome.  Let go of assuming, interpreting, fortune telling, projecting my fantasy of where I was going to end up because of what got my attention.

It was absolutely vital for me to get honest with myself so that I could discern between different levels of my motives – so that I could see my self with more clarity.  As I explained in the earlier chapter about ego self image, as long as I wasn’t being honest with myself about my human selfishness, my behavior did not match how I was seeing myself.  This caused me to be dishonest and manipulative.  This prevented me from having any true, healthy emotional intimacy with another human being – because I wasn’t being emotionally intimate with myself.  I had to learn how to be emotionally and intellectually honest with myself before I could start to see other people with any clarity.  That is why the process of learning how to practice discernment internally so I could set internal boundaries (which I will talk about in a later chapter) was so vital to my recovery.

Empowerment comes from seeing reality clearly and then owning that I have choices about how to make the best of reality as it is being presented to me.  It was impossible for me to see reality – internally or externally – with any clarity until I was able to get past the toxic shame I was carrying to see, own, and accept the base, ego centered, selfishness that is an inherent part of being a human being who grew up in a dysfunctional environment.  Once I owned it, I could start to take control of some of the things I can have some control of – my own attitudes and behaviors.

“The higher purpose, the Spiritual motive for making recovery the number one priority in my life is intimately connected to the human motive. Our human motives are not bad or wrong.   There is nothing shameful about being human.  It is vital to stop judging ourselves based upon the belief that being human is shameful.  Codependence is a defense system adapted in reaction to the feeling that it was somehow shameful to be human – to be me.

It is self perpetuating because we react to that core feeling of toxic shame out of a polarized intellectual paradigm that judges us and our behavior as right or wrong.   Our ego relates to life as if it is a test which we can fail by being wrong.  And being human is wrong and shameful according to the beliefs, attitudes and definitions we learned in early childhood.

The more I can take the shame out of my relationship with being human and start changing the dysfunctional intellectual paradigm I learned in childhood – the easier it becomes for me to align with higher purpose, to align ego self with Spiritual Self, to surrender my will and accept God’s will.  I can learn to accept being human, and see how my human motives are connected to my Spiritual purpose so that I can find some balance in life.  So I can start relating to life as a growth process instead of a test that I am doomed to fail.” – January 2002 Update Newsletter 

Recovery / Spiritual growth is a process of realigning our ego self with Spiritual Self so that, from our human perspective, life is less painful and more enjoyable.  No matter how enlightened we become, the bottom line to the human part of us is that recovery is the most functional way to make life less painful, to find some meaning and purpose in life.  Aligning with higher purpose, with Love, is what will meet our selfish human needs as well as serve the Divine Plan and help us reconnect Spiritual Self.  Accepting our human selfishness is piece of the puzzle that allows us to integrate Spiritual Truth into our human experience.

“We need to let go of the illusion that we can control this life business.  We cannot.  We never could!  It was an illusion.  And we need to let go of the false beliefs that tell us that we are bad and shameful.  We cannot become whole as long as we believe that any part of us is bad or shameful.

That includes the ego – that bloated out-of-balance dragon within.  Thank God for our egos, they are what allowed us to survive.  Thank God for Codependence, without it we would not be alive.  But now is the time to get things into balance – the time to bring ego-self into alignment and balance with Spiritual Self.

That is the transformation which is known as “the death of the ego.”  To quote the St. Francis Prayer, “It is through dying that we awaken to eternal life.”  It is not referring just to physical death, it is referring to the death of the ego which allows us to awaken to the Truth of eternal life.

The death of the ego is not an event – it is a process.  It is not an act of violence – it is an act of Love.  A process of learning to Love.

We are bringing ego-self into alignment with Spiritual Truth. We are reconnecting with our Spiritual nature and Spiritual purpose so that we can find some fulfillment and happiness in life.” – Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life Chapter 7: Multiple levels of selfishness

Sacred Spiral with tail pointing to the right signifying going toward.

Codependency 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 is available through my regular website:  Chapter 1:  The codependency movement is NOT ruining marriages!

I have published some other chapters of this work as blogs including:  Chapter 4: False Self Image,  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.)

Chapter 3: Emotional honesty

The Dance

“We learned about life as children and it is necessary to change the way we intellectually view life 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 is serving us – or if it is setting us up to be victims because we are expecting life to be something which it is not.” – (Text in this color is used for quotes from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls)

In the course of writing this article – which seems to be turning into another online book – I realized that though I talk a lot about the importance of emotional honesty in my work, I probably do not give a lot of down to earth, easily understood examples of what the term means to me.  So, I decided to start this Chapter 3 with an example. 

It was focusing on the dynamic of expectations that was the key for me in starting to get emotionally honest with myself.  Starting to understand the cause and effect relationship between my emotional reactions and my expectations was essential for me to start understanding why my relationship with life was so dysfunctional.  I, of course, in my codependency, had swung between the extremes of feeling, and believing, that it was all my fault because of my shameful defective being – and being angry and resentful at other people, the system, something or someone external to my being. 

The twelve step recovery application of the disease model in the treatment of alcoholism – the concept that I had been powerless over my past behaviors because I had a disease – helped me to take enough shame out of my perspective of myself to start seeing my life with a little bit of objectivity.  The spiritual approach of the twelve step program – that there is a Power greater than myself that is on my side, The Force is with me – helped me to shift my intellectual paradigm enough to start to see life as something other than a test I could fail by doing it “wrong.”  The definition of insanity that I heard in my first days of recovery – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results – caused me to start focusing on cause and effect. 

It was the concept of powerlessness that led me to start becoming empowered to take responsibility for my life.  Instead of viewing life through a perspective that was black and white – either I had to be perfect or I was shameful – I was able to start to see what my part had been in how painful and miserable my life experience had been.  How I had some responsibility – how I was creating cause in my life that had negative consequences – but that it did not mean that there was something inherently wrong with me.  I started seeing that my relationship with life was dysfunctional, was not working, and that I could take some action to change that relationship.

Insane Expectations – Road Rage

The specific area that opened me up to a new perspective on my insanity, was starting to understand what my part was in the road rage I was experiencing driving on the streets and freeways of Los Angeles.  Looking at the cause and effect relationship between my expectations and the rage I was feeling at all the stupid blankety blank drivers in Southern California greatly accelerated my process of becoming emotionally honest with myself – and opening up my mind to a Spiritual Awakening, a paradigm shift in consciousness.

“There is an old joke about the difference between a neurotic and a psychotic. The psychotic truly believes that 2 + 2 = 5.  The neurotic knows that it is 4 but can’t stand it.  That was the way I lived most of my life, I could see how life was but I couldn’t stand it.  I was always feeling like a victim because people and life were not acting in the way I believed they “should” act.

I expected life to be different than it is.  I thought if I was good and did it “right” then I would reach ‘happily ever after.’  I believed that if I was nice to people they would be nice to me.  Because I grew up in a society where people were taught that other people could control their feelings, and vise versa, I had spent most of my life trying to control the feelings of others and blaming them for my feelings.

By having expectations I was giving power away.  In order to become empowered I had to own that I had choices about how I viewed life, about my expectations.  I realized that no one can make me feel hurt or angry – that it is my expectations that cause me to generate feelings of hurt or anger.  In other words, the reason I feel hurt or anger is because other people, life, or God are not doing what I want them, expect them, to do.

I had to learn to be honest with myself about my expectations – so I could let go of the ones that were insane (like, everyone is going to drive the way I want them to), and own my choices – so I could take responsibility for how I was setting myself up to be a victim in order to change my patterns.  Accept the things I cannot change – change the things I can.” – Serenity and Expectations – intimately interrelated

Expecting other drivers to drive the way I think they “should” is absolutely, incredibly insane.  Talk about egotistical and arrogant.  I, being an excellent driver myself (how many people do you know that don’t think they are excellent drivers?), knew how people should drive – I was right and anyone who didn’t drive the way I thought they “should” was wrong.  I felt extremely, righteously justified in ranting and raving and cussing out other drivers – sometimes cutting them off and giving them the finger, while wishing I had a laser mounted on the roof of my car so that I could just vaporize them.  Luckily, this was in the days before people started shooting each other on the Freeways, or I may not have ever made it into recovery.  Actually, this was something I continued to do into my first few years of recovery.

Detaching enough to look with some objectivity at how I was relating to driving a car in L. A., allowed me to awaken to how insane it was to allow my emotions to be dictated by such a ridiculous expectation.  Then I was also able to look at my emotional reactions and get in touch with how dishonest I was being emotionally in relationship to other drivers.

What I came to understand about my emotional experience of driving, was that one of two things was happening.  One was, that other drivers were scaring me.  The way they were driving – either too slow or too fast, cutting me off, swerving back and forth between lanes, etc. – was causing an actual fear of survival reaction.  That kind of primal human emotional response that is generated by a sudden loud noise or any perception of a threat of physical harm.

When something scared me, and I reacted to the fear with anger – that was emotionally dishonest.  I wasn’t owning my true feelings.  In reaction to the jolt of fear energy that shot through me, I became the angry, self righteous victim of the other drivers “idiocy.”  The reality that this happened almost every time I drove on the freeway, just proved to me how many idiots there were out there – because I was relating to the experience from a victim perspective.  It was impossible for me to have any serenity because I was giving other drivers the power to throw me into anger – which often triggered the suppressed rage I was carrying at how unfair, unjust, and painful life was.

Once I started to look at what my part was in those emotional reactions, at how I was setting myself up with my expectations, then I could start to take responsibility for changing that which I have the power to change.  I learned to accept the thing I cannot change – other drivers – and change the thing I can, my attitude towards other drivers.  It was when I realized that this anger was emotionally dishonest, and what my part in empowering that emotional reaction was, that I was able to start taking back the power over my feelings that I was giving to those “idiots.”

After that, when something another driver did scared me, I would own the fear.  I would say out loud, “That scared me.”  Then I would say a prayer for the other driver.  I would ask that the other driver be helped to become happy, joyous, and free (knowing that the process of them opening up to that possibility would involve having their denial ripped away so they were not so unconscious – a prayer both Spiritually aligned and humanly selfish 😉 – and would offer up the incident as an amends for one of the thousands of times I had done something while driving that scared other drivers.

(During my years pursuing an acting career in Hollywood – the role of suffering artist being perfect for both my alcoholism / addiction and my codependent martyrdom – I lived out the romantic vision of the struggling actor by making my living by waiting tables and parking cars and driving a taxi.  Driving a cab for several years – often stoned – really built up the number of driving amends I owe.  Seeing those incidents as Karmic – what goes around comes around – also played a part in helping me to stop buying into the belief I was being unfairly victimized on the freeway.)

The second thing that I realized was happening, had to do with fear also.  This was the fear that caused me to try to control life.  That fear caused me to be very self obsessed.  I was getting angry because those people were getting in my way.  The immature, self centered perspective of life which was dictating my relationship with life, caused me to think and act as if I was the only person who was important.  I reacted out of an ego selfishness that told me these idiots should get out of my way because I had places to go and things to do that were much more important than anything they were doing.

This ego driven, self centered fear was directly related – both as cause and effect – to my unconsciousness, my inability to be present in the moment.  I was always caught up in the past or the future, and related to driving in traffic as a great inconvenience that was slowing me down. (Which, also, sometimes led to me driving too fast and cutting between lanes.)

The society I grew up in taught me that reaching the destination was what I should focus upon, was the thing that was vitally important.  I was always striving to reach the destination where I would be fixed, where I would be respected and loved.  When I reached that destination (college degree, fame and fortune, the right relationship, the Academy Award, etc.) then I would live “happily ever after.”

I was forever in pursuit – either of the illusive “happily ever after,” or for something to distract me from, or kill the pain of, feeling defective because I had not already reached the destination.  I was always bouncing between the extremes:  trying to figure out how to control my life, how to do the “right” things, to get “there” – or working on going unconscious (with alcohol, drugs, obsession, rumination, food, whatever) to escape the pain of being “here.”  Being “here,” being present in the moment in my own skin, was too painful because I had a dysfunctional relationship with my own emotions – and was carrying a ton of suppressed grief energy.

And it was so painful emotionally because the subconscious intellectual paradigm that was dictating my relationship with self and life, was insane, delusional, and dysfunctional.  I could never relax and enjoy life (without some chemical help, either from a substance or from an illusion/fantasy about love or success that would affect my brain chemistry) because wherever my life was at that point – according to the critical parent voice in my head – was not good enough and was my fault, or their fault.  I was always feeling like a victim. (Empowerment and Victimization – the power of choice)

I needed to start letting go of that destination programming and start learning how to be in the moment.  To actually be present and conscious while driving my car.  (What a concept!)  To start relating to driving as being a perfect part of my journey, a classroom – a wonderful arena for Spiritual growth.

When the rush hour traffic was disrupting my plans of getting someplace by a certain time, I would practice my Spiritual program.  I would take some deep breaths to get into, and conscious of, my body.  Then I would thank the Universe for this wonderful opportunity to practice patience and acceptance.  I would take some steps to let go of the urgency I felt – the inner child’s fear of doing it “wrong,” the feeling that the world would come to an end if things did not go the way I had planned them.  I would remind myself that life was a journey, and that this moment was a perfect part of that journey.  I would talk to my inner children and tell them it was okay – that if I was going to be late, that was a perfect part of God’s plan.  I would let go of my picture of how I thought things have to unfold for me to be okay.  I would affirm that I am Unconditionally Loved and am being guided on my journey.

I would look around me, to see if there was something the Goddess wanted me to see – and that perhaps, was the reason I was stuck in traffic.  I would remind myself that it was possible that this delay was really a wonderful gift.  That perhaps because I was being delayed:  I would not be in a traffic accident later that day:  or the timing would be perfect for me to run into someone I needed to see, that without the delay I would have missed;  or something to that effect.

I would remind myself that I am not in control of life, I am not writing the script, so:

I need to surrender the illusion that I am in control; 
remember that I have a Loving Higher Power who is in control; 
and be willing to accept reality as it was being presented to me, and take whatever action I could to make the best of the situation – to align with God’s will so I could flow with the Universal plan.  (Work steps 1, 2, & 3 – the dance of recovery.)

That action may just be to relax, be in the moment, and do some prayer and meditation (talk and listen to The Great Spirit – which can certainly include expressing my irritation for the delay.)  The action may be to figure out an alternate route, get off the freeway at the next opportunity and take surface streets – but not with that feeling of life and death urgency, rather with sense of adventure.  “This is an interesting twist, let’s see how this unfolds.”

I started to learn to take responsibility for my feelings – to own the things I have some control over.  Learning how to be emotionally honest with myself allowed me to start becoming empowered to take responsibility for my life and stop empowering insane expectations.  By focusing on letting go of the belief in victimization that was caused by my attitudes and perspectives – the mental level of my being – I could greatly decrease the feelings of victimization, the amount of emotional energy that was being generated on an emotional level.  I still had some feelings of being victimized, but I could be nurturing and Loving in relationship to those feelings – and set some Loving boundaries with my inner children who were reacting out of the immediate gratification urgency of a child.  (I am just going to die if I don’t get what I want!)

I learned to develop an observer self – a mature, recovering adult with a Spiritual perspective – that could tell the critical parent voice to shut up with all the shame and fear messages, and assure my inner children that everything was going to be okay because there is a Higher Power in charge of my life. (Learning to Love our self)

Twisted and Distorted is the Dance of the Emotional Cripple

“We are set up to be emotionally dysfunctional by our role models, both parental and societal.  We are taught to repress and distort our emotional process.  We are trained to be emotionally dishonest when we are children.”

Early in my recovery, it was vital for me to start realizing how emotionally crippled I had been by the role modeling and messages I had experienced growing up in an emotionally dishonest and dysfunctional culture.  I had to become conscious of how dysfunctional my relationship with my own emotions was, in order to start healing the dysfunction in my relationship with my self and life.

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.

“In order to find out who we are, we have to start being emotionally honest with ourselves.  And in order to be emotionally honest with ourselves, we have to start changing our perspective on our own emotional process.

As a child, I learned from the role modeling of my father that the only emotion that a man felt was anger.  From my mother, whose definition of love included the belief that you cannot be angry at someone you love, I learned that it was not okay to be angry at anyone I loved.  That left me with very little permission to feel anything.  That did not mean that I did not have feelings – it meant that I was at war with my own emotions, that I could not be honest with myself about having them.  As long as I could not be honest with myself emotionally there was no way I could know who I was.  Until I started owning the grief and rage from my childhood, the sadness and hurt and fear that I had denied all of my life, I was incapable of being honest with myself, incapable of knowing who I Truly was.”

I remember very distinctly the thoughts I had in one of my first AA meetings when several people at a podium spoke of being afraid.  My thought was, “Who are these people – talking so much about being afraid.  I was never afraid.  They stuck guns in my face and it didn’t scare me.”

I did not have permission from my self to acknowledge that I felt fear, because I had learned growing up that real men do not feel fear.  I was emotionally crippled because I did not have permission to own my fear – or my pain or sadness.  I had no permission to be emotionally vulnerable – “weak.”  So, like the manly man I was trained to be, instead of owning that I was afraid or hurt, I got angry.

The Truth, as I soon came to understand it, is that I had really been scared of everyone and everything.  I was scared because I knew I was not perfect, and I was sure that other people would discover what a shameful loser I was.  Scared that I would fail the life test – that I would never reach “happily ever after.”  Afraid that I would never find someone to Love me.  The little boy inside of me was scared that god would punish me for being unworthy – scared of being condemned to burn in hell forever.

While pursuing an acting career, I would pontificate to other actors, sharing my wisdom about the key to building a true character – which was to understand the characters gut level fears.  I maintained that all people were driven by their gut levels fears, and that any other levels of motivation were in reaction to that level of fear.  I was a very good actor.  I could really make characters come alive because of my insights into the human emotional process.  However, I personally was not afraid of anything.

Talk about emotional dishonesty.  The power of denial is truly awesome.  I could see other people with some degree of clarity, but I did not have a clear perspective of my my self.

What is so insidious about codependency, is that it is entrenched in our core relationship with self and life.  The intellectual paradigm that determines our perspective of our self – and therefore how we behave in relationship to life and other people – is subconscious until we get into recovery and start becoming conscious enough to stop being the victim of false beliefs, of delusional and insane expectations.  Until we start becoming conscious, we are powerless over our behavior because we cannot see our self with any objectivity.  Since the only choices in the polarized perspective of life (that was imposed upon me in childhood) were right or wrong – and wrong was shameful – my ego tried to protect me from the toxic shame I felt at the core of my being with denial and rationalization.

To own the incredible pain and shame I felt at the core of my being, the self hatred I felt towards myself for being imperfect and unlovable, felt like a threat to my survival.  So, my ego kept me in denial of any feelings which were not acceptable to the perspective of being a man I learned in childhood.

The subconscious beliefs that were dictating my relationship with self, told me that fear was not an acceptable emotion for a man – so I had to deny that I had any fear.  My subconscious intellectual paradigm, the beliefs that were defining my relationship with my own gender and emotions, severely limited my perspective of myself.

As long as I had a distorted and twisted perspective of my own emotions it was impossible to see my self with any clarity.  I was powerless to understand my self and my behaviors until I started to get emotionally honest with my self.  It is not possible for a person to be honest in relationships until they start getting emotionally honest in their relationship with self.

Control and fear – thinking to avoid feeling

Attempts to control are a reaction to fear.  I attempted to control life because I was so afraid.  As I explain in my book Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls, human beings have been doing life backwards due to a condition of reversity in the planetary energy field of Collective Human Emotional Consciousness.  One of the effects of this condition, is living life focused externally – trying to control things over which we have no control – while simultaneously judging and shaming ourselves because the way we are living life is not working.

“I spent most of my life doing the Serenity prayer backwards, that is, trying to change the external things over which I had no control – other people and life events mostly – and taking no responsibility (except shaming and blaming myself) for my own internal process – over which I can have some degree of control.  Having some control is not a bad thing; trying to control something or somebody over which I have no control is what is dysfunctional.  It was very important for me to start learning how to recognize the boundaries of where I ended and other people began, and to start realizing that I can have some control over my internal process in ways that are not shaming and judgmental – that I can stop being the victim of myself.”

I had to deny any emotions that were not acceptable to my subconscious programming in order to feel that I had some control of my life.  Since the only acceptable emotion to the definition of being a man I had learned growing up was anger – and even anger was only acceptable to feel in relationship to other men – I had to deny almost all of my feelings.

As a child I had to learn to disassociate, to not be present in the moment in my own skin, because the emotional pain was too great.  The primary way I learned to be unconscious early on was to be in my head to avoid the feelings.  Later on, I would use drugs and alcohol to escape being present “here” – in my body in the moment – but even then being in my head was my primary defense against feeling my feelings.

I would fantasize, intellectualize, and analyze.  I would focus on something or someone outside of myself – and was always caught up in the past or future.  I was not capable of being present in my own skin in the moment because it was not okay to feel my feelings.  Because I was living in so much fear – at the same time I could not acknowledge that I felt any fear – I had to put a great deal of energy into denying that fear.

I would escape from my emotional reality by thinking about the future – creating grandiose fantasies of a positive nature (rehearsing my Academy Award acceptance speech, or fantasizing about the unavailable woman I was currently obsessing about) or of a negative nature (worry, impending doom, financial insecurity) – or ruminating on the past, either beating myself up for something “stupid” I said or did, or wallowing in resentment and self pity about how someone had victimized me.  This is very dysfunctional because it generates more emotional energy.

“Worry is negative fantasizing.  It is a fantasy that is being created in reaction to feeling fear.  It is not real – it is something that is being created because my mind has slipped into the old familiar rut of right and wrong thinking.  Worry is not a feeling – it is a reaction, an negative emotional state, that is created by the perspectives of a belief system that empowers illusions like failure.  The sooner that we can pull ourselves out of that rut and start seeing the situation as part of a learning process – shift back into a recovery perspective – the less negative emotional response we will generate in relationship to the situation.

Emotions do not have value in and of themselves – they just are.  What gives emotions value is how we react to them.  We were programmed to react negatively to emotions and adapted defenses to try to keep from feeling emotional energy.  Being in our head worrying about the past or the future, is a defense against being in our own skin and feeling our feelings.  But it is dysfunctional – it does not work.  Reacting negatively to our feelings generates more feelings.   The more we worry, the more fear we generate. . . . . . .

When I catch myself worrying then I know that I am not being emotionally honest with myself.  Worry is a symptom that tells me I am avoiding some feelings.” – Discernment in relationship to emotional honesty and responsibility 2

In order to start getting emotionally honest with myself, I had to start becoming aware of the ways in which I was avoiding my feelings.  I learned to observe myself so that I could be conscious enough to catch myself when I was thinking to try to avoid feeling.

I realized that any time I was worrying about “what if,” or fantasizing about “if only,” or obsessing about a woman or the outcome of a situation, it was sign that I was being dishonest with myself emotionally.  I started to become aware of all the ways I had been taught by society to keep my feelings at bay.  The ways I talked and thought that helped me stay in denial of my feelings.

“Emotions are energy.  Actual physical energy that is manifested in our bodies.  Emotions are not thoughts – they do not exist in our mind.  Our mental attitudes, definitions, and expectations can create emotional reactions, can cause us to get stuck in emotional states – but thoughts are not emotions.  The intellectual and emotional are two distinctly separate though intimately interconnected parts of our being.  In order to find some balance, peace, and sanity in recovery it is vitally important to start separating the emotional from the intellectual and to start setting boundaries with, and between, the emotional and mental parts of our self. . . . . .

. . . . . . . I had to become aware that there were such things as emotions that lived in my body and then I had to start learning how to recognize and sort them out.  I had to become aware of all the ways that I was trained to distance myself from my feelings.  I am going to mention a few of them here to help any of you reading this in your process of becoming emotionally honest.

Speaking in the third person.  One of the defenses many of us have against feeling our feelings is to speak of ourselves in the third person.  “You just kind of feel hurt when that happens” is not a personal statement and does not carry the power of speaking in the first person.  “I felt hurt when that happened” is personal, is owning the feeling.  Listen to yourself and to others and become aware of how often you hear others and yourself refer to self in the third person.

Avoiding using primary feeling words.  There are only a handful of primary feelings that all humans feel.  There is some dispute about just how many there are primary but for our purpose here I am going to use seven.  Those are: angry, sad, hurt, afraid, lonely, ashamed, and happy.  It is important to start using the primary names of these feelings in order to own them and to stop distancing ourselves from the feelings.  To say “I am anxious” or “concerned” or “apprehensive” is not the same as saying “I am afraid.”  Fear is at the root of all those other expressions but we don’t have to be so aware of our fear if we use a word that distances us from fear.  Expressions like “confused,”  “irritated,” “upset,” “tense,” “disturbed,” “melancholy,” “blue,” “good,” or “bad” are not primary feeling words.

Emotions are energy that is meant to flow: E – motion = energy in motion.  Until we own it, feel it and release it, it cannot flow.  By blocking and repressing our emotions we are damming up our internal energy and that will eventually result in some physical or mental manifestation such as cancer or Alzheimer’s disease or whatever.” – The Journey to the Emotional Frontier Within

Someone could ask me if I was afraid, and I would respond, “No, I’m not afraid.  A little concerned perhaps, but certainly not afraid.”  Saying, “I am feeling some fear.” is a quite different energetic experience from saying, “I am a bit apprehensive.”  Naming and claiming the feeling is an important part of emotional honesty.  There is power in the way we express ourselves.  It is very important to start becoming aware of the emotional energy in our bodies.  In order to be present in our own skins in the moment, it is necessary to be consciously in touch with our feelings.

There was no way that I could start changing the way I was relating to life until I started to own my fear.  Fear is not a bad thing – just as sadness, pain, and anger are not negative or bad in and of themselves.  Emotions are a vital part of our being that need to be owned, honored, and respected.  Denial and repression of emotions is what leads to negative consequences.

“Emotions have a purpose, a very good reason to be – even those emotions that feel uncomfortable.  Fear is a warning, anger is for protection, tears are for cleansing and releasing.  These are not negative emotional responses!  We were taught to react negatively to them.  It is our reaction that is dysfunctional and negative, not the emotion.”

Human beings have a fear of the unknown for a reason.  It is part of our survival programming.  Because I did not have permission to own my fear, I was very out of balance emotionally.  It was impossible for me to own that I had fear and still feel that I had worth as a man, so the only options I had – according to the subconscious programming of my childhood – were to deny my fear or feel that I was defective as a man.

“Fear is an emotion that exists to serve us.  It provides a warning system to help us be aware of potential danger.  It is appropriate and healthy to be aware when we are driving.  To be conscious of potential threats.  It is important for us to be in touch with our fear so that we can pay attention to it when it sends us a message.

What is not functional is to completely empower fear or to deny it.  The 1 or 10 extremes of the disease.

Emotions are an incredibly powerful and important part of this experience we are having of being human.  Emotions are a vital part of our being – and dictate the quality of our life experience.

“Emotions have two vitally important purposes for human beings.  Emotions are a form of communication.  Our feelings are one of the means by which we define ourselves.  The interaction of our intellect and our emotions determines how we relate to ourselves.

Our emotional energy is also the fuel that propels us down the pathways of our life journey.  E-motions are the orchestra that provide the music for our individual dances – that dictate the rhythmic flow and movement of our human dance.  Our feelings help us to define ourselves and then provide the combustible fuel that dictates the speed and direction of our motion – rather we are flowing with it or damming it up within ourselves. . . . . . .

 . . . . there are two primary transformers from which emotional energy is generated.  Our ego self and our Spiritual Self.  Our ego was traumatized in childhood and programmed very dysfunctionally. The ego is the seat of the disease of codependence.” – Discernment in relationship to emotional honesty and responsibility 2

The ego is the part of us that composed the score and conducts the music for our dance of codependence.  It composed that score based upon the definitions, attitudes and beliefs it adapted in early childhood due to what our emotional experience of being a human child felt like.” – Newsletter part 2 May 2001 Update

Denying my fear was dysfunctional and emotionally dishonest.  Focusing on fear, giving it a great deal of power, is also dysfunctional – and can be immobilizing.  The extremes of the disease of codependency.

In writing the May 2001 Joy2MeU Update just quoted, I shared how I caught myself making a statement that set off alarm bells in my codependency control center – my observer self.  Observing and listening to myself made me aware that my fear of intimacy issues were up to be looked at again.  I subsequently did 3 Newsletter web pages of processing about those issues (and another 3 pages in my journal pages of the Joy2MeU Journal) in which I uncovered a level where I was being emotionally dishonest with myself – and was empowering some black and white thinking.

Recovery is on an ongoing process of uncovering, discovering, and recovering.  We have layer upon layer of wounding – which means layer upon layer of denial, emotional dishonesty, and rationalized perspectives.  We keep peeling another layer of the onion and getting to a deeper level of honesty – both intellectually and emotionally.

June 3rd will mark the 16th anniversary of my codependency recovery.  (I write this some time ago – my anniversary is June 3rd 1986: The Story of Joy to You & Me)  There are still times when I find the process irritating.  But the benefits have been incredible.  It is through healing my relationship with my self that I have found an incredible inner peace.  That I have learned to be present in the moment – and have some moments of Joy – every day.   Recovery works.

Focusing on the future or the past, blaming them or blaming me, underreacting or overreacting (stuffing my feelings until they exploded forth in ways that made me feel crazy and ashamed,) feeling triumphant over “winning” or wanting to die because I was such a loser, were the rhythms of my dance of codependency.  As long as I was in denial and unconsciously reacting to life I was doomed to “keep doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results.”  Unconsciousness doomed me to ride on a merry go round of cause and effect – never getting anywhere different emotionally.  As long as I was incapable of being emotionally honest with myself, I was doomed to keep repeating the patterns that dictated my emotional reality.

Codependency recovery is the path to finding enough freedom from the past to find happiness and Joy in being alive today.  I highly recommend it. 😉 – Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light  Book 2:  A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life  Chapter 4: False Self Image

Sacred Spiral

Codependency 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 chapter of this online book is available through my regular website: The codependency movement is NOT ruining marriages!

I have published some other chapters of this work as blogs including: Chapter 8 Codependents as Emotional Vampires,  Chapter 13: Changing the Music: Love instead of fear and shame, and Chapter 4false self image.

Cover of Inner Child Healing Book

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.)

The True Nature of Love – part 2, Love as Freedom

The Dance

“The Universal Creative Force, as I understand it, is the energy field of ALL THAT IS vibrating at the frequency of Absolute Harmony.  That vibrational frequency I call LOVE.  (LOVE is the vibrational frequency of God; Love is an energy vibration within The Illusion which we can access; love is, in our Codependent culture, most often an addiction or an excuse for dysfunctional behavior.) 

LOVE is the energy frequency of Absolute Harmony because it is the vibrational frequency where there is no separation.

Energy moves in wave-like patterns; what enables movement is the separation between the valley of the wave and its peak.  The distance from peak to peak is called it’s wavelength.  It is a law of physics that as vibrational frequency rises, as it gets higher, the wavelength gets shorter.  The frequency of LOVE is the vibrational frequency where wavelength disappears, where separation disappears.

It is a place of absolute Peace, motionless, timeless, completely at rest:  The Eternal Now

The Peace and Bliss of The Eternal Now is the True Absolute Reality of the God-Force.”

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

What is Love?  That is the question.  I have been quite balled up the last week in attempting to write this column.  No, that is not quite true – I have been unable to get into a space to even attempt to write this column.  I need to get into a certain space – need to be feeling a special kind of creative energy – to write about a topic such as this.  It was much easier to write last month’s column about “what Love is not.”  Then I was writing about something much more concrete, much more black and white (the irony of this – since one of the characteristics of the disease is black and white thinking – is fodder for a completely different column.)  The dynamics of the disease and the wounding process are very clear in my eyes.  I have experienced the type of love that is shaming, abusive, manipulative, smothering, intrusive, addictive, etc., my whole life. 

In fact, I learned a new word while writing this column.  As I was composing the above paragraph, and taking note of how much easier it was to write last month’s column, the word empirical came to mind.

So, I did what comes naturally when a word pops to mind – I looked it up.

empirical  1. Relating to or based on experience or observation.  2. Relying entirely or to excess upon direct, repeated, and uncritically accepted experience: opposed to metempirical.

Aha, a new word.

metempirical  1. Lying beyond the bounds of experience, as intuitive principles; not derived from experience; transcendental.

So, even though I just said that it was easier to write ‘what Love is not’ because of my experience – in Truth when I say that Love is not shaming and abusive, I am actually stating my intuitive Truth.  If I were just relying on my experience, I would say “love is shaming and abusive and controlling,” “love is being responsible for other people’s feelings and well being,” etc. – and that would be the Truth about love with a small l.  When I say Love is not shaming, I am talking about the True Nature of Love as I intuitively understand it.  Once I started to awaken to the reality that civilized society on this planet was based upon some false beliefs, then I started to be able to validate my intuitive feeling that something was dreadfully wrong here.  I Knew deep inside, from a very young age, that this was not my home.  I Knew that Love, if it was really such a wonderful thing, should not be so painful – just as I Knew it was ridiculous for both sides in a war to think that God was on their side and would help them kill the enemy.

Love that is Freedom

I could feel that Love must be something much greater than I had learned growing up.  If Love is so wonderful, if Love is the answer – then Love should set us Free.  That is what is coming up as I write this column – Love that is Freedom.  Love that is Joy.  Love that is the only Truth that has ever mattered.

Love that is Freedom – what does that mean?  To me it means the Freedom to be OK with being me.  The Freedom to relax and enJoy the moment.  The Freedom to be – just be, without having to strive, to work for, to try to reach, to prove myself, to earn Love, to get “there.”

It means: Freedom from shame.  Freedom from judgment.  Freedom from loneliness.  Freedom from feeling separate, different, not a part of, not acceptable.  Freedom from the endless, aching longing for something more.  Freedom from the hole in my soul – from the bottomless abyss of pain and shame and sadness that I feel at the core of my being.

This place is not my home.  When I yearn for Love, I am longing to go home.

“I was ‘transported with Joy’, and my ‘spirit was soaring’, as I danced on the rock.  And in my dancing and singing I Truly understood what those expressions meant.  For in being ‘transported’ and ‘soaring’ I was merely tuning into the vibrational frequency that is Joy and Love and Truth.  I could see clearly now how human beings throughout history had been trying to tune into Love.  The primal urge that has caused humans to attempt to ‘alter their consciousness’, through drugs or religion or food or meditation or whatever, is no more than an attempt to raise one’s vibrational frequency.  All any soul in body has ever done is to try to return home to God – we were just doing it all backwards because of the reversity of the planets energy field.” – The Dance of The Wounded Souls Trilogy Book 1 “In The Beginning . . . “ (Chapter 4)

“Humans have always been looking for a way home.  For a way to connect with our Higher Consciousness.  For a way to reconnect with our creator.  Throughout human history, human beings have used temporary artificial means to raise their vibrational level, to try to reconnect with Higher Consciousness.

Drugs and alcohol, meditation and exercise, sex and religion, starvation and overeating, the self-torture of the flagellant or the deprivation of the hermit – all are attempts to connect with higher consciousness.   Attempts to reconnect with Spiritual Self.   Attempts to go home.”

Part of the reason that I have had trouble in writing this column is because of the intellectual context I was approaching it from.  I was thinking that I had to know what I was talking about, had to be able to communicate to you the Truth about Love.  That was pretty silly of me.*  Love is what I am learning about.  Love is what recovery and healing are all about.  Love is the goal.  Love is home.

*[Actually, it was my disease at work – causing me to judge and shame myself for not feeling competent to write about the True Nature of Love. This disease of codependence is so incredibly insidious, treacherous, and powerful.  It continually turns back in on itself.  The disease doesn’t want me to take the risk of Loving and trusting my self and then it turns around and causes me to judge myself because I don’t Love my self.  I don’t Love myself because of the disease – the ego programming that is a result of being wounded and traumatized by being Spiritually orphaned in an alien environment.  By being born into and raised in an emotionally dishonest and dysfunctional, Spiritually hostile, shame based, Love mutilated (mutilate – 1. To deprive of a limb or essential part. 2. To damage or injure by the removal of an important part.) civilization on a planet where civilized societies have evolved based on the belief in separation and fear-based hostility – separation between beings, separation between humans and their environment, and separation between the flesh and the Spirit.  The civilization I was raised in is so sick and twisted that it took the teachings of the Master Teacher who came into body to teach us about Love and twisted those teachings into something shameful and hate-filled.  Jesus Christ carried a message of Love – not shame and judgment.]

“Due to the planetary conditions, the human ego developed a belief in separation – which is what made violence possible and caused the human condition as we inherited it. The reflection of that human condition on the individual level is the disease of Codependence. Codependence is caused by the ego being traumatized and programed in early childhood so that our relationship with ourselves and the God-Force is dysfunctional – that is, it does not work to help us access the Truth of ONENESS and Love. It is through healing our relationship with ourselves that we open our inner channel and start tuning into the Truth.” – Jesus & Christ Consciousness

Now what I thought last month was going to be one column about the True Nature of Love has turned into at least a 4 part series.  In dealing with the shame I was feeling about not knowing enough about Love to write about it’s True Nature, I have in fact been processing through that shame to get to a place where I can be free to write about the type of Love that can set me Free.  So, I will save “Love as a vibrational frequency” and “Love and romance” for future columns.

I have only a little experience with feeling Love that sets me Free – and that has come primarily since I have been in recovery.  In those moments when I am able to connect with Love in it’s True form, then I feel that all of the pain and suffering has been worth the experience.  Then I get a taste of what home really feels like.  Then I get to feel the Joy and Truth and Love that Truly does set me Free from the illusion of separation.  In those moments, I can sometimes even feel grateful for that illusion.  Because without the illusion of separation from The Source Energy, from Love – I would never have gotten the opportunity to experience Love.

I am going to end this column with a continuation of the quote from my book “The Dance of Wounded Souls” which I started it with.   This quote is from the very end of my book.  This is my intuitive Truth.  This is an important part of the understanding which has led to the beginning of my liberation from the shame.  This Truth has helped me to start Loving myself a little bit – to start Loving myself enough to be Free to start believing that maybe, just maybe I am Lovable and Loved.

“The Peace and Bliss of The Eternal Now is the True Absolute Reality of the God-Force.

The illusion of separation – the distance, the separation, between the peak and the valley – is what makes motion possible.  Separation is necessary for energy to be in motion.  The illusion of separation was necessary to create The Illusion.

As part of the ONENESS of ALL THAT IS, we are God and God is LOVE.  We are part of the Truth of ONENESS vibrating at LOVE.  As part of the ONENESS of LOVE we would never have been able to experience Love.  It is kind of like, “If you are sugar then you never get to taste sugar.”

In God we are LOVE.  Without the illusion of separation we would never have had the opportunity to experience Love.  Would never have been able to Love and be Loved.

Separation was necessary to allow us the incredible gift of experiencing Love, of Loving and being Loved.

The Illusion that caused all of the pain is also the vehicle for allowing us to feel and be Loved.

If you pursue your path of healing, I think that you will find as I have that it is very much worth it.  It is worth it to be able to experience Love.

This is the Age of Healing and Joy.  It is time to start remembering who you Truly are, to start feeling and tuning into the Truth which exists within you.

We are all butterflies.

We are all swans.

We are Spiritual Beings.

The Springtime of the Spirit has arrived:  It is possible to learn to Love yourself.

It is possible to be happy, Joyous, and free – if you are willing to be scared and hurt, angry and sad.

You are Lovable.

You are Loved.

You are LOVE.”

Sacred Spiral

Robert Burney is a pioneer in the area of codependency recovery / inner child healing. His first book Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls has been called “one of the truly transformational works of our time.”  His website Joy2MeU.com offers over 200 pages of free original content  on codependency recovery, inner child healing, relationship dynamics, alcoholism/addiction, fear of intimacy, Twelve Step Spirituality, New Age Metaphysics, emotional abuse, setting boundaries, grief process, and much more.  The Joy2MeU website is designed in an ancient design program which is not mobile friendly.  A new site – joy2meu2.com – is a redesign of joy2meu.com in a mobile friendly format. The Joy2MeU2 siteindex page that will help you to access most of his articles on mobile friendly sites (around 170.) 

Robert recently posted a sale page to generate some income prior to his birthday on July 23rd.  Special Birthday Sale in honor of Robert’s 70th (Egad!!) Birthday!!!  https://www.joy2meu2.com/special-birthday-sale

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Articles 3 through 6 of this series are now exclusively available in the Dancing in Light pay to view component of Joy2MeU.com  There are special offers for Dancing in Light and Joy2MeU Journal (where the Trilogy quoted can be accessed) subscription areas of Joy2MeU.

 

The True Nature of Love – part 1, what Love is not

The Dance

“We live in a society where the emotional experience of “love” is conditional on behavior.  Where fear, guilt, and shame are used to try to control children’s behavior because parents believe that their children’s behavior reflects their self-worth.

In other words, if little Johnny is a well-behaved, “good boy,” then his parents are good people.  If Johnny acts out, and misbehaves, then there is something wrong with his parents.  (“He doesn’t come from a good family.”)

What the family dynamics research shows is that it is actually the good child – the family hero role – who is the most emotionally dishonest and out of touch with him/herself, while the acting-out child – the scapegoat – is the most emotionally honest child in the dysfunctional family.  Backwards again.

In a Codependent society we are taught, in the name of “love,” to try to control those we love, by manipulating and shaming them, to try to get them to do the ‘right’ things – in order to protect our own ego-strength.  Our emotional experience of love is of something controlling:  “I love you if you do what I want you to do.”  Our emotional experience of love is of something that is shaming and manipulative and abusive.

Love that is shaming and abusive is an insane, ridiculous concept.  Just as insane and ridiculous as the concept of murder and war in the name of God.” – (Text in this color is used for quotes from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls)

One day several years into my recovery I had one of those insights, those moments of a light bulb going on in my head, that was the beginning of a major paradigm shift for me.  It was one of those moments of clarity which caused me to start reevaluating the mental perspectives and definitions that were dictating my emotional reactions to life.  My relationships with myself, with life, and with other people – and therefore my emotional reactions to life events and other people’s behavior – are dictated by the intellectual framework/paradigm that is determining my perspective and expectations.  So the intellectual attitudes, beliefs, and definitions that are determining my perspective and expectations dictate what emotional reactions I have to life – what my relationship to life feels like.

I am not sure if this particular insight came before or after I had started consciously working on recovery from my codependency issues.  I count my codependency recovery as starting on June 3, 1986 – exactly 2 years and 5 months into my recovery in another twelve step program.  It was on that day that I realized that my emotional relationship with life was being dictated by the subconscious programming from my childhood – not by the intellectual attitudes, beliefs, and definitions that I had consciously chosen as being what I believed as an adult.  To my horror I could see clearly that my behavioral patterns in my adult life were based on the beliefs and definitions that were imposed on me in early childhood.  And I could see that even though these subconscious beliefs were based partly on the messages I received, they were even more firmly grounded upon the assumptions that I made about myself and life because of the emotional trauma I had suffered and because of the role modeling of the adults that I had grown up around.

On that day 13 years ago (now 32 years ago) I Truly was able to see and admit to myself that I had been powerless to make healthy choices in my life because the emotional wounds and subconscious programming from my childhood had been dictating my emotional reactions to life, my relationship with myself and life.  The saying I had heard in recovery that ‘if you keep doing what you are doing, you will keep getting what you are getting’ suddenly became clear.  On that day, a paradigm shift occurred that allowed me to see life from a different perspective – a perspective that caused me to become willing to start doing the work necessary to change that intellectual programming and heal those emotional wounds.

Paradigm Shifting Insight

That is the way the recovery process has worked for me.  I have an insight that allows me to see an issue from a different perspective.  Once my perspective has started changing, the paradigm has started shifting, then I can see what needs to be changed in my intellectual programming in order to start changing my emotional reactions.  I see where I have been powerless – trapped by old attitudes and definitions – and then I have the power to change my relationship to that issue, which will change my emotional experience of life in relationship to that issue.

(When I started writing this column, I was not planning on focusing so much on the process – oh well, I guess it was necessary, and hopefully will be helpful to my readers.  Maybe, I just wanted to include the fact that my 13th anniversary in codependence recovery is upon me.  Whatever, I will get on with the column now.)

I don’t remember how the particular insight that I am writing about here came about – whether I heard it, or read it, or just had the thought occur (which would mean, to me, that it was a message from my Higher Self/Higher Power – of course any of those methods would be a message from my Higher Power.)  In any case, this particular insight struck me with great force.  Like most great insights, it was amazingly simple and obvious.  It was to me earth shattering/paradigm busting in it’s impact.  The insight was:

If someone loves you, it should feel like they love you.

What a concept!  Obvious, logical, rational, elementary – like ‘duh’ of course it should.

I had never experienced feeling loved consistently in my closest relationships.  Because my parents did not know how to Love themselves, their behavior towards me had caused me to experience love as critical, shaming, manipulative, controlling, and abusive.  Because that was my experience of love as a child – that was the only type of relationship I was comfortable with as an adult.  It was also, and most importantly, the relationship that I had with myself.

In order to start changing my relationship with myself, so that I could start changing the type of relationships I had with other people, I had to start focusing on trying to learn the True nature of Love.

This, I believe, is the Great Quest that we are on.  Anyone in recovery, on a healing/Spiritual path, is ultimately trying to find their way home to LOVE – in my belief.  LOVE is the Higher Power – the True nature of the God-Force/Goddess Energy/Great Spirit.  LOVE is the fabric from which we are woven.  LOVE is the answer.

And in order to start finding my way home to LOVE – I first had to start awakening to what Love is not.  Here are a few things that I have learned, and believe, are not part of the True nature of Love.

Love is not:

Critical            Shaming            Abusive            Controlling            Manipulative

Demeaning            Humiliating            Separating            Discounting

Diminishing            Belittling            Negative            Traumatic

Painful most of the time            etc.

Love is also not an addiction.  It is not taking a hostage or being taken hostage.  The type of romantic love that I learned about growing is a form of toxic love.  The “I can’t smile without out you,” “Can’t live without you.” “You are my everything,” “You are not whole until you find your prince/princess” messages that I learned in relationship to romantic love in childhood are not descriptions of Love – they are descriptions of drug of choice, of someone who is a higher power/false god.

Additionally, Love is not being a doormat.  Love does not entail sacrificing your self on the altar of martyrdom – because one cannot consciously choose to sacrifice self if they have never Truly had a self that they felt was Lovable and worthy.  If we do not know how to Love our self, how to show respect and honor for our self – then we have no self to sacrifice.  We are then sacrificing in order to try to prove to ourselves that we are lovable and worthy – that is not giving from the heart, that is codependently manipulative, controlling, and dishonest.

Unconditional Love is not being a self-sacrificing doormat – Unconditional Love begins with Loving self enough to protect our self from the people we Love if that is necessary.  Until we start Loving, honoring, and respecting our self, we are not Truly giving – we are attempting to take self worth from others by being compliant in our behavior towards them.

I also learned that Love is not about success, achievement, and recognition.  If I do not Love my self – believe at the core of my being that I am worthy and Lovable – then any success, achievement, or recognition I get will only serve to distract me temporarily from the hole that I feel within, from the feeling of being defective that I internalized as a small child because the love that I received did not feel Loving.

I realized that this is what I had done for much of my life – tried to take self worth from being a ‘nice guy’ or from a princess or from becoming a ‘success.’  As I started awakening to what Love is not, I could then start exploring to discover the True Nature of Love.  I started consciously realizing that this is what I had always been seeking – that my Great Quest in life is to return home to LOVE.

LOVE is the answer.  Love is the key.  The Great Quest in life is for the Holy Grail that is the True nature of Love.

Sacred Spiral

Robert Burney is a pioneer in the area of codependency recovery / inner child healing. His first book Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls has been called “one of the truly transformational works of our time.”  His website Joy2MeU.com offers over 200 pages of free original content  on codependency recovery, inner child healing, relationship dynamics, alcoholism/addiction, fear of intimacy, Twelve Step Spirituality, New Age Metaphysics, emotional abuse, setting boundaries, grief process, and much more.  The Joy2MeU website is designed in an ancient design program which is not mobile friendly.  A new site – joy2meu2.com – is a redesign of joy2meu.com in a mobile friendly format. The Joy2MeU2 siteindex page that will help you to access most of his articles on mobile friendly sites (around 170.) 

 

 

Chapter 21 – Uncover, Discover, Recover

BookCover3This is a chapter from my book  Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth

“Learning discernment is vital – not just in terms of the choices we make about who to trust, but also in terms of our perspective, our attitudes. 

The Dance

We learned about life as children and it is necessary to change the way we intellectually view life 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 is serving us – or if it is setting us up to be victims because we are expecting life to be something which it is not.” – Quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

I spoke in the Author’s Foreword to this book about how “We were set up to feel like failures in romantic relationships by the dysfunctional perspectives and expectations of love and romance we learned growing up.”  And as I mentioned while referring to the three blind men describing the elephant joke quote from my book at the beginning of the Author’s Foreword, in order to change our relationship with anything we need to change our perspective of it.  That means getting conscious of what perspectives we are reacting out of and starting to ask “Is my intellectual view of love and romance working for me?”

What is so important is to stop blaming your self – or the people you have been involved with – for the problems you have had in relationships.  You were truly set up – as were the people you were involved with.  It is not your fault!  You were brainwashed and conditioned to have an intellectual perspective of love and romance that is dysfunctional, that doesn’t work because it is based upon fairy tale thinking.  And it is vital to realize that the programming from your childhood is still in your subconscious dictating how you are reacting to life even if you have consciously discarded that thinking as an adult.

It is not your fault!!  That is a huge thing to realize.  That is great news!!  And you have the power to change it!  More great news!!!  You can change it by getting into codependency recovery / inner child healing, doing the the work I talk about on my website Joy2MeU.com and in my book: Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light Book 1 Empowerment, Freedom, and Inner Peace through Inner Child Healing.

There is nothing wrong with who we are – it is our relationship with our self and romance that got messed up in childhood.  We have the power to change that programming in order to change how we are relating to our self – this is really great news!

“Inner child work is in one way detective work.  We have a mystery to solve.  Why have I have I been attracted to the the type of people that I have been in relationship with in my life?  Why do I react in certain ways in certain situations?  Where did my behavior patterns come from?  Why do I sometimes feel so: helpless; lonely; desperate; scared; angry; suicidal; etc.

Just starting to ask these types of questions, is the first step in the healing process.  It is healthy to start wondering about the cause and effect dynamics in our life.

In our codependence, we reacted to life out of a black and white, right and wrong, belief paradigm that taught us that is was shameful and bad to be wrong, to make mistakes, to be imperfect – to be human.  We formed our core relationship with our self and with life in early childhood based on the messages we got, the emotional trauma we suffered, and the role modeling of the adults around us.  As we grew up, we built our relationship with self, other people, and life on the foundation we formed in early childhood.

When we were 5, we were already reacting to life out of the emotional trauma of earlier ages.  We adapted defenses to try to protect ourselves and to get our survival needs met.  The defenses adapted at 5 due to the trauma suffered at earlier ages led to further trauma when we were 7 that then caused us to adjust our defenses, that led to wounding at 9, etc., etc., etc.

Toxic shame is the belief that there is something inherently wrong with who we are, with our being.  Guilt is “I made a mistake, I did something wrong.”  Toxic shame is:  “I am a mistake. There is something wrong with me.”

It is very important to start awakening to the Truth that there is nothing inherently wrong with our being – it is our relationship with our self and with life that is dysfunctional.  And that relationship was formed in early childhood.

The way that one begins inner child healing is simply to become aware.

To become aware that the governing principle in life is cause and effect.

To become aware that our relationship with our self is dysfunctional.

To become aware that we have the power to change our relationship with our self.

To become aware that we were programmed with false beliefs about the purpose and nature of life in early childhood – and that we can change that programming.

To become aware that we have emotional wounds from childhood that it is possible to get in touch with and heal enough to stop them from dictating how we are living our life today.

That is the purpose of inner child healing – to stop letting our experiences of the past dictate how we respond to life today.  It cannot be done without revisiting our childhood.

We need to become aware, to raise our consciousness.  To create a new level of consciousness for ourselves that allows us to observe ourselves.

It is vitally important to start observing ourselves – our reactions, our feelings, our thoughts – from a detached witness place that is not shaming.

We all have an inner critic, a critical parent voice, that beats us up with shame, judgment, and fear.  The critical parent voice developed to try to control our emotions and our behaviors because we got the message there was something wrong with us and that our survival would be threatened if we did, said, or felt the “wrong” things.

It is vital to start learning how to not give power to that critical shaming voice.  We need to start observing ourselves with compassion.  This is almost impossible at the beginning of the inner child healing process – having compassion for our self, being Loving to our self, is the hardest thing for us to do.

So, we need to start observing ourselves from at least a more neutral perspective.  Become a scientific observer, a detective – the Sherlock Holmes of your own inner process as it were.

We need to start being that detective, observing ourselves and asking ourselves where that reaction / thought / feeling is coming from.  Why am I feeling this way?  What does this remind me of from my past?  How old do I feel right now?  How old did I act when that happened?” – Inner Child Healing – How to begin

Recognition, awareness, is the first step in healing.  Becoming aware is the beginning of getting to know our self – so that we can start getting honest with ourselves.   As long as we are reacting unconsciously out of old tapes and old wounds, we are not capable of seeing ourselves clearly – which means we can’t see other people clearly either.  As long as we are reacting to life out of toxic shame and the fear of being wrong – we are not capable of seeing our self with any compassion or objectivity.

Growing up in codependent cultures we learned that self worth was a competitive issue because we were taught to have ego strength through comparison – better grades than, prettier than, better athlete than, nicer person than, etc.  We don’t love our neighbor as our self because we did not get taught to love our self – and because we are comparing out self to our neighbor, trying to feel good about our self by feeling better than them.

We need to learn to stop buying into the dynamics of codependency – outer or external focus, competitive comparison, destination thinking, keeping up appearances, looking good (or at least not looking bad), worrying about what other people think of us, trying to avoid being wrong, trying to always be right. trying to overcome the shame of being an imperfect human being – in order to start understanding our self and why we have lived our life the way we have.  It is necessary to start learning how to have compassion for our self – and learn to accept that we are lovable and worthy – in order to become available to be loved.

We need to become – as I said in the quote from my inner child healing article above – the Sherlock Holmes of our own inner process so that we can start changing the programming – stop having perspectives and expectations of romance and love that are dysfunctional.  We need to start becoming more conscious and owning our power to change how we are relating to love and romance – change our relationship with our self, life, and other people into ones that work better to help us find some Joy and Love in life.

“The only way that we can be in recovery from codependency is to start changing the way we are looking at, and relating to, our self.   We have to get more conscious of what is going on inside of us in order to change how we are relating to our self – so that we can change the way we relate to life and other people.

In other words, we need to start taking responsibility for our own lives.  We need to start owning our power to change our relationship with self.   We need to start learning how to make choices instead of just react.  We can have the ability to respond – response ability – to life differently once we start becoming more conscious.

And the key to becoming more conscious is to start learning how to process what is going on in our lives in a way that will give us more clarity.

“The process of processing is a dynamic that in many ways is easier to demonstrate over time than it is to explain.  Explaining it on an intellectual level is complicated and difficult because the process itself involves being able to look at multiple levels.  The recovery process is spiritual, emotional, and mental.  These levels are separate but intimately interrelated.

In learning how to achieve some emotional balance in our lives, it is necessary to be able to look at our self, our own inner process, and the life dynamic itself, from different perspectives.  It is this looking at different levels that is the process of processing.  Processing is a matter of looking at, filtering, discerning, getting clear about what is happening at any given moment in our relationship with life, with ourselves, with everything that is stimulating us.” – The Recovery Process for inner child healing 1: Sharing my experience, strength, and hope

Consciousness involves being actively conscious of how different parts of us are reacting to whatever is happening in our lives at any particular moment.  I learned that I needed to observe / keep scanning / paying attention to / taking inventory of, what was happening in my internal dynamic and in my external environment continually in order to be on guard so that I wasn’t allowing the old tapes and wounds from the past to define and dictate my experience of life today.

“It is in relationship to learning how to set internal boundaries that the process of processing is so important.  Processing involves observing our own internal dynamic.  Observing our thoughts and feelings.  It is very important to raise our consciousness, to become more conscious, of our own process.

When we start observing our internal process then we can start discerning between the different levels involved – we can start separating out the codependent, dysfunctional messages from the information that is useful and informative.  Then we can start setting internal boundaries within the mental, between the mental and emotional, and within the emotional levels of our being.” – The Recovery Process for inner child healing 4 – the process of processing – internal boundaries

Codependency is not an issue we deal with and then get on with our lives.  Recovery is a way of life.  It is necessary to move through our life with consciousness in order to stop the childhood programming from running our lives.  The more we recover, the less power the old tapes and old wounds have – but they do not go away.

“It is through healing our inner child, our inner children, by grieving the wounds that we suffered, that we can change our behavior patterns and clear our emotional process.  We can release the grief with its pent-up rage, shame, terror, and pain from those feeling places which exist within us.

That does not mean that the wound will ever be completely healed.  There will always be a tender spot, a painful place within us due to the experiences that we have had.  What it does mean is that we can take the power away from those wounds.   By bringing them out of the darkness into the Light, by releasing the energy, we can heal them enough so that they do not have the power to dictate how we live our lives today.  We can heal them enough to change the quality of our lives dramatically.  We can heal them enough to Truly be happy, Joyous and free in the moment most of the time.”

In recovery we are developing a sense of balance, a feeling for what balance feels like, so that we can catch ourselves when we are swinging out of balance.  We are here to experience being human and to do this healing.  If we are not in recovery, then we can not be consciously present in the moment to enjoy our journey.  I did not title my book the “dance” of wounded souls just out of poetic whimsy – life is a dance.

“Emotional balance is not a destination.  It is a constantly changing dance.  In doing our reprogramming intellectually, and our emotional and Spiritual healing – we are changing the music of our dance.  We are choosing to have the opportunity to dance with Love and Joy, to dance in Light and Truth – instead of in darkness and disharmony.  In order to have the capacity to dance with Love and Joy, we must first be willing to dance with our anger and fear, with the pain and sadness.  Through owning our wounded inner children, we get to uncover and release the spontaneous, playful, Joyous Spiritual child within that is the one who will lead us home to LOVE.

Balance in dancing is about having a feeling for equilibrium, moving in harmony, adjusting, balancing, rebalancing.  Likewise our inner dance of finding balance is an ongoing process – ever changing, fluctuating, oscillating in tune with the vibrational rhythms.  Once we learn to have a sense of balance, a feeling for emotional clarity, then we are able to adjust and rebalance more quickly when some external (life event, other people’s behavior) or internal (wounded child reaction, old tape kicking in) stimuli throws us out of balance.” – The Recovery Process for inner child healing  4 – the process of processing – internal boundaries

The more conscious we become, the more we can relax and enjoy the journey.

“The healthier we get, the more emotional healing we do, the less extreme our emotional reaction / response spectrum grows.  The growth process works kind of like a pendulum swinging.  The less we buy into the toxic shame and judgment, the less extreme the swings of the pendulum become.  The arc of our emotional pendulum becomes gentler, and we can return to emotional balance much quicker and easier.  But we don’t get to stay in the balance position.  Life is always rocking our boat – setting our emotional pendulum to swinging.  By not taking life events and other peoples behavior so seriously and personally, by observing our process with some degree of detachment instead of getting so hooked into the trauma drama soap opera victimology that is a reaction to our childhood wounds, we learn to not give so much power over our emotions to outside influences and events.

I have choices today in regard to how I am relating to myself, to other people, to life.  I am able to accept the things I cannot change much more quickly, and change the primary thing which I have the power to change – that is, my attitude toward the things I cannot change – so that I do not get caught up in a victim perspective.  By not buying into the illusion that I am a victim – of myself, of other people, of life – my emotional swings stay on a much evener keel and I experience a much gentler emotional spectrum in my day to day relationship with life.” – Discernment in relationship to emotional honesty and responsibility 1

In my recovery I realized that about 90% of the stress in my life before codependency recovery was caused by the attitudes and beliefs I was empowering.  Once I got aware of how my perspectives and expectations (which were reactions to my childhood programming and emotional wounds and therefore something I was powerless over until I got conscious of them) were setting me up to be a victim, then I could start owning the power to change my emotional experience of life .  Then I could start to take responsibility for my life and eliminate the stress that I was creating in reaction to dysfunctional programming.” – Joy2MeU Update August 2002

As I have mentioned in the quote above, there are multiple levels and facets to the process of recovery.

“The individual human being is a fully contained system involving multiple interrelationships within multiple levels.  This is easy to see, and understand, when looking at the physical level.  The interrelationship of the organs to each other, to the blood, to the skin, to the nervous system, etc. – is a dance of grand, and compelling, complexity.

Just as grand, and compelling, is the complexity of the dance of interrelationship between the mental, emotional, and spiritual components/levels that dynamically interact to form the make up of the individual being – the persona, personality, consciousness, of the self.  The more awareness is acquired about the different levels of the self, and the interrelationships between those levels, the easier it becomes to diagnose the dysfunctional interaction dynamics.” – Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life Author’s Foreword

One of the levels of codependency recovery is intellectual – becoming aware of the conscious and subconscious intellectual programming so that we can start changing the programming that is not working for us.  Another level is the emotional.  We have a dysfunctional relationship with our own emotions because grew up in emotionally dishonest, dysfunctional cultures.

“We were trained to be dishonest.  We also got taught to be emotionally dishonest.  We got told not to feel our feelings with messages like, don’t cry, don’t be afraid – at the same time we saw how our parents lived life out of fear.  We got messages that it was not okay to be too happy when our exuberance was embarrassing to our parents.  Many of us grew up in environments where it was not okay to be curious, or adventurous, or playful.  It was not okay to be a child.

In any society where:

emotional dishonesty is not just the standard but the goal (keep up appearances, don’t show vulnerability);

as children we learned that we had power over other people’s feelings (you make me angry, you hurt my feelings, etc.);

being emotional is considered negative (falling apart, loosing it, coming unglued, etc.);

gender stereotypes set twisted, unhealthy models for acceptable emotional behavior (real men don’t cry or get scared, it is not ladylike to get angry);

parents without healthy self esteem see their children as extensions of self that can be either assets or deficits in their own quest for self worth;

families are isolated from any true reality of community or tribal support;

shame, manipulation, verbal and emotional abuse are considered standard tools for behavior modification in a loving relationship;

long embedded societal attitudes support the belief that it is shameful to be human (make mistakes, not be perfect, to be selfish, etc.);

any human being is denigrated and held to be less worthy for any inherent characteristic (gender, race, looks, etc.);

results in a very emotionally unhealthy society.

We were set up to be codependent.  We were trained and programmed in childhood to be dishonest with ourselves and others.  We were taught false, dysfunctional concepts of success, romance, love, life.  We could not have lived our lives differently because there was no one to teach us how to be healthy.  We were doing the best we knew how with the tools, beliefs, and definitions we had – just as our parents were doing the best they knew how.

We have new tools now.  We have information and knowledge that was not available until recently.  We can change the way we live our lives.  It is important to stop shaming ourselves for living life the way we were programmed to live, in order to start learning how to live in a way that is more functional – in a way that works to help us have some peace and happiness in our lives.  The only way to be free of the past is to start seeing it more clearly – without shame and judgment – so that we can take advantage of this wonderful time of healing that has begun.

Codependency has been the human condition.  We now have the knowledge and power to change our relationship with ourselves.  That is how we can change the human condition.” – The Condition of Codependency

One of the reasons communication is so hard between people is because we were never taught how to understand our own internal communication.  We were taught to focus externally and to have a dysfunctional relationship with our own emotions.

“Emotions have two vitally important purposes for human beings.  Emotions are a form of communication.  Our feelings are one of the means by which we define ourselves.  The interaction of our intellect and our emotions determines how we relate to ourselves.

Our emotional energy is also the fuel that propels us down the pathways of our life journey.  E-motions are the orchestra that provide the music for our individual dances – that dictate the rhythmic flow and movement of our human dance.  Our feelings help us to define ourselves and then provide the combustible fuel that dictates the speed and direction of our motion – rather we are flowing with it or damming it up within ourselves.” – Discernment in relationship to emotional honesty and responsibility 2

All human beings feel the same basic emotions.   All human beings have the same basic emotional dynamics – and the same fundamental internal dynamics in terms of the interrelationship of the mental and emotional components of our beings.  Codependency can look very different on the outside – but the internal dynamics are the same.  I sometimes compare codependency to Baskin & Robins (an ice cream franchise that advertised that they had 64 flavors) saying, there may be 64 flavors but it is all still ice cream.  My codependence may look very different from yours on the outside, but the internal dynamics are basic and the same for all humans.

It is so important to learn to become more conscious of our own internal dynamics – and learn to intervene to set internal boundaries so that we don’t let the old tapes / programming cause us to shame and judge ourselves for being imperfect human beings.  If we don’t start stopping the shame and judgment internally, we will not ever be available to be in a relationship that is loving.

“We need to take the shame and judgment out of the process on a personal level. It is vitally important to stop listening and giving power to that critical place within us that tells us that we are bad and wrong and shameful.

That “critical parent” voice in our head is the disease lying to us. Any shaming, judgmental voice inside of us is the disease talking to us – and it is always lying. This disease of Codependence is very adaptable, and it attacks us from all sides. The voices of the disease that are totally resistant to becoming involved in healing and Recovery are the same voices that turn right around and tell us, using Spiritual language, that we are not doing Recovery good enough, that we are not doing it right. 

We need to become clear internally on what messages are coming from the disease, from the old tapes, and which ones are coming from the True Self – what some people call “the small quiet voice.”

 We need to turn down the volume on those loud, yammering voices that shame and judge us and turn up the volume on the quiet Loving voice.  As long as we are judging and shaming ourselves we are feeding back into the disease, we are feeding the dragon within that is eating the life out of us.  Codependence is a disease that feeds on itself – it is self-perpetuating.

This healing is a long gradual process – the goal is progress, not perfection.  What we are learning about is unconditional Love.  Unconditional Love means no judgment, no shame.”

I had to become more aware of my own internal process to start recognizing when I was reacting to old tapes and old wounds.  As long as I was not aware, then I was doomed to keep repeating my patterns of reacting to extremes – I was powerless.  By becoming more aware I could start owning the power to make choices – to be discerning – about what I allow to run my life, what attitudes and feelings I am allowing to define my self and my life experience.  Then I could start setting internal boundaries so that I could take power away from the old tapes and the old wounds.

“I needed to learn how to set boundaries within, both emotionally and mentally by integrating Spiritual Truth into my process. Because “I feel feel like a failure” does not mean that is the Truth. The Spiritual Truth is that “failure” is an opportunity for growth. I can set a boundary with my emotions by not buying into the illusion that what I am feeling is who I am. I can set a boundary intellectually by telling that part of my mind that is judging and shaming me to shut up, because that is my disease lying to me. I can feel and release the emotional pain energy at the same time I am telling myself the Truth by not buying into the shame and judgment.

If I am feeling like a “failure” and giving power to the “critical parent” voice within that is telling me that I am a failure – then I can get stuck in a very painful place where I am shaming myself for being me. In this dynamic I am being the victim of myself and also being my own perpetrator – and the next step is to rescue myself by using one of the old tools to go unconscious (food, alcohol, sex, etc.) Thus the disease has me running around in a squirrel cage of suffering and shame, a dance of pain, blame, and self-abuse.

By learning to set a boundary with and between our emotional truth, what we feel, and our mental perspective, what we believe – in alignment with the Spiritual Truth we have integrated into the process – we can honor and release the feelings without buying into the false beliefs.

The more we can learn intellectual discernment within, so that we are not giving power to false beliefs, the clearer we can become in seeing and accepting our own personal path. The more honest and balanced we become in our emotional process, the clearer we can become in following our own personal Truth.”

What we are doing in recovery is learning to live life by the rules that life actually works by – in alignment with metaphysical law – instead of the rules we learned as children which do not work at all.  Trying to do things “right” / perfect or find the “right” person to help us get to “happily-ever-after” doesn’t work.

“One of the reasons for the human dilemma, for the confusion that humans have felt about the meaning and purpose of life, is that more than one level of reality comes into play in the experience of being human.  Trying to apply the Truth of one level to the experience of another has caused humans to become very confused and twisted in our perspective of the human experience.  It is kind of like the difference between playing the one-dimensional chess that we are familiar with, and the three-dimensional chess played by the characters of Star Trek – they are two completely different games.

That is the human dilemma – we have been playing the game with the wrong set of rules.  With rules that do not work.  With rules that are dysfunctional.”Author’s Foreword from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

The rules we learned for romantic relationships are even more dysfunctional than the rules we learned for doing life in general.  It is vital to get more awareness so that we can practice discernment and own our power to change our relationship with self, with life, with other people – especially with another person in a romantic relationship.

The articles in this section of the book will hopefully help you in your understanding:  of how you were programmed and brainwashed with dysfunctional perspectives – and that you can change that programming;  of how you were taught to have a dysfunctional relationship with your own emotions so that you don’t know how to be emotionally honest and intimate with your self – let alone with another person;  of how to have a perspective of metaphysics that is balanced enough to help you be healthier in your relationships with your self and life now.  I will also be sharing how I was able to heal my fear of intimacy enough to go from having a relationship phobia to being in a successful relationship for many years now.  I hope you find this information helpful. – Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth Chapter 21 – Uncover, Discover, Recover  Consciousness / Awareness + Discernment can help us find balance

Sacred Spiral

Cover of book on romantic relationshipsI have special offers for Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth on this page. (which includes offers for my other books also.)

When you purchase Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth  Codependent Dysfunctional Relationship Dynamics & Healthy Relationship Behavior through Joy2MeU you get a personally autographed copy;-) but you can also purchase through Amazon.com, Amazon.UK, or Barnes & Noble.

The Greatest Arena is also available as two ebooks (each only $9.95) eBook 1: Codependent Dysfunctional Relationship Dynamics & Healthy Relationship Behavior (the first 20 chapters of The Greatest Arena) is available on Amazon, on Amazon UK, on Barnes & Noble, or in Kobo format.

Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth eBook 2: Deeper Within (emotionally) & Further Out (metaphysically) From Fear of Intimacy to Twin Souls (chapters 21 through 40 of The Greatest Arena) is available on Amazon and Amazon UK, on Barnes & Noble, or in Kobo format.

Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth eBook 1: Codependent Dysfunctional Relationship Dynamics & Healthy Relationship Behavior now also available as an audio book on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.

My Sobriety Date: January 3rd, 1984

On January 1st, 2020 I am updating and doing some editing to this blog post that I put together 2 years ago using excerpts from different places in my writing where I talk about getting sober.  On Friday January 3rd, 2020, I will be 36 years clean and sober.

“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.

“When I first came to 12 step recovery I was appalled to think that I had to admit that I was powerless.  Then when they told me that I had a disease I was relieved to think that all those years of insane behavior were not my fault.  I still had problems with powerlessness and surrender however.  To surrender meant to be a loser in my mind.  What helped me was when someone told me that surrender didn’t mean I was a loser, it just meant that I was smart enough to join the winning side.

One thing I sometimes say in AA meetings is that I was a ‘Frank Sinatra’ type of alcoholic.  I used to sit in bars and get teary eyed when they played My Way – because I was doing it ‘my way,’ I thought.  One of the first things I had to surrender to, was realizing that my way wasn’t working very good.  One of the next things I had to surrender was my subconscious belief that it was not possible to live life without drugs and alcohol.” – The Miracle of The Twelve Step Recovery Process: The first three steps

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 2020  is my 34th 36th 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

1-1-2020: I have a page with special offers for this Holiday Season if anyone is interested.  And also wanted to mention my Mobile Friendly site that I launched in June 2018.

Joy2MeU Journal Logo

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