The Age of Reason – Darien and the Tooth Fairy

My step grandson / godson Darien turned 7 in November 2011 – and I wrote this in early 2012. 

The age of 7 is a vital milestone in the child developmental process.  Recognizing the significance of this milestone many years ago was a key to me understanding the disease of codependence.

The “age of reason” is actually a phrase that I have heard since childhood – because growing up Catholic it was at the age of reason that one could first take communion.  Basically it means that the part of a child’s brain that understands cause and effect, and logic – and abstract concepts – doesn’t fully develop until around 7.

“The part of a child’s brain that is logical and rational, that understands abstract concepts (like time or death), that can have any kind of an objective perspective on self or life, does not develop until about the age of 7 (the age of reason.)  As little children we were completely ego-centric and magical thinking.” – Reprogramming our dysfunctional ego defenses

In my telephone counseling and my Intensive Training workshops, I have evolved a way of explaining the importance of this that I don’t think I have ever written in quite the way I explain it these days – so I think I will write about this a bit.  It was for me of utmost importance to recognize the significance of how we were affected by our environments in early childhood to not only understand codependence, but even more importantly to be able to start forgiving ourselves for something that wasn’t our fault, for something we had no control over.  And I also want to acknowledge how perfect it is to have had Darien in my life for the last almost 7 years, because I got to watch his developmental process in action in ways that confirmed what I had intuitively come to understand years before.  This story I am going to share has to do with Darien coming into the age of reason.

Prior to 7, we are primarily ego-centric and magical thinking.  Our parents were our Higher Powers – the God and Goddess in our lives – and we had no realistic perspective of them whatsoever.  As we are starting to grow up, we start to understand basic cause and effect – like, when you turn on the light switch the light comes on, the kinds of things I watched Darien discover with delight.  But we can’t understand more abstract concepts.  We are not capable of process thought.  For instance, when we are 3 or 4 or 5, we are not capable of thinking to ourselves, “Wow, Mom must be having a really bad day – that’s why she is yelling at me.”  We just know that Mom is yelling at us.  We do not have the ability to have a perspective that helps us understand that our parents have stress in their lives, or that the ways they are acting may have nothing to do with us.

As I said, we are ego-centric – we are the center of the Universe as far as we know.  We took their behavior, the ways they treated us and the messages we got from them – both direct messages and indirect ones through their role modeling – personally.  We thought what was happening had to do with us – because we weren’t capable of seeing it any other way.

So anything that felt abusive, any kind of deprivation, anything in the environment that was uncomfortable – fighting, anxiety, depression, alcoholism, etc. – we took personally and internalized.  We were the center of our Universe and it felt like the things that were painful and uncomfortable were our fault somehow.  In my inner child work, I got in touch with the reality that by the time I was about 5 I felt ashamed that I wasn’t able to protect my mother from my father – I felt like a failure somehow.  Children are magical thinking.  They feel like they have the power to cause fights, to cause drinking, to cause death even for some of us.

This is where the core of codependence comes from – what I call toxic shame.  The difference between guilt and shame in my definition, is that guilt is about behavior (I did something wrong, I made a mistake) – while shame is about our being (something is wrong with me, I am a mistake.)  It is the place deep inside of us where we feel somehow defective, somehow unlovable and unworthy because our parents were wounded.  They didn’t know how to love themselves or be emotionally healthy – so they could not love us in a healthy way.  They were our Higher Powers so we couldn’t conceive that they weren’t perfect.  We learned how to relate to our self, to life, and to other people in early childhood from people that were wounded in their childhoods.

“”The Family Systems Dynamics research shows that within the family system, children adopt certain roles according to their family dynamics.  Some of these roles are more passive, some are more aggressive, because in the competition for attention and validation within a family system the children must adopt different types of behaviors in order to feel like an individual.” . . .

. . . . It is important to note that we adapt the roles that are best suited to our personalities.  We are, of course, born with a certain personality.  What happens with the roles we adapt in our family dynamic is that we get a twisted, distorted view of who we are as a result of our personality melding with the roles. This is dysfunctional because it causes us to not be able to see ourselves clearly.  As long as we are still reacting to our childhood wounding and old tapes then we cannot get in touch clearly with who we really are.” – Roles In Dysfunctional Families

The feeling that there is something wrong with me – toxic shame – is the foundation that we built our relationship with self on.  It is the foundation of codependence.

Then what happens, is that our ego – which is the part of our being whose job is to help us survive – adapts an emotional and behavioral defense system to help us fit into the rules of our dysfunctional family so that we can survive.  One of a child’s jobs is to manipulate it’s environment in order to survive – so a child will adapt whatever works.  If throwing temper tantrums works;  if crying works;  if being the good child works;  if trying to be invisible is what works;  if being the family clown is what works;  that is what a child will adapt.  Neurological researchers now state that the neural pathways in our brain that relate to relating to other human beings are pretty well set by the time we are four or five years old.

“One of the new links I recently added to my recommend links page is to a great movie: What the Bleep Do We Know!?  It is a movie about quantum physics – and I didn’t just like it because they sounded like they were quoting from my book at times.  It is really quite fascinating stuff.  One of the things that was especially gratifying to me had to do with the neural pathways in the brain.  I have been telling people for quite a few years that it was possible to reprogram the neural pathways in our brains by doing the inner child healing work – but that was an intuitive Knowing on my part.  It was something that I Knew to be Truth – even though I wasn’t real clear on exactly what neural pathways were.  In the movie they have some wonderful animation – that among other things shows how the neural pathways can be programmed either negatively or positively depending upon what attitudes and perspectives a person chooses to empower.” – Update Newsletter December 2004

In childhood we had attitudes and perspectives imposed upon us.  We learned to relate to life out of fear, shame, and scarcity because that was how our parents were programed to relate to life.

Codependence is an ego defense system adapted in early childhood – and after early childhood what we do is add more layers to what is already a dysfunctional system.  It is a dysfunctional defense system because it is based on a lie – the lie being that there is something wrong with who we are, with our being.  There is nothing wrong with who we are – it is our relationship with self (and life and other people) that is all messed up because we did not have the mental capacity to understand that what was happening in our families was not personal.  We did not have the ability to see that our parents were wounded and reacting to their own wounds – they were our Higher Powers.

When we get to be 8 or 9, we start to see the hypocrisy and the lies – but by then our relationship with our self is being dictated by the feeling that we had in early childhood that there was something wrong with who we are as a being.  We are already programmed to feel like it is shameful to be imperfect and to look outside for validation in competition with others.

Darien and The Tooth Fairy

The dilemma Susan and I had recently was – “what should we tell him when something happens to cause him to question if there is a tooth fairy?”  Do we tell him the truth or let him continue with the magical thinking?

It was about a week before Christmas when Darien lost another tooth.  It was his fourth baby tooth that he has lost.  And it happened the same way that the last tooth was lost, in the kid’s klub at the gym.  On the way to the gym that day, I got a foreshadowing of what was to come in a way.  In a reminder that he was at the age of reason, he said on the way to the gym, “How can Santa Claus take toys to every house in the world all in one night?”

I didn’t really answer his question – even though he asked it several more times, because I didn’t want to hurry the process along.  I want to let him reach his own conclusions in his own time, and not lay the truth on him when he wasn’t ready for it.

That night he put his tooth in a box under his pillow for the tooth fairy to take and leave him some money.  But the tooth fairy (that would be me – his grandpa) forgot about the tooth in the box.  So did he.  The next morning as he was getting ready for school, he was brushing his teeth and that reminded me that he had lost the tooth the night before and his grandma didn’t know about it.  Without thinking I said, “Darien lost another tooth yesterday” – and then realized I hadn’t taken care of the tooth.  I headed for his bed while Susan delayed him – and I quickly put a dollar in the box and put it back under the pillow.

But I forgot to take out the tooth!

He was glad to see the dollar but then noticed the tooth.  And then he got mad at me and said something like, “Why did you do that grandpa?”  Then, I think the thought occurred to him that I was the tooth fairy – and it made him angry.  He went into the bathroom and locked the door.  I asked him if he didn’t need help brushing his hair – and he said “I will do it myself.”  We could hear that he was really mad about it.

On the way to school he start asking about it – if I had put the dollar in the box the other times.  I avoided answering the first few times, and then admitted it.  He started crying at the thought that there was no tooth fairy.  Then another thought occurred to him, and he asked, “Do you have my other teeth, because I don’t remember what they looked like?”  I admitted that I did have the other teeth – and he was kind of intrigued by the thought of seeing all of his lost teeth.  Then he started singing jingle bells and was happy for a few moments.

Then another thought occurred to him, and he asked, “Did Grandma tell you to do it?”  I think that he was trying to figure out a way that it wasn’t my fault because he trusts me more than anyone (I have been his primary caretaker for a lot of years now – the one he goes to for nurturing) and he wanted to blame it on grandma.  (His grandma Susan will sometimes accidentally use his tooth brush or eat a snack he was saving – at this very moment Darien is hiding his favorite tooth brushes to make sure Susan doesn’t use them.)  But I didn’t buy into that.  I told him that it was just something that parents did for their kids.  That my mom and dad did it for me.  That I had believed in the tooth fairy too.

He said in a real sad voice, “I believed in the tooth fairy too.”

Then as we were walking from the car to his classroom, he stopped me.  He told me to take the money back – and to tell grandma never to do that again.  And that he would prove there was a tooth fairy.

That afternoon when he got home from school he found the box (which I had taken the tooth out of, and put in 2 dollars) – and exclaimed, “See, I told you there was a tooth fairy.”  But then later on he asked for his teeth – which I did give to him.

So, now he is in kind of an in between place.  He has been confronted with evidence that the tooth fairy didn’t take his teeth, but he is still choosing to believe there is a tooth fairy.

The same thing has kind of happened with Santa Claus.  He had spotted some presents in the top of the closet that he later realized showed up under the tree on Christmas Day.  On Christmas, Susan said something about wanting to take a nap because she hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before – and he says, “Oh I get it.  Santa didn’t bring presents, you guys did it.”

Later in the day, he said something to Susan about it – and she replied something like, “Did you really believe Santa went to all the houses in the world with presents?”  And he went into a defense of Santa that included the compelling evidence, “That he has elves to help him, remember!”

So, he is in between now – seeing things more logically but choosing to keep his magical thinking for now.  It will be interesting to see what happens the next time he loses a tooth.

In the midst of the tooth fairy trauma, Susan said to me, “What do we tell him.  If we keep lying to him he won’t trust us.”  An interesting question that I still am not quite sure about.  I think we have reached kind of a balance right now.  He is still mostly choosing to believe – but he has started to wake up to the fact we – and society – have not been honest with him.  It makes me wonder about a society – a civilization – that is dishonest with us when we are children, which sets us up to live life in a dysfunctional way.

When I am telling people about the dynamics of codependency, I always mention that the ego is not a bad or negative thing in and of itself – it just got programmed really badly.  And the original dysfunctional programming came from fairy tales.

“I will be talking about some different aspects of both intellectual and emotional discernment in coming articles. For this article I want to make a point about how important this process is by using the example of some basic dysfunctional beliefs that are at the foundation of our relationship with life.  These are the beliefs that we learned from the fairy tales we heard in early childhood.

We learned that when we meet our Prince or Princess we will live happily-ever-after.  We got the message that there was a destination to reach in life where we would find a state of being that is happily-ever-after.

That is not true.  It is not the way life works.  You know that now.  As an adult, you consciously and intellectually know that there is no happily-ever-after – if you have ever stopped to think about it.

Unfortunately however, that belief is programmed into our subconscious intellectual paradigm and as such, it determines our perspective of life, of romance, of our self – and thus dictates our emotional relationship with those aspects of our human experience.

We are set up to feel like failures in life, and in romantic relationships, because we do not get to reach happily-ever-after.  We judge and shame ourselves because we haven’t lived up to the fairy tale.  We blame ourselves – or we blame others for this feeling of failure.

This feeling of failure is an illusion based upon a fairy tale.  It is based upon beliefs about life that are not true – that have never been true.  It is part of our subconscious programming and the only way to change it is to change that subconscious programming – and heal the emotional wounds that we have experienced because our dysfunctional relationships with life and romance set us up to feel like failures.

We cannot do that without looking within.  We need to become willing to start shining the light of consciousness into the darkness of our subconscious in order to take power away from that which is in the dark.  Looking outside to find the answers does not work.  It is only by looking within that we can start healing and recovering from the false beliefs that we learned in childhood.” – Intellectual Discernment – focused within

We are set up to expect life to be something it is not in childhood.  To expect romance to be something it is not.

I don’t really have someplace I am going with this.  I just started out to tell the story about Darien and the tooth fairy.  But it really is food for thought how society sets us up to live life in a dysfunctional way by being dishonest with us from the very beginning.   Are we doing children a service when we tell them about the tooth fairy and Santa Claus?  I don’t know.  Just some thoughts that are rattling around here on the first day of January 2012.  I wonder if the Mayan’s told their children fairy tales.  From what I know Native Americans – who I believe had much more functional cultures then we do – told stories that taught values and principles, and I don’t think any of them ended in happily-ever-after.  I wonder where all that dishonesty came from.  Oh well.

Sacred Spiral

In September of 2017, I am in the midst of updating the page that I created years ago to honer my step grandson Darien – to bring people up to date on the latest happenings in my life.  I had forgotten about this passage that I wrote about the Age of Reason and the dysfunctional programming of early childhood – so I decided to turn it into a blog. (Since I haven’t done one here for quite awhile.)  I think it is some really valuable information – and it can help us to forgive our selves when we really look at how we were set up to expect life to be something it is not.  We were just innocent little kids, it wasn’t our fault.

It is Saturday evening September 9th and I hope to have that page updated by tomorrow evening.  I was working on most of the day today in an attempt to make it more Mobile Friendly.  I did a lot of crying today as I went over that page.  Most of it was crying from Joy and Gratitude.  My D-man has brought so much Joy into my life – and I am so Grateful that I got involved with Susan so that I could be there to help raise him.  There was also some grief about how hard things were much of the time – but most of the crying I did today was remembering all the incredible Joy that this blessed Spirit inhabiting Darien’s body has brought into my life. He will be 13 on his next birthday, so there will be some interesting years ahead. 🙂

Here are a couple of quotes from that page.

“Of course, part of the Divine Plan that is unfolding perfectly, was the Soul contract between his Soul and my Soul that we would meet in this lifetime at the time and place that we did in order to learn about Love together.  He is a precious and wonderful blessing in my life and I thank the Goddess for the opportunity to be intimately involved with this beautiful spirit that is Darien.  ~ Robert 8/20/09”

“One of the things that touched me the most, was one day when we were laying on the couch as I was trying to get him to take a nap. He started digging in my back pockets and trying to take out some flyers for my workshop that I keep there in case I meet someone who might be interested. After telling him to cut it out a few times – because he does like to stall going to sleep – and him persisting, I finally let him take some of my folded up flyers and he looks at it and says, “It’s you!” (Since my picture is on it.) And then out of nowhere he gushes – gushes is the only accurate word for his tone of voice and emotional content. “I Love you! You do this for the whole world.” It felt as if his Spirit was speaking to me. I don’t know where a little 4 year old kid could come up with that kind of idea, but it didn’t feel like a little kid talking to me – I got emotional then, and I am getting emotional now as I write about it. It was one of the most touching and beautiful positive affirmations anyone has ever given me.”

” Just reminded me of something that happened a few months ago with my step grandson Darien. He will be 6 in November – and he and I have this powerful connection to each other (even look alike though there is not blood relationship.) One day he was asking questions about various things like he does (wants to know everything) and talking about when he was a baby because of a picture of him on the wall. I told him that the first time I met him (he was about 3 or 4 months old) that he cried (Susan thought it was because my deep voice scared him) – and he says, “From Joy?” It was a mind blower to me that a 5 year old understood that it was possible to cry from Joy – and that that was his assumption about what he would have felt the first time we met. :-)” – from A page dedicated to – and for – Darien

*BookCoverLightsm

It is Darien’s picture on the cover of my second book:  Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light Book 1 Empowerment, Freedom, and Inner Peace through Inner Child Healing

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

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Chapter 4: False Self Image

The Dance

“Learning what healthy behavior is will allow us to be healthier in the relationships that do not mean much to us; intellectually knowing Spiritual Truth will allow us to be more Loving some of the time; but in the relationships that mean the most to us, with the people we care the most about, when our “buttons are pushed” we will watch ourselves saying things we don’t want to say and reacting in ways that we don’t want to react – because we are powerless to change the behavior patterns without dealing with the emotional wounds.

We cannot integrate Spiritual Truth or intellectual knowledge of healthy behavior into our experience of life in a substantial way without honoring and respecting the emotions.  We cannot consistently incorporate healthy behavior into day to day life without being emotionally honest with ourselves.  We cannot get rid of our shame and overcome our fear of emotional intimacy without going through the feelings.” – (Text in this color is used for quotes from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls)

When I came to recovery, I took great pride in what an honest person I was – my ego strength was based in part on being better than other people because I was such an honest person.  I saw myself as this righteously honest person – and I could not consciously acknowledge that I had ever felt fear in my life.  I was completely twisted and dishonest with myself emotionally – which made me incapable of really being honest on any level.  My conscious self image was twisted and dishonest in reaction to the lie that I was shamefully defective as a being.

I would present myself as – and truly believed I was – a sensitive, caring male who was so different from all those macho clowns that were not in touch with their feelings.

But I was talking about feelings on a theoretical level – I was not connected to them directly.  I was not actually feeling them personally.  I had feelings certainly, but I had no permission to own them as being personal, as being mine.

I think acting saved my life because it gave me an emotional outlet.  I would express my feelings in my acting – they were my feelings, but I was attributing them to my characters.  It never occurred to me to wonder why the characters I liked to play the most were very intense, in a great deal of pain, and usually suicidal in some way.  Junkies and drunks, psychos and outcasts, the desperately lonely and terminally emotionally wounded, were my specialty.  I called it method acting – really getting into my characters skin and living their emotional reality.

Twice in acting personalization exercises on camera – where one would take a monologue from a play and do it in a very personal way – my acting teacher took me aside afterwards to ask if I was okay because she was so concerned about how much pain she was seeing in my performance.  I thought this showed what a great actor I was – that she had so believed my characterization.  Those on camera exercises were really a glimpse at my true emotional state.

One that I did several years before getting sober, was Hamlet’s soliloquy “To be or not to be . . .” where he is considering suicide – which most actors do with some kind of a knife as a prop to fondle as the character considers the benefits and deficits of suicide, “To die, to sleep.  No more.”  I did the monologue as an alcoholic actor who was using Shakespeare’s words to express his own personal dilemma – and used an alcoholic drink as my prop.  Brilliant creative inspiration, I thought – like, duh, talk about personal.

I would feel the feelings while I was rehearsing and performing – which allowed me to give my emotions some expression and release without owning them as personal.  I saw the characters I played as being driven by their gut level fears, but I personally was not afraid of anything – because my subconscious programming dictated that a real man does not feel fear.

I would appear to be a sensitive, emotionally honest person in real life, but I was really just performing then also.  I was not actually being in my body and personally owning my feelings.  I was acting as if I were in touch with my feelings in my day to day life whenever I had an audience – and when there was no one around, then I was caught up in some internal trauma drama about the future or the past so that I could stay unconscious to the present moment.

I was playing a character in my life – trying to live up to the self image I wished to present to people.  I was expressing and exhibiting the feelings that I thought I should be feeling to match the self image I was trying to present to you.  I was unconsciously being manipulative emotionally so that you would like and accept me if that was my goal (usually women) – or so you would be a little scared of me if I didn’t want something from you (usually men.)

My intentions, my conscious motivations, did not match my actions because of my emotional dishonesty.  The concept of self I presented to you did not match the reality of my behavior if you got personally involved with me.  The conscious self image that I invested so much energy into – the false self, ego self – which I felt gave me worth, was a twisted, distorted view of myself.  It was not possible for me to look at my self with any objectivity, because of the subconscious intellectual paradigm that was defining my relationship to self and life included the beliefs that being afraid was shameful, being “wrong” was unacceptable.

The punch line to this dysfunctional joke is that I really am a sensitive, caring person.  I tried real hard to convince you of it because I was trying so hard to convince myself it was the truth.  I was trying to trick you into believing I was who I wanted to be, but I didn’t really believe it in the depths of my being.

codependency = a ridiculous, dysfunctional, tragicomedy

“A large part of what we identify as our personality is in fact a distorted view of who we really are due to the type of behavioral defenses we adopted to fit the role or roles we were forced to assume according to the dynamics of our family system.”

This is part of what makes codependency such a ridiculous, dysfunctional, tragicomedy.  The character I was playing, my false self image, was not really false.  It contained a great deal more Truth in relationship to who I really am – to my personality, my essential character in this lifetime – than falsehood.  But I was incapable of seeing that because I was focused externally to keep from having to look at myself and admit how defective and shameful I felt.

“At the foundation of our relationship with our self – and therefore with other people and life – is the feeling that we will die if we reveal ourselves to other people, because then they will see our shameful self. . . . . . Our lives have been dictated by an emotional defense system that is designed to keep hidden the the false belief that we are defective.  We use external things – success, looks, productivity, substances – to try to cover up, overcome, make up for, the personal defectiveness that we felt caused our hearts to be broken and our souls wounded in childhood.  And that personal defectiveness is a lie.  That feeling of toxic shame is a lie.

It was so painful that we had to lie to ourselves about it.  We were forced to be emotionally and intellectually dishonest with ourselves by the codependent defenses we adapted. . . . . . . We built up a dishonest self image to try to convince ourselves that we had worth based upon some comparative external factors:  looks, success, independence (the counterdependent rebel), popularity (people pleasers), righteousness (better than others, right to their wrong), or whatever.  That false self image was not completely dishonest because it was formed in reaction to some basic aspects of who we Truly are – but it was a twisted, distorted, polarized perspective of our self adapted in response to toxic shame, for the purpose of giving us some ego strength, some reason we could feel better than others.

That false self image, the masks we learned to wear, is something we invested a lot of energy into convincing ourselves was the truth.” – Fear of Intimacy – caused by early childhood trauma  

One of the payoffs in codependency recovery, is that as we strip away the layers of denial – the twisted distorted perspectives and false beliefs – we learn that we are the person we always wanted to be.  As we start to uncover and discover the lies and distortions in our subconscious intellectual paradigm and become willing to get emotionally honest with ourselves by owning the grief and rage, we start to see ourselves clearly for the first time.  Codependency is about having a dysfunctional relationship with our selves as human beings – and the key to unraveling the puzzle of self, to stripping away the distortion and the lies, is to get emotionally honest with self.

“It is important to note that we adapt the roles that are best suited to our personalities.  We are, of course, born with a certain personality.  What happens with the roles we adapt in our family dynamic is that we get a twisted, distorted view of who we are as a result of our personality melding with the roles. This is dysfunctional because it causes us to not be able to see ourselves clearly.  As long as we are still reacting to our childhood wounding and old tapes then we cannot get in touch clearly with who we really are.

The false self that we develop to survive is never totally false – there is always some Truth in it.  For example, people who go into the helping professions do truly care and are not doing what they do simply out of Codependence.  Nothing is black and white – everything in life involves various shades of gray.  Recovery is about getting honest with ourselves and finding some balance in our life.” – Roles In Dysfunctional Families

One of the things that is so confusing in a relationship between two codependents, is that we can see into the other person enough to see their inner beauty, their potential, their pain – and they often say the things we want to hear to confirm that what we are seeing is Truth – but their behaviors do not match what we are seeing and hearing.  (So, of course, being good codependents our selves, we fluctuate between feeling like it is our fault and the we have to work harder or change somehow – and thinking it is our responsibility to get the other person to see the light, to realize who they really are.)

“Intimacy is about allowing another person to see into us – in to me see.  When we allow another person to see into us deep enough, what they are going to see is a Magnificent Spiritual Being.  If we are not doing our healing – are still allowing our relationship with ourselves to be dictated by the shame of the child who felt unlovable – that means they will be seeing something which we cannot see.

One of the really difficult thing in relationships, is that often we can see how beautiful the other person Truly is – but they cannot see it in themselves.  So, we hang onto relationships knowing how wonderful the other person really is, and what potential they have, but they react to us out of the defenses they adapted to push us away, or run away from us.  If they are not in the process of healing and recovery, of getting in touch with and changing their patterns, then they are not going to be available to us in the way we want them to be.  We can learn a lot about ourselves by relating to them – but ultimately will end up feeling like a victim of their inability / unwillingness to change.

We cannot control or change the other person.  Our first priority – our responsibility – is to learn to be more emotionally intimate with ourselves.  Other people come into our lives as teachers to help us learn about ourselves.

In order to start changing my patterns, I had to learn to start being emotionally honest with myself.” – May 23, 2001 Joy2MeU Update  Newsletter 3

I was investing an incredible amount of energy into projecting an image to other people.  That image had much more Truth in it than falsehood – but I didn’t know that.  I was doing it to try to get the Love and respect and validation that I was so starved for.  But I didn’t believe it, so when I did get love and validation it did not work to make me feel good about myself deep inside.  It did not change my core relationship with myself.  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.

This is part of the ultimate dysfunction of codependency.  We put so much energy into reaching the goal, earning your love, doing what we think is necessary to “fix” our self, and if we get that which we have been pursuing, it doesn’t work.  It doesn’t make us feel the way we thought it would make us feel.  It does not get us to “happily ever after.”

“You can get all the money, property, and prestige in the world, have everyone in the world adore you, but if you are not at peace within, if you don’t Love and accept yourself, none of it will work to make you Truly happy.”

Looking outside to fill the hole within is dysfunctional.  As long as I was still reacting to the toxic shame I felt about my self from early childhood, then what I was doing in my interactions (inter-reactions) is being dishonest and manipulative.  It did not matter if most of what I was saying was the real Truth about who I am – I didn’t believe it.

I was trying to get what I wanted from you by trying to be who I thought you wanted me to be, and since you could see in my eyes that which I could not see, you believed me.  But then I couldn’t accept your acceptance so I ended up sabotaging the relationship with my behavior.

“The way the dynamic in a dysfunctional relationship works is in a “come here” – “go away” cycle.  When one person is available the other tends to pull away.  If the first person becomes unavailable the other comes back and pleads to be let back in.   When the first becomes available again then the other eventually starts pulling away again.  It happens because our relationship with self is not healed.  As long as I do not love myself then there must be something wrong with someone who loves me – and if someone doesn’t love me than I have to prove I am worthy by winning that person back.  On some level we are trying to earn the love of our unavailable parent(s) to prove to ourselves that we are worthy and lovable.” – Codependent Relationships Dynamics Part 4 – Come Here, Go Away

 My behavior did not match my words because my behavior patterns were driven by my emotional wounds.  As long as I had no capacity to be emotionally honest, my codependency defended me based upon the programming it adapted in reaction to the emotional trauma I had experienced in early childhood.

Opening our hearts

My codependent defense system is set up to try to keep me from being abandoned, betrayed, and rejected by someone to whom I have opened my heart.  As a little child, my heart was completely open to my parents.  They emotionally abandoned and betrayed me because they were programmed to emotionally abandon and betray themselves.  It felt to me as a child as if they had rejected me because something was wrong with me.

My ego adopted an emotional defense system – codependency – to try protect me and keep secret the fact that I was a shameful and defective, a pitiful excuse for a man.  Since I felt unlovable and unworthy, and I thought I was the only person who felt that way, I had to keep what a loser I was secret.  I had to be emotionally dishonest with myself to try to stay unconscious to how I felt at the depths of my being.  I had to be emotionally dishonest – and therefore dishonest to some extent on other levels – in my relationships with other people because it felt like anyone who found out my secret would run away screaming in horror.  If anyone could see who I really was, they would reject me – they would abandon and betray me like my parents had.

“Fear of intimacy is at the heart of codependency.  We have a fear of intimacy because we have a fear of abandonment, betrayal, and rejection.  We have a these fears because we were wounded in early childhood – we experienced feeling emotionally abandoned, rejected, and betrayed by our parents because they were wounded.  They did not have healthy relationship with self – they were codependents who abandoned and betrayed themselves – and their behavior caused us to feel unworthy and unlovable.” – Fear of Intimacy – caused by early childhood trauma

The way codependency works, is that what we want the most – Love – is also what scares us the most, because we feel like we will screw it up if our dreams come true.  My codependent defenses were designed to keep me from being rejected by someone who could Truly Love me.  The way this manifests behaviorally is, that I was attracted to unavailable people in an attempt to protect myself from making the mistake of opening my heart, of believing that I was Lovable.  (This of course, is not in any way a conscious thing.  It is an energetic dynamic that results from repressing emotional energy.)

“Emotions are a vital part of our being for several reasons. . . . . . . .

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.” – Feeling the Feelings

My conscious desire and intentions were aligned with finding love, but my subconscious programming / codependency caused me be attracted to unavailable people who could not possibly Love me in a healthy way, because they did not Love them self.

Anyone who is not in recovery from their childhood programming is incapable of really Loving them self in a healthy way – is unavailable.   This is true rather they are unavailable because they are being counterdependent and denying their need for connection, or because they are so classically codependent that they do not have a sense of self and feel an urgency for connection in order to have any worth.  The extremes of codependency in regard to romantic relationships are the enmeshment of toxic love (wanting to merge with the other person because we have no boundaries or self worth – which sets us us up to accept crumbs and abuse in order to stay in relationship) or keeping them at arms length because we are so afraid of opening our hearts (in which case our behavior sets us up to create self fulfilling prophecies of abandonment and betrayal.)  Both extremes are unavailable for a healthy relationship.  

I was defining myself by the image of myself that I was holding in my consciousness – but how I behaved was being dictated by the subconscious programming.  My subconscious programming dictated that, as a man, the only emotion it was acceptable for me to feel was anger – but that it was not ok to be angry at women.  Talk about a narrow emotional spectrum – emotionally crippled indeed.

I saw myself in alignment with the conscious self image that I was projecting – a sensitive, caring male who was so different from all those macho clowns that were not in touch with their feelings – but my behavior in intimate relationships was dictated by the subconscious perspective of emotions that I had learned from my male role model in childhood.  That paradigm dictated that a man could not feel sad or hurt or afraid – a man only felt anger.  In other words, I saw myself as, and talked the talk of, a sensitive caring male but when anyone got too close emotionally my behavior was that of a macho clown.

It was not your typical macho clown however, because I had been programmed that it was not acceptable to be angry at women.  A person who does not have permission to own anger, is set up to be passive aggressive.  The anger is not expressed directly.  It is expressed indirectly, it comes out sideways.

“Passive-aggressive behavior is the expression of anger indirectly.  This happens because we got the message one way or another in childhood that it was not OK to express anger.  Since anger is energy that can not be completely repressed it gets expressed in indirect ways. . . . . .

Passive-aggressive behavior can take the form of sarcasm, procrastination, chronic lateness, being a party pooper, constantly complaining, being negative, offering opinions and advice that is not asked for, being the martyr, slinging arrows (“whatever have you done to your hair”, “gained a little weight haven’t we?”), etc.  If we don’t know how to set boundaries or will go along with anything to avoid conflict, then we often will agree to doing things we don’t want to do – and as a result we will not be happy doing them and will get back at the other person somehow, someway because we are angry at them for “making” us do something we don’t want to do.” – Emotional abuse is Heart and Soul Mutilation

Anyone who does not have permission from their subconscious programming to own their anger, is set up to be emotionally dishonest with self and with other people.  I was set up to be emotionally dishonest in romantic relationships because I did not have the right to be angry or set boundaries.  A codependent often feels like the person they are in relationship with “should” be able to read their mind to know what they want – and then is set up to feel like a victim.  Being direct and honest was a risk that I did not know how to take.  I was afraid if I said “no,” if I disagreed, if there was an argument, the other person would leave.  My fear of abandonment and rejection set me up to be dishonest and manipulative in an intimate relationship with a woman.

Men I could get angry at.  But even then I wasn’t being angry in an emotionally honest manner.  I hated the way my father raged, and vowed not to be like him.  This resulted in me stuffing my anger.  Repressing the emotional energy of anger does not work.  It manifests somehow, someway.  With other men, the common way that this came out was with sarcasm.  Of course, the society that I grew up in, taught me that this was the acceptable way to relate to other men.  “Hey dirt bag” – or something similar (with cuss words being the coolest form) – is the way men say “I love you” to each other in an emotionally crippled society.  It is passive aggressive and emotionally abusive.

I would rage on occasion.  Stuffing my anger, swallowing it down, caused it to build up and become explosive.  So, periodically I would explode.  Usually over something that did not really have much to do with what I was really angry about.  The anger that I built up at women often came out at some man.  When I exploded at men, I raged – like my father.  That caused me to feel ashamed and crazy – and I swung back to the other extreme where I was stuffing it again.  Until the next time it exploded.

Rage is not anger.  It is not emotionally honest.  I think of rage as anger that has been steeped in shame for years.  It is the result of seething, festering resentment – victim feelings.  Rage is a twisted, distorted, virulent, mutant magnification of anger.

With women, when I reached the point of explosion, it would sometimes come out as silent rage.  Not the yelling and cursing explosion of my father, but a door slamming, wall kicking, muttering under my breath type of rage.  I would punish you with my sullen silence.

Or I would come from the martyr / victim place, and point out how the other person had wronged me grievously.  I would trot out a list of everything the person had done in the past that hurt me so badly.  I would accuse them of insensitivity, of not caring about my feelings.

“By setting boundaries, we are communicating with another person.  We are telling them who we are and what we need.  It is much more effective to do that directly and honestly than to expect them to read our minds – and then punish them when they cannot. . . . . . . When we stuff our feelings we build up resentments.  Resentments are victim feelings – the feeling that somebody is doing something to us.  If we don’t speak up and take the risk of sharing how we feel, we will end up blowing up and/or being passive aggressive – and damaging the relationship.

Learning to set boundaries is a vital part of learning to communicate in a direct and honest manner.  It is impossible to have a healthy relationship with someone who has no boundaries, with someone who cannot communicate directly, and honestly.” – Setting Personal Boundaries 

So, I would get angry at a woman, but it was because of what she was doing to me.  Her appalling insensitivity (meaning she wasn’t doing what I wanted her to do, what I expected) would push me to the point of having to unburden myself by sharing with her how wrong she was.  It would be her fault I was angry, her responsibility because she was forcing me to be verbally abusive.  I – the poor innocent victim who loved her so much – was being forced to tell her the truth as I understood it.  I was not violating my sensitive, caring self image because she was leaving me no choice.  If she would just be reasonable and do what I wanted her to do, then I wouldn’t have to get angry at her.

The lie that is codependent, selfless, martyr, victimization is the effect of not being emotionally honest enough to have healthy boundaries.  It is a defense adapted by my ego in an attempt to keep me from opening my heart so that it can be broken again.  If my heart is broken again, I have to make it your fault because the only other option in a polarized perspective of life is to admit that I am to blame.  To blame myself is to plunge into the abyss of pain and shame at the core of my being – the unendurable, hopeless, want to die, place within me where I feel shamefully unlovable and unworthy.

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

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

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

Co-creation, empowerment, and self-Love through Conscious Internal Boundaries Chapter 16

*BookCoverLightsmCodependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light  Book 1 Empowerment, Freedom, and Inner Peace through Inner Child Healing Chapter 16  More on Internal Boundaries

The last chapter is the article that I wrote for the series of articles on inner child healing.  This chapter is a combination of a webpage that I posted when I first put up my website in 1998, and a rough draft I wrote for my journal when I was first attempting to write this book.  It describes the same dynamics for setting internal boundaries that I have been talking about – but says it in some different ways, from some different angles.  I am including it here because I think there is value in it.

Internal boundaries are the key to Spiritual Integration & Emotional Balance

Loving internal boundaries can allow us to achieve some integration and balance in our relationships and our life experience.

The Dance

“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.” – Quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

We need to own that we have the power to choose where to focus our mind.

We can consciously start viewing ourselves from the “witness” perspective.

We all do this anyway but we learned to watch our selves from a place of judgment and shame.

It is time to fire the judge – our critical parent – and choose to replace that judge with our Higher Self – who is a Loving parent.

We can then intervene in our own process to help us be more Loving to self

What follows is an brief description of the four main relationships internally that are in need of boundaries.  These are levels of our being/dimensions of the self in which the concept of internal boundaries needs to be applied in order to change our relationship with ourselves into one that is more Loving.

Following that is a brief description of the benefits derived from focusing on having internal boundaries in our relationship with these levels of our being.

Within the Mental

Within the mental level of our being it is vital to start having a boundary between the part of our mind that is reacting to the childhood wounds and programming – the critical parent/disease voice – and the part of our mind that is telling us our intuitive Truth.

“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.

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.”

It is also vital to start changing the dysfunctional, false, black & white beliefs, attitudes, and definitions that are dictating our emotional reactions to life.   Our attitudes, beliefs, and definitions determine our perspective and expectations which in turn dictate our emotional relationship with everything – with ourselves, with life, with other people.  It is very important to start taking the power away from those false beliefs in order to start changing our relationship with self and life.

“Perspective is a key to Recovery.  I had to change and enlarge my perspectives of myself and my own emotions, of other people, of God and of this life business.  Our perspective of life dictates our relationship with life.  We have a dysfunctional relationship with life because we were taught to have a dysfunctional perspective of this life business, dysfunctional definitions of who we are and why we are here.

It is kind of like the old joke about three blind men describing an elephant by touch.  Each one of them is telling his own Truth, they just have a lousy perspective.  Codependence is all about having a lousy relationship with life, with being human, because we have a lousy perspective on life as a human.”

This is what enlightenment and consciousness raising are all about!

Owning our power to be a co-creator of our lives by changing our relationship with ourselves.

We can change the way we think.

We need to detach from our wounded self in order to allow our Spiritual Self to guide us.

Between Mental and Emotional

Thoughts are not feelings and feelings are not thoughts – it is vital to start relating to our thoughts and our feelings separately.  There are feelings attached to thoughts and thoughts attached to feelings but they are two separate parts of our being.  They are intimately interconnected of course, but it is very important that we be able to start seeing clearly the difference between them.  Part of the dysfunction is due to enmeshment between the mental and emotional levels of our being.  Having a clear understanding of the difference between thoughts and emotions is vital in order to practice discernment and own our power to make choices about how we want to respond to life instead of unconsciously reacting our of the old wounds and old tapes.

The disease has power when we believe the critical parent voice.

When we are feeling something “negative” and buying into the negative messages is when we go into the downward spiral – when we crash and burn, go into despair and depression.

(Emotions have a purpose, they are not negative or positive in and of themselves.  It is our reaction to them, our relationship to them, that gives them value – ie, sadness is very positive when we are honoring our emotions by grieving – even if it doesn’t feel that way.)

“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 child in us has a reason to feel like a “failure.”

Because our parents weren’t capable of Loving themselves or of emotional honesty – we felt like there was something wrong with us.

We felt responsible for the deprivation or abuse or abandonment that we experienced.

“The hardest thing for any of us to do is to have compassion for ourselves. As children we felt responsible for the things that happened to us. We blamed ourselves for the things that were done to us and for the deprivations we suffered. There is nothing more powerful in this transformational process than being able to go back to that child who still exists within us and say, “It wasn’t your fault. You didn’t do anything wrong, you were just a little kid.””

Within the Emotional

In order to start responding to life honestly in the moment from an mature adult perspective it is very important to start separating out the emotional reactions of the child from the emotional messages from our intuition.  The reason that we have internal conflict is because we have different parts of our beings reacting in very different ways.  The romantic within does not want to set boundaries in an intimate relationship for fear of making the other person angry enough to abandon us – at the same time that other parts of us (the rebel perhaps or the angry child) wants to push the person away so that we don’t get hurt.  It is very important to start understanding where these conflicting messages are coming from so that we can make choices about which parts of us we want to be in charge of our life.

“The next time something does not go the way you wanted it to, or just when you are feeling low, ask yourself how old you are feeling.   What you might find is that you are feeling like a bad little girl, a bad little boy, and that you must have done something wrong because it feels like you are being punished.

Just because it feels like you are being punished does not mean that is the Truth.  Feelings are real – they are emotional energy that is manifested in our body – but they are not necessarily fact. 

What we feel is our “emotional truth” and it does not necessarily have anything to do with either facts or the emotional energy that is Truth with a capital “T” – especially when we our reacting out of an age of our inner child.

If we are reacting out of what our emotional truth was when we were five or nine or fourteen, then we are not capable of responding appropriately to what is happening in the moment; we are not being in the now. 

When we are reacting out of old tapes based on attitudes and beliefs that are false or distorted, then our feelings cannot be trusted. 

When we are reacting out of our childhood emotional wounds, then what we are feeling may have very little to do with the situation we are in or with the people with whom we are dealing in the moment.”

Between Being and Behavior

Toxic shame is what cripples us emotionally and causes us to be our own worst enemy.  It is vital to stop giving the shame we feel the power to dominate our relationship with ourselves.  The more we can start integrating the belief that we are Spiritual Beings having a human experience into our relationship with ourselves the easier it becomes to start accepting our human limitations.

As long as we are expecting ourselves to be superhuman, to be perfect, we are set up to fail.  As long as we unconsciously or consciously give power to the toxic shame we feel deep within we will never succeed in learning to Love our self.  It is very important to start seeing our being as having Divine worth and our behavior as being the result of our humanness and our wounds in order to forgive and Love ourselves.

[When I use the term “judge,” I am talking about making judgments about our own or other people’s beings based on behavior.  In other words, I did something bad therefore I am a bad person; I made a mistake therefore I am a mistake.  That is what toxic shame is all about:  feeling that something is wrong with our being, that we are somehow defective because we have human drives, human weaknesses, human imperfections.

There may be behavior in which we have engaged that we feel ashamed of but that does not make us shameful beings   We may need to make judgments about whether our behavior is healthy and appropriate but that does not mean that we have to judge our essential self, our being, because of the behavior.  Our behavior has been dictated by our disease, by our childhood wounds; it does not mean that we are bad or defective as beings.  It means that we are human, it means that we are wounded.

It is important to start setting a boundary between being and behavior.  All humans have equal Divine value as beings – no matter what our behavior.  Our behavior is learned (and/or reactive to physical or physiological conditions).  Behavior, and the attitudes that dictate behavior, are adopted defenses designed to allow us to survive in the Spiritually hostile, emotionally repressive, dysfunctional environments into which we were born.]

We need to have internal Boundaries with and between the emotional and mental components of our being so that we can:

– feel our feelings without being the victim of them or victimizing others with them;

– achieve some balance between feeling and thinking, intuitive and rational;

– know which feelings are telling us the Truth and which are reactions to old wounds so that we can discern between emotional honesty and indulgence.

Boundaries:

– with the disease/critical parent voice so that we can stop giving power to the judgment and shame on a personal level & stop letting our own mind be our worst enemy;

– between being and behavior so that we can take responsibility without blaming ourselves;

– with our inner children to allow us to Lovingly parent and set boundaries for the wounded children within which allows us to own the magical, spontaneous, creative, Spiritual child inside.

Boundaries which:

– allow us call on the Power Within any time, any place, that we need it;

– allow us Integrate the Truth of an Unconditionally Loving God-Force/Goddess Energy/Great Spirit into our experience of the process so that instead of just knowing Spiritual Truth intellectually we can start feeling it emotionally;

– allow us to relax and enjoy life more.

“It was vitally important for me to learn how to have internal boundaries so that I could lovingly parent (which, of course, includes setting boundaries for) my inner children, tell the critical parent/disease voice to shut up, and start accessing the emotional energy of Truth, Beauty, Joy, Light, and Love. It was by learning internal boundaries that I could begin to achieve some integration and balance in my life, and transform my experience of life into an adventure that is enjoyable and exciting most of the time.” – Chapter 16  More on Internal Boundaries  Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light  Book 1 Empowerment, Freedom, and Inner Peace through Inner Child Healing

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*BookCoverLightsmWhen you purchase Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light   Book 1 Empowerment, Freedom, and Inner Peace through Inner Child Healing through Joy2MeU you get a personally autographed copy;-) but you can also purchase through Amazon.com or  Amazon UK or Barnes & Noble.

Available in eBook format Amazon Kindle , Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble Nook, and Kobo ereader

An unabridged audiobook version is available on audible.com, Amazon, iTunes.

The key to codependency recovery is the inner child healing work I describe on my site as well as in the book.  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 in the world. 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.

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

Bringing Codependency Recovery Pioneer to the UK in 2017

Robert Burney’s Trip to UK canceled

May 27th, 2017 – I have decided to cancel the planned trip to the UK for October.  As we were closing in on finalizing the plans for my trip there, a major change took place in my life as I got custody of my 12 year old grandson.  At first it wasn’t clear if he would be living with me in the fall or not, so I pushed the trip back from September to October based on the possibility that he would still be with me.  Since then it has become clear that he will be living with me – and that taking an 8 or 10 day trip to UK would present significant challenges in getting taking care of him during that time covered.  If we would have had people signing up for the retreat and putting down deposits in the over 2 weeks since we posted the page, that could have impacted this decision.  But since no one has signed up, it seems as if it is part of the Divine Plan to go ahead with the cancelation.  Hopefully we can make this trip to the UK happen at some point in the not too distant future.  Maybe even next summer and I can bring my grandson along.

Robert Burney Trip to UK 2017

Book cover

Robert Burney is an author, spiritual teacher and counselor.  His first book “Codependence – The Dance of Wounded Souls” has been called “one of the truly transformational works of our time” and he has been referred to as “a metaphysical Stephen Hawking.”   He is a counselor /coach and Spiritual Teacher whose work has been compared to John Bradshaw’s “except much more spiritual” and described as “taking inner child healing to a new level.”  His book “The Dance”  is an insightful, clearly written narrative that has helped countless people to understand and heal from the shortcomings of their relationships with self and others.  Robert’s work resonates strongly with those that have been fortunate enough to come across it.

Codependency Recovery / Inner Child Healing Formula

A pioneer in the realm of codependency recovery and inner child healing, Robert discovered and developed a pioneering holistic approach to codependency recovery – an inner child healing paradigm – that offers a powerful, life changing formula for integrating Love, Spiritual Truth, and intellectual knowledge of healthy behavior into one’s emotional experience of life – a blueprint for individuals to transform their core relationship with self and life.

This blueprint can be invaluable to people just starting the recovery / healing process, and is often the missing piece that people who have been healing /  recovering / on a spiritual path for decades have been seeking.  What is unique about the approach is that all of the tools are brought together in a focused system for achieving integration and balance – and even someone who has a very good therapist (or is a very good therapist) right now, can still find it very beneficial to attend one of his workshops.

Creating the Possibility of bringing Robert Burney to the UK

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Robert Burney

In order to share his experience, strength and hope – and teach others his integration formula – Robert has offered intensive workshops and retreats in the US, Canada, and twice on the Spanish Island of Ibiza, as well as on cruises in the Caribbean.  In spite of having a healthy following in the United Kingdom Robert has not physically presented his work in a similar fashion.

Several years ago Angel Morrison (who had both attended a retreat in Ibiza and been on a cruise with Robert) suggested the idea of working to bring Robert Burney to the UK.  Angel understood the importance of expanding the knowledge of Robert’s work.  Rachel Hawadi who had read Robert’s work (and done phone counseling with him) agreed and the two agreed to volunteer and commit to making this a reality.  This has then given birth to a Facebook Group which aims “To make the possibility of bringing Robert Burney to the UK” in 2017.

As of February 14th, 2017, initial plans are being formulated.  The goal is to make this trip happen in September 2017.  This page is being created to survey people who might be interested in meeting and/or attending an appearance by Robert, to ascertain what formats people would like to have available and where it would be best to offer these opportunities.

Location

It is assumed that London would be one of the locations – and both Birmingham and Nottingham have been proposed by people interested.  Email us to let us know if you could attend in London or want to suggest another location in the UK.

Formats

In order to make the best use of Robert’s time the following mixture of sessions could be offered during the tour.

  • 1 to 1 sessions: These could either be face to face/Telephone and Skype sessions for those in the UK.   Depending on availability these can be 1 hour sessions.   Given that the unique selling point of this tour is being able to see Robert face to face it would seem that a “face to face” would be the main offering.

  • Weekend Retreat: A residential retreat in a comfortable, peaceful setting starting on Friday with a 6:30 arrival, dinner and a session until 10 pm.  An intensive session on Saturday which would end on Sunday around 4 pm.  It would be important to ensure that those attending have excellent food and a general feeling of being cared for.

  • 5-day Retreat: A transformative retreat for those needing a radical overhaul in a similar setting as the weekend retreat but going deeper with more workshops, 1 to 1 sessions.  The setting will also be comfortable and nurturing.   There should be an additional offering of holistic therapies e.g. massages, reflexology, yoga, deep breathing, walks etc.

  • 1 day Intensive workshops: These would follow the exact same formats that have been offered and could be done both during the day or evening.  More than likely, evening sessions could be more successful in London – although it would need to be for 3 evenings in order for Robert to teach the formula that he teaches in his Intensive Workshops.  There might be a requirement to juggle between different towns in the UK.

Please send us some feedback so that we can ascertain the amount of interest and what people are interested in so that we can know if we can make this possibility manifest this year.  Email us to let us know.

Here is some of the feedback from the Intensive Training Workshops / retreats that Robert has done in the past.

“I found this session to be very useful in seeing the what & the why of “my” reality.  The understanding I have gained gives me hope in my future.  This has been the greatest gift I have ever given myself.”

“I really enjoyed Robert Burney’s Intensive Training on inner child work. . .  I had many revelations about my inner child and how I can reparent and stop the critical parent that has followed me my whole life. . . Thank you so much Robert.  You are a truly unforgetable person. So glad I said yes to attending.”

“Exceptionally understandable; very clear.  This was LIFE Changing – I am so thankful.  I would Absolutely recommend it.”

“Robert Burney’s training day was so inspirational and enlightening.  He was loving and warm and presented profound life changing material in a very not intimidating way.  Magical!”

“My life has been much better since I went to your seminar.”

“Brilliant.  Liberating.  So profound it is sometimes ! hilarious  I feel you completely get the dynamics of the human experience and the truth you teach can set people free.”

“It was very empowering, uplifting and gave me new hope.  The information was invaluable.”

“Robert is a very , compassionate intuitive, and intelligent soul who shares his insights to you in such a clear, fun, and poignant way that your life will be forever changed.” –  Testimonial Page for Robert Burney Seminar

Email us to let us know if you are interested.

Sacred Spiral

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter 2 Romantic Relationships & Toxic Love ~ Marriage & Divorce

Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life Chapter 2 Romantic Relationships & Toxic Love ~ Marriage & Divorce

In December 2015 I am starting to work on preparing an online book I wrote in 2002 and 2003 for publication as an eBook and possibly as a hard copy book as well. I mentioned this in my last blog which was a chapter from this online book: Chapter 5: Codependency = conditioned reactive programming ~ Pavlov’s Dog.

I am going to start that process by sharing the second chapter of that online book in this blog. It is an online book in which I found myself exploring new levels and perspectives – both dissecting the dynamics of codependency and recovery on more sophisticated and subtle levels (both psychologically and historically) and discussing different facets of the phenomena in more concrete, practical, and hopefully understandable, terms. I wrote it in response to an online article The codependency movement is ruining marriages! by a marriage counselor who was calling the codependency recovery movement a monster – the first chapter of it is here: Chapter 1 The codependency movement is NOT ruining marriages!  Here are a few quotes from my Update Newsletters about the online book that grew out of a response to this guy’s article.

“The work grew to something quite a bit beyond what I envisioned . . . . – and includes 15 chapters as of May 2003. I very happy with, and proud of, the chapters that grew out of this initial source. It has since grown into an in depth look at the phenomena of codependency on multiple levels – which in my opinion, is really much larger and more important than just a response to the silly article by Dr. Harley. . . . . .

. . . . . . . There are some places in these pages where I use some quite harsh language in reference to Dr. Harley and his beliefs – and I am going to leave that language as I wrote it. It doesn’t have anything to do with Dr. Harley personally, but rather with the type of ignorant and arrogant white male attitudes that he represents to me. Over a year later, and farther along in my recovery process, I probably would tone down that language some if I wrote these two pages today – not because my beliefs and views have changed, but because I wouldn’t be quite so reactive out of my own personal wounds. Sometimes it takes some harsh language to make a point however, and at this time I do not feel compelled to change the language as I originally published it.” – Robert May 2003

Sacred Spiral

Chapter 2 Romantic Relationships & Toxic Love ~ Marriage & Divorce

The Dance

“This dance of Codependence is a dance of dysfunctional relationships – of relationships that do not work to meet our needs. That does not mean just romantic relationships, or family relationships, or even human relationships in general.

The fact that dysfunction exists in our romantic, family, and human relationships is a symptom of the dysfunction that exists in our relationship with life – with being human. It is a symptom of the dysfunction which exists in our relationships with ourselves as human beings.

And the dysfunction that exists in our relationship with ourselves is a symptom of Spiritual dis-ease, of not being in balance and harmony with the universe, of feeling disconnected from our Spiritual source.

That is why it is so important to enlarge our perspective. To look beyond the romantic relationship in which we are having problems. To look beyond the dysfunction that exists in our relationships with other people.

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.” – quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls by Robert Burney

At the CoDA meeting I am the secretary of here locally, one of the people sharing last week made one of those perfect Freudian slips while sharing. She talked about inter-reacting with someone. That is codependency: two people inter-reacting, each reacting out of their emotional wounds and childhood programming.

If we are inter-reacting, we are incapable of being honest in relating to other people. If we are not seeing ourselves with any clarity and emotional honesty, then we cannot see the other person with clarity – let alone the relationship. No true communication can take place between two people who are reacting to the past instead of being present in the moment – inter-reacting. (I like that word. 😉

And of course, the type of relationship this dynamic impacts the most is romantic. As I say elsewhere in my writing: romantic relationships are the greatest arena for Spiritual growth available to us – because they are the relationships that mean the most to us, that we have the most at stake emotionally. It is in romantic relationships that our buttons are pushed – that our deepest wounds are triggered. It is in romantic relationships that our core fear of intimacy (Fear of Intimacy – caused by early childhood trauma) is activated. And the problem with far too many romantic relationships – which of course, includes marriages – is that they are inter-reactions, not interactions.

“The single biggest problem with most relationships is that there are too many people involved. A romantic relationship is supposed to be two people in partnership sharing of who they are, sharing their hearts, minds, bodies, and souls with each other.

Anyone who has not done their emotional healing is bringing a plethora of people into any relationship they get involved in. Some of these people include: parents, siblings, relatives; ministers, teachers, the junior high school bully; everyone that they have ever had a romantic relationship with; the Prince and Princess of fairy tales, the lyrics of songs, and the characters from books and movies; etc. Just to think of how many ghosts are in the room, when two unconscious people are interacting, is mind boggling.

Anyone who is unconscious to how the people and events of their past have shaped who they are today, is incapable of being present in the now and having a healthy relationship. When we are reacting unconsciously to the emotional wounds and old tapes from our childhood, we are being emotionally dishonest in the moment – we are mostly reacting to how we felt in a similar dynamic in the past, not clearly responding to what is happening in the present.

As I said in the last article in this series, the single most important component in a healthy relationship is the ability to communicate. We cannot communicate clearly when we are in reaction because we are not being emotionally honest with ourselves.

We all learned to see life and self from a dysfunctional perspective – from a perspective that taught us it was shameful to be bad or wrong. We learned to blame. Since the perspective of life which civilization is founded upon is black and white, right and wrong – we got the message that if we could not figure out how to blame someone else, then it must be our fault. Toxic shame is the feeling that I am somehow defective, that there is something wrong with who I am as a being. That feeling of being defective is so painful that we are willing to do almost anything to avoid sinking into that abyss of pain within.

So we blame someone or something outside of ourselves to protect our self. A dysfunctional civilization which teaches us to look outside for our self worth, also teaches us to look outside for a villain.” – Healthy Romantic Relationships – part 3, Emotional Honesty Necessary

In that last line from this quote – “A dysfunctional civilization which teaches us to look outside for our self worth, also teaches us to look outside for a villain.” – lies the crux of the problem in so many romantic relationships. When we look to a romantic relationship to give us worth, we give another person the power to make us feel good about ourselves, to feel worthy and lovable. The person who we have given that power to, usually becomes the person to blame when we do not feel good.

The prince or princess who was going to rescue us becomes the villain who is abusing / oppressing / abandoning us. The type of love that we learned growing up in dysfunctional societies is toxic love. (Toxic Love)  That codependent, addictive toxic variety of love involves giving another person power over our self esteem – empowering another wounded human being to be our higher power who determines if we have worth. It is a set up to end up feeling like a victim – with the other person as the villain, or our own perceived shameful defectiveness making us the villain who deserves to be abused.

In a healthy interrelationship, we make a choice to love another being – and we give them some power over our feelings – we do not give them power over our self worth. (Codependence vs Interdependence – healthy relationship vs dysfunctional)

Sacred Spiral

and they lived Happily Ever After

We are subconsciously programmed and emotionally set up in early childhood (by fairy tales which are later reinforced by books, movies, songs, etc.) to believe that a romantic relationship will lead us to “happily ever after.” This makes us feel like failures when it does not happen. Because we feel like failures and are codependent, we go to one of the extremes: we try harder to change the other person, to earn their love, to make them available; or we blame. (And trying harder is really about blaming ourselves, thinking that it is our fault, that we are not doing it “right.”)

There is no happily ever after in this lifetime, in these bodies – it is a misconception, a misinterpretation of Metaphysical levels of reality. Knowing that consciously, intellectually, does not help us stop feeling like a failure. It is vital to heal our emotional wounds and forgive ourselves for expecting life – and romance – to be something it is not.

“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.”

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

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

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

We were set up to feel like failures in romantic relationships by dysfunctional societal beliefs. Feeling like a failure is emotional – buying into the belief in failure is mental: two different levels of our being. It is very important in recovery to start being able to practice discernment in relationship to our own inner process. A major component in becoming empowered to take responsibility for being co-creators of our life experience is being able to recognize when our feelings are a direct result of the beliefs we are empowering. Becoming conscious of how our subconscious programming from childhood is still affecting us today is the only way we can change that programming. Consciousness can lead to empowerment when we are willing to focus on the things we do have the power to change – and own our power to make choices instead of being the victim of dysfunctional programming.

The intellectual paradigm we are empowering to define our lives determines our perspective of life and our emotional reactions.

“One of the biggest problems with relationships in this society is that the context we approach them from is too small. If getting the relationship is the goal, we will end up being the victim. If we can start seeing relationships not as the goal but as opportunities for growth then we can start having more functional relationships. A relationship that ends is not a failure or a punishment – it is a lesson. As long as our definition of a successful relationship is one that lasts forever – we are set up to fail. There is nothing wrong with wanting a relationship that will last forever, expecting it to last forever is what is dysfunctional.”- Romantic Relationships and Valentine’s Day

When the intellectual paradigm which we are allowing to define our lives – the context in which we are relating to life / love / romance – is based upon the belief that if we do it “right” we will reach the destination of “happily ever after,” we are set up to feel like failures when we are not magically transformed by a relationship.

Sacred Spiral

Codependency in Romantic Relationships for Men and Women

I have been using the pronoun we – in this discussion of being set up to feel like failures if we do not reach a destination where we live “happily ever after” – because both men and women are programmed with this unrealistic delusion in early childhood. It is women however, who traditionally were brainwashed to believe that their self worth is dependent upon reaching this destination. As I mentioned in part 1, traditionally women in this society were taught to be codependent upon their relationships with men – while men were taught that their self definition and worth comes from what they do. Additionally, men were taught to be shut down to their emotions.

“In this society, in a general sense, the men have been traditionally taught to be primarily aggressive, the “John Wayne” syndrome, while women have been taught to be self-sacrificing and passive. But that is a generalization; it is entirely possible that you came from a home where your mother was John Wayne and your father was the self-sacrificing martyr. . . . . . .

When the role model of what a man is does not allow a man to cry or express fear; when the role model for what a woman is does not allow a woman to be angry or aggressive – that is emotional dishonesty.”

Both men and women had their relationships with their own emotions twisted and distorted by the messages and role modeling of a dysfunctional, emotionally dishonest, patriarchal culture. The traditional societal standards for appropriate female behavior included the belief that it was not appropriate (not “lady like”) for a woman to be angry or assertive – which not only makes it virtually impossible to set boundaries but also precludes real emotional intimacy. It is not possible to be emotionally honest and intimate in relationship to anyone with whom it is not okay to be angry. True emotional intimacy requires sharing all of our emotions. Someone who does not have permission to own anger is forced to use other methods to try to get their needs met, learns to manipulate in emotionally dishonest ways – crying when they are angry, or using sex manipulatively to gain power in a relationship, for instance.

And, though the traditional societal standards set men up to be “John Wayne” and women to be martyrs, this role was in reality reversed in many families due to the reactive extremes of codependency. In other words, some men who hated the abusive behaviors of their father / male role models would react to the other extreme, would suppress their own anger and become more passive and martyr like – and would then usually end up marrying a woman who was like their father. While a woman who could not stand the “doormat” role modeling of her mother, would become the angry abusive one in a relationship with a man who would be the doormat. Twisting things even further, in most cases, though the roles were reversed within the relationship inter-reaction, the couple would then try to look “normal” out in society – in other words, they would attempt to keep up appearances and be seen by others as a “normal” couple. Normal in this dysfunctional society meaning the man was the boss and the woman was his helpmate.

Men got the message from societal role models that it was not “manly” to be emotionally vulnerable. Someone who cannot be emotionally vulnerable is truly incapable of any level of emotional intimacy. Both men and women in this dysfunctional society were set up to feel like failures in romantic relationships, but it was women who were taught that their self worth depended upon success in the relationship. It is normally women who seek counseling because their self esteem is invested in the relationship. It is not possible to work out problems in a relationship without dealing with emotions – and a man is taught not to deal with emotions. A man focuses on the work that his self worth comes from and ignores problems in the relationship, and/or blames the woman for them. It is a double set up for women in this dysfunctional, emotionally dishonest society.

“We learn who we are as emotional beings from the role modeling of our parents and the adults around us. I have never had an emotionally honest male role model in my life. I am having to become my own role model for what emotional honesty looks like in a man.

Romance means nothing without emotional intimacy. “In – to – me – see” We can not share our self with another being unless we can see into our self. As long as I couldn’t be emotionally intimate with myself, I was incapable of being emotionally intimate with another human being.

It is absolutely vital to learn how to be emotionally honest with ourselves. It is impossible to have a Truly successful Romantic Relationship without emotional honesty. (Truly successful being used here to mean: in balance and harmony between the physical, emotional, mental, and Spiritual levels of being.) Sex can ultimately be an empty, barren animal coupling – involving physical pleasure but really having little to do with Love – without emotional & Spiritual connection.

This results in one of the major problem areas of many relationships. Without emotional intimacy many women get turned off to sex and withhold because their emotional needs aren’t being met – and men get angry because they don’t even have a clue of what women are asking for.

“Traditionally in this society women were taught to be codependent – that is take their self-definition and self-worth from their relationships – with men, while men have been taught to be codependent on their success/career/work. That has changed somewhat in the past twenty or thirty years – but is still part of the reason that women have more of a tendency to sell their souls for relationships than men do.” – Relationships & Valentines Day

It is a double set up for women in this society. First of all the men were taught that it was not manly to be emotional and that what makes them successful as a man is what they produce – and then women were taught that they needed to be successful in romantic relationships with emotionally unavailable men in order to be successful as a woman. What a set up!

It is not women’s fault. It is also not men’s fault. It is a set up.” – The Heart Break of Romantic Relationship – part 2

Men were programmed to be emotional cripples whose only acceptable emotional outlet was anger, and women were brainwashed to feel they had worth only in relationships to men. Truly a set up! Women were brain washed into defining themselves so completely in relationship to men that they give up their name for their husband’s name. (Of course, the name they give up was their fathers – a symbolic transfer of ownership.)

I will be addressing in more depth the traditional male and female roles in society – and the historical context in which our beliefs have been molded, including some recent changes brought about by the Feminist Movement – in a later chapter, but I wanted to make the point here of how our early childhood experiences and programming set us up to feel like failures. It is vital to start becoming conscious of this so that we can change the intellectual paradigm we are allowing to define ourselves and dictate our emotional relationship with life and love.

Sacred Spiral

right and wrong is a dysfunctional dance

Failure and success, winning and losing, right and wrong are part of the polarized belief system – the black and white thinking – that is the foundation, and cause, of codependency. Anyone who is thinking in terms of failure and success according to dysfunctional, delusional definitions is being codependent. They are exhibiting the programming – the brain washing – that results from growing up in a codependent culture.

When we believe in the deepest levels of our being, at the core of our programming, that we have to have a romantic relationship to be whole, to be happy and fulfilled in life, we are making that dream / delusion our higher power which determines if we have worth – which is a set up to feel like a failure. And because failure, being wrong, is considered shameful – a sign of unworthiness, of being defective – we end up putting a great deal of energy into blaming and/or denial. (Blaming is a manifestation of denial – and is only possible because of a polarized belief system.)

When our self esteem is dependent upon reaching “happily ever after,” we are set up to give away power over how we feel about our self to a delusion, a fairy tale. We look outside of ourselves and see other codependents – who were taught to keep up appearances and wear masks – who seem to have reached happily ever after. We feel like something is wrong with us because other people seem to be happy and successful and we feel like failures. We judge how we feel on the inside against how they look on the outside. And when those people that we put up on pedestals as having it made, prove to be human – get arrested, get a divorce, commit suicide, etc. – we are shocked (and sometimes secretly pleased) but we go right back to judging our self in comparison to someone else whose life looks better than ours feels.

As magical thinking children we were brainwashed / programmed to believe that love will magically transport us to happily-ever-after. We had that delusion reinforced by songs and books and movies. We are constantly being bombarded with advertising that uses our desire to be loved “happily ever after” to manipulate us into spending money on the magical ingredient that is missing – the right beer / car / clothes / makeup / medication / whatever – that will transform our lives.

It is a false belief, a dysfunctional concept, that sets us up to feel such desperate need for our dream to come true. When our feelings of self worth are dependent upon an illusion, we will put a great deal of energy into convincing our self that the dream has come true. Our investment in the fantasy, the dream, is what can make it so hard to let go of a relationship.

“It is letting go of the dream, the idea / concept, of the relationship that causes the most grief in every relationship break up that I have ever worked with. We give power and energy to the mental construct of what we want the relationship to be and cannot even begin to see the situation and the other person clearly.

Far too often – because of the concept of toxic / addictive love we are taught in this society – it is the idea of the other person that we fall in love with, not the actual person. It is so important to us to cast someone in the role of Prince or Princess that we focus on who we want them to be – not on who they really are. In our relationship with our self, we attach so much importance to getting the relationship that we are dishonest with ourselves – and with the other person – in order to manifest the dream / concept of relationship that will fix us / make our life worthwhile. Then we end up feeling like a victim when the other person does not turn out to be the person we wanted.” – The True Nature of Love – part 4, Energetic Clarity 2

What makes relationship break ups so difficult in a codependent society is not the pain of the romance ending – although there is certainly a lot of pain and grief about such endings – it is the shame that our disease beats us up with for: being “failures;” or for being unworthy and unlovable; or for being so “stupid” as to make such a “wrong” choice. Very often we hang onto a relationship long after it is empty and dead because we feel that ending it will prove that we were “wrong” – or that something is wrong with us. This is especially true in instances where our family or friends warned us that the person wasn’t good for us – then we have a great deal of ego investment in proving them wrong. This kind of attempt to avoid “failure” – to avoid admitting “defeat” – has caused many a person to stay in relationships that were abusive long after they knew it was hopeless.

The subconscious programming is so strong that it overrides common sense, intellectual knowledge, and conscious awareness – and keeps us putting a great deal of energy into rationalizing and denying reality. It is that subconscious programming – which can not be substantially changed without becoming emotionally honest, which includes releasing the repressed grief energy from childhood – that makes us powerless to live life in any way except reacting to the extremes of codependency. It is powerlessness over that programming that has caused us to be our own worst enemies.

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

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

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

It is a sad reality that many codependents spend their whole lives living in reaction to their childhood wounding. Whether we are trying to earn our parents love and respect by being what they wanted us to be, or going to the other extreme rebelling against them, we are living in reaction to childhood – we are not living our own lives. Many women, and men, have stayed in marriages – that they knew were a mistake on their wedding day – for 20 or 30 or 40 years because they were trying to prove their parents wrong, or trying to avoid the shame of “failing.”

As long as we are reacting to some arbitrary, absolute standard – a marriage that lasts is a success, one that ends is a failure; a man who is emotionally vulnerable is unmanly; a women who gets angry is not a lady; etc. – we are set up to live our lives in reaction. We are set up to feel like a failure, or to blame someone or something for how we live our lives. We are set up to feel like a victim. It is only by seeing our self and reality with more clarity that we can start to own our power to make choices instead of reacting. We become empowered to take responsibility for being a co-creator in our lives by owning our power to make choices. (Empowerment and Victimization – the power of choice)

Until we start becoming conscious of the power of this subconscious emotional programming, we are powerless to do anything in our life except react. We do not have the ability to respond – response ability – if our choices are limited to right and wrong according to some arbitrary, dysfunctional cultural beliefs.

“We must start recognizing our powerlessness over this disease of Codependence.

As long as we did not know we had a choice we did not have one.

If we never knew how to say “no,” then we never really said “yes.”

We were powerless to do anything any different than we did it. We were doing the best we knew how with the tools that we had. None of us had the power to write a different script for our lives.”

A woman who stays in a marriage because she does not believe she has a choice to leave it, is not making a choice to stay. We can only Truly commit to a course of action by owning that we have a choice in the matter. Staying because we “have to” / it is “wrong” to leave, is not a choice.

Sacred Spiral

Traditional Family Values – patriarchal supremacy

It is people like Dr. Harley who trumpet the sanctity of “traditional family values” – the sanctity of the institution of marriage. The traditional context for family values and marriage in this society is patriarchal supremacy. To speak of marriage without acknowledging the historical reality of the treatment of women in society is not just ignorant, it is downright stupid – in my opinion.

“For all of the so called progress of our modern societies, we still are far behind most aboriginal cultures in terms of respect for individual rights and dignity in some kind of balance with the good of the whole. (I am speaking here of tribal aboriginal societies – not urbanized ones.) Nowhere is this more evident than in terms of our relationship to our children.

Modern civilizations – both Eastern and Western – are no more than a generation or two removed from the belief that children were property. This, of course, goes hand in hand with the belief that women were property.” – Inner child healing – Why do it?

Marriage has not been a full partnership, a Sacred Union, for most women in this society. It has historically been a form of indentured servitude. It is probably an appropriate irony that marriage is referred to as an institution – since in modern day usage that term is most often used to refer to places where people are locked up.

The first paragraph in Dr. Harley’s article is a very revealing one.

“Those of us in the business of trying to save marriages struggle daily with cultural beliefs and practices that make our job difficult. The sudden surge of divorces in the 1970’s, that has made America the country with the highest divorce rate, has a great deal to do with changes in our basic beliefs. More to the point, it has to do with a major shift toward self-centeredness. Beliefs that encourage self-centeredness destroy marriage.”

The “sudden surge of divorces in the 1970’s” for those unconscious souls like Dr. Harley who are not able to understand historical context, coincides with the rise of the Feminist Movement. What Dr. Harley identifies as “self-centeredness” is actually about the liberation of women – women starting to own their right to make choices. What so changed the basic beliefs that this man holds dear, is the empowerment of women to have a self – to be an individual with self respect and rights as a person, instead of an extension of men. Women being so “self-centered” as to want to be liberated from the codependent bondage of being defined in relationship to men, has definitely challenged the traditional marriage of indentured servitude.

He is no different than any small minded bigot or racist. He bemoans the changes in society that led “those people” to forget their rightful place in the white male patriarchal system. In this case, “those people” are women. Women have forgotten their place as the servants of truly self-centered, immature, emotionally crippled little boys masquerading as men. Those same immature men who run the world and are always going to war to protect their right to keep raping the planet and trying to steal all the toys away from the other boys.

“History has been, and is being, made by immature, scared, angry, hurt individuals who were/are reacting to their childhood wounds and programming – reacting to the little child inside who feels unworthy and unlovable.” – Loving the Wounded Child Within

When someone in a relationship is hanging onto to it for dear life to try to avoid feeling like a shameful “failure” – what could possibly be worse scenario for them than to go to a counselor who believes that relationships that end are failures. The “expert” who is supposed to be helping a couple resolve problems in their relationship has an agenda because the expert’s self esteem is invested in saving the marriage. That type of situation is, too often in a dysfunctional society, a sad reality when the people who are supposed to be helpers in the healing process are still unconscious to their codependency.

Any therapist who describes divorce as a disaster and believes his/her job is to save marriages, is empowering black and white, dysfunctional, codependent thinking.

“Dr. Willard F. Harley, Jr. has saved thousands of marriages from the pain of unresolved conflict and the disaster of divorce.”

Dr. Harley defines divorce as disaster, and believes that it is his purpose as a marriage counselor to save marriages. That is the belief system which he empowers. That is the perspective he will bring to any couple that comes to see him. It is impossible for him to see the relationship dynamics clearly as long as he has an agenda that he is projecting onto his clients. He is set up by his own beliefs to try to manipulate and shame people into staying in a marriage – no matter how dysfunctional that relationship may be – because it is what he bases his ego strength upon. Saving marriages is what he does – what he believes makes him successful, gives him worth.

What makes many divorce experiences feel like “disasters” is not the end of the relationship – it is the blaming that goes on to keep from feeling the shame of being a “failure.” It is the battle over who is “right” and who is “wrong” that causes so much emotional trauma. It is trying to identify – and punish – the villain, that makes divorce lawyers rich and emotionally wounds the children who get caught in the middle of this codependent dance of blame and shame.

On the day I was finishing this chapter 2, a man I had never met before came to our CoDA meeting. In the course of sharing, he started to talk about his parents. This man was probably around 50, and was going to visit his parents the next day. He started crying – struggling mightily to control his emotions, gulping shallow breaths and holding them as his body quivered. He choked out that he wished his parents hadn’t behaved so horribly in his childhood.

He recounted how his mother had said to him recently, “Oh, but our family wasn’t dysfunctional. Your father and I stayed together.” He cried as he said in a strangled voice, “That was a big part of the problem.”

Children are damaged just as much by parents who stay together in a dysfunctional marriage as children whose parents divorce. Sometimes it is even more damaging in the long run because the delusion that the family was successful is so strong that it makes it hard for the adult children to understand why they have lived their lives so dysfunctionally – after all, they came from a happy family. The happy family myth was the higher power the parents sacrificed themselves to maintain. Keeping up appearances to avoid shame, to avoid “failure.” Parents who stay together for “the children’s sake,” or to keep up appearances, are disasters as role models for what a romantic relationship looks like.

Any counselor or therapist who does not see a connection between the emotional wounds and intellectual programming of early childhood and problems manifesting in a marriage / romantic relationship, is not going to be able to help the people involved deal with the cause of the problems. Focusing on symptoms will not heal the cause.

For a marriage counselor to believe his purpose is saving marriages, without any consciousness of the cause of marital / relationship dysfunction, or of the historical context in which our beliefs about marriage have been programmed – is very diseased, codependent thinking, in my opinion.” – Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life Chapter 2 Romantic Relationships & Toxic Love ~ Marriage & Divorce

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Dance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sacred SpiralCodependency = conditioned reactive programming

Awakening from the bondage of ego programming

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sacred Spiralrelationships horizontal and vertical

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are Spiritual Beings.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sacred SpiralAnimals are trained – Human Beings are emotionally traumatized

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ego – consciousness of self

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Book cover

Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recovery – aligning with Love instead of shame

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Working the steps, applying the principles in our lives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God,

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

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

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

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

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

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

And the wisdom and clarity to know the difference.

(My personal adapted version of Serenity Prayer)

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

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

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

Twelve Step Principles & tools include:

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

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

Responsibility, Action, Forgiveness, compassion, Love.

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

There are two points of powerlessness with Codependence

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

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

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

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

Intellectual Steps

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

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

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

Emotional Steps

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

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

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

Sacred Spiral

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sacred Spiral

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