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.)

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

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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.

Discernment in relationship to emotional honesty and responsibility 2

Honesty like any other arena in recovery is not a black and white issue.  There are a multitude of levels to honesty, of perspectives in which to view the concept of honesty.  Emotional honesty is the one we are focusing on in this article, but intellectual honesty with ourselves is necessary in order to start becoming emotionally honest.

It is necessary to start seeing ourselves with more clarity in order to recognize the attitudes, beliefs, and definitions that are dictating our emotional reactions.  Once we start achieving more honesty in our perspectives of ourselves, then we can get more clarity in our emotional process.

For instance, until I started to recognize how I had been programmed to have a dysfunctional relationship with my own emotions because I am male, I could not start giving myself permission to get in touch with feelings which I had been programmed to believe were unacceptable for a man in this society.

There are numerous levels, relationships, that I had to start seeing with more clarity – getting more intellectually honest with myself about – before I could start changing my relationship in those arenas.

“Attitudes, definitions, and beliefs determine perspective and expectation – which in turn dictates our relationships.  Our relationships to our self, to life, to other people, to The God-Force / Goddess Energy / Great Spirit.  Our relationships to our own emotions, bodies, gender, etc., are dictated by the attitudes, definitions, and beliefs that we are holding mentally / intellectually.  And we acquired those mental constructs / ideas / concepts in early childhood from the emotional experiences, intellectual teachings, and role modeling of the beings around us.” – The True Nature of Love-part 4, Energetic Clarity 

The key in this regard for me, was expectations.  I had to start realizing how my expectations were dictating my emotional reactions in order to start changing my relationships with my own emotions.

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

I had to learn to be honest with myself about my expectations – so I could let go of the ones that were insane (like, everyone is going to drive the way I want them to), and own my choices – so I could take responsibility for how I was setting myself up to be a victim in order to change my patterns.” – Serenity and Expectations

The process of recovery is a journey of continual growth to larger perspectives, higher contexts in which to view everything.  Consciousness raising / enLightenment is a process of peeling away layers of denial to get to a Higher Consciousness / expanded perspective / deeper level of honesty.  The focus of this article is discernment in relationship to emotional honesty and I just realized that I need to say a few words about why it is so important – about why emotions are important.

Emotions = energy in motion

Feelings, emotions, are energy.

The Dance

“Emotions are energy:  E-motion = energy in motion.  It is supposed to be in motion, it was meant to flow.

Emotions have a purpose, a very good reason to be – even those emotions that feel uncomfortable.  Fear is a warning, anger is for protection, tears are for cleansing and releasing.  These are not negative emotional responses!  We were taught to react negatively to them.  It is our reaction that is dysfunctional and negative, not the emotion.” – quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

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

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

“Emotional energy is not only supposed to be in motion, to flow, it is also the energy that gets us in motion.  It is what drives us, what propels us forward through life.  When emotional flow is blocked and suppressed it does not go away.  Energy cannot simply disappear.  It can transform but it cannot disappear.  That is a law of physics.

Emotional energy that is suppressed still drives us.  It is what causes obsessive-compulsive behavior, it is what drives addictions.  Repressed emotional energy builds up pressure that has to be released. . . . . .

Human beings are not damned with an n.  We are emotionally dammed.  Dammed up, blocked up – which is what causes us to feel damned with an n.”

“The emotional energy generated by the circumstances of our childhood and early life does not go away just because we were forced to deny it.  It is still trapped in our body – in a pressurized, explosive state, as a result of being suppressed. . . . . As long as we have pockets of pressurized emotional energy that we have to avoid dealing with – those emotional wounds will run our lives.” – Feeling the Feelings

The reason that it is so important to clear up our relationship with our own emotions, to learn to be emotionally honest with ourselves is because emotions are such a powerful part of our being, such a vital and controlling influence in how we live our lives.  The key to learning how to clear up that relationship and start to get some emotional clarity is learning how to have internal boundaries.

“Then we can start setting internal boundaries within the mental, between the mental and emotional, and within the emotional levels of our being. . . . . . .Within the mental we can start discerning and separating the shaming messages that are coming from the disease / critical parent voice from our own wisdom, knowledge and intelligence. . . . . .By learning to set a boundary between emotional and mental, we can stop reacting to life based on the false belief that what we feel is who we are – that what we feel defines our reality. . . . . . Once we start having boundaries within the mental, and between the mental and emotional, then we can also start having boundaries within the emotional level of our being. . . . . . .start discerning between the emotional truth that is coming from our old wounds and the emotional energy that is Truth.” – Inner child healing – the process of processing

It is necessary to learn to have a boundary within the emotional component of our being because there are two primary transformers from which emotional energy is generated.  Our ego self and our Spiritual Self.  Our ego was traumatized in childhood and programmed very dysfunctionally. The ego is the seat of the disease of codependence.

“The key to healing our wounded souls is to get clear and honest in our emotional process.  Until we can get clear and honest with our human emotional responses – until we change the twisted, distorted, negative perspectives and reactions to our human emotions that are a result of having been born into, and grown up in, a dysfunctional, emotionally repressive, Spiritually hostile environment – we cannot get clearly in touch with the level of emotional energy that is Truth.  We cannot get clearly in touch with and reconnected to our Spiritual Self.”

Our Spiritual Self is the True Self, the Higher Self that is an extension downward vibrationally from the ONENESS of the Source Energy.  Recovery is a process of reprogramming the ego defenses so that we can bring the ego self into alignment with Spiritual Self.  Spiritual Self is our guide through the Spiritual evolutionary process.  Our Spiritual Self communicates with us through our intuition.  Our intuition is emotional energy – an emotional energy communication from our Spirit.

“Truth, in my understanding, is not an intellectual concept.  I believe that Truth is an emotional-energy, vibrational communication to my consciousness, to my soul/spirit – my being, from my Soul.  Truth is an emotion, something that I feel within. . . . . It’s that gut feeling, the feeling in my heart.  It is the feeling of something resonating within me.”

It is very important to start developing internal boundaries so that we can start discerning between the emotional messages that are being generated by the disease, by our wounded self, and the messages that are coming from our Higher Self.

“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 are reacting out of an age of our inner child.”

Healthy Guilt and Unhealthy Guilt

A good example of this discernment process is guilt.  Guilt is a feeling – an emotional energy whose purpose is to communicate with our consciousness about our behavior.  It is important to make a distinction between healthy guilt and unhealthy guilt in relationship to discernment and emotional honesty.

In my definition shame is a term that relates to being (feeling that something is wrong with who we are, that our being is defective) – while guilt refers to behavior.

“We do not need fixing.  We are not broken.  Our sense of self, our self perception, was shattered and fractured and broken into pieces, not our True Self. . . .

We are not broken.  That is what toxic shame is – thinking that we are broken, believing that we are somehow inherently defective.

Guilt is “I made a mistake, I did something wrong.”

Shame is “I’m a mistake, something is wrong with me.””

Guilt is something we feel to help us be aware of our behavior.

Healthy guilt is what we feel when we violate our own value system.  It is an important intuitive component in maintaining a healthy, honest relationship with ourselves.  Guilt helps us to be aware of areas that needs some more healing – behavior that is a reaction to old wounds and old tapes.  It is generated by our Spirit when we have acted in ways which we need to make amends for, when our humanness has caused us to act in a way that does not respect and honor that we are ONE with everyone and everything.

Unhealthy guilt is when we feel guilty for violating someone else’s value system.  We were programmed to react to life based on value systems that were dysfunctional, codependent, and unhealthy.  We had imposed upon us, and programmed into our intellectual perspective and emotional reactions, value systems we learned from the emotional experiences, intellectual teachings, and role modeling of the beings around us in childhood.  In order to survive, we adapted the value systems imposed upon us – even though they often did not make sense to us even then.

The critical parent voice developed in order to try to control our behavior and feelings using the same tools that were used on us – guilt, shame, and fear.  As a result of that programming, it is normal for us to feel guilty about violating those value system.  Thus in recovery when we start setting boundaries, saying no, speaking our truth, being emotionally honest, etc., feelings of guilt and shame are generated.

In recovery as we awaken to our power to make choices about our beliefs, we can start sorting out which values that we are holding resonate with Truth as we feel it intuitively – and which ones are a result of the old programming.  We can start practicing discernment in picking out the nuggets of Truth in the values we learned in childhood, from the twisted, dysfunctional, shame based beliefs.  Some of the values our parents held will also be our intuitive values.  Many will not because they were programmed in their childhoods.  Often we were taught values in theory that are Truth – but which in practice were not followed.  This was part of the crazy making inconsistency that caused us to think something was wrong with us.

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

As we heal and awaken we get clearer on what our True values, the intuitive messages from our Spiritual Self, are – and can discern more often when we are experiencing unhealthy guilt so that we do not give it power.  As with any part of the process, our intuition is our guide.  Our minds have a great tendency to slip back into the polarized ruts of trying to figure out what is right and what is wrong – whereas our gut feelings will most often be coming from our intuition.

The more we are able to develop our observer self, the witness who is viewing our life and internal process from a recovery perspective, the easier it becomes for us to discern between guilt feelings that are healthy – and an important tool in helping us maintain some emotional balance and responsibility – and the unhealthy guilt of our old programming that we can let go of.

In her wonderful daily meditation book, Melody Beattie calls the unhealthy guilt and shame generated when we start to change to new healthier behavior “afterburn,” and talks about just letting it burn off without giving it power.  This is what I refer to as having a boundary between emotional and mental.  We can feel the guilt and recognize it as unhealthy so that we do not give the critical parent voice the power to get us into a frenzy of mental activity worrying if we have done something “wrong.”  We can talk to the child within us that is feeling guilty for setting a boundary and tell that child that it is good to set boundaries – that it is the Loving thing to do for ourselves.  (Melody Beattie’s The Language of Letting Go is an absolutely phenomenal book that I think everyone in recovery should have.  The Loving Spiritual belief system that is the foundation for her practical recovery advice is one that aligns with what I believe better than anything else I have ever read.)

Worry is negative fantasy

When I catch myself worrying about right and wrong, it is a sure sign that my disease is up and running – that I have slipped back into that rut.  When I become aware that my mind has gone into a right and wrong type feeding frenzy, it is usually because I have some feelings going on that are making me uncomfortable.  Very often, I am afraid of what the consequences of my choice will be – the outcome of the actions I have set in motion.  Sometimes, I am sad that I had to set a boundary.  Whatever I am feeling, it is better for me to get in touch with the feeling than to be in my head in a frenzy of worry.

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

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

“We are talking about balance between the emotional and mental here again.  Blame has to do with attitudes, with buying into the false beliefs – it does not really have anything to do with the process of releasing the emotional energy.”

Worry, like blame (and such things as resentment, despair, and self pity), is a negative emotional state that is created by the intellectual paradigm that we are filtering our life experience through, that we are allowing to interpret and translate life for us.  The more we try to avoid the discomfort of feeling fear or sadness or anger, the more emotional energy we generate in relationship to whatever situation we are reacting to.  It is a really dysfunctional, viscous cycle if our goal is to be happy and at peace.  For the disease it is a functional cycle because it creates justification for rescuing ourselves by going unconscious using some self abusive behavior – which then creates more shame, which creates more judgment, which creates more fear, which creates more worry, etc., etc.

“As long as we are judging and shaming ourselves we are giving power to the disease.  We are feeding the monster that is devouring us.”

When I catch myself worrying then I know that I am not being emotionally honest with myself.  Worry is a symptom that tells me I am avoiding some feelings.

The key is to be aware of when we slip back into those ruts of right and wrong thinking so that we can use our recovery tools to pull us out of the rut and get back into balance.  We need to let go of the perspectives or expectation that are causing us more fear.  We need to own the feelings instead of trying to avoid them – because trying to avoid them just generates more of them.

When I catch myself worrying it is very important not to judge myself for it.  What I need to do is be patient and kind and compassionate towards myself.  I can catch myself, take a couple of deep breaths and say something to myself like:

Oh here I am worrying.  I must be afraid.  I am feeling fear about of the outcome of this situation.  I have bought into the belief that if this does not come out the way I want it to, I am not going to be OK.   It is time to stop and remember that I have a Loving Higher Power who is in charge of outcomes.  That everything will work out in the way which is best for my growth process.  I need to remember to be willing to surrender to the Divine Plan of my Loving Higher Power.  I need to let go of those old beliefs in lack and scarcity.  I need to remind myself that I don’t have the power to screw up the Goddess’s plan.  That whatever happens will be an opportunity for growth – not a mistake.

Then I may need to specifically deal with some inner child wounds – “How old am I feeling right now.” – letting the detective / observer part of me track down why this situation in particular is carrying a lot of charge for me.  There may be some grief work to do.  I may also need to own that I am angry at my Higher Power because I am in a situation again that causes fear – or sadness, or hurt.  A situation that resonates with the energy of one of my core issues – abandonment, betrayal, deprivation, abuse, isolation, etc.

Any time I am worrying, I am back into right and wrong thinking.  That tells me that I am not being emotionally honest with myself and that I have gotten out of balance, that my vision is being clouded by reactions from the past.  Balance is the key.  We are striving for a balance between mental and emotional, between intuitive and rational.  It is feeling clear that will show us our path, not deciding what is right or wrong.

“And once again here, I want to make the point that clarity with our self is not an absolute destination.  This healing is a gradual process of finding a sense of balance – a sense of what clarity feels like, so that we can look for and recognize when we have it and when we do not.   In order to do that it is vital to learn how to be emotionally honest with ourselves so that we can be discerning in our relationship with our own mental and emotional process. Through that honesty we will achieve some energetic clarity as well.

Through that energetic clarity we will be able to access Love from the Source – and we will learn to Love and trust our Self to guide our self through this boarding school that is life as a human.” – The True Nature of Love-part 4, Energetic Clarity  

Honesty with others

We need to strive for emotional honesty with our self and for our self – because being honest with ourselves is what works best to help us see our self and life most clearly.  It is the most Loving thing to do for ourselves.

It is also important for us to learn to practice discernment in relationship to how honest we are with other people.  It is almost always the best policy, the strategy that works best in the long run, to be direct and honest with others.  That does not necessarily mean emotionally honest.  And it does not necessarily mean we need to tell them the whole truth, be honest on all levels.

While I was writing this article I took a break to go for a walk by the ocean.  On that walk, my Higher Power presented me with a perfect example of the point I am making here.

I ran into someone I know from AA and had not seen for a couple of months.  This is a person that I like and I am happy to see when I run into her.  She has around thirty years of sobriety.  But she is not involved in the emotional healing, in codependence recovery.  She knows I have a book out, and asks me about it when we see each other – but I would never expect her to read it.

The AA community in the small town that I live in has a very high percentage of people with long term sobriety.   Many of them are people who retired here from Los Angeles or Fresno and other places.  They are old time AA people who are so black and white in their thinking that they get upset if someone mentions drugs in an Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.  Needless to say, they do not think that codependence has any place in their lives or their meetings.  I can share in these meetings using AA language and people will tell me how much they get from my sharing – but if I use the C word (codependence) I can almost hear the snap of the minds closing around the room.

As a result I do not go to a lot of AA meetings here.  Inevitably, I walk away from a meeting here feeling sad about the level of emotional dishonesty I observe – or sometimes angry about rigid, judgmental statements or behavior.  My main meeting here in town – besides a CoDA meeting that I started and am secretary for – is a Narcotics Anonymous meeting in which it is OK to talk about anything and the people laugh a lot.

So, I ran into this woman from AA on my walk, and she said to me, “I haven’t seen you around for awhile.”  This is AA language for “Why haven’t I seen you at any meetings?”  And coming from many people in Alcoholics Anonymous carries more than a hint of accusation in it.

I told her that I was doing a lot of phone counseling and the appointments were often in the evenings.  I mentioned that the NA meeting was the one I made it to most often.  I said that I had been meaning to make it to the Friday night meeting – and I have, and will, one of these days.

I answered her honestly without telling the whole truth or being emotionally honest.  There was no reason to share my feelings about the meetings that she attends – because she had not asked for my opinion.  People in AA have the same uncanny ability that my family members and many other people out there in the world have – they have a way of avoiding asking direct questions whose answers might make them uncomfortable.   I have learned that part of having good boundaries for me includes not offering opinions to, or being emotionally honest with, people who do not want to hear it.

That AA person falls into the category of what I call a “friendly acquaintance.”  Someone who I am glad to see, feel some affection for, feel a bond to as a fellow recovering alcoholic – but someone who will probably never be a real friend.  If she were ever to come to me and ask for my advice or opinion – I would happily share with her.  The chances are that will never happen.

I have found it important to have boundaries in terms of how I view other people.  If I have one or two people in my life that I feel that I can truly communicate with and be emotionally honest with on all levels, that is an incredible abundance.  For much of my recovery I have not had anyone who fell into that category.  That is sad, but it is a reality that I have needed to accept.  As I have said elsewhere, an important part of empowerment is seeing reality as it is and making the best of it – rather than putting energy into wishing it was different.  If I get caught up in wishing it were different, in the “what if”s and “if only”s, then I am empowering a victim perspective which can lead to self pity.  (Grieving, owning the sadness, is very different from self pity which – as I mention above -is an emotional state based upon limiting victim beliefs.)

It has been very helpful to me, to accept that people are where they are at – and that it is OK.  I have learned to let go of my old pattern of sacrificing myself in the now for the potential of the future.  Often I can see who a person really is, and understand their potential – which on my deepest level of honesty usually means their potential to be an asset in my life – but need to accept that they are perfectly where they are supposed to be in their process.  I need to accept that, in order not to buy into the illusion that they are doing something to me – that I am the victim of the pace of their process, of their inability to be who I want them to be now.

This was especially important in terms of letting go of expecting my family of origin to change.  They are not who I want them to be, they don’t understand me and can’t see me.  It isn’t personal – they are just dancing with their wounds and following their path.  It is not for me to judge someone else’s path.  Letting go – especially in terms of doing the inner child grieving about letting go of the myth of family – and accepting, was a necessary component in being able to have a friendly, superficial relationship with my family today.  Superficial is what they are capable of – I needed to accept that and make the best of the situation.

In terms of friends, there are going to be people in my life, who I can share certain things with – but not other things.  Some people that I can relate to on certain levels, or about certain issues.  To expect that I can be emotionally honest with everyone in my life in a way that works (is safe, is heard, is understood) is an insane expectation in such a dysfunctional society with relatively so few people actually doing the healing work.

(I want to make a point here also, that when I say “safe” in terms of being emotionally honest, I am talking about what will work best.  In earlier recovery, when I was still giving a lot of power to the old wounds and old tapes, it could feel devastating to me to have someone judge and shame me.  Then safe referred to danger, to people who would judge and shame me.  It also meant people who would try to fix me.  Trying to fix someone else is not support, it is codependence.  When someone starts trying to rescue me it imparts a judgment on where I am at – it means they are not comfortable so they are going to try to change me to make themselves comfortable.  This is tied into the what I was speaking of above about offering advice or opinions to someone who hasn’t asked.  It can be a form of abuse.

As I have gotten healthier in recovery, with more capacity to be balanced and see life with some clarity – other people and life events have less power to effect me.  The more I am grounded in the Spiritual belief system I have integrated into my internal process, and have done my inner child healing – the less power any of my old buttons hold. The better I have become at letting go, the shorter the periods of time have become that I am giving others the power to rock my emotional boat.  The term safe for me transformed into meaning something more like: safe from wasting time and energy trying to communicate with someone who can not hear.  To get into an argument, a power struggle over right and wrong, with someone who doesn’t speak my language is dysfunctional – is actually, pretty silly.

Pay Attention

The primary purpose and most important reason for me to share my feelings with anyone is because I need to do it for me – to take care of me.  In order to be emotionally healthy I need to express and release my feelings – but that does not mean that I have to necessarily express those feelings to the person involved.  The farther along I get in recovery, the more I have the tools and resources I need to do my healing internally where it really matters, the less need I have to share my feelings with people who can’t hear me.

The secondary purpose of being emotionally honest with another person is to develop emotional intimacy with that person.  If the other person is not capable of emotional honesty, then I am setting myself up – empowering expectations that are not realistic.

Of course, when we first meet someone we do not have any data to base a discerning decision upon.  We gather data by paying attention.  The more we heal, the more ability we have to be in the moment and pay attention.  People give us signs and signals about themselves right from our first contact with them.  The most Loving thing we can do for ourselves, the most functional behavior, is to be present and pay attention.

So, we observe.  We pay attention not just to what they are saying, but also to their body language, their eye contact, the feelings we get in our gut while interacting with them.

As I state in the quote above, we are never going to meet someone who doesn’t have some red flags.  Everyone we meet is going to be someone who is a teacher of some kind.  By paying attention, it is possible to choose rather we want to explore our connection to them further or rather this is a opportunity to set a boundary with ourselves about where to expend our time and energy.

If we discern that we do not feel comfortable with seeing this person again, we can be direct and honest with them – without necessarily being emotionally honest.

We do not have to say, for example:  You scare me because it appears that you are not really hearing what I am saying to you, that you are unable to be conscious and present.  (This would almost certainly engender a defensive reaction from the other person and lead to more time and energy expended)

We do not have to lie to them either:  I am so busy this week.  Maybe later in the month. (This sets us up to keep putting them off.)

We can say something like:  Sorry, but I am very busy these days and just do not have time to hang out.

So, we tell a little fib by saying we are sorry when we probably aren’t – and we do not tell the whole truth which is:  I choose not to hang out with someone unless I see the possibility of a healthy relationship with them, or sense a strong connection that I feel a need to explore.

And then we do not have to explain.  We do not have to explain ourselves to anyone unless we choose to.  We have a right to make choices without having to justify them or defend ourselves.

This is, of course, one of those places where it is important to be able to recognize that any guilt feelings that might arise, and cause us to feel we have to explain, are most likely unhealthy guilt – codependent reactions to being programmed to feel responsible for other people’s feelings.

There are many people out there whose codependent defense system falls into what I describe in my book as bulldozers.  The will push and push and push.  They will demand explanations.

You do not owe them an explanation.  With bulldozers it is often necessary to get down right rude with them before they will hear us.  Anyone who pushes against a boundary we set is obviously someone that we may want to choose not to be around.  If someone gets pushy, then we can say something like: “I don’t want to see you again because you don’t respect the boundary that I just set.”

Confrontations

Many of us, of course, have a real terror of conflict – either because we have inner children who are terrified of someone else’s anger, and/or because we are programmed to feel responsible for other people’s feelings and have great fear of hurting others.

What is important is to start being honest with ourselves.  To say you didn’t want to tell the other person the truth because it would hurt their feelings is codependent.  The truth is we didn’t want to tell them because we wanted to protect ourselves from feeling codependently responsible for hurting their feelings.  It is not about them – it is about us.

To avoid setting boundaries because we are afraid of the other persons anger, is a set up to be a doormat and a victim.  It is deadly to our own self respect.  It usually means we are reacting out of an inner child wound.  As children we had to learn to not have boundaries in order to survive.  As adults, it is our responsibility to our self and to our inner children to start setting boundaries in order to become empowered in our life.

As I stated in my article on setting personal boundaries, we not only need to set them, we need to be willing to defend them.  Defending our right to set boundaries means knowing we do not have to justify or explain.  The chances are the other person will react defensively, take our boundary personally, and push for an explanation.  We do not owe them an explanation.  One of the reasons we learned to fear confrontations, was because of how unpleasant power struggles over who is right and who is wrong can be.  Defending our right to set boundaries, means learning (a gradual, stumbling process) to stand up for ourselves and say: “No!  I do not have to explain myself to you.” (This of course, also applies to our feelings.  We do not have to justify how we feel to anyone.)

People come into our lives to help us learn about ourselves.  The people who will feel hurt when we say no to them, are people who are helping us get in touch with dysfunctional beliefs about being responsible for other people’s feelings.  They are helping us get in touch with some inner child wounds, and practice letting go of unhealthy guilt.

People who are bulldozers, whose anger we are afraid of, are teachers that force us to learn to stand up for ourselves.  Without them we would never have to learn how to set and defend boundaries.

These types of confrontations are opportunities for growth.  The more we grow the more we have a choice to avoid these confrontations by being honest with ourselves so that we can employ the strategy that works best.  What works best – to help us keep from expending our time and energy on people that we choose not to invest our self in – is to set a boundary and be direct up front.

It takes a great deal of courage in recovery to start standing up for ourselves.  To start saying no straight out instead of making excuses and vague promises that we do not intend to keep.  Learning to be more honest in our interactions is a process that we evolve through – not something to judge ourselves about.

Sometimes we go through stages where we need to come from a pretty black and white extreme.  As I said, we go through stages in the growth process.

I had very powerful patterns of avoiding conflict.  Those arose out of the traumatic effect my fathers raging had on me, and the emotional incest from my mother that caused me to feel responsible for the feelings of others.

I had a great ability to intellectually rationalize away the need to stand up for myself.  There were always multiple reasons I could come up with to rationalize why the other person was acting that way – or why it wouldn’t do any good to stand up for myself.  The first instance was masked as unhealthy codependent “compassion” – which wasn’t really about them at all, but was about protecting me.  And the second was about manipulation – about what strategy would best protect me, get me what I wanted.

There was a stage in my process where I had to let go of trying to figure it out intellectually, let go of strategy, let go of trying to be discerning – and just make the first priority stopping the emotional and verbal abuse.  I needed to make protecting myself the first priority.  That meant that I shared my feelings anytime someone said something to me that felt abusive.  That meant that I reacted out of unresolved grief and anger from the past in my reactions to people.  That often meant I had to go back and make amends later.

It was an important phase in my process.  I went from having no honest boundaries – to throwing up boundaries and spewing my feelings everywhere with everyone – and then was able to move through that stage to a point where I had more choices.

It may be dysfunctional to share your feelings with your boss or a parent – but it might be a necessary part of owning yourself to do just that.  The more we heal the more discernment we can practice in where, when, and to whom we are emotionally honest.

As I have stated elsewhere, we need to own our feelings and set boundaries as a way of Loving ourselves, being a friend to our self – not to obtain a certain outcome.  When we set boundaries, we let go of the outcome.

Which doesn’t mean that we do not want the outcome – it means that we choose to take care of ourselves and take a risk that the outcome will not be what we want.  It is very important to take risks in recovery.  The purpose of getting emotionally honest with ourselves and owning our responsibilities is so that we can make better choices about the risks we choose to take.

Discerning strategy and letting go

As I said in part 1 of this discussion, we are learning how to live in balance, in the gray area of life.  We are learning that there are numbers 2 through 9 instead of just 1 and 10.

We need to learn to be emotionally honest with ourselves – and direct and honest with others – in a way that works for us.  Having a healthy relationship with our self involves living according to value system that we resonate with – living with integrity.

We want to own our feelings and release them in a healthy way that works to help us have some balance in our life.  We are learning how to stop giving power to the old wounds so that we do not behave in a manner which is harmful to us – the “I’ll show you, I’ll get me!” patterns of codependence.

That involves seeing ourselves and our lives as clearly and honestly as possible – and responding to other people and life events by making the best choices possible.

To be angry at your boss and be emotionally honest about that anger – could be dysfunctional to your well being.  Could get you fired.

It is important to own that anger and release it in a healthy way – through talking a friend or in a twelve step meeting, through doing anger release work, etc.  We also need to look at how we are setting ourselves up to generate that anger – take responsibility for our part in the situation.   We do that by getting in touch with any victim perspective we are empowering (the “I have to go to work” victimization we are taught in our society – Empowerment and Victimization – the power of choice) and observing any childhood wounds that are involved so that we can focus on the real cause instead of just the presenting symptom.

We also want to own all of our choices, rather than just the 1 or 10 of being the poor self righteous victim or exploding in profanity and quitting.  We can look at our choices 2 through 9, and decide upon the strategy that will work best for us.  If we decide that we need to quit the job, we can choose to have another one lined up when we quit – choose the time that works best for self instead of reacting in a way that hurts our self.

We can learn to respond to situations with discernment that allows us to make choices about what is in our best interests.  We can choose a strategy that is most likely to have an outcome that will work for us.

We need to let go of thinking we can control the outcome.  We need to not allow our fear of the outcome to cause us to be emotionally dishonest with ourselves.  But letting go of the outcome does not mean abrogating our responsibility as co-creators of our life.  We have responsibility for the actions we choose to put in motion – and we want to be discerning and choose the best strategy possible to get us what we want – but ultimately we need to have faith that taking care of ourselves will lead us to someplace better.  We need to surrender to whatever outcome the Universal Plan has next for us in our lesson plan of Spiritual growth and emotional healing.

Recovery keeps getting different

While we are in the process of learning how to be emotionally honest and emotionally responsible we will go through different stages of growth.  And we will be in process for the rest of our lives – on progressively more advanced and usually subtler levels.  This process is why we are here, it is not something we do and then get on with our lives.  Growing, learning, healing, awakening to our True Spiritual nature so that we can integrate that Truth into our relationship with our selves and life – is what this adventure in body is all about.

When I first got into recovery I was told that “it keeps getting better.”  That has not been my emotional experience of recovery.  As I talk about in my article about Loving and Nurturing self,  the process of life involves falling apart, losing it, etc. – as we reach new levels of growth and have to surrender some of our old ego definitions.  So, from a higher perspective, a Spiritual growth perspective – yes, it does keep progressing and getting better once we start making the shift of seeing life as a growth process.  It sure doesn’t feel that way however.

A couple of other things that I was told in early recovery have more closely matched my experience of the process.  “More Will Be Revealed” and “it will keep getting different” are two expressions that have always been true for me.  Every time a new layer of the onion gets peeled, a new octave gets reached – more is revealed on a deeper emotional level with a higher degree of honesty.  That higher level changes my perspective of my self, of life, of the past, of other people -which changes my relationship to my issues. Surrendering my old ideas and old tapes does not just mean letting go of the programming from childhood – sometimes it means letting go of what I thought was truth 2 weeks ago.

We are a work in progress.  There is no destination.  We have different chapters to our story, different stages of our journey – but our relationships with everything keep evolving and changing.

That includes our relationship to our own emotions.  In early recovery, when I was trying to get in touch with and own my feelings, I would often say “That makes me angry,” or “That hurts,” – not because I was actually feeling the feelings, but rather because I knew that it was appropriate to feel a feeling in that situation.

Later, as I got in touch with the emotional energy that was in my body, it would often explode out of me.  So that I would say, “I feel angry” when I was really feeling, and expressing, rage.

It was progress for me to express that I was angry and actually feel the anger at the same time.  Because of that, I often expressed that anger in ways that were out of balance and inappropriate.  That was a stage of my growth process.

Getting in touch with the feelings eventually caused me to get in touch with my grief and rage.  It was impossible for me to start owning my feelings without eventually owning the repressed feelings from my past.  So there were times when my expression of feelings would be very out of proportion to the stimulus that was triggering those emotional releases.  That is an inevitable part of the path.

One of my ways of trying to control the feelings was to be in my head trying to figure out what was happening and how to express it in a healthy way.  In the process of pushing myself beyond the mental defenses of rationalizing, intellectualizing, analyzing, etc., it was impossible to be in balance and healthy in all of my expressions of emotion.

The more I did my grief and rage work, and changed the dysfunctional perspectives that were setting me up for emotional responses, the more emotionally balanced and responsible I could become.   But it is a process that evolves over time.

It was progress in early recovery for me to start vocalizing feelings even though I wasn’t actually feeling them.  To say, “I am angry,” to own my right to be angry – was a breakthrough.

It was progress to vocalize the feelings at the same time I was owning and feeling them – even though that caused me to overreact and explode at times.  To say, “I am angry” while sounding angry and really feeling angry was a breakthrough.

It was progress to take responsibility for my feelings so that I could use the tools I had learned to feel and release the feelings in my own way, at my own time – so that at times, I wouldn’t have to actually be angry when I was expressing those feelings to someone else.  To say, “That caused me to feel angry” without actually being angry while I said it – was a breakthrough.

See how things spiral around?  Vocalizing a feeling without feeling it – was in early recovery a symptom of my level of emotional dishonesty.  While as my recovery advanced, vocalizing a feeling without feeling it at that moment – could be a symptom of emotional balance.

The energy of those two examples, was however, very different.  Prior to having owned my rage, saying I was angry without feeling it did not carry much power.  After having done grief and rage work, and having owned the power that comes from owning my feelings, when I told someone that some behavior of theirs had made me angry, they heard me much more clearly.  By owning my feelings, I was owning and respecting myself.  The more I own and respect myself, the more clearly I can communicate.  Now when I set a boundary, I can usually do it firmly from a place of power and strength that lets the other person know that I will defend that boundary.  I can communicate strength without ever sounding angry.

Once we start to become grounded in the powerful energy of our True Self, once we start respecting ourselves and Knowing that we have rights, then we start to be capable of communicating from a place of power that does not require raising our voice to be heard.  The more we are centered and balanced in Truth, the more we are able to perceive the gray area where we can own our side of the street and hold other people responsible for theirs, the more we can communicate in a manner which maximizes the possibility of being seen and heard.  (Of course, we are powerless over others and need to be willing to let go of the outcome, so there is no guarantee about how the other will react/respond. Accept the things we cannot change – change the things we can, take responsibility for ourselves and our side of the street.)

Progress not Perfection

It is important to look at our process from the perspective of the progress we have made rather than trying to do it perfectly.  In making progress we have to breakthrough to new ways of doing things.  We need to explore new territory and give ourselves permission to take care of ourselves in whatever way is necessary.  That sometimes involves swinging to the other extreme so that we end up having to make amends for how we expressed ourselves.  It is important to celebrate our progress and not shame and judge ourselves for any mess that the way we breakthrough may entail.

An example of the point I am trying to make here, is the story of a client I worked with some years ago.  This person was a social worker who was very good at doing her job.  In the role she was playing at work she could be fierce and have strong boundaries.  In her personal life however, she had no permission to have any boundaries at all because of her childhood wounds.  My homework assignment for her was to tell someone to F___ off.  I chose something so harsh because it was so out of character for her.  She was appalled and horrified at the thought of saying something like that to someone.  It was not even conceivable to her because it was so contrary to the self definition she had adapted in childhood.

One of the reasons that I give people assignments is to expand their consciousness, to give them permission to act in ways they would never consider.   It took her about 3 months before she completed the assignment – and when she did, she said it to the biggest cop in town at a professional gathering.  She was horrified that she had done it.  I was very excited for her and heaped congratulations on her.  The point was, she had stood up for herself spontaneously.  I told her that she could go back and make amends for how she expressed herself – but that it was a wonderful breakthrough that she had defended herself.

That particular expression may be one that she will never in her life use again – and it certainly is not an example of the way in which we are learning to communicate.  The breakthrough was that she had started to respect herself enough to be willing to go to any length to defend herself.  She spontaneously set a boundary and communicated that another persons behavior was not acceptable to her.

The more we heal our core relationship with ourselves, the more we start to respect and Love ourselves, the more we start automatically and spontaneously owning our right to speak up and set boundaries.  Often when we are breaking out of the old patterns, jumping out of the old ruts, we will swing to the other extreme.  That doesn’t mean we are going to stay there.  It means we are doing a paradigm shift in our relationship with self and others.  It means we have broken through to a different way of doing things.

In recovery, our experience of life keeps getting different.

“When I talk about ways that we use to go unconscious – like workaholism, or exercise, or food, or whatever – I am not saying that you should be ashamed if you are doing some of these things.

We cannot go from unconscious to conscious overnight!  This healing is a long gradual process.  We all still need to go unconscious sometimes.  Recovery is a dance that celebrates progress, not one that achieves perfection.

A significant breakthrough in my personal process came when I was able to recognize, and give myself credit for, the progress that I had made – when I realized that a pint of Haagen-daz was lasting me three days instead of being gone within twenty minutes of when I bought it.

That was a very big breakthrough for me, to be able to give myself credit for the progress instead of judging and shaming myself for not being perfect, for still feeling like I needed the nurturing of ice cream.

We had to learn to go unconscious in order to survive!  Thank God for alcohol or television or romance novels.  Thank God for ice cream!

We need to stop judging ourselves – that means allowing ourselves to do whatever it takes, whatever works.  There are times when we need to go unconscious.  There are times when we need to stuff our feelings in the moment.  There are times when it is not safe to be vulnerable and emotionally honest.

This Recovery process is a gradual transition from using our old tool box to using the new tools.  The old tools – the ways we used to go unconscious so we could survive – are not  “bad” or “wrong.”  They were life savers – without them we would be either dead or mass murderers, or dead mass murderers.

We adopted the old tools because they were the best choices that were available to us at the time.  We adopted them in response to intuitive impulses that were right on.   Those impulses were “protect myself, nurture myself.”  It is the nature of the defense system that is Codependence that the ways we learned to protect and nurture ourselves are self-abusive in the long run.

So we need to stop shaming ourselves for the behaviors that we adopted to protect and nurture ourselves, at the same time that we are transitioning to behaviors that are less self-abusive.

Notice that I say less self-abusive.  We are talking progress, not perfection here.

If you have an image of what completely healthy behavior is, and you will not allow yourself to accept and Love yourself until you get there, then you are setting conditions under which you decide when you will become Lovable.  You are still buying into a concept of conditional love and by extension, the concept of a Higher Power that is conditionally loving.  You are still trying to earn, and become worthy of not only self-Love, but also God’s Love.  That small child inside of you is still trying to earn your parents’ Love and validation.

That is a natural, normal thing for humans beings on this Codependent planet.  Try not to judge and beat yourself up for it.  Try to observe it and say, “Oh, isn’t it sad that I am still doing that?  I think I will try to learn some ways that I can change it.”” – Emotional Honesty and Emotional Responsibility part 5 Discernment in relationship to emotional honesty and responsibility 2

Sacred Spiral

This is the fifth in a series of articles on Emotional Honesty and Emotional Responsibility that I wrote in 2001 – 15 years ago, Wow. The first was Emotional Honesty and Emotional Responsibility  The next three I have already published on this Blog: Emotional Honesty and Emotional Responsibility Part 2 – Uncover, Discover, Recover by learning boundaries,  Emotional Honesty and Emotional Responsibility Part 3 ~ Setting Personal Boundaries -protecting self, and Emotional Honesty and Emotional Responsibility part 4 Discernment in relationship to emotional honesty and responsibility 1.

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 both hard copy, ebook, and audiobook format are on that page) really help people take their 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.

DancingIn 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.Coversm-Arena 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 10: Normal Families are Dysfunctional

Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light  Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life v Chapter 10: Normal Families are Dysfunctional

Normal is Codependent

One of the reasons that I have been giving specific examples of the type of things that codependent parents say and do to try to control their children, is because it is so important for us as recovering codependents to start seeing more clearly that normal in society is codependent. We were wounded by behavior that is considered normal in the dysfunctional civilizations we were born into. The environment where we were first wounded was in our families. Our parents were our first abusers. They were / are not bad people, they were / are wounded codependents. The way they normally related to us in our childhood was codependent – is still codependent unless they are in recovery healing their wounds.

The Dance

Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls

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

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

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

. . . . . . . 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. The trauma of feeling like we were not safe in our own homes makes it very difficult to feel like we are safe anywhere. Feeling like we were not lovable to our own parents makes it very difficult to believe that anyone can Love us.

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

Our parents did not have the resources when we were children to do things any differently. It was not their fault. They are not to blame. They were victimized by the conditions that caused the human condition.

The human dilemma has been feeling disconnected from our Source. The human condition has evolved in reaction to the pain of that feeling of disconnection. It was in the late 1980s that a shift took place that has made it possible to start healing the human condition.

“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.”

It is only in recent history that human beings have acquired the ability, the knowledge, and access to Spiritual guidance, that is allowing us to change the human condition. We are no more than a generation or two removed from societal beliefs that allowed children – and women – to be treated as property. Most of us grew up in societies that did not include such things as: healthy parenting classes; wide spread knowledge and information about alcoholism and child abuse; the concept of personal boundaries and information about the grief process; etc., etc. Most of us grew up in societies where we were taught that the choices are between right and wrong, and wrong is shameful.

Our parents were trapped in the beliefs they grew up with. They were doing the best they knew how with the tools and knowledge they had. They did not have the choice – when we were children – to live their lives differently. We do have choices.

Things are different today. Not that much different for the majority of people – but that is changing. Children are now getting the message in school, from television and movies, that it is okay to have boundaries and say no. That it is okay to have feelings. No one taught me that in my childhood. I did not see any male role models who were able to cry or admit to being afraid – not in my home, not in the movies or on television. Things are changing. Those of us who are doing the healing are still a small minority, but there are millions of us. We are the pioneers who are leading the way to changing the world into a better, more Loving place – into a place where life among humans is not lived in competition out of belief in scarcity and separation.

Dysfunction as the norm is no longer mandated by planetary conditions. We now have access to the power to change the human condition by healing our relationship with self.

Cause and Effect

The law that governs life for human beings is cause and effect. Our adult patterns were the result, the effect, of how we learned to relate to life and self in childhood. We were powerless to change those patterns as long as we did not know there were other choices besides right and wrong – as long as we were stuck in a black and white perspective of life.

Our parents were our first, formative, most powerful role models. Our family of origin was the arena where we learned how to relate to self, to life, to other people. It is where we learned how to relate to being human, to our own emotions, minds, bodies, and souls.

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

Our parents learned to relate to self the same place we did – in their childhood, from their family of origin.

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

The single most important influence in the development of a person’s relationship with their own emotions is role modeling. Mom and Dad were our primary role models for how a male emotional being and female emotional being behave, for how they relate to, and express, their emotions. (As well as for how male and female relate to each other.) The cultural role models that we were exposed to – through books, movies, television, etc., – play an important factor also, but our primary role models were our parents.” – Chapter 3

We learned how to relate to our own emotions from our parents. We learned how to do relationships from watching how they related to each other – and to other people. We learned how to relate to life in reaction to how they related to life.

We might have reacted by going to the other extreme from what they role modeled for us – but as long as we are in reaction we are not living our life, we are living in reaction to our childhood wounding.

“The Truth is that the intellectual value systems, the attitudes, that we use in deciding what’s right and wrong were not ours in the first place. We accepted on a subconscious and emotional level the values that were imposed on us as children. Even if we throw out those attitudes and beliefs intellectually as adults, they still dictate our emotional reactions. Even if, especially if, we live our lives rebelling against them. By going to either extreme – accepting them without question or rejecting them without consideration – we are giving power away.”

It is so vital for us to start seeing our own internal process more clearly, so that we can understand our wounding and how it has impacted our lives. It is absolutely vital to start seeing our self with more clarity in order learn who we really are – to get in touch with our True Self. Living life in reaction causes us to be a prisoner of our past and to sabotage our ability to be present in the now. We cannot start to change our core relationship with self and life until we start to see where we came from with more clarity. As long as we are still buying into the myth that we came from a healthy family, we will be unable to see our self clearly.

The disease voice will say something to this effect: “Quit whining, you didn’t have it so bad as a kid.” Or react to horror stories of child abuse with a message like: “See, look how awful they had it, you have no right to feel sorry for yourself.” We need to start telling those voices to shut up and start telling our inner children that we are sorry that it was so painful to be a human child in a dysfunctional environment. We do have reason to feel sorry for the child that we were – and for the adult who was trapped in dysfunctional behavior patterns and attitudes. It is very sad. There is a lot of grief in recovery. Melody Beattie, in one of her books, says, “Learn the art of acceptance, it is a lot of grief.”

We need to start seeing reality clearly so that we can let go of the myth we have been carrying about our families – rather that myth causes us to discount our own pain or causes us to blame our families. We need to take the blame out of the process – to stop seeing life in black and white extremes. If we are blaming everything on our self, or blaming some external villain, we are not seeing reality clearly. We need to own our grief and recognize the ways in which our parents behavior wounded us.

It is very important to start seeing ourselves as separate from our families so that we can stop giving power to the illusion that our individual self worth has anything to do with our family of origin.

We need to let go of old beliefs in order to heal our relationship with self, in order to find our Self. As a young child I had no discernment, no perspective, that would allow me to realize that my parents weren’t healthy. I thought the pain I felt was my fault. I thought that the reason I felt so bad was because I was abnormal – that something was wrong with me. My family was normal to me, and part of feeling good about myself was to see my family as better than other families – because I was taught to look outside in comparison. I developed my own personal myth about my family. When I got into recovery at age 35, I would tell people that I came from a pretty good family and it was just me that was messed up. When I first started going to Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings as I was opening up to the possibility that my family – though not alcoholic – was dysfunctional, I did not speak for weeks because my family had not been as overtly, blatantly dysfunctional as all those other people’s families had been.

My families dysfunction was not as overt, so my wounding was of a more subtle nature than people who had been beaten by drunken fathers and mothers. As I got further into recovery and learned more about codependency, I saw that the dysfunction in my family wasn’t really subtle at all, that it was actually quite blatant – but that it was normal in a dysfunctional culture.  I started to realize that it was my view of it as normal, as better when compared to other families – my childhood investment in my myth about my family – that was causing me to discount and minimize my own wounding.

I used to know a therapist who to make a point would say, “The sliver in my finger hurts me more than your broken back hurts me.” The point being, my pain is my pain – and it hurts me more than anyone else’s pain. Comparing the circumstances in which we were wounded does not serve us, does not help us to see our self with any clarity. Many children who grew up in poverty received more love than children who grew up with great wealth. Those of us who grew up in “normal” middle class families may not have experienced the outrageously abusive behavior of people who grew up in families afflicted with alcoholism or mental illness, but that does not mean that our hearts were not broken, our souls not wounded. The emotional pain of our childhoods, growing up in emotional and spiritual wastelands with wounded parents (or without parents), crippled us in our relationship with our own heart and soul – with our self / Self.

I need to own my pain because that is a crucial element in owning me. The critical parent voice in our head wants to minimize, justify, and rationalize away our childhood experiences – or to not take any responsibility for our lives and blame it all on our parents. It wants us to stay stuck by blaming them or blaming ourselves – to keep us from taking the risk of believing we are lovable and worthy.

Until I got into recovery I was incapable of seeing my life without blame being involved in my perceptions because of the black and white perspective of life I had been taught in childhood – which of course included my parents role modeling because they were programmed to relate to life out of a polarized perspective.

When something was not working in my life, I was limited to blaming myself or blaming something / someone outside of me. Since I was taught to look outside of myself for definition and worth, since I believed that other people and life events controlled my emotional reactions, I would put a lot of energy into blaming others to keep from falling into the painful abyss of shame and pain I experienced when I blamed myself.

In order to stop blaming, I needed to start seeing the cause and effect dynamic in my life with more clarity. As long as I was shaming and judging myself for my patterns and issues, I was incapable of seeing clearly. As long as I was blaming what I was feeling and experiencing in life on people and events in my life now, I was focusing on the effect without seeing the cause.

My adult patterns were effects, symptoms. Part of the dysfunction of society is to focus on symptoms and ignore cause. We have a war on poverty, a war on drugs, a war on terrorism – without looking at the causes of those phenomena. It is vital to start focusing upon, and healing the cause. It is vital to stop judging ourselves for the symptoms.

In order to see our self and our issues with more clarity, we need to start learning to accept where we are at – without the judgment and shame which distorts and pollutes our perceptions. We are on a journey – involved in an unfolding process. We are works in progress.

Our issues, our patterns did not come out of nowhere. They are not a result of inherent defects in our character. The are the effect of having grown up in dysfunctional families / environments. We need to stop blaming and shaming ourselves for our wounding.

It is when we start realizing that we were powerless to do life differently as long as we were reacting unconsciously out of our childhood wounding and programming, that we can start to change our patterns and heal our wounds. Then we can become a detective who can sort through the layers and levels of our programming. As we sort through those layers and levels we can start healing the emotional wounds and bringing compassion to the wounded parts of us. It is only through learning to forgive our self that we can Truly forgive our parents. By doing this healing work – taking action to stop the shame and judgment of the critical parent voice, learning to be compassionate and nurturing to the wounded parts of us, learning to take healthy responsibility for our lives – we are making amends to ourselves. As we make amends to, and learn to access Love for, our self, we are healing the human condition.

“Any single soul’s evolution, its awakening, affects all souls because we are all connected.”

Through learning to see the cause and effect in our human experience with clarity, we can start seeing reality as it is and making it better – instead of holding onto myths, false beliefs, and dysfunctional definitions. As we awaken to the reality of how dysfunctional human civilization has been, we can change our perspective of, and our relationship with, our self. By learning to stop allowing our sense of self worth to be enmeshed with our emotional relationships to external sources, we can start learning to access Love.

This recovery process is a journey of awakening to Love. The concepts of, and experience of, love that we experienced in childhood is not real Love, is not a healthy concept of Love.

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

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

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

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

Love that is shaming and abusive is an insane, ridiculous concept. Just as insane and ridiculous as the concept of murder and war in the name of God.

These ridiculous, insane, reversed, and dysfunctional concepts are what civilizations are based upon on this planet.”

Recovery is a process of learning to be emotionally and intellectually honest with our self so that we can stop looking to others to determine who we are. We can stop being care “takers” – that is, taking our feelings of worth / ego-strength from what we do for/get from others, and/or in comparison with others. As long as our self worth is enmeshed with external sources, as long as how we are feeling is in reaction to dysfunctional attitudes and false beliefs, we are set up to be emotional vampires trying to suck feelings of worth from other people – either overtly from them, or covertly by comparing ourselves to them. We need to learn to take responsibility for our emotions so that we can start becoming empowered to stop being a victim of other people, of life, of self worth based upon comparison. Learning to separate our self worth from our emotional reactions is how we can start opening up to Love so that we can stop being emotionally anorexic.

Dysfunctional Concept of Family

It is vital to start seeing that normal is codependent. It is vital to start seeing clearly the dysfunction and emotional dishonesty in the families we grew up in, so that we can let go of our myth of family. Our dysfunctional families were an effect of the dysfunctional, emotionally dishonest, Spiritual hostile (belief in separation), cultural environments in which they existed. It is not personal. It does not have anything to do with us. Just as the way our parents treated us in childhood wasn’t personal. They were incapable of seeing who they really were, so they couldn’t see us with any clarity. They were looking at us through the filters of their fear and pain, they projected their shame and lack of self worth onto us. They tried to control our behavior with fear, guilt, and shame to protect their egos. They were dancing with their own wounds to the music of shame and fear – which made them incapable of meeting our needs, of demonstrating love for us in a healthy way. It was not their fault. It was not our fault. It was an effect of the families and culture they grew up in.

I believe that the concept of the nuclear family as a separate, isolated entity is dysfunctional in it’s essence. I don’t believe it is healthy to raise children in an environment separate from a sense of close knit community / clan / tribal identity. I don’t believe that two parents as a cultural entity separate from community can possibly provide healthy, balanced parenting. Certainly one cannot. But children are wounded and traumatized by parents inability to separate their self worth from their emotional reactions to external forces rather there is one parent or two. Parents who were taught to take their ego strength from external comparison cannot avoid having an unhealthy emotional investment in children whom they – and society – see as an extension, a possession, that reflects their worth as individuals.

I have no idea what Hillary Clinton’s book is about, but the concept that it “takes a village” to raise a child contains some fundamental Truth in my opinion. I do not believe that children are meant to be raised by two adults separate from community – and certainly not by a mother alone most of the time. The American Dream, a nuclear family living in isolation in the suburbs – with the father gone most of the day – is a dysfunctional ideal in my belief. Our normal societal model for what constitutes an ideal family is dysfunctional in its impact on the emotional, mental, and spiritual health of children raised in those families.

Here is an excerpt from a page in my Joy2MeU Journal – bracketed by a quote from my book to put it in context with my views.

“I want to make a couple of points of clarification at this time.

One is that I am referring to civilizations around the world, but most of the examples or specifics I am mentioning have to do with Western Civilization and specifically American society. That is just for my convenience and your identification. (I am using the word “civilization” here in the Western sense of the term – that is, urban-based and believed to be superior to “less advanced” peoples.)

All civilizations are dysfunctional to varying degrees, as are subcultures within those civilizations. They just have different flavors of dysfunction, of imbalance.

As an example: In much of Asia the individual is discounted for the good of the whole – whether that be family or corporation or country. The individual takes his or her self-definition from the larger system. That is just as out of balance and dysfunctional as the Western Civilization manifestation of glorifying the individual to the detriment of the whole. It is just a different variety of dysfunction.

The goal of this dance of Recovery is integration and balance. That means celebrating being a tree while also glorying in being a part of the forest. Recovery is a process of becoming conscious of our individual wholeness and our ONENESS with all.

The other point I want to make is that I am saying “civilized” society for a reason. It is in urban-based industrialized civilization that the optimum dysfunction has been manifested in this world.

Many so-called primitive or aboriginal tribal cultures, such as the Native Americans, had far more integrated and balanced cultures for their place and time than any “civilization.” They were not totally integrated and balanced by any means. They were, however, closer to the rhythms of nature and had respect for nature and natural laws, so were more aligned with universal laws than urban-based civilizations.

In fact, many of the primitive societies were far more functional in terms of the Spiritual, emotional, and mental health of the individual members of the society, and had far more respect for the individual members, than any so-called “civilized” society on this planet.”

The Baby Otter: A Mother’s Day Story (an excerpt from the Joy2MeU Journal)

“I often look to aboriginal cultures who were more in touch with nature to see examples of more balance behavior. (The Native American culture that I am most familiar with, is that of the Plains Indians. There can be some big differences between different regions, but when I cite Native American culture it is the Plains Indians I am talking about.) The cultural norms that came to mind while writing this were two specific ones. One was that, it was not the father who taught the son to be a man – it was an uncle. The tribes knew better than to have the father’s ego involved with the son’s training. The other has to do with mothers and sons. When a boy was around 5 or 6 there came a point where he and his mother could no longer speak directly to each other – they would communicate through a third person – and they could not look into each others eyes. The effect of this tribal wisdom was to prevent emotional incest. When the boy became a man, they could once again communicate directly. (There were also restrictions in terms of the relationships between father and daughter.)

Reminds me of Robert Bly’s book Iron John. (link to Amazon.com info about book) He talks about how, ever since the industrial revolution pulled fathers out of the home a great deal of the time, boys have been primarily learning how to be men from women.

I believe that the concept of the nuclear family as an isolated entity is inherently dysfunctional and traumatic. I am going to include here a passage I wrote some time ago, and never found anyplace to use in my writing.

“Of course, we have almost completely lost the real sense and idea of community – of a group of people who are interconnected and interrelated for their collective welfare and mutual benefit. In Western Civilization, and especially in the United States, the individual is glorified to the detriment of the whole (this is the opposite extreme of imbalance for much of Eastern Civilization which glorifies the whole to the detriment of the individual.) So separation is the rule rather than connection.

Some can have millions while others are starving and homeless – and this is looked upon as normal and natural. Society teaches us to believe that we are separate – that another persons suffering is that persons own fault. That the individual is separate from, and in competition with, others.

This applies on multiple levels. It is also true in the dysfunctional myth of the individual nuclear family. The concept of the nuclear family with it’s sense of possession (my children) and comparison with other families carries with it inherent emotional trauma in my view. I believe that the healthiest parenting came in societies where the whole tribe or clan had a sense of community and connection. Where everyone knew they were individuals but also knew they were important parts of the whole. Where people lived so close together that there were no family secrets and social mores dictated that physical, verbal, emotional, and sexual abuse were not acceptable.

Now, I am not saying that aboriginal societies were completely healthy or balanced cultures. But they did have a healthier balance than modern societies because they had to in order to survive. The had more respect for nature and natural cycles because it was necessary to live. They had a sense of community because without it they would perish.”

“I believe that historically there has been a direct correlation between the level of advancement – of “progress” – and the level of dysfunction in terms of the individual being’s level of fulfillment and happiness. In other words, the more “advanced” the society became (that is, the farther it removed itself from respect for, and alignment with, natural laws and cycles), the more dysfunctional it became in terms of the individual being’s feelings of self-respect and fulfillment.

[The historical inverse relationship between progress and individual emotional health was somewhat altered in accordance with the Divine Script so that we could reach this Age of Healing and Joy that we have now entered. This alteration was accomplished through the efforts of a series of mystical messengers who taught the importance of individual rights. These messengers laid the groundwork for a group of mystics, with names like Jefferson and Franklin, to create a society where individuals could pursue Spiritual Truth despite the disapproval of the government and the majority of the society. (Of course, because of the dysfunctional nature of the society, that right was honored in theory rather than practice much of the time – but the right was inherent in the framework of the society.) This inherent right is what made it possible for the United States to became the spawning ground for the Transformational Healing Movement that has begun on the planet. A great acceleration of this process took place with the national trauma/gift that was the sixties and Viet Nam. This period forced individuals to start questioning the traditional value systems, the traditional perspectives, on a massive scale. All of the pieces of the puzzle fit together perfectly when we look at them in a large enough perspective.]

Another reason that some of these so-called “primitive” cultures were more functional is that they also had a much more benevolent idea about a Higher Power. They actually believed that the God-Force had a Loving purpose for putting us here instead of it being some kind of punishment which was shameful.”

So the more advanced, the more civilized, a society became, the more dysfunctional it became in terms of serving the emotional, mental, and Spiritual needs of the individual members of the society. Sounds kind of backwards doesn’t it?”

I will be discussing different levels of this dysfunction, the normal codependency of civilization in coming chapters. First however I am going to address an area where we were set up to be abused because of our experiences in childhood. Our experiences with our parents set us up to expect abuse from authority figures. The dysfunctional school systems reinforced this set up. It is no wonder that we end up being abused by medical and mental health authorities that are part of dysfunctional cultural systems.” – This is an excerpt from Chapter 10: Normal Families are Dysfunctional of Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life 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 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.)

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.

To Parents of Alcoholics / Addicts

The Dance

“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.

We need to grieve for the past.  For the ways in which we abandoned and abused ourselves.  For the ways we deprived ourselves.  We need to own that sadness.  But we also need to stop blaming ourselves for it.  It was not our fault!

We did not have the power to do it any differently.

As long as we are holding onto the guilt and feeling ashamed, it means that on some level we think we had the power.  We think that if we would have just done it a little differently, if we had just done it “right,” if we could have just said the “right’ thing, then we could have controlled it and had it come out the way we wanted.

The part of you that is telling you that is your disease.” – quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

Since I finished my series of articles on inner child healing last month, I have been wondering what my next article would focus on.  As is often the case with my writing, I get stimulated to focus on a particular topic, on a facet of the condition of codependency or recovery, by a question I receive in an e-mail.

This particular article was sparked by a parent in anguish about their child’s drug addiction, who was asking if they were responsible for their child becoming an addict.  The simple answer to that question is no.  There are however, many other levels to both this question and the answer.

The question itself is a manifestation of codependency, as the quote above from my book illustrates.  Parents have responsibility in how their children were wounded by their codependent behavior patterns – but they are not to blame because the parents were powerless over their codependency.  In recovery it is very important to take responsibility while also learning to stop giving power to the polarized blame and shame of the disease.  Therein lies a tale.

So, it looks like I may be off and running with a new series of articles here.  I am not even sure right now what to call this series, but it is going to start off with the simple answer to the parent who wants to know if her child’s drug addiction were something she caused.  It will then expand into looking at parental roles, dysfunctional families, toxic codependent love, and whatever else comes up – and focus on applying twelve step Spiritual principles in recovery in order to learn how to relate in healthier and more Loving ways to both our self and others, to both our parents and our children.

Parents do not cause their children to become alcoholics – or drug addicts.

Alcoholism / addiction is not caused by environmental factors.  It is a physiological, genetic allergy – a hereditary predisposition involving brain chemistry.  There is now ample scientific proof, research data, to support the premise that made Alcoholics Anonymous the first successful approach to dealing with alcoholism.  Alcoholism is a disease.  Drug Addiction, in the great majority of cases, is just a form of alcoholism.  (It is possible for someone who was not born with a genetic predisposition to alcoholism to become physiologically and psychologically addicted to drugs – in reaction to chronic physical pain for instance, or to a dysfunctional psychiatric community’s pattern of treating the symptoms of emotional wounding with addictive drugs instead of healing the cause.)

Someone does not become an alcoholic / addict because they were raised in a dysfunctional family.  Alcoholism is not caused by emotional wounds.  It also has nothing to do with will power or strength of character or morality.  It does not have anything to do with intelligence.

Many people drink heavily or experiment with drugs in their teens and early twenties.  The ones who have a genetic predisposition make alcohol and/or drugs their primary coping mechanism – the ones that do not find other ways of coping and going unconscious.  People who become alcoholics are not as a rule more wounded than people that do not – they just have a genetic vulnerability.

All of us adapted codependent defense systems to protect us from the toxic shame we felt in early childhood – to help us survive in the dysfunctional environments we grew up in.  The primary environment was of course our family of origin.  But we were also emotionally traumatized in the schools we attended, in churches, in social interactions with other wounded human beings. We were exposed to dysfunctional messages from society in general, through books and movies, television and music, etc.

We all learned ways to cope with the pain of being human in societies that taught us it was shameful to be human.  We all had to adapt defense systems that would help us disassociate – go unconscious to – the emotional pain we experienced growing up in emotionally dishonest, Spiritually hostile environments.  (Spiritually hostile in my definition because civilization is founded upon belief in separation, shame about being human, and fear of differences instead of connection and Love.)

A parent does not cause a child to become alcoholic or drug addicted.  The emotional wounds provide reasons to drink and use, are the fuel that drives an alcoholic/addict’s behavior, but are not the cause of the disease.

We were all raised in dysfunctional families – because society / civilization is emotionally dishonest and dysfunctional.  We were all wounded in our childhood, because our parents were wounded in their childhood – and when we became parents we wounded our children.

You did not cause your child’s addiction.  Your behaviors did wound your child because you did not love your self in a healthy way and were not given the tools, knowledge, and role modeling to teach you how to be a healthy person – let alone a healthy parent.  You were wounded in your childhood, you were doing the best you knew how to do as a parent, it is not your fault that you were powerless to do it any differently.  You do have some responsibility in your child’s wounding, but you are not to blame.  To give power to the blaming guilt and shame of the disease will in fact, set you up to continue to be unhealthy in your relationship with your child.  The best thing you can do for your child is to learn how to Love yourself – is to focus on recovering from your codependency.                                                                        

Sacred Spiral 

I wrote a series of articles on applying 12 step principles in relationships at the beginning of 2002.  The article that followed this one is one I added to my blog awhile ago that I am going to include a link to here for anyone who hasn’t seen it: Enabling & Rescuing vs Tough Love 

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.

Reading my book Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls  (links to all of my books in both hard copy, ebook format, and audiobook 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.

Coversm-Arena DancingIn 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.  The next one (which may be the last one I am going to offer in San Diego) is on October 4th.

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

I have a new site focused on my work that is designed to be mobile friendly for all those people using mobile devices these days: http://recoverycodependence.com/