Chapter 3: Emotional honesty

The Dance

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

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

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

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

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

Insane Expectations – Road Rage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twisted and Distorted is the Dance of the Emotional Cripple

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

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

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

The direct messages we got – both verbal (big boys don’t cry, little ladies don’t get angry, there is nothing to be afraid of, etc.) and behavioral (punishment for expressing emotions) – and indirect messages (the ways we interpreted and internalized the behavior of other people – parents, teachers, peers, etc. – as being personal punishment, as being our fault) we got both from our parents and from society play a part in that development, but role modeling has the greatest impact.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Control and fear – thinking to avoid feeling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sacred Spiral

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

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

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

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

Cover of Inner Child Healing Book

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

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Intellectual Discernment – “have to” and the Holiday Season

The Dance

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

In 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.”

“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.

Our model for what a family should be sets up abusive, emotionally dishonest dynamics.”

“When we say “I have to” we are making a victim statement. . . . . . . When we “have to” do something we feel like a victim.  And because we feel victimized, we will then be angry, and want to punish, whomever we see as forcing us to do something we do not want to do – such as our family, or our boss, or society.””

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

In last month’s article I talked about shutting up the critical parent voice – and mentioned that among the messages that are coming from the critical parent are “shoulds” and “have tos.”  In last months articles I started with the quote from my book about saying “have to” – and then went into different ways we express ourselves in relationship to our emotions that affect our relationship with our own emotions.

I decided that for this months topic I would discuss the “shoulds” and “have tos” in more depth, in relationship to setting ourselves up to feel like victims at this time of year.  In my article Happy Holidays, Sad Holidays that I republished at the beginning of this month, I talk about how trying to live up to the fairy tale / fantasy that everyone is happy and cheerful at Christmas time – and judging myself for not feeling what I thought I “should” – caused me to feel depressed and suicidal during the Holiday Season.  This is the time of year when the most suicides occur – because people are feeling despair that their lives aren’t what they “should” be.

It is so important to take the “shoulds” and “have tos” out of our vocabulary – both externally and internally in our mental process.  “Should” and “have to” come from the critical parent voice in our head that is judging us according to false criteria from a black and white / right and wrong perspective – and we learned that programming from our parents in our family of origin (as well as from teachers in school, ministers and priests in church, etc., etc.).

You don’t “have to” spend the Holidays with your family.  If you are going to spend time with your family over the Holidays because it is what you “should” do, what you “have to” do – then you are set up to feel like a victim and feel resentment.  Feeling resentful and victimized is not a good ingredient to add to the Holiday emotional mix if you want to connect with some of the Spirit of Love that the Holiday Season is supposed to represent.

As I point out often in my writing, one of the major components of empowerment is owning that we have a choice.  Unless you own that you have a choice to not spend time with your family during the Holidays, then you haven’t made a free choice to be there.  Anytime we feel stuck in a situation, feel that we don’t have a choice – to leave a marriage or a job, to do something or not do something – we have not made a choice to stay.  It is impossible to consciously commit to something if we don’t own that we have a choice not to do it.

So, if you spend time with your family during the Holidays because you “have to,” you are not being Loving.  You are not being kind, you are not giving anything, unless you are doing it by conscious choice – which involves owning that you have a choice to not do it.

The other major component of empowerment is seeing reality as it is and making the best of it – instead of being the victim of it, wishing it was different, thinking it “should” be different.  This includes seeing the reality of our families clearly.  The families we grew up in were dysfunctional and emotionally dishonest because society is emotionally dishonest and dysfunctional.  (In the latest chapter of the online book I am publishing on my web site right now, I discuss why normal is dysfunctional and how the conditions that caused that have changed in recent years. Normal Families are Dysfunctional)

We grew up in families / societies where our experience of love was shaming and controlling, because that is all our codependent parents knew – due to their childhood wounding.  Unless our families are in recovery from codependency then their behavior is still manipulative and shaming.  They want us to be there for the Holidays to support their ego image of themselves as parents – their fantasy about having a happy family that gathers lovingly for the Holidays.

Love is a verb.  Love is defined by action.  If the way someone treats you does not feel Loving, then it is not healthy Love.  If the way your family treats you, if the way you feel when you are with them, does not feel Loving, it is important not to deny that reality.  That is one reason why the Holidays are sad for many people.  It is important to see that reality and own that sadness – instead of denying and rationalizing.  Denying our feelings is harmful to us.  It is not healthy.

When you look at their behavior and recognize the dishonesty and dysfunction, then you can also recognize that they are doing the best they can do.  You can know they are not in recovery, may never be in recovery – and that they think they are demonstrating love when they use guilt and shame to try to get you to uphold their fantasy about the Holidays.

Once you recognize the reality and own that you have a choice, then you can make a choice to spend some time with them out of kindness.  You can then make a choice that is Truly Loving, that is Truly giving.

And you can set boundaries with them that are Loving for you.  There are not just two choices – the black and white extremes of the disease – there are choices in between 1 and 10.  You can make a choice to spend some time with them, but limit the time so that you are not subjected to the dysfunction for too long.

One of my phone counseling clients yesterday shared with me a perfect example of making this kind of choice.  In the past few years she had chosen not to be with her family because it was so painful.  This year she was choosing to spend some time with them, with a very distinct boundary in place.  Her boundary was that they would not start drinking until the evening, and that she would leave when they started drinking.  In this way, she was taking care of herself and her family by not putting up with too much of the dysfunctional behavior of her family of origin.

Love is a choice.  When we “have to” we are not making a choice, and not being Truly Loving.  The most Loving thing we can do for ourselves in this emotionally charged time of the year is to see reality clearly and own our choices in deciding the best way to celebrate the Holiday.  We can best honor the message of Love that Christmas symbolizes by being Loving to our self.  (Which of course includes not judging yourself if you are spending time with them this year out of belief in “have to.”  We need to become aware that it is okay to own our choices before we can make a choice.  If this article is presenting you with a new concept, it is important not to judge yourself for your programming, for your codependency.) 

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

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

I have a special Holiday 2018 Offer Page available now, with special offers on my first two books – and on my Life Changing telephone / Skype counseling and Workshop.

 

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

The Dance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aha, a new word.

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

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

Love that is Freedom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are all butterflies.

We are all swans.

We are Spiritual Beings.

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

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

You are Lovable.

You are Loved.

You are LOVE.”

Sacred Spiral

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

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

Joy2MeU Journal Logo

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

 

Chapter 20 Wedding Prayer / Meditation on Romantic Commitment “Love in that moment as if you have never been hurt”

 

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

Early in the morning On January 1st, 1999 I wrote out the following to be read at the Commitment Ceremony of two friends that day.  I am editing it for inclusion in this book – and I am thinking that I didn’t really write this for them as much as I wrote it to be guideline for myself over 5 years later when I got into the relationship that I am still in now, in the summer of 2012 as I prepare to publish this book.  I was writing theoretically and intuitively for the most part at 3 am on the morning, because my longest relationship up until that point in my life had been for 2 years – and I was not that conscious when I was in it.  If I hadn’t written this on that morning all those years ago, I don’t think this relationship I am in now – which became a marriage in January 2011 – would have survived. (And it eventually didn’t survive as we have been separated for almost 5 years now in April 2018 – but are still friends and coparenting.  Writing this did help me to stay in that relationship for the longest period of time in my life.)

” . . . What I believe is that you two have been together many times before in other life times.  You made a sacred pact to come together in this lifetime to help each other heal the wounds you need to heal – to serve as teachers and guides and support for each other as you go through this school of Spiritual evolution that we are all in.

It doesn’t matter what you call that – twin souls, soul mates, whatever – what matters is that you honor the power of the connection that you feel.  And that is why you are here today.  To stand here in front of the people you care the most about, to stand here in front of God/The Goddess /The Great Spirit/The Universal Source – and make public Acknowledgment and Affirmation of the sacred commitment that already exists between you.

This is kind of your Soul’s way of tricking yourself into agreeing to what your Souls already agreed to.  In other words, you were powerless in this lifetime to do anything but end up at this moment.

And someplace along the way, I agreed to show up today to remind you, that this is not the ending where the music swells and the romantic couple rides off into the sunset to Live Happily Ever After.  This is just the beginning.

Because Yes you are “gifts from heaven” to each other – but like all gifts in this multi-leveled paradoxical experience of life – there is good news and bad news. The good news is that you have found your soul mate and you are going to touch ecstasy together – you are on the path to learning about the True meaning of Love. That is great news because LOVE is all there Truly is and the only thing that is important.

The bad news is that you have a lot of stuff to work through.  You have lifetimes of history.  You have Loved each other intensely and wounded each other grievously.  You each have specific wounds from your paths in this lifetime that are reflections of the ways in which you have been wounded in other lifetimes.

You each have emotional “buttons” that trigger old defensive reactions, fears and insecurities – and you are sitting next to the person who was specifically prepared and trained to be a specialist in pushing your buttons.  The gift you will give each other by pushing those buttons will help each of you uncover the wounds that need to be healed.

You have come together to teach each other, to help each other heal, to support and encourage each other in your quest to find your True Self.

If you keep healing, working through your stuff – then you do not have to do the dysfunctional cultural dance of toxic romance here.  This does not have to be “the ‘I can’t live without you, can’t smile without you’ addictive, make the other person your Higher Power, be the victim, lose yourself, power struggle, right and wrong, trapped, taken hostage, poor abused me, Two Step.”

What you are doing today is making a conscious commitment in the Light, to support each other on your healing, Spiritual paths.  That’s paths plural.  Your paths are going to run together – hopefully for the rest of your lives – but they are not going to become one path.  You are individual, unique, Special, Magnificent, Powerful Beings who are choosing to become allies, to become partners in the journey to each of you being and becoming all you are meant to be.

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

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

The Love that you see when you see your soul in the others eyes is a reflection of the LOVE that you are.  Of the Unconditional Love that the Great Spirit feels for you.

It is very important to remember that the other person is helping you to access God’s LOVE within you – not giving you something that you have never had before.

It is important to remember that so you can remind yourself that the fear, lack and scarcity messages that will come up – the possessiveness, the jealousy, the clinging, the fear of abandonment and betrayal, the feeling smothered – are coming from the wounded parts of you that got trained and traumatized by this dysfunctional society to view life from fear, lack and scarcity.  Those messages are lies – that is the illusion.  The True Reality of The Universal Source is Joy, Love, and Abundance.

The Abundance of Love and Joy that you can help each other to feel by coming together – are vibrational levels that you then each will be able to access within yourself.  You are helping each other to remember how to access that Love – helping each other to remember what it feels like and that “Yes!” you do deserve it.

It is very important to remember that so that you can Let Go.  Let Go of believing that the other person has to be in your life, has to do things in a certain way, has to feel a certain way at a certain time.   As long as you believe that the other person is the source of your happiness you will feel compelled to try to control them so that you can stay happy.   You can not control them and be happy.

You will need to Let Go.  And Let Go, and let go again.  On a daily basis. Let go of believing that the other person has to be in a good mood or has to like the same things or wants to do things at the same time.  Let go of expecting that they can be there for you in the way you want all of the time.  They can’t.  They are human.  No one can meet all of another person’s needs.  You each need to have resources / friends outside of your relationship.  You each need to have parts of your life that aren’t dependent upon the other.

You will hurt each other, scare each other, make each other angry.  Which will then give you the gift of being able to work through those issues to a deeper level of emotional intimacy.

You have got some stuff to work through – that is both the bad news and the good news.  Because as you reach those deeper levels of emotional intimacy your love will deepen and grow in ways in which you can’t even imagine.  You are boldly going where neither of you has ever been before.  And you have a friend and a partner who is willing to make a sacred commitment here today to go on this adventure with you.

Celebrate that!!  It is an incredible gift!

Grab each moment you can and be present with it.

By being willing to be present to feel the difficult feelings –  hurt, sadness, anger, fear;

by being willing to walk through the terror of embracing life – the terror that this commitment to intimacy can bring up;

by being willing to take the risk of being abandoned and betrayed – to take the risk of completely exposing yourself to another being;

you are opening yourself to Joy and Love to depths and on dimensions that you have only had the slightest taste of so far.

BE each other’s sanctuary.  Be patient and kind and gentle whenever you can make that choice.

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

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

In any specific moment you will have the power to make a choice to feel the Love in that moment as if you have never been hurt and as if the Love will never go away.

Completely absolutely unconditionally with fearless abandon you can embrace the Love and Joy in the moment.

Glory in it!

Loving is the Grandest, most sublime adventure available to us.

Lets your hearts sings together.

Let your souls soar to unimagined heights.

Wallow in the sensual pleasure of each others bodies.

Roar with the Joy of being fully alive.

Go for it!!!!” – Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth Chapter 20 Wedding Prayer / Meditation on Romantic Commitment “Love in that moment as if you have never been hurt”

Sacred Spiral

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

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

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

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

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

My Sobriety Date: January 3rd, 1984

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sacred Spiral

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

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

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

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

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

Sacred Spiral

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are all butterflies.  We are all Spiritual Beings.

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

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

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

Sacred Spiral

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sacred Spiral

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “No,” I said “I had no idea.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sacred Spiral

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Detachment and Delayed Gratification

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

That concept is detachment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sacred Spiral

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

Illusions “The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Age of Reason – Darien and the Tooth Fairy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Darien and The Tooth Fairy

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

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

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

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

But I forgot to take out the tooth!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sacred Spiral

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

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

Here are a couple of quotes from that page.

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

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

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

*BookCoverLightsm

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

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