Chapter 25 of Romantic Relationships: Sexuality Abuse – the legacy of shame based culture


Book cover

Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls

 ““We live in a society where sex is somehow shameful and should not be talked about – but we use sex to sell cars.  That is backwards.  Human sexuality is a blessed gift to be honored and celebrated not twisted and distorted into something demeaning and shameful.”

“Our creator did not give us sensual and sexual sensations that feel so wonderful just to set us up to fail some perverted, sadistic life test.  Any concept of god that includes the belief that the flesh and the Spirit cannot be integrated, that we will be punished for honoring our powerful human desires and needs, is – in my belief – a sadly twisted, distorted, and false concept that is reversed to the Truth of a Loving God-Force.” – quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls


Sexuality abuse is a term that I came up with in my own codependency recovery.  I have never heard or read of anyone else using this term.  It is very accurately descriptive however of something that I have been working on healing in my recovery – and a form of wounding that I believe many others have suffered.

Sexuality abuse for me refers to any messages I got, or emotional trauma I suffered, in childhood which damaged my relationship with my own sexuality.  Those message were both direct – from sources which outright taught me that sexuality was shameful and sinful – and indirect, from the role modeling of sexually repressed adults in my life.  Those messages were compounded by the twisted, distorted relationship that American culture has with sexuality because of it’s Puritan heritage.

The sinful, shameful direct messages came from the Catholic Church in it’s general teachings, and specifically from nuns and priests that I encountered in 7 years of education in Catholic schools.  I still have a distinct memory – one of those snapshots from the past that endure through the years because of the emotional content attached to them – of Sister Alberta when I was in the eighth grade.  She told our class, that if we kissed for longer than 60 seconds, or if our bodies touched at all while kissing, it was mortally sinful.  Mortal sins were the big ones, the death penalty felony of sins – the ones that, if one mortal sin stained your soul at death, you were consigned straight to hell to burn in everlasting damnation.

Any religion that teaches children that God loves them but may send them to burn in hell forever is Spiritually and emotionally abusive in my belief.  And as the quote above from my book states, I believe that any concept of god that teaches that the Spirit and the flesh cannot be integrated is abusive and shaming – and does have an impact on anyone raised in such a religion in terms of their relationship with their own bodies and sexuality. 

The Catholic Church in my experience is the champion of sexuality abuse however, because it was not necessary to actually do anything to commit a mortal sin – thinking about sex was enough to condemn one to hell.  For a teenage boy to never think about sex is impossible – but I was so brainwashed that I did not even masturbate as a teenager.  Now that is unnatural and abnormal.  It was very sad to me to realize in recovery how much impact the words of codependents as emotionally crippled, sexually repressed, and shame based as Sister Alberta had on me growing up – and it makes me angry that those issues have contributed to the fear of intimacy that has affected my ability to have a healthy romantic relationship in my adult life. 

The article this chapter is based upon was actually written in 2003 and I decided to add it to this book at the last minute while getting the final draft ready in late August 2012.  I had thought about adding it earlier but couldn’t really find a place for it – and knew this book was getting pretty long already.  What made me decide to add it was that on one of my final reviews I was struck by the last chapter in which I talk about the Horndog.

“This horny teenager within is not bad or wrong or shameful – it is a normal, natural result of growing up in the dysfunctional societies we grew up in.  What is dysfunctional, and can sometimes lead to behavior to be ashamed of, is to allow that immature version of male animal lust to run the show.” – Chapter 24 The Maiden and the Horndog

Because of the sexuality abuse I described just above, I had greatly suppressed and felt ashamed of the Horndog within me.  Drinking and drugging gave me permission to express my sexuality a lot in the years before I got sober.  But it was mostly in one night stands or intermittent encounters with women I connected with occasionally but would ultimately be unavailable to because I would feel ashamed of the encounters.  That was even more true after I got sober because I was actually feeling the fear instead of just denying it and rationalizing away my behavior.  I always felt some shame about expressing my sexuality and had to fight against that shame – which would result in long periods of no sexual expression followed by episodes where I felt like I was using the person I had a sexual encounter with. 

The relationship I am in now is the first time that I have been in a relationship (an actual relationship as opposed to a one night stand or occasional partner) with a woman to whom it was important to express her sexuality.  In this relationship I realized that I needed to open up to embracing and expressing my Horndog because I had been out of balance in not owning my sexuality.  It was important for me in this relationship to realize that sometimes a woman wants to be looked at and treated like a sexual object.  (It was also important for me to not feel ashamed of using viagra or cialis because of the reality of what happens to men when they get older – and the fact that I was 56 when I got involved with a woman 14 years younger than me.;-)

So, the Catholic Church had a major impact on me personally but the whole puritan thing was also involved.  That the puritan heritage of the United States has had such an impact on our society is kind of mind boggling.  Attitudes towards sexuality in most of Western Civilization are much less shamed based than American attitudes.  Even as sexually repressed as English culture still seems to be in many ways, it seems to have more freedom from it’s Puritan past than the US.  On a visit to England in the mid-seventies, I was pleasantly shocked to see nudity on television – but very little violence.  American culture has glorified violence while maintaining a very conflicted and twisted relationship to sex – using it blatantly to sell cars (and almost everything else we market) as I say in my book, but still maintaining a Puritanical sense of shame in relationship to sexuality.  Many of the politicians and ministers who strive to uphold the Puritan ethic in public are often caught acting a very different way in private – a great example of the hypocrisy and dishonesty inherent in a codependent society.

I grew up with parents who were sexually repressed and shame based in a society where Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore were a married couple that were not allowed to sleep in the same bed on television.  My parents gave me a book to explain the birds and bees – and said if I needed to talk about it to feel free to ask, at the same time their attitude and behavior very directly communicated that they were terrified of me asking.  I had to look up a lot of the words from the book in the dictionary, and still would have been clueless had not my older cousin filled me in with a graphic description of what sex involved.  I was horrified and started making plans to become a priest.

The role modeling of sexually repressed parents had an impact on most of the people of my generation.  Many of us as a result swung to the other extreme in the sex, drugs, and rock and roll days of the sixties and seventies.  Many of the children who grew up in the generations following us “baby boomers” had role models who expressed their sexuality in ways that were unhealthy and out of balance to the other extreme.  Many of today’s children are being subjected to knowledge of, and images of, sexuality that is out of balance to the other extreme – and I believe can also be classified as sexuality abuse.

I want to include in this month article – because I am on the topic of cultural role models and beliefs that can contribute to sexuality abuse – something I wrote in an article some years ago.  It is an article about fathers, and how being raised by fathers who were emotionally crippled by dysfunctional societal beliefs has impacted us all.  In that article, I wrote about a way that I believe many women in society have been wounded in a manner that I would describe as being – at least in part – sexuality abuse.  I say at least in part because it also could be considered gender abuse – one of the ways in which women got the message that being a woman made them “less than.”  A form of wounding that I have never seen addressed anywhere else.  I am going to conclude this Chapter with an excerpt from the Fathers article in which I talk about this particular type of wounding. 

“There is an additional way in which women are wounded by their fathers that I have never heard, or read, anyone talk about.  It is a devastating blow that many daughters suffer on a subconscious level.  It comes at a very vulnerable time and contributes more evidence to the message that there is something wrong/less than about being a woman that most girls have already received in ample supply from society and the role modeling of their mothers.

This happens when girls start developing a female body.  Their fathers, being males of the species, are naturally attracted to the awakening feminine sexuality of their daughters.  Some fathers of course, act this out in incestuous ways.  The majority of fathers however react to this attraction (which in shame-based western civilization is not acknowledged as normal but rather is so shameful that it is seldom even brought to a conscious level of awareness) by withdrawing from their daughters, emotionally and physically.   The unspoken, subconscious message that the girl/woman gets is “when I turned into a woman Dad stopped loving me.”  Daddy’s little princess is suddenly given the cold shoulder, and often is the recipient of angry (sometimes jealous) behavior from her father – who up until that time, often, has been much more emotionally available for his daughter than for his wife or sons.

In a healthy environment an emotionally honest father could recognize that his reaction was human – not something to be ashamed of – and also, not something to act out.  He could then communicate with, and have healthy boundaries with, his daughter so that she would know she wasn’t being abandoned by her Dad.” – Wounded Parents – the tragic legacy of dysfunctional families” – Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth eBook 2 Deeper Within (emotionally) & Further Out (metaphysically) From Fear of Intimacy to Twin Souls Chapter 25

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Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth eBook 2 Deeper Within (emotionally) & Further Out (metaphysically) From Fear of Intimacy to Twin Souls

Announcing that as of 8 am Sunday July 20th eBook 2 of  Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth  (the second 20 chapters of The Greatest Arena) will be available via a discounted count down sale on  Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth eBook 2 Deeper Within (emotionally) & Further Out (metaphysically) From Fear of Intimacy to Twin Souls  which is normally $9.99 will start at $.99 as of Monday morning for a week – with the price increasing by $1 every 32 hours – And also eBook 2 on Amazon UK is for sale for £0.99  now – with the price increasing by £1 every 32 hours.






Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth eBook 2 Deeper Within (emotionally) & Further Out (metaphysically) From Fear of Intimacy to Twin Souls

Table of Contents

Author’s Foreword

Chapter 21 – Uncover, Discover, Recover

Chapter 22 – Emotional Intimacy = in to me see

Chapter 23 – Men and Women are from the same planet

Chapter 24 – The Maiden and the Horndog

Chapter 25 – Sexuality Abuse – the legacy of shame based culture

Chapter 26 – Old tapes / traditional beliefs and gender roles for men and women

Chapter 27 – Monogamy – A Spiritual Teachers Perspective

Chapter 28 – Fear of Intimacy – the wounded heart of codependency

Chapter 29 – Grief, Love, & Fear of Intimacy

Chapter 30 – The True Nature of Love 1, what Love is not

Chapter 31 – The True Nature of Love 2, Love as Freedom

Chapter 32 – The True Nature of Love 3, Love as a Vibrational Frequency

Chapter 33 – The True Nature of Love 4, Energetic Clarity 

Chapter 34 – The True Nature of Love 5, Twin Souls, Souls Mates, and Kindred Spirits

Chapter 35 – Energetic Attraction – emotional familiarity or Karmic connection?

Chapter 36 – Fear of Intimacy –  Relationship Phobia

Chapter 37 – Codependent Defenses ~ The Gatekeeper

Chapter 38 – Deprivation issues drive relationship addiction behavior

Chapter 39 – My personal Journey through my Terror of Intimacy

Chapter 40 – Romantic Relationships and Valentine’s Day 2010





The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth: Chapter 18 – Foundation for Healthy Romantic Relationships

Cover of book on romantic relationships

Romantic Relationships – The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth


The Dance

Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls

“The way we change the dance of Codependence to the dance of Recovery, the way we tame the dragon inside, is through integration and balance.  One of the ways we do that is by stopping the dysfunctional behavior of looking for the Prince or Princess who is going to fix us and make us whole.

The Prince and the Princess exist within.  That Prince, the Masculine Energy of Manifestation and Action, and that Princess, the Feminine Energy of Creativity and Nurturing, exist within us in perfect balance and harmony.  They always have – and they always will.

 As has been stated, we are not broken – we do not need fixing.  It is our relationship with ourselves which needs to be healed; it was our sense of self that was shattered and fractured and broken into pieces – not our True Self.” – all quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

 Romantic relationships are the greatest arena for Spiritual and emotional growth available to us.  A romantic relationship is an adventure in growth, an joint expedition into intimacy.  A relationship cannot “fix” us – is not the goal where happily ever after begins.

 A relationship will be work.  It will be challenging and exciting, frustrating and painful.  It will help us to access Joy and get us in touch with grief.  It will offer lots of opportunities for helping us learn about our self and our wounds.

 In order to have the opportunity to become healthier in relationship to romance and intimacy, it is vital to start building a solid foundation within ourselves upon which it might be possible to have healthier relationship.  Healthy relationship starts at home, in our relationship with ourselves.  Unless we are in recovery, doing our emotional healing, there is no chance of having a healthy relationship.

 I want to restate here, that recovery is not a black and white, 1 or 10 process.  The goal is not to have a perfectly healthy relationship – the goal is to become gradually healthier in our relationship interactions. Progress not perfection is what is possible.  There is no destination to reach, we make gradual progress in getting healthier and learning to love ourselves more – as I say in my book in this quote.

“When I say that you cannot Truly Love others unless you Love yourself – that does not mean that you have to completely Love yourself first before you can start to Love others.  The way the process works is that every time we learn to Love and accept ourselves a little tiny bit more, we also gain the capacity to Love and accept others a little tiny bit more.

When I say that you cannot start to access intuitive Truth until you clear out your inner channel – I am not saying that you have to complete your healing process before you can start getting messages. You can start getting messages as soon as you are willing to start listening.  The more you heal the clearer the messages become.

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

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

If you are striving to learn to be healthier in relationship, it needs to start with learning how to Love self.  If we are not respecting, honoring, and Loving our self – then it doesn’t matter how much someone else Loves or respects us – it won’t work to make us happy and at peace.

(I also want to note that there is nothing bad or shameful about being in a relationship that doesn’t meet the criteria I have talked about in this series.  Progress in recovery means learning to Love ourselves by gradually stopping the self judgment and shame.  Each of us needs to decide what works for us on our path.  No one has a right to tell someone else what their path is – or to judge someone else’s path.  You may be in a relationship that works for you on some level – financial security for instance – and you are the only one that can decide if the payoff you are getting is worth the price you are paying.  It is your choice and you will be the one who lives with the consequences – so do whatever you need to do to be at peace with yourself.  Living our life according to anyone else’s values but our own is dysfunctional.)

Until we start learning how to be emotionally honest with ourselves, we do not have the capacity to be Truly honest with another.  If we are reacting to old wounds and old tapes without learning how to process through those issues – then we will end up feeling like a victim.   If we cannot see ourselves clearly then we will not be able to see the other person clearly.  It is also important to see romance clearly.  It is vital to have clear and realistic expectations of romance – to have a perspective of romantic relationship that is empowering to both people  We need to put some energy into changing our definitions of what a romantic relationship is supposed to be so that the dysfunctional perspectives and expectations we learned in childhood will not set us up to react defensively and personalize the other persons behavior.

For each of us, our first commitment needs to be to Self. (Self as in True Self, Spiritual Self)  We are each responsible for our own life.   If we allow ourselves to give away power over our self esteem, we are being the victim of our codependency – and we will end up feeling like a victim of other people.  Empowerment involves seeing reality as it is and making the best of the choices we have available to us.  Each of us has the power to improve the quality of our own life by being committed to our self/Self.

If we decide to enter into an interdependent partnership, a relationship, with another person who is open to growing – then our commitment to self/Self will serve the relationship.  As long as our commitment to be and become all we can be is served by a relationship then it is very important to be committed to working through the issues that arise.  To sacrifice your higher good in the name of commitment to a relationship is codependent and an act of dishonesty to, and disrespect for, self/Self.  Commitment to a relationship is important – but it comes second to the commitment to Self.

The other person is a teacher for us, as we are for them.  Seeing a relationship as a joint adventure in growing and learning to Love is the key to creating healthy intimacy with another human being.   It will not be easy, it will take some effort and energy, but it can be the most wonderful, incredible adventure of your life.

I am going to end this chapter by listing the characteristics of Love vs toxic love that I included in the first chapter of this book.  The ones labeled toxic love could also be labeled codependent.  Focusing on cultivating the ones labeled Love will lead to healthier, happier relationships with your self/Self, with others, and with life itself.  It also will open you to the possibility of having a healthy, Loving romantic relationship.

1. Love – Development of self first priority.

Toxic love – Obsession with relationship.

2. Love – Room to grow, expand; desire for other to grow.

Toxic love – Security, comfort in sameness; intensity of need seen as proof of love (may really be fear, insecurity, loneliness)

3. Love – Separate interests; other friends; maintain other meaningful relationships.

Toxic love – Total involvement; limited social life; neglect old friends, interests.

4. Love – Encouragement of each other’s expanding; secure in own worth.

Toxic love – Preoccupation with other’s behavior; fear of other changing.

5. Love – Appropriate Trust (i.e. trusting partner to behave according to fundamental nature.)     

Toxic love – Jealousy; possessiveness; fear of competition; protects “supply.”

6. Love – Compromise, negotiation or taking turns at leading. Problem solving together.

Toxic love – Power plays for control; blaming; passive or aggressive manipulation.

 7. Love – Embracing of each other’s individuality.

Toxic love – Trying to change other to own image.

8. Love – Relationship deals with all aspects of reality.

Toxic love – Relationship is based on delusion and avoidance of the unpleasant.

9. Love – Self-care by both partners; emotional state not dependent on other’s mood.         

Toxic love – Expectation that one partner will fix and rescue the other.

10. Love – Loving detachment (healthy concern about partner, while letting go.)

Toxic love – Fusion (being obsessed with each other’s problems and feelings.)

11. Love – Sex is free choice growing out of caring & friendship.       

 Toxic love – Pressure around sex due to insecurity, fear & need for immediate gratification.

12. Love – Ability to enjoy being alone.                          

Toxic love – Unable to endure separation; clinging.

13. Love – Cycle of comfort and contentment.

Toxic love – Cycle of pain and despair.

(List compiled with the help of the work of Melody Beattie & Terence Gorski.) ” – Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth Chapter 18 – Foundation for Healthy Romantic Relationships

Cover of book on romantic relationships

Romantic Relationships – The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth

Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth  Codependent Dysfunctional Relationship Dynamics & Healthy Relationship Behavior  

Available through Joy2MeU (personally autographed copy;-) or through

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My April Fools Day lesson about falling in Love

Joy2MeU Journal Logo

Joy2MeU Journal

In the Premier edition of my Joy2MeU Journal, I shared in the Newsletter about an experience I had on April 1st 1990. I refer to it as my April Fools Day Lesson about falling in love. In that Newsletter I am talking about the Journal as I was conceiving it at that time – that is, a regular publication that would be published in intervals. It turned out to be something quite different than that, as I explain on the Journal Information page. I published this story at a time when I was homeless due to some events that unfolded right as I was investing in starting

“I spent 6 months in 1999 being homeless. Not on the street homeless – I had an office for my computer – but crashing on someone’s couch kind of homeless. The lessons in acceptance and patience and letting go that I learned during that time were sacred gifts. The level of faith that it forced me to access and practice, the depth to which I was forced to integrate my Spiritual belief system into my relationship with life, was a manifestation of Love from my Higher Power that I am now – and have been – reaping great benefits from.” – Robert Bio page

I actually wrote a huge about of material during that homeless period – work that I am quite proud of actually.  I think that April Fools story is amusing and instructive so I am going to share it here again on April Fools Day 2015.  It also contains a lot of real valuable insight into learning how to not buy into the belief in victimization.

“I was talking to someone the other day and really liked how I said something (this sort of thing happens a lot – when I listen to myself consciously I learn. It was a little over 15 years ago when I first realized that I could consciously “move” my ego-self aside and allow myself to be a clear channel for my Higher Self / The Spirit.)

“The purpose of me making plans is to provide God with a framework in which to teach me about surrender, acceptance, patience, and Faith.”

I think that is really beautiful and True – and it also pisses me off some. Oh well.

So, I need to wrap up the Journal discussion here because I still need to tell you about the importance of April 1st in my personal “important dates” cosmology. . . . .

. . . . . Now about April 1st. April fools day here in the states – I am not sure if that is just an American thing or if it is more Universal. I also don’t have any idea where it came from – just that it is a day when people play practical jokes and say “April Fools” – kind of stupid really.

On April 1st 1990 I met a woman that felt like my soul mate. And I knew that the fact that it was April Fools Day was no accident. It was my Higher Power saying – now pay attention.

This was shortly after I had moved to Cambria California – which is the only area that I have ever lived or visited that really felt like “home” energetically. I was living in a wonderful place – mostly it was wonderful because I had a hot tub. The place itself was a very small studio apartment that was furnished with way too many things for the limited space. But the hot tub was divine. I could sit in the hot tub naked in the middle of the night gazing at the stars and listening to the seals barking. It was a very short walk to a small forest that contained a meadow with what to me felt like a sacred mound. (And I think it probably had to the Indians also. The Chumash Indians of this part of the country have very strong ties to the continent of Mu as I have. Some people think this part of the country was part of Mu – that doesn’t feel right to me – I am not clear about that yet – More Will Be Revealed.) I could then walk up a forested ridge to the top of a hill – and there was the ocean. Often when I got to the top I would see whales. Often in the forest I encountered deer. I Loved it.

Well, on April the first of 1990 I was walking to this mound meadow when out of this house down the street from me appeared a beautiful woman heading out for a walk herself. We felt this immediate connection and ended up talking in the meadow on the mound for hours. It felt wonderful and I knew that I could fall madly in love with this woman.

Now, I was aware that it was April Fools Day, so that evening when I got home I did some writing and meditating. (I have not in this lifetime been able to do formal meditation – as in sitting – due to an experience I had in one of my Druid lifetimes. It is an example that I use in my book of how things that I used to beat myself up and judge myself for had a very good reason underneath, on another level, that caused my resistance. Meditation for me is basically listening to the messages coming through. I do that in a variety of ways – including walking meditation, while I am driving, etc.)

I had gotten very clear by that time in my recovery that a bottom line for me in staying clear with myself and on my path was to stop buying into the illusion of victimization.

And before I go on with this April Fools story, I want to make clear what I mean by the illusion of victimization.

Here is a quote from my book.

“On the level of our perspective of the process it is very important to stop buying into the false beliefs that as adults we are victims and someone else is to blame – or that we are to blame because there is something wrong with us.

[One of the things which makes it difficult to discuss this phenomena of Codependence is that there are multiple levels – multiple perspectives – which are involved in this life experience. Viewing life from a perspective, on the level, of individuals who have experienced racial, cultural, religious, or sexual discrimination or abuse, there are many instances in which there has been Truth in the belief of victimization. On the level of the historical human experience, all human beings have been victims of the conditions which caused Codependence. Almost any statement can be shown to be false on some levels and True on other levels, so it is important to realize that the use of discernment is vital to start perceiving the boundaries between different levels.

In the next section, Part Five, when I discuss the Cosmic Perspective and the Cosmic Perfection of this life experience, I will be discussing the paradox, and confusion to human beings, that has been the result of these multiple levels of reality – but I have devoted Part Two and Part Four to discussing the Spiritual growth process and our perspective on that process because the Cosmic Perfection does not mean crap unless we can start integrating it into our day to day life experience.

In order to start changing life into an easier, more enjoyable experience by attaining some integration and balance in our relationships it is necessary to focus on, and clear up, our relationship with this Spiritual Evolutionary process that we are involved in. On the level of that Spiritual growth process it is vital to let go of the belief in victimization and blaming.]

As I said, the goal of healing is not to become perfect, it is not to “get healed.” Healing is a process, not a destination – we are not going to arrive at a place in this lifetime where we are completely healed.

The goal here is to make life an easier and more enjoyable experience while we are healing. The goal is to LIVE. To be able to feel happy, Joyous, and free in the moment, the majority of the time.

To get to a place where we are free to be happy in the moment most of the time, we need to change our perspectives enough to start recognizing Truth when we see or hear it. And the Truth is that we are Spiritual Beings having a human experience that is unfolding perfectly and always has been, there are no accidents, coincidences, or mistakes – so there is no blame to be assessed.

The goal here is to be and enjoy! We can’t do that if we are judging and shaming ourselves. We can’t do that if we are blaming ourselves or others.” – quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

In other words – in relationship to my Spiritual Path everything that is happening is perfect part of the lesson plan (including temporary homelessness.) Even though it may look like someone is victimizing me on this level – on a Cosmic level that person is a teacher who is helping me in my studies. I have always much preferred the nice teachers but the asshole teachers are the ones that were necessary to force me to start learning how to set boundaries and protect myself. It is important for me to bless and be grateful for those teachers that were acting like jerks at the same time that I was eliminating them from my life.

There are times that I will feel like a victim – of other people as well as of God’s Divine Perfect Plan (which often seems stupid and very slow working to me.) That is why it is so important for me to have a boundary internally between the emotional and intellectual levels of my being – and within the emotional level, in what I am feeling.

Within the emotional level I need to have consciousness of my inner child wounds so that I can tell when it is an inner child place within, my wounded soul, that is reacting – and when what I am feeling is an intuitive message from my Soul. The only way to get clarity in terms of being able to discern which emotional messages are telling me the Truth and which are reacting out of the emotional truth of my childhood was to do the inner child healing work – which involves doing the grieving, the emotional energy release work.

And in order to be clear on the emotional level it was necessary for me to learn to set the boundaries intellectually. I had to pay attention to my thoughts in order to start changing the way I think. I had to get aware of the thoughts that were coming from the disease so I could tell the Critical Parent/disease voice to shut up – and learn to listen to the messages from what used to be the “small quiet voice” of my intuition. The more I healed the more I turned down the volume on the negative, fear based messages of the disease and tuned into the intuitive channel.

What is dysfunctional for me is when I am feeling like a victim out of an inner child wound and listening to the Critical Parent tell me that I am a failure, loser, unlovable, etc. That is when I start spiraling downward real fast, that is when I crash and burn. When I am allowing that to happen (which is the natural and normal dynamics of the disease and not something to feel ashamed of – the disease gets us to trash ourselves and then turns around and tells us to beat our self up for trashing ourselves – Truly insidious and powerful) I am in the disease.  When I am caught in this disease dynamic (being my own perpetrator and victim) is when I create negative emotional states that I can get caught in for periods of time. Depression, despair, self pity, resentment, etc. are not emotions but emotional states that are created by negative attitudes that I am buying into. In each of those emotional states I am buying into the belief that I am the victim. In order not to create negative emotional states I have to catch myself anytime I am buying into the belief that I am the victim (of myself for being flawed or defective – or others – including the Divine Plan) – and again not beat myself up for it.

When I am buying into the belief in victimization I am lying to myself (letting the disease’s lies have power.) Anytime I catch myself coming from a victim perspective I am not telling myself my Highest Truth.

Learning how to take my power back from the disease by not buying into victim illusions was probably the single most important facet of my recovery. A big milestone in that process occurred on April 1st 1990.

And you thought I was off on a tangent again didn’t you. 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

I also know that I do not have to give her any power over my self esteem. How she reacts to me will not be because there is something wrong with me, or because I have done something wrong. My self worth is not dependent on any outside source – including, and especially, someone that I am choosing to fall in love with.

I commit to myself not to beat myself up for my choices but rather to strive to have compassion for any wounds that are uncovered or new wounds that are suffered. I will stay conscious and stay alert to the lessons that are there to be learned – and I will also have a lot of fun playing around with the energy of being in love. I haven’t let the romantic in me out to play for quite awhile and it will feel really good to dance with that wonderful vibrational high that comes from being in love. I will keep firm boundaries with that wonderful romantic part of me in order to not build up expectations that will cause more pain than is necessary.

So, yes I choose to go where this beautiful teacher can take me and learn what I need to learn – and also to allow myself to grieve when wounds are uncovered or gauged anew. Let’s go for it! Full speed ahead on a romantic adventure! As a responsible adult on a Spiritual Path that is being guided home to Love.”

Okay, Okay – so the above is a little advanced for where I was at that time on my path. It is probably a more accurate depiction of where I was back in December in my latest romantic adventure. But it is, in essence, what happened back then. I didn’t have all the words and levels of understanding that I do now – but I was clear that I needed to make a commitment to myself to not buy into the belief in victimization. That whatever feelings resulted were my responsibility. It was the clearest, most mature and responsible place from which I had ever embarked on a relationship adventure – and a very important milestone in my process.

That is why April 1st is an important day in my personal ‘important dates’ cosmology.

Okay, Okay, yes I will tell you the outcome. She ended up marrying an old boy friend who was not capable of even saying “I love you” to her. I commiserated with her for many hours about how unavailable he was to her and how painful that was. And in the end she married him (for a year or so – I don’t know where she is now. I would love to get in touch with her again.) She was a perfect actress to cast in an emotional learning experience that helped me see my pattern about being attracted to unavailable women on a new level. I stayed true to my commitment on a level that was remarkable for where I was at in my process at the time. It was a wonderful – and very painful – opportunity for growth that I am very grateful I experienced. I send her blessings and Love wherever she is – and Thanks.

It was a perfect chapter in the unfolding of my life story.” – Joy2MeU Journal Premier addition Newsletter

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Joy2MeU Journal

The Joy2MeU Journal which contains over 100 pages of content – several million words of original intimate sharing of my recovery / spiritual path and a personal journal of processing through my fear of intimacy issues – is available for sale on this page.

Enabling & Rescuing vs Tough Love

Book cover

Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls

“We cannot begin to make progress in learning to Love ourselves until we start being kind to ourselves in healthy ways.  A very important part of being kind to ourselves is learning how to say no, and how to set, and be able to defend, boundaries.

    Unconditional Love does not mean being a doormat for other people – unconditional Love begins with Loving ourselves enough to protect ourselves from the people we Love if that is necessary.”

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

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

    What the family dynamics research shows is that it is actually the good child – the family hero role -who is the most emotionally dishonest and out of touch with him/herself, while the acting-out child – the scapegoat – is the most emotionally honest child in the dysfunctional family.” – all quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

Enabling is a term used in 12 step recovery to describe the behavior of family members, or other loved ones, who rescue an alcoholic or drug addict from the consequences of their own self destructive behavior.  It also relates to rescuing anyone who is caught up in any of the compulsive and/or addictive self destructive behaviors that are symptoms of codependency:  gambling;  spending;  eating disorders;  sexual or relationship addictions;  inability to hold a job;  etc.

Codependency recovery is in one sense growing up.  As long as we are caught in unconscious reaction to our childhood wounding we cannot become mature responsible adults capable of healthy, Truly Loving relationships.  The person who is caught up in self destructive compulsive/addictive behavior patterns behaves in an immature and irresponsible manner.

[As I note often in my writing, codependency involves extremes of behavior.  The immature, irresponsible, self destructive codependent is one extreme of the spectrum – usually the person who is genetically an addictive personality.  At the other extreme, is the codependent who is over responsible and/or other focused – and can appear to be very mature and successful, with no need of being rescued.  This is often the adult who as a child was being the parent in the family – rescuing and taking care of their own immature parents from a very young age.  The family hero or caretaker who defines themselves by external accomplishments, popularity, possessions, superiority to others, etc.  This person can be a workaholic, or exercise/health fanatic, or religion addict, or a professional caretaker (therapist, nurse, etc.), or “kind hearted” martyr (who is passively controlling by avoiding conflict and thus set up to be the “wronged” victim) – some type of controlling personality who feels superior to others based upon their seeming ability to be in control of their lives according to certain external criteria.  The external criteria can range from being financially successful to being successful in never getting angry – and are dysfunctional codependent measures of worth based upon comparison to, upon feeling superior to, other people.  These varieties of codependency are not capable of healthy, Truly Loving relationships either.]

A person who is acting out self destructively has no reason to change if they do not ever suffer major consequences for their behavior.  If they are rescued from consequences, they are enabled to continue practicing their addiction.

I celebrated my sobriety anniversary on January 3rd.  I have now been clean and sober for over 30 years.  The reason I got clean and sober was because my parents did an intervention on me and set a boundary that they would not rescue me financially one more time.

An intervention is a confrontation of self destructive behavior by the addicts loved ones.  It is often professionally facilitated – although that is not a necessary requirement.  It involves the family and friends of an alcoholic/addict confronting the self destructive behavior and setting boundaries with the person.  It is sometimes described as an example of “tough love.”

Tough love is a misnomer.  Love that does not include boundaries is not Truly Love – it is enmeshment, it is emotional vampirism.  If I do not Love myself enough to have boundaries to protect myself from the behavior of others than I am not capable of relating to other people in a healthy Loving manner.  Rescuing another from their own self destructive behavior is not Loving – and it is codependently dishonest.

When we are reacting out of our codependency, unconsciously reacting out of our childhood emotional wounds and programming, then we are not capable of being honest with ourselves or others.  A codependent doesn’t rescue or try to save someone they “love” for the other persons benefit – they do it for themselves.  A parent who keeps rescuing a child from self destructive behavior is on some level trying to be loving – but at the deepest level they are trying to rescue themselves from the pain of seeing their child destroy themselves.  They are being selfish – which is human and normal – but they are doing it dishonestly by telling themselves they are doing it for the other person.  This is a set up to feel victimized – and to abuse and shame the child/loved one for their behavior.  “How can you do this to me after all I have done for you?”

One of the important distinctions to learn in recovery, is how to draw a boundary between being and behavior.  We can love a person’s being and still protect ourselves from their behavior if that is necessary.  To think that loving someone means we have to accept being abused by them is dysfunctional – and it demonstrates a lack of Love for our self.  If we do not know how to be Loving to our self, then we cannot Truly Love another person in a healthy way.  If we do not honor our self, show respect for our self, by having boundaries – then the other person is not going to respect us.

Rescuing someone who is actively practicing addiction of some kind, is enabling.  It is dysfunctional because it supports the person in continuing to practice their addiction.   A person in recovery working on getting healthier may need some help from time to time – and that is great, that is being supportive in a positive manner.  Helping someone to continue to self destruct is not support, it is codependency – it is also not Loving.”

Applying the Serenity Prayer – Wisdom through Discernment ~ Intellectual Discernment – focused within


Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls

Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls

   “”I learned that even though there are things that feel like mistakes, that even though life sometimes feels like punishment, that those feelings are not the Truth.  I learned that my emotional truth was being dictated by my subconscious perspectives of life, by the definitions of life that had been imposed on me as a child, by the subconscious attitudes that I had adopted because of the emotional traumas I had experienced as a child.

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

    It is kind of like the old joke about three blind men describing an elephant by touch.  Each one of them is telling his own Truth, they just have a lousy perspective.  Codependence is all about having a lousy relationship with life, with being human, because we have a lousy perspective on life as a human.” – all quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

One of the gifts of the twelve step recovery process, of learning to apply the Serenity Prayer in our lives, is that we start to learn how to take responsibility without blaming – either our self or others.  We learn how to take responsibility for the things we do have the power to change – and hold others responsible for their side of the street.  This powerful, life changing paradigm shift was in fact the spark that set off the latest series of articles I have been writing .

“In recovery it is very important to take responsibility while also learning to stop giving power to the polarized blame and shame of the disease.  Therein lies a tale.”  – To Parents of Alcoholics / Addicts

There are so many facets and levels to the process of making this paradigm shift that I will probably be writing articles about it for the rest of the year.  It is so vital because it changes our relationship with self and with life – which in turn changes how we relate to other people.

When I use the term paradigm shift, I am talking about changing the context, the framework, in which we view life.  Like the quote above about the 3 blind men from my book, if we are not looking at a larger picture we are not seeing clearly.  If we are viewing our self and life out of eyes that are limited by polarized, shame based beliefs, then we are not seeing life clearly – we are not seeing the whole elephant.

Our perspective of anything dictates our relationship with that thing.  And our perspectives are set up by the intellectual paradigm we are empowering – by the attitudes, beliefs, and definitions that we are holding, both consciously and subconsciously.

That is why it is so important to start practicing intellectual discernment.  To start looking at the attitudes, beliefs, and definitions that are dictating our perspectives of life.  We can change our relationship with life – and with all the components of life – by changing our perspectives.

This includes our perspective of our emotions.  Because we grew up in emotionally dishonest and dysfunctional cultures, we learned to have a dysfunctional relationship with our own emotions.  It is through learning to have some intellectual discernment that we can start changing our attitude towards our own emotions – and then we can also start practicing emotional discernment.

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.

It is vital for us to start awakening to the reality that we have the power to change our beliefs.  We have the power to choose a different intellectual paradigm to define our life.  That is what working the twelve steps can do for us – cause a paradigm shift our relationship with life.  The more conscious we get about how the process works the quicker we can make the transition.

We have the power to change the attitudes, beliefs, and definitions that are dictating our relationship with life.  We can start practicing discernment – picking the baby out of the bath water – once we are willing to start looking within without shame and blame.  The key to doing this is to detach from our own process enough to develop an objective perspective of our self.

To use the blind men and the elephant analogy, this means to realize that we aren’t really blind – we have just had our eyes closed, have been living unconsciously.  We can open our eyes and step back to look at the elephant from a better perspective.  We can walk around it and look at it from all angles.  We have a choice to open our eyes and see more clearly.  We do not have to be trapped in the programming from our childhood.  We have a choice.

We lived life unconsciously because we did not know any other way.  It is not shameful – not something to judge ourselves for.  Once we get in enough pain we start becoming willing to look for another way.  That is when we can start to learn and practice discernment.  That is when we can begin our recovery.”

Logo of Joy2MeU

Logo of website of codependency recovery expert inner child healing pioneer Robert Burney

This is the third article in a series of articles on learning to live the Serenity Prayer in one’s life – something that is facilitated by working a 12 step program.  The first article in this series is Discernment – The Wisdom to Know the Difference in Serenity Prayer  The article that follows it is Emotional Discernment – taking power away from the fear.

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 main site shares 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.  Here is a link to his site index page.  He also has a mobile friendly site focused on his work:


Chapter 16 of The Greatest Arena – A Valentine’s Day Prayer “have compassion for your wounded self”

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

When I wrote the original version of this article to be published in February 2000, I wanted to help people take some of the emotional charge out of Valentines.  I had realized in my recovery that Holidays – as well as times like birthdays and anniversaries were times that can really be emotional triggers for us.  (In fact it was my pattern of setting myself up to be abandoned on important days – specifically my birthday in July 1987 – that was what finally caused me to surrender to the need for me to do the emotional work that I was so scared of doing.)

“After I had been in recovery a few years – in the course of trying to figure out how I set myself up to be a victim with my expectations – I had a very important insight about holidays.  I realized that holidays – not just Christmas and New Years Eve but Thanksgiving, Valentines Day, etc. – along with days like anniversaries and my birthday were the times which I judged myself the most.  My expectations of what a holiday “should” be, of where I “should” be at a certain age, of how my life “should” look at this particular time, were causing me to unmercifully beat myself up.  I was buying into the disease voice which was telling me that I was a loser and a failure (or going to the other extreme and blaming someone else for my feelings.)  I was giving power to the toxic shame that told me that I was unworthy and unlovable.

I realized that I was judging myself against standards that weren’t real, against expectations that were a fantasy, a fairy tale.  The fairy tale that everyone should be happy and cheerful during the Christmas holidays is ridiculous just like the myth of happily-ever-after is a false belief that doesn’t apply to this level of existence.  The holidays are just like every other day of the year only magnified.  That means there will be moments of happiness and Joy but there will also be moments of sadness and hurt.” – Holidays, Anniversaries, and Birthdays

So, this is what I wrote for what I came to call a Valentine’s Day prayer.

Valentines Day.  The high holy Codependency feast Day.  That is, a day when, for most of us, the disease treats us to a feast of self recrimination and self flagellation.

For a small minority of us, a true holiday of love.  A time to celebrate the love we are feeling for a significant other in our life.  A time to be grateful for the gift of romance, and to honor the partner who is enriching our life.

For a significant number of us – who are alone in a relationship – a time to pretend, or blame.  To focus on what is good about the relationship we are in, in an attempt to convince ourselves that the payoff we are receiving is worth the price we are paying.  A time to put on a happy face to cover up for a sad heart.  A reminder that our hopes, and the dream of what the relationship would become, are sadly under fulfilled and that we have settled for less than we deserve.  Often that internal conflict is deflected outward in blaming the other.

For another significant portion of us – who are alone – a painful reminder, usually accompanied by self judgment and shame, bitterness and cynicism.  Unless our level of denial is great enough for us to truly convince ourselves that it is just another day and does not bring up any feelings – a day of sadness.

If you are one of the lucky few, enJoy it to the fullest.  Glory in the magic of love.  Let your Spirit soar on the wings of love.  Let yourself feel the Love and Joy in the moment as if you have never been hurt, and as if this love will never go away.  Grab the moment with gusto and let yourself cherish the fairy-tale-come-true feelings.

If you are part of the majority – either in a relationship that isn’t working to meet your needs, or not in a relationship – focus on being kind to your self.  Use this Valentine’s Day as an exercise in Loving you.

Allow yourself to feel the sadness without buying into the messages of judgment and shame from the critical parent voice in your head.  It is not your fault that you are alone – or that you have settled for crumbs in a relationship when you deserve the whole cake.  It is not because you are unlovable or unworthy.  It is not because you have made “stupid” “mistakes,” or because you are a “loser” or a “failure.”

And if you find yourself wallowing in resentment and blame, realize that underneath your need to point the finger at another is a place within you that needs to be forgiven by you.

It is extremely difficult to have a healthy relationship in a society that is founded on dysfunctional beliefs about the nature and purpose of being human.  In a society that is not only emotionally repressive and dishonest, Spiritually hostile (based upon belief in separation instead of connection,) and shame based – but one that promotes, and programs us for, dysfunctional codependent relationships and toxic love.

We were set up to have unrealistic expectations of our self and of romance.  We were set up:  to make choices that would cause us to repeat dysfunctional patterns in relationships; to choose exactly the people who would repeat the emotional dynamics of abandonment, deprivation, unavailability, verbal abuse, etc.;  to choose to open our hearts to people who would ignore, or stomp on, them.  Often then, we learned to shut down our hearts in order to survive the emotional pain.

It is very sad.  It is very sad that we have had our hearts broken.  It is very sad that we have let go of getting our needs met.  It is very sad that it is so hard to connect with another being in a healthy, Loving way.  It is very sad that so many of us have had to shut down our hearts and locked the romantic part of us away in a deep dark place within us.

It is very sad – but it is truly tragic that we blame ourselves.  We have been victimized by societies dysfunctional programming and we beat up on the victim of those forces that we were powerless over.

We do deserve Love in our lives.  We deserve companionship and support and friendship.  We deserve touch and affection and sexual fulfillment.

We all do!

That is the good news. The bad news is that we may not get to have that experience in this lifetime.

We do not have to like that reality – but we do need to accept it.  Because accepting it is the key to stopping the self judgment and blame.  Accepting that you can be happy and whole without a relationship, is the key to being able to let go of expectations and judgment so that you are be free to be happy, peaceful, and Joyous in some of the moments of today.

We have all lived multiple lifetimes in this hostile environment.  That environment is now being changed.  This new age we are in, is the time when – by healing our wounded souls and learning to manifest Love into our relationship with our self – we will bring about a critical mass that will shift the whole planet’s relationship with Love.

Everything without is a reflection of within.  As long as individual human beings are hating and resenting them self, feeling unworthy and unlovable – the world will remain an angry, violent, love retarded, hostile environment.  By learning to overcome our programming to have a hostile environment within us – in our relationship with our self – we will change the world, transform it into a healthier more Loving place for the Magnificent Spiritual Beings who we Truly are to come into body and experience.

Make this Valentine’s Day a True celebration of Love by choosing to Love and have compassion for your wounded self (own the emotional pain) at the same time you are allowing your Spiritual Self to nurture (tell yourself Spiritual Truth) and protect you (tell the critical parent voice to shut up.)” – Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth  Codependent Dysfunctional Relationship Dynamics & Healthy Relationship Behavior  Chapter 16 – A Valentine’s Day Prayer

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 and Amazon.UK.

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  and on Amazon UK.

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.

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.

God-Shots / Goddess Strokes & “easier to be a channel for Love to flow through than a receptacle for Love to flow into”

“I had a couple of really wonderful “God-shots” this past Sunday.  (I wrote this in October 2000 as part of an Update Newsletter for my Joy2MeU website)  “God-shots” are messages that come out of the blue – unexpected surprises that are messages from my Higher Power telling me that I am on the right path, doing what I am supposed to be doing.  (Actually the term God-shot is a term I hadn’t used in quite awhile – and while I was walking by the ocean in the fog earlier today, I decided to use a different term:  Goddess Strokes.  I like this better – a little gentler and more accurately descriptive, not such a macho sounding term. ;-))

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A very cool process, this recovery.

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

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

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

Now, is that cool or what?!?

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

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

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

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

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

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

External Validation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The rebel in me does not want to give up the battle because that part of me thinks it is defined by battle.  The incredible resistance that I have encountered to Loving my own body is rearing it’s head and fighting for all it is worth.  Some of my inner children are terrified of trusting my Higher Power.  And at the core, as usual, is my fear of intimacy.” – Joy to You & Me and Joy2MeU Update 10-20-2000

This is an excerpt from the Update Newsletter for my Joy2MeU website and Joy to You & Me publishing company.  It was written in October of 2000 and the processing I did in this Newsletter and  the follow up page brought me to a big breakthrough in my recovery process.  In part 2 of this Newsletter from October 2000 I processed about my fear of intimacy issues.

Cover of audio book

Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls An Audio Spiritual Experience

The audio tape set of the book – that the woman’s husband found so helpful – was originally available as a set of cassettes tapes – and later on a CD set.  I haven’t had the resources to make the CDs available for a few years, but a digitally remastered version of the recording is available as an MP3 download.  The recording is one I made in a room of my apartment with mattresses on the walls for soundproofing.  As one person’s feedback stated:

“The audio version is absolutely a mind-blowing audio spiritual experience! You rock, man!! It’s one thing to read the articles on the clinically electric computer screen and completely another level of involvement hearing the man himself utter his own words of wisdom and spiritual alchemy. One can tell that you aren’t just mumbling through a book you’ve written; while listening it becomes certain that the message truly is your spiritual truth and not just some neatly packaged intellectual mind job disguising itself in spiritual language. An enormous THANK YOU for sharing your story and perspective for all the world to see, I truly appreciate it, man!”

The version that I did is for sale right now as an MP3 download.  There is now a literal audio book with another narrator – not the audio that I did myself which was slightly abridged.  I think that the narrator did a good job – but of course it doesn’t have the passion and the points of emphasis that the one I did has.  It is available on

Learning to observe my inner process and set internal boundaries is the formula that saved my life – and is one that I teach people through telephone counseling and my Day Long Intensive Training Workshop. There is one this month in San Diego.

Town & Country Resort and Convention Center  500 Hotel Circle San Diego, CA 82108

Town & Country Resort and Convention Center   500 Hotel Circle San Diego, CA 82108

             A Day Long Intensive Training in Robert Burney’s Spiritual Integration Formula for Inner Healing Sunday February 23rd 2014

“Robert Burney’s Intensive Training Day in San Diego was the kindest thing I did for both my inner child and adult in a long long time. I needed it more than I knew and I thank my higher power for leading me to this gentle healer. I recommend the seminar with all my heart and soul. Robert is the most articulate teacher in codependency healing I have ever heard. Thank you from my soul!” – posted on Facebook 5/27/12

“There are certain Teachers in this Life that are Masterful Guides because they were both born with a gift and also have direct experiential Knowing based on their personal path. I met Robert Burney 10 years ago when I finally ready to look at my life and the affects of codependency and addiction in my family. That one event opened the doors for me and gave me permission to begin having much more compassion and awareness for myself and eventually for those around me. I strongly encourage you to align with Robert at his intensives or one-one-one. He is a gift and I am grateful to have met him so many years ago.” – Posted on Facebook 11/6/13

“This training is not only a clear nuts and bolts approach to recovery, but likely a key insight into the next revolutionary model of recovery. I feel as if I have a much clearer map.”

“I believe you’ve assembled all of the major pieces of “the puzzle of Recovery” with your work (in a way that has never been done before).”

Special offer for Life Changing Workshop available until February 15th:Save $85