Chapter 10 of The Greatest Arena – Communication is Key “What did you just hear me say?”

The Dance

Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls

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

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

When we are reacting out of our childhood emotional wounds, then what we are feeling may have very little to do with the situation we are in or with the people with whom we are dealing in the moment.” – quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

The single most important component in a healthy relationship is the ability to communicate.  If two people have the capacity to communicate with each other, then any issue can be worked through to some kind of clarity.

For the purpose of this discussion I am going to divide communication into two levels: surface communication having to do with ideas, facts, details, concepts, etc. – and emotional communication.  In reality, of course, all communication contains aspects of both levels – and in relationship, the emotional level is by far the most important and most difficult.

In terms of surface communication, it is very important to establish a common language.  And I am not talking here about one person speaking English and one speaking French.  I am talking about two people who speak the same language linguistically but have different interpretations of various words due to a variety of factors – i.e. raised in different geographic, religious, or cultural environments, different educational or economic levels, different life experiences, etc.  Two people who are on Spiritual paths might speak a different language because one has been involved in Twelve Step Recovery while another has been pursuing a Shamanistic path or Buddhist or whatever.

It is very important, right from the beginning of the relationship to strive for clarity in communication.  The single most useful tool is simply to ask.  “How do you define that word?” or “What did you just hear me say?”  Very often, you will find that what the other person heard was not what you were attempting to convey.  Attempting to clarify and develop a common language lays a good foundation for further communication.

It is also vital to recognize that certain words are emotional trigger words.

“One of the greatest blocks to communication is that some words are emotionally charged.  They are words that trigger an automatic emotional reaction within us.  To use a trigger word in an argument – a word such as “controlling” or “manipulative” – can turn a discussion into a battle instantly.  When someone flings a trigger word at us, or we at them, it is like we have just shot an arrow into them.  It usually causes them to go on the defensive and start flinging some arrows back at us – or perhaps go into some other defensive mode, such as crying or walking out.

Using trigger words blocks communication.  And we usually use them consciously (although we certainly may not be honest enough to admit it at the time – or even later, depending on the level of our recovery.)  We use them in reaction – because we have been hurt or are scared, because we are trying manipulate and control the other person.  (Using a word like “manipulate” or “control” to describe someone else’s behavior to them, is almost always an attempt to control and manipulate the person we are accusing of that behavior.)

For the purposes of this discussion, what is important is to realize that trigger words fall into realm of cause and effect.  We are born with a certain personality – we are not born with certain words programmed as emotional triggers.  Emotional triggers fall entirely in the province of experience.  We have an emotional charge attached to certain words because of our life experience.  In other words, we have a relationship to that word that is a result of emotional experiences in our life.” – Spirituality for Agnostics and Atheists 

It is really important to identify what each person’s emotional trigger words are in order to be able to communicate – in order to avoid automatic reactions based upon the past.  Old wounds and old tapes cause us to have emotional trigger words and it is vitally important to get conscious of what our own personal ones are so that we can learn to be less reactive – and to get in touch with what our partner’s trigger words are so that we can avoid them when possible.  (i.e. In my early recovery I worked to stop calling myself “stupid” so much and changed it to “silly” because that felt gentler to me.  For my wife however “silly” is a trigger word that feels worse to her than being called stupid.)

In terms of the emotional level of communication, there are many aspects to consider.  I will touch on a symptomatic one here in this article and then expand on the challenges of emotional intimacy in the next Chapter (Chapter 11 – Emotional Honesty Necessary.)

The symptomatic one is something that may seem simple but is actually one that relatively few people in our dysfunctional culture have mastered – the ability to listen.  In order to Truly listen it is necessary to be present – and the difficulty with being present is caused by unhealed emotional wounds.  If we are not able to be emotionally honest with ourselves then it is impossible to be present and comfortable in our own skins in the moment.  Obviously then, we are also incapable of being present with, and emotionally honest with, others.

Listening is far more than just the absence of talking or the appearance of paying attention.  Listening involves more than just hearing the words that another person is saying.  In order to Truly hear what another person is attempting to communicate, it is necessary to be tuned in to what is going on underneath the words.  Communication is only partly about content – just as important in communication are things like body language, eye contact, underlying emotional currents.

When we are present in our bodies in the moment and paying attention it is easy to discern if the other person is really talking to us – as opposed to talking at us, or telling a story.  In the beginning of any relationship, people tell each other stories about their past – it is part of getting to know each other.  What is important is to be able to be present while telling the story.  That involves not just  listening to the other person but also listening to ourselves.

Being present starts with being conscious of ourselves – it involves listening and paying attention to ourselves and our end of the communication.   If I am listening to myself while telling someone a story about my past, I can catch myself when I get to a part of the story that I have creatively embellished over the years.  As we learn and grow, our perspective of our past changes and it is very important to be able to listen to ourselves so that we can catch ourselves in places where we have exaggerated or rationalized something from our past.  One of the important parts of the healing process is telling our story – and if we just regurgitate an old tape by rote we are not being present and paying attention.

If we have the capacity to be present with ourselves while telling our story, that means we also have the capacity to be present with the other person.  I can be in the middle of telling a story and see in the other person’s eyes that they aren’t listening – which gives me the space to stop and ask what is going on.  If I am not present enough to see the other person isn’t listening then I am just talking at that person.  And conversely, if I am conscious I will be able to recognize when that person is talking at me.

Communication involves being able to talk to and listen to – the ability to be present in our bodies in the moment.” –  Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth Chapter 10 – Communication is Key

If you live in Southern California and want to learn how to do relationships in a healthier way it would be really helpful for you to come to my Intensive Training Day workshop.   If you are alone this Valentine’s Day, this workshop can help you understand your patterns and fear of intimacy so that you can make better choices the next time you venture into the Romantic Arena. If you are in a relationship and find your self having problems with communicating and reactions – then it would be very helpful for you to come to my workshop together.  I have posted a page withspecial offers for my February 15th workshop.

If you don’t live in this area, there is a MP3 recording of my workshop that you can download.

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.


Chapter 2 of The Greatest Arena – Power Struggle ~ “A relationship is not a game of winners and losers”

The Dance

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

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

“If we are reacting out of what our emotional truth was when we were five or nine or fourteen, then we are not capable of responding appropriately to what is happening in the moment; we are not being in the now.”  quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

I heard someone at a CoDA meeting this week talk about a truly revolutionary concept that their codependence counselor introduced into a session with her and her husband one day.  She and her husband were in a hot and heavy argument when the counselor interrupted to ask, “Do you want to be happy or do you want to be right.”  She said that it was a question that they had to consider for a while because being right was awful important to them both.

It is normal for relationships in this society to deteriorate into power struggles over who is right and who is wrong.  That is because we grew up in a dysfunctional society that taught that it was shameful to be wrong.  We got the message that our self-worth depends on not making mistakes, on being perfect – that it caused our parents great emotional pain (or they caused us great emotional or physical pain) when we made a mistake, when we were wrong.

Codependence is an emotional defense system that is set up to protect the wounded inner child within us from the shame of being exposed as unlovable and unworthy, as stupid and weak, as a loser and failure, as whatever it was that we got the message was the worst thing to be.  We were taught to evaluate whether we had worth in comparison to others.  Smarter than, prettier than, faster than, richer than, more successful than, thinner than, stronger than, etc., etc.  In a codependent society the only way to feel good about self is to look down on someone else.  So we learned to judge (just like our role models did) others in order to feel good about ourselves.  Being “right” was one of the most important ways to know that we had worth.

When a codependent feels attacked – which is any time it seems as if someone is judging us – it can be with a look or a tone of voice or just that someone doesn’t say something, let alone when someone actually says something to us that could be interpreted as meaning that we weren’t doing something right – the choices we are faced with are to blame them or blame ourselves.  Either they are right – in which case it proves that we are the stupid loser that the critical parent voice in our head tells us we are – or they are wrong in which case it is time to attack them and prove to them the error of their ways.

In most relationships where the people have been together for a few years they have already established entrenched battle lines around painful emotional scars where they push each others buttons.  All one person has to do is use a certain tone of voice or have a certain look on their face and the other person pulls out and loads the big guns.  One person is readying their answer in their head to what they “know” the other is going to say before the other even has a chance to say it.  The battle begins and neither one of them actually listens to what the other is saying.  They start pulling out their lists of past hurts to prove their point of how the other is “doing” horrible things to them.  The battle is on to see who is right and who is wrong.

And that is not even the right question.

The type of questions we need to be asking are: “What button just got pushed?”  “Why am I reacting so strongly to this?”  “How old do I feel right now?”  “In what way does what is happening feel like something that happened in my childhood”  “How does this remind me of the way my paents acted or treated me?”

We attract into our lives those people who will perfectly push our buttons for us.  Who fit our particular issues exactly.  When we are looking at life as a growth process then we can learn from these lessons.  If both people in a relationship are willing to look at what is underneath the dynamics that are happening – then some magical, wonderful intimacy can result.  As long as we are reacting unconsciously to the past, then we will blame and argue about who is right and who is wrong.

A relationship is a partnership, an alliance, not some game with winners and losers.  When the interaction in a relationship becomes a power struggle about who is right and who is wrong then there are no winners.” –  Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth Chapter  2 – Power Struggle

Cover of book on romantic relationships

Romantic Relationships – The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth

I 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.

You can also get the Books or eBooks from Barnes & Noble   or eBooks thru Kobo

Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth eBook 1: Codependent Dysfunctional Relationship Dynamics & Healthy Relationship Behavior now available as an audio book.

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

Cover eBook 2

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

 It is also available in Kindle format as 2 eBooks – each with 20 chapters.

 Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth eBook 1: Codependent Dysfunctional Relationship Dynamics & Healthy Relationship Behavior

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Codependents as Emotional Vampires

Book cover

Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are all butterflies. We are all Spiritual Beings.” – quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

When I was only about 3 months into recovery, one day while I was in a grocery store shopping, I glanced over at a rack of books that was in the store. My attention was immediately drawn to a book with the title of Illusions The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah by an author named Richard Bach. That was a paradigm busting, life changing moment. I felt a strong impulse to buy that book. I had no idea why – but I knew I needed to buy that book.

I quote Illusions (the books and authors that impacted my recovery are listed on my Recommended Books page) several times in my book – and mention it periodically in my writing. I bring it up here because of a chapter in which he addresses something that was vital for me to start understanding in relationship to my codependency.

In the book, Bach is barnstorming through the Midwest in an old biplane – selling rides to the people of the towns he happens upon. In the course of this adventure he meets another barnstorming pilot. This other pilot turns out to be a messiah who has resigned because he got so disgusted with people not listening to him when he told them (paraphrasing the book), “These things that I do, you can do also.” He was trying to get them to own their own inner connection to the Divine, and their own power as Magnificent Spiritual Beings – and instead of hearing his message, they wanted to worship him and have him do miracles for them. He kept telling them that they could do miracles themselves if they would just connect with their Higher Self and let go of the limitations of their ego programming. (My words again, paraphrasing the book’s message.)

In the particular chapter that came to mind while I was writing this article, Bach corrects something the messiah says – and tells him that he forgot to add that we need to avoid hurting other people.

Suddenly there is a noise in the underbrush near the spot they are camped beside their biplanes. (This messiah character had a way of teaching by materializing examples to help Bach understand.) A lean fellow with a wolf like look to him, dressed in formal evening clothes and wearing a black cape lined in red satin, emerged from the darkness.

The fellow seems to be frightened and shy, so Bach wants to put him at ease and invites him to join them by their fire. And he asks if he could help this strange looking fellow.

The caped mystery man spoke in a strange accent saying yes, he did need help. Could he please drink some of Bach’s blood as he needed it to survive.

Bach immediately jumped to his feet and started yelling at the intruder. In the course of the interaction, the messiah reminded Bach of what he had just said about how it was important not to hurt others, and that by not letting the fellow drink his blood he would be hurting him.

Once the point was made, the vampire vanished. The point being that allowing another person to hurt us in the name of trying not to hurt them is dysfunctional.

If a vampire came up to you and told you that he would die if you didn’t allow him to drink your blood, most likely you wouldn’t have any problem telling him no. In our codependency however, when we do not know how to say no to other people, how to have healthy boundaries, we are set up to react to – and swing between – the extremes of the black and white, 1 or 10 spectrum of codependent behavior. Those extremes are: to build huge walls against connecting with other people – which sets us up to be emotional anorexics; or to offer ourselves up as sacrificial lambs to the type of codependents that are overt emotional vampires.

I say overt because all codependents are emotional vampires to one degree or another because of our emotional wounds – our emotional anorexia. And we are set up to be emotional vampires as long as we are looking outside of ourselves for self definition and self worth. In this chapter and the next few, I am going to use the emotional vampire / anorexic theme to try to shine some Light upon both the dynamics of codependency and the process of recovery. I am going to be talking about the roles of emotional vampire, emotional anorexic, and sacrificial lamb that we are set up to play out in our disease – and I will discuss the need to end emotional enmeshment and take emotional responsibility as a vital elements in a healthy recovery process.

Mad Dogs and Skunks

The world is full of wounded people. Civilization has been dysfunctional for a very long time. We are surrounded by the mad dogs and skunks that I referred to in the last chapter when talking about the warning I received from the Universe.

“The Universe used my “looking for her” longing to teach me some very vital lessons in my recovery in the later part of 1988 and through much of 1989. This was a crucial time in my codependence recovery after I had gone through a 30 day treatment program that spring. . . . .

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

The message from the Universe: I may be a lot healthier, but I still need to watch out for mad dogs and skunks. The mad dogs in my understanding are the abusive, aggressive codependents – and the skunks are the martyr, victim codependents. In other words I needed to learn to be discerning about who I open up to, who I invest time and energy in, because the world is full of wounded people – including, as I already knew, some that claim many years of recovery.” – Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life Chapter 7: Multiple levels of selfishness

There are any number of perspectives that can be used to describe the varieties and flavors of codependency – as I mentioned in the first chapter of this online book

“In my article Roles In Dysfunctional Families I describe one way of looking at them (family hero, scapegoat, etc.) – while in the excerpt from my book on the page just quoted The Evolution of the Term “Codependence”, I describe them in relationship to the terms aggressive and passive (ranging from bulldozers to martyrs.) The bottom line however, is that the different varieties of codependency are reactions to the same basic emotional wounds from childhood. They are defenses designed to help us survive. They are the ways we learned to try to control and manipulate our environments to protect us from emotional pain that felt life threatening.” – Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life The codependency movement is NOT ruining marriages! Chapter 1

That description of aggressive and passive behavioral defenses – that I use in my book when talking about the evolution of the term codependence – is something that I developed while speaking. Audiences would nod in agreement with, and laugh in recognition of, these defenses. I used them to make a point about how the definition of codependence had evolved and grown to include counterdependent behaviors. I was trying to demonstrate how the aggressive type of behavioral defense – the counterdependent – was just as much a part of the condition of codependence as the earlier classic, traditional view of codependence as the passive victim / people pleaser / rescuer.

I was also making the point that our cultural prototypes / role models were dysfunctional – and that I was not just talking about some dysfunctional families when talking about codependent behavioral defenses. Here are those descriptions:

“The Aggressive-Aggressive defense, is what I call the “militant bulldozer.” This person, basically the counterdependent, is the one whose attitude is “I don’t care what anyone thinks.” This is someone who will run you down and then tell you that you deserved it. This is the “survival of the fittest,” hard-driving capitalist, self-righteous religious fanatic, who feels superior to most everyone else in the world. This type of person despises the human “weakness” in others because he/she is so terrified and ashamed of her/his own humanity.

The Aggressive-Passive person, or “self-sacrificing bulldozer,” will run you down and then tell you that they did it for your own good and that it hurt them more than it did you. These are the types of people who aggressively try to control you “for your own good” – because they think that they know what is “right” and what you “should” do and they feel obligated to inform you. This person is constantly setting him/herself up to be the perpetrator because other people do not do things the “right” way, that is, his/her way.

The Passive-Aggressive, or “militant martyr,” is the person who smiles sweetly while cutting you to pieces emotionally with her/his innocent sounding, double-edged sword of a tongue. These people try to control you “for your own good” but do it in more covert, passive-aggressive ways. They “only want the best for you,” and sabotage you every chance they get. They see themselves as wonderful people who are continually and unfairly being victimized by ungrateful loved ones – and this victimization is their main topic of conversation/focus in life because they are so self-absorbed that they are almost incapable of hearing what other people are saying.

The Passive-Passive, or “self-sacrificing martyr,” is the person who spends so much time and energy demeaning him/herself, and projecting the image that he/she is emotionally fragile, that anyone who even thinks of getting mad at this person feels guilty. They have incredibly accurate, long-range, stealth guilt torpedoes that are effective even long after their death. Guilt is to the self-sacrificing martyr what stink is to a skunk: the primary defense.

These are all defense systems adopted out of a necessity to survive. They are all defensive disguises whose purpose is to protect the wounded, terrified child within.

These are broad general categories, and individually we can combine various degrees and combinations of these types of behavioral defenses in order to protect ourselves.”

Both the passive and aggressive behavioral defenses are controlling – they just employ different strategies. As I said in the last chapter, in talking about selfishness:

“Then I could start to see that the reason that I was being nice to someone was not just because I didn’t want to hurt their feelings – it was much more about protecting myself. It was what I learned to do in childhood to: avoid confrontation; keep someone from getting angry with me; keep from being abandoned; try to earn love; etc. My defense system was set up to protect me from doing things that I thought would cause me pain – like: setting boundaries; speaking my Truth; asking for help; being vulnerable; etc.” – Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life Chapter 7: Multiple levels of selfishness

If I am not speaking my truth, not setting boundaries, as a form of manipulation to keep someone from getting angry at me, keep from being abandoned – that is controlling behavior. I would hold onto my ego self image of being a “nice guy” and judge those people who were aggressively controlling as being mean and heartless. I got ego strength from looking down from the moral high ground at people who were aggressively trying to get their needs met because I could not be honest with myself about how I was passively, indirectly, manipulatively trying to get my needs met. This is a form of emotional vampirism, nurturing myself emotionally by comparing myself to others and feeling “better than.”

We all have a spectrum of reactive behavior that we adapted to protect ourselves and try to get our needs met – to try to suck emotional sustenance from other people. In a general sense the aggressive defenses / bulldozers, use fear and intimidation to get what they want – while the passive defenses / martyrs use shame and guilt. But the bulldozers also blame their victims for their abusive and controlling behavior – thus using guilt and shame to try to get others to do things “right.” And the passive martyrs can also be abusive and explode in rage (including silent rage) – when their victims are not acquiescing passively to being controlled.

Some of us combined these types of defenses. It is possible for instance, to be an aggressive bulldozer in our career – but a passive victim in our romantic relationships. Some of us even swung between extremes in romantic relationships: being the aggressively controlling bulldozer when involved with someone we had no real intention of opening our heart to, someone who we were just using temporarily; but becoming the passively controlling martyr when involved with someone we wanted to open our heart to, someone who felt like a soul mate.

In truth, anytime we set the other person in a romantic relationship up to be our drug of choice / higher power / the prince/princesss who was going to rescue us (Toxic Love) – we were being emotional vampires. I will discuss different flavors of vampire behavior, the spectrum of our reactive behavioral defenses in coming chapters. In this chapter I am going to get into a specific example of mad dog / skunk / emotional vampire behavior.

The terms “mad dog” and “skunk” are pretty harsh terms, that in the normal course of events I would only apply to the most virulent extremes of the passive to aggressive spectrum of behavioral defenses. These extremes cases are narcissists who are incapable of anything but egotistic self involvement and self obsession. I will discuss narcissists further in a coming chapter.

The warning that I got from the Universe to watch out for mad dogs and skunks, certainly included a message to stay away from narcissists, but I also understood that it was referring to the amount of power I was giving to certain other people. People whom I experienced as mad dogs and skunks because of my emotional wounds – because of enmeshment between my feelings and my self worth in my codependency, in my unconscious reactive behavior. In other words, normal types of codependents whose behavior I would interpret as having the power to rip me to shreds, or to induce great shame and guilt in me. Conversely, it was also possible for another person to experience me as a mad dog or a skunk if I was codependently trying to get them to do the “right” thing, or trying to manipulate them with guilt.

I gave this kind of power over my self worth to certain people – set them up to be mad dogs / skunks in my life – because of my wounds. For me, those people included: my parents; anyone in authority or whose approval I sought; and of course, anyone that I was romantically attracted to in a strong way.

One of the great gifts of doing my inner child healing work was to learn how to not give that kind of power to other people. In my world today, I know enough not to engage with the true mad dogs and skunks, the narcissists (because they can be vicious and cruel, because they pollute any atmosphere they are in, not because they have any power over my self worth), and to not give power over my self esteem to any person – even in a romantic relationship. What an incredible freedom! Talk about empowerment.

I will be talking about the path to that kind of empowerment in future chapters of this online book. In the rest of this chapter I am going to focus on one particular kind of dynamic. One area in which some of us find ourselves being sucked dry by codependents that either are the overt vampire type, or are set up to be emotional vampires because of the power we give them. We give them that power because of the dysfunctional cultural myth of families. That one should honor thy father and mother even if they abused and abandoned you, even if they never showed you any respect or honor, is a very dysfunctional belief. We can honor their being, but allowing them to keep abusing us with their codependent behavior is not showing honor for our Self – and is enabling them to stay unconscious. They may never become conscious in this lifetime, but that does not mean we should be doormats to their disease.

The dynamic I will be focusing specifically upon, is relating to aging parents.

Emotional Vampires and Sacrificial Lambs

At our local CoDA meeting here a couple of weeks ago, the woman who started the sharing gave me a perfect example to use in this chapter. I wrote most of the section about emotional vampires in the top part of this page months ago, thinking I would be using it quickly. As with all of my writing, my process unfolded perfectly so that in the last couple weeks as I got closer to the actual time for writing this chapter, the Universe manifested examples and fed me information relevant to this topic. As has happened throughout the process of writing this online book, I am getting a chance here to explore and explain levels and facets of the of codependency in ways a little different than I have ever done before – and to use some specific examples.

One of the nice things about Co-Dependents Anonymous is there is a little more flexibility in the format than other twelve step programs. There are only two readings that are required to be read as written (the Preamble and Welcome) – and other readings, that are not just CoDA approved literature, can be read by consent of the group conscious. Since the twelve steps and twelve traditions of CoDA were taken almost exactly word for word from AA, they contain the same shaming language that the AA twelve steps contain. In CoDA meetings that I start, and serve as secretary for, I like to use readings at the beginning of meetings that have more capacity to stir up emotions. (Unfortunately as CoDA has evolved and developed more approved literature of it’s own, it has gotten less flexible in some places, like here in San Diego where it has become very anal and rigid. The decline of Co-Dependents Anonymous )

The format for these meetings is also set up so that, when it comes time for sharing, I ask (in my role of secretary of the meeting, thus the one that reads through the format) who would like to lead the sharing today. Many twelve step meetings designate the person to lead the sharing in advance – which often gives the person plenty of time to get very intellectual in their sharing. The goal in opening the sharing to whomever is willing to go first, is to attempt to get the person who is the most emotionally vulnerable at the moment to start the sharing. It has been my observation at twelve step meetings over the years I have been in recovery, that the first person to share often sets the tone for the whole meeting. If that first person to share is coming from an intellectual place, or is story telling, then often the whole meeting stays on an intellectual level. (I talk about some common emotional defenses in my article The Journey to the Emotional Frontier Within and a follow up article to it – which includes discussing story telling as an emotional defense.) If the first person to share comes from a raw emotionally honest place, then it is more likely other people in the meeting will be able to share on an emotionally honest level. This is something I talked about in one of the latest entries to my personal journal in the Joy2MeU Journal.

“Among the out of towners that sometimes come to the CoDA meeting are three women who go to a meeting in a town 65 miles away – two of whom live almost a hundred miles away. They come up to a meeting here about once every 6 weeks or so. I am always really glad to see them because they have a level of recovery that allows them to share in a very open and honest way – and laugh a lot in recognition of the issues of others. Those are the best meetings – lots of honesty, lots of laughter, and some tears. There aren’t many people here locally who come to the meeting that are at that level of recovery unfortunately.” – Joy2MeU Journal My Unfolding Dance 11 – posted July 2002

The woman who started the sharing in the meeting I am referring to, is some one who does not have a lot of recovery. She was in the midst of emotional trauma, but was not able to be emotionally honest. The whole time she was sharing, she kept smiling. This is the type of smile that I have heard called the ACA smile – although I don’t think it is exclusive to Adult Children of Alcoholics. It is the type of smile that in a clinical setting would be referred to as an “inappropriate affect” – in other words, the expression on her face did not match the emotional content of her sharing. It is said that it only requires a fraction of the number of muscles to smile as it does to frown. That is not true with this kind of smile. It must take an incredible number of muscles to keep this type of smile – which appears to be set in concrete – in place while in so much emotional pain. One of the handouts that I found helpful over the years in my recovery is a list called The Personal Bill of Rights. One of the items on that list is “There is no need to smile when you cry.” This type of smile is something that some codependents do without having any awareness that they are doing it. It is part of the mask they wear – the disguise they learned to put on in childhood when they were forced to learn to be emotionally dishonest and manipulative.

What she was sharing about was how her mother was treating her. Her mother was staying with her and her husband for a few days while her brother – who is the mother’s normal caretaker – and his wife went on a trip. She said that her mother and brother had always had a very close relationship – almost like husband and wife. I don’t think she had any clue that this is descriptive of an emotionally incestuous relationship.

Victim Martyr, Emotional Vampire

Her mother is a codependent of the overt emotional vampire type. What happens with many overt emotional vampire type codependents is that as they get older their symptoms become more blatant and obvious. They increasingly display the wounded king/queen baby part of them – the desperately needy inner child who demands attention constantly. Any attempt to set boundaries with some one like this is met with accusations and threats. The accusations are ones designed to push the emotional buttons that will allow manipulation, that will produce guilt in the accused. In the case of a parent, these emotional wounds / buttons were installed by them and they are expert at pressing them. One of the most potent accusations these completely self centered codependents use to control another is “You are so selfish.” Others include messages such as: “You don’t think of anyone but yourself.” “I sacrificed my whole life for you.” “How can you treat me like this after all I have done for you.” “When I think of the agony I went through in labor to produce such an ungrateful child . . .” and the like.

The threats include overt threats of suicide, or some variation such as: “I might as well be dead.” “Nobody loves me, I don’t have anything to live for.” “I will die if I go to a nursing home.” etc. It can also include actions such as allowing you to catch them lining up their pill bottles, refusing to eat, refusing to take medication, etc.

This type of codependent is incapable of direct, honest communication. Their inner child wounds cause them to be very manipulative. They like to say things like, “I don’t want to be any trouble to anyone.” or “I don’t want to be a burden.” while constantly demanding attention by whining and complaining, sometimes being sickly sweet in their blatant manipulations. When they don’t get what they want they lash our viciously – like mad dogs. These people are one extreme of the martyr flavor of codependents.

Both the self-sacrificing (passive-passive) and militant (passive-aggressive) martyr types of behavioral defense fall into what could be considered the skunk variety of codependent. These martyrs use guilt and shame as their primary defense. Some of the martyr victims spray guilt around quite aggressively, while others are more subtle – use stealth. In the quote above I describe both types of martyr as being on the passive side of the aggressive to passive spectrum – but there is a spectrum of behavior within the martyr category itself.

On one side of this spectrum is the type of behavioral defense that I am calling an overt emotional vampire – and it can be a quite aggressive defense. The people who fall into this category are the narcissists. They are completely self involved, and react to anything that happens based upon how it affects them. (Many of the bulldozer types are also narcissists – and can in old age, or because of some illness or external “tragedy” that robs them of their external ego crutches, transform into martyrs.)

On the other side of the martyr spectrum are people with no sense of self. I refer to this type of codependency in the second article on emotional defenses that I refer to above.

“Some people tell stories about other people. This is the stereotypical Codependent of the joke about when a Codependent dies someone else’s life passes before their eyes. They will respond to an emotional moment by telling an emotional story about some friend, acquaintance, or even a person they read about. They may exhibit some emotion in telling the story but it is emotion for the other person, not for self. They keep a distance from their emotions by attributing the emotional content to others. If this type of stereotypical Codependent is in a relationship everything they say will be about the other person. Direct questions about self will be answered with stories about the significant other. This is a completely unconscious result of the reality that they have no relationship with, or identity as, self as an individual.” – Further Journeys to the Emotional Frontier Within

I wrote this paragraph about 6 years ago, and I would expand upon it now. This type of codependent does tell stories about them self in a certain way – to try to get sympathy. They are always looking for allies that will confirm for them how horribly and unfairly they are being treated – or how nobly they have acted in the face of ingratitude and injustice. The stories they tell are always focused on their abuser – about their significant other, or parent or children or whomever, (doesn’t have to be a person, can be the system, etc.) – and are told to demonstrate how badly they are being treated. They will attempt to use guilt to manipulate also – but do it in subtler ways, with big sighs, or wringing of their hands, or crying out of self pity and self recrimination, or rattling of the dishes as they slave away in the kitchen, etc.

The selfless martyrs don’t attack in the direct manner, or with the frequency, that the narcissistic martyrs do – but they will explode on occasion and do a Nigysob. Nigysob is a term from transactional analysis which stands for “Now I got you, you son of a b_____.” That is when the person trots out their list of all the ways the other person has wronged them in the last 6 months or however long it has been since the last blowup. These selfless type of codependents do not know how to have boundaries but they do know how to keep score. They are constantly keeping lists in their mind of all the ways that others are wronging them – and are more than capable of carrying resentments about ways they were victimized years or even decades earlier. What little ego strength they have comes from a sense of moral superiority – of their own nobility and kindness in the face of injustice and abuse.

The selfless martyr victims are the sacrificial lambs I refer to in the heading above. They are the people whom the narcissistic emotional vampires – of both the aggressive and passive types – feed upon. They are set up to think it is normal to have someone sucking the life blood out of them – constantly draining them energetically and emotionally.

self pity

A note about the reference to crying out of self pity. Someone told me once that if I feel sorry for a person when they are crying then they are in self pity. I am not sure if that is universally true – but there is some truth to it. Once I started to get emotionally honest in recovery, I noticed there were times in meetings where someone would be crying while sharing and I would get bored. To do a reality check I would look around the room and see that other people were bored also. When someone is crying from a place of emotional honesty, when they are sharing their grief and pain, they have my complete attention – and everyone else in the room who has any capacity for emotional honesty. Some of the people in the room may be very uncomfortable if they are not willing to feel their feelings – but for the most part people in meetings are at rapt attention when someone is sharing in an emotionally honest manner. There is a big difference between empathy and sympathy in my experience. I can empathize with another persons pain because I can relate to it. Sympathy is more about looking down on somebody in a condescending, ‘you poor unfortunate thing’ kind of way. Sympathy was something I used to feel for someone who was coming from a victim perspective – now I just feel sad for them.

(I am talking about CoDA or ACoA meetings here. One of the unfortunate things about many Alcoholics Anonymous meetings – like the ones locally where there are many people with decades of sobriety but no codependency recovery – is that some recovering alcoholics who haven’t done their emotional healing will, out of their own fear of feelings, tell a person who is being emotionally honest to “get off the pity pot”, while other recovering alcoholics who are the unconscious “kind, compassionate” codependents, who have no emotional discernment, will give lots of sympathy and support to someone who is in an emotionally dishonest place of self pity.)

Self pity is not emotional honesty. It is an emotional state that is caused by dysfunctional beliefs. Of course, one of the button pushing accusations that recovering codependents often get thrown at them – by others or their own critical parent voice – is that they are in self pity. It is important to own our right to our grief, to feel sorry for the child we were, and for the ways we have set ourselves up to be abused and abandonment, but recovery and emotional honesty also includes learning to take some responsibility – which a person in a state of self pity does not do. Self pity is all about shame and blame from a black and white perspective, of self – the self flagellation of “I’m such a loser” – or others, “look what they did to poor me” helpless victimization.

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

Worry, like blame (and such things as resentment, despair, and self pity), is a negative emotional state that is created by the intellectual paradigm that we are filtering our life experience through, that we are allowing to interpret and translate life for us.” – Discernment in relationship to emotional honesty and responsibility 2

Although the narcissistic martyr victim is the overt, obvious emotional vampire (that anyone with any objectivity can see is draining the life out of the people around them) the selfless victim is also being an emotional vampire in a way. By allowing ourselves to be run by our damaged ego programming and childhood emotional wounds we are victimizing ourselves out of denial and emotional dishonesty – we are being selfish in unhealthy ways as I mentioned in chapter 7.

“I needed to realize that, yes those people who I was judging for not being nice, were very often abusing me out of the selfishness of their wounded ego – but that in allowing myself to be abused I was also reacting out of ego selfishness. Both the abuser and the abused are reacting to the programming of their wounded ego. Both are being a victim of their codependency. Both the bulldozer who is running over other people and the doormat who gets run over are being selfish out of damaged, dysfunctionally programmed ego self.” – Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life Chapter 7: Multiple levels of selfishness
The passive behavioral defenses of codependents who do not set boundaries or speak their truth, are just as controlling and manipulative as the overtly controlling codependents. It was painful for me to realize that in reality some of the flaming jerks who I hated so much because they were such controlling, abusive, bulldozers/mad dogs – were in some ways being more honest than I was with my passive manipulation as “Mr. sensitive nice guy.”

“As little kids we were victims and we need to heal those wounds. But as adults we are volunteers – victims only of our disease. The people in our lives are actors and actresses whom we cast in the roles that would recreate the childhood dynamics of abuse and abandonment, betrayal and deprivation.

We are/have been just as much perpetrators in our adult relationships as victims. Every victim is a perpetrator – because when we are buying into being the victim, when we are giving power to our disease, we are perpetrating on the people around us and on ourselves.

We need to heal the wounds without blaming others. And we need to own the responsibility without blaming ourselves. As was stated earlier – there is no blame here, there are no bad guys. The only villain here is the disease and it is within us.”

When we are reacting to dysfunctional ego programming that causes us to rationalize being a doormat, not having boundaries in the name of “not wanting to hurt them,” we are getting our ego strength from codependent feelings of superiority – we are being emotional vampires of the covert variety.

A note to people with an aging parent (s)

One of the things I have heard about from 4 or 5 different sources in the last several weeks, were situations where someone was care taking an aging parent – and being abused. Taking care of an aging parent in the last years of their life can be an incredible opportunity for Karmic settlement and healing – if the decision to do that is a free choice. If you are doing it because you “have to,” because you “should” do that for your parent – that is unhealthy and codependent. It is being a doormat, a victim, and a sacrificial lamb.

“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.”

When we allow a parent to abuse us without having healthy boundaries (and exploding in nigysobs occasionally is not setting a boundary, it is reacting) we are enabling them. It does not make us noble – it demonstrates our codependence. We cannot make a choice until we own that we have a choice – as I talk about in my empowerment article.

“In order to become empowered, to become the co-creator in our lives, and to stop giving power to the belief that we are the victim, it is absolutely necessary to own that we have choices. As in the quotation above: if we believe that we “have” to do something then we are buying into the belief that we are the victim and don’t have the power to make choices. To say “I have to go to work” is a lie. “I have to go to work if I want to eat” may be the truth but then you are making a choice to eat. The more conscious we get about our choices, the more empowered we become.

We need to take the “have to”s out of our vocabulary. As long as we reacting to life unconsciously we do not have choices. In consciousness we always have a choice. We do not “have to” do anything.

Until we own that we have a choice, we haven’t made one. In other words, if you do not believe that you have a choice to leave your job, or relationship, then you have not made a choice to stay in it. You can only Truly commit yourself to something if you are consciously choosing to do it.” – Empowerment and Victimization – the power of choice

When we say, “but she’s my mother / he’s my father” I have to take care of them – we are not owning our choices. The fact that they are our parents does not mean we owe them the right to abuse us. Does not mean we have to sacrifice our lives for them. Their codependency may cause them to believe that they sacrificed their lives for us – but like all unconscious codependents they were acting out of ego selfish reasons. We do not owe them some debt we “have to” pay back to them at the expense of sacrificing our self.

Our parents wounded us out of their codependence. Our families were not safe, warm, Loving sanctuaries. The warm fuzzy cultural perspective of families is a myth. It is a fairy tale – just like happily ever after in romantic relationships is a fairy tale. Empowerment is seeing reality clearly and owning our choices to make the best of it. In order to see clearly we need to stop giving power to fairy tales and myths.

One of the things that we all need to let go of, and grieve, is the fairy tale we have carried about our “loving families.” Love is not abusive, controlling, and manipulative. (The True Nature of Love – part 1, what Love is not) Our parents were not capable of Loving us in a healthy way because of their codependency. We can Love their beings but stop allowing their behavior to wound us. Buying into being a victim of “have to” to keep from having to own the pain of letting go of the myth of family is dysfunctional behavior. It is not a Loving thing to do to ourselves.

We learned to have dysfunctional behavior patterns, to set ourselves up to be abused, abandoned, and deprived in our family or origin. We did not have a choice when we were children, when our hearts were broken and our souls wounded by their behavior. We do have a choice now. We have not made a choice until we open up to the possibility of a choice. Allowing your self to be abused by a parent who is acting childish in their old age is not an act of Love if you haven’t owned your choices, if you are buying into the belief that you are a powerless victim.

Death is a transition

One of the things that was mentioned by several of the sources that brought this topic to the forefront for me in the last several weeks, was people being told that to put their parent in a nursing home would decrease the parents life expectancy. This may be a statistical reality – I don’t know for sure. Rather it is true, or something HMO’s tell people to decrease their expenses, it is still not a reason to allow yourself to buy into being a victim.

Consider that maybe an emotional vampire will die sooner because they don’t have anyone to suck the life out of. If a vampire is going to die because you won’t let them suck your blood, is that reason to let them suck your blood?

Also, consider the quality of their life. Is enabling someone to live longer a gift, if they are bitter and resentful, full of terror and rage? Are you doing them a favor to prolong their life of suffering? They are suffering due to their codependence – which they are not willing, or capable, of dealing with. Just as it is not possible to prevent an alcoholic from dying of their disease, so to is it not possible to keep a codependent from dying. You can help to prolong an alcoholics life, and suffering, by rescuing them from the consequences of their actions – but doing that is not Loving. When we rescue someone out of our codependency it is something we do selfishly because we don’t want to live with the codependent guilt – it is not something that we are doing for them. (Meaning that more levels of our motives are about ego selfishness on our part than True caring – more about codependency than about Love.)

Unhealthy guilt and codependent shame are feelings that are based upon lies. In recovery we learn to not give power to those feelings. Those are feelings that are not aligned with Truth – they are reactions to false beliefs.

Allowing an aging codependent parent, or a loved one who is alcoholic and unable to quit drinking, to control our life and abuse us because of our codependency is not a Loving and respectful thing to do to ourselves or to them.

This is another area that it is vital to own that we are doing what we are doing for us – not for them. Keeping them from a nursing home out of guilt is not doing for them – it is selfish out of ego. It is not shameful or wrong – just dishonest and codependent. The length of their life is something that will have much more to do with their attitudes than your behavior. There are nursing homes that are much better than others.

In addition to the myth of family that is subconsciously programmed into the intellectual paradigm that we are allowing to define our lives until we start to own our power to change the programming – we also have dysfunctional ideas about death. We were taught to view death as a tragedy.

“Life is a journey, a process – it’s not a destination. Life is continuous and constant change and growth. We were taught to fight and try to control the change, to resist the growth. We were taught to swim upstream, to go against the flow. No wonder we get tired sometimes.

We were taught that death is a great tragedy and that we should spend our lives fearing and ignoring it. We were taught to fear death and to never live life. That’s backwards.

Death is a transition, a transformation, death is a milestone in the longer journey. It is not a tragedy to be feared – it is an eventuality to be accepted. What is tragedy is not enjoying living while we are here.”

To use the quote from Illusions, is allowing them to transition from a caterpillar to a butterfly a bad thing?

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

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

Is allowing your life to be a melodrama of abuse and suffering dictated by their codependent fears and behavior, a Loving thing to do for you or them?

If you are making a clear choice, and have the ability to set boundaries, then you can act out of a place of Love. Buying into “have to” and “should” in a selfish attempt to prove how worthy and noble you are, is not Love – it is really self defeating, very sad, codependent behavior.

I have also heard in recent weeks from several people who did make a clear choice to take care of an aging parent. As I said, this can be a wonderful experience in Loving, and very healing. When someone is making a clear choice and the aging parent has some capacity to communicate it can be a sacred experience. To help someone make the transition, to help alleviate their fear and not feel alone in the dying process, is a blessed gift to both people.

Unfortunately, a narcissistic martyr of the type it sounded like the woman at the CoDA meeting was describing, is not capable of hearing, of communicating. Such a person will be lashing out until the bitter end, wallowing in their suffering and perceived victimization – and abusing anyone near them in the process. On some level that is their choice – we have the right, and the duty, to make a free choice about whether or not we want to be part of that type of experience.” – Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life Chapter 8: Codependents as Emotional Vampires

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

Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life is an online book of 15 chapters – 13 of which are only available in a subscription area of the website known as Dancing in Light.

“The content that I have chosen to make a part of this Dancing in Light component of the site, is some of the most sophisticated of my writings – dealing with very advanced levels of recovery and some revolutionary and controversial perspectives on metaphysics, spirituality, and enlightenment.”  This subscription area includes two online books:

Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life – which is the third book in The Wounded Souls Trilogy (see below)

and the online book Robert wrote about the September 11th 2001 terrorist attack (which turned into a very personally intimate work) Attack on America – A Spiritual Healing Perspective and Call for Higher Consciousness

It also includes articles from a series on: The True Nature of Love and a special article entitled: My Spiritual Belief System and the New Millennium.  Early in 2013 two more works were added to it:  The Law of Attraction – Misunderstood & Misinterpreted and The Metaphysics of Emotions – emotional energy is real.

There is now – June 2017 when I am reposting this Blog – a special sale on subscriptions to Dancing in Light.


The Wounded Souls Trilogy:

Book cover

Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls

Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls  

A Cosmic Perspective on Codependence and the Human Condition

Cover of Inner Child Healing Book

Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light

Codependency Recovery:

Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light

Book 1 Empowerment, Freedom, and Inner Peace through Inner Child Healing

Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light

Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life

Book 2 is only available in subscription area Dancing in Light


My April Fools Day lesson about falling in Love

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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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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.

Inter-reacting & blaming ~ The Codependent Dance of Romance

Book cover

Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls

“We have a feeling place (stored emotional energy), and an arrested ego-state within us for an age that relates to each of those developmental stages. Sometimes we react out of our three-year-old, sometimes out of our fifteen-year-old, sometimes out of the seven-year-old that we were.

If you are in a relationship, check it out the next time you have a fight: Maybe you are both coming out of your twelve-year-olds. If you are a parent, maybe the reason you have a problem sometimes is because you are reacting to your six-year-old child out of the six-year-old child within you. If you have a problem with romantic relationships maybe it is because your fifteen-year-old is picking your mates for you.” – quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

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

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

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

When we look to a romantic relationship to make us happy and give us worth, we give another person the power to make us feel good about ourselves, to feel worthy and lovable. The person who we have given that power to, usually becomes the person to blame when we do not feel good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When we blame it all on our self we are not seeing things clearly. When we blame it all on the other person we are not seeing things clearly. When we are inter-reacting and blaming, we aren’t being fair to our self or the other person.” – Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth Codependent Dysfunctional Relationship Dynamics & Healthy Relationship Behavior Chapter 3


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

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