Chapter 19 – Taking self worth out of the Romantic equation

The Dance

Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls

“One of the false beliefs that it is important to let go of, is the belief that we need another person in our lives to make us whole. As long as we believe that someone else has the power to make us happy then we are setting ourselves up to be victims.

A white knight is not going to come charging up to rescue us from the dragon. A princess is not going to kiss us and turn us from a frog into a prince. The Prince and the Princess and the Dragon are all within us. It is not about someone outside of us rescuing us. It is also not about some dragon outside of us blocking our path. As long as we are looking outside to become whole we are setting ourselves up to be victims. As long as we are looking outside for the villain we are buying into the belief that we are the victim.

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

I state in my book that codependence is a lousy word to describe the phenomena it has come to be associated with. A more accurate term would be outer or external dependence. We are programmed to give power over our sense of self worth – over how we feel about our self – to external sources and outside conditions.

Nowhere is the result of this programming more disastrous on a personal level than in the area of romantic relationships. Our subconscious and emotional programming started with fairy tales that taught us that when we meet our prince or princess we will live happily-ever-after. Movies and books and songs reinforced the original programming that in order to be whole and happy we must be in a relationship.

The result of this programming is that we are set up to feel like failures in romantic relationships. When we give power over how we feel about our self to another person in a romantic relationship we are practicing toxic love – making the other person our drug of choice, our higher power.

A healthy romantic relationship is an interdependent relationship – not a codependent one. An interdependent relationship is one where two people who have a healthy sense of Self worth, choose to become partners, to form a union. Two whole individuals – or more accurately (since as I have stated, we are all wounded and learning to access a True sense of self/Self worth) two people who are in recovery from their codependency working on owning their inherent worth and wholeness as beings, working on learning to be emotionally healthy and honest – who form an alliance / partnership with each other, not two half people who come together to feel whole.

In a healthy interdependent relationship as I mentioned in Chapter 9, we give the other person some power over our feelings – not over our self worth. Giving another person some power over our feelings is a completely different thing than giving them power over our self worth.

When we choose to give power away over our feelings we give the other person the power to help us feel happy. That also means we are giving them the power to hurt us. Caring for anyone or anything means we have an emotional investment in our relationship with that person or thing. To emotionally invest in a relationship is to take the risk of getting hurt – of getting our hearts broken – if we lose that relationship.

But it is not having our heart broken – it is not pure grief / emotional pain – that can be so debilitating, paralyzing, and agonizing when a relationship ends. It is the loss of self worth that we feel – the level to which we have invested, are dependent upon, the relationship to feel good about ourselves – that causes us to feel like we are going to die, that can make us feel like we want to die. The blame and shame and judgment caused by our codependency creates artificial feelings of inadequacy, of trauma, of agony. The unresolved abandonment / rejection / betrayal issues from our childhood are triggered and throw us into a place where we feel the hopelessness and powerlessness that we felt as a child.

The critical parent disease voice – old tapes / subconscious and conscious intellectual ego programming – tells us what losers and failures we are. The wounded inner child places react out of pain and shame from our childhood – the places within us where we feel unlovable and defective. We blame ourselves for the relationship ending with codependent messages like: if only I had not said that; I should have done that; I will never have a good relationship; I will always be alone; etc. Or we go to the other extreme and try to blame it all on the other person. People stalk and murder ex lovers because of the blow they feel they have suffered to their self worth – because they feel they have lost the source / drug that was making life bearable.

Getting our hearts broken is a normal and natural part of life. Blaming our self or the other person is codependency. The emotional pain of a heart break is very painful, but it gets better over time. The blame and shame of codependency causes us to be bitter and resentful, causes us to avoid relationships or to pick another person who will recreate our wounds – another person to try to fill the hole we feel inside of our self.

“Loving and losing is better than never loving” when all we experience is a broken heart. It is the blame and shame of the disease that makes us feel like failures who are incapable of loving – like a victim of our own unworthiness.

At the end of 1998, when I had reached a place in my recovery where I was secure in my self/Self worth, the Universe presented me with an opportunity to experience a romantic relationship in which my worst fear of rejection seemed to manifest – and I did not blame her or me. It was an incredible experience – very painful, but also very liberating.

“It Truly is a completely different experience to have a relationship where my self-worth is not at risk . . . . . if my self-worth is not at risk then another person can only add to me, they have no power to diminish me. What a gift.” – An Adventure in Romance – Loving and Losing Successfully

As that relationship was ending, before it ended, I wrote what I think is one of the most beautiful pieces I have ever written which I mentioned in a previous chapter and will include as the next chapter. It is called: A Wedding Prayer /Meditation on Romantic Commitment.

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

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

It is very important to remember that the other person is helping you to access God’s LOVE within you – not giving you something that you have never had before.” – Chapter 20 A Wedding Prayer / Meditation on Romantic Commitment

Anytime we see another person as our source of love, we will feel a need to control and manipulate that person to be what we want them to be – to be there for us to feed off of emotionally so we can feel good about our self. There is nothing Loving about using another person emotionally because we do not know how to feed ourselves by accessing the True Source.

Love can feel magical and wonderful – can help us feel like we are soaring as the other person helps us to access the higher vibrational frequencies of Love and Joy. To have the opportunity to experience Love is one of the major reasons we have come into human body – but thinking a romantic relationship is what give us worth is codependent and dysfunctional. Romantic relationships can be wonderful opportunities for growth and Spiritual Awakening when we start seeing them realistically, when we stop allowing the perspective of the magical thinking romantic within us to dictate our relationship with romance.

“You are not going to live happily-ever-after once you find your prince or princess. There is no happily-ever-after on this plane of existence. You may find your prince or princess but they will have issues to deal with. Relationships are something that needs to be worked on – not some magic wand that makes everybody happy.” – Chapter 9 Interdependent, not codependent”

From Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth Chapter 19 – Taking self worth out of the Romantic equation

Sacred Spiral

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 with special offers for my February 20th 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 Amazon.com, Amazon.UK, or Barnes & Noble.

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

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

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

Chapter 12 of The Greatest Arena – Partners in the Journey “My issues are my responsibility”

The Dance

Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls

“It is through healing our inner child, our inner children, by grieving the wounds that we suffered, that we can change our behavior pattern

That does not mean that the wounds will ever be completely healed.  There will always be a tender spot, a painful place within us due to the experiences that we have had.  What it does mean is that we can take the power away from those wounds.   By bringing them out of the darkness into the Light, by releasing the energy, we can heal them enough so that they do not have the power to dictate how we live our lives today.  We can heal them enough to change the quality of our lives dramatically.  We can heal them enough to Truly be happy, Joyous and free in the moment most of the time.” – quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

A healthy romantic relationship is about two whole, independent people choosing to become partners in the life journey for as long as that works for both of them.  This is, of course, a theoretical concept.  Because of the cultural dysfunction and emotional trauma all of us have experienced due to the human condition, we are never, in this lifetime, going to be a completely healthy person with no emotional wounds – and we are never going to meet someone else that has no emotional wounds.

The goal is to be in the process of healing and to choose a partner who is also in the process of healing.  Then we have the opportunity to achieve some True emotional intimacy and to have some companionship on our journey.  The person who can support us in our journey is also going to be the teacher we need to push our buttons so that we can bring to Light the emotional wounds that need to be healed and the subconscious programming that needs to be changed.

If we expect a romantic relationship to “fix” us so that we can live happily-ever-after then we are setting ourselves up to be victims.  If we define a successful relationship as one that lasts forever and meets all of our needs then we will end up blaming ourselves or the other person when that insane expectation is not met. (That a relationship could last for the rest of our lives is not an insane expectation – that someone else can meet all of our needs, all of the time, is – but if we believe that longevity is the only way a relationship can be successful we are setting ourselves up to sabotage the relationship and not appreciate the gifts we are receiving in the now.)

It is vitally important to make healing and Spiritual growth our number one priority so that we can look to the other person for help and support – not expect them to rescue us and give us self worth.  Healing is an inside job.   My issues are my responsibility to work through, it is not the other persons job to compromise her self to accommodate my fears and insecurities.  If I am choosing wisely when I enter into a relationship then I will choose someone who will be compassionate, patient, and supportive of me while I work through my issues.

And no matter how wisely I choose, or how much healing and recovery the other person has had, she will still be a human being with her own issues to work through so she will not always be able to be compassionate, patient, and supportive.  For one person to expect another to always be there for them, to always have the space and time to be available to us, is an insane expectation.

We do want to choose someone who is willing to work through issues.  When another person is willing to do the work with us, a relationship can be an incredibly nurturing, magical space to explore what True Love means – some of the time.  It can not be that all of the time.  There might be periods of time – days, weeks, even months – where things are going beautifully and it feels like we may have reached happily-ever-after.  But then things will change and get different.  That is how the life process works – it will not be someone’s fault.  It will be a new opportunity for growth for both people.

Two people who are working through their issues and are willing to do the grief work, can turn an argument about some stupid, mundane life event into some mutual deep grieving.  That is True emotional intimacy.

When we are willing to own our power to be the neutral observer who can see our responsibility in whatever is happening without shame and judgment, and can also have the courage and willingness to hold the other person responsible for their behavior without shame and judgment – then the magic can really happen.

Two people who have negotiated some guidelines to help them in times when they are vulnerable and reactive – can transform an argument about some symptom into an opportunity to heal some core wounding.

The way that can look is:  an argument/disagreement starts about some behavior that is upsetting (someone is late, or forgets something that is important to the other, or says something in an insensitive way, etc.);  at some point one of the individuals says “Time out.  I think I might be reacting to some old stuff.”;  The other person backs off the argument enough to say “How old are you feeling?”;  etc.  Two people who have created the space to do this can then get down to the cause underneath the reaction, which might be something like:  one person is reacting out of the child inside who never felt important, respected, or heard – while the other person is reacting out of the inner child who was always being criticized and given the message that there was something wrong with them.  At that point, they are dealing with the core cause of the reaction not the symptomatic behavior.  They can achieve a place of True emotional honesty and intimacy where they can get in touch with their individual wounds and grieve together.  That is the kind of emotional intimacy which can form a very deep bond and be Joyously healing for both people.

To be willing to be conscious and emotionally honest with ourselves is a courageous act of faith that will allow us to progressively increase the number of moments in each day that we have the ability and freedom to be happy and Joyous in the now.  To find another being who is willing to join us in this adventure, and to explore True emotional intimacy with us, is a priceless gift to be cherished and treasured.” – Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth Chapter 12 – Partners in the Journey

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 with special 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 Amazon.com 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 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 Amazon.com 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

Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls

 ““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

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 in power struggles over who is right and wrong – then it would be very helpful for you to come to my workshop together.  I have posted a page with special 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 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 Amazon.com 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 available as an audio book.

Healing my relationship with my own masculine energy and with being male

This is an excerpt from my March 2007 Update Newsletter in which I am sharing my processing about healing my relationship with my own masculine energy and with being male – a subject that came up after I published my previous blog about traditional gender roles.

“Hello Radiantly Beautiful Spiritual Being,
As I am sitting here trying to get clear on where to start in writing this Update, I leaned back in my chair and gazed upward – and my focus went to the calendar on my wall. The picture on that calendar for the month of March is of a magnificent buck deer. Therein lies the tale. . . . .

. . . . What I realized this morning though, was that what I really need to focus on is something much more fundamental – that is, in fact, a cause of my fear of intimacy. That is, my relationship with myself as a man. That is the tale I need to tell – the message that came from looking up yesterday morning and seeing that magnificent buck deer on my calendar. . . . .

. . . . . As I mentioned here in what I wrote on the 5th, I am needing to focus some attention on my relationship with myself as a man, with my relationship with my own masculine energy. . . .

. . . . Now I am going to do some processing about my issues with my own masculine energy – but first an explanation of the importance, and meaning to me, of the deer.

Medicine Cards

One of the very valuable tools in my recovery – as I say in this quote from my book – was the Medicine Cards.

The Dance

Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls

“When I was willing to hear and see the messages – and take action based upon them – I began to discover the Truth around me. There were certain books of Truth that I was led to that were especially important in my consciousness raising, in my Recovery process. I am now going to quote a story from one of those books which means a lot to me. It is a story from a book called Medicine Cards by Jamie Sams and David Carson. This book deals with the Medicine Wheel, and the totem animals of the Medicine Wheel Spiritual beliefs of certain Native American tribes.” – quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

Though I don’t actually use the cards themselves in my life very often now, the totem animals – and the messages that they symbolically represent – are still very important to me. Those totem animals have been a factor in the calendars I have selected each year for many years. When I lived in Taos New Mexico, I was able to get a calendar that had different animals of the Rocky Mountain Region for each month – and most of those animals were totems in the Medicine Cards, and thus would give me a message / theme to focus on for the month. Once I moved back to California, it became difficult to find that type of calendar – and for several years I chose calendars that had one of my totems – the wolf – on them. In this quote from my personal journal in the Joy2MeU Journal – in which I am talking about my relationship with a male friend during some processing I was doing about my relationships with other males – I mention the significance of calendars in my recovery experience.

“When we communicate by e-mail about golf, I call him Arnie (as in Palmer) and he calls me Tiger (as in Woods.) In my replies, I found myself referring to myself as Tigger. I believe I mentioned some place in my writing, how a couple of years ago, when it came time to buy a new calendar, I bought a Winnie the Pooh one. The year before (I believe it was 1999) had been pretty rough, and I wanted to get a new calendar and mouse pad that was somewhat frivolous. For several years I had gotten a wolf calendar to go along with a wolf mouse pad. Wolf is one of my totems in the Medicine Cards – and symbolizes the Teacher. The first line in the Medicine Card book about the Wolf is “Wolf is the pathfinder, the forerunner of new ideas who returns to the clan to teach and share medicine.” Pretty appropriate for the role I seem to be playing in this lifetime. Also, wolves mate for life – a connection to my romantic fantasy issues.

While shopping for a calendar for 2000, I decided that, though wolf is a powerful totem for me that I honor and affirm, it was perhaps a bit too serious a theme for the coming year. I decided I wanted to affirm “lightening up” for the coming year – put out a request to the Universe for a year without quite so many difficult opportunities for growth. When I found the Winnie the Pooh calendar, it seemed to be a perfect symbol of having a lighter, more frivolous and happy year. And I got a mouse pad to match.

I don’t really remember reading Winnie the Pooh as a kid. I do have this feeling of connection to Tigger however. I think it is because of that song he sings, about what a wonderful thing it is to be a Tigger – and about how he is the only one. Something that a lonely, isolated boy could identify with – feeling different and unique, though I certainly didn’t think it was a wonderful thing.” Joy2MeU Journal: The Path of one Recovering Codependent ~ the dance of one wounded soul My Unfolding Dance 17 November 3, 2002

. . . . I referenced the calendar connection again in some writing I did in early 2004. In the processing I had done in my journal in November 2002, I had gotten honest with myself about how my acceptance of being isolated and alone was keeping me from being available for a relationship. In this quote from my journal in January of 2004, I make reference to the efforts I was making to get more involved with other human beings – and talk about another of the totem animals that is very important to me.

“Well, I get to start this morning looking above my computer at my new 2004 calendar. I had actually spotted the calendar I wanted before the end of last year – but was waiting for it to go on sale. I have this thing about paying full price for a calendar when I know they are going to go on sale soon. Probably a reaction to my old poverty consciousness. Choosing to wait, meant creating some irritation for myself when I would look up and see December instead of January for the first week of the month. Oh well.

I finally got a chance to get into San Luis on Friday and get the calendar I wanted – another Winnie the Pooh one. I talked in one of these installments (I think it was here) about opting for Winnie the Pooh calendars the last couple years as symbol of wanting the year to be more on the light and whimsical side. They actually had a Tigger one – Tigger being an “only one,” and thus the character I identified with the most because I felt so different and “not a part of.” But I decided that since a large part of the focus of my recovery these days is to learn to interact and play with the other kids in the Enchanted Forest, that I should stick to the Winnie and friends calendar.

I don’t actually have any memories of reading Winnie the Pooh in childhood, but my inner children relate to Tigger. In recovery I also relate to Winnie, who is after all a Pooh bear. Bear is one of my totems in the Medicine Cards, and is described as going within to access Truth – which pretty well fits my mystic role. It is in fact a West totem that is my East totem. East being the place of the rising sun and illumination. In other words, my illumination – my Awakening to the Light – comes primarily from looking within.

“The strength of Bear medicine is the power of introspection. It lies in the West on the great medicine wheel of life. Bear seeks honey, or the sweetness of truth, within the hollow of an old tree. In the winter, when the Ice Queen reigns and the face of death is upon the Earth, Bear enters the womb-cave to hibernate, digest the year’s experience. It is said that our goals reside in the West also. To accomplish the goals and dreams that we carry, the art of introspection is necessary.

To become like Bear and enter the safety of the womb cave, we must attune ourselves to the energies of the Eternal Mother, and receive nourishment from the placenta of the Great Void. The Great Void is the place where all solutions and answers live in harmony with the questions that fill our realities. If we choose to believe that there are many questions to life, we must also believe that the answers to these questions reside within us. Each and every being has the capacity to quiet the mind, enter the silence, and know.

Many tribes have called this space of inner-knowing the Dream Lodge, where the death of the illusion of physical reality overlays the expansiveness of eternity.” – Medicine Cards by Jamie Sams and David Carson

I will probably be talking some more about the Medicine Cards soon.” – Joy2MeU Journal: The Path of one Recovering Codependent ~ the dance of one wounded soul My Unfolding Dance 29 January 12, 2004 Monday 5:30 AM

It has been important for me in my recovery, to make choices and take actions in alignment with what I have been guided to focus on in my growth process. Even something as small as choosing the Winnie and Friends calendar instead of the Tigger calendar has power on a metaphysical level – in terms of bringing Spiritual intention into everything I do. Part of what I need to get clearer on in this processing, is the areas of my life that I need to bring more focused Spiritual attention to right now.

The processing I did in my journal and Update Newsletters – from the May 2001 Update that I mention at the beginning of this Update (which actually threw me back into the Pandora’s box of my fear of intimacy issues that I opened with my October 2000 Update) through the November 2002 journal installments – lead to me taking the actions that have put me in the relationship situation I am in now. In that same Dance 29 installment, I make clear reference to a lesson I am still working on learning today.

“It is very easy for me to write about how important it is to communicate in an intimate relationship – how vital it is to work through tough issues by talking about them. It is much harder in practice. The old theory versus actual experience conundrum. The very thing – that emotionally intimate relationships get messy – which makes it is so important for me to be willing to play with the other kids in the Enchanted Forest. The “messy” gift in my life today that has been made possible by the fear of intimacy processing that I have been doing here in this journal ever since writing my May 2001 Update put those issues in my face.

“The reality of my life circumstances right now, is that I am at a stage in my journey where I am pretty isolated and insulated. I am doing a lot of writing and a lot of phone counseling – so that my life in many ways is like being in a 12 step meeting almost all of the time. It makes it real easy to maintain a conscious contact Spiritually. Having relatively little contact with other human beings, beyond the superficial, makes it much easier to stay in serenity. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but interacting with other people gets messy. ;-)” – Joy to You & Me and Joy2MeU Update – May 23, 2001 quoted in the Joy2MeU Journal: The Path of one Recovering Codependent ~ the dance of one wounded soul My Unfolding Dance 29 January 12, 2004 Monday 5:30 AM

I am no longer living in comfortable isolation writing theoretically. I am in the Enchanted Forest interacting with other human beings. And it is much easier for me to focus on interacting with the 2 year old Darien kid than it is with the adult kids in my life. Sigh.

Now about the importance to me of the deer totem in the Medicine Cards.

“I just went outside and saw a hummingbird. In the Medicine Cards hummingbirds symbolize Joy. I stood telling him/her how beautiful she/he was – and it flew to a flower so close to me that I could hear it’s wings humming. Majorly cool. Anytime I see a hummingbird I take it as a direct message from my Higher Power to remember that Joy is the point, the goal, what healing is all about. Joy and Love.

Animal totems have a very special meaning for me. The place where I walk by the ocean, is a place we call locally the East West Ranch. When I first moved to Cambria back in late 1989, it had been a ranch that went bankrupt. It is something like 600 acres, and sits between two of the main residential sections of the town – on the ocean side of Highway 1. Back then, it was posted with no trespassing signs, but there were spaces in the fence to climb over and get through – so the effect was that the signs protected the owners from liability but people could walk on the ranch as they pleased.

I Love this ranch space. When I was living in a place near the back edge of it in 1990, I would go for walks on the ranch all of the time. Near where I would enter the ranch, I could cross a small stream and come to a meadow in the woods. The meadow was a mound – and felt like sacred space to me. I would commune with the meadow and then walk up the hill through the woods. Coming out of the woods I could see the ocean and then walk down the hill to the bluffs overlooking the ocean. Along the part of the ocean that the ranch runs along there is no beach. There are bluffs with rocks and tidal pools below.

It brought me great pleasure and serenity to walk through my meadow and up the hill – or though a passageway through the trees that came out in a different part of the ranch. There was a place just after this passageway, where a tree stood alone. A tree that was bent over almost double, creating what looked like kind of a portal. I would visualize that being a portal to other dimensions or to the future where I was done with all the pain.

As I would walk through the woods, I would see deer. Deer in the medicine cards are about gentleness. Whenever I see a deer, I take it as a direct reminder from my Higher Power to be gentle with myself. I get to see lots of deer around here – to help me remember gentleness. (My landlady doesn’t like it that they come into her garden at night and eat the flowers – but I think it is cool.) As I came out on top of the hill where I could see the ocean, I would sometimes see whales. A whale – again in the medicine cards – is the record keeper, the keeper of ancient knowledge. It was symbolic for me because I felt that I was accessing ancient knowledge while writing my Trilogy.

1990 was a year before I first gave the talk that became the Dance of Wounded Souls. The only book that I was working on then was my Trilogy.” – Joy2MeU Journal: The Path of one Recovering Codependent ~ the dance of one wounded soul My Unfolding Dance 9 July 12, 2000

I don’t actually miss Cambria that much – although I do miss my walks on the Ranch. And I miss getting to see deer all the time. That is the reason that I chose a Deer calendar this year. The move to San Diego we made in September, is a perfect part of my Spiritual Path, and is working out quite nicely. Getting to do the Intensives regularly is a very important to me – and I am sure the grief groups are going to be a perfect part of the journey also – but I do miss the deer.

Among the gifts that Susan has brought into my life is encouraging me to do the Intensives, and moving to San Diego. I will be exploring more of those gifts on my fear of intimacy processing page.

Magnificent Buck Deer

In alignment with how this writing processing unfolds perfectly for me, the last line in that last quote mentions my Trilogy. That work: The Dance of the Wounded Souls Trilogy Book 1 – “In The Beginning . . .” is A Magical, Mystical, Spiritual Fable which is a book that probably will never be finished – and certainly won’t be part of a Trilogy. But it was the first writing that I did in 1988 after I had gone through treatment for Codependency. That body of work is what I thought of when I looked at the calendar with the magnificent buck deer on it. That Trilogy writing formed part of the foundation of what was later to become Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls.

“I started writing my book (what I hoped was just going to be one book because I really did not like writing 😉 The Dance of Wounded Souls in a cabin at 11,000 feet elevation on Taos Mountain in the fall of 1988. . . . .

. . . . . . That book evolved into being the first book of a Trilogy, and over the next few years I worked on it intermittently. Meanwhile, I was working on my emotional healing, and started working with others in helping them to access and release their grief.

I was looking at the work I was doing on internal healing, and the work I was doing on the mystical book as being two separate things. It never occurred to me to connect them. And then suddenly in early 1991, they came together. In some speaking engagements to talk about codependence, I heard myself answering questions with mystical statements that I had never even considered that I would make in public.” – Attack on America – Chapter 7 (Attack on America – A Spiritual Healing Perspective is an online book that I started writing a few days after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack.  I published it online as I wrote it – but subsequently moved the bulk of it to my Joy2MeU Journal.  It is also now available in the Dancing in Light pay to view section of the site.)

In my Joy2MeU Journal two part installment about publishing The Dance I talked about how the events unfolded.

“In the next month or six weeks, I also spoke publicly at a couple of other places. One was at the County Drug and Alcohol satellite office in Cambria – and the other was at a Speakers meeting for CoDA for Helping Professionals. (This was a short lived version of CoDA for counselors, therapist, and various other helping professionals who thought it would not be okay for them to share honestly in regular CoDA meetings – a manifestation of the codependent programming of keeping up appearances in my opinion, which I shared with them when I spoke.)

It was in those public speaking engagements that the inner child work I was doing merged with the mystical information that I was writing for the Trilogy. I can remember two examples of hearing “myself answering questions with mystical statements” – that I refer to in the quote from my Attack on America book above. One was while speaking here in Cambria – which was not a meeting but an informational event the satellite office was offering for the general public. In it, I shared my view that everything was unfolding perfectly from a cosmic perspective. Someone asked me if that meant that I believed that everyone who died in a plane crash was meant to die that day. I answered that yes that was what I believed.

The other one I remember was in the CoDA Speakers meeting in February. I have a memory of talking about the clinging creatures story I paraphrase from Richard Bach’s Illusions in Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls. The one where the creature that has learned to let go and go with the flow of the stream is viewed as a messiah by clinging creatures he flies over down stream. . . . .

It was in those talks that the seeds of my book sprouted.

“In the spring of 1991, Robert Burney was asked to speak in several different venues on the subject of Codependence. In the course of those speaking engagements he heard himself making statements to a general audience that he had never considered saying in public because of their controversial nature. To his surprise he found that the practical process level tools and techniques that he utilized in his private therapy practice were merging with mystical and magical knowledge he had acquired writing a book that was an adult fable about the history of the Universe – the first book of a trilogy.

Although he experienced a great deal of fear about making such controversial statements in public, he was compelled to further explore this message that he felt coming through him. He arranged dates in June of 1991 to give a talk in Cambria and Morro Bay, California. He then found he was unable to write the talk. The message that he was formulating was multileveled and nonlinear so that he found it impossible to organize his thoughts into a coherent presentation. His anxiety mounted as the date for his talk approached until in a burst of inspiration born out of desperation he wrote almost continuously for the last 48 hours prior to the talk. The presentation was scrawled on yellow legal pages that first time he presented the talk.

As he got ready to give his talk, he was overwhelmed with feelings of dread and experienced emotional memories of being stoned to death by an angry mob. He was convinced the audience would not be able to hear his message because of the outrageously controversial aspects of it but was compelled to go forward with it because of his personal Karmic need to take responsibility and stand up for his Truth. To his amazement, the audience not only heard what he was saying but cried tears of Joy in recognition of the Truth he was sharing.

That talk formed the basis for the book Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls. The message evolved and expanded over the years as he refined the techniques he was developing to facilitate Codependence recovery, but the basic structure of the book was essentially born in those two days of desperation. Robert made a trip from Taos New Mexico, where he was living at the time, to the Central Coast of California in the winter of 1995 in an attempt to raise funds to publish a book based on the talk. Because of that trip (which was a real leap of faith) he did receive the financing to start the publishing process in the summer of 1995. He returned to Cambria to set up his publishing company, Joy to You & Me Enterprises, in the fall of 1995. The official publication date of the book was January of 1996.” – Biographical information page

That first time I did the talk, at the Pewter Plough Playhouse in Cambria on June 16th 2001 before a crowd of over 50 people, it was literally on yellow legal pages.” – Joy2MeU Journal: The Path of one Recovering Codependent ~ the dance of one wounded soul Leap of Faith ~ Publishing The Dance

The Trilogy alternates between a narrative story line and a History of the Universe told tongue in cheek (including a recently discovered transcript of God’s thought process in deciding to create the Universe.;-) The narrative story involves my Higher Self appearing to me in the form of a unicorn running off a picture on my desk in Taos New Mexico in early 1989. My unicorn / Higher Self then takes me on a journey through time and space to help me learn the things I needed to learn. In one of the later chapters of that work, my Higher Self transforms from a unicorn to the form of a woman representing the Goddess Energy / Feminine Principle. During the course of my interaction with my Higher Self, a doe and two fawns had been playing a part in the unfolding story. After we had discussed some of the levels of healing that were affecting me and had caused my fear of intimacy, came this passage.

“Sorry about that,” I laughed. It was wonderful to laugh about where I had been – and was going back to – and not feel any shame about it. It was after all, only a part of my evolution. There Truly is no need to judge where I have been, or am, because it was/is just a step in my becoming process.

Just then my attention was once again caught by the deer. The doe and both fawns had turned and were looking back into the trees at that south end of the meadow. And what came walking out of the trees at that point was the most magnificent Stag deer that I have ever seen. He was tall and regal with the most magnificent set of antlers I had ever seen. I counted fourteen points in his incredible rack.

I . . . . . . stood up, staring in awe at this magnificent male animal. I was moved somewhere deep within my being, and tears sprang to my eyes from the emotions that the grandeur of his presence stirred up within me.

“Yes,” said my dream woman softly by my side, “he is magnificent. And he is you, that is that he is a symbolic representation of the magnificence of your own masculinity.”

I turned and looked at her, feeling an emotional surge in my chest as her words sank in.

“You see,” she continued, “you have, up to this point in your recovery, put much effort into healing the feminine within and your inner children – which are symbolically represented by the doe and her two fawns. But you have almost completely ignored the healing of your masculine. Your relationship with your father, and your disgust over the sins of man-kind, have led you to disown to a large degree, your own masculine energy. A very large part of your journey in the coming years will be to focus on the healing of your masculine so that you can own and honor what a magnificent male being you are.”

Tears were freely running down my face as I stood there looking at her. Then I turned and gazed once again at the magnificent creature. All four of the deer were standing there looking back at me with Love in their eyes. I could feel the Truth of her words, and along with the Joy that I was experiencing from the sight of this regal animal, there was a profound sadness at the realization of the depth of my masculine wounds. I was too overwhelmed with feeling at that point to speak. I just stood there gazing at the buck and feeling the urgency of my need to own my masculine self.” – The Dance of the Wounded Souls Trilogy Book 1 – “In The Beginning . . .” Chapter 10

It is now 3:07 AM on the morning of the 13th of March 2007. It was on the morning of the 4th that I looked up at my calendar and got the message from the Universe that I needed to look at a new level of healing my masculine – healing my relationship with my self as a man – in the context of the processing I already knew that I needed to do about my fear of intimacy issues and how they were affecting my life and relationship now. I will be doing that on the page (could even be more than one page) that will follow this one. I want to wrap this one up and get it posted – and my e-mail announcements sent out now. When I will have the next page ready to post, I really have no idea right now. Hopefully by the 25th, which will be the day after my next Intensive – the day I will be posting an Updated Intensive Testimonial page, as well as changing the Intensive page to raise the price for the next workshop.

There are 4 spaces still available for that next Intensive, by the way – so perhaps it will fill to capacity. More will be revealed. More will also be revealed about where my fear of intimacy processing will lead me. I know that I need to get clearer on where I am at, and what areas I may need some action, in order to get cleaner and clearer in my relationship with Susan. And I know that I need to take some steps to own my own masculine power more fully.

One of the key insights for me years ago, when I first started to focus on my issues with myself as a man, was one I mention in the following quote from my journal – that I had never had a clear image of what positive, strong and powerful masculine energy looks like.

“What I remember that morning was that I needed to own my powerful positive masculine energy. Years ago I had come to a realization (and I can’t believe I haven’t written about it somewhere – but can’t find it right now) that I had spent years working on healing my inner children and my feminine without even considering that I might need to heal my masculine. Like Duh! That was a time when I started reading authors like Robert Bly and starting to focus on healing my masculine. One of the things I realized then, is that I had no image of strong positive masculine energy – that I associated strong masculine energy with violence and anger and rage. That was when I came up with or discovered (maybe in Bly’s book Iron John the term “fierce determination” as a trait of powerful positive masculine energy. Focused power and fierce determination in doing, manifesting, standing strong – that was the masculine energy I discovered back then. That was the masculine energy I needed to rediscover and own on the morning of March 30th.

I started to see that I needed to start using my will power to stop playing small in my relationship with myself. To stop giving the pain so much power and to own that I have the power to have more positive control of my own internal process. I realized that I had gone out of balance in my relationship with myself, towards the feminine, feeling side of me – and that I wasn’t standing in my Truth with powerful Masculine positive energy. I needed to start being the Alpha male in my own internal process. In recent months I have noticed myself explaining the process of setting boundaries with the critical parent voice to phone counseling clients in an interesting new way. I would tell them that we don’t want to argue with the critical parent voice, we want to SLAM it with spiritual Truth. I have been thinking about the process of setting boundaries in a way that is like establishing who is in charge internally – who is the Alpha force. And that it was necessary to slam the critical parent voice – to own positive powerful force in my own internal process. This was a wonderful insight that is the key to taking control of my own inner process in a new more empowering way. In a way that will be more outward directed and focused on external manifestation and action than inner focused.” – Joy2MeU Journal: The Path of one Recovering Codependent ~ the dance of one wounded soul My Unfolding Dance35April 8, 2004

So, there are some areas in my life where I need to stop playing small and start focusing some fierce determination in making changes that need to be made in how I am relating to myself and life – so that I can start being clearer in my relationship. I have some idea right now what that might look like to some degree – and more will be revealed as I continue to process.

There is one additional thing that I am going to be including on this page – and that is an excerpt from Chapter 15 of Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life (the last chapter I have written so far of that work.) That is a chapter that is focused on masculine and feminine, and explains the difference in my understanding between different levels of masculine and feminine – and how those terms are related to the genders male and female. I want to include it in order to bring more clarity to the processing I am doing – for those of you who actually read this far and beyond.;-)”

As I said this is an excerpt from my March 2007 Update Newsletter – the actual Newsletter is much longer and I am going to include a link here to the excerpt about Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life Chapter 15 Masculine and Feminine

Joy2MeU Journal Logo

Joy2MeU Journal

 The Joy2MeU Journal and Dancing in Light are subscription areas of the Joy2MeU website.  There are special offers available for them on this page.

Cover of the Medicina Cards book

Medicine Card Book

The Medicine Cards (This link and the one on the graphic will take you to the page it is offered on Amazon.com) have been a very valuable tool in my recovery process.  Grateful acknowledgment is made for permission to quote in Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls from: Medicine Cards by Jamie Sams and David Carson, copyright 1988, Bear & Co.  Reprinted by permission Bear & Co., P.O. Box 2860, Santa Fe, NM 87504. (Since the book was published they have moved to P.O. Box 3876, Gettysburg, PA 17325)

Father’s Day ~ My Father did love me, he just wasn’t capable of showing it

The first part of this article was written in 2005 – the second half in 2010.

God the Father, and my father

Book cover

Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls

  “Our traditional cultural concepts of what a man is, of what a woman is, are twisted, distorted, almost comically bloated stereotypes of what masculine and feminine really are. A vital part of this healing process is finding some balance in our relationship with the masculine and feminine energy within us, and achieving some balance in our relationships with the masculine and feminine energy all around us. We cannot do that if we have twisted, distorted beliefs about the nature of masculine and feminine.

When the role model of what a man is does not allow a man to cry or express fear; when the role model for what a woman is does not allow a woman to be angry or aggressive – that is emotional dishonesty. When the standards of a society deny the full range of the emotional spectrum and label certain emotions as negative – that is not only emotionally dishonest, it creates emotional disease.

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

“As a child, I learned from the role modeling of my father that the only emotion that a man felt was anger.”

“Human beings have also tried to apply realities of the physical level to the Spiritual level with the disastrous result that humans have come up with an image of the God-Force that fights wars. This image of the God-Force, with the characteristics of a war-like male, is completely out of balance because it is not the image of a balanced male warrior – it is the image of a male with no feminine side.” – quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

We buried my father this last weekend. He had gone into the hospital almost two months ago as an emergency admission. A gall stone led to several surgeries and uncovered other problems. He was in the hospital suffering from numerous complications – in a situation that contained no dignity and much pain. It was a blessing last week when congenital heart failure cropped up and took him within a couple of days. The things he was suffering from previously could have caused him to linger for weeks and weeks.

He was 80 years old and had lived a full life. All of his family members got a chance to see him while he was still lucid and able to communicate. I went to visit him in the hospital in Phoenix several weeks ago after doing a workshop in the Bay area. I was able to get some closure of a sort – to tell him I loved him. He couldn’t say it back to me. He has never been able to say he loved me.

My father was an emotional cripple. A man who had learned that real men don’t get scared or hurt or sad – real men only get angry. I wrote a column about how as a little boy I was terrified of him – and how sad I was about my relationship with my father – for Father’s Day in 1997. (Emotionally Crippled Fathers – a sad tragedy of the masculine)

I had actually done much grieving about my relationship with my father – and his inability to treat me in a way that felt loving – years ago. I didn’t actually have a lot of grief at his passing last week – some, but not a great deal because of that previous grieving. There was actually more grief for me in seeing my family members who have no recovery, who have no understanding of how wounded they were by his behavior, in pain over the myth of fatherhood they were still empowering.

The most damaging thing about our relationships with our parents growing up, is that we incorporate the messages we received from them directly – and indirectly through their behavior and role modeling – into our relationship with our self. It is not possible to develop healthy relationships with our parents if they do not change and get into recovery themselves. We can certainly get healthier in our interactions with them – but we cannot develop healthy relationships with anyone who is not getting healthier themselves. We can however heal our relationship with ourselves by taking power away from the old tapes and emotional wounds their behavior caused us to incorporate into our relationship with self.

This is what I am focusing on as I write this. A dysfunctional level in my relationship with myself that still needs some healing. This is a level of wounding that came not just from my relationship with my father – but also with the concept of God the Father I had imposed upon me as a child.

The Old Testament concept of a punishing, judgmental God the Father – a god with a human ego who created humans to adore him – is an abusive, ridiculous concept in my opinion. (I share some of my beliefs in this regard – along with links to articles focused on different aspects of my beliefs – in my December 2004 Update Newsletter.) That masculine image of a God is – as I say in the quote from my book above – an image of a male with no feminine side.

That image of an angry patriarch has been a fundamental component of the template for the way men were trained to express their masculinity and deny their feminine side in Western Civilization. The similarities between the way our fathers treated us and the image of the judgmental, abusive God the Father has been devastatingly wounding to not only many men in society – but also the many women who have tried over and over again to win the love of the emotionally unavailable, abusive males that were recreating the ways they were wounded in relationships with fathers who were emotional cripples like my father.

The combination of the reality that my father did not ever treat me in a way that made me feel that I was lovable and worthy, but rather the very opposite – along with the concept of a Father God who would send me to burn in hell forever because I was inherently sinful and shameful – are at the core of the toxic shame that is the foundation of my codependency. I have been working on healing – and have made great progress in eliminating – that shame about my being in the years of my recovery. I count my codependency recovery as beginning on June 3rd, 1986 – so I am coming up on my 19th CoDA anniversary. (The Story of “Joy to You & Me”)

There has been however, a dark corner deep within me where the feeling that I am not lovable or worthy – that I am somehow defective – has still been causing me to sometimes engage in self sabotaging behavior. I still have some terror at the core of my relationship with myself at fully opening up to believe that I deserve Love and Joy and abundance, some resistance to fully embracing being alive – and because of that terror I have periodically found myself justifying some behavior that is hurting me.

I deserved to be treated better than my father treated me. I certainly didn’t deserve the emotional and spiritual abuse heaped upon me by a shame based religion. And I need to stop indulging myself in this self destructive behavior – so that I can more fully honor and respect my self by treating myself in a way I deserve to be treated. Today I am leaving that behavior behind. Today, May 31st 2005 – to honor that I deserve to be treated better than my father was capable of treating me – I am going to commit myself to stopping the self abusive behavior that directly relates back to how his behavior wounded a little boy many years ago. Today I am going to defy that stupid ridiculous concept of an angry male god the father by stopping the self sabotaging behavior that I have until now been powerless to stop completely. Today I make this commitment to myself – to treat my self with Love and respect in all my behaviors. I commit my self to accessing the power available to me from my Higher Power to be more Loving to my self – because I deserve that Love.

5 years later – grieving for my father who DID LOVE ME!!!

Today would have been my Father’s birthday. June 14th. Flag day. He used to tell us they put the flags up because it was his birthday.

It never felt to me like my father loved me. He was never able to say “I love you” to me directly in his life. On his death bed I said “I love you” to him – and the best that he could do was say, “Same here.”

I have said for years – and said again at a CoDA meeting last night – that I think I have more shame because my father was there the whole time I was growing up. If he would have abandoned us physically and not been there – then I could have made up stories about him loving me. But he was there every day – and it never felt like he loved me.

Thanks to the beautiful, courageously recovering woman I am in relationship with, I realized last fall that it was my father that I got sober for. It had never occurred to me to think that. And also, thanks to being in a relationship with someone who is in recovery, I got in touch with pain from when I was an infant about what felt like my father’s abandonment and betrayal. What felt like was his rejection because I wasn’t good enough – because I wasn’t lovable. I always have said that I never felt loved by my father, but what I realized last fall was that there was a time when I felt like he loved me – when I was a baby. His first son. Then my parents left the college town where my father was going on the GI bill – he always said he had to quit college because of me – and moved on to the farm I grew up on when I was about 6 month old. That was the start of my father working very hard to support a family that eventually included 6 kids. My next brother was born 15 months after me – and I was no longer the center of attention – but by then, I had already lost much of my father’s attention because he was working to support his growing family.

I did get in touch with this infant wounding last fall, but I hadn’t really worked through it yet – which was causing me to react – out of that wordless pain and terror of an infant who feels rejected and betrayed by his father – to my partner. That happened yesterday – and again today. The part of me that is convinced that I am so unlovable that even someone who seems to love me completely will leave me – as it felt like I lost my father as a baby.

When I reacted yesterday, and my partner was able to respond out of her recovery instead of out of her old wounded defensive behavioral reaction, I was not able to get through it – I just turned it back in on myself and judged myself for my reaction. Today when it happened and she again was able to respond out of recovery, I was able to bring the focus back to myself in a healthy way – and that led to my breakthrough.

I have been saying to people for years that my mother taught me how to rationalize abusive behavior – both with her role modeling and with direct messages like: “Your father really loves you, he just doesn’t know how to show it.” And I did learn to rationalize from statements like that. What was different today, was that for the first time ever, I got it on a gut level that what she was saying was also the Truth (with a capital T.)

My father did love me – and was incapable of showing it. My father did love me!!!!!!

My father died in May 2005 – just a bit over 5 years ago. I didn’t grieve for my father then. I said that I had been grieving for not having a loving father for years – and that was the truth. But I did not ever really grieve for my father. Today I am grieving for my father. My father who did love me, but was incapable of showing me. Maybe it is not too late to be a different kind of father to my son.

Owning that my father did love me is hopefully going to let me finally open up to receive the love from my partner that I haven’t been trusting because deep down inside I didn’t feel like I was lovable.

6/14/10 12:56 pm. I finished writing this and sent a copy to my partner Susan at 12:16 – 40 minutes ago. We got off the phone talking about it – and crying – only a few minutes ago. The miraculous, incredible gift that is a result of us both being in recovery, is that me getting on a gut level that my father really did love me, helped her for the first time to get on a gut level that her mother really did love her. Huge paradigm shift for both of us!!!!!!!!!

I am going to be expanding on this processing in the coming days, and hopefully by Father’s Day I will have been able to process through it in more depth and breadth and post it on my site. Right now, I am sobbing and crying because this is a huge piece – for both of us.

As long as at the core of my relationship with myself, was the belief / feeling that my father had rejected and betrayed me as an infant, there is no way that I could open up to receive love unconditionally from another person. There was no way that I could truly be more Loving to myself in how I treat myself, in how I live my life. As I say in the article above, I have made huge progress over the years – but this shame and terror of rejection was at the core of my relationship with myself. Opening my heart to Susan brought it to the surface for me. Now maybe I can really open up my heart to my self.

My father really did love me!!!!! ~ Robert 6/14/10 1:13 pm

6/20/10 ~ I have not had a chance to do that process writing yet, so won’t be posting a Fathers Day article today. Happy Fathers Day to all the Dads who did the best they knew how. To all the sons and daughters, own your pain and anger and sadness over the ways your wounded fathers wounded you – but know also that they were powerless over their codependency. Forgive your self for something that wasn’t your fault – and that will open the space to be able to forgive them. Forgiveness is a process not an event. Codependency recovery is ninth step work – making amends to our selves for the ways that our wounding caused us to wound ourselves. And caused us to wound our sons and daughters. I have this week made a shift that is making it possible for me to forgive and Love myself more which helps me to forgive and own my Love for my father more. ~ RB”

 

This is an excerpt from the recording of my Intensive Training Day Workshop where I talk about this insight that my father really did love me.

 

Grieving – examples of how the process works in Codependency Recovery

Book cover

Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls

“This grieving is not an intellectual process. Changing our false and dysfunctional attitudes is vital to the process; enlarging our intellectual perspective is absolutely necessary to the process, but doing these things does not release the energy – it does not heal the wounds.

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

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

Grieving is a natural part of the human healing process. In writing an online book about the September 11th terrorist attack – a work I started publishing online on September 22nd, 2001 – I urged people to wail and scream and sob, to release the energy that was being generated by this traumatic event. Trauma is a shock to the system. Any type of trauma suffered by a human being – trauma to our physical bodies, witnessing a traumatic event, experiencing a loss (death of a loved one, house burning down, end of a relationship, etc.), etc. – causes emotional energy to be generated in reaction to that trauma. Denying and suppressing that energy does not make it go away.

“Feel your feelings and release them. Give yourself permission to let it all out. Wail and scream and sob. Try not to let the messages of an emotionally dysfunctional society, or the discomfort of emotionally repressed people around you, keep you from owning the grief to the fullest. They want you to pull it together and get yourself under control so they will be comfortable. Let it out! Release it! Do not shame yourself for it, or apologize – it is marvelously healing to grieve. Owning our grief is part of being True to self. In an emotionally honest society Dan Rather would have been crying and sobbing on his own program – serving as a role model for others – instead of keeping up appearances and stuffing his grief until some of it leaked out on the David Letterman Show.” – Attack on America: A Spiritual Healing Perspective Chapter 1 (published online September 22, 2001)

In that article I also did a little yelling about the importance of owing our grief.

“If I see one more person on television starting to get emotional and then choke it down and apologize, I AM GOING TO SCREAM!

Please feel your feelings. Let those sobs out. We are supposed to feel. It is healthy to grieve. Breathe right into those feelings. Sobs are little balls of emotional energy being released. If you breath into the feelings it breaks up the grief and the little energy balls of emotions can rise up and be released from your being. That is good. Keep taking deep breaths. Get into a rhythm. Inhale, sob sob sob cry cry cry as you exhale, inhale, sob sob sob cry cry cry – that is good. That is healthy. Do not shame yourself for feeling. Do not apologize for your feelings. It means your human. It means you care. Sobs, tears, snot from the nose are all ways of releasing energy and cleansing chemicals out of our body. Grief is not a pretty sight – but it is a beautifully healing and a Loving thing to do for yourself. That emotional energy does not go away just because we stop breathing and choke it back down. It does not disappear. The more you can release, the faster you can move through it. Watch the History Channel some time when they interview vets from World War II or something like that. People who have never really grieved will get emotional and choke it back down 40 – 50 years later, because they never released it. It didn’t go away, they have been repressing it and denying it all those years. Release it now. It is healthy. It is the Loving thing to do for yourself. Amen.” – Attack on America: A Spiritual Healing Perspective Chapter 1

In this quote, I refer to the breath techniques for releasing grief that I talk about on the web page Grief Process Techniques – path to love & forgiveness and in the online column Emotional Release Techniques – Deep Grieving.  In this web article, I am going to share some example of how the grief process works.

Life events such as the September 11th terrorist attack on New York City and Washington D. C. are very traumatic. (More recent examples would be the Boston Marathon Bombing, the landslide in Washington state, or any number of traumatic events that are unfolding in our world.) It is important to own our feelings about life events, rather it is a horrific event such as the terrorist attack or if it is some other kind of traumatic loss – such as a relationship break up, or loss of a job, or whatever.

What makes owning our feelings about traumatic events in the present so difficult is that we have unresolved grief from the past. Because society is emotionally dishonest and we were trained to be emotionally dishonest, we are all carrying grief from our past. That grief energy is trapped within us in a pressurized explosive state that causes us to feel terrified of tapping into it.

“The way to stop reacting out of our inner children is to release the stored emotional energy from our childhoods by doing the grief work that will heal our wounds. The only effective, long term way to clear our emotional process – to clear the inner channel to Truth which exists in all of us – is to grieve the wounds which we suffered as children. The most important single tool, the tool which is vital to changing behavior patterns and attitudes in this healing transformation, is the grief process. The process of grieving.

We are all carrying around repressed pain, terror, shame, and rage energy from our childhoods, whether it was twenty years ago or fifty years ago. We have this grief energy within us even if we came from a relatively healthy family, because this society is emotionally dishonest and dysfunctional.”

When an event in the now triggers our old grief issues it makes it very difficult to understand our own emotions unless we are relating to ourselves from a healing framework. If we are in recovery from childhood wounds, then we can sort out our internal turmoil – then we can have discernment about which part of what we are feeling is about what is happening now, and which part of it is grief from the past that has been triggered.

It is important to understand our emotional process – and what grief entails – to see ourselves more clearly so that we can choose to respond in a healthy way instead of letting our emotional wounds be in control of our life by just reacting. Then we do not have to stuff our feelings or apologize for them because we are able to see ourselves more clearly and respond in healthier, more appropriate ways.

Grieving is a great relief

Grieving is a great relief. Releasing repressed, pressurized emotional energy that we have been denying and avoiding for years is the path to freedom from the past so that we can see the present with more clarity. Getting emotionally honest with ourselves is the key to clearing our inner channel to Truth. It is necessary for us to be willing to heal our emotional wounds in order to open up to Love – to tune into the higher vibrational energy of Love and Joy.

As with everything else in life, there are different levels of grieving – and different stages of grief.

The deep grieving of sobbing and crying and snot clogging up our nose, is an incredibly powerful part of the healing process – that can bring wondrous relief, and physical exhaustion in it’s aftermath. Normally after a session of deep grieving a person will feel lighter – sometimes immediately, sometimes the next day – because some energy they have been carrying has been released.

The explosive release of this deep grief when done in a healing framework – that is when we accept and own it as opposed to shaming ourselves and apologizing for it – is a very powerful part of the healing process. It is terrifying to our ego because it feels like a complete loss of control. Our ego programming is to stop it, to stuff it.

When our deep grief issues are triggered and we are at the point where our voice starts breaking, we automatically shut down – we close our throat and stop breathing, or go to very shallow breathing. This is the point where it is so important to learn to breathe directly into the energy so that we can start releasing it. When we take deep breaths into the grief energy, it starts breaking up and little balls of energy are released. That is what sobs are – little balls of energy.

The more we have integrated a Loving Spiritual belief system into our relationship with life and with our own emotions, the easier it becomes to align with healing through grieving instead of aligning with the false beliefs that it is weak to cry, that it is shameful to lose control.

Illusion of Control

“The original wound, which I will discuss a little later, had the effect of creating a Spiritually hostile condition on this planet. That Spiritually hostile condition then became a cause with many consequences.

One of the most devastating of these consequences, or effects, was that human beings began to express emotions in destructive ways. Because the channel between Spiritual Self and human self was disrupted by planetary condition, the human ego began to develop the belief that it was separate from other humans and from the Source. This belief in separation made violence possible.

The violence, caused by the false belief, meant that humans could no longer enjoy a free-flowing emotional process. As a consequence, emotionally-repressive environments evolved in the social systems on this planet. Human beings were forced to adopt defense systems that included the belief that emotions were negative and had to be suppressed and controlled. This was necessary in order for human beings to live together in communities that would insure the survival of the human race.

It is not necessary any longer! And it is dysfunctional.

The act of suppressing emotions was always dysfunctional in its effect on the emotional, mental, and Spiritual health of the individual being. It was only functional in terms of physical survival of the species.

We now have clearer access to Spiritual healing energy and guidance which allows us to become aligned with Truth so that emotions will not be expressed in destructive ways. We have the tools, knowledge, and guidance to allow emotional healing to take place, to allow the individual to enjoy the flow of healthy emotional process.”

The reality of the dynamics of emotional energy is that the more we try to control and deny it based upon an intellectual paradigm that is reversed to Love, the more likely it is to manifest at the worst times and in the most destructive manner.

Emotions are a vital part of our being. To suppress emotions is dysfunctional – it does not work. Any time we are trying to maintain emotional control out of our damaged ego programming – that is based upon separation, shame about being human, and fear – we are doing damage to our being.  When we are relating to life out of our ego programming and wounding from childhood, when we haven’t integrated a Loving Spiritual Belief system into our relationship with self and life, then our being is a closed system not open to the flow of Life Force Energy – our inner channel is blocked so we are not open to intuitive guidance and Spiritual sustenance from our Higher Self / Spirit.  With any closed system, rather it be the engine of your car or your own being, neglecting and denying the importance of one aspect of the internal dynamic will cause damage – kind like what will happen when you run your car without oil. The system will break down.

“Emotional honesty is absolutely vital to the health of the being. Denying, distorting, and blocking our emotions in reaction to false beliefs and dishonest attitudes causes emotional and mental disease. This emotional and mental disease causes physical, biological imbalance which produces physical disease.”

Emotional energy cannot just disappear, it can transform but it can’t disappear. One of the causes of violence in the human experience is the human survival mechanism that allows human beings to transform the energy of fear or pain into anger.

“One of the basic survival mechanism of human beings in the hostile environment that was manifested on this planet . . . . . . . was the ability to turn the lower vibrational emotional energies of fear, sadness, hurt, shame, etc., into anger. . . . . . . . anger is a higher vibrational emotional energy and therefore carries more energy mass. In other words, anger feels strong and powerful, while sadness, fear, etc., do not. In order to survive, human beings had the capacity to turn fear into anger to fight off threats to safety.

[This ability is functional in terms of survival but dysfunctional in terms of emotional balance and human interaction. It is one of the residues of survival programming – an important tool when reacting to the sudden presence of a saber-toothed tiger – that causes males (and some females) who are emotionally crippled because of societal dysfunction and emotional dishonesty, to act out violently.)” – Attack on America: A Spiritual Healing Perspective Chapter 4

This transformation of the excruciating pain of our broken hearts and wounded souls – and the fear of more wounding – into anger is more prevalent with men because men have traditionally been taught that anger is the only acceptable emotion for a real man. So, it is more often men who “go postal” and act out in anger in a variety of manifestations from road rage to domestic violence.

“Repressed emotions explode outward in violence and war, in carnage and rape. We are raping the planet we live on, we are raping ourselves. Any emotional explosion outward in an act of violence is an act of violence against Self.”

Women, who have traditionally been taught that anger is not acceptable, tend to turn anger back in on themselves. This is of course a generalization – and one that is changing as the societal role models for masculine and feminine change.

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

Codependency is an emotional defense system which was adapted by our damaged egos to try to maintain emotional control. The ego fights ferociously to maintain control because it got the message that our survival depended upon that illusion of control. It is an illusion because in the long term that defense system is self destructive – and actually is the greater threat to our survival. Our codependent defense system will kill us eventually unless we start changing that ego programming and learn how to release the emotional energy in a healthy way.

Though a certain percentage of the population does at some point reach a point of critical mass and manifest that repressed emotional energy in an external explosion – most of us turn it back on ourselves.

“Repressed emotions implode, explode inward to cause the system to become dysfunctional. In the individual being this manifests as disease – emotional, mental, and physical disease. In larger systems, in families, in societies, that dysfunction manifests as child abuse and incest, as crime and poverty, homelessness and pollution.”

Depression and anxiety disorders, environmental illness and post traumatic stress disorder, self mutilation and obesity, cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease, are some of the effects of our dysfunctional attempts to control emotions.

It is possible to have some control over our emotions that is functional – that does work in terms of the health of our being. That control does not entail suppressing and denying the emotions – damming the energy. It involves honoring and respecting the emotional component of our being.

By changing our relationship with our own emotions through changing the attitudes, definitions, and beliefs – the intellectual paradigm that we are allowing to define our life experience – to one that is aligned with Love and ONENESS rather than separation and fear, we can start to achieve some emotional honesty and balance.

The first step in changing our relationship with our emotions, is to recognize and admit that we are not in control of this life business. We are powerless to control life out of our ego – because it is not possible for us to control life period. We can have some control over some aspects of our life by owning our power as the co-creator of our human experience, but we are not in control of life – we are not writing the script here.

We need to let go of the illusion that it is possible to control life and open up to – remember – that there is a Higher Power, a Universal Source Energy, that is in control. Recognizing our powerlessness and surrendering the illusion of control allows us to align with the Higher Power so that we an start to learn to have some Loving control over our emotions. That Loving control over our emotions will allow us to release the energy in a healing growth framework that will take the power away from the repressed emotional energy from our past in a gradual, healthy grieving process.

The more we align ourselves attitudinally with Spiritual Self instead of ego self, the more we can open up to releasing this energy as a good thing, as a healing, Loving thing to do for ourselves. The more willing we become to surrender to allowing the emotional energy to flow, the easier it becomes to own this grief that is ours, to own our self and our emotional wounds. We are not in control – there is a Loving Higher Power who is in control.

The feeling of being out of control is terrifying to our egos. It is our ego programming and it’s efforts to control that are killing us – spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. By learning to let go of our illusion of control we can start to open up to Love – and start having faith that the Force is with us and will not give us more than we can handle.

We also have a built in safety valve. Our nose gets plugged up and we have to stop to blow our nose. We can cry and sob until a certain point and then we have to blow our noses. We can then cry and sob some more – but it is never going to get too out of control just because of our physical reality.

The effect is that this deep grieving comes out in short bursts. Each time we do some deep grieving about a specific issue, we are releasing some of the pent up energy. The next time we touch on that issue, it will have less power than the time before. Eventually, we will heal that specific wound enough so that there is not enough repressed energy left to produce sobs.

A Parents Nightmare

As an example of how this process works, I had the opportunity some years ago to work with a woman in her seventies who was living her life in a very controlled and isolated manner. She had a whole lifetime of grief issues she was suppressing, but there was one issue – as it often the case – that was the key to unlocking the rest of the issues.

This woman, some twenty years earlier, had experienced an incredibly traumatic life event. Her daughter had been murdered by a serial killer. She had been awakened at 3 or 4 in the morning with the worst kind of phone call a parent can imagine.

When I began working with her, she could not – and would not – even talk about this issue because it was too painful for her. As we worked through other grief issues from her childhood and early life, we gradually moved closer to focusing on this specific issue.

Once we did start to open up this wound, she experienced wrenching grief in reliving that event. But in any one session of that grief group she was in, the actual deep grieving part of the process – the sobbing and crying and snot running out of the nose portion – only lasted a short time. Typically, the deepest sobbing and crying may last 5 to 10 minutes – to be followed by a series of aftershocks like an earthquake, gradually getting less intense as we process through the feelings.

We are never given more than we can handle – though it can certainly feel like it. Opening up to those wounds does not cause us – as I felt would happen to me – to be locked in a rubber room the rest of our life crying.

Of course, in an emotionally dishonest society, it can cause people who have not done their grief work to want desperately to get you under control – with drugs usually, and possibly with institutionalization. That is one of the reasons it is so helpful to have a counselor / therapist / healer to facilitate the work that has worked through their own issues so that the explosive release of the deep grief does not terrify them into shaming you, or giving the message that you are doing something wrong.

“Someone who has not done her/his own emotionally healing grief work cannot guide you through yours. Or as John Bradshaw put it in his excellent PBS series on reclaiming the inner child, “No one can lead you somewhere that they haven’t been.””

The deep grieving can sometimes be almost like an exorcism in the release of the pent up energy, and can lead into areas such as past lives – so it is important to have someone who is open minded and not afraid of the grief to help you through your process. It is very scary stuff – but the process is unfolding perfectly and your Higher Power will provide the help you need at the time you need it. (This does not necessarily mean at the time you think you need it – part of the process is trusting our Higher Selves, our intuition to guide us – and being willing to do our part in the process, which includes taking action to align with recovery and being willing to plunge into the unknown.)

This woman went through perhaps half a dozen sessions of the really deep intense grieving, each time taking a little more power away from the issue – releasing a little more of the pent up energy.

The grieving included owning her anger at her daughter for abandoning her. (As I said in Chapter 1 of my online book, grief is about us, about our loss – it is not really about the other person, or how the other person died.) And owning her anger at God for allowing such things to happen. It also included letting go of the guilt that she was carrying because her of codependence. With any issue we blame ourselves because of our childhood wounding, because of the toxic shame from childhood that programmed us to feel like “bad” things happen us because something is wrong with us. It was because she had done some healing of that toxic shame that she was able to start dealing with this issue. She had started to change the subconscious programming from childhood that had given her the message that if her life was anything other than “happily ever after” it was somehow her fault. That in turn, allowed her to let go of the false beliefs and unhealthy guilt that told her she should have, or could have, done something to prevent her daughters death.

What eventually started happening was that the woman could remember good things about her daughter. Because she was no longer denying and avoiding the grief, she was able to start owning how much she loved her daughter in a healthy way with clearer vision. She started to allow herself to own the good memories that were the gift of having shared a relationship with the Soul that had inhabited her daughters body vehicle.

The memory was still painful, and will probably bring tears to her eyes and a catch in her throat almost every time thoughts of her daughter rise in her consciousness. Our wounds don’t go away. We don’t heal an issue and never feel pain around it again. What we do is release the grief so that we are not avoiding and denying part of our reality because of our terror of the pent up energy. By being willing to do the grief work we get to reclaim our life experiences in a more Loving, healing, and forgiving framework – change our relationship with life events because we are not allowing the grief to dictate and define our lives any more.

When I said at the beginning of my online book that Dan Rather could have been a role model for others by allowing himself to own his grief – actually sobbing and crying – I was talking about a few moments of emotional honesty, not hours of it. Allowing ourselves to own the grief does not cause us to lose control – it causes us to feel like we are losing control for a few moments.

By learning to allow ourselves to release that pent up pressurized energy in a healing context, we can be empowered to stop letting the past dictate our lives today.

Subconscious Programming

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

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

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

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

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

Another benefit of releasing the suppressed energy, of doing the deep grieving, is that often it is only in during the grieving that we get in touch with subconscious programming that is dictating some aspect of our relationship with life. Attitudes we adapted in childhood – sometimes promises we made to ourselves – are included in that subconscious programming, and can have great power which we cannot overcome until we get in touch with them.

In the first long term relationship (long term for me being 2 years) I got into in recovery, I realized that setting a boundary in an intimate relationship felt to me like I was being a perpetrator. My role models in childhood presented me with two options for behavior in a romantic relationship – a self sacrificing martyr with no boundaries, and a raging verbally abusive perpetrator. I hated the pain caused by the perpetrator, so I became a martyr who did not know how to set boundaries. Setting boundaries for me, with my significant other, felt like I was being abusive.

It was only when I got aware of this programming that I could start changing it. A great example of how this works is the brief case study that I shared in my series on the True Nature of Love.

“We cannot get clearly in touch with the subconscious programming without doing the grief work. The subconscious intellectual programming is tied to the emotional wounds we suffered and many years of suppressing those feelings has also buried the attitudes, definitions, and beliefs that are connected to those emotional wounds. It is possible to get intellectually aware of some of them through such tools as hypnosis, or having a therapist or psychic or energy healer tell us they are there – but we cannot really understand how much power they carry without feeling the emotional context – and cannot change them without reducing the emotional charge / releasing the emotional energy tied to them. Knowing they are there will not make them go away.

A good example of how this works is a man that I worked with some years ago. He came to me in emotional agony because his wife was leaving him. He was adamant that he did not want a divorce and kept saying how much he loved his wife and how he could not stand to lose his family (he had a daughter about 4.) I told him the first day he came in that the pain he was suffering did not really have that much to do with his wife and present situation – but was rooted in some attitude from his childhood. But that did not mean anything to him on a practical level, on a level of being able to let go of the attitude that was causing him so much pain. It was only while doing his childhood grief work that he got in touch with the pain of his parents divorce when he was 10 years old. In the midst of doing that grief work the memory of promising himself that he would never get a divorce, and cause his child the kind of pain he was experiencing, surfaced. Once he had gotten in touch with, and released, the emotional charge connected to the idea of divorce, he was able to look at his present situation more clearly. Then he could see that the marriage had never been a good one – that he had sacrificed himself and his own needs from the beginning to comply with his dream / concept of what a marriage should be. He could then see that staying in the marriage was not serving him or his daughter. Once he got past the promise he made to himself in childhood, he was able to let go of his wife and start building a solid relationship with his daughter based on the reality of today instead of the grief of the past.

It was the idea / concept of his wife, of marriage, that he had been unable to let go of – not the actual person. By changing his intellectual concept / belief, he was able to get clear on what the reality of the situation was and sever the emotional energy chains / cords that bound him to the situation and to his wife. He was then able to let go of giving away power over his self-esteem (part of his self-esteem was based on keeping his promise to himself) to a situation / person that he could not control. He gained the wisdom / clarity to discern the difference between what he had some power to change and what he needed to accept. He could not change his wife’s determination to get a divorce but he could change his attitude toward that divorce – once he changed the subconscious emotional programming connected to the concept.

It is letting go of the dream, the idea / concept, of the relationship that causes the most grief in every relationship break up that I have ever worked with.” – The True Nature of Love – part 4, Energetic Clarity

Feeling Sad

There is also a shallower level of grieving, that is just about owning our sadness.

“It was on Christmas Day in 1987 that I got clear on something that I hadn’t really realized before in relationship to my emotional process.

I was consciously grieving by that time – by which I mean that I was owning my sadness. One of the ways that I had controlled and contained my emotions was to analyze them. It had not been ok for me to feel feelings until I understood where they were coming from, what they were attached to – so I kept the feelings at bay by intellectualizing about them. I would analyze and rationalize, and then when I had figured out that I indeed had a good enough reason to feel something, I would allow myself a few moments of feeling – maybe do some writing about it – and then think I was done with it. My issues were like boxes of old news that I looked through briefly and then put on the shelf thinking I had dealt with them sufficiently. The later part of 1987 was when the boxes started falling off the shelf and smacking me upside the head.

By Christmas of 87 I had gotten far enough along in my process to just allow myself to feel sad. I no longer bought into the fallacy that I had to know specifically what I was sad about. I would say to myself; “I feel sad. I have plenty of reason to feel sad. It is OK to feel sad.”

I was doing what I had never known how to do before – just being with the feelings. I had always done something to try to escape the feelings, it was a very important step for me to just allow myself to feel them – to own them and know that they were mine and I had, not only a right, but an obligation to just feel them.

I was doing the shallower level of grieving at that point. It wasn’t the deep grieving with crying and sobbing – it was just about feeling sad and allowing myself to feel that sadness.

On Christmas Day that year, I went to various AA meetings and to some open houses – both at people’s homes and AA club houses. What I realized as I went through the day was that I was feeling more than one feeling at the same time. The feeling of sadness was there throughout the day, kind of an emotional blanket over the day. But when I saw people I cared about I was happy. I had many moments that day when I felt gratitude.

I really got clear on the reality that I could feel more than one feeling at once – a startling revelation at that point. It had been a long hard struggle just to get in touch with feelings as energy in my body, now I realized that I could feel several different types of these emotional energies at once. I could feel sad and grateful and happy all at the same time.

I had for some time been working on changing my perspective on my feelings. Telling myself that feeling the feelings was the goal and that I was grateful that I was capable of feeling miserable. By working on changing my attitudes towards my feelings I had started changing my relationship with them. I had begun to embrace my feelings instead of resisting and repressing them.

It was of course, easier to embrace the shallower level of grief than it was the deeply buried pain and rage that was soon to start surfacing – but it was definite progress. When I had first gotten sober, I had noticed a saying on some bumper stickers or wall hanging or someplace. That saying was “The pain is mandatory, the suffering is optional.” What I was really beginning to realize at this point in my process was that the suffering came about because of resistance to feeling the pain – and anger and fear. By changing my attitudes, I was changing my perspective and giving myself permission to feel the feelings. I was starting to allow them to flow instead of putting all my energy into damming them, suppressing them. That is where the suffering really comes from – denying my own emotional reality.

So, I was feeling the grief and doing some of what I thought of then as crying. At that time, crying to me meant tearing up. When I teared up and my voice cracked with emotion I considered that crying. Although I had done some deep grieving earlier in my recovery (the article on Grief, Love, and Fear of Intimacy, and the instance with the song from childhood) I wasn’t at that time thinking of doing that kind of CRYING as a goal of the process. I was still trying to avoid going into the depths of my feelings.

I think the main issue that I was grieving about as 87 ended and 88 began was being alone. I had felt so alone as a child – and because of my wounds, I had spent most of my adult life alone. – Joy2MeU Journal – My Spiritual Path: 30 Days in the Desert – Falling Apart and Breaking Through II

Many people when they first start to feel the grief, will say they are feeling depressed. What we call things has power – and it is important to start owning that we are involved in a healthy grieving process instead of the victim of depression.

Depression and grieving are two very different dynamics. Depression is an emotional state caused by anger that has been turned in on ourselves because of mental attitudes empowering the false belief that it is shameful to be an imperfect human. Owning our feelings by doing the grief work – especially the anger and rage portion of the grieving – is the way out of depression. Changing our relationship with life into one which defines life as a growth process with a Spiritual purpose rather than a test we can fail because we are flawed and imperfect, is a very large step towards starting to emerge from depression.

Just being able to say to ourselves (not necessarily to other people unless they are safe people to share with) “I am sad. I have good reasons to be sad. It is not only okay to be sad, it is healthy and part of owning my self to grieve for how painful my life experience has been.”

Owning our feelings is the only way to own our self. Owning and healing our self is the gateway to reconnecting with our Spiritual Self so that we can starting owning the Unconditional Love that is available to us. So that we can change our relationship with self into one that is based upon Love instead of shame about being human.

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

Cover of Inner Child Healing Book

Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light

The key to codependency recovery is the inner child healing work I describe on my site and in my book Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light Book 1 Empowerment, Freedom, and Inner Peace through Inner Child Healing.  A key element of that work includes learning to set internal boundaries. Learning to have internal boundaries so that we can integrate Spiritual Truth into our internal process and change our relationship with our own emotions is vital to learning to gain some freedom from the past and find the ability to have the ability to experience some Joy in a life journey that is an adventure instead of an agony of endurance and survival.

The formula that I pioneered for inner healing – which includes learning to set the internal boundaries – is something that I teach people through telephone counseling.  And I also offer periodic day long workshops in San Diego to teach people how to apply my inner child healing formula.

Joy2MeU Journal Logo

Joy2MeU Journal

Right now I have some special offers for both telephone counseling and my next workshop on May 4th here in San Diego that I have just extended. That special offers page also contains special offers for my books, MP3 downloads, and the subscription areas of my site.  The online book Attack on America: A Spiritual Healing Perspective is available in both subscription areas. The story of My Spiritual Path is available in the Joy2MeU Journal. While the 6 part True Nature of Love series of articles is available in the subscription area known as Dancing in Light.
 

 

Grateful acknowledgment is made for permission to quote in my book from: Bradshaw On Homecoming “Reclaiming and Championing you Inner Child”, a PBS series by John Bradshaw.  Reprinted in Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls by permission of John Bradshaw 2412 South Boulevard, Houston Tx 77098.