The True Nature of Love – part 1, what Love is not

The Dance

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

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

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

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

Love that is shaming and abusive is an insane, ridiculous concept.  Just as insane and ridiculous as the concept of murder and war in the name of God.” – (Text in this color is used for quotes from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls)

One day several years into my recovery I had one of those insights, those moments of a light bulb going on in my head, that was the beginning of a major paradigm shift for me.  It was one of those moments of clarity which caused me to start reevaluating the mental perspectives and definitions that were dictating my emotional reactions to life.  My relationships with myself, with life, and with other people – and therefore my emotional reactions to life events and other people’s behavior – are dictated by the intellectual framework/paradigm that is determining my perspective and expectations.  So the intellectual attitudes, beliefs, and definitions that are determining my perspective and expectations dictate what emotional reactions I have to life – what my relationship to life feels like.

I am not sure if this particular insight came before or after I had started consciously working on recovery from my codependency issues.  I count my codependency recovery as starting on June 3, 1986 – exactly 2 years and 5 months into my recovery in another twelve step program.  It was on that day that I realized that my emotional relationship with life was being dictated by the subconscious programming from my childhood – not by the intellectual attitudes, beliefs, and definitions that I had consciously chosen as being what I believed as an adult.  To my horror I could see clearly that my behavioral patterns in my adult life were based on the beliefs and definitions that were imposed on me in early childhood.  And I could see that even though these subconscious beliefs were based partly on the messages I received, they were even more firmly grounded upon the assumptions that I made about myself and life because of the emotional trauma I had suffered and because of the role modeling of the adults that I had grown up around.

On that day 13 years ago (now 32 years ago) I Truly was able to see and admit to myself that I had been powerless to make healthy choices in my life because the emotional wounds and subconscious programming from my childhood had been dictating my emotional reactions to life, my relationship with myself and life.  The saying I had heard in recovery that ‘if you keep doing what you are doing, you will keep getting what you are getting’ suddenly became clear.  On that day, a paradigm shift occurred that allowed me to see life from a different perspective – a perspective that caused me to become willing to start doing the work necessary to change that intellectual programming and heal those emotional wounds.

Paradigm Shifting Insight

That is the way the recovery process has worked for me.  I have an insight that allows me to see an issue from a different perspective.  Once my perspective has started changing, the paradigm has started shifting, then I can see what needs to be changed in my intellectual programming in order to start changing my emotional reactions.  I see where I have been powerless – trapped by old attitudes and definitions – and then I have the power to change my relationship to that issue, which will change my emotional experience of life in relationship to that issue.

(When I started writing this column, I was not planning on focusing so much on the process – oh well, I guess it was necessary, and hopefully will be helpful to my readers.  Maybe, I just wanted to include the fact that my 13th anniversary in codependence recovery is upon me.  Whatever, I will get on with the column now.)

I don’t remember how the particular insight that I am writing about here came about – whether I heard it, or read it, or just had the thought occur (which would mean, to me, that it was a message from my Higher Self/Higher Power – of course any of those methods would be a message from my Higher Power.)  In any case, this particular insight struck me with great force.  Like most great insights, it was amazingly simple and obvious.  It was to me earth shattering/paradigm busting in it’s impact.  The insight was:

If someone loves you, it should feel like they love you.

What a concept!  Obvious, logical, rational, elementary – like ‘duh’ of course it should.

I had never experienced feeling loved consistently in my closest relationships.  Because my parents did not know how to Love themselves, their behavior towards me had caused me to experience love as critical, shaming, manipulative, controlling, and abusive.  Because that was my experience of love as a child – that was the only type of relationship I was comfortable with as an adult.  It was also, and most importantly, the relationship that I had with myself.

In order to start changing my relationship with myself, so that I could start changing the type of relationships I had with other people, I had to start focusing on trying to learn the True nature of Love.

This, I believe, is the Great Quest that we are on.  Anyone in recovery, on a healing/Spiritual path, is ultimately trying to find their way home to LOVE – in my belief.  LOVE is the Higher Power – the True nature of the God-Force/Goddess Energy/Great Spirit.  LOVE is the fabric from which we are woven.  LOVE is the answer.

And in order to start finding my way home to LOVE – I first had to start awakening to what Love is not.  Here are a few things that I have learned, and believe, are not part of the True nature of Love.

Love is not:

Critical            Shaming            Abusive            Controlling            Manipulative

Demeaning            Humiliating            Separating            Discounting

Diminishing            Belittling            Negative            Traumatic

Painful most of the time            etc.

Love is also not an addiction.  It is not taking a hostage or being taken hostage.  The type of romantic love that I learned about growing is a form of toxic love.  The “I can’t smile without out you,” “Can’t live without you.” “You are my everything,” “You are not whole until you find your prince/princess” messages that I learned in relationship to romantic love in childhood are not descriptions of Love – they are descriptions of drug of choice, of someone who is a higher power/false god.

Additionally, Love is not being a doormat.  Love does not entail sacrificing your self on the altar of martyrdom – because one cannot consciously choose to sacrifice self if they have never Truly had a self that they felt was Lovable and worthy.  If we do not know how to Love our self, how to show respect and honor for our self – then we have no self to sacrifice.  We are then sacrificing in order to try to prove to ourselves that we are lovable and worthy – that is not giving from the heart, that is codependently manipulative, controlling, and dishonest.

Unconditional Love is not being a self-sacrificing doormat – Unconditional Love begins with Loving self enough to protect our self from the people we Love if that is necessary.  Until we start Loving, honoring, and respecting our self, we are not Truly giving – we are attempting to take self worth from others by being compliant in our behavior towards them.

I also learned that Love is not about success, achievement, and recognition.  If I do not Love my self – believe at the core of my being that I am worthy and Lovable – then any success, achievement, or recognition I get will only serve to distract me temporarily from the hole that I feel within, from the feeling of being defective that I internalized as a small child because the love that I received did not feel Loving.

I realized that this is what I had done for much of my life – tried to take self worth from being a ‘nice guy’ or from a princess or from becoming a ‘success.’  As I started awakening to what Love is not, I could then start exploring to discover the True Nature of Love.  I started consciously realizing that this is what I had always been seeking – that my Great Quest in life is to return home to LOVE.

LOVE is the answer.  Love is the key.  The Great Quest in life is for the Holy Grail that is the True nature of Love.

Sacred Spiral

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

 

 

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My Sobriety Date: January 3rd, 1984

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sacred Spiral

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

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

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

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

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

Sacred Spiral

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are all butterflies.  We are all Spiritual Beings.

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

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

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

Sacred Spiral

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sacred Spiral

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “No,” I said “I had no idea.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sacred Spiral

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Detachment and Delayed Gratification

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

That concept is detachment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sacred Spiral

Joy2MeU Journal Logo

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

Chapter 4: False Self Image

The Dance

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

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

When I came to recovery, I took great pride in what an honest person I was – my ego strength was based in part on being better than other people because I was such an honest person.  I saw myself as this righteously honest person – and I could not consciously acknowledge that I had ever felt fear in my life.  I was completely twisted and dishonest with myself emotionally – which made me incapable of really being honest on any level.  My conscious self image was twisted and dishonest in reaction to the lie that I was shamefully defective as a being.

I would present myself as – and truly believed I was – a sensitive, caring male who was so different from all those macho clowns that were not in touch with their feelings.

But I was talking about feelings on a theoretical level – I was not connected to them directly.  I was not actually feeling them personally.  I had feelings certainly, but I had no permission to own them as being personal, as being mine.

I think acting saved my life because it gave me an emotional outlet.  I would express my feelings in my acting – they were my feelings, but I was attributing them to my characters.  It never occurred to me to wonder why the characters I liked to play the most were very intense, in a great deal of pain, and usually suicidal in some way.  Junkies and drunks, psychos and outcasts, the desperately lonely and terminally emotionally wounded, were my specialty.  I called it method acting – really getting into my characters skin and living their emotional reality.

Twice in acting personalization exercises on camera – where one would take a monologue from a play and do it in a very personal way – my acting teacher took me aside afterwards to ask if I was okay because she was so concerned about how much pain she was seeing in my performance.  I thought this showed what a great actor I was – that she had so believed my characterization.  Those on camera exercises were really a glimpse at my true emotional state.

One that I did several years before getting sober, was Hamlet’s soliloquy “To be or not to be . . .” where he is considering suicide – which most actors do with some kind of a knife as a prop to fondle as the character considers the benefits and deficits of suicide, “To die, to sleep.  No more.”  I did the monologue as an alcoholic actor who was using Shakespeare’s words to express his own personal dilemma – and used an alcoholic drink as my prop.  Brilliant creative inspiration, I thought – like, duh, talk about personal.

I would feel the feelings while I was rehearsing and performing – which allowed me to give my emotions some expression and release without owning them as personal.  I saw the characters I played as being driven by their gut level fears, but I personally was not afraid of anything – because my subconscious programming dictated that a real man does not feel fear.

I would appear to be a sensitive, emotionally honest person in real life, but I was really just performing then also.  I was not actually being in my body and personally owning my feelings.  I was acting as if I were in touch with my feelings in my day to day life whenever I had an audience – and when there was no one around, then I was caught up in some internal trauma drama about the future or the past so that I could stay unconscious to the present moment.

I was playing a character in my life – trying to live up to the self image I wished to present to people.  I was expressing and exhibiting the feelings that I thought I should be feeling to match the self image I was trying to present to you.  I was unconsciously being manipulative emotionally so that you would like and accept me if that was my goal (usually women) – or so you would be a little scared of me if I didn’t want something from you (usually men.)

My intentions, my conscious motivations, did not match my actions because of my emotional dishonesty.  The concept of self I presented to you did not match the reality of my behavior if you got personally involved with me.  The conscious self image that I invested so much energy into – the false self, ego self – which I felt gave me worth, was a twisted, distorted view of myself.  It was not possible for me to look at my self with any objectivity, because of the subconscious intellectual paradigm that was defining my relationship to self and life included the beliefs that being afraid was shameful, being “wrong” was unacceptable.

The punch line to this dysfunctional joke is that I really am a sensitive, caring person.  I tried real hard to convince you of it because I was trying so hard to convince myself it was the truth.  I was trying to trick you into believing I was who I wanted to be, but I didn’t really believe it in the depths of my being.

codependency = a ridiculous, dysfunctional, tragicomedy

“A large part of what we identify as our personality is in fact a distorted view of who we really are due to the type of behavioral defenses we adopted to fit the role or roles we were forced to assume according to the dynamics of our family system.”

This is part of what makes codependency such a ridiculous, dysfunctional, tragicomedy.  The character I was playing, my false self image, was not really false.  It contained a great deal more Truth in relationship to who I really am – to my personality, my essential character in this lifetime – than falsehood.  But I was incapable of seeing that because I was focused externally to keep from having to look at myself and admit how defective and shameful I felt.

“At the foundation of our relationship with our self – and therefore with other people and life – is the feeling that we will die if we reveal ourselves to other people, because then they will see our shameful self. . . . . . Our lives have been dictated by an emotional defense system that is designed to keep hidden the the false belief that we are defective.  We use external things – success, looks, productivity, substances – to try to cover up, overcome, make up for, the personal defectiveness that we felt caused our hearts to be broken and our souls wounded in childhood.  And that personal defectiveness is a lie.  That feeling of toxic shame is a lie.

It was so painful that we had to lie to ourselves about it.  We were forced to be emotionally and intellectually dishonest with ourselves by the codependent defenses we adapted. . . . . . . We built up a dishonest self image to try to convince ourselves that we had worth based upon some comparative external factors:  looks, success, independence (the counterdependent rebel), popularity (people pleasers), righteousness (better than others, right to their wrong), or whatever.  That false self image was not completely dishonest because it was formed in reaction to some basic aspects of who we Truly are – but it was a twisted, distorted, polarized perspective of our self adapted in response to toxic shame, for the purpose of giving us some ego strength, some reason we could feel better than others.

That false self image, the masks we learned to wear, is something we invested a lot of energy into convincing ourselves was the truth.” – Fear of Intimacy – caused by early childhood trauma  

One of the payoffs in codependency recovery, is that as we strip away the layers of denial – the twisted distorted perspectives and false beliefs – we learn that we are the person we always wanted to be.  As we start to uncover and discover the lies and distortions in our subconscious intellectual paradigm and become willing to get emotionally honest with ourselves by owning the grief and rage, we start to see ourselves clearly for the first time.  Codependency is about having a dysfunctional relationship with our selves as human beings – and the key to unraveling the puzzle of self, to stripping away the distortion and the lies, is to get emotionally honest with self.

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

The false self that we develop to survive is never totally false – there is always some Truth in it.  For example, people who go into the helping professions do truly care and are not doing what they do simply out of Codependence.  Nothing is black and white – everything in life involves various shades of gray.  Recovery is about getting honest with ourselves and finding some balance in our life.” – Roles In Dysfunctional Families

One of the things that is so confusing in a relationship between two codependents, is that we can see into the other person enough to see their inner beauty, their potential, their pain – and they often say the things we want to hear to confirm that what we are seeing is Truth – but their behaviors do not match what we are seeing and hearing.  (So, of course, being good codependents our selves, we fluctuate between feeling like it is our fault and the we have to work harder or change somehow – and thinking it is our responsibility to get the other person to see the light, to realize who they really are.)

“Intimacy is about allowing another person to see into us – in to me see.  When we allow another person to see into us deep enough, what they are going to see is a Magnificent Spiritual Being.  If we are not doing our healing – are still allowing our relationship with ourselves to be dictated by the shame of the child who felt unlovable – that means they will be seeing something which we cannot see.

One of the really difficult thing in relationships, is that often we can see how beautiful the other person Truly is – but they cannot see it in themselves.  So, we hang onto relationships knowing how wonderful the other person really is, and what potential they have, but they react to us out of the defenses they adapted to push us away, or run away from us.  If they are not in the process of healing and recovery, of getting in touch with and changing their patterns, then they are not going to be available to us in the way we want them to be.  We can learn a lot about ourselves by relating to them – but ultimately will end up feeling like a victim of their inability / unwillingness to change.

We cannot control or change the other person.  Our first priority – our responsibility – is to learn to be more emotionally intimate with ourselves.  Other people come into our lives as teachers to help us learn about ourselves.

In order to start changing my patterns, I had to learn to start being emotionally honest with myself.” – May 23, 2001 Joy2MeU Update  Newsletter 3

I was investing an incredible amount of energy into projecting an image to other people.  That image had much more Truth in it than falsehood – but I didn’t know that.  I was doing it to try to get the Love and respect and validation that I was so starved for.  But I didn’t believe it, so when I did get love and validation it did not work to make me feel good about myself deep inside.  It did not change my core relationship with myself.  I could not truly accept / take in / own the external validation because I thought I was living a lie.  I thought I was a fraud and was fooling you when you liked me.

This is part of the ultimate dysfunction of codependency.  We put so much energy into reaching the goal, earning your love, doing what we think is necessary to “fix” our self, and if we get that which we have been pursuing, it doesn’t work.  It doesn’t make us feel the way we thought it would make us feel.  It does not get us to “happily ever after.”

“You can get all the money, property, and prestige in the world, have everyone in the world adore you, but if you are not at peace within, if you don’t Love and accept yourself, none of it will work to make you Truly happy.”

Looking outside to fill the hole within is dysfunctional.  As long as I was still reacting to the toxic shame I felt about my self from early childhood, then what I was doing in my interactions (inter-reactions) is being dishonest and manipulative.  It did not matter if most of what I was saying was the real Truth about who I am – I didn’t believe it.

I was trying to get what I wanted from you by trying to be who I thought you wanted me to be, and since you could see in my eyes that which I could not see, you believed me.  But then I couldn’t accept your acceptance so I ended up sabotaging the relationship with my behavior.

“The way the dynamic in a dysfunctional relationship works is in a “come here” – “go away” cycle.  When one person is available the other tends to pull away.  If the first person becomes unavailable the other comes back and pleads to be let back in.   When the first becomes available again then the other eventually starts pulling away again.  It happens because our relationship with self is not healed.  As long as I do not love myself then there must be something wrong with someone who loves me – and if someone doesn’t love me than I have to prove I am worthy by winning that person back.  On some level we are trying to earn the love of our unavailable parent(s) to prove to ourselves that we are worthy and lovable.” – Codependent Relationships Dynamics Part 4 – Come Here, Go Away

 My behavior did not match my words because my behavior patterns were driven by my emotional wounds.  As long as I had no capacity to be emotionally honest, my codependency defended me based upon the programming it adapted in reaction to the emotional trauma I had experienced in early childhood.

Opening our hearts

My codependent defense system is set up to try to keep me from being abandoned, betrayed, and rejected by someone to whom I have opened my heart.  As a little child, my heart was completely open to my parents.  They emotionally abandoned and betrayed me because they were programmed to emotionally abandon and betray themselves.  It felt to me as a child as if they had rejected me because something was wrong with me.

My ego adopted an emotional defense system – codependency – to try protect me and keep secret the fact that I was a shameful and defective, a pitiful excuse for a man.  Since I felt unlovable and unworthy, and I thought I was the only person who felt that way, I had to keep what a loser I was secret.  I had to be emotionally dishonest with myself to try to stay unconscious to how I felt at the depths of my being.  I had to be emotionally dishonest – and therefore dishonest to some extent on other levels – in my relationships with other people because it felt like anyone who found out my secret would run away screaming in horror.  If anyone could see who I really was, they would reject me – they would abandon and betray me like my parents had.

“Fear of intimacy is at the heart of codependency.  We have a fear of intimacy because we have a fear of abandonment, betrayal, and rejection.  We have a these fears because we were wounded in early childhood – we experienced feeling emotionally abandoned, rejected, and betrayed by our parents because they were wounded.  They did not have healthy relationship with self – they were codependents who abandoned and betrayed themselves – and their behavior caused us to feel unworthy and unlovable.” – Fear of Intimacy – caused by early childhood trauma

The way codependency works, is that what we want the most – Love – is also what scares us the most, because we feel like we will screw it up if our dreams come true.  My codependent defenses were designed to keep me from being rejected by someone who could Truly Love me.  The way this manifests behaviorally is, that I was attracted to unavailable people in an attempt to protect myself from making the mistake of opening my heart, of believing that I was Lovable.  (This of course, is not in any way a conscious thing.  It is an energetic dynamic that results from repressing emotional energy.)

“Emotions are a vital part of our being for several reasons. . . . . . . .

4. We are attracted to people that feel familiar on an energetic level – which means (until we start clearing our emotional process) people that emotionally / vibrationally feel like our parents did when we were very little kids.  At a certain point in my process I realized that if I met a woman who felt like my soul mate, that the chances were pretty huge that she was one more unavailable woman that fit my pattern of being attracted to someone who would reinforce the message that I wasn’t good enough, that I was unlovable.  Until we start releasing the hurt, sadness, rage, shame, terror – the emotional grief energy – from our childhoods we will keep having dysfunctional relationships.” – Feeling the Feelings

My conscious desire and intentions were aligned with finding love, but my subconscious programming / codependency caused me be attracted to unavailable people who could not possibly Love me in a healthy way, because they did not Love them self.

Anyone who is not in recovery from their childhood programming is incapable of really Loving them self in a healthy way – is unavailable.   This is true rather they are unavailable because they are being counterdependent and denying their need for connection, or because they are so classically codependent that they do not have a sense of self and feel an urgency for connection in order to have any worth.  The extremes of codependency in regard to romantic relationships are the enmeshment of toxic love (wanting to merge with the other person because we have no boundaries or self worth – which sets us us up to accept crumbs and abuse in order to stay in relationship) or keeping them at arms length because we are so afraid of opening our hearts (in which case our behavior sets us up to create self fulfilling prophecies of abandonment and betrayal.)  Both extremes are unavailable for a healthy relationship.  

I was defining myself by the image of myself that I was holding in my consciousness – but how I behaved was being dictated by the subconscious programming.  My subconscious programming dictated that, as a man, the only emotion it was acceptable for me to feel was anger – but that it was not ok to be angry at women.  Talk about a narrow emotional spectrum – emotionally crippled indeed.

I saw myself in alignment with the conscious self image that I was projecting – a sensitive, caring male who was so different from all those macho clowns that were not in touch with their feelings – but my behavior in intimate relationships was dictated by the subconscious perspective of emotions that I had learned from my male role model in childhood.  That paradigm dictated that a man could not feel sad or hurt or afraid – a man only felt anger.  In other words, I saw myself as, and talked the talk of, a sensitive caring male but when anyone got too close emotionally my behavior was that of a macho clown.

It was not your typical macho clown however, because I had been programmed that it was not acceptable to be angry at women.  A person who does not have permission to own anger, is set up to be passive aggressive.  The anger is not expressed directly.  It is expressed indirectly, it comes out sideways.

“Passive-aggressive behavior is the expression of anger indirectly.  This happens because we got the message one way or another in childhood that it was not OK to express anger.  Since anger is energy that can not be completely repressed it gets expressed in indirect ways. . . . . .

Passive-aggressive behavior can take the form of sarcasm, procrastination, chronic lateness, being a party pooper, constantly complaining, being negative, offering opinions and advice that is not asked for, being the martyr, slinging arrows (“whatever have you done to your hair”, “gained a little weight haven’t we?”), etc.  If we don’t know how to set boundaries or will go along with anything to avoid conflict, then we often will agree to doing things we don’t want to do – and as a result we will not be happy doing them and will get back at the other person somehow, someway because we are angry at them for “making” us do something we don’t want to do.” – Emotional abuse is Heart and Soul Mutilation

Anyone who does not have permission from their subconscious programming to own their anger, is set up to be emotionally dishonest with self and with other people.  I was set up to be emotionally dishonest in romantic relationships because I did not have the right to be angry or set boundaries.  A codependent often feels like the person they are in relationship with “should” be able to read their mind to know what they want – and then is set up to feel like a victim.  Being direct and honest was a risk that I did not know how to take.  I was afraid if I said “no,” if I disagreed, if there was an argument, the other person would leave.  My fear of abandonment and rejection set me up to be dishonest and manipulative in an intimate relationship with a woman.

Men I could get angry at.  But even then I wasn’t being angry in an emotionally honest manner.  I hated the way my father raged, and vowed not to be like him.  This resulted in me stuffing my anger.  Repressing the emotional energy of anger does not work.  It manifests somehow, someway.  With other men, the common way that this came out was with sarcasm.  Of course, the society that I grew up in, taught me that this was the acceptable way to relate to other men.  “Hey dirt bag” – or something similar (with cuss words being the coolest form) – is the way men say “I love you” to each other in an emotionally crippled society.  It is passive aggressive and emotionally abusive.

I would rage on occasion.  Stuffing my anger, swallowing it down, caused it to build up and become explosive.  So, periodically I would explode.  Usually over something that did not really have much to do with what I was really angry about.  The anger that I built up at women often came out at some man.  When I exploded at men, I raged – like my father.  That caused me to feel ashamed and crazy – and I swung back to the other extreme where I was stuffing it again.  Until the next time it exploded.

Rage is not anger.  It is not emotionally honest.  I think of rage as anger that has been steeped in shame for years.  It is the result of seething, festering resentment – victim feelings.  Rage is a twisted, distorted, virulent, mutant magnification of anger.

With women, when I reached the point of explosion, it would sometimes come out as silent rage.  Not the yelling and cursing explosion of my father, but a door slamming, wall kicking, muttering under my breath type of rage.  I would punish you with my sullen silence.

Or I would come from the martyr / victim place, and point out how the other person had wronged me grievously.  I would trot out a list of everything the person had done in the past that hurt me so badly.  I would accuse them of insensitivity, of not caring about my feelings.

“By setting boundaries, we are communicating with another person.  We are telling them who we are and what we need.  It is much more effective to do that directly and honestly than to expect them to read our minds – and then punish them when they cannot. . . . . . . When we stuff our feelings we build up resentments.  Resentments are victim feelings – the feeling that somebody is doing something to us.  If we don’t speak up and take the risk of sharing how we feel, we will end up blowing up and/or being passive aggressive – and damaging the relationship.

Learning to set boundaries is a vital part of learning to communicate in a direct and honest manner.  It is impossible to have a healthy relationship with someone who has no boundaries, with someone who cannot communicate directly, and honestly.” – Setting Personal Boundaries 

So, I would get angry at a woman, but it was because of what she was doing to me.  Her appalling insensitivity (meaning she wasn’t doing what I wanted her to do, what I expected) would push me to the point of having to unburden myself by sharing with her how wrong she was.  It would be her fault I was angry, her responsibility because she was forcing me to be verbally abusive.  I – the poor innocent victim who loved her so much – was being forced to tell her the truth as I understood it.  I was not violating my sensitive, caring self image because she was leaving me no choice.  If she would just be reasonable and do what I wanted her to do, then I wouldn’t have to get angry at her.

The lie that is codependent, selfless, martyr, victimization is the effect of not being emotionally honest enough to have healthy boundaries.  It is a defense adapted by my ego in an attempt to keep me from opening my heart so that it can be broken again.  If my heart is broken again, I have to make it your fault because the only other option in a polarized perspective of life is to admit that I am to blame.  To blame myself is to plunge into the abyss of pain and shame at the core of my being – the unendurable, hopeless, want to die, place within me where I feel shamefully unlovable and unworthy.

This is the behavior that I was powerless to change until I started to get emotionally honest with myself.  The intellectual and emotional programming from my childhood set me up to be incapable of having a healthy intimate relationship.

Codependency is very dysfunctional.  It hurts just as much to be rejected by an unavailable person as by an available one.  As long as we are reacting out of our inner child wounds, we will take any perceived rejection as personal – as a reflection of our shameful defectiveness.

Until I started to consciously work on changing the ego programming which was keeping me in denial and emotional dishonesty, I was unable to change my core relationship with self – I was unable to see through the false self image, was unable to see my self with any clarity.” – Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light  Book 2:  A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life  Chapter 4: False Self Image

Sacred Spiral

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

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

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

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

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

Bringing Codependency Recovery Pioneer to the UK in 2017

Robert Burney’s Trip to UK canceled

May 27th, 2017 – I have decided to cancel the planned trip to the UK for October.  As we were closing in on finalizing the plans for my trip there, a major change took place in my life as I got custody of my 12 year old grandson.  At first it wasn’t clear if he would be living with me in the fall or not, so I pushed the trip back from September to October based on the possibility that he would still be with me.  Since then it has become clear that he will be living with me – and that taking an 8 or 10 day trip to UK would present significant challenges in getting taking care of him during that time covered.  If we would have had people signing up for the retreat and putting down deposits in the over 2 weeks since we posted the page, that could have impacted this decision.  But since no one has signed up, it seems as if it is part of the Divine Plan to go ahead with the cancelation.  Hopefully we can make this trip to the UK happen at some point in the not too distant future.  Maybe even next summer and I can bring my grandson along.

Robert Burney Trip to UK 2017

Book cover

Robert Burney is an author, spiritual teacher and counselor.  His first book “Codependence – The Dance of Wounded Souls” has been called “one of the truly transformational works of our time” and he has been referred to as “a metaphysical Stephen Hawking.”   He is a counselor /coach and Spiritual Teacher whose work has been compared to John Bradshaw’s “except much more spiritual” and described as “taking inner child healing to a new level.”  His book “The Dance”  is an insightful, clearly written narrative that has helped countless people to understand and heal from the shortcomings of their relationships with self and others.  Robert’s work resonates strongly with those that have been fortunate enough to come across it.

Codependency Recovery / Inner Child Healing Formula

A pioneer in the realm of codependency recovery and inner child healing, Robert discovered and developed a pioneering holistic approach to codependency recovery – an inner child healing paradigm – that offers a powerful, life changing formula for integrating Love, Spiritual Truth, and intellectual knowledge of healthy behavior into one’s emotional experience of life – a blueprint for individuals to transform their core relationship with self and life.

This blueprint can be invaluable to people just starting the recovery / healing process, and is often the missing piece that people who have been healing /  recovering / on a spiritual path for decades have been seeking.  What is unique about the approach is that all of the tools are brought together in a focused system for achieving integration and balance – and even someone who has a very good therapist (or is a very good therapist) right now, can still find it very beneficial to attend one of his workshops.

Creating the Possibility of bringing Robert Burney to the UK

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Robert Burney

In order to share his experience, strength and hope – and teach others his integration formula – Robert has offered intensive workshops and retreats in the US, Canada, and twice on the Spanish Island of Ibiza, as well as on cruises in the Caribbean.  In spite of having a healthy following in the United Kingdom Robert has not physically presented his work in a similar fashion.

Several years ago Angel Morrison (who had both attended a retreat in Ibiza and been on a cruise with Robert) suggested the idea of working to bring Robert Burney to the UK.  Angel understood the importance of expanding the knowledge of Robert’s work.  Rachel Hawadi who had read Robert’s work (and done phone counseling with him) agreed and the two agreed to volunteer and commit to making this a reality.  This has then given birth to a Facebook Group which aims “To make the possibility of bringing Robert Burney to the UK” in 2017.

As of February 14th, 2017, initial plans are being formulated.  The goal is to make this trip happen in September 2017.  This page is being created to survey people who might be interested in meeting and/or attending an appearance by Robert, to ascertain what formats people would like to have available and where it would be best to offer these opportunities.

Location

It is assumed that London would be one of the locations – and both Birmingham and Nottingham have been proposed by people interested.  Email us to let us know if you could attend in London or want to suggest another location in the UK.

Formats

In order to make the best use of Robert’s time the following mixture of sessions could be offered during the tour.

  • 1 to 1 sessions: These could either be face to face/Telephone and Skype sessions for those in the UK.   Depending on availability these can be 1 hour sessions.   Given that the unique selling point of this tour is being able to see Robert face to face it would seem that a “face to face” would be the main offering.

  • Weekend Retreat: A residential retreat in a comfortable, peaceful setting starting on Friday with a 6:30 arrival, dinner and a session until 10 pm.  An intensive session on Saturday which would end on Sunday around 4 pm.  It would be important to ensure that those attending have excellent food and a general feeling of being cared for.

  • 5-day Retreat: A transformative retreat for those needing a radical overhaul in a similar setting as the weekend retreat but going deeper with more workshops, 1 to 1 sessions.  The setting will also be comfortable and nurturing.   There should be an additional offering of holistic therapies e.g. massages, reflexology, yoga, deep breathing, walks etc.

  • 1 day Intensive workshops: These would follow the exact same formats that have been offered and could be done both during the day or evening.  More than likely, evening sessions could be more successful in London – although it would need to be for 3 evenings in order for Robert to teach the formula that he teaches in his Intensive Workshops.  There might be a requirement to juggle between different towns in the UK.

Please send us some feedback so that we can ascertain the amount of interest and what people are interested in so that we can know if we can make this possibility manifest this year.  Email us to let us know.

Here is some of the feedback from the Intensive Training Workshops / retreats that Robert has done in the past.

“I found this session to be very useful in seeing the what & the why of “my” reality.  The understanding I have gained gives me hope in my future.  This has been the greatest gift I have ever given myself.”

“I really enjoyed Robert Burney’s Intensive Training on inner child work. . .  I had many revelations about my inner child and how I can reparent and stop the critical parent that has followed me my whole life. . . Thank you so much Robert.  You are a truly unforgetable person. So glad I said yes to attending.”

“Exceptionally understandable; very clear.  This was LIFE Changing – I am so thankful.  I would Absolutely recommend it.”

“Robert Burney’s training day was so inspirational and enlightening.  He was loving and warm and presented profound life changing material in a very not intimidating way.  Magical!”

“My life has been much better since I went to your seminar.”

“Brilliant.  Liberating.  So profound it is sometimes ! hilarious  I feel you completely get the dynamics of the human experience and the truth you teach can set people free.”

“It was very empowering, uplifting and gave me new hope.  The information was invaluable.”

“Robert is a very , compassionate intuitive, and intelligent soul who shares his insights to you in such a clear, fun, and poignant way that your life will be forever changed.” –  Testimonial Page for Robert Burney Seminar

Email us to let us know if you are interested.

Sacred Spiral

The key to codependency recovery is the inner child healing work I describe on my site:   A key element of that work includes learning to set internal boundaries.  The formula that I pioneered for inner healing – which includes learning to set the internal boundaries –  is something that I teach people through telephone counseling   (It is now possible to get phone cards for very cheap rates from many places in the world – and also to use Skype for free from anywhere.)  I talk about how the phone counseling can work to really change a persons life for the better in a short period of time on this page which includes some special combination offers.

Reading my book Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls  (links to all of my books in hard copy, ebook, and audiobook format are on that page – or you can get Books, eBooks, and Audiobooks through Amazon) would really help you take your understanding to a whole new level.  Understanding codependency is vital in helping us to forgive our self for the dysfunctional ways we have lived our lives – it is not our fault we are codependent.

In the last few years I have also published two more books that can be very helpful. Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light Book 1 Empowerment, Freedom, and Inner Peace through Inner Child Healing and Romantic Relationships ~ The Greatest Arena for Spiritual & Emotional Growth.  I have special offers for either or both of these books (or for all three of my books) on this page.

I also offer periodic day long workshops to teach people how to apply my inner child healing formula.   (There is now a downloadable MP3 recording available of my Life Changing workshop  – and I have a page with special offers for both the workshop recording and an MP3 download of Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls. )

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

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 10: Normal Families are Dysfunctional

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

Normal is Codependent

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

The Dance

Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls

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

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

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

. . . . . . . We experienced what is called “sanctuary trauma” – our safest place to be was not safe – and we experienced it on a daily basis for years and years. Some of the greatest damage was done to us in subtle ways on a daily basis because our sanctuary was a battlefield.

It was not a battlefield because our parents were wrong or bad – it was a battlefield because they were at war within, because they were born into the middle of a war. By doing our healing we are becoming the emotionally honest role models that our parents never had the chance to be. Through being in Recovery we are helping to break the cycles of self-destructive behavior that have dictated human existence for thousands of years.

Codependence is a very vicious and powerful form of Delayed Stress Syndrome. The trauma of feeling like we were not safe in our own homes makes it very difficult to feel like we are safe anywhere. Feeling like we were not lovable to our own parents makes it very difficult to believe that anyone can Love us.

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

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

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

“A Transformational Healing Process has begun on the planet Earth. Due to a profound change that has taken place in the energy field of Collective Human Emotional Consciousness, resources are now available to us to do healing that has never before been possible in recorded human history. Human beings now, for the first time, have the capacity to directly address the core issues of the human dilemma.”

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

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

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

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

Cause and Effect

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dysfunctional Concept of Family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I will be discussing different levels of this dysfunction, the normal codependency of civilization in coming chapters. First however I am going to address an area where we were set up to be abused because of our experiences in childhood. Our experiences with our parents set us up to expect abuse from authority figures. The dysfunctional school systems reinforced this set up. It is no wonder that we end up being abused by medical and mental health authorities that are part of dysfunctional cultural systems.” – This is an excerpt from Chapter 10: Normal Families are Dysfunctional of Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life Sacred SpiralCodependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light  Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life is available in a subscription area of the Joy2MeU website entitled: Dancing in Light

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

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

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

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

Chapter 5: Codependency = conditioned reactive programming ~ Pavlov’s Dog

Dr. Ivan Pavlov, a professor of physiology (the science of organic functions/processes,) won the Noble Prize in Medicine in 1904 for his study of the physiology of digestion. His study of the physiological process of digestion in dogs led him to studying the link between digestion and the autonomic nervous system. He found that he could train dogs to associate the ringing of a bell with food so that they would start salivating – which gave the stomach the message to start the digestive process – every time a bell would ring. Thus the term “Pavlov’s dog” entered language referring to conditioned reflexes that are learned as opposed to innate and natural.

The work of Dr. Pavlov formed the foundation for work of psychologist’s such as B.F. Skinner, who studied and refined his theories and in the process founded the field of behavioral psychology.

This branch of psychology ignores the unconscious which traditional psychoanalysis focused upon, in favor of behavior modification. Behavior modification uses positive or negative reinforcement to train animals or people to change their behavior into that which is more acceptable to whomever has power over that animal or person.

Behavior modification techniques are used extensively in institutions – prisons, mental hospitals, juvenile facilities – to control behavior and attempt to change behavior patterns.

Some years ago, I worked for a period of time in a Boys Home that employed behavior modification techniques. As much as I needed the money at that time, I couldn’t do the work for long (although long enough to be able to afford to buy my first computer.) It broke my heart to see wounded boys being treated like animals who needed to be trained.

Unfortunately in a dysfunctional society, behavior modification has it’s place because the medical and mental health systems are out of balance and dysfunctional.

The Dance

“Our mental health system not only does not promote healing – it actually blocks the process. The mental health system in this country is designed to get your behavior and emotions under control so that you can fit back into the dysfunctional system.” – Text in this color is used for quotes from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

That a person’s behavior doesn’t fit into the accepted norms of the dysfunctional society is identified as the problem that needs to be changed. The underlying causes of that symptomatic behavior are not really addressed in institutions that structure their programs to rely on behavior modification techniques.

Behavior modification can be functional in terms of bringing about a temporary change in a person’s behavior but unless the causes are addressed there is no real fundamental healing that takes place. Psychoanalysis focused upon an intellectual understanding of cause – and it is ultimately dysfunctional because emotional healing is not a component of the work.

“What the researchers were beginning to understand was how profoundly the emotional trauma of early childhood affects a person as an adult. They realized that if not healed, these early childhood emotional wounds, and the subconscious attitudes adopted because of them, would dictate the adult’s reaction to, and path through, life. Thus we walk around looking like and trying to act like adults, while reacting to life out of the emotional wounds and attitudes of childhood. We keep repeating the patterns of abandonment, abuse, and deprivation that we experienced in childhood.

Psychoanalysis addressed these issues only on the intellectual level – not on the emotional healing level. As a result, a person could go to psychoanalysis weekly for twenty years and still be repeating the same behavior patterns.”

Focusing on symptoms and intellectual understanding while discounting the emotional trauma at the core of the programming, are manifestations of the dysfunctional perspectives of codependent cultures. Emotionally dishonest and dysfunctional cultures do not produce medical and mental health systems that are holistic – that treat the whole person.

I will discuss in more detail in later chapters the emotional component of human beings and the dysfunction that is manifested in human systems – including medical and mental health – at all levels by the false beliefs and masculine feminine imbalance caused by planetary conditions. The main point I want to make in this chapter, is that codependency is an effect of behavior modification.

Sacred SpiralCodependency = conditioned reactive programming

Awakening from the bondage of ego programming

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder / Brainwashing / Behavior Modification / Conditioned Reflex

Codependency is a conditioned reflex. It is a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Codependence as Delayed Stress Syndrome.)  It is an effect of brainwashing, the result of behavior modification. Codependency is condition, or dis-ease, that is caused by environmental conditions and conditioning rather than a phenomena which is genetic or innate to human nature. (Disease = a disturbance in a natural process, an abnormal condition which disturbs normal organic structural integrity / process.)

The forms of behavior modification that cause codependency are both intentional and unintentional. Parents use some behavior modification techniques in teaching children how to behave. These are not inherently bad or wrong in and of themselves. Some of them may be useful tools in teaching social and survival skills to children. The intentional behavior modification techniques can also be abusive depending upon the intellectual paradigm / beliefs that are providing the standards for judging what behavior is acceptable. (i.e. If a parent believes that children should be seen and not heard they will be abusive in attempting to get the child to behave “properly.” On the opposite end of the reactive codependent spectrum, a parent who does not want to abuse their children in the ways they experienced in childhood, will often go to the other extreme, giving the children too much power and not setting proper boundaries for their behavior – this is a form of unintentional behavior modification and is also abusive.)

It is the unintentional behavior modification that is normally the most damaging. I spoke of the most powerful form of unintentional behavior modification in the third chapter of this work – role modeling.

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

The direct messages we got – both verbal (big boys don’t cry, little ladies don’t get angry, there is nothing to be afraid of, etc.) and behavioral (punishment for expressing emotions) – and indirect messages (the ways we interpreted and internalized the behavior of other people – parents, teachers, peers, etc. – as being personal punishment, as being our fault) we got both from our parents and from society play a part in that development, but role modeling has the greatest impact.” – Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life Chapter 3: Emotional Honesty

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

What we traditionally have called normal parenting in this society is abusive because it is emotionally dishonest. Children learn who they are as emotional beings from the role modeling of their parents. “Do as I say – not as I do,” does not work with children. Emotionally dishonest parents cannot be emotionally healthy role models, and cannot provide healthy parenting.”

Both intentional and unintentional behavior modification experiences play a part in creating codependency. A codependent society – that discounts the emotional and spiritual components of a human’s being and evaluates worth based upon external conditions (money, property, and prestige) and comparison to others (prettier than, smarter than, etc.) within a polarized (black/white, right/wrong) framework that defines wrong as shameful – conditions the people who grow up in that society to feel ashamed of their feelings and their humanity.

We were conditioned to “keep up appearances,” to keep our defectiveness secret. What would the neighbors think? Keep the family secrets – deny the elephant in the living room. (Referring to a metaphor about the power of denial in alcoholic families – denying the effect that alcoholism has on a family is like ignoring an elephant standing in the middle of the living room.)

We saw how our parents denied reality – and how much power they gave to what other people thought (or came from a family that lived the other extreme of rebellion and flaunting outrageous behavior in which case we felt ashamed because our family was different) – and we formed attitudes and beliefs based upon what we were feeling and hearing, seeing and experiencing. The reality we experienced in our homes – which were supposed to be our sanctuaries – was the only reality we knew. Those environments were where we learned how to live life and how to relate to other people. The conditions in our families dictated the behavior modification we experienced and internalized.

“We grew up having to deny the emotional reality: of parental alcoholism, addiction, mental illness, rage, violence, depression, abandonment, betrayal, deprivation, neglect, incest, etc. etc.; of our parents fighting or the underlying tension and anger because they weren’t being honest enough to fight; of dad’s ignoring us because of his workaholism and/or mom smothering us because she had no other identity than being a mother; of the abuse that one parent heaped on another who wouldn’t defend him/herself and/or the abuse we received from one of our parents while the other wouldn’t defend us; of having only one parent or of having two parents who stayed together and shouldn’t have; etc., etc.

We grew up with messages like: children should be seen and not heard; big boys don’t cry and little ladies don’t get angry; it is not okay to be angry at someone you love – especially your parents; god loves you but will send you to burn in hell forever if you touch your shameful private parts; don’t make noise or run or in any way be a normal child; do not make mistakes or do anything wrong; etc., etc.

We were born into the middle of a war where our sense of self was battered and fractured and broken into pieces. We grew up in the middle of battlefields where our beings were discounted, our perceptions invalidated, and our feelings ignored and nullified.

The war we were born into, the battlefield each of us grew up in, was not in some foreign country against some identified “enemy” – it was in the “homes” which were supposed to be our safe haven with our parents whom we Loved and trusted to take care of us. It was not for a year or two or three – it was for sixteen or seventeen or eighteen years.

We experienced what is called “sanctuary trauma” – our safest place to be was not safe – and we experienced it on a daily basis for years and years. Some of the greatest damage was done to us in subtle ways on a daily basis because our sanctuary was a battlefield.

It was not a battlefield because our parents were wrong or bad – it was a battlefield because they were at war within, because they were born into the middle of a war. By doing our healing we are becoming the emotionally honest role models that our parents never had the chance to be. Through being in Recovery we are helping to break the cycles of self-destructive behavior that have dictated human existence for thousands of years.

Codependence is a very vicious and powerful form of Delayed Stress Syndrome.”

Sacred Spiralrelationships horizontal and vertical

It is the nature of organisms of every living species on the planet to survive and propagate. The definition of “organism” is “an animal or plant internally organized to maintain vital functions.” (New Illustrated Webster’s Dictionary, 1992) (I also believe that the planet Earth itself is a living organism – Gaia – but that is another discussion.)

There is some element within all living things that strives for survival. The higher up the evolutionary ladder an organism is, the more mental capacity it displays. This mental capacity – intelligence – gives it the ability to process information and adjust it’s behavior to maximize chances for survival.

The vital difference between human beings and even the most intelligent of animals is consciousness. Consciousness for human beings includes not only a capacity for self awareness – the ability to have a conscious relationship with self – but also a consciousness of something larger than self. This consciousness of something larger than self is what has driven human beings throughout history to seek some kind of supernatural force / higher power which gives meaning and purpose to life beyond mere survival.

“Codependence and recovery are both multi-leveled, multi-dimensional phenomena. It is very easy for me to write hundreds of pages about any single aspect of codependence and recovery – what is very difficult and painful is to write a short column. No facet of this topic is linear and one-dimensional, so there is no simple answer to any one question – rather there are a multitude of answers to the same question, all of which are True on some level.

So in order to facilitate writing a short column on this month’s topic, I am going to make a brief point about two dimensions of this phenomena in relationship to empowerment. These two dimensions are the horizontal and the vertical. In this context the horizontal is about being human and relating to other humans and our environment. The vertical is Spiritual – about our relationship to the God-Force. Codependence is at it’s core a Spiritual disease and the only way out of it is through a Spiritual cure – so any recovery, any empowerment, depends upon Spiritual awakening.” – Empowerment

“We are not animals – not that there is anything wrong with being an animal – but we have a consciousness of something larger, something beyond ourselves. We have a memory of some other place – of some place kinder and gentler and more Loving.

We are Spiritual Beings.”

As I say in this quote from my book, there is certainly nothing wrong with animals. Animals are a perfect part of the conscious living energy that is The Great Spirit. They are connected to the Spirit just as humans are. Your dog or cat or horse or whatever, may in fact be a part of your Self. Everything is part of the energy of ALL THAT IS. Everyone and everything is experiencing the Spiritual Evolutionary process. All human beings in reality have experienced not only being animals, but being part of the elemental forces of the planet.

“You have experienced being wind, rain, and fire as well as mineral, plant, and animal and can in special moments access emotional memories of those experiences. So you are not crazy for feeling at One with a tree or a bird or a speck on the wall.” – The Dance of the Wounded Souls Trilogy History of the Universe Part I

I am not going to get into metaphysics or quantum physics in this chapter. I just want to make the point, that believing that one can communicate with the spirit of a loved animal – either alive or dead – is not necessarily crazy. That animals spirit may be some aspect of your Self that you have manifested in this life to help your self in your journey of Spiritual Awakening.

I am going address the phenomena of consciousness in relationship to the horizontal human experience – consciousness of self – in the remainder of this chapter and the vertical, Spiritual component, consciousness of Self in the next chapter.

(For anyone who has issues, is triggered, by references to spirituality or a higher power, please stick with me long enough to investigate what I have to say in the coming chapters – or you can check out my web pages Spirituality for Agnostics and Atheists or spiritual integration by clicking on these links. It is important to start awakening to how our childhood experiences have impacted our lives, so if the term Spiritual Awakening is causing you problems, think of it as what it also is, an intellectual awakening – an expansion of awareness.)

In a holistic approach to healing, it is vital to address both dimensions for a multitude of reasons. The most important in terms of this chapter, has to do with innate reflexes as opposed to conditioned reflexes. On the horizontal level, the innate programming for human beings carries the same priority for humans as does the innate programming of animals – survival. On the vertical level, survival is not the first priority. Our first priority on the vertical, in relationship to our Source – as Spiritual beings having a human experience – is to reconnect with Love, with our Source.

The survival programming that is innate to our nature as human animals in relationship to the horizontal has been in conflict with our vertical, Spiritual yearning to return home to Love – because planetary conditions caused the illusion that we were disconnected from our Source. This conflict has been at the core of the human dilemma. Planetary conditions have changed in a significant manner in recent history, making it possible for the first time in recorded human history for us to start learning how to integrate the vertical into the horizontal.

“A Transformational Healing Process has begun on the planet Earth. Due to a profound change that has taken place in the energy field of Collective Human Emotional Consciousness, resources are now available to us to do healing that has never before been possible in recorded human history. Human beings now, for the first time, have the capacity to directly address the core issues of the human dilemma.”

The purpose of codependency recovery and inner child healing is to clear up our relationship with the horizontal – with self and how we relate to everything and everyone in our human environment – so that we can learn how to integrate the Spiritual into the physical and bring some balance and higher meaning to this human dance we are doing. We are here in body at this time to manifest Love into this human experience. We cannot do that without first learning how to access Love for our self. In order to do that, it is necessary to awaken to how the environments we grew up in conditioned us to live life in a way that is dysfunctional in relationship to the Spiritual / vertical component of our being – in a way that does not work to help us reconnect with Love.

Sacred SpiralAnimals are trained – Human Beings are emotionally traumatized

Dr. Pavlov showed that repeatedly ringing a bell right before feeding a dog could result in a conditioned reflex. That a dog could be programmed in a way that caused an alteration in the dog’s internal processes, in it’s relationship with eating. He also showed that if the dog experienced the bell ringing without being fed enough times, it would revert to it’s normal digestive processes. In other words, conditioned reflexes can be unlearned.

This true in human beings also – which makes recovery from codependency possible. However the process – both of the programming and of recovery from the programming – is much more complicated and complex in human beings.

Human beings are only in part animal. Human beings are a composite of four essential elements / dimensions of being. Those four are components are mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual. Mind, body, and soul are three parts of a four part equation.

Animals do not have the intellectual capacity to define themselves in relationship to their environment. They do not have consciousness of self. Animals are not capable of self awareness. They live life in reaction to innate and/or conditioned reflexes / instincts.

Human beings have the ability to define self individually in relationship to their environment. Human beings have the capacity to remember the past and envision the future. Human beings have a relationship with self that is defined by their perspective of self in relationship to life, to other human beings, to everything in their environment. The quality of this relationship to both self and external stimuli is characterized as the person’s self worth or self esteem.

An animal does not have a sense of, or capacity for, such a relationship with self. Animals do not have self worth. Animals just are. They live in the moment being perfectly the animal that they are. Their life experiences – the intentional or unintentional behavior modification that life brings their way – can alter, distort, change their reactions to their innate reflexes / instincts but they adapt and go on surviving / maintaining their vital functions.

A dog can be abused so that it cringes and grovels – or so that it attacks and kills – but these are conditioned reflexes that are expansions of / adaptations of / distortions of their innate natural reflexes / instincts. A dog in the right environment can unlearn these conditioned reflexes over time. It does not cringe and grovel because it has low self worth, or attack and kill because it believes it is better than whatever life form it is attacking – it is reacting to distortions of it’s natural instincts. The behavior modification training it has been subjected to, the conditioning that it has experienced, has taught it to react in a certain way to certain stimuli (the ringing bell) in alignment with it’s survival reflexes.

Animals with higher intelligence can also have distinct, individual personalities and a capacity for emotional attachment. Animals have the capacity for emotional reaction.

Dogs are certainly capable of emotional reaction and attachment. And this emotional attachment can be so great that it will sacrifice it’s survival for the person / people it has that attachment to – but this is true rather the dog has been treated lovingly or abusively because part of it’s innate reflex programming is loyalty to it’s pack, which is part of it’s survival programming. Dogs have been selectively bred for centuries to see humans as their pack leaders. Dogs have been bred to be codependent upon humans – to see humans as their higher powers.

(This brings to mind an old joke. God made dogs to be a companion to humans. After a period of time, one of the angels came to God and said, “We have a problem. The human beings experience the dogs behavior and look into the dogs eyes and start thinking that they are god.” God said, “Well, I’ll fix that.” And God created cats.;-)

A dog who was abused as a puppy will cringe and shrink back (somewhat similar to internal feeling which causes the classic codependent form of codependency) or snarl and bite (one of the counterdependent flavors of codependency) when anyone attempts to touch it. This is a conditioned reflex. This can be seen as the result of emotional abuse, but it is not the result of the animal having a damaged self image.

An animal can be emotionally abused, but it does not have a conscious relationship with self that can be affected by that emotional abuse. When a human being is emotionally abused (and any type of abuse – physical, sexual, verbal – is also emotionally abusive Emotional abuse is Heart and Soul Mutilation) it is traumatizing because of the effect it has on the being’s relationship with self. It is because humans have the capacity for self awareness that emotional trauma has such a huge impact on our lives.

For a human being, any kind of abuse is doubly traumatic. The abuse itself – and the effect that the abuse has on the person’s relationship with self, their self image. The effects of childhood abuse are more long lasting and traumatic than the incidents of abuse in and of themselves. The capacity which human beings have for self awareness – a relationship with / perspective of self – dictates that any emotional trauma suffered in early childhood, when we are forming the foundation of our relationship with self, is internalized and integrated into our perspective of self. That core relationship with self then dictates how we relate to life and other people.

Emotional trauma directly affects one’s relationship with self – ones self worth and self image. Emotional trauma is internalized and becomes a part of the emotional, behavioral defense system adapted by the element of a human’s being that is responsible for helping a human survive on a horizontal level – the ego.

Ego – consciousness of self

The ego is the part of our being whose job it is to help us survive. It is a part of our internal structure that is organized to maintain vital functions, that fights for survival. It is the ego that defines our relationship with self according to it’s survival programming and to the conditioning it experienced in early childhood. The ego is the part of us which determines our perspective of self – our self image.

A dog who was abused as a puppy can unlearn their conditioned reflexes by spending enough time in a safe and loving environment. Although a safe and loving environment can be very valuable to a human being who is healing from their childhood wounding – the emotional trauma they experienced because of behavior modification experiences in early childhood – love from external sources is not enough to heal a person’s relationship with self.

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

Intellectual knowledge of healthy behavior, experiences of a spiritual nature, faith in a Loving Higher Power, can help a person change their relationship with other people and life to a certain degree. It will not however, change the way a person reacts in the relationships that mean the most to them – it will not help them to open their heart to love and to being loved on the most intimate levels. Romantic relationships are the arena where our buttons get pushed, where our deepest wounds are triggered – which activates our emotional defenses.

We are not capable of having a Truly healthy romantic relationship, a Loving emotionally intimate relationship with another human being, until we start healing our childhood wounds in relationship to the trauma we experienced from the people we first opened our hearts to. Our parents were our first loves – and we were wounded in our relationships with them because they were wounded. We internalized and incorporated the conditioning from those initial experiences of opening our hearts to emotional intimacy into our relationship with self.

It is not our relationship with our parents that we need to heal in order to open to Love, it is our relationship with our self – the self image we formed because of our relationships with them. The healing we need to do is internal, in our relationship with self. Our ego adapted defenses to protect us in the environment we grew up in. In order to change our relationship with self we need to change our childhood ego programming.

“Codependence is an emotional and behavioral defense system which was adopted by our egos in order to meet our need to survive as a child. Because we had no tools for reprogramming our egos and healing our emotional wounds (culturally approved grieving, training and initiation rites, healthy role models, etc.), the effect is that as an adult we keep reacting to the programming of our childhood and do not get our needs met – our emotional, mental, Spiritual, or physical needs. Codependence allows us to survive physically but causes us to feel empty and dead inside. Codependence is a defense system that causes us to wound ourselves.”

The ego is not a bad thing, it was just programmed very dysfunctionally in early childhood. Our ego defenses are set up to protect us from the pain and shame of feeling unlovable and unworthy. The subconscious ego programming from my childhood was heavily invested in trying to protect me from the shame of admitting that I felt fear – or any other emotion that I thought made me less of a man.

“The ego is the part of us that is charged with responsibility for our survival. The ego is the seat of the disease of codependence.

Being born into an emotionally dishonest, fear and shame based, Spiritually hostile environments (based on separation rather than connection), caused us to be emotionally traumatized in childhood. In response to that emotional trauma our egos adapted some very dysfunctional programming. (Functional in terms of survival, but dysfunctional in terms of helping us to be happy and at peace within.)

For some of us, the wounding started in the womb where we: incubated in our mother’s fear and shame; or got addicted to adrenaline because of the emotional volatility of our mother’s life; or could feel our mother’s waiting for us to arrive to give meaning and purpose to her life; or felt how unwelcome we were because she had already had too many children and was feeling overwhelmed; etc.

We exited the warm nurturing cocoon of our incubator into a cold, harsh world. A world run by Higher Powers (parents and any body else bigger than us – siblings, grandparents, hospital or orphanage personnel) who were wounded in their childhood. Gods who were not emotionally healthy, and did not know how to Love themselves. Our egos were traumatized – and adapted programming to try to protect us from the pain of emotional trauma that felt life threatening.

The people we Loved the most – our Higher Powers – hurt us the most. Our emotional intimacy issues were caused by, our fear of intimacy is a direct result of, our early childhood experiences. Our lives have been lived in reaction to the intellectual paradigms our egos adapted to deal with emotional trauma.

The part of a child’s brain that is logical and rational, that understands abstract concepts (like time or death), that can have any kind of an objective perspective on self or life, does not develop until about the age of 7 (the age of reason.) As little children we were completely ego-centric and magical thinking. We did not have the capacity to understand that our Higher Powers were not perfect. We watched their role modeling, experienced their behavior as personal, and felt the emotional currents of our environments – worry, frustration, resentment, fear, anger, pain, shame, etc. – and were emotionally traumatized.

Our ego adapted itself to the environment it was experiencing. It developed emotional and behavioral defense systems in reaction to the emotional pain we experienced growing up with parents who were wounded codependents.

If you have ever wondered why it is so much easier to feel Spiritual in relationship to nature or animals, here is your answer. It was people who wounded us in childhood. It is people who our egos developed defense systems to protect us from.” – Reprogramming our dysfunctional ego defenses

The human left brain (logical, rational) is on one level – in it’s relationship to the ego – a rationalization computer, capable of rationalizing any behavior that the ego deems necessary for survival. (Even if this rationalization results in death. A suicide bomber for instance, is someone whose damaged ego perceives a martyrs death as preferable to a life of feeling like an oppressed and powerless victim. This is a wounded human being who has been forced by cultural programming / conditioned reflexes to channel a great deal of their emotional (and sexual) energy into self righteous victimization – into anger, rage, and religious fanaticism.)  It is possible for wounded humans to rationalize committing monstrous acts because the ego’s damaged programming. “Death before dishonor” is not such a noble cry when you take into account that dishonor for a man could mean admitting fear or crying. When one understands the emotional dynamics of codependency, it becomes readily apparent why emotionally dishonest patriarchal cultures manifest a lot of war and violence.

Our ego desperately fights to hang onto denial and rationalization – because to the ego it feels like a fight for survival, literally a life and death struggle. No one wakes up one morning and says, “Hey maybe I will do some emotional healing today – that sounds like fun.” We start doing this healing work because we are in so much emotional pain. We start doing it because we have hit an emotional bottom where rationalizations and denial no longer work. We start doing it because we have reached a point where emotional dishonesty is killing us – literally.

As long as we allow our ego programming to dictate our relationship with life, we will live life based upon fear.

“This human experience is a process that involves inherent conflict between the continuously changing nature of life and the human ego’s need to survive. In order to insure survival (which is the ego’s appointed task) the human ego needs to define things. What is food? What is friend or enemy? Who am I and how do I relate to them? What can hurt me and what brings me pleasure? It also learned that it is healthy to have a fear of the unknown (it was important to check an unknown cave for saber toothed tigers before strolling into it.) As a result, the ego fears change and craves security and stability. But because life is constantly changing, security and stability can only be temporary.” – Loving and Nurturing self on your Spiritual Path

“Fear of the unknown is a natural, normal part of being human. It has a purpose – and deserves to be honored as something which serves us. But, like our relationship with all the aspects of our being, our relationship with that fear is dysfunctional.

The damaged ego responds to it’s programming by generating fear of the things we learned to fear as a child: making mistakes; doing it wrong; being emotional; speaking our Truth; taking risks; being alone; not being alone; whatever. We then empower the fear by focusing on it, magnifying it, and generally giving it the power to define us and our life – or by denying it, which also gives it power because in denying our fear we are denying our self and reality. Going to either extreme results in the inability to see the situation clearly.

Because our ego was programmed to react to life from fear, negativity, scarcity, and lack (again due to emotional trauma we experienced, and the messages and role modeling of the adults around us) the disease focuses on and magnifies fear – and then it scrambles around trying to find something to cover up and repress the very fear it is generating. The disease blows the fear way out of proportion and then leads us to addictive and/or compulsive behavior as a way of stuffing the fear.

This is the essence of the dysfunction. We live our life reacting to fear, and the shame, that the disease empowers and then “helps” us avoid by causing us to focus on something outside of ourselves as the cause and/or the cure for the core place within us where we feel empty – where we feel unlovable and unworthy.” – The Recovery Process for inner child healing – through the fear

Allowing fear and shame to define and dictate our life experience is not a pleasant way to experience being human. Living life in reaction to our conditioned reflexes, to the programming our ego’s adapted in early childhood, does not work to help us relax and enjoy life. It is dysfunctional if we want to become free from the past and have the capacity to experience happiness, inner peace, and Love.

The way I found to start having some freedom from the past is to consciously start changing my ego programing and become willing to heal my emotional wounds. I was led into this conscious healing process by working a twelve step program to help me quit living in the emotional hell that alcoholism had created in my life. I did not get conscious that this was what I was doing until I started my conscious codependency recovery on June 3, 1986 – at two years and five months clean and sober.

Getting into recovery from alcoholism saved my life and led me to codependency recovery. Codependency recovery taught me how to live life in a way that allows me some freedom from the conditioned programming of the past – that allows me to have a great deal of serenity and Joy in my life today.

“It is the process of striving for integration and balance of masculine and feminine within (integration of Spiritual Truth into our relationship with our mental, emotional, and physical levels, balance between mental and emotional, between rational and intuitive, between feeling and thinking) that allows us to find some balance and harmony in our relationships with ourselves and with life. This striving for integration and balance (which working a Twelve Step program brings to an individual’s life – even if one is not conscious that that is what is happening) allows us to reach a place where we can be happy in the moment the majority of the time – happy, Joyous, and free.”

Unfortunately, there are many people in twelve step programs who have not been willing to get emotionally honest with themselves – who are scared of feeling the feelings because they haven’t changed the subconscious programming that keeps them in denial. That denial and emotional dishonesty keeps them stuck in bondage to the ego’s false self image.

One of the reasons that I feel compelled to keep writing more about this process is because there are so many wounded codependents out there who do not know how to do the integration and reprogramming work that will help them open up to Love. Hopefully, some of the ways that I am explaining the wounding and recovery process in this online book will speak to some of those wounded codependents – especially to all of the suffering codependents in Alcoholics Anonymous.” – Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life Chapter 5: Codependency = conditioned reactive programming ~ Pavlov’s Dog

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

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

The first two chapters of this online book are available through my regular website – the first chapter is a response to an online article about codependence that I found very codependent (thus the title of the first chapter): The codependency movement is NOT ruining marriages!

I have published two other chapters of this work as blogs: Chapter 8 Codependents as Emotional Vampires and Chapter 13: Changing the Music: Love instead of fear and shame.

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

I am going to be preparing Book 2 for publication in the coming months.