I posted my first crude website in February of 1998 – at the urging of a friend in Santa Barbara where I was living at the time. The following year in February 1999, I launched my own domain Joy2MeU.com, In Update Newsletters that I started sending out for the first site and continued to do for the second site, I was sharing my recovery process in a pretty intimate level with people who had signed up for my Update Newsletters.
I did this because I felt it was important for me to be a role model that it is okay to be human. This is something that I talked about in the first Newsletter I sent out on July 1, 1998.
“Another incident also comes to mind. I had just started in a therapist position at an outpatient chemical dependence program in Van Nuys California a little over 10 years ago. One evening in a Family Group I was talking about how grateful I was to be in recovery and I teared up – I did not cry, just teared up. The next week the Clinical Director came marching into our office and needed to talk to me about something he was quite disturbed about. He proceeded to lecture me about getting emotional in front of the clients – this psychiatrist who was on anti-depressants because he was suicidal over a relationship breakup – warned me to never let it happen again. I was not far enough along in my recovery at that point to confront him but I do remember thinking to myself – “Then who is supposed to be the role models?”
The thing that was the most damaging to us was the role modeling of the emotionally crippled adults we grew up around – the role modeling is what taught us the dysfunctional definitions of who we are as emotional beings. It is vitally important, in my opinion, that we have some beings who are willing to role model what emotionally healthy behavior is – which includes being emotionally vulnerable at times.
Traditional therapy/counseling in this society is set up as a one up-one down situation – that is, the therapist is set up as the expert who treats the poor unfortunate patient. I happen to agree with something Ram Dass once said about this – “If you meet a therapist who thinks you are the patient – run!”
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 had someone in a workshop say to me one time “Boy, you really know this stuff! You have really studied this, you are kind of like an Olympic athlete or something in this area.” My immediate reaction – as it so often is – was to react out of my disease: “That’s because I was so sick.” But then I caught myself and changed it to wounded. All of the old souls who are doing this healing – in my belief – were born at a heart chakra level of consciousness and then had to shut down our hearts. That is why is hurts so much – we were expecting something kinder and gentler than what we were born into – I have always felt like I was in the wrong place – like someone screwed up in the Transporter room and beamed me to the wrong planet.
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).” – Newsletter for July 1, 1998 – Joy to You & Me Newsletter I
In October of 2000, I started posting my Update Newsletter online primarily because I didn’t want to send out large emails – and my Updates were increasingly getting longer as I shared my recovery with the people on my mailing list. That Update Newsletter turned into a two part one that took a deep dive into my fear of intimacy issues. One of the reason that writing is such a valuable tool in recovery, is that as we write, nuggets of Truth come bobbing to the surface – often in ways that scared me about what I was uncovering.
I had noticed recently that I haven’t posted a new blog since June – and that I hadn’t updated that one in June. I made a point to commit to getting to writing another blog here at some point – and that point came today, September 4th, 2019. I updated the June blog about the events in my life starting back in April that started with spilling coffee on my wireless keyboard continued into a opportunity for growth involving my car. (Cars have proven quite a catalyst for growth in my recovery.)
At some point in the time since I committed to doing a new blog, this one from October of 2000 came to my attention, and I realized that it was probably time for me to revisit. It has some really valuable processing that I am sure many people will find helpful – but as I say in the quote from my first Newsletter above, there is always something that I need to be reminded of when I share my experience, strength, and hope with others. So, this blog is going to share how this writing uncovered the insight in the title of this blog – and where it led me. I hope you find it valuable.
“. . . . the other purpose that evolved for these updates has been to share my process with you. With my original Joy to You & Me site the Newsletters I sent out became a process sharing space because my recovery was so intimately connected to the evolution of the web site. As I state in several places on the site, I believe in sharing my experience, strength, and hope. I also believe that sharing my fear, anger, and pain is an invaluable part of my role as a teacher. The core of my work is to get across the message that it is not shameful to be human. In order to do that, it has been necessary for my own recovery, and for my mission to be open and willing to: be vulnerable, to share embarrassing Truth, to demonstrate my own humanity – with it’s resistance, fear, and procrastination.
In my opinion, as long as the teachers and so called experts (in healing, Spiritual enlightenment, recovery, whatever) are “keeping up appearances” they are giving power to the disease. Without role models that tell us they are human and that it is OK to be human beings involved in an ongoing healing process – then it is possible to interpret their messages of how wonderful their lives have become as validating that there is a destination to be reached and that anybody who hasn’t reached it yet is doing something wrong, is somehow shameful.
My life is indeed wonderful compared to what it was. I am very grateful and full of wonder at how free I am of the old programming – and at the capacity I have to be happy and peaceful in the moment now, no matter what is happening in the outer circumstances of my life. But my life doesn’t feel wonderful all of the time. There is an ongoing process that involves new levels of surrender, new insights, new changes in perspective, etc.
Having the choice to view the part of the glass that is full and be grateful, happy, and peaceful in the moment – at the same time we can have a consciousness, without shame and judgment, that there are still areas where growth is necessary – is what integration and balance are about in my opinion. The goal of this dance of recovery is to have the capacity to dance with Joy and Love for as many of the moments of today as possible – and also to have the capacity to be Loving and nurturing to ourselves when we are dancing with the fear, pain, and anger that are an inevitable part of this human experience we are having.
So, anyway, my vision at this point is to use the online Newsletter portion of these updates to share my process – which will at times include discussion of the newest articles, additions, and/or news on the web sites – with those of you who want to take the time to go to the web page that this update Newsletter will appear on; and to point those of you who do not have the time or interest in my process at the New page for news of the web sites.
To all the Magnificent Spiritual Beings reading this Newsletter,
I had a couple of really wonderful “God-shots” this past Sunday. “God-shots” are messages that come out of the blue – unexpected surprises that are messages from my Higher Power telling me that I am on the right path, doing what I am supposed to be doing. (Actually the term God-shot is a term I hadn’t used in quite awhile – and while I was walking by the ocean in the fog earlier today, I decided to use a different term: Goddess Strokes. I like this better – a little gentler and more accurately descriptive, not such a macho sounding term. 😉
Goddess strokes can come in a variety of forms. They can involve seeing a whale or some dolphins, some deer or hawks, at a particularly perfect moment. This morning I looked out my window as I sat here at my computer, and a hummingbird came flying up and hovered there looking in at me for a moment. In the Medicine Cards, the hummingbird is a symbol of Joy – and a reminder to me of the goal and the purpose of my path – Joy to you & me.
Goddess strokes can involve the perfect words of a song being the first thing I hear when I start my car. (Although not recently as my car radio hasn’t worked for a while.) Or flicking the channels on the TV at the perfect moment to hear the message I need to hear. Or hearing that perfect message in the middle of a movie, or buried in a book that has nothing to do with healing. Those messages can come from a billboard beside the road or a snatch of conversation overheard.
The most powerful ones usually come from people. In person, or through an e-mail – over the phone or in a letter. Sometimes when I am feeling low, when I am feeling as if my Higher Power has abandoned me, some feedback or message will pop up out of nowhere to remind me why I have chosen this path. To remind me that I teach best what I most need to learn. To remind me to surrender to being Unconditionally Loved.
This past Sunday, I did a workshop in Santa Barbara. I do my workshops there at a Unity Church. I do them on Sunday so I can set up a table with my books on it in the morning through the two morning services. Doing workshops, or any speaking in public – or for that matter in private counseling sessions in person or on the phone, or any opportunity to share my experience, strength, and hope – is always a type of Goddess stroke for me anyway. Anytime I have a chance to speak my Truth, to share the beliefs and knowledge which I so passionately embrace, I get to touch the Divine. I get to be a channel for Love to flow through. (One of the things I want to talk about in this Newsletter is that it can be easier to be a channel for Love to flow through than a receptacle for Love to flow into.)
On Sunday, before the reward of reminding people of Truth and Love in the workshop, I got a couple extra gifts. One had to do with someone I had never met, while the other related to a Mother and daughter that I had worked with.
The person I had never met, was a man who passed on a couple of years ago. The woman who had been married to him came to my workshop. I knew her because she contacted me several years ago to get a copy of the audio tape set of my book – and had later come to a workshop or two. It has probably been a year or so since I had seen her last. She made a point of telling me several times something that she had told me previously – something that obviously meant a great deal to her.
What she wanted to reiterate to me, was how important my tapes had been to her husband while he was dying. She had bought the tapes for him because he had a terminal illness. She told me again how important those tapes were to him, and how he had listened to them over and over again in the last months of his life. She said they were the only thing he wanted to listen to – and again expressed her gratitude to me for how much my words had helped her husband find peace and serenity while he was in the process of dying.
What a gift! What an affirmation! What Joy to be able to be of that kind of service to another human being and his Loved ones.
She had told me this previously, as I mentioned – and in many ways I had felt the same reaction to her words as I did on Sunday. I was profoundly grateful for the gift of such positively affirming feedback. I felt a deep and awesome humility for the gift I have been given of being able to be a channel of Truth and an instrument of Love that can so profoundly touch the lives of other human beings. I felt a great pride in the fact that I have been willing to do the work and follow my path in such a way as to be available for this kind of service. I also felt a great deal of Joy.
My reaction to her gratitude was also different in some interesting and subtle ways. Perhaps because of my growth over the last few years, or maybe because of the intensity and passion with which she conveyed her gratitude, I was conscious in a whole new way, on a much deeper level, of the gift those tapes had been to her.
Watching a Loved one go through any intense experience – and dying certainly qualifies as an intense experience – can in many ways be harder for the one who is observing, than for the person actually going through the experience. I had not really been fully conscious previously, of how great a gift it must have been for her to have her husband accept and relax into his dying process. How that must have helped her to flow with the process with a degree of serenity and peace. I had always previously accepted that she was telling me what a gift my tapes were to her husband – I had never been fully conscious of what she was saying about what a gift they were to her.
A very cool process, this recovery.
The other wonderful Goddess stroke that I received came when a woman, who I had worked with briefly while I was working with her daughter, came up to me to tell me the latest news. I worked with her daughter for a period of 4 or 5 months in the later part of 1999. While I was working with her daughter, I convinced her to come in for a few sessions on her own.
Her daughter turned 16 while I was working with her. She was acting out and rebelling completely. I never knew what bright, fluorescent color her hair was going to be – or what new body piercing or tattoos she might have – when she came to see me. She was acting out in very dangerous ways: sexually, with alcohol and drugs, with strange people in dangerous situations. Her mother was terrified for her and was reacting with anger and attempts to control. Mother and daughter were stuck in a reactive dynamic that could have been the death of both of them.
The news she had to share with me was how wonderfully her daughter was doing. How she had finished high school and was in college through scholarships and grants that she had arranged for herself. How she had lost weight and gone back to her natural hair color. How when a relationship she was in ended recently, she had responded to her mother’s offer to travel to the city she is in to help her through the emotional crisis by saying, “The little girl in me wants you to come, but I think it is better for me to learn how to go through this on my own.”
Now, is that cool or what?!?
It sounds like a happy ending – but actually what it is, is a happy new beginning. They were able to make a transition that ended one chapter of both of their lives – a period where they were totally enmeshed and negatively empowering each other – and started a new healthier beginning to the next chapter of each of their separate but interrelated lives.
The mother needed to let go of the outcome of her daughter’s path, at the same time the daughter needed to let go of punishing her mother for the past so that she could stop reacting and start taking responsibility for her own life choices.
I Love it when people hear what I am teaching them and start applying it in their lives. It gives me great satisfaction and real Joy to see someone applying the tools that I share with them. I feel very grateful that I can play a part in helping others to live their lives in a happier, healthier, more Loving and functional way.
Playing a part is all I do however. I have no control over the outcome either. I am powerless over rather people hear me. I am not the one who is responsible for this happy new beginning – any more than I would have been responsible if the daughter had died of a drug overdose and the mother ended up in a mental institution. If that had been the outcome, it would have been a perfect part of the Divine Plan somehow, some way.
I sure do love the happy new beginnings better than the ones that do not come out so nicely. I have had to deal with a lot of grief over clients and friends who could not hear. I also have felt a great deal of Joy when sharing my experience, strength, and hope have proved a benefit to others.
I realized early on in doing therapy, that defining myself by how my clients did was codependent. I had to learn to let go of the outcome of counseling others. I had to get real clear that I was powerless over rather anyone else heard me, but I do have the power to choose to listen to myself. And I do teach best what I need most to learn.
In case you are wondering about whether – in the instances above – I was giving too much power to outside validation, I thought I would talk about that a bit. There is nothing wrong with enjoying validation, affirmation, and recognition from other people or outside sources. It is if we define ourselves by that outer validation, and think we have to have it to be OK, that we are being codependent. It is when we jump through hoops in an attempt to get that validation from people that we are being manipulative and dishonest – which is, of course, what many of us learned to do in childhood.
As with all aspects of codependence recovery – it is a question of balance. Life and recovery occur in the gray area between black and white. What we are trying to do is maintain some kind of sense of balance in relationship to this dance we are doing. That involves, as I tried to communicate in the later articles in the Recovery Process for Inner Child Healing series I just finished, being conscious of multiple levels simultaneously – or as close to simultaneously as possible. And being able to have internal boundaries so that I am choosing how I respond rather than reacting out of the old programming.
Example: There have been instances, over the years, where I have had the opportunity to be in close proximity to someone that had been a client of mine while they were talking to someone else. These opportunities have given me a chance to hear the former client use words in describing some aspect of the recovery process – that were the same words I had said to them – as if it were a revelation they had arrived at themselves. This gives most of me a great deal of satisfaction because I have worked hard over the years to find the best ways of helping people discover the Truth within them in ways that help them not feel dependent on me. But at the same time, my ego reacts in a negative way saying “hey wait a minute, I told you that.”
In my recovery, I have gradually over the years been able to turn down the voices coming from the ego/from the wounded inner child places/from the disease – and turn up the volume of the small quiet voice of the Spirit. I have learned how to realign myself with the Spirit instead of giving so much power to the disease – the old wounds and old tapes, the damaged ego. But if I were to maintain to myself or to you that I never have those reaction, that would be denial. (That was part of the reason why I did a little ranting in the news addendum to the last Update about a quote from Marianne Williamson that I believe conveyed the message that being a human in process is somehow shameful.)
This is a relative process. Progress not perfection. We can gradually increase the percentage of the time our conscious awareness, our attitudes and mental focus, are aligned with recovery instead of with the disease. We do not get to wipe out the old ways of thinking and emotional reactions completely – what we do is gradually disempower them.
I can remember a time in the spring of 1989 when I raged at God about how sick I was of the recovery process. I said something to the effect that I was sick of only being relatively happy – the great tool in recovery where we stop and force ourselves to focus on the part of the glass that is full and be grateful, instead of giving power to the disease’s focus on the part that is empty and feeling like a victim – and that I wanted to be happy without having to compare where I am now to how bad it used to be.
It was about a year later, that one day I realized that I had crossed a line someplace along my path. That I had shifted my relationship with life enough that my life was now more aligned with Recovery than with the disease, that my life was more defined by Joy, Love, and peace than by anger, pain, and fear. That I was having moments where I was just happy to be alive period – without having to force myself to look at the relative improvement.
Forcing ourselves to own the power to change our attitudes from negative to positive, working at learning to align with Love instead of fear, are important parts of the process. The dysfunctional programming is deeply embedded in our relationship with life. It can be changed gradually. It will never be changed completely. Our wounds never go away – they gradually have less power to dictate how we live today.
We are works in progress – in process. We are evolving back to an awareness of who we really are. But there are levels and layers of gunk to be removed.
One of the most important ways in which we know we are making progress is through feedback from other people. It is vital to get feedback from other people in order to see ourselves more clearly.
It is important not to define ourselves by that feedback, but rather to see it as just a part of an information gathering process. We need to have feedback, knowledge and information, in order to align ourselves with changing the things we need to change.
One of the first things I needed to do was to stop accepting feedback from abusive, shaming people. In my disease, I always gave the most power over how I felt about myself to people who judged and shamed me. Because I was judging and shaming myself so much I gave more credence to people who judged and shamed me than to people who told me good things. (Of course, my ego wanted to grab onto the good things and blow them way out of proportion – the old overreaction of telling myself I was “better than,” in order to deny the part of me that felt “worse than.”)
I had to realize – that though there might be a grain of Truth in the messages that were shaming – that my first job was to protect myself from abuse. I could then sift through the details of what the person said to see if there was any Truth to look at – but I needed to first reject the shame. (This is really about working the first step – taking the shame out of our process by accepting powerlessness so that we can see more clearly.)
As I learned to be discerning and have boundaries about who I listened to, at the same time I was learning to have internal boundaries to stop giving power to the disease and the feelings of the wounded children within, I was able to start seeing myself and reality more clearly.
I learned to give power to the positive feedback – not as proof of my worth – but rather as messages of encouragement from my Higher Power.
I have inner child places within me that: are starving for love, affection, and touch; are desperately romantic and aching for my princess to come; that believe I am not worthy of receiving love in a romantic relationship but that I will never be complete without one; that are profoundly lonely. I also have an emotional reality that as an adult I have – because of my issues and patterns – been very deprived of companionship, love, affection, touch, etc. Because of these factors, I would be emotionally triggered by songs. All those wonderfully codependent songs about the type of codependent love we learned about growing up. By giving power to those songs I was at the effect of them – so that I could be driving along in a good mood and have a certain song throw me into my deprivation pain.
What I did is change my relationship with those songs. I choose to believe that those songs were about my relationship with my Higher Power rather than a woman loving me. That turned those songs from emotional triggers that threw me into pain to messages of encouragement that could sometimes – because of perfect timing – help me to access Joy.
The same thing can be done with feedback from other people. We do not define ourselves by what others tell us. We can look at what others tell us as messages.
The ones who are shaming and abusive are demonstrating for us how the disease works. Once we are able to start having a more objective view of the process (to stop taking it personally), we can see them reacting out of their own fears, out of their wounded inner child places. They are being used to communicate with us and help us learn about our own wounds and the disease. They are teachers who – by acting out of their disease – are forcing us to start protecting ourselves by learning to have boundaries.
The ones who are telling us good things are passing along messages of encouragement from our Higher Power. Goddess Strokes. That way, it doesn’t matter what their motive or agenda of is – because the are just being a channel, rather they know it or not. It doesn’t matter if they are being dishonest and codependent – they are still capable of being a channel, and of giving us an opportunity to practice receiving.
My resistance to opening up to receive Love would cause me to minimize positive feedback by telling myself that the other person wanted something from me, or was just being kind, or whatever. I spent several years in recovery practicing saying just plain “Thank You.” Instead of minimizing (oh it was nothing), joking it away, turning it back on them (oh you are really the one who ___), or dismissing it because I suspected the other persons motives or mental health. The feeling deep within was that if someone was loving and positive towards me, it was either a sinister plot or there must be something wrong with them.
By seeing them as channels rather than the source, it doesn’t matter what their motives are. By seeing positive affirmation and validation coming from other people as Truly originating from my Higher Power, then I can be grateful to them for being a channel – not feel obligated to them because they are being kind to worthless, shameful me.
Now, through the miracle that this writing process is for me, we have come back around to “it can be easier to be a channel for Love to flow through than a receptacle for Love to flow into.” I didn’t know I was going to write most of the above – and do not think I have ever quite broken the process of discerning between giving power in a healthy way to what other people say versus giving power to other people in a codependent way, in quite this manner. I find it quite useful – I hope you do also.
Anyway, what is up for me now – and for the last few months since my last update – is being open to receive. I am at a point of being in the process of surrendering the ingrained programming that life is a struggle. And I do not mean that I am thinking that I have gotten to happily ever after. What I mean is that I have gotten to a point of doing a paradigm shift in my relationship with life away from the valiant survivor fighting the noble fight against all odds. I have been saying for most of my adult life it seems like, that I have learned all the lessons I need to learn from poverty – now it is time to learn the lessons that will come with wealth.
This little joking bit of Truth, was usually said in relationship to money – but it is much deeper and more inclusive than just about finances.
I am talking here about abundance on all levels. In the ability to relax and enjoy life. In opening up to more Love from other people – and in particular to Love from one person in a romantic relationship. In having a safe and comfortable space to live in. In having a level of comfort in my relationship with material things. In not having to be afraid every time I drive the 130 miles to Santa Barbara that my car will break down. In terms of health and physical condition. In terms of having fun and laughing and dancing. In terms of success for my book and my work. Everything.
What I find facing me, is an opportunity to relax into the flow of life in a way, and on a level, I have never experienced before. And parts of me are really resisting.
The rebel in me does not want to give up the battle because that part of me thinks it is defined by battle. The incredible resistance that I have encountered to Loving my own body is rearing it’s head and fighting for all it is worth. Some of my inner children are terrified of trusting my Higher Power. And at the core, as usual, is my fear of intimacy.” – Joy2MeU & Joy to You & Me Update Newsletter October 2000
It was at this point that I took the deep dive into my fear of intimacy issues. So, I will share that in another blog in the coming days. I have over 50 Update Newsletters with millions of words of processing in them. Anyone who wants to check them out can see the list on the lower part of my siteindex page.
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, or eBooks & books from Barnes & Noble or eBooks thru Kobo ) 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: and also on this page on my mobile friendly site.
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.
I now have a mobile friendly site index with listings of over 170 of my articles on Mobile Friendly sites,