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


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.


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.


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 8: Codependents as Emotional Vampires

Book cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mad Dogs and Skunks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emotional Vampires and Sacrificial Lambs

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

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

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

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

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

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

Victim Martyr, Emotional Vampire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

self pity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A note to people with an aging parent (s)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Death is a transition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Wounded Souls Trilogy:

Book cover

Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls

Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls  

A Cosmic Perspective on Codependence and the Human Condition

Cover of Inner Child Healing Book

Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light

Codependency Recovery:

Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light

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

Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light

Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life

Book 2 is only available in subscription area Dancing in Light


Learning to Love our self – Inner Child Healing / Codependence Recovery

     “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.”

    “We need to take the shame and judgment out of the process on a personal level.  It is vitally important to stop listening and giving power to that critical place within us that tells us that we are bad and wrong and shameful.

    That “critical parent” voice in our head is the disease lying to us. . . .  This healing is a long gradual process – the goal is progress, not perfection.  What we are learning about is unconditional Love.  Unconditional Love means no judgment, no shame.”

    “We need to start observing ourselves and stop judging ourselves.  Any time we judge and shame ourselves, we are feeding back into the disease, we are jumping back into the squirrel cage.” – Quotations in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

Codependence is a dysfunctional defense system that was built in reaction to feeling unlovable and unworthy – because our parents were wounded codependents who didn’t know how to love themselves.  We grew up in environments that were emotionally dishonest, Spiritually hostile, and shame based.  Our relationship with ourselves (and all the different parts of our self: emotions, gender, spirit, etc.) got twisted and distorted in order to survive in our particular dysfunctional environment.

We got to an age where we were supposed to be an adult and we started acting like we knew what we were doing.  We went around pretending to be adult at the same time we were reacting to the programming that we got growing up.  We tried to do everything “right” or rebelled and went against what we had been taught was “right.”  Either way we weren’t living our life through choice, we were living it in reaction.

In order to start being loving to ourselves we need to change our relationship with our self – and with all the wounded parts of our self.   The way which I have found works the best in starting to love ourselves is through having internal boundaries.

Learning to have internal boundaries is a dynamic process that involves three distinctly different, but intimately interconnected, spheres of work.  The purpose of the work is to change our ego-programming – to change our relationship with ourselves by changing our emotional/behavioral defense system into something that works to open us up to receive love, instead of sabotaging ourselves because of our deep belief that we don’t deserve love.

(I need to make the point here that Codependence and recovery are both multi-leveled, multi-dimensional phenomena. What we are trying to achieve is integration and balance on different levels. In regard to our relationship with ourselves this involves two major dimensions: 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 a Higher Power, to the Universal Source. If we cannot conceive of a God/Goddess Force that loves us then it makes it virtually impossible to be loving to ourselves. So a Spiritual Awakening is absolutely vital to the process in my opinion. Changing our relationship with ourselves on the horizontal level is both a necessary element in, and possible because we are working on, integrating Spiritual Truth into our inner process.)

These three spheres are:

1.  Detachment

2.  Inner Child Healing

3.  Grieving

Because Codependence is a reactive phenomena it is vital to start being able to detach from our own process in order to have some choice in changing our reactions.  We need to start observing our selves from the witness perspective instead of from the perspective of the judge.

We all observe ourselves – have a place of watching ourselves as if from outside, or perched somewhere inside, observing our own behavior.  Because of our childhoods we learned to judge ourselves from that witness perspective, the “critical parent” voice.

The emotionally dishonest environments we were raised in taught us that it was not ok to feel our emotions, or that only certain emotions were ok.  So we had to learn ways to control our emotions in order to survive.  We adapted the same tools that were used on us – guilt, shame, and fear (and saw in the role modeling of our parents how they reacted to life from shame and fear.)  This is where the critical parent gets born.  It’s purpose is to try to keep our emotions and behavior under some sort of control so that we can get our survival needs met.

So the first boundary that we need to start setting internally is with the wounded / dysfunctionally programmed part of our own mind.  We need to start saying no to the inner voices that are shaming and judgmental.  The disease comes from a black and white, right and wrong, perspective.  It speaks in absolutes: “You always screw up!”  “You will never be a success!” – these are lies. We don’t always screw up. We may never be a success according to our parents or societies dysfunctional definition of success – but that is because our heart and soul do not resonate with those definitions, so that kind of success would be a betrayal of ourselves. We need to consciously change our definitions so that we can stop judging ourselves against someone else’s screwed up value system.

We learned to relate to ourselves (and all the parts of our self – emotions, sexuality, etc.) and life from a critical place of believing that something was wrong with us – and in fear that we would be punished if we didn’t do life “right.”  Whatever we are doing or not doing the disease can always find something to beat us up with.  I have 10 things on my “to do list” today, I get 9 of them done, the disease does not want me to give myself credit for what I have done but instead beats me up for the one I didn’t get done.  Whenever life gets too good we get uncomfortable and the disease jumps right in with fear and shame messages.  The critical parent voice keeps us from relaxing and enjoying life, and from loving our self.

We need to own that we have the power to choose where to focus our mind. We can consciously start viewing ourselves from the “witness” perspective.   It is time to fire the judge – our critical parent – and choose to replace that judge with our Higher Self, who is a loving parent. We can then intervene in our own process to protect ourselves from the perpetrator within – the critical parent/disease voice.

(It is almost impossible to go from critical parent to compassionate loving parent in one step – so the first step often is to try to observe ourselves from a neutral position or a “scientific observer” perspective.)

This is what enlightenment and consciousness raising are all about.  Owning our power to be a co-creator of our lives by changing our relationship with ourselves.  We can change the way we think.  We can change the way we respond to our own emotions. We need to detach from our wounded self in order to allow our Spiritual Self to guide us.  We are Unconditionally Loved.  The Spirit does not speak to us from judgment and shame.

One of the visualizations that has helped me over the years is an image of a small control room in my brain.  This control room is full of dials and gauges and lights and sirens. In this control room are a bunch of Keebler-like elves whose job it is to make sure that I don’t get too emotional for my own good.  Whenever I feel anything too strongly (including Joy, happiness, self-love) the lights start flashing and the sirens start wailing and the elves go crazy running around trying to get things under control.  They start pushing some of the old survival buttons:  feeling too happy – drink; feeling too sad- eat sugar; feeling scared – get laid; or whatever.

To me, the process of recovery is about teaching those elves to chill out.  Reprogramming my ego-defenses to knowing that it is okay to feel the feelings.  That feeling and releasing the emotions is not only okay it is what will work best in allowing me to have my needs fulfilled.

We need to change our relationship with ourselves and our own emotions in order to stop being at war with ourselves.  The first step to doing that is to detach from ourselves enough to start protecting ourselves from the perpetrator that lives within us.

The key to codependency recovery is the inner child healing work I describe on my site and in my second book (below.)  A key element of that work includes learning to set the internal boundaries I talk about in the article above.

Cover of Inner Child Healing book

Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light – Empowerment, Freedom, and Inner Peace through Inner Child

This book Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light – Empowerment, Freedom, and Inner Peace through Inner Child is a process level – how to – book about the inner child healing approach discovered by Robert in his recovery.  The approach to inner child / emotional healing shared within is the missing piece – the missing perspective – of the puzzle of life that so many people have been seeking.  It is a formula for integrating intellectual knowledge and spiritual Truth into one’s emotional relationship with life.   It is the key to learning how to be more Loving to your self – and to turning life into an adventure to be experienced instead of an ordeal of suffering to be endured.

Joy to You & Me Enterprises offers an Empowering & Life Changing Intensive Training Day Workshop in San Diego with Spiritual Teacher, inner child healing pioneer Robert Burney.  Learn his innovative Spiritual Integration Formula for Inner Healing.  To find out the locations and dates for upcoming appearances go to Day of Intensive Training. (Next workshop is January 4th in San Diego.  The day after my 30th Sobriety Birthday.;-)

A Life Changing Workshop – Robert Burney’s Spiritual Integration Formula for Inner Healing

Joy to You & Me Presents an Empowering & Life Changing Codependency Recovery / Inner Child Healing Workshop:

January 1, 2020 – the only place that I am offering my Intensive Training Day workshop these days is in Morro Bay.   I moved back to Cambria in August of 2017 – and am only doing the workshop here locally at this time.  The story of me moving back is in my first Update Newsletter in 6 years..

A Day Long Intensive Training in Robert Burney’s Spiritual Integration Formula for Inner Healing

“Robert, Your seminar on codependence was awesome. Your practical techniques for dealing with this disease are incredibly simple and incredibly effective.”

“You can intellectually understand key points by reading his book, but the training allowed me to really internalize it.  It’s like the difference between learning how to fly an airplane by reading a book vs. actually getting in the plane.”

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

“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!”

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

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

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

“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!”

For more see Testimonials for the Intensive 

Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls has been called “one of the truly transformational works of our time” – and it’s author Robert Burney referred to as “a metaphysical Stephen Hawking.”  An Author, 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,” Robert has developed a holistic strategy for emotional healing that is a pioneering approach to codependency recovery / inner child healing.  He discovered and developed 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 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 right now, can still find it very beneficial to attend this workshop.

Robert, whose work is firmly grounded on Twelve Step Spiritual Principles and emotional energy release / grief process therapy, learned in his own personal recovery that developing internal boundaries was the key to empowerment and freedom from the past.  If you want to learn how to relax and enjoy life in the moment, while you are healing and learning to Love your self, you don’t want to miss this workshop.  If you are in a relationship and attend this workshop together it will bring clarity to the root causes of any symptomatic challenges you have been encountering and can help you both open up to deeper emotional intimacy while increasing your capacity to both give and receive Love.

Sunday October 26th ~ 10 am to 5 pm
San Diego – Town & Country Resort and Convention Center

Town & Country Resort & Convention Center

Town & Country Resort & Convention Center in San Diego

Special offer available for October 26th Life Changing Workshop until April 23rd

A special combination offer: Intensive Training Day in San Diego October 26th – plus Robert’s first two books – a copy of Joyously inspirational Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls and the process level Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light Book 1 Empowerment, Freedom, and Inner Peace through Inner Child Healing

“The approach that I discovered in my personal recovery – and developed in my work with others – is the missing integration formula that people in recovery, on a healing / spiritual path, have been seeking for years.  We can have lots of intellectual knowledge of what constitutes healthy behavior, and multiple spiritual experiences, but until we can integrate knowing / Knowing into our emotional relationship with self and life it is not possible to fundamentally change our behavior patterns – especially, and most importantly, our behavior patterns in intimate relationships.

There are many teachers, books, etc., these days that will tell you that the goal is to learn to Love your self – but no one really tells you how to do that. That is what the approach to inner healing – that I have been gifted with developing – facilitates. . . . . .

 . . . . This work can empower you to not only to find inner peace / stop the war within – to learn to “be” present for your life journey today with the capacity to be happy, Joyous, and free in the moment – but is also the key to healing your fear of intimacy enough to learn how to open up to Love and be healthier in a romantic relationship.” – Joy2MeU Update Newsletter March 2006

“What is so valuable, what I believe is unique, about the approach to inner child healing that I have been guided to develop and refine, is that it provides a formula for integrating Spiritual Truth and intellectual knowledge of healthy behavior into one’s emotional relationship with life.

It does not matter how much Spiritual Truth, how many mystical experiences of oneness, how in tune with Love, you can feel in certain moments – if you cannot integrate it into your life in a way which changes your emotional experience of life on a moment to moment, day to day basis.  You can go to therapy for many years, read all the Spiritual and self help books, go to workshops and seminars and lectures – compile encyclopedic intellectual knowledge of what healthy behavior is – and still be reacting to old wounds in the relationships that mean the most to you.

The missing ingredient for so many people who have been seeking for many years, is how to integrate what you know into how you feel about your experience life.  That is what I teach people – because it is what I have spent many years learning.” – Co-Creation: Owning your Power to Manifest Love

Map showing location of Town & Country Resort & Convention Center

Map showing location of Town & Country Resort & Convention Center

For people who cannot attend the workshop there is a video recording of it available as an MP3 Download – and Robert does Phone / Skype Counseling with people around the world to teach people the formula he discovered.

Book cover

Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls

“This dance of Codependence is a dance of dysfunctional relationships – of relationships that do not work to meet our needs.  That does not mean just romantic relationships, or family relationships, or even human relationships in general. 

The fact that dysfunction exists in our romantic, family, and human relationships is a symptom of the dysfunction that exists in our relationship with life – with being human.  It is a symptom of the dysfunction which exists in our relationships with ourselves as human beings.

And the dysfunction that exists in our relationship with ourselves is a symptom of Spiritual dis-ease, of not being in balance and harmony with the universe, of feeling disconnected from our Spiritual source.

That is why it is so important to enlarge our perspective.  To look beyond the romantic relationship in which we are having problems.  To look beyond the dysfunction that exists in our relationships with other people.

The more we enlarge our perspective, the closer we get to the cause instead of just dealing with the symptoms.  For example, the more we look at the dysfunction in our relationship with ourselves as human beings the more we can understand the dysfunction in our romantic relationships.”

“Codependency 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.

Codependency allows us to survive physically but causes us to feel empty and dead inside. Codependency is a defense system that causes us to wound ourselves.” – Quotations in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls by Robert Burney

Making Healthy Choices During the Holidays

Love Your Self First
Love Your Self First

Happy Holidays is a greeting many people say even if they are feeling lonely or blue. We often hear people say that Christmas is about LOVE! So many of us respond to the Holiday Season by running around shopping for gifts, volunteering, making donations, preparing meals and planning our annual family traditions. We may act like one of Santa’s Elves in out in the workshop making toys for everyone we love all day and night.  We love this time of year but there can be times when it gets to be overwhelming and we tend to neglect the most important and only person we are responsible for our self!

I am reminded that the Holidays are not only about LOVE but are also celebration of birth and rebirth. The Winter Solstice is the time of the longest darkness and marks the point of  increasing light, the new beginning.  Hanukkah is a time for re-dedication.  Kwanzaa is a time of re-commitment.  These are all times of both celebration and  introspection.  A quiet time given to us so we can reflect on the past and consider what we want to create in our future for the New Year.

There is just one catch! With any new beginning, any birth or rebirth is a also an ending.  With every  ending there is sadness, feelings of loss and grief.  We may have lost someone close to us who will not be available to celebrate. We may have ended a relationship and feel the sadness during this time of year. We may have grief over the emotional unavailability of those family members we are celebrating with.  These are just a few examples of the ways that the Holiday Blues can creep in and make our lives unmanageable during the Holiday Season.

What I have to share with you today is a realization I had about my expectations of my self and how I recovered from the Holiday Blues using the Twelve Days of  Christmas to illustrate the recovery principles I teach the best because I need to learn to practice them all year long!

On the first day of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me….Acceptance and Emotional Honesty

My version of  Happy  Holidays  includes completely is allowing myself to accept the reality of my life (looking at both the half of the glass that is full as well as the empty part) emotionally – that is, allowing myself to be emotionally honest with myself.

On the second day of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me… Grief processing
Acceptance and Emotional Honesty!

If I am feeling grief because I am alone during the Holidays it does not serve me to share that with someone who is not being  emotionally honest – someone who will shame me for not being cheerful.  If I am feeling hurt or scared or angry I will only share that with someone who is a safe person to share with emotionally – that is, they won’t discount and invalidate my feelings or try to fix me.

On the third day of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me…Honoring my Feelings
Grief Processing, Acceptance and Emotional Honesty!

I don’t have to live up to some false expectations about how I “should” be feeling today.  It was my own self defeating behavior of trying to deny the pain and sadness, the anger and fear, while judging myself as shameful for not feeling what I “should” feel or being who I “should” be, that caused me to get depressed and suicidal.  When I am in my feeling process I actually am a lot happier and feel more Joy than I ever did before I learned how to be emotionally honest.

On the fourth day of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me…Friends in Recovery
Honoring my Feelings, Grief Processing and Acceptance and Emotional Honesty!

It was on Christmas about 10 years ago that I got clear that I was capable of feeling more than one feeling at once. I was sad that it was Christmas and I was alone. I had feelings of grief for all of those past Christmases that I was sad but never acknowledged it. and alone – which were very valid and legitimate feelings. But as I went around to various clubhouses and friend’s homes that were having open houses, I could feel happy to see people I cared about.  I could feel Joy and gratitude that I was in recovery and feeling my feelings at the same time I was owning the sadness of that day and the grief of all the lonely holidays that I had experienced.

On the fifth day of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me.. A Higher Power of my OWN understanding
Friends in Recovery, Honoring my Feelings, Grief Processing, Acceptance and Emotional Honesty!

It is so very important to stop judging ourselves against someone elses standards and shaming ourselves due to a fantasy of where we “should be.”  We are exactly where we are supposed to be. We are Spiritual Beings having a human experience. We are perfect in our Spiritual Essence, we are perfectly where we are supposed to be on our Spiritual path and from a human perspective we will never do human perfectly.

On the sixth day of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me..Inner Child Healing
A Higher Power of my OWN understanding, Friends in Recovery, Honoring my Feelings, Grief Processing, Acceptance and Emotional Honesty!

A natural normal part of our human experience is feeling the  feelings – we need to accept that.  No one who is being  emotionally honest with themselves can go through the holidays  without feeling sadness and hurt, anger and fear. The good news is that the more we are able to own those emotions the more moments of peace, Joy, and happiness we can have.

On the seventh day of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me..Awareness of my Fears
Inner Child Healing, A Higher Power of my OWN understanding, Friends in Recovery, Honoring my Feelings, Grief Processing and Acceptance and Emotional Honesty!

I am aware of my feelings and my fears whether I am happy, merry, sad, Joyous, painful, peaceful, scared or cheerful in the moment. I am experiencing what it feels like to be alive in human body.

On the eighth day of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me…Time to Practice Self Care
Awareness of my Fears, Inner Child Healing, A Higher Power of my OWN understanding, Friends in Recovery, Honoring my Feelings, Grief Processing and Acceptance and Emotional Honesty!

Practicing self care includes exercising, relaxing, taking care of yourself physically but it also includes learning to set boundaries and is 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.

On the ninth day of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me…Internal Boundaries 
(I may have preferred the Nine Ladies Dancing) Time to Practice Self Care, Awareness of my Fears, Inner Child Healing, A Higher Power of my OWN understanding, Friends in Recovery, Honoring my Feelings, Grief Processing and Acceptance and Emotional Honesty!

Learning how to set internal boundaries is a necessary step in learning to be a friend to yourself. It is your responsibility to take care of yourself –  to protect yourself when it is necessary. It is impossible to learn to  be loving to yourself without owning yourself – owning your rights and responsibilities as co-creator of your life.

On the tenth day of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me..Positive Affirmations
Internal Boundaries,Time to Practice Self Care, Awareness of my Fears, Inner Child Healing, A Higher Power of my OWN understanding, Friends in Recovery, Honoring my Feelings, Grief Processing, Acceptance and Emotional Honesty!

Positive Affirmations are the single most powerful and vital tool in the Recovery process.  Codependency is a condition caused by growing up in a shame-based, emotionally dishonest society which teaches us false beliefs about the nature and purpose of life.  We are Spiritual Beings having a human experience, not shameful, sinful human creatures who have to earn Spiritual salvation.We are magnificent Spiritual Beings full of light and LOVE!

On the eleventh day of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me..Speaking my Own Truth
Positive Affirmations, Internal Boundaries, Time to Practice Self Care, Awareness of my Fears, Inner Child Healing, A Higher Power of my OWN understanding, Friends in Recovery, Honoring my Feelings, Grief Processing, Acceptance and Emotional Honesty!

Owning our own voice is important for us to do for ourselves. Many of us have been crippled by the shame we experienced in our childhoods. By stating what we are feeling out loud without placing blame on the other person, we can begin to take responsibility for our personal truth. It is not important whether or not the other person hears us. It is important for us to do for ourselves. We can develop ourselves in being able to recognize that we are capable of asking for what we need as a request or invitation for others to participate or not. We will begin to attract those who are trustworthy and in the process we are recognized as our authentic selves not the masks that we have been wearing.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my TRUE LOVE gave to me..Prayer and Meditation
Positive Affirmations, Internal Boundaries, Time to Practice Self Care, Awareness of my Fears, Inner Child Healing, A Higher Power of my OWN  understanding, Friends in Recovery, Honoring my Feelings, Grief  Processing, Acceptance and Emotional Honesty!

God Grant me the Serenity to Accept the Things I can not Change, The Willingness
to Change the Things I can and The Wisdom to know the Difference. AMEN.

Sending you Wishes of Joy and Peace,
Robert Burney

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The evolution of the term Codependence / codependency

“The phenomenal growth of AA and the success of the disease concept in the treatment of Alcoholism generated the founding of treatment centers in the late 1950s and early 1960s. These early treatment centers were based on what had been successful in early AA. They focused on getting the Alcoholic sober and paid very little attention to the families of Alcoholics.

As these treatment centers matured and evolved, they noticed that the families of Alcoholics seemed to have certain characteristics and patterns of behavior in common. So they started to pay some attention to the families.

A term was coined to describe the significant others of Alcoholics. That term was “co-alcoholic” – literally “alcoholic with.”

The belief was that while the Alcoholic was addicted to alcohol, the co-alcoholic was addicted in certain ways to the Alcoholic. The belief was that the families of Alcoholics became sick because of the Alcoholic’s drinking and behavior.

With the drug explosion of the sixties, Alcoholism treatment centers became chemical dependency treatment centers. Co-alcoholics became co-dependents. The meaning was still a literal “dependent with,” and the philosophy was much the same.

In the mid-to-late seventies, however, certain pioneers in the field began to look more closely at the behavior patterns of families affected by addiction. Some researchers focused primarily on Alcoholic families, and then graduated to studying adults who had grown up in Alcoholic families. Other researchers started looking more closely at the phenomenon of Family Systems Dynamics.

Out of these studies came the defining of the Adult Child Syndrome, at first primarily in terms of Adult Children of Alcoholics and then expanding to other types of dysfunctional families.

Ironically this research was in a sense a rediscovery of the insight which in many ways was the birth of modern psychology. Sigmund Freud made his early fame as a teenager with his insight into the importance of early childhood trauma. (This was many years before he started shooting cocaine and decided that sex was the root of all psychology.)

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.

As the Adult Child movement, the Family Systems Dynamics research, and the newly emerging “inner child” healing movement expanded and developed in the eighties, the term “Codependent” expanded. It became a term used as a description of certain types of behavior patterns. These were basically identified as “people-pleasing” behaviors. By the middle to late eighties the term “Codependent” was associated with people-pleasers who set themselves up to be victims and rescuers.

In other words, it was recognized that the Codependent was not sick because of the Alcoholic but rather was attracted to the Alcoholic because of his/her disease, because of her/his early childhood experience.

At that time Codependence was basically defined as a passive behavioral defense system, and its opposite, or aggressive counterpart was described as counterdependent. Then most Alcoholics and addicts were thought to be counterdependent.

The word changed and evolved further after the start of the modern Codependence movement in Arizona in the mid-eighties. Co-Dependents Anonymous had its first meeting in October of 1986, and books on Codependence as a disease in and of itself started appearing at about the same time. These Codependence books were the next generation evolved from the books on the Adult Child Syndrome of the early eighties.

The expanded usage of the term “Codependent” now includes counterdependent behavior. We have come to understand that both the passive and the aggressive behavioral defense systems are reactions to the same kinds of childhood trauma, to the same kinds of emotional wounds. The Family Systems Dynamics research shows that within the family system, children adopt certain roles according to their family dynamics. Some of these roles are more passive, some are more aggressive, because in the competition for attention and validation within a family system the children must adopt different types of behaviors in order to feel like an individual.

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.”

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

Dysfunctional Culture

The point that I am making is that our understanding of Codependence has evolved to realizing that this is not just about some dysfunctional families – our very role models, our prototypes, are dysfunctional.

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

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

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

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.” – these are excerpts from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls by Robert Burney

ImageThis book is available through Robert’s website or from Amazon Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

Also available in eBook format: Amazon Kindle Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls and Barnes & Noble Nook

New December 2012  Announcing that a new audio version of Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls A Cosmic Perspective of Codependence and the Human Condition is now available on

This is a literal audio book with another narrator – not the audio that I did myself which was slightly abridged.  I think that the narrator did a good job – but of course it doesn’t have the passion and the points of emphasis that the one I did has.  As one person’s feedback stated about my version:

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

The version that I did is for sale as an MP3 download.

Codependent Relationships Dynamics – Codependent & Counterdependent Behavior

“I spent most of my life doing the Serenity prayer backwards, that is, trying to change the external things over which I had no control – other people and life events mostly – and taking no responsibility (except shaming and blaming myself) for my own internal process – over which I can have some degree of control.  Having some control is not a bad thing; trying to control something or somebody over which I have no control is what is dysfunctional.”  – quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls by Robert Burney

Attempts to control are a reaction to fear.  It is what we do to try to protect ourselves emotionally.  Some of us (classic codependent behavior) tried to control through people pleasing, being a chameleon, wearing a mask, dancing to other people’s tunes.  Some of us (classic counterdependent behavior) protected ourselves/tried to be in control by pretending that we didn’t need other people.  Either way we were living life in reaction to our childhood wounds – we were not making clear, conscious choices.  (If our choice is to be in an abusive relationship or not to be in a relationship at all, that is not a choice – that is reacting between two extremes that are symptoms of our childhood wounds.)

Both classic codependent and classic counterdependent behaviors are part of the condition/disease of codependency in my definition.  They are just two different extremes in the spectrum of behavioral defense systems that the ego adapts in early childhood.  The ways in which we got hurt the most in childhood felt to our egos like a threat to survival, and it built up defenses to protect us.

While the classic codependent had their sense of self crushed (it is ‘self’ destroying to feel that love is conditional on pleasing others, living up to the expectations of others – even if our parents never raised their voices to us) in childhood to the extent that confrontation (owning anger, setting boundaries, taking the chance of hurting someone, etc.) feels life threatening, so the classic counterdependent feels like vulnerability (intimacy, getting close to/being dependent on other people) is life threatening.

Both the classic counterdependent and codependent patterns are reactive codependent traits that are out of balance and dysfunctional.  We do need other people – but to allow our self worth to be determined in reaction to other people is giving power away and setting ourselves up to be victims.  It is very important to own that we have worth as the unique, special being that each of us is – not dependent on how other people react to us.

This is a very difficult process for those of us who have classic ‘codependent’ patterns of trying very hard to get other people to like us, of feeling that we are defined by how others think of us and treat us, of being people pleasers and martyrs.  Classic codependent behavior involves focusing completely on the other (when a codependent dies someone else’s life passes in review.)  Having no self except as defined in relationship to the other.  This is dishonest and dysfunctional.  It sets us up to be victims – and causes one to not only be unable to get one’s needs met, but to not even be aware that it is right to have needs.

A classically codependent person, when asked about themselves, will reply by talking about the other.  Obviously, before someone with this type of behavioral defense can experience any self-growth, they have to first start opening up to the idea that they have a self.   The process of owning self is frustrating and confusing.  The concept of having boundaries is foreign and bewildering.  It is an ongoing process that takes years.  It unfolds in stages.  There is always another level of the onion to peel.  So, for someone whose primary pattern is classically codependent, the next level of growth will always involve owning self on some deeper level.  A very important part of this process is owning the right to be angry about the way other’s behavior has impacted our lives – starting in childhood.

Classic counterdependent behavior focuses completely on the self and builds huge walls to keep others out.   It is hard for those of us who exhibit classically ‘counterdependent’ behavior patterns to even consider that we may be codependent. We have lived our lives trying to prove that we don’t need others, that we are independent and strong.  The counterdependent is the other extreme of the spectrum.  If our behavior patterns have been primarily counterdependent it means that we were wounded so badly in childhood that in order to survive we had to convince ourselves that we don’t need other people, that it is never safe to get close to other people.

Each of us has our own spectrum of behavioral defenses to protect us from being hurt emotionally.  We can be codependent in one relationship and counterdependent in another – or we can swing from co to counter – within the same relationship.  Often, someone who is primarily counterdependent will get involved with someone who is even more counterdependent and then will act out the codependent role in that particular relationship – the same can happen with two people with primarily codependent patterns.

Both the classic codependent patterns and the classic counterdependent patterns are behavioral defenses, strategies, designed to protect us from being abandoned.  One tries to protect against abandonment by avoiding confrontation and pleasing the other – while the second tries to avoid abandonment by pretending we don’t need anyone else.  Both are dysfunctional and dishonest.” – Codependent Relationships Dynamics  part 3 – Codependent & Counterdependent Behavior