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.


I don’t have to know that today. I don’t have to decide that today. I can let it go for today

“I didn’t have to live in fear and make myself crazy about something that didn’t happen”

October 29, 2013 at 1:31pm (I originally wrote this as a note on Facebook)

Yesterday I got the results of a biopsy and it was negative – great news! What was also really great is that in the 10 days between the time the biopsy was taken and when I got the results, I didn’t have to live in fear and make myself crazy about something that didn’t happen. That is because of my recovery and having had the blessing of learning how to set internal boundaries emotionally and mentally so I can keep letting go of the outcome, of things I can’t control. In the past, waiting for an outcome that was important to me – like the results of this biopsy – would have been excruciating. I am so grateful for my recovery. For having learned how to have the ability to let go of my fear in the moment and say to myself that is about the future, I don’t need to know that today.

My disease wants to project horror movies into the future of impending doom, financial tragedy, being along forever. Because of my recovery I don’t have to get all emotionally caught up in things that haven’t happened yet, in outcomes in the future which may never happen. I am very grateful that I have the tools and knowledge to not allow my childhood wounding and programming to dictate the quality of my life today.

“When I was about two years in recovery there was a time when I was talking to my sponsor on the phone. I had just lost my job, the car had broken down, and I had to move out of my apartment in two weeks. Talk about tragedy and impending doom! I was laying in bed feeling very sorry for myself and very terrified about how painful it was going to be when I became homeless. After listening to me for a while my sponsor asked me, “What’s up above you?” It was a stupid question and I told him so. I was pissed that he wasn’t giving me the sympathy I deserved – but he insisted that I answer. So I finally said, “Well, the ceiling.” And he said, “Oh, so your not homeless tonight are you?”” – Gratitude – a Vital Tool in the Recovery Process

“One of the things I say often, is that I realized I had spent most of my life before recovery worrying about decisions I never had to make – because when it became time to make the decision it was obvious what to do. The situation had changed or new information had come in – and the days and weeks (and sometimes months) I had spent worrying about that decision were a waste of time and energy. One of the greatest recovery tools I have learned is just to be able to say, “I don’t have to decide that today” or “I don’t have to know that today” – and let go of the outcome I am worried about for today.” – Joy2MeU Update Newsletter April 2009

“They say that God made the world round so we can’t see too far over the horizon. The details about how those events over the horizon are going to work out are not my business today. If I am putting all my energy into figuring out how I am going to cross the mountain way off in the distance, then I am liable to step into a hole that is directly in front of me on my path today. (Could cause me to hurt my leg 😉 I need to keep an eye on the horizon so that I can make any adjustments to my heading that I need to make – but most of my attention and energy needs to be focused on what is in front of me to do and experience in my life today. I want to be present for my life today and be able to enjoy the scenery that is part of the texture of my journey today. In my codependency, my fear and shame driven relationship with life caused me to be incapable of being present in the moment because I was focused on the future or the past. One of the gifts of my recovery is the ability to be here today, to be available for moments of happiness and Joy no matter how many frightening unknowns are looming on the horizon – no matter how impossible it looks to me for me to ever get there.

I haven’t reached a point in my journey from which it is possible to see the details of how this transition is going to unfold. My part as a co-creator in this life experience means that I am responsible for planting seeds and gathering information and doing the footwork to prepare myself for those events on and over the horizon – but the details will not become clear until I have reached the point in my journey when I need to see them clearly. One of the greatest stress reducers in my recovery was the insight that it wasn’t doing me any good to worry about decisions that it was not yet time to make – that worry was in fact a symptom that I was in my disease trying to figure out how to control life because of my fear, and it created more fear. A very dysfunctional dynamic – that is the essence of the condition of codependency – which prevented me from ever really living life, until recovery.

“Worry – which is negative fantasizing – is a reaction to fear of the unknown which creates more fear, which creates more worry, which creates more fear, etc. This fear is not a normal human fear of the unknown. It is codependent fear: a distorted, magnified, virulent, mutated species of fear caused by the poisonous combination of a false belief that being human is shameful with a polarized (black and white, right and wrong) perspective of life. This self perpetuating, self destructive type of obsessive thinking feeds not only on fear, but on shaming ourselves for feeling the fear.

The disease of codependency is a dysfunctional emotional defense system adapted by our egos to help us survive. The polarized perspective of life we were programmed with in early childhood, causes us to be afraid of making a mistake, of doing life “wrong.” At the core of our being, we feel unlovable and unworthy – because our parents felt unlovable and unworthy – and we spend great amounts of energy trying to keep our shameful defectiveness a secret. We feel that, if we were perfect like we “should” be, we would not feel fear and confusion, and would have reached “happily ever after” by now. So, we shame ourselves for feeling fear, which adds gasoline to the inferno of fear that is driving us. The shame and fear that drive obsession becomes so painful and ‘crazy making’ that at some point we have to find some way to shut down our minds for a little while – drugs or alcohol or food or sleep or television, etc.

It is a very dysfunctional, and sad, way to relate to life. The fear we are empowering is about the future – the shame is about the past. We are not capable of being in the now and enjoying life because we are caught up in trauma melodramas about things which have not yet happened – or wallowing in orgies of self recrimination about the past, which can not be changed. Codependents do not really live life – we endure, we survive, we persevere.” – Obsession / Obsessive Thinking Part 1

I am not writing the script, am not in control of this human experience, so I need to do what I am led to do when I am led to do it – with faith that a Loving plan is unfolding. Worry is negative fantasy. Fear of the future does not serve me on my path today – takes away my ability to be here now. The fear will come up certainly – just as it did when I wrote the paragraph above – but that is normal and human. I can use my recovery tools to let go of that fear of the unknown – and have boundaries with the critical parent voice in my head which wants me to project a fantasy of impending doom, a horror movie in my mind, that will cause me to create artificial fear in my life today. As I talked about in my article on Acceptance (Serenity – Accepting the things we cannot change), I learned that 90% of the stress in my life before codependency recovery was my responsibility, something I had some control over – and I do not have to create that kind of stress in my life any more, thanks to recovery and my faith in the Great Spirit.” – Joy2MeU Update Newsletter November 2002

“The number one tool of the ego is fear. Anytime we feel fear, there are multiple levels involved – multiple perspectives from which that fear is originating. And, like all the other emotions we experience, fear has a purpose and needs to be honored as a gift. Emotions do not have value in and of themselves – they just are. What give emotions a positive or negative value is how we react to them. Most of us learned to have negative reactions to emotions because our perspective of our own emotions was all messed up in childhood. (Due to the messages and role modeling of the adults around us.)

Fear is an important tool in living. It is there to protect us, to help us avoid situations and people who will do us harm. It is our relationship to fear that is dysfunctional because of our childhood experiences.

There is a level of fear that is unavoidable in being human – that is fear of the unknown.

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

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

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

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

“Learning to apply the Serenity Prayer has helped me to stop creating so much artificial stress in my life because I wasn’t accepting reality as it was being presented to me.  About 90% of the stress I used to experience in my life was artificially created – was created by my attitudes and expectations.  As I say in that journal entry:

“So, I accept whatever it is that I perceive as deprivation today – and make the best of today.  That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t generate stress for me.  But the stress is like the 3. earthquake as compared to the 8. earthquake that my perspective of life used to generate for me.”” – Serenity – Accepting the things we cannot change

1/19/17 – I added this last quote while publishing this on my blog today.  I have been neglecting this blog – apologies to all my followers.  The main reason is that I have been posting quotes and links on Facebook almost every day – and that is much easier than publishing these blog entries.  I will try to post more of these in the coming weeks but if you want to get an almost daily dose of my writing, sent me a Friend request on Facebook.

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. It is learning to set internal boundaries that can help us stop living in fear of the future or regret about the past – and be more present to experience today.

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 somespecial combination offers.

The Dance

Reading my book Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls (links to all of my books in both hard copy, ebook, and audiobook format are on that page – or you can get Books, eBooks, and Audiobooks through Amazon) really help people take their 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.

DancingIn 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.Coversm-Arena 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.

Discernment in relationship to emotional honesty and responsibility 2

Honesty like any other arena in recovery is not a black and white issue.  There are a multitude of levels to honesty, of perspectives in which to view the concept of honesty.  Emotional honesty is the one we are focusing on in this article, but intellectual honesty with ourselves is necessary in order to start becoming emotionally honest.

It is necessary to start seeing ourselves with more clarity in order to recognize the attitudes, beliefs, and definitions that are dictating our emotional reactions.  Once we start achieving more honesty in our perspectives of ourselves, then we can get more clarity in our emotional process.

For instance, until I started to recognize how I had been programmed to have a dysfunctional relationship with my own emotions because I am male, I could not start giving myself permission to get in touch with feelings which I had been programmed to believe were unacceptable for a man in this society.

There are numerous levels, relationships, that I had to start seeing with more clarity – getting more intellectually honest with myself about – before I could start changing my relationship in those arenas.

“Attitudes, definitions, and beliefs determine perspective and expectation – which in turn dictates our relationships.  Our relationships to our self, to life, to other people, to The God-Force / Goddess Energy / Great Spirit.  Our relationships to our own emotions, bodies, gender, etc., are dictated by the attitudes, definitions, and beliefs that we are holding mentally / intellectually.  And we acquired those mental constructs / ideas / concepts in early childhood from the emotional experiences, intellectual teachings, and role modeling of the beings around us.” – The True Nature of Love-part 4, Energetic Clarity 

The key in this regard for me, was expectations.  I had to start realizing how my expectations were dictating my emotional reactions in order to start changing my relationships with my own emotions.

“By having expectations I was giving power away. In order to become empowered I had to own that I had choices about how I viewed life, about my expectations. I realized that no one can make me feel hurt or angry – that it is my expectations that cause me to generate feelings of hurt or anger. In other words, the reason I feel hurt or anger is because other people, life, or God are not doing what I want them, expect them, to do.

I had to learn to be honest with myself about my expectations – so I could let go of the ones that were insane (like, everyone is going to drive the way I want them to), and own my choices – so I could take responsibility for how I was setting myself up to be a victim in order to change my patterns.” – Serenity and Expectations

The process of recovery is a journey of continual growth to larger perspectives, higher contexts in which to view everything.  Consciousness raising / enLightenment is a process of peeling away layers of denial to get to a Higher Consciousness / expanded perspective / deeper level of honesty.  The focus of this article is discernment in relationship to emotional honesty and I just realized that I need to say a few words about why it is so important – about why emotions are important.

Emotions = energy in motion

Feelings, emotions, are energy.

The Dance

“Emotions are energy:  E-motion = energy in motion.  It is supposed to be in motion, it was meant to flow.

Emotions have a purpose, a very good reason to be – even those emotions that feel uncomfortable.  Fear is a warning, anger is for protection, tears are for cleansing and releasing.  These are not negative emotional responses!  We were taught to react negatively to them.  It is our reaction that is dysfunctional and negative, not the emotion.” – quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

Emotions have two vitally important purposes for human beings.  Emotions are a form of communication.  Our feelings are one of the means by which we define ourselves.  The interaction of our intellect and our emotions determines how we relate to ourselves.

Our emotional energy is also the fuel that propels us down the pathways of our life journey.  E-motions are the orchestra that provide the music for our individual dances – that dictate the rhythmic flow and movement of our human dance.  Our feelings help us to define ourselves and then provide the combustible fuel that dictates the speed and direction of our motion – rather we are flowing with it or damming it up within ourselves.

“Emotional energy is not only supposed to be in motion, to flow, it is also the energy that gets us in motion.  It is what drives us, what propels us forward through life.  When emotional flow is blocked and suppressed it does not go away.  Energy cannot simply disappear.  It can transform but it cannot disappear.  That is a law of physics.

Emotional energy that is suppressed still drives us.  It is what causes obsessive-compulsive behavior, it is what drives addictions.  Repressed emotional energy builds up pressure that has to be released. . . . . .

Human beings are not damned with an n.  We are emotionally dammed.  Dammed up, blocked up – which is what causes us to feel damned with an n.”

“The emotional energy generated by the circumstances of our childhood and early life does not go away just because we were forced to deny it.  It is still trapped in our body – in a pressurized, explosive state, as a result of being suppressed. . . . . As long as we have pockets of pressurized emotional energy that we have to avoid dealing with – those emotional wounds will run our lives.” – Feeling the Feelings

The reason that it is so important to clear up our relationship with our own emotions, to learn to be emotionally honest with ourselves is because emotions are such a powerful part of our being, such a vital and controlling influence in how we live our lives.  The key to learning how to clear up that relationship and start to get some emotional clarity is learning how to have internal boundaries.

“Then we can start setting internal boundaries within the mental, between the mental and emotional, and within the emotional levels of our being. . . . . . .Within the mental we can start discerning and separating the shaming messages that are coming from the disease / critical parent voice from our own wisdom, knowledge and intelligence. . . . . .By learning to set a boundary between emotional and mental, we can stop reacting to life based on the false belief that what we feel is who we are – that what we feel defines our reality. . . . . . Once we start having boundaries within the mental, and between the mental and emotional, then we can also start having boundaries within the emotional level of our being. . . . . . .start discerning between the emotional truth that is coming from our old wounds and the emotional energy that is Truth.” – Inner child healing – the process of processing

It is necessary to learn to have a boundary within the emotional component of our being because there are two primary transformers from which emotional energy is generated.  Our ego self and our Spiritual Self.  Our ego was traumatized in childhood and programmed very dysfunctionally. The ego is the seat of the disease of codependence.

“The key to healing our wounded souls is to get clear and honest in our emotional process.  Until we can get clear and honest with our human emotional responses – until we change the twisted, distorted, negative perspectives and reactions to our human emotions that are a result of having been born into, and grown up in, a dysfunctional, emotionally repressive, Spiritually hostile environment – we cannot get clearly in touch with the level of emotional energy that is Truth.  We cannot get clearly in touch with and reconnected to our Spiritual Self.”

Our Spiritual Self is the True Self, the Higher Self that is an extension downward vibrationally from the ONENESS of the Source Energy.  Recovery is a process of reprogramming the ego defenses so that we can bring the ego self into alignment with Spiritual Self.  Spiritual Self is our guide through the Spiritual evolutionary process.  Our Spiritual Self communicates with us through our intuition.  Our intuition is emotional energy – an emotional energy communication from our Spirit.

“Truth, in my understanding, is not an intellectual concept.  I believe that Truth is an emotional-energy, vibrational communication to my consciousness, to my soul/spirit – my being, from my Soul.  Truth is an emotion, something that I feel within. . . . . It’s that gut feeling, the feeling in my heart.  It is the feeling of something resonating within me.”

It is very important to start developing internal boundaries so that we can start discerning between the emotional messages that are being generated by the disease, by our wounded self, and the messages that are coming from our Higher Self.

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

Healthy Guilt and Unhealthy Guilt

A good example of this discernment process is guilt.  Guilt is a feeling – an emotional energy whose purpose is to communicate with our consciousness about our behavior.  It is important to make a distinction between healthy guilt and unhealthy guilt in relationship to discernment and emotional honesty.

In my definition shame is a term that relates to being (feeling that something is wrong with who we are, that our being is defective) – while guilt refers to behavior.

“We do not need fixing.  We are not broken.  Our sense of self, our self perception, was shattered and fractured and broken into pieces, not our True Self. . . .

We are not broken.  That is what toxic shame is – thinking that we are broken, believing that we are somehow inherently defective.

Guilt is “I made a mistake, I did something wrong.”

Shame is “I’m a mistake, something is wrong with me.””

Guilt is something we feel to help us be aware of our behavior.

Healthy guilt is what we feel when we violate our own value system.  It is an important intuitive component in maintaining a healthy, honest relationship with ourselves.  Guilt helps us to be aware of areas that needs some more healing – behavior that is a reaction to old wounds and old tapes.  It is generated by our Spirit when we have acted in ways which we need to make amends for, when our humanness has caused us to act in a way that does not respect and honor that we are ONE with everyone and everything.

Unhealthy guilt is when we feel guilty for violating someone else’s value system.  We were programmed to react to life based on value systems that were dysfunctional, codependent, and unhealthy.  We had imposed upon us, and programmed into our intellectual perspective and emotional reactions, value systems we learned from the emotional experiences, intellectual teachings, and role modeling of the beings around us in childhood.  In order to survive, we adapted the value systems imposed upon us – even though they often did not make sense to us even then.

The critical parent voice developed in order to try to control our behavior and feelings using the same tools that were used on us – guilt, shame, and fear.  As a result of that programming, it is normal for us to feel guilty about violating those value system.  Thus in recovery when we start setting boundaries, saying no, speaking our truth, being emotionally honest, etc., feelings of guilt and shame are generated.

In recovery as we awaken to our power to make choices about our beliefs, we can start sorting out which values that we are holding resonate with Truth as we feel it intuitively – and which ones are a result of the old programming.  We can start practicing discernment in picking out the nuggets of Truth in the values we learned in childhood, from the twisted, dysfunctional, shame based beliefs.  Some of the values our parents held will also be our intuitive values.  Many will not because they were programmed in their childhoods.  Often we were taught values in theory that are Truth – but which in practice were not followed.  This was part of the crazy making inconsistency that caused us to think something was wrong with us.

“The teachings of all the Master Teachers, of all the world’s religions, contain some Truth along with a lot of distortions and lies.  Discerning Truth is often like recovering treasure from shipwrecks that have been sitting on the ocean floor for hundreds of years – the grains of Truth, the nuggets of gold, have become encrusted with garbage over the years.”

As we heal and awaken we get clearer on what our True values, the intuitive messages from our Spiritual Self, are – and can discern more often when we are experiencing unhealthy guilt so that we do not give it power.  As with any part of the process, our intuition is our guide.  Our minds have a great tendency to slip back into the polarized ruts of trying to figure out what is right and what is wrong – whereas our gut feelings will most often be coming from our intuition.

The more we are able to develop our observer self, the witness who is viewing our life and internal process from a recovery perspective, the easier it becomes for us to discern between guilt feelings that are healthy – and an important tool in helping us maintain some emotional balance and responsibility – and the unhealthy guilt of our old programming that we can let go of.

In her wonderful daily meditation book, Melody Beattie calls the unhealthy guilt and shame generated when we start to change to new healthier behavior “afterburn,” and talks about just letting it burn off without giving it power.  This is what I refer to as having a boundary between emotional and mental.  We can feel the guilt and recognize it as unhealthy so that we do not give the critical parent voice the power to get us into a frenzy of mental activity worrying if we have done something “wrong.”  We can talk to the child within us that is feeling guilty for setting a boundary and tell that child that it is good to set boundaries – that it is the Loving thing to do for ourselves.  (Melody Beattie’s The Language of Letting Go is an absolutely phenomenal book that I think everyone in recovery should have.  The Loving Spiritual belief system that is the foundation for her practical recovery advice is one that aligns with what I believe better than anything else I have ever read.)

Worry is negative fantasy

When I catch myself worrying about right and wrong, it is a sure sign that my disease is up and running – that I have slipped back into that rut.  When I become aware that my mind has gone into a right and wrong type feeding frenzy, it is usually because I have some feelings going on that are making me uncomfortable.  Very often, I am afraid of what the consequences of my choice will be – the outcome of the actions I have set in motion.  Sometimes, I am sad that I had to set a boundary.  Whatever I am feeling, it is better for me to get in touch with the feeling than to be in my head in a frenzy of worry.

Worry is negative fantasizing.  It is a fantasy that is being created in reaction to feeling fear.  It is not real – it is something that is being created because my mind has slipped into the old familiar rut of right and wrong thinking.  Worry is not a feeling – it is a reaction, an negative emotional state, that is created by the perspectives of a belief system that empowers illusions like failure.  The sooner that we can pull ourselves out of that rut and start seeing the situation as part of a learning process – shift back into a recovery perspective – the less negative emotional response we will generate in relationship to the situation.

Emotions do not have value in and of themselves – they just are.  What gives emotions value is how we react to them.  We were programmed to react negatively to emotions and adapted defenses to try to keep from feeling emotional energy.  Being in our head worrying about the past or the future, is a defense against being in our own skin and feeling our feelings.  But it is dysfunctional – it does not work.  Reacting negatively to our feelings generates more feelings.   The more we worry, the more fear we generate.  We create negative feeling emotional states because we are empowering negative perspectives of life.

“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.  The more we try to avoid the discomfort of feeling fear or sadness or anger, the more emotional energy we generate in relationship to whatever situation we are reacting to.  It is a really dysfunctional, viscous cycle if our goal is to be happy and at peace.  For the disease it is a functional cycle because it creates justification for rescuing ourselves by going unconscious using some self abusive behavior – which then creates more shame, which creates more judgment, which creates more fear, which creates more worry, etc., etc.

“As long as we are judging and shaming ourselves we are giving power to the disease.  We are feeding the monster that is devouring us.”

When I catch myself worrying then I know that I am not being emotionally honest with myself.  Worry is a symptom that tells me I am avoiding some feelings.

The key is to be aware of when we slip back into those ruts of right and wrong thinking so that we can use our recovery tools to pull us out of the rut and get back into balance.  We need to let go of the perspectives or expectation that are causing us more fear.  We need to own the feelings instead of trying to avoid them – because trying to avoid them just generates more of them.

When I catch myself worrying it is very important not to judge myself for it.  What I need to do is be patient and kind and compassionate towards myself.  I can catch myself, take a couple of deep breaths and say something to myself like:

Oh here I am worrying.  I must be afraid.  I am feeling fear about of the outcome of this situation.  I have bought into the belief that if this does not come out the way I want it to, I am not going to be OK.   It is time to stop and remember that I have a Loving Higher Power who is in charge of outcomes.  That everything will work out in the way which is best for my growth process.  I need to remember to be willing to surrender to the Divine Plan of my Loving Higher Power.  I need to let go of those old beliefs in lack and scarcity.  I need to remind myself that I don’t have the power to screw up the Goddess’s plan.  That whatever happens will be an opportunity for growth – not a mistake.

Then I may need to specifically deal with some inner child wounds – “How old am I feeling right now.” – letting the detective / observer part of me track down why this situation in particular is carrying a lot of charge for me.  There may be some grief work to do.  I may also need to own that I am angry at my Higher Power because I am in a situation again that causes fear – or sadness, or hurt.  A situation that resonates with the energy of one of my core issues – abandonment, betrayal, deprivation, abuse, isolation, etc.

Any time I am worrying, I am back into right and wrong thinking.  That tells me that I am not being emotionally honest with myself and that I have gotten out of balance, that my vision is being clouded by reactions from the past.  Balance is the key.  We are striving for a balance between mental and emotional, between intuitive and rational.  It is feeling clear that will show us our path, not deciding what is right or wrong.

“And once again here, I want to make the point that clarity with our self is not an absolute destination.  This healing is a gradual process of finding a sense of balance – a sense of what clarity feels like, so that we can look for and recognize when we have it and when we do not.   In order to do that it is vital to learn how to be emotionally honest with ourselves so that we can be discerning in our relationship with our own mental and emotional process. Through that honesty we will achieve some energetic clarity as well.

Through that energetic clarity we will be able to access Love from the Source – and we will learn to Love and trust our Self to guide our self through this boarding school that is life as a human.” – The True Nature of Love-part 4, Energetic Clarity  

Honesty with others

We need to strive for emotional honesty with our self and for our self – because being honest with ourselves is what works best to help us see our self and life most clearly.  It is the most Loving thing to do for ourselves.

It is also important for us to learn to practice discernment in relationship to how honest we are with other people.  It is almost always the best policy, the strategy that works best in the long run, to be direct and honest with others.  That does not necessarily mean emotionally honest.  And it does not necessarily mean we need to tell them the whole truth, be honest on all levels.

While I was writing this article I took a break to go for a walk by the ocean.  On that walk, my Higher Power presented me with a perfect example of the point I am making here.

I ran into someone I know from AA and had not seen for a couple of months.  This is a person that I like and I am happy to see when I run into her.  She has around thirty years of sobriety.  But she is not involved in the emotional healing, in codependence recovery.  She knows I have a book out, and asks me about it when we see each other – but I would never expect her to read it.

The AA community in the small town that I live in has a very high percentage of people with long term sobriety.   Many of them are people who retired here from Los Angeles or Fresno and other places.  They are old time AA people who are so black and white in their thinking that they get upset if someone mentions drugs in an Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.  Needless to say, they do not think that codependence has any place in their lives or their meetings.  I can share in these meetings using AA language and people will tell me how much they get from my sharing – but if I use the C word (codependence) I can almost hear the snap of the minds closing around the room.

As a result I do not go to a lot of AA meetings here.  Inevitably, I walk away from a meeting here feeling sad about the level of emotional dishonesty I observe – or sometimes angry about rigid, judgmental statements or behavior.  My main meeting here in town – besides a CoDA meeting that I started and am secretary for – is a Narcotics Anonymous meeting in which it is OK to talk about anything and the people laugh a lot.

So, I ran into this woman from AA on my walk, and she said to me, “I haven’t seen you around for awhile.”  This is AA language for “Why haven’t I seen you at any meetings?”  And coming from many people in Alcoholics Anonymous carries more than a hint of accusation in it.

I told her that I was doing a lot of phone counseling and the appointments were often in the evenings.  I mentioned that the NA meeting was the one I made it to most often.  I said that I had been meaning to make it to the Friday night meeting – and I have, and will, one of these days.

I answered her honestly without telling the whole truth or being emotionally honest.  There was no reason to share my feelings about the meetings that she attends – because she had not asked for my opinion.  People in AA have the same uncanny ability that my family members and many other people out there in the world have – they have a way of avoiding asking direct questions whose answers might make them uncomfortable.   I have learned that part of having good boundaries for me includes not offering opinions to, or being emotionally honest with, people who do not want to hear it.

That AA person falls into the category of what I call a “friendly acquaintance.”  Someone who I am glad to see, feel some affection for, feel a bond to as a fellow recovering alcoholic – but someone who will probably never be a real friend.  If she were ever to come to me and ask for my advice or opinion – I would happily share with her.  The chances are that will never happen.

I have found it important to have boundaries in terms of how I view other people.  If I have one or two people in my life that I feel that I can truly communicate with and be emotionally honest with on all levels, that is an incredible abundance.  For much of my recovery I have not had anyone who fell into that category.  That is sad, but it is a reality that I have needed to accept.  As I have said elsewhere, an important part of empowerment is seeing reality as it is and making the best of it – rather than putting energy into wishing it was different.  If I get caught up in wishing it were different, in the “what if”s and “if only”s, then I am empowering a victim perspective which can lead to self pity.  (Grieving, owning the sadness, is very different from self pity which – as I mention above -is an emotional state based upon limiting victim beliefs.)

It has been very helpful to me, to accept that people are where they are at – and that it is OK.  I have learned to let go of my old pattern of sacrificing myself in the now for the potential of the future.  Often I can see who a person really is, and understand their potential – which on my deepest level of honesty usually means their potential to be an asset in my life – but need to accept that they are perfectly where they are supposed to be in their process.  I need to accept that, in order not to buy into the illusion that they are doing something to me – that I am the victim of the pace of their process, of their inability to be who I want them to be now.

This was especially important in terms of letting go of expecting my family of origin to change.  They are not who I want them to be, they don’t understand me and can’t see me.  It isn’t personal – they are just dancing with their wounds and following their path.  It is not for me to judge someone else’s path.  Letting go – especially in terms of doing the inner child grieving about letting go of the myth of family – and accepting, was a necessary component in being able to have a friendly, superficial relationship with my family today.  Superficial is what they are capable of – I needed to accept that and make the best of the situation.

In terms of friends, there are going to be people in my life, who I can share certain things with – but not other things.  Some people that I can relate to on certain levels, or about certain issues.  To expect that I can be emotionally honest with everyone in my life in a way that works (is safe, is heard, is understood) is an insane expectation in such a dysfunctional society with relatively so few people actually doing the healing work.

(I want to make a point here also, that when I say “safe” in terms of being emotionally honest, I am talking about what will work best.  In earlier recovery, when I was still giving a lot of power to the old wounds and old tapes, it could feel devastating to me to have someone judge and shame me.  Then safe referred to danger, to people who would judge and shame me.  It also meant people who would try to fix me.  Trying to fix someone else is not support, it is codependence.  When someone starts trying to rescue me it imparts a judgment on where I am at – it means they are not comfortable so they are going to try to change me to make themselves comfortable.  This is tied into the what I was speaking of above about offering advice or opinions to someone who hasn’t asked.  It can be a form of abuse.

As I have gotten healthier in recovery, with more capacity to be balanced and see life with some clarity – other people and life events have less power to effect me.  The more I am grounded in the Spiritual belief system I have integrated into my internal process, and have done my inner child healing – the less power any of my old buttons hold. The better I have become at letting go, the shorter the periods of time have become that I am giving others the power to rock my emotional boat.  The term safe for me transformed into meaning something more like: safe from wasting time and energy trying to communicate with someone who can not hear.  To get into an argument, a power struggle over right and wrong, with someone who doesn’t speak my language is dysfunctional – is actually, pretty silly.

Pay Attention

The primary purpose and most important reason for me to share my feelings with anyone is because I need to do it for me – to take care of me.  In order to be emotionally healthy I need to express and release my feelings – but that does not mean that I have to necessarily express those feelings to the person involved.  The farther along I get in recovery, the more I have the tools and resources I need to do my healing internally where it really matters, the less need I have to share my feelings with people who can’t hear me.

The secondary purpose of being emotionally honest with another person is to develop emotional intimacy with that person.  If the other person is not capable of emotional honesty, then I am setting myself up – empowering expectations that are not realistic.

Of course, when we first meet someone we do not have any data to base a discerning decision upon.  We gather data by paying attention.  The more we heal, the more ability we have to be in the moment and pay attention.  People give us signs and signals about themselves right from our first contact with them.  The most Loving thing we can do for ourselves, the most functional behavior, is to be present and pay attention.

So, we observe.  We pay attention not just to what they are saying, but also to their body language, their eye contact, the feelings we get in our gut while interacting with them.

As I state in the quote above, we are never going to meet someone who doesn’t have some red flags.  Everyone we meet is going to be someone who is a teacher of some kind.  By paying attention, it is possible to choose rather we want to explore our connection to them further or rather this is a opportunity to set a boundary with ourselves about where to expend our time and energy.

If we discern that we do not feel comfortable with seeing this person again, we can be direct and honest with them – without necessarily being emotionally honest.

We do not have to say, for example:  You scare me because it appears that you are not really hearing what I am saying to you, that you are unable to be conscious and present.  (This would almost certainly engender a defensive reaction from the other person and lead to more time and energy expended)

We do not have to lie to them either:  I am so busy this week.  Maybe later in the month. (This sets us up to keep putting them off.)

We can say something like:  Sorry, but I am very busy these days and just do not have time to hang out.

So, we tell a little fib by saying we are sorry when we probably aren’t – and we do not tell the whole truth which is:  I choose not to hang out with someone unless I see the possibility of a healthy relationship with them, or sense a strong connection that I feel a need to explore.

And then we do not have to explain.  We do not have to explain ourselves to anyone unless we choose to.  We have a right to make choices without having to justify them or defend ourselves.

This is, of course, one of those places where it is important to be able to recognize that any guilt feelings that might arise, and cause us to feel we have to explain, are most likely unhealthy guilt – codependent reactions to being programmed to feel responsible for other people’s feelings.

There are many people out there whose codependent defense system falls into what I describe in my book as bulldozers.  The will push and push and push.  They will demand explanations.

You do not owe them an explanation.  With bulldozers it is often necessary to get down right rude with them before they will hear us.  Anyone who pushes against a boundary we set is obviously someone that we may want to choose not to be around.  If someone gets pushy, then we can say something like: “I don’t want to see you again because you don’t respect the boundary that I just set.”


Many of us, of course, have a real terror of conflict – either because we have inner children who are terrified of someone else’s anger, and/or because we are programmed to feel responsible for other people’s feelings and have great fear of hurting others.

What is important is to start being honest with ourselves.  To say you didn’t want to tell the other person the truth because it would hurt their feelings is codependent.  The truth is we didn’t want to tell them because we wanted to protect ourselves from feeling codependently responsible for hurting their feelings.  It is not about them – it is about us.

To avoid setting boundaries because we are afraid of the other persons anger, is a set up to be a doormat and a victim.  It is deadly to our own self respect.  It usually means we are reacting out of an inner child wound.  As children we had to learn to not have boundaries in order to survive.  As adults, it is our responsibility to our self and to our inner children to start setting boundaries in order to become empowered in our life.

As I stated in my article on setting personal boundaries, we not only need to set them, we need to be willing to defend them.  Defending our right to set boundaries means knowing we do not have to justify or explain.  The chances are the other person will react defensively, take our boundary personally, and push for an explanation.  We do not owe them an explanation.  One of the reasons we learned to fear confrontations, was because of how unpleasant power struggles over who is right and who is wrong can be.  Defending our right to set boundaries, means learning (a gradual, stumbling process) to stand up for ourselves and say: “No!  I do not have to explain myself to you.” (This of course, also applies to our feelings.  We do not have to justify how we feel to anyone.)

People come into our lives to help us learn about ourselves.  The people who will feel hurt when we say no to them, are people who are helping us get in touch with dysfunctional beliefs about being responsible for other people’s feelings.  They are helping us get in touch with some inner child wounds, and practice letting go of unhealthy guilt.

People who are bulldozers, whose anger we are afraid of, are teachers that force us to learn to stand up for ourselves.  Without them we would never have to learn how to set and defend boundaries.

These types of confrontations are opportunities for growth.  The more we grow the more we have a choice to avoid these confrontations by being honest with ourselves so that we can employ the strategy that works best.  What works best – to help us keep from expending our time and energy on people that we choose not to invest our self in – is to set a boundary and be direct up front.

It takes a great deal of courage in recovery to start standing up for ourselves.  To start saying no straight out instead of making excuses and vague promises that we do not intend to keep.  Learning to be more honest in our interactions is a process that we evolve through – not something to judge ourselves about.

Sometimes we go through stages where we need to come from a pretty black and white extreme.  As I said, we go through stages in the growth process.

I had very powerful patterns of avoiding conflict.  Those arose out of the traumatic effect my fathers raging had on me, and the emotional incest from my mother that caused me to feel responsible for the feelings of others.

I had a great ability to intellectually rationalize away the need to stand up for myself.  There were always multiple reasons I could come up with to rationalize why the other person was acting that way – or why it wouldn’t do any good to stand up for myself.  The first instance was masked as unhealthy codependent “compassion” – which wasn’t really about them at all, but was about protecting me.  And the second was about manipulation – about what strategy would best protect me, get me what I wanted.

There was a stage in my process where I had to let go of trying to figure it out intellectually, let go of strategy, let go of trying to be discerning – and just make the first priority stopping the emotional and verbal abuse.  I needed to make protecting myself the first priority.  That meant that I shared my feelings anytime someone said something to me that felt abusive.  That meant that I reacted out of unresolved grief and anger from the past in my reactions to people.  That often meant I had to go back and make amends later.

It was an important phase in my process.  I went from having no honest boundaries – to throwing up boundaries and spewing my feelings everywhere with everyone – and then was able to move through that stage to a point where I had more choices.

It may be dysfunctional to share your feelings with your boss or a parent – but it might be a necessary part of owning yourself to do just that.  The more we heal the more discernment we can practice in where, when, and to whom we are emotionally honest.

As I have stated elsewhere, we need to own our feelings and set boundaries as a way of Loving ourselves, being a friend to our self – not to obtain a certain outcome.  When we set boundaries, we let go of the outcome.

Which doesn’t mean that we do not want the outcome – it means that we choose to take care of ourselves and take a risk that the outcome will not be what we want.  It is very important to take risks in recovery.  The purpose of getting emotionally honest with ourselves and owning our responsibilities is so that we can make better choices about the risks we choose to take.

Discerning strategy and letting go

As I said in part 1 of this discussion, we are learning how to live in balance, in the gray area of life.  We are learning that there are numbers 2 through 9 instead of just 1 and 10.

We need to learn to be emotionally honest with ourselves – and direct and honest with others – in a way that works for us.  Having a healthy relationship with our self involves living according to value system that we resonate with – living with integrity.

We want to own our feelings and release them in a healthy way that works to help us have some balance in our life.  We are learning how to stop giving power to the old wounds so that we do not behave in a manner which is harmful to us – the “I’ll show you, I’ll get me!” patterns of codependence.

That involves seeing ourselves and our lives as clearly and honestly as possible – and responding to other people and life events by making the best choices possible.

To be angry at your boss and be emotionally honest about that anger – could be dysfunctional to your well being.  Could get you fired.

It is important to own that anger and release it in a healthy way – through talking a friend or in a twelve step meeting, through doing anger release work, etc.  We also need to look at how we are setting ourselves up to generate that anger – take responsibility for our part in the situation.   We do that by getting in touch with any victim perspective we are empowering (the “I have to go to work” victimization we are taught in our society – Empowerment and Victimization – the power of choice) and observing any childhood wounds that are involved so that we can focus on the real cause instead of just the presenting symptom.

We also want to own all of our choices, rather than just the 1 or 10 of being the poor self righteous victim or exploding in profanity and quitting.  We can look at our choices 2 through 9, and decide upon the strategy that will work best for us.  If we decide that we need to quit the job, we can choose to have another one lined up when we quit – choose the time that works best for self instead of reacting in a way that hurts our self.

We can learn to respond to situations with discernment that allows us to make choices about what is in our best interests.  We can choose a strategy that is most likely to have an outcome that will work for us.

We need to let go of thinking we can control the outcome.  We need to not allow our fear of the outcome to cause us to be emotionally dishonest with ourselves.  But letting go of the outcome does not mean abrogating our responsibility as co-creators of our life.  We have responsibility for the actions we choose to put in motion – and we want to be discerning and choose the best strategy possible to get us what we want – but ultimately we need to have faith that taking care of ourselves will lead us to someplace better.  We need to surrender to whatever outcome the Universal Plan has next for us in our lesson plan of Spiritual growth and emotional healing.

Recovery keeps getting different

While we are in the process of learning how to be emotionally honest and emotionally responsible we will go through different stages of growth.  And we will be in process for the rest of our lives – on progressively more advanced and usually subtler levels.  This process is why we are here, it is not something we do and then get on with our lives.  Growing, learning, healing, awakening to our True Spiritual nature so that we can integrate that Truth into our relationship with our selves and life – is what this adventure in body is all about.

When I first got into recovery I was told that “it keeps getting better.”  That has not been my emotional experience of recovery.  As I talk about in my article about Loving and Nurturing self,  the process of life involves falling apart, losing it, etc. – as we reach new levels of growth and have to surrender some of our old ego definitions.  So, from a higher perspective, a Spiritual growth perspective – yes, it does keep progressing and getting better once we start making the shift of seeing life as a growth process.  It sure doesn’t feel that way however.

A couple of other things that I was told in early recovery have more closely matched my experience of the process.  “More Will Be Revealed” and “it will keep getting different” are two expressions that have always been true for me.  Every time a new layer of the onion gets peeled, a new octave gets reached – more is revealed on a deeper emotional level with a higher degree of honesty.  That higher level changes my perspective of my self, of life, of the past, of other people -which changes my relationship to my issues. Surrendering my old ideas and old tapes does not just mean letting go of the programming from childhood – sometimes it means letting go of what I thought was truth 2 weeks ago.

We are a work in progress.  There is no destination.  We have different chapters to our story, different stages of our journey – but our relationships with everything keep evolving and changing.

That includes our relationship to our own emotions.  In early recovery, when I was trying to get in touch with and own my feelings, I would often say “That makes me angry,” or “That hurts,” – not because I was actually feeling the feelings, but rather because I knew that it was appropriate to feel a feeling in that situation.

Later, as I got in touch with the emotional energy that was in my body, it would often explode out of me.  So that I would say, “I feel angry” when I was really feeling, and expressing, rage.

It was progress for me to express that I was angry and actually feel the anger at the same time.  Because of that, I often expressed that anger in ways that were out of balance and inappropriate.  That was a stage of my growth process.

Getting in touch with the feelings eventually caused me to get in touch with my grief and rage.  It was impossible for me to start owning my feelings without eventually owning the repressed feelings from my past.  So there were times when my expression of feelings would be very out of proportion to the stimulus that was triggering those emotional releases.  That is an inevitable part of the path.

One of my ways of trying to control the feelings was to be in my head trying to figure out what was happening and how to express it in a healthy way.  In the process of pushing myself beyond the mental defenses of rationalizing, intellectualizing, analyzing, etc., it was impossible to be in balance and healthy in all of my expressions of emotion.

The more I did my grief and rage work, and changed the dysfunctional perspectives that were setting me up for emotional responses, the more emotionally balanced and responsible I could become.   But it is a process that evolves over time.

It was progress in early recovery for me to start vocalizing feelings even though I wasn’t actually feeling them.  To say, “I am angry,” to own my right to be angry – was a breakthrough.

It was progress to vocalize the feelings at the same time I was owning and feeling them – even though that caused me to overreact and explode at times.  To say, “I am angry” while sounding angry and really feeling angry was a breakthrough.

It was progress to take responsibility for my feelings so that I could use the tools I had learned to feel and release the feelings in my own way, at my own time – so that at times, I wouldn’t have to actually be angry when I was expressing those feelings to someone else.  To say, “That caused me to feel angry” without actually being angry while I said it – was a breakthrough.

See how things spiral around?  Vocalizing a feeling without feeling it – was in early recovery a symptom of my level of emotional dishonesty.  While as my recovery advanced, vocalizing a feeling without feeling it at that moment – could be a symptom of emotional balance.

The energy of those two examples, was however, very different.  Prior to having owned my rage, saying I was angry without feeling it did not carry much power.  After having done grief and rage work, and having owned the power that comes from owning my feelings, when I told someone that some behavior of theirs had made me angry, they heard me much more clearly.  By owning my feelings, I was owning and respecting myself.  The more I own and respect myself, the more clearly I can communicate.  Now when I set a boundary, I can usually do it firmly from a place of power and strength that lets the other person know that I will defend that boundary.  I can communicate strength without ever sounding angry.

Once we start to become grounded in the powerful energy of our True Self, once we start respecting ourselves and Knowing that we have rights, then we start to be capable of communicating from a place of power that does not require raising our voice to be heard.  The more we are centered and balanced in Truth, the more we are able to perceive the gray area where we can own our side of the street and hold other people responsible for theirs, the more we can communicate in a manner which maximizes the possibility of being seen and heard.  (Of course, we are powerless over others and need to be willing to let go of the outcome, so there is no guarantee about how the other will react/respond. Accept the things we cannot change – change the things we can, take responsibility for ourselves and our side of the street.)

Progress not Perfection

It is important to look at our process from the perspective of the progress we have made rather than trying to do it perfectly.  In making progress we have to breakthrough to new ways of doing things.  We need to explore new territory and give ourselves permission to take care of ourselves in whatever way is necessary.  That sometimes involves swinging to the other extreme so that we end up having to make amends for how we expressed ourselves.  It is important to celebrate our progress and not shame and judge ourselves for any mess that the way we breakthrough may entail.

An example of the point I am trying to make here, is the story of a client I worked with some years ago.  This person was a social worker who was very good at doing her job.  In the role she was playing at work she could be fierce and have strong boundaries.  In her personal life however, she had no permission to have any boundaries at all because of her childhood wounds.  My homework assignment for her was to tell someone to F___ off.  I chose something so harsh because it was so out of character for her.  She was appalled and horrified at the thought of saying something like that to someone.  It was not even conceivable to her because it was so contrary to the self definition she had adapted in childhood.

One of the reasons that I give people assignments is to expand their consciousness, to give them permission to act in ways they would never consider.   It took her about 3 months before she completed the assignment – and when she did, she said it to the biggest cop in town at a professional gathering.  She was horrified that she had done it.  I was very excited for her and heaped congratulations on her.  The point was, she had stood up for herself spontaneously.  I told her that she could go back and make amends for how she expressed herself – but that it was a wonderful breakthrough that she had defended herself.

That particular expression may be one that she will never in her life use again – and it certainly is not an example of the way in which we are learning to communicate.  The breakthrough was that she had started to respect herself enough to be willing to go to any length to defend herself.  She spontaneously set a boundary and communicated that another persons behavior was not acceptable to her.

The more we heal our core relationship with ourselves, the more we start to respect and Love ourselves, the more we start automatically and spontaneously owning our right to speak up and set boundaries.  Often when we are breaking out of the old patterns, jumping out of the old ruts, we will swing to the other extreme.  That doesn’t mean we are going to stay there.  It means we are doing a paradigm shift in our relationship with self and others.  It means we have broken through to a different way of doing things.

In recovery, our experience of life keeps getting different.

“When I talk about ways that we use to go unconscious – like workaholism, or exercise, or food, or whatever – I am not saying that you should be ashamed if you are doing some of these things.

We cannot go from unconscious to conscious overnight!  This healing is a long gradual process.  We all still need to go unconscious sometimes.  Recovery is a dance that celebrates progress, not one that achieves perfection.

A significant breakthrough in my personal process came when I was able to recognize, and give myself credit for, the progress that I had made – when I realized that a pint of Haagen-daz was lasting me three days instead of being gone within twenty minutes of when I bought it.

That was a very big breakthrough for me, to be able to give myself credit for the progress instead of judging and shaming myself for not being perfect, for still feeling like I needed the nurturing of ice cream.

We had to learn to go unconscious in order to survive!  Thank God for alcohol or television or romance novels.  Thank God for ice cream!

We need to stop judging ourselves – that means allowing ourselves to do whatever it takes, whatever works.  There are times when we need to go unconscious.  There are times when we need to stuff our feelings in the moment.  There are times when it is not safe to be vulnerable and emotionally honest.

This Recovery process is a gradual transition from using our old tool box to using the new tools.  The old tools – the ways we used to go unconscious so we could survive – are not  “bad” or “wrong.”  They were life savers – without them we would be either dead or mass murderers, or dead mass murderers.

We adopted the old tools because they were the best choices that were available to us at the time.  We adopted them in response to intuitive impulses that were right on.   Those impulses were “protect myself, nurture myself.”  It is the nature of the defense system that is Codependence that the ways we learned to protect and nurture ourselves are self-abusive in the long run.

So we need to stop shaming ourselves for the behaviors that we adopted to protect and nurture ourselves, at the same time that we are transitioning to behaviors that are less self-abusive.

Notice that I say less self-abusive.  We are talking progress, not perfection here.

If you have an image of what completely healthy behavior is, and you will not allow yourself to accept and Love yourself until you get there, then you are setting conditions under which you decide when you will become Lovable.  You are still buying into a concept of conditional love and by extension, the concept of a Higher Power that is conditionally loving.  You are still trying to earn, and become worthy of not only self-Love, but also God’s Love.  That small child inside of you is still trying to earn your parents’ Love and validation.

That is a natural, normal thing for humans beings on this Codependent planet.  Try not to judge and beat yourself up for it.  Try to observe it and say, “Oh, isn’t it sad that I am still doing that?  I think I will try to learn some ways that I can change it.”” – Emotional Honesty and Emotional Responsibility part 5 Discernment in relationship to emotional honesty and responsibility 2

Sacred Spiral

This is the fifth in a series of articles on Emotional Honesty and Emotional Responsibility that I wrote in 2001 – 15 years ago, Wow. The first was Emotional Honesty and Emotional Responsibility  The next three I have already published on this Blog: Emotional Honesty and Emotional Responsibility Part 2 – Uncover, Discover, Recover by learning boundaries,  Emotional Honesty and Emotional Responsibility Part 3 ~ Setting Personal Boundaries -protecting self, and Emotional Honesty and Emotional Responsibility part 4 Discernment in relationship to emotional honesty and responsibility 1.

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 both hard copy, ebook, and audiobook format are on that page) really help people take their 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.

DancingIn 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.Coversm-Arena 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 14 Emotional honesty – Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light Book 1

Cover of Inner Child Healing Book

Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light


cover of Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls

Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls

“We learned about life as children and it is necessary to change the way we intellectually view life in order to stop being the victim of the old tapes. By looking at, becoming conscious of, our attitudes, definitions, and perspectives, we can start discerning what works for us and what does not work. We can then start making choices about whether our intellectual view of life is serving us – or if it is setting us up to be victims because we are expecting life to be something which it is not.” – quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

In the course of writing a chapter for an online book some years ago, I realized that though I talked a lot about the importance of emotional honesty in my writing, I probably had not given a lot of down to earth, easily understood examples of what the term means to me. I wrote the following for that online book as an example of one of the ways in which I learned about emotional honesty – and am adding this excerpt from that online book to this book.

It was focusing on the dynamic of expectations that was the key for me in starting to get emotionally honest with myself. Starting to understand the cause and effect relationship between my emotional reactions and my expectations was essential for me to start understanding why my relationship with life was so dysfunctional. I, of course, in my codependency, had swung between the extremes of feeling, and believing, that it was all my fault because of my shameful defective being – and being angry and resentful at other people, the system, something or someone external to my being.

The twelve step recovery application of the disease model in the treatment of alcoholism – the concept that I had been powerless over my past behaviors because I had a disease – helped me to take enough shame out of my perspective of myself to start seeing my life with a little bit of objectivity. The spiritual approach of the twelve step program – that there is a Power greater than myself that is on my side, The Force is with me – helped me to shift my intellectual paradigm enough to start to see life as something other than a test I could fail by doing it “wrong.” The definition of insanity that I heard in my first days of recovery – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results – caused me to start focusing on cause and effect.

It was the concept of powerlessness that led me to start becoming empowered to take responsibility for my life. Instead of viewing life through a perspective that was black and white – either I had to be perfect or I was shameful – I was able to start to see what my part had been in how painful and miserable my life experience had been. How I had some responsibility – how I was creating cause in my life that had negative consequences – but that it did not mean that there was something inherently wrong with me. I started seeing that my relationship with life was dysfunctional, was not working, and that I could take some action to change that relationship.

Insane Expectations – Road Rage

The specific area that opened me up to a new perspective on my insanity, was starting to understand what my part was in the road rage I was experiencing driving on the streets and freeways of Los Angeles. Looking at the cause and effect relationship between my expectations and the rage I was feeling at all the stupid blankety blank drivers in Southern California greatly accelerated my process of becoming emotionally honest with myself – and opening up my mind to a Spiritual Awakening, a paradigm shift in consciousness. (In that online book I use a longer quote from the article below – but since I included that article as an earlier chapter of this book, I will just use a short reference here.)

“I had to learn to be honest with myself about my expectations – so I could let go of the ones that were insane (like, everyone is going to drive the way I want them to), and own my choices – so I could take responsibility for how I was setting myself up to be a victim in order to change my patterns. Accept the things I cannot change – change the things I can.” – Serenity and Expectations – intimately interrelated

Expecting other drivers to drive the way I think they “should” is absolutely, incredibly insane. Talk about egotistical and arrogant. I, being an excellent driver myself (how many people do you know that don’t think they are excellent drivers?), knew how people should drive – I was right and anyone who didn’t drive the way I thought they “should” was wrong. I felt extremely, righteously justified in ranting and raving and cussing out other drivers – sometimes cutting them off and giving them the finger, while wishing I had a laser mounted on the roof of my car so that I could just vaporize them. Luckily, this was in the days before people started shooting each other on the Freeways, or I may not have ever made it into recovery. Actually, this was something I continued to do into my first few years of recovery.

Detaching enough to look with some objectivity at how I was relating to driving a car in L. A., allowed me to awaken to how insane it was to allow my emotions to be dictated by such a ridiculous expectation. Then I was also able to look at my emotional reactions and get in touch with how dishonest I was being emotionally in relationship to other drivers.

What I came to understand about my emotional experience of driving, was that one of two things was happening. One was, that other drivers were scaring me. The way they were driving – either too slow or too fast, cutting me off, swerving back and forth between lanes, etc. – was causing an actual fear of survival reaction. That kind of primal human emotional response that is generated by a sudden loud noise or any perception of a threat of physical harm.

When something scared me, and I reacted to the fear with anger – that was emotionally dishonest. (Getting angry when we are scared is a human survival mechanism – one that has caused a lot of violence in the history of humanity.) I wasn’t owning my true feelings. In reaction to the jolt of fear energy that shot through me, I became the angry, self righteous victim of the other drivers “idiocy.” The reality that this happened almost every time I drove on the freeway, just proved to me how many idiots there were out there – because I was relating to the experience from a victim perspective. It was impossible for me to have any serenity because I was giving other drivers the power to throw me into anger – which often triggered the suppressed rage I was carrying at how unfair, unjust, and painful life was.

Once I started to look at what my part was in those emotional reactions, at how I was setting myself up with my expectations, then I could start to take responsibility for changing that which I have the power to change. I learned to accept the thing I cannot change – other drivers – and change the thing I can, my attitude towards other drivers. It was when I realized that this anger was emotionally dishonest, and what my part in empowering that emotional reaction was, that I was able to start taking back the power over my feelings that I was giving to those “idiots.”

After that, when something another driver did scared me, I would own the fear. I would say out loud, “That scared me.” Then I would say a prayer for the other driver. I would ask that the other driver be helped to become happy, joyous, and free (knowing that the process of them opening up to that possibility would involve having their denial ripped away so they were not so unconscious – a prayer both Spiritually aligned and humanly selfish 😉 – and would offer up the incident as an amends for one of the thousands of times I had done something while driving that scared other drivers.

(During my years pursuing an acting career in Hollywood – the role of suffering artist being perfect for both my alcoholism / addiction and my codependent martyrdom – I lived out the romantic vision of the struggling actor by making my living by waiting tables and parking cars and driving a taxi. Driving a cab for several years – often stoned – really built up the number of driving amends I owe. Seeing those incidents as Karmic – what goes around comes around – also played a part in helping me to stop buying into the belief I was being unfairly victimized on the freeway.)

The second thing that I realized was happening, had to do with fear also. This was the fear that caused me to try to control life. That fear caused me to be very self obsessed. I was getting angry because those people were getting in my way. The immature, self centered perspective of life which was dictating my relationship with life, caused me to think and act as if I was the only person who was important. I reacted out of an ego selfishness that told me these idiots should get out of my way because I had places to go and things to do that were much more important than anything they were doing.

This ego driven, self centered fear was directly related – both as cause and effect – to my unconsciousness, my inability to be present in the moment. I was always caught up in the past or the future, and related to driving in traffic as a great inconvenience that was slowing me down. (Which, also, sometimes led to me driving too fast and cutting between lanes.)

The society I grew up in taught me that reaching the destination was what I should focus upon, was the thing that was vitally important. I was always striving to reach the destination where I would be fixed, where I would be respected and loved. When I reached that destination (college degree, fame and fortune, the right relationship, the Academy Award, etc.) then I would live “happily ever after.”

I was forever in pursuit – either of the illusive “happily ever after,” or for something to distract me from, or kill the pain of, feeling defective because I had not already reached the destination. I was always bouncing between the extremes: trying to figure out how to control my life, how to do the “right” things, to get “there” – or working on going unconscious (with alcohol, drugs, obsession, rumination, food, whatever) to escape the pain of being “here.” Being “here,” being present in the moment in my own skin, was too painful because I had a dysfunctional relationship with my own emotions – and was carrying a ton of suppressed grief energy.

And it was so painful emotionally because the subconscious intellectual paradigm that was dictating my relationship with self and life, was insane, delusional, and dysfunctional. I could never relax and enjoy life (without some chemical help, either from a substance or from an illusion/fantasy about love or success that would affect my brain chemistry) because wherever my life was at that point – according to the critical parent voice in my head – was not good enough and was my fault, or their fault. I was always feeling like a victim.

I needed to start letting go of that destination programming and start learning how to be in the moment. To actually be present and conscious while driving my car. (What a concept!) To start relating to driving as being a perfect part of my journey, a classroom – a wonderful arena for Spiritual growth.

When the rush hour traffic was disrupting my plans of getting someplace by a certain time, I would practice my Spiritual program. I would take some deep breaths to get into, and conscious of, my body. Then I would thank the Universe for this wonderful opportunity to practice patience and acceptance. I would take some steps to let go of the urgency I felt – the inner child’s fear of doing it “wrong,” the feeling that the world would come to an end if things did not go the way I had planned them. I would remind myself that life was a journey, and that this moment was a perfect part of that journey. I would talk to my inner children and tell them it was okay – that if I was going to be late, that was a perfect part of God’s plan. I would let go of my picture of how I thought things have to unfold for me to be okay. I would affirm that I am Unconditionally Loved and am being guided on my journey.

I would look around me, to see if there was something the Goddess wanted me to see – and that perhaps, was the reason I was stuck in traffic. I would remind myself that it was possible that this delay was really a wonderful gift. That perhaps because I was being delayed: I would not be in a traffic accident later that day: or the timing would be perfect for me to run into someone I needed to see, that without the delay I would have missed; or something to that effect.

I would remind myself that I am not in control of life, I am not writing the script, so:

I need to surrender the illusion that I am in control;
remember that I have a Loving Higher Power who is in control;
and be willing to accept reality as it was being presented to me, and take whatever action I could to make the best of the situation – to align with God’s will so I could flow with the Universal plan. (Work steps 1, 2, & 3.)

That action may just be to relax, be in the moment, and do some prayer and meditation (talk and listen to The Great Spirit – which can certainly include expressing my irritation for the delay.) The action may be to figure out an alternate route, get off the freeway at the next opportunity and take surface streets – but not with that feeling of life and death urgency, rather with sense of adventure. “This is an interesting twist, let’s see how this unfolds.”

I started to learn to take responsibility for my feelings – to own the things I have some control over. Learning how to be emotionally honest with myself allowed me to start becoming empowered to take responsibility for my life and stop empowering insane expectations. By focusing on letting go of the belief in victimization that was caused by my attitudes and perspectives – the mental level of my being – I could greatly decrease the feelings of victimization, the amount of emotional energy that was being generated on an emotional level. I still had some feelings of being victimized, but I could be nurturing and Loving in relationship to those feelings – and set some Loving boundaries with my inner children who were reacting out of the immediate gratification urgency of a child. (I am just going to die if I don’t get what I want!)

I learned to develop an observer self – a mature, recovering adult with a Spiritual perspective – that could tell the critical parent voice to shut up with all the shame and fear messages, and assure my inner children that everything was going to be okay because there is a Higher Power in charge of my life.

(This an excerpt from my online book Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life – which I am going to start getting ready to publish after I publish this Book 1)” – Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light Book 1 Empowerment, Freedom, and Inner Peace through Inner Child Healing Chapter 14 Emotional honesty

I actually did not start to prepare Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life for publication after finishing Book 1 but went onto two other books.  I will eventually publish Book 2 – but for now it is only available in the subscription area of my site called Dancing in Light A subscription to that area of the site is currently for sale on this page;

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

Available as an eBook from Amazon  or Barnes & Noble  (This book in hard copy format is $27.95 – although I sell it for $20 on this page – but is only $9.99 as an eBook.)

I am in the process of publishing my eBooks through Smashwords which will allow me to make them available through many more outlets, including: Apple iBooks, Kobo, Scribd, Oyster, the Diesel eBook Store, Aldiko. Hopefully I will be able to figure out the formating and get my old reluctant computer to comply enough to get that done in the next week or so.

Codependents as Emotional Vampires

Book cover

Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mad Dogs and Skunks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emotional Vampires and Sacrificial Lambs

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

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

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

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

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

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

Victim Martyr, Emotional Vampire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

self pity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A note to people with an aging parent (s)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Death is a transition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Wounded Souls Trilogy:

Book cover

Codependence The Dance of Wounded Souls

Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls  

A Cosmic Perspective on Codependence and the Human Condition

Cover of Inner Child Healing Book

Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light

Codependency Recovery:

Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light

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

Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light

Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life

Book 2 is only available in subscription area Dancing in Light


Emotional Discernment – taking power away from the fear

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

    When someone “pushes your buttons,” he/she is activating that stored, pressurized grief energy.  She/he is gouging the old wounds, and all of the newer wounds that are piled on top of those original wounds by our repeating behavior patterns.

    We are terrified of this pressurized pain, terror, shame, and rage energy – of “having our buttons pushed” – because we have experienced it in the past as instances where we have explosively overreacted in ways that caused us to later feel ashamed and crazy, or as implosive reactions that have thrown us into that deep dark pit of emotional despair within.

    We are walking around with this set of buttons available to be pushed by any person, place, thing, or combination thereof that recreates the dynamics of the situation wherein we were originally wounded.  (For example: a certain smell, the texture of a fabric, a tone of voice, a gesture, etc., can be emotional triggers that throw us back to an age of our inner child.)

    We carry this set of buttons, this baggage, with us until we release that stored, pressurized grief energy in a healthy grieving process.  This society’s answer to behavior caused by unresolved grief is to shame you, label you, lock you up, and/or give you drugs.  We do not have to play that game anymore.  We have new tools now, and we have rediscovered the healing power of the natural grieving process.” – quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls by Robert Burney

As long as we are unconsciously reacting to our emotional wounds from childhood, we are doomed to keep repeating our dysfunctional behavior patterns.  It is vital to start becoming more conscious of our childhood emotional wounds so we can stop allowing them to dictate our behavior and define our experience of life.

We all have reactive emotional “buttons” – an internal emotional mine field – that cause us to have intense emotional reactions when a button is pushed, when one of the unhealed wounds in our psyche gets activated.  Other people, life events, an old song, etc., can trigger these emotional wounds.

Having these strong emotional reactions is not a sign that we are crazy, it is just a symptom of codependency.  It is important to stop judging and shaming ourselves – or blaming others – for these reactions.  It is vital to start learning how to disarm those buttons – how to heal our emotional wounds.

Consciousness is the key.  We need to become more conscious of our reactions so that we can stop reacting to our reactions.

In recovery it is important to start realizing that any time that we have an intense emotional reaction with a lot of energy behind it, a lot of power – whether it is terror and panic, despair and helplessness, rage, or whatever – that is a sign that an old wound has been triggered.  It is an indication that unresolved grief is involved in our reaction.

One of the first clues to start paying attention to in recovery, clear evidence that inner child wounds are involved, is when our reaction to a situation, person, job interview, whatever, feels life threatening.  That is, the situation is not actually, factually, life threatening but it feels like a life or death situation – it feels like our survival depends upon the outcome, the other persons reaction, etc.

In childhood our survival was dependent upon our parents.  They were wounded – had their own internal emotional mine fields – so they wounded us.  It felt like there was something wrong with our being that was threatening their love for us – and therefore our survival.  We learned to focus externally to try to manipulate and control life and other people to try to ensure our survival.

This survival fear is the codependent fear that I spoke of in my article Obsession / Obsessive Thinking Part 1: “a distorted, magnified, virulent, mutated species of fear caused by the poisonous combination of a false belief that being human is shameful with a polarized (black and white, right and wrong) perspective of life.”

This gut wrenching survival fear has been running our lives – whether we were charging through life in denial of it, or allowing it to totally dominate our reality.  It is vital to learn how to start taking power away from this survival fear.

Emotional discernment starts when we can detach from the feeling enough to take an honest look at reality.  It may feel terrifying, may feel life threatening – but is that the truth?

There is a tool that comes out of Transactional Analysis that can be very helpful in taking some power away from fear.  It is called a fear slide.  The way it works is that you write down what your fear is – say, I am afraid I will be alone on Valentine’s Day, or I am afraid he won’t be my friend any more, or I am afraid I won’t get the job, etc. Then on the next line you write the answer to this question: “If that happens, then what?”  Then I will feel hurt, or whatever.  On the next line you write the answer to that same question, “then what?”  And you keep doing this down the page.  Eventually, you will come to: “I will die.” or “I will cease to exist.”

I am afraid _______
If that happens, then what?
If that happens, then what?
If that happens, then what?
If that happens, then what?

Then you go back to the original fear, and ask yourself, “Will I die if I am alone on Valentine’s Day?”  The answer, of course, is “No, I won’t die.”

You may feel like you want to die, but that feeling is a result of codependency.  It is very normal to feel sad about being alone on Valentine’s Day, but the reason we end up feeling like we want to die is not just because of the sadness.  The reason we end up feeling like we want to die is that we are allowing our reality – and our relationship with our self – to be dictated by a combination of inner child wounds and false intellectual beliefs.  We react emotionally out of a desperately lonely, love starved, inner child place within us – at the same time we judge ourselves for being alone, and for our feelings.  The critical parent voice in our head beats us up unmercifully for being a “loser” and a “failure” in romantic relationships.

By starting to use some emotional discernment to recognize that the feeling of life and death urgency is not reality – it is just a feeling – we can start to take some power away from the fear.  As we start taking power away from this mutant variety of fear, we can start to see ourselves and the situation with more clarity so that we can begin to disarm the emotional minefield within.  We can start taking power away from those “buttons.”” – Emotional Discernment – taking power away from the fear

This is the fourth of a 9 article series on The Serenity Prayer.  The first article is
Discernment – The Wisdom to Know the Difference in Serenity Prayer

Serenity – Accepting the things we cannot change

“One of the gifts that came to me early in my healing process was a little expression that helped me start changing my perspective.  That expression was, “I don’t have any problems – I have opportunities for growth.”  The more I stopped focusing on problems and obstacles, and started looking for the gifts, the lessons, attached to them, the easier life became.

    I became a part of the solution instead of getting stuck being the victim of the problem.  I started seeing the half of the glass that was full instead of always focusing on the half that was empty.

    Every problem is an opportunity for growth.

    My subconscious Codependent attitudes and perspectives caused me to take life personally – to react emotionally as if life events were being directed at me personally as a punishment for being unworthy, for being a shameful creature.

    Life is a series of lessons.  The more I became aligned with knowing that I was being given gifts to grow from – the less I believed that the purpose of life was to punish me – the easier life became” –  Quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls by Robert Burney

I had stated in my last article that I would devote the next couple of articles here to discussing discernment.  However the Universe just provided me with a wonderful example of how very blessed I am to have learned how to practice the Serenity Prayer in my life, so I am going to postpone that discussion and devote this article to the power of acceptance.

I just got back from an annual summer trip that I take with my 12 year old son (who lives in Albuquerque) to visit his grandparents – my parents – on the farm I grew up on in Nebraska.  Some years in the past I have flown into Albuquerque and rented a car so we could drive up.  Last year I flew him out here and we took an Amtrak ride back to the Midwest.  This year, because of time and financial constraints we flew.  I got us tickets that would allow us to meet in Phoenix and fly together from there to Omaha, and then return the same way.

Both on the trip there, and on the return, we had delayed flights that caused us to miss our connections.  On the return I got to spend the night in Phoenix at the airlines expense.

Delayed flights and missed connections are a supreme pain in neck.  I was not happy that these things happened.  I did not like that it happened.  I was however, able to very quickly accept what was happening and take responsibility for what I could change.  On the initial trip that involved calling the airline as soon as I realized I wasn’t going to make my connection so I could see what was happening with my son’s flight.  I had to smile when I found out his flight was delayed also.  That meant he wasn’t going to be stuck by himself in the Phoenix airport for hours.  Everything worked out okay – both going and coming.  I took the action I could take, which was primarily making phone calls to coordinate things – and did not waste a lot of time and energy being upset about the reality of what was happening.

It had taken me several years in early recovery to realize that I did not have to like some condition to accept the reality of it.  As I have mentioned elsewhere in my writing, a large component of personal empowerment is accepting reality as it is and making the best of it – instead of wishing it was different.  Wishing it was different puts me in a victim place.  I spent my life prior to codependency recovery being the victim of life not being what I thought it “should” be, of people not acting the way I thought they “should” act.  It did not serve me.  It was a dysfunctional way of relating to life because, not only did it not work to help me find happiness and serenity, it created the opposite result.  I was always trying to control life and other people – and being the victim of life events and other peoples behavior.  And because of the toxic shame at the core of my being – which drove me to find some reason that it wasn’t my fault that things were as they were – I would always look for someone else to blame for the reality of my life.  In my former life, in my codependent black and white thinking, I would have blamed the airline because the other option was to blame myself for choosing the “wrong” flights.

That is what I got to watch at the airports I was in the last few weeks.  People absolutely freaking out – experiencing major melodramatic trauma dramas – because their plans were disrupted.  People crying and screaming, abusing airline personnel (I asked the woman I dealt with at passenger assistance if she got combat pay.)  It wasn’t the people behind the airline counter that were at fault – but that didn’t stop people from abusing them because they did not have a clue about how to accept something that they didn’t have the power to change.

Delayed flights are life events.  Life events happen.  Combing a common phrase in our language with something I say in my book:  fertilizer happens.  Life events are opportunities for growth – in this case, a very clear reminder to me of what a gift twelve step recovery is in my life and how much progress I have made in my recovery.  I was able to accept reality and flow with life instead of fighting reality and creating a lot of artificial stress.

In some writing I did just before the trip – for the personal journal I share in my Joy2MeU Journal – I talked about how life events used to be like an 8 point earthquake in my life.  I reacted – not only to important things like delayed flights or car breakdowns or losing a job, but also to small things in people’s behavior or the way my day was unfolding – as if they were life threatening, as if my whole world was being destroyed.  Learning to apply the Serenity Prayer has helped me to stop creating so much artificial stress in my life because I wasn’t accepting reality as it was being presented to me.  About 90% of the stress I used to experience in my life was artificially created – was created by my attitudes and expectations.  As I say in that journal entry:

“So, I accept whatever it is that I perceive as deprivation today – and make the best of today.  That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t generate stress for me.  But the stress is like the 3. earthquake as compared to the 8. earthquake that my perspective of life used to generate for me.

The great majority of stress felt by any codependent is manufactured out of dysfunctional beliefs and definitions – perspectives and expectations that cause us to feel victimized.  Most of the stress I used to feel had to do with trying to figure out how to control life, worrying about what is right or wrong, obsessing about trying to change someone else.  By learning to accept the things I cannot change, and integrating a Spiritual belief system into my subconscious programming and emotional relationship with life, I reduced my perception of stress by maybe 10,000%.  Learning to let go has removed the illusion of stress from my life that was being caused by living life as if it were a test I could fail.  There is still some legitimate stress that is caused by life events and circumstances.  It is not bad or wrong to feel stressed.  There are times when it was real important for me to own that it was OK to feel stressed – what was important was not to let the impending doom, fear based programming of the disease blow things out of proportion.” – My Unfolding Process 11 Joy2MeU Journal

By learning to be discerning enough to accept the things I cannot change, I am able to change something that is in my power to change – my attitude towards the things I can not change.  By learning to let go of any attitudes I am empowering that are causing me to not accept reality, I have found a level of serenity in my life that is mind boggling to me at times.  It is also kind of mind boggling to be reminded that the majority of the people in the world still do not have a clue about how to make their lives easier and more peace filled.

It is the inability of people to practice acceptance in their lives that is the cause of so much of the conflict in the world.  When enough people learn to apply the Serenity Prayer in their lives is when we will be able to create world peace.  It is through focusing on our individual recovery that we will heal the planet.”

This article which I wrote in 2002 is the second of a 9 article series on The Serenity Prayer.  The first article is  Discernment – The Wisdom to Know the Difference in Serenity Prayer

The example in this article about practicing serenity in airports is very timely with the Holiday Season approaching and many of you traveling during the Christmas Season – remember that Acceptance is the key to your “problems” today. Serenity and Expectations – intimately interrelated