"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."
Dance of Wounded Souls
When I first got into recovery one of the things that I was told
was that 'all I had to change was everything'. I had no idea what that
meant back then. Now I know that it means that I needed to change my attitudes,
beliefs, and definitions about myself and everything in my life. I needed
to start surrendering my way of seeing things, of doing life.
One of the first surrenders that I had to make was to let go of doing
things 'my way.' (I used to sit in bars and get tears in my eyes over Frank
Sinatra's recording because I was also doing it 'My way.') I had
to start listening to those weird people who were telling me that I could
live without alcohol. Then I had to start letting go of my belief that
life was impossible without drugs and alcohol.
Every time I go through a surrender in my recovery I am letting go of
some of the ego definitions that have defined my relationship with myself
and life. I have to let go of the attitudes and beliefs that I adapted
because of the emotional trauma that I suffered as a child (which are still
buried in my subconscious until I became willing to look at them.)
There is an old AA saying that, 'AA doesn't open up the gates of heaven
and let us in it opens up the gates of hell and lets us out.' What we are
let out into is life. The only way that I had known how to deal with life
up to that time was to drink and use. The Twelve Steps are a formula for
learning how to deal with life in a Spiritual way, and they saved my life.
Unfortunately, the Twelve Steps as practiced in AA are not always enough.
Not because the Twelve Step process is not enough - but because the way
it is practiced in AA leaves out a vitally important level of healing.
That is the level of healing the emotional wounds. We can deal with our
grave emotional and mental disorders by having the capacity to be honest
with ourselves. That includes being emotionally honest with ourselves.
And the only way to achieve emotional honesty is by releasing the grief
energy that we are carrying around - the pain, terror, shame, and rage
from our childhoods.
Until we deal with our emotional wounds, we do not have the ability
to be emotionally honest in the moment. Until we change our relationship
with our own emotions it is impossible to be comfortable in our own skins.
Emotional energy manifests in the body. Our attitudes, definitions,
and beliefs (subconscious and conscious) dictate our perspective of life
and our expectations of ourselves, others, and life. Those perspectives
and expectations set us up to react emotionally to life events. If we have
not dealt with the old wounds then we will live life in reaction - overreacting
(or underreacting to keep from overreacting) - when our 'buttons are pushed.'
Our fear of our own reactions determines the quality of our relationships.
Until we go back and heal our childhood emotional wounds we cannot successfully
change the old tapes - we cannot achieve a healthy, emotionally honest
relationship with ourselves and others.
Grave emotional and mental disorders is AA language for Codependence.
Codependence is all about having a dysfunctional relationship with self:
with our own bodies, minds, emotions, and spirits; with our own gender
and sexuality; with being human. Because we have dysfunctional relationships
internally we have dysfunctional relationships externally. Because we cannot
be emotionally honest with ourselves we aren't really being totally honest
with anyone ever.
Bill Wilson would have loved to have had the tools we have available
to us today. He would have run to an ACA or CoDA meeting because that is
where he could have found the roots of the depression which tormented him.
Codependence Recovery is ninth step work, making amends to ourselves
and others by changing the attitudes and behaviors that have caused us
to hurt ourselves and others. And we cannot make those amends without owning
the feelings. We are powerless to substantially change the behavior patterns
in our most intimate relationships without doing the grief work.