Life, and recovery, are multi-leveled dynamics. There
are multiple levels within the horizontal level. There are multiple layers
to our wounding. Part of the reason it is so important to start to learn
how to have internal boundaries is so that we can start seeing the different
levels - start sifting through the layers. As long as we are reacting
to old wounds and old tapes then we have no choices - and our perspective
is all messed up.
"Our "self" is made up of a myriad of relationships.
We have a relationship with our own mind, our body, our emotions, our soul,
our gender, our sexuality, our concept of a Higher Power. We learned
to relate to ourselves according to how our father, our mother, our siblings,
our classmates, our teachers, our relatives, etc. related to us. The
events of our life added dimensions and flavors to our relationship with
our self. . . . . The ways in which we experienced our self in those early
years were through what we felt and the reflections we saw in the eyes of
the people around us - in the ways in which people reacted to/behaved toward
us. We had to learn to define and defend ourselves in the best ways
we could because the reflections we saw, the behaviors we experienced, were
coming from people who were wounded and reactive, angry and scared, hurt
and ashamed. We learned to relate to ourselves, to other people, and
to the life process, in early childhood - and then had more experiences growing
up (and as adults) that reinforced in different ways the original experiences.
We have layer upon layer of attitudes, definitions,
and beliefs that are a factor in how we relate to ourselves. Until
we become aware of how those events, traumas, experiences, etc., have effected
us we cannot change how we react in the situations that stimulate memories
of those incidents - cannot defuse and disempower the reactive buttons that
have been running our lives."
Wounded Souls Dancing in
It is vitally important to start sifting
through the layers in order to see life as it really is - and to learn
how to be honest with ourselves. We have lived our adult lives in reactions
to our childhood wounds and programming. Our patterns in relationships
(all relationships - with other people, with money, with work, with our
own bodies, etc.) are symptoms of our childhood wounding. As long
as we are focusing on the experiences of our adult life without looking
for how it is connected to our childhood, we are not seeing reality clearly.
As long as you are looking at your last relationship from the perspective
of blaming your self or the other person for your problems, you are not
being honest with your self - you are reacting from old black and white
In order to change our experience of life
we need to heal the causes - not keep focusing on the symptoms. In
order to do that it is vital to start practicing discernment - start practicing
picking the baby out of the bath water instead of swinging between reactive
"Learning discernment is vital - not just
in terms of the choices we make about who to trust, but also in terms of
our perspective, our attitudes.
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.
One of the core characteristics of this
disease of Codependence is intellectual polarization - black and white thinking.
Rigid extremes - good or bad, right or wrong, love it or leave it, one or
ten. Codependence does not allow any gray area - only black and white
Life is not black and white. Life
involves the interplay of black and white. In other words, the gray
area is where life takes place. A big part of the healing process is
learning the numbers two through nine - recognizing that life is not black
Fear of the unknown is a natural, normal part of being
human. It has a purpose - and deserves to be honored as something which
serves us. But, like our relationship with all the aspects of our being,
our relationship with that fear is dysfunctional.
The damaged ego responds to it's programming by generating fear
of the things we learned to fear as a child: making mistakes; doing
it wrong; being emotional; speaking our Truth; taking risks; being alone;
not being alone; whatever. We then empower the fear by focusing on
it, magnifying it, and generally giving it the power to define us and our
life - or by denying it, which also gives it power because in denying our
fear we are denying our self and reality. Going to either extreme
results in the inability to see the situation clearly.
Because our ego was programmed to react to life from fear, negativity,
scarcity, and lack (again due to emotional trauma we experienced, and the
messages and role modeling of the adults around us) the disease focuses
on and magnifies fear - and then it scrambles around trying to find something
to cover up and repress the very fear it is generating. The disease
blows the fear way out of proportion and then leads us to addictive and/or
compulsive behavior as a way of stuffing the fear.
This is the essence of the dysfunction. We live our life
reacting to fear, and the shame, that the disease empowers and then "helps"
us avoid by causing us to focus on something outside of ourselves as the
cause and/or the cure for the core place within us where we feel empty -
where we feel unlovable and unworthy.
We are afraid of our own emotions - of all the repressed feelings
and unresolved grief that we are carrying. We learned to be afraid
of our own anger and pain and fear. We feel afraid of our fear of
our own emotions. It is this fear once (or twice) removed that is
paralyzing. That is, the fear of our own fear is our greatest block
to healing. We are afraid of our own pain and anger - and then
we are afraid of our fear of our own pain and anger.
In order to start finding some balance in recovery, it is important
to learn how to take power away from the fear. In order to do that,
it is very important to clear up our relationship with fear. And to
look at all the different levels involved in our reaction.
The first step is to stop judging ourselves for our fear (or anger,
or pain, or lonliness, etc.) - or denying to ourselves that we even have
"So the resistance to growth and to feeling
my feelings, which I feel, is not just some kind of a 'character defect'.
It consists of ages old adaptations of behaviors and attitudes which the
human species found necessary for survival. It was important for me
to start understanding this so that I could stop judging myself for my fear
and resistance. I had to learn to accept, and honor, my fears and my
resistance - in order to stop fighting the growth process so much. Then
I could start to align myself with the growth process and make my experience
of life easier and more enjoyable. Then I could start to understand
that faith is not the absence of fear - faith is having the courage to face
my fears and walk through them so that I can reach the next level of growth."
The Dance of the Wounded
Souls Trilogy Book 1, Chapter 4
We need to take the shame and judgment out of our internal process.
That is why a spiritual belief system is so important - so that we can start
seeing ourselves more clearly, start seeing realistically instead of through
the shame filter of the disease.
Once we have started integrating a Spiritual belief into our process
- or a spiritual philosophy that allows us to start looking clearly at cause
and effect - then we can start to be detached enough from our own process
to see it more clearly.
Taking power away from the fear
In order to start finding some balance in recovery, it is important
to learn how to take power away from the fear. In order to do that,
it is very important to look at all the different levels involved in our
reaction so that we can start to clear up our relationship with own fear.
Anytime we have a strong reaction to someone or something, it
means there is old stuff involved - old wounds, unresolved grief. One
of the first steps to taking the power away from the fear is to detach from
the feeling a little and 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 _______
Then you go back to the original fear, and ask yourself, "Will I die
if I am alone on Valentine's Day? The answer is, of course, no you
If that happens, then what?
If that happens, then what?
If that happens, then what?
If that happens, then what?
As mentioned the ego is focused on survival. That translates
into avoidance of pain. In order to help us avoid what it perceives as
survival threatening pain the ego generates fear and then magnifies it
- turning it into a huge monster. It is very helpful to force ourselves
to take a realistic look at the monster in order to stop giving our emotional
reactions all the power.
In our disease, the fear of being alone on Valentine's Day feels
life threatening. It feels like a big monster. If we give power to
that fear, what happens is we get so uncomfortable living with the fear
that we try to find some way to repress it. The ways we find are
usually self destructive - alcohol, drugs, food, whatever.
If we can take a realistic and honest look at the monster, and
say to ourselves, "No, I won't die if I am alone on Valentines. But
I will be sad." Bingo! The reason we are afraid is because
we have a lot of unresolved grief over lonely holidays, pain over failed
relationships, etc., - all going back to the core wound of the little child
who felt alone and unlovable.
If we can start to be emotionally honest with ourselves, by owning
our grief, it will help us to take power away from the fear.
Learning to be emotionally honest with ourselves, is a whole other
aspect of the processing dynamic that I am not going to talk about in this
article - I will get into that in another article in this series and there
are other articles on my web site about that. What I will say about
it, is that it is very important to do some of our processing verbally
or through writing. We do not get in touch with our feelings through
thinking. It is when we start talking about or writing about what is
going on internally that we start actually feeling and releasing the emotional
There are certain other things that can help us to get in touch
with emotional energy - including through various types of art, drawing,
painting, collage, etc.; movement and music; body work; etc. - but
the primary processing tools are writing or talking.
Writing about fear
In the update announcement that sparked this article, I was processing
through some levels of fear in order to become clearer on where the fear
was coming from. I was having resistance to finishing an article, and
since I knew that resistance comes primarily from fear, I was processing.
First I looked at the reason that my head was telling me I was
procrastinating. Fear about stating a controversial Truth in public.
Almost as soon as I wrote that, I knew that was not the main level.
I have been speaking and writing my controversial take on Truth for many
years now and that one does not have any real power anymore.
I then went on to a different level, that of fear of saying things
in a way that a reader could use to beat themselves up with. Ultimately
I am powerless over how someone reacts, but it is something that I give
some power to because I want to communicate as clearly and cleanly as possible.
By touching on that level of fear, I could put some effort into clear communication
and then let go of the outcome. By focusing on a level and then surrendering
to my ultimate powerlessness over others, I can take a little of the fear
that is out of balance out of the equation.
The next level I touched on was that of the "out-of-control" feeling
that I get with my writing. This is jumping off the diving board kind
of fear that is just inherent in the process for me. That there is
a basis to feeling not in control of my writing process is proven by the
reality that writing about my fear in that update has lead to at least five
other articles so far. I was afraid of where the writing was going
because I had a picture of what was supposed to be written next - of what
my priorities were for my writing time and energy. By acknowledging
that certain things cause me to feel afraid because they feel out-of-control,
I can take a little more fear out of the process.
Through writing about that fear, I could get in touch with what
attitudes of mine were magnifying the fear. That is, how my picture
of where I needed to focus my time and energy was causing me to resist
going where the writing was taking me. I am responsible for how my
perspective, my attitudes, set me up to have emotional responses.
When I am not open to events unfolding in way different than I had planned,
then I am setting myself up for feelings.
When I think that things have to go a certain way for me to be
OK, then I am setting myself up to be a victim when they do not unfold
the way I think they need to unfold. I am making a choice to see
life in a certain way. That choice, that attitude, then sets
me up to be afraid if things go differently than I want them to go.
I am responsible for that fear. I am creating that fear out of the
intellectual paradigm, the expectations, that I am choosing to empower.
If I have a picture, an expectation, of how I want life to look
today and you do something that messes up that picture, my codependent
reaction is to get angry at you and blame you for messing up my day. This
is doubly dishonest. First of all, I am getting angry in response
to my fear that I will not be OK if things do not work out as I had planned.
That is emotionally dishonest. Secondly, I am blaming you for the feelings
that are being caused by my attitudes, my expectations. That is codependency.
In regard to the situation I have been talking about, there was
no other person involved - so I was getting angry at, and blaming, my self.
I was having a hard time finishing the article I was writing. I had
a self imposed deadline for finishing that article that was part of my agenda
for how I saw the immediate future unfolding. I felt that I needed
to finish that article so that I could send out my update announcement so
that I could get on to whatever the next important thing I thought I needed
to get done. I was trying to control my life by forcing an outcome.
I was trying to control my life because I was afraid that I wouldn't
get the things done that I thought I needed to get done to take care of
myself, to meet my needs. I was afraid of the unknown future, so I had
designed my own agenda, and then was getting angry and frustrated that I
could not meet my own agenda.
Because I was judging myself and impatient with myself, the rebel
within me was rebelling through procrastinating. I was then judging
myself for my procrastination - and then turning around and shaming myself
for judging myself for my procrastination. (I stopped judging and
shaming myself in gross ways years ago - i.e. I don't call myself names
like stupid or loser or whatever - but the disease dynamic still kicks in
on much subtler levels. As we make progress in treating ourselves
better in recovery, the disease gets more subtle and cunning. This
recent judgment/shame upheaval would be like a 3.0 earthquake vs what used
to be a 9.0 earthquake.)
This is the disease of codependence working in it's most insidious,
malevolent, treacherous, and powerful expression.
"If I am feeling like a "failure" and giving
power to the "critical parent" voice within that is telling me that I am
a failure - then I can get stuck in a very painful place where I am shaming
myself for being me. In this dynamic I am being the victim of myself
and also being my own perpetrator - and the next step is to rescue myself
by using one of the old tools to go unconscious (food, alcohol, sex, etc.)
Thus the disease has me running around in a squirrel cage of suffering and
shame, a dance of pain, blame, and self-abuse."
An innocent little child
And it all goes back to being afraid that if I do it wrong I will not
survive the shame and pain of being imperfect. It all goes back to
a little child who was terrified of his own father and could not count
on his mother to defend him from his father. The little child whose
higher powers were wounded and were reacting to life out of their fear
That fear is not rational. It is not logical. It is
not conscious. It is an emotional reaction caused by early childhood
If I am alone on Valentine's Day I will die. If I do not
get this article finished on time I will not survive.
These fears are not stupid, they are not ridiculous. They
are the result of the emotional experience of a little child. That
child deserves, and needs, compassion - not judgment and shame. When
we judge ourselves we are abusing that little child inside of us.
When we are impatient with ourselves, we are dragging that child behind
us as we run to get "there" - to the outcome, the destination that
will make us OK.
I heard Claudia Black in a workshop many years ago, talking about
going for a walk on the beach with a 4 year old child. She asked
something to the effect of, "What pace do you walk at, the child's pace
- or do you drag the child along behind you at your pace?"
We have spent our lives either dragging the child along, or running
away from the child within us. Working real hard on getting "there"
- and/or doing whatever we could to go unconscious to our own feelings.
We locked the child up in a dark place within us, at the same time we let
the child's emotional wounds run our life. We were powerless to do
life any differently until we got into recovery. Just as our parents
were powerless to do life any differently because of the wounded children
In early recovery I learned to catch myself every time I heard
myself calling myself stupid. I would change it to silly. I couldn't
go from calling myself stupid to calling myself a blessed child of the
Goddess in one step. So, I substituted silly in order to be less
abusive to myself. In order to start decreasing the shame and judgment
I was laying on myself and the innocent child within me.
It was not stupid, or wrong, that I fell into the judging-resisting-shaming
running around the hamster cage cycle of the disease dynamic. It was
a little silly - and entirely human. It was a natural, normal part
of being a recovering codependent. It was a perfect part of the process
of learning/teaching, remembering/reminding.
I was afraid. Fear is part of this human adventure we are
experiencing. It is through changing our relationship with our own
fear that we transform being human from an ordeal to an adventure.
Fear is Primal
Fear is an innate, genetically ingrained, emotional impulse in human
beings. It is a programmed response to survival instincts. Fear
is an emotion that can serve us. It is a necessary tool for survival
in a hostile environment.
I get really angry when I hear some old timer in an AA meeting
say, "Fear is the absence of faith." That is bull. If we did
not have fear, we would not need faith. Faith is what gives us the
courage to walk through our fears.
It is important to accept fear as part of our reality. It
is important to clear up our relationship with our fear. The disease
of codependence, our damaged ego, is programmed to react to life out of
fear of what caused us pain in our childhood. Our ego is fighting
for survival based on programming from early childhood - that is what is
It is important to learn new tools to counteract the powerful
programming of the disease / condition of codependency. It is
important to change our relationship with our own fear by changing our perspective
of our fear.
Denying our fear is dysfunctional. Relating to our fear
as if it only comes from one place - is only about one thing - is dishonest.
There are multiple levels to our fears. A few of those levels may be
right on - most of them are dysfunctional. There are some levels that
are about False Evidence Appearing Real - to use a 12 step acronym - based
on assumptions, mind reading, and fortune telling, our fantasies/nightmares
that we project onto others and life. Some of the levels are reactions
to our childhood wounds: 'if I am alone I will die;' 'if I take the
risk of loving someone and they don't love me back, I will die;' 'if
I don't have security, I will die;' etc.
Not looking at our fears keeps us in the dark and gives them power.
It is only by bringing them out of the darkness into the light that we can
take the power away from them.
Once we bring them into the light of consciousness, then we can
filter, sift through, get clearer on what is causing them. We can discern
what part of the fears are being caused by our own attitudes - so that
we can own the responsibility, and make choices to change our intellectual
paradigm into something that will work better. We can get in touch
with the inner child wounds that are being triggered so that we can have
some compassion for those wounds and set whatever Loving boundaries we need
to set. We can get conscious of the outcome we are trying to control
so that we can take some action to let go of that outcome.
By taking the action of processing through our reaction, we can
get in touch with what other actions we can take to lessen and let go of
Clarity through processing
So, by writing about my procrastination, I was able to see the causes
of that procrastination more clearly. In processing through
the resistance I was having, I could get clear that what I thought was the
reason for the procrastination (controversial Truth) really was not the reason
at all. I could see that there were several layers of reasons - and
that the bottom line was that I was creating much of the resistance because
I did not want to let go of my preconceived idea of the outcome.
I diminished some of the fear by speaking it out loud (in this
case, writing it.) And I got in touch with how my attitudes were
adding to the fear. Then I could take some action to let go of the
attitudes that were amplifying the resistance. I could do some work
to surrender my way of doing things so that I could stop creating emotional
resistance by trying to control the outcome.
Acknowledging fear, actually speaking my fears out loud or writing
about them, often diminishes them. I can own the fear and then accept
it and move through it.
And the ironic thing, the silly part of it, was that the real
- right on - reason for my resistance was not even in the areas I was looking
at directly. The real reason for my resistance was that the article
I was writing was not working in the structure I was trying to force it
into. What would have been the best thing to do, would have been to
walk away from that article completely for a period of days so I could come
back to it with a fresh perspective.
It turned out that I surrendered the "wrong" thing. I surrendered
to just publishing the article to meet my deadline, instead of shifting
my paradigm to a completely new perspective - such as going ahead with that
update without that article. But it wasn't the wrong thing at all,
because the way the whole thing unfolded was perfect to set me up to write
this series of articles about the inner child healing process. Thus
the Universe has forced me to write about emotional honesty and balance,
about internal boundaries and clarity, in a little bit different way than
I had previously. It is different because I am growing and learning,
my perspective is shifting and changing.
The adventure of recovery keeps getting different. The dance
of balance is continuously changing, shifting, expanding. One of
the most important things we can do for ourselves, is to not take it all
so seriously, not take ourselves so seriously. Don't worry be silly,
is a motto my Higher Self communicated to me many years ago. Instead
of worrying about doing it right, instead of empowering our fear of consequences,
instead of trying to force outcomes - it is much better to lighten up (dark
to Light, heavy to light) because that helps us see with more clarity.
The inner child healing process is a journey from dark to Light,
from serious to silly.
As long as we are denying our fear, it has power to drive us to
compulsive or addictive behavior. If we are not seeing the multiple
levels of our fear clearly, then we are not being honest with ourselves.
The only way to take power away from the fear is to own it, honor it, and
take action to dissolve the levels of it that are codependent. When
we are seeing our fear more clearly, we can see that a lot of it is pretty
Fear is not bad or wrong. It is not the absence of love,
as some spiritual teachers and authors would tell you. (Except in
the metaphysical sense that the illusion is caused by an absence of/separation
from LOVE.) It is integral part of being human. It is because
we are afraid that we need to learn to Love ourselves. The more we
learn to Love our self the less power the fear will have to define our reality.
The more recovery tools we have, the sooner we will catch ourselves when
we get caught up in the disease dynamics. The less we are reacting
to life out of black and white, right and wrong; the less we are judging
and shaming ourself; the less fear we experience. We can learn to feel
Love and compassion for our inner child wounds - instead of fear, instead
of shame and judgment.
Your fears are the places within you that await your Love.
Your fears are the teachers that will help you uncover your wounds.
Uncover, discover, recover. Progress, not perfection. It is through
the fear that we find our way home to Love.