Processing: the key to Consciousness
As I mentioned above, I am quite excited by the online book I am in the process of writing. In The codependency movement is NOT ruining marriages!, I am exploring and explaining the dynamics of the condition of codependency and the process of recovery in some new ways. I think there is some very valuable information and insight in every chapter that I have published so far. I am just going to mention a couple of points here that are related to the reference I made above to the reason this Update is being posted now instead of at the beginning of July as I originally planned.
What is so important to understand about recovery from codependency, is that it is rooted in our relationship with our self. Because of that, the only way to recover from it is by becoming more conscious in our relationship with our self. In Chapter 5, I talk about behavior modification and Pavlov's Dog. Codependency is not only a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder / Delayed Stress Syndrome (Codependence as Delayed Stress Syndrome), it is the result of behavior modification. Behavior modification is used on both animals and people to train them to behave in a way that is acceptable to whomever has power over them. This results in conditioned reflexes - programmed reactions that are the result of conditioning. The differences in the impact that behavior modification has on animals and people, is that human beings have a conscious relationship with self that is affected by behavior modification. In childhood, as we are forming our conscious relationship with self, behavior modification - both intentional and unintentional - can have a traumatic impact on our sense of self, our feelings of self worth.
"A dog who was abused as a puppy can unlearn their conditioned reflexes by spending enough time in a safe and loving environment. Although a safe and loving environment can be very valuable to a human being who is healing from their childhood wounding - the emotional trauma they experienced because of behavior modification experiences in early childhood - love from external sources is not enough to heal a person's relationship with self."Codependency is a reactive condition that is rooted in our childhood programming. An adult can modify their behavior to a certain extent - in reaction to the behavior modification lessons that life brings - without dealing with their childhood wounds. But it is impossible to have a healthy emotionally intimate relationship with another person without dealing with the fear of intimacy (Fear of Intimacy) we developed in reaction to our first childhood experience of love. It is impossible to develop a Truly Loving relationship with self without healing the wounds at the core of our relationship with self - and that can only be done by becoming conscious of our relationship with self. Until we start seeing how our patterns in intimate relationships have been dictated by our childhood wounding we are doomed to keep repeating those relationship patterns - or to go to the other extreme and just live in isolation.
Intellectual knowledge of what healthy behavior looks like is not enough to change our behavior patterns in intimate relationships, because our behavior patterns are driven by our emotional wounds. Intellectual knowledge of healthy behavior and Spiritual Truth can help us to become healthier in our behavior with people we don't care that much about, but when it comes to opening our hearts to another human being - codependency rules.
"My behavior did not match my words because my behavior patterns were driven by my emotional wounds. As long as I had no capacity to be emotionally honest, my codependency defended me based upon the programming it adapted in reaction to the emotional trauma I had experienced in early childhood.In order to open up to receiving Love, it is necessary to consciously change our core relationship with our self so that our codependent ego defenses are not sabotaging our efforts. We need to start learning how to accept and Love our self before we can Truly open up to the possibility that another person can Love us.
"I was investing an incredible amount of energy into projecting an image to other people. That image had much more Truth in it than falsehood - but I didn't know that. I was doing it to try to get the Love and respect and validation that I was so starved for. But I didn't believe it, so when I did get love and validation it did not work to make me feel good about myself deep inside. It did not change my core relationship with myself. I could not truly accept / take in / own the external validation because I thought I was living a lie. I thought I was a fraud and was fooling you when you liked me.It is wonderful and valuable to get validation from external sources, but it will not work to heal our relationship with our self unless we are consciously working on doing that our self. As long as we are still relating to our self based upon the intellectual programming (both conscious and subconscious) and emotional wounds from our childhood, we cannot see our self clearly. As long as we are only looking to external sources to determine who we are and if we have worth, we cannot heal our relationship with self or take power away from our fear of intimacy.
The only way that we can be in recovery from codependency is to start changing the way we are looking at, and relating to, our self. We have to get more conscious of what is going on inside of us in order to change how we are relating to our self - so that we can change the way we relate to life and other people.
In other words, we need to start taking responsibility for our own lives. We need to start owning our power to change our relationship with self. We need to start learning how to make choices instead of just react. We can have the ability to respond - response ability - to life differently once we start becoming more conscious.
And the key to becoming more conscious is to start learning how to process what is going on in our lives in a way that will give us more clarity.
"The process of processing is a dynamic that in many ways is easier to demonstrate over time than it is to explain. Explaining it on an intellectual level is complicated and difficult because the process itself involves being able to look at multiple levels. The recovery process is spiritual, emotional, and mental. These levels are separate but intimately interrelated.Consciousness involves being actively conscious of how different parts of us are reacting to whatever is happening in our lives at any particular moment. I learned that I needed to observe / keep scanning / paying attention to / taking inventory of, what was happening in my internal dynamic and in my external environment continually in order to be on guard so that I wasn't allowing the old tapes and wounds from the past to define and dictate my experience of life today.
"It is in relationship to learning how to set internal boundaries that the process of processing is so important. Processing involves observing our own internal dynamic. Observing our thoughts and feelings. It is very important to raise our consciousness, to become more conscious, of our own process.Codependency is not an issue we deal with and then get on with our lives. Recovery is a way of life. It is necessary to move through our life with consciousness in order to stop the childhood programming from running our lives. The more we recover, the less power the old tapes and old wounds have - but they do not go away.
It is through healing our inner child, our inner children, by grieving the wounds that we suffered, that we can change our behavior patterns and clear our emotional process. We can release the grief with its pent-up rage, shame, terror, and pain from those feeling places which exist within us.
That does not mean that the wound will ever be completely healed. There will always be a tender spot, a painful place within us due to the experiences that we have had. What it does mean is that we can take the power away from those wounds. By bringing them out of the darkness into the Light, by releasing the energy, we can heal them enough so that they do not have the power to dictate how we live our lives today. We can heal them enough to change the quality of our lives dramatically. We can heal them enough to Truly be happy, Joyous and free in the moment most of the time.
In recovery we are developing a sense of balance, a feeling for what balance feels like, so that we can catch ourselves when we are swinging out of balance. We are here to experience being human and to do this healing. If we are not in recovery, then we can not be consciously present in the moment to enjoy our journey. I did not title my book the "dance" of wounded souls just out of poetic whimsy - life is a dance.
"Emotional balance is not a destination. It is a constantly changing dance. In doing our reprogramming intellectually, and our emotional and Spiritual healing - we are changing the music of our dance. We are choosing to have the opportunity to dance with Love and Joy, to dance in Light and Truth - instead of in darkness and disharmony. In order to have the capacity to dance with Love and Joy, we must first be willing to dance with our anger and fear, with the pain and sadness. Through owning our wounded inner children, we get to uncover and release the spontaneous, playful, Joyous Spiritual child within that is the one who will lead us home to LOVE.The more conscious we become, the more we can relax and enjoy the journey.
"The healthier we get, the more emotional healing we do, the less extreme our emotional reaction / response spectrum grows. The growth process works kind of like a pendulum swinging. The less we buy into the toxic shame and judgment, the less extreme the swings of the pendulum become. The arc of our emotional pendulum becomes gentler, and we can return to emotional balance much quicker and easier. But we don't get to stay in the balance position. Life is always rocking our boat - setting our emotional pendulum to swinging. By not taking life events and other peoples behavior so seriously and personally, by observing our process with some degree of detachment instead of getting so hooked into the trauma drama soap opera victimology that is a reaction to our childhood wounds, we learn to not give so much power over our emotions to outside influences and events.In my latest article on Suite 101 (link in the upper right hand column) I talk about how 90% of the stress in my life before codependency recovery was caused by the attitudes and beliefs I was empowering. Once I got aware of how my perspectives and expectations (which were reactions to my childhood programming and emotional wounds and therefore something I was powerless over until I got conscious of them) were setting me up to be a victim, then I could start owning the power to change my emotional experience of life . Then I could start to take responsibility for my life and eliminate the stress that I was creating in reaction to dysfunctional programming.
Something I often say to people at the end of their first counseling session - rather in person or on the phone - is, "everything that happens in your life from now on is part of this recovery process. Your job is to pay attention and follow where you are led." Recovery is why we are here. This Spiritual growth process is the only thing that makes life make sense - to me.
We have the power to change our relationship with self and life into one that is more functional - into an experience which includes inner peace and moments of Joy. Into an experience which allows us to learn to be more Loving to our self, to be our own best friend instead of our own worst enemy.
Many teachers / guides / angels appeared on my path to help me to learn how to change my life but none of them would have done me any good if I had not been willing to start focusing on my relationship with my self. I had to be willing to become more conscious - to live life with more consciousness in order to align with the Spiritual guidance I was getting. That is why learning how to process was - and still is - so vital to my growth.
In the latest Newsletter for the Joy2MeU Journal I addressed the importance of processing.
"And what I am going to talk about briefly in this Newsletter is the process of processing. As I say in one of the added pages:As I say in this quote, it is vital for me to be able to speak out loud about issues or write about them in order to stay emotionally honest with myself. Writing for this web site has been an incredible and invaluable gift for me over the last 4 years or so. All of the writing I do about recovery and Spirituality helps me in my process, but the Newsletters and Journal articles in which I am processing about my process are especially important to my recovery. In my web articles I try to communicate about the dynamics of the wounding and recovery process as clearly as possible for an audience, for you readers out there in cyberspace. In my processing writing, I share my personal processing with you. I try to explain the processing as I write - but the purpose of those pages is primarily to communicate with myself.I do hope that you find these processing pages helpful. If you don't, sorry about that - don't read them. I am doing these for me - all my writing is ultimately for me and my recovery process, but these pages are specifically and indulgently for my personal process. They have been invaluable to me over the last 3 + years since I started this journal. Some of the reasons for that are talked about in the pages that follow this one.One of my phone counseling clients the other day - a person who has found a wealth of help in reading my pages and has described the phone counseling experience as making the words from my book and site kind of leap off the page and come alive for him - mentioned that there was one of my pages where I just kind of seemed to be babbling. I am pretty sure he was talking about one of the Newsletter pages where I was processing - since he doesn't subscribe to this Journal. Perhaps that is what my processing pages - in this journal, and in certain Update Newsletters - comes across as. Hopefully, you all do find this babble useful. ;-)
Sharing my process is something I learned from twelve step recovery - sharing my experience, strength, and hope. I know that some of you find it valuable as a practical demonstration of how I work my program - how I apply theoretical principles in my life. I am not here to tell you the "right" way to do life. I am sharing with you what I have learned from working my program of recovery, sharing with you what works for me - because it helps me to get clearer on my growth process.
I found myself starting to do this sharing of my process in the first Newsletter Updates I wrote for my original Joy to You & Me web site. (Link to index of those Newsletters is towards the bottom of the upper right hand column.) When I started my Joy2MeU Journal in April of 1999, I was focusing on writing for that body of work - and started doing any processing for myself in what evolved into a personal journal within that Journal.
I didn't even start doing Update Newsletters again until November of 1999 (Links to the Joy2MeU Newsletters can be found on the Information Index Page) - and then I gradually started sharing a little of my processing in those Newsletters as my site evolved. It wasn't until the July 2000, and then - what for me is still a vital milestone in my process - the October 2000 Update Newsletters that I started to go into any real depth. The May 2001 Newsletters were probably the most extensive and intimate sharing I have done on this Joy2MeU site to date - a level of in-to-me-see that I had only previously shared in my Joy2MeU Journal - as I explored my fear of intimacy issues and caught myself in some denial and emotional dishonesty in relationship to those issues.
The recent writing in my personal journal in the Joy2MeU Journal was a continuation of looking at those fear of intimacy issues - and once again I caught myself in some denial and emotional dishonesty.
I believe that part of the reason that some people may view my processing as babble, is that I go through multiple levels, multiple perspectives, in looking at the issues that are up for me. Thus the processing that I started doing in June began with my anger over my car breaking down once more on June 7th. My poor car breaking down is a life event that I get the opportunity to use often as a point of reference when sharing how I work my program. As with delayed airline flights, I can accept and be grateful for life events - align my conscious beliefs with Spiritual Truth that everything happens for a reason - while also owning my human feelings about these life events. This is a vital component of Spiritual integration and emotional balance.
So many people use tools like Positive Affirmations, meditation, etc., not as tools for finding balance - but as ways of denying feelings. It is vital for me, to own my feelings so that I can stay clear with myself. In the writing for my personal journal that started out with my anger about driving a car that breaks down often, I ended up processing through my fear of intimacy and deprivation issues - and discovering a deeper level where I was empowering some denial.
This discovery was made possible by the writing I did for the chapters of in the online book I am writing - especially the chapter on our ego self image. I had written something, in that Chapter 4, that I wasn't in touch with emotionally at the time I wrote it. I, in fact, felt that what I was saying was a little too strong - it felt like I was overstating what my pattern had been for the sake of communicating the concept.
"I saw myself in alignment with the conscious self image that I was projecting - a sensitive, caring male who was so different from all those macho clowns that were not in touch with their feelings - but my behavior in intimate relationships was dictated by the subconscious perspective of emotions that I had learned from my male role model in childhood. That paradigm dictated that a man could not feel sad or hurt or afraid - a man only felt anger. In other words, I saw myself as, and talked the talk of, a sensitive caring male but when anyone got too close emotionally my behavior was that of a macho clown."What I discovered in my journal writing is that I was not overstating my pattern at all in saying this. In consciously looking at certain aspects of my patterns closely for the first time, I realized that there was some behavior that I exhibited because of my fear of intimacy that was worse after I got into recovery than before - after getting in touch with my fear instead of denying it's existence. I had behaved horribly towards some women I had intimate interactions with. It was a very painful discovery. I did have awareness of the behavior in a general sense but I had never looked at it too closely because of the guilt and shame I felt - and had never looked closely enough to realize that my behavior had gotten worse in recovery.
It was shameful behavior that I engaged in as recently as 3 and 1/2 years ago. I would allow myself to buy into being a victim of my "deprivation issues" as an excuse for getting physically involved with women who I was not interested in having a relationship with - and then would withhold in our interactions to try to keep them from falling in love with me. Talk about macho clown behavior. I used those women.
It was something that I blamed on the deprivation issues that were caused by my terror of intimacy. I was not taking responsibility for my behavior - or looking at it closely enough to see what was really causing it. I kept it in the dark because I felt guilty and it didn't match my ego self image - the very thing I wrote about in that chapter over a month before I got in touch with the emotional reality of it by examining it consciously. A pretty blatant example of how important the writing is to my process.
Codependency is doubly traumatic. We were traumatized in childhood because our parents were traumatized in their childhood. Our ego adapted codependent defenses to protect us - and those defenses caused us to repeat behavior patterns as adults that caused us further trauma. Recovery is an ongoing journey of discovery - uncover, discover, recover. We have to get conscious in order to heal. We need to be willing to shine the Light of consciousness into every corner within. That which is hidden in the dark has power. Any past behavior that I am still keeping in the darkness of unconsciousness and denial is an issue that I still am powerless over to some degree.
Recovery is an ongoing transformational process. As I grow and learn, my perspective of the past keeps changing. That means I have to be willing to look at those issues again when the Universe sends me messages that more needs to be uncovered.
"I have been going through a transformation one more time in my recovery. Each time that I need to grow some more - need to surrender some more of who I thought I was in order to become who I am - I get to peel another layer of the onion. Each time this happens I get to reach a deeper level of honesty and see things clearer than I ever have before. Each time, I also get to release some of the emotional energy through crying and raging.I wrote the article Grief, Love, and Fear of Intimacy in the summer of 1998 - and announced it's publication in my first Joy to You & Me Newsletter. A major change that has taken place in my process since that time - a change I talked about in the Newsletters of my January 2002 Update - is that it has been quite some time, years, since I have uncovered any rage. I seem to have released all the rage I was carrying - although, once again, more will be revealed as my process unfolds. I no longer rage at my Higher Power, at the Divine Plan. I get highly irritated with it sometimes, but my work at changing my relationship with life has resulted in great rewards in this respect. There is still grief that I get in touch with - but it is no longer so much about my childhood as it is about the effects the childhood trauma had on my adult life.
"As I said, I really don't want to hurt anyone, but underneath that intention is the codependency that caused me to behave in abusive ways as a protection of me. My codependent defenses tried to protect me from overwhelming burden of feeling responsible for another persons feeling - so I would not have to feel that toxic shame at the core of my relationship with myself.As I state in my writing, toxic shame is a lie - we are not shameful beings. However, our behavior because of our emotional wounds and dysfunctional programming - the behavior we were powerless over - has in the past sometimes been shameful behavior. It is vital for me to be willing to get conscious of any nooks and crannies within where I haven't yet shined the Light of the level of consciousness that I have now achieved. The processing I did in the summer of 2001 led to a breakthrough in my process that, as I say in my August 2001 Update, I believe allowed me to reach in my personal process the level of consciousness that I was accessing when I wrote Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls.
It is because I had not yet healed my fear of intimacy issues enough to access that level of consciousness in relationship to my personal intimate relationships that I was powerless over the shameful behavior I was exhibiting up until 3 and 1/2 years ago. I have not had an intimate interaction with a woman since that time - and that was a gift from the Universe. This shameful behavior was something that I was powerless over until the processing I did in June. It was on a deeper level, one of the "right on" reasons for me being deprived of an intimate relationship for most of my life. By that I mean, that the bad news is that I have spent most of my life alone, I have been very deprived in regard to intimate, romantic relationship. The good news / silver lining is that my codependent defenses kept me out of relationships so that I did less damage to other human beings because I wasn't in situations that triggered those defenses.
Now that I have gotten conscious of the denial and emotional dishonesty that was hiding this level from me, I can heal it - and take responsibility for my patterns in a new more complete way. It was a wonderful - and very painful - breakthrough in my personal process.
I just got the gift of peeling another layer of the onion. And I cried some in the process. Emotional honesty can be a real pain sometimes. As I often tell people, the Truth shall set you free - but first it will make you angry and hurt a lot. I have just broken through to a new level of freedom in relationship to my fear of intimacy issues. And my fear of intimacy issues - as I talk about in that October 2000 Update and elsewhere - are underneath all of my issues.
There are a couple of more facets to those fear of intimacy issues that I want to focus upon right now in my personal process. Fourteen years ago this month I had an incredible, mind boggling experience which revealed to me that the power of my fear of intimacy issues was - in part, at least - related to an ancient wound. I want to get back to writing for my Journal to see if I can delve deeper into that wound and put another chunk of those fear of intimacy issues behind me. Rather I will be able to do that will fall into the more will be revealed realm.
I will add more pages to this site as soon as the Universe leads me to do that. If the pages upon which I am sharing my processing sound like babble to you, don't take that as meaning something is wrong with you - or that I am just crazy. Focus on the pages that make sense and leave the processing pages for later. Discernment is a vital part of recovery and consciousness raising. Take what resonates with you and leave the rest for now. Focus on learning more about your relationship with your self, and any of my writing that you find useful in that process. The thing that I have always found to be Truth in my recovery, is More Will Be Revealed. ;-)
Go to November 2002 Update
New Page Site Index The codependency movement is NOT ruining marriages! Information Pages Index
Grief, Love, and Fear of Intimacy Discernment in relationship to emotional honesty and responsibility 1 Future Publications
The Recovery Process for inner child healing1: Sharing my experience, strength, and hope Joy2MeU Journal