At the end of my August Update Newsletter (a good one for new people who would like an overview of the recent history of my recovery adventure) I mentioned that it was possible we could be moving.
"There is a chance that Susan, Darien, and I will be moving to San Diego. (On August 30th Robert did announce he and his family are moving to San Diego.) It is possible that being there (where Susan would be near her kids, and have more opportunity career wise) would help us in spreading the message and bringing in more income." - August 2006 UpdateWe did move in mid September. We are now in Encinitas California - a community in Northern San Diego County sandwiched between Carlsbad and Oceanside to the north, and Solana Beach and Del Mar to the South. We live in a house that is about half the size of the one we had in Paso Robles - with an ocean view from the back yard that is astroturf. (The front yard is also astroturf - something that seemed pretty strange to us at first, but is actually very nice with a 2 year old running around.)
I like Encinitas because it has a main street downtown that runs parallel to, and a few blocks from, the ocean - so that it actually feels like a town as opposed to a suburb built around shopping malls. (This is the part of the town they call old Encinitas - new Encinitas along El Camino Real is full of shopping malls.) It has lots of parks and walking/running trails and mandated open space - which is very nice. It is kind of an aging hippie / surfer community - which is supposed to be a great surfing location (Swami beach is near the Self Realization Fellowship Temple.) It used to call itself the flower capital of California. There are still some flowers grown here - although many less than before San Diego started growing so much the last 20 years or so.
I had not ever planned on living in a city again. I spent years before getting into recovery pursuing an acting career in Los Angeles - and was still there into my 5th year of being clean and sober. I hated living in a big city but thought I had to be there for my acting career. A perfect codependent set up to feel like a victim - thinking I "have to" be some place I don't want to be. (In perfect time for the Holiday Season is an article in my Serenity Prayer series where I talk about the codependent set up that "have to" is - Intellectual Discernment - "have to" and the Holiday Season)
In the Spring of 1988 I went through a 30 Day Treatment program for Codependency in Tucson Arizona - which means it is over 18 years since I lived in in a big city.
"In the spring of 1988, he had a major emotional breakthrough in his recovery and gave himself the gift of entering a thirty day treatment program for Codependence. Sierra Tucson Treatment Center in Arizona was one of the first to pioneer treatment of Codependence and it was there that he learned a great deal about the grieving process and absorbed techniques and knowledge upon which he would later expand.One of the things that made moving here easier for me, was that I had already moved out of the location that meant so much to me and my recovery - which was the town of Cambria on the Central Coast of California. In my October 2005 Update Newsletter I shared an excerpt from the story of my Spiritual Path: The Path of one Recovering Codependent ~ the dance of one wounded soul that is part of the Joy2MeU Journal. (The Journal is a subscription only section of my site, in which I share the story of my Spiritual Path, an ongoing recovery journal of my personal processing from early 1999 through 2005, and portions of my Mystical Magical Trilogy Fable and the Attack on America online book not available on regular Joy2MeU site.)
Sharing that excerpt - which was entitled Miracles and told the story of some incredible miracles that were part of my moving to Cambria - in the October 2005 Update, was part of my processing to let go of Cambria when it was looking like we were going to have to move away from there. Writing this Update, and wanting to explain my issues with living in a large city to show what a leap it was for me to move to San Diego, I ran across what I had shared in that October 2005 Update.
"One of the things I had seen clearly while in treatment was what a codependent relationship I had with the city of Los Angeles. I hated living there but "had" to be there because of my acting career. What a set up to be a victim. The first thing I did when I got back from treatment is to pack up and leave LA." - Miracles originally published in Joy2MeU Journal in July 1999(Looking for places in my writing where I talked about LA also led me to revisit a chapter of one of my online books in which I talk about the important lessons I learned about emotional honesty while applying my codependency recovery to driving in LA. I am going to include a segment from that chapter below the Newsletter - because I think many of you will find it valuable. In it I talk about destination thinking, being present in the moment, and practicing Spiritual principles in moment to moment life in relationship to the experience of driving - all important aspects of learning spiritual integration to start finding emotional balance and serenity in life.)
So, now we are in a big city. It doesn't really feel like it to me most of the time however. I have pretty much limited my movement to places in the immediate vicinity - and try to stay off the freeways as much as possible. So far, because Susan is working and we are not at a financial position to put Darien in daycare yet - I have been primarily a nanny. Which is an ongoing, and special gift, in my life.
Being a primary caregiver to Darien - who will be 2 on the 10th (probably a few days before I get this published) - continues to be one of the great miracles and surprises of my recovery. Never could I have imagined being in the position of taking care of a baby at this stage in my life and recovery. The Joy and wonder of watching this precocious, precious little man grow up from the tiny baby I first met in March of 2005, to revealing himself to be a uniquely charming and delightful character who captures the heart of anyone who gets to experience his personality, fills my heart to overflowing with such Joy and contentment. There are times: when he is laying with his head on my chest gazing into my eyes; or when he curls up in my arms with his head laid on my shoulders; or when he burrows in beside me when he is sleeping with us; or just listening to him jabber or watching him run and play - moments that I feel a sense of Blissful Love that is sublimely exquisite. Such a gift!
It brings to mind once again something I have shared in past Updates - that GRATEFUL is not nearly a huge enough word to describe my feelings about what a gift my recovery has been to me. It is not a big enough word to describe how grateful I am for having the courage to work through my fear of intimacy issues to the point where I was willing to surrender to getting into a relationship with Susan, or to describe what I feel about all the richness and abundance of Joy and Life this relationship with her has brought into my recovery adventure - which includes, of course, my precious step grand-son, God-son, Darien. I am very, very, very, grateful that I am having the opportunity to experience this special little man in my life.
So, this has been a good move. Susan is much happier here where she is closer to family and the many friends and meetings that were so vital to her early recovery. Her oldest daughter actually lives just up the street - and it was in visiting her that Susan discovered this place with the astroturf yard. She also found work that is fulfilling and makes her happy - so that is very good.
I haven't found a lot of time yet to get very grounded in the community and develop new relationship with people and meetings, because I am spending so much of my time taking care of Darien. We have found a Montessori school nearby which we think will be a wonderful - and affordable - place for him to develop and grow and free up more time for me to focus on getting established here myself. I have real mixed feelings about that, because though I need the time to focus on myself, I will miss spending so much of my time with him. He is such a cool kid - and this time of being with him so much is such a special, special time in my life. I am profoundly GRATEFUL for the abundance of Love and Joy that I am experiencing in my day to day life right now.
And speaking of focus - that is the key word that I discovered in writing my August Update, when I realized that the Universe was prompting me to focus on Higher motivations and not be so caught up in survival mode.
"What I am seeing clearer as I write this, is that I have come to a point when it is time to focus on my Higher motivations - on my mission and my work, and on taking the actions that are in front of me - because that is what will help me to meet the other level of needs more effectively. Focusing on the Higher motivations helps to motivate me to take the actions necessary much better than the more mundane level of motivation (like paying the rent.) Trying to make money has never been a motivation that works for me, because I have so many issues around money. (Something I talk about in my October 2000 Update that I will be quoting below.) Following my Spiritual Path, being True to my Spiritual / True Self - those are the levels of motivation that it is time to focus on in this next chapter of my life, because that will help me take responsibility for taking the actions that will make my life easier and more enjoyable in the long run." - August 2006 UpdateThat is the other part of our reasons for moving here - to facilitate spreading the word about my work and continuing forward with my mission in this lifetime. So far, it has been necessary to focus a lot of time and energy on taking care of Darien and survival - on paying the rent and the bills. Moving is very expensive and we are still catching up.
But I have been planting seeds and doing the footwork for my Intensives - and focusing some energy on that Higher level of motivation for moving. As I stated on the page I posted on August 30th about our move:
" . . . . a part of the reason for the move is to focus on the Intensives and create follow up grief groups for the people who attend them." - moving to San DiegoIn a further update about the evolution of the Intensives that I added to the Intensive Testimonial page page on October 9th, I shared that I had found a place here in San Diego to do the Intensives monthly for the coming future - and thus, am able to announce the dates for Intensives in December, January and February with this Update - and that I was exploring options for getting the follow up grief groups organized.
On my biographical information page, I share some of my personal history, the history of Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls, and the history of how my personal counseling practice evolved from doing small inner child healing grief groups to doing the telephone counseling. In the history I share on that bio page, I explain how my path unfolded to cause me to stop doing the small groups (because I was choosing to live in an isolated small town rather than a city) and start doing the phone counseling.
In an article that I wrote while writing my online book about the September 11th terrorist attack in 2001, I shared how doing the telephone counseling had helped me refine and fine tune my ability to communicate to other people the powerfully effective approach / framework that I had discovered and developed for doing inner child healing work. As is noted in the excerpt from that article below, at that time I had only been doing the telephone counseling for a year and nine months. I now have been doing it for over six and 1/2 years - and have really fine tuned it. (Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light referred to at the beginning of this quote will be touched upon again below.)
"Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light is what I have been calling my next book. This is to be a process level book - a "how to" book - explaining the approach to inner child healing that I discovered in my desperation to change my life. I have been guided to develop and refine this approach in my work with others to facilitate my recovery and healing. It is a formula, a blueprint, for integrating Spiritual Truth into our inner process so that we can achieve some emotional balance in this human dance we are doing. . . . .
. . . . What is so valuable, what I believe is unique, about the approach to inner child healing that I have been guided to develop and refine, is that it provides a formula for integrating Spiritual Truth and intellectual knowledge of healthy behavior into one's emotional relationship with life.The Intensive Training Days have allowed me the opportunity to communicate the dynamics of the process to more than one person at a time in a setting and time frame which allows me to go into much greater detail on specific facets and perspectives - both in terms of the dynamics of the disease, and in how to apply the approach I discovered and developed to the inner healing and spiritual integration process. It gives me a much broader canvas on which to paint the picture of what I know - and to further refine my ability to communicate what I have learned as I explore and experience the evolution of these workshops.
What I see as the exciting potential here in San Diego, is to continue to teach people, in these Intensive workshops, the approach that I refined doing the telephone counseling - and to be able to facilitate the grief work in person also.
The purpose of starting the Intensive workshops was to facilitate spreading the message - and to generate more income. (At the end of my August Update I quoted my January 2002 Update in which I shared the quote from Marianne Williamson about how "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. . . ." In the first of two Newsletters with that Update - which I included a quote from in my August Update - I talked about how our levels of motivation are both Selfish (aligned with Higher Spiritual intention) and selfish (taking care of ourselves on a human level.)
I announced the start of the Intensives in my March Update - and on April 8th, I posted the Newsletter that is part 2 of the March Update. Here is a quote from that Newsletter:
"Susan, my significant other (who is now the Marketing Director for Joy to You & Me), . . . . has been pointing out how my fears have kept me in deprivation financially. How I am spending so much time and energy in counseling people one on one in my telephone counseling, when there are so many people out there who desperately need to hear what I have to share with them.These workshops have evolved a little differently than I had imagined in the beginning - but the path always unfolds differently than I have imagined it beforehand anyway. My job is to follow where I am led and find out what is going to happen as my path unfolds. As I mention so often in my writing, one great and very consistent Truth of my recovery and life is just that - More Will Be Revealed.
I had thought about trying to get the grief follow up groups started after the November Intensive on the 18th - but with the Holiday season approaching that just wasn't practical. The Holiday season is not a good time for people to make a commitment to attending a group. January is however - and thus I decided to do an Intensive on December 30th as kind of a launching point for the groups. As the end of the year approaches, I will hopefully be able to find an appropriate space to hold the groups - and will be making decisions on the structure, schedule, and financial details involved. I believe there will probably be a group for people locally that will meet weekly - and one for people from a little farther away that might meet several times a month. More will be revealed about that as this adventure unfolds - and I will be communicating with people who have experienced the Intensive about the details as the time draws closer. It will be a requirement to attend an Intensive before being part of the emotional processing groups.
One thing I am getting clearer on as I put the finishing touches on this Update on November 12th, is that these groups will not be specifically "grief groups" in the way the small groups I used to do were. That is, they will be groups where people can learn about the process of grieving - and provide a safe space where it will be possible to do grief work if that is where a person is at in their recovery - but they will not be groups whose goal is to specifically get into the grieving. They will be groups focused on helping people with the emotional processing and integration process - while providing a safe environment to do the grieving to whatever level the individuals in the group are ready for in their recovery process. As I focus on creating these groups, more will be revealed to me about what the exact nature and structure will be.
Hopefully by that time, our finances will be in a place where it is possible to have Darien in the Montessori school and be able to rent office space for the groups to get them up and running. More will be revealed about how the financial situation will unfold of course. There are several possibilities for some increased abundance that could manifest - and I am sure my Higher Power has some plan in place that will be revealed to me some time in the not too distant future. Once of the complications that will need to be addressed is that the inventory of my books is rapidly decreasing - so I will need to figure out some way to do another reprint if I am going to stay in business. Hopefully I won't have to send out the same type of appeal for Help to you all on my mailing list that I had to at the beginning of this year Help in keeping my book in print - or in 2003: Metaphysical Law: Giving and Receiving ~ Donations / Love Offerings. But if I have to do that I will. I do hope that it isn't necessary this time. I have learned great and wonderful lessons in being able to ask for help and be open to receiving on my Spiritual Path - and I know that it has been very important to many people to be able to feel that they are giving something back, and contributing to spreading the message of Love that my book and work is based upon - but I would prefer to not have to ask for help that way again. (Donations are always welcome of course, for anyone out there whose spirit moves them to want to support the cause.)
In writing this Newsletter I have mentioned material of mine that is contained in the two password protected pay to view / subscription areas of my site: the Joy2MeU Journal and the section I call Dancing in Light - which includes the latest version of my follow up to Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls entitled Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light. Though it is not exactly the "process level book - a "how to" book" that I referred to it as in that quote above, it is the most in depth and sophisticated writing I have done about the both the disease of codependency and the recovery approach I pioneered. And it includes some of my best writing - in my opinion. I have decided to offer some special Holiday prices on those pay to view section of my site. (Both the Journal and Dancing include the Attack on America book referenced several times above - and between them easily include a million words of my writing - a conservative estimate.) I have a special offers page that I originally put up as a Holiday Special in October 2005 - and then decided to keep up indefinitely because it offered some very useful telephone counseling packages. I am going to lower the prices for those two sections of my site - and that includes the offers that are in combination with my book, tapes or CDs - on that page when I post this Update. (I also gift subscriptions to people who make Donations / Love Offerings.)
I have also decided to slightly change the requirement that new phone counseling clients start with an hour and a half initial session. For two related reasons. One is that several people recently overlooked the requirement I state on that page, and instead of starting with the hour and a half initial session purchased multiple sessions of one hour - and it has actually worked out quite well to cover the material I normally cover in the hour and a half initial session over 2 one hour sessions. And because of the broader canvas the Intensives have given me to explain the process, I find myself really wanting to go into more detail than I can in an hour and a half. So, I will be changing the telephone counseling information page to reflect that option when I post this also.
So, that is the latest from Joy2MeU in this last Update for 2006. I will be calling attention to some articles that are helpful during the Holidays on my New and news page in the coming weeks. (It is possible to subscribe to a service that will send you e-mail notice when something changes on that New page by clicking here.) And hopefully I will be able to start 2007 with some exciting announcements about not only the emotional processing groups I hope to be starting - but also with news of some new CDs I hope to be offering. In conjunction with the person who made the CD version of Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls possible, we are going to be recording some of the material on my site in audio form. As usual, More Will Be Revealed.
Be kind and gentle, compassionate and Loving, to your self this Holiday Season.
Encinitas, Susan and Darien and I wish you
Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light
Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life
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.
In the course of writing this article - which seems to be turning into another online book - I realized that though I talk a lot about the importance of emotional honesty in my work, I probably do not give a lot of down to earth, easily understood examples of what the term means to me. So, I decided to start this Chapter 3 with an example.
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
Insane Expectations - Road Rage
"There is an old joke about the difference between a neurotic and a psychotic. The psychotic truly believes that 2 + 2 = 5. The neurotic knows that it is 4 but can't stand it. That was the way I lived most of my life, I could see how life was but I couldn't stand it. I was always feeling like a victim because people and life were not acting in the way I believed they "should" act.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. 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. (Empowerment and Victimization - the power of choice)
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;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. (Learning to Love our self)
Contination of Update from above
Another page I made some changes to is my article: Assignments for Jump Starting Codependency Recovery. I realized recently that when I did some editing to that page so that I could print out copies of it to hand out when I spoke at a CoDA mini-convention in the fall of 2005, I had taken out some links at the end of each of the sections of that page and not added them back in. I took out the links to make the handout I was printing shorter - and more affordable to copy. I did them on the page I had posted to the internet - instead of just printing them off my computer - because I wanted the web site address to be on the handouts.
This was my way of getting around a rigid application of the 12 traditions that causes CoDA conferences to invite me to speak, but forbid me to tell people that I have a web site or book - or do anything to "self promote." Unfortunately in many ways, CoDA has become as rigid as AA in terms of turning the written word into dogma that is the only "right" way to do things. The history of the planet is full of spiritual beliefs that once written down got turned into dogma that caused wars between people fighting over the "right" interpretations.
This brings to mind a paragraph I wrote in one of the articles that were included in my inner child e-book (Inner Child Healing The Path to Empowerment, Inner Peace, and Freedom from the Past) - an article that is similar enough to articles on my site that I haven't added it to my site, but a little different including this paragraph.
"I state in my book, that I believe that many aboriginal cultures were far more functional in terms of the Spiritual, mental, and emotional health of the individual members of their societies, than any of the so called civilized societies on this planet have been. The thought that occurred to me as I was writing this article, is that maybe there is also a correlation in regard to a society having a written language. In tribal societies with an oral tradition, stories were told - parables - that passed on the values of the society. Histories that are written down in words are subject to the interpretations and translations of individuals who had their own agendas. Words became set in stone - and often the spirit of the message was lost, distorted, and manipulated." - Inner Child Healing Part 18 - SpiritualityIt is sad to me, that one of the core dynamics of the disease of codependency - black and white thinking - is the very thing that has negatively impacted the growth and effectiveness of CoDependents Anonymous. Actually, the effect has been to cause CoDA not to grow - but to actually shrink over the years. This is something I mentioned in a piece of writing that is linked from my page: Finding Co-Dependents Anonymous & Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings.
"Another problem with CoDA was that it adapted most of it's literature almost word for word from AA - which left it with a version of the 12 steps that isn't really too accurate in describing the process of codependence recovery - as well as other literature which didn't really apply. The thing that AA had going for it when it first started, and still does, is that it deals with a black and white issue. You drink or you don't drink. Codependence recovery is not black and white - and in fact, is a lot about getting away from black and white thinking. This is an inherent difficulty in structuring the program. People with time in recovery in other programs came into CoDA and wanted to make it just as rigid as the programs they came from. People who had no clue what recovery was about when they first came to CoDA, were looking for someone to tell them how to do it "right." As CoDA grew the controllers won out and made it more rigid. I passed up the opportunity to have my story in the CoDA Big Book because I was so unhappy with how things were evolving.It is also sad to me, that many people who attend CoDA are as closed minded as people in AA - and are not even open to searching the internet for resources because they think they have to do recovery strictly according to the 12 steps. Unfortunately the 12 steps of CoDA as written do not address the core issues. The 12 steps of any 12 step program do not address the real core issues - codependency - but they can help people to deal with the symptoms (like stopping drinking), and help them start living the 12 step spiritual principles in their life. That is the real key - and where the magic in the 12 steps lies - in learning to live the principles in our life. That is what the formula for spiritual integration I teach is based upon - living the 12 step spiritual principles in one's life. That is what works.
Working a 12 step program is what helped me start living life in a spiritual context - start seeing life as a spiritual growth process. That is what is so transformational about the 12 step process - not a rigid strict adherence to words written decades ago. I will be eternally grateful for the 12 steps of AA as a starting point in my recovery - but that is what they are: a starting point / foundation that can be built upon. Not the be all and end all - the final words. I fully respect the importance of the 12 Traditions in early AA - and know that AA probably wouldn't have survived without them. But to see them as dogma written in stone is limiting.. I will include a short segment I wrote a while back at the end of this section in which I share my personal position about one of the Traditions.
So anyway, I put those links back into that page - and I have stopped speaking at official CoDA functions. I have been checking out some CoDA meetings here in San Diego, which is part of the reason I am addressing this - I have been sad about what I am finding available. I also received an e-mail recently that said the following:
"Last year when I was doing some research on line I came across the acoa world service. I was very disappointed with it. It said very little to me. It just made me feel really guilty, where as your site speaks volumes and had been an enormous help. The world service really should have a major place on their front page for your site, it is leagues better that theirs."The Traditions prevent Adult Children of Alcoholic (ACOA) - or CoDA - from linking to, or using, "outside sources" or "non-approved" literature. There are some good reasons for that - but when taken as a rigid black and white rule, it is limiting and restrictive in an unhealthy way also.
I still consider CoDA my primary program, because it is the 12 step
program that is most closely focused on cause instead of symptoms. And
I will continue to go to meetings of various varieties because they are
a place where people are growing and learning - 12 step anonymous groups
are possibly the healthiest organizations on the planet. It is just
sad to me, that they aren't as effective as they could be - and that there
are so many suffering codependents in 12 step recovery who do not know
how to focus on their core issues.
Although my book and articles make reference to Alcoholics Anonymous, the principles and Twelve Step program of A.A., this does not mean that A.A. has reviewed or approved the contents of this writing, nor that A.A. agrees with the views expressed herein. A.A. is a program of recovery from alcoholism only - use of this material in connection with programs and activities which are patterned after A.A., but address other problems, or in any other non-A.A. context, does not imply otherwise.
January 8, 2005 - a message from Robert.
"I am inserting a note here for anyone who feels offended by what they see as a violation of the Eleventh Tradition of AA's Twelve Traditions. The 11th Tradition of AA is:
Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.I routinely break my own anonymity in regard to the fact that I am a recovering alcoholic / addict and codependent because I do not believe I would be alive today if Betty Ford had not broken her anonymity in the late 1970s and brought the subject of alcoholism out of the closet into public view. She is one of the people I dedicated my book to because I believe that I personally owe her a debt of gratitude for her courage and honesty. Breaking my own anonymity is one way that I carry the message of hope that saved my life. Anyone whose black and white thinking is causing them to rigidly interpret the Twelve Steps and Traditions enough to be offended, desperately needs to get into codependency recovery in my opinion." - Robert Burney 2/10/04 The Miracle of The Twelve Step Recovery Process Steps 10 thru 12 - The Maintenance Steps Part 1
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