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Alcoholism and Codependence - Two Fatal Diseases - an index of web pages

"Besides the invaluable gift of sobriety that AA has given to millions of Alcoholics, it also started a revolution in Spiritual consciousness.

The dramatic success and expansion of AA facilitated the spread of a radically revolutionary idea which has traditionally, in Western Civilization, been considered heresy. This was not a new idea but rather a reintroduction and clarification of an old idea, coupled with a formula for practical application of the concept into day-to-day human life experience.

This revolutionary idea was that an unconditionally Loving Higher Power exists with whom the individual being can personally communicate. A Higher Power that is so powerful that it has no need to judge the humans it created because this Universal Force is powerful enough to ensure that everything unfolds perfectly from a Cosmic Perspective.

This reintroduction of the revolutionary concept of an accessible Loving God has been clarified to specifically include the concept that the individual being can define this Universal Force according to his/her own understanding, and can develop a personal, intimate relationship with this Higher Power.

In other words, no one is needed as an intermediary between you and your creator. No outside agency has the right to impose upon you its definition of God. . . . 

The Twelve Step program of AA provides a practical program for accessing Spiritual power in dealing with day-to-day human life. A formula for integrating the Spiritual into the physical. Even though some of the steps, as originally written, contain shaming and abusive wording, the Twelve Step process and the ancient Spiritual principles underlining it are invaluable tools in helping the individual being start down, and stay on, a path aligned with Truth.

It is out of the Twelve Step Recovery movement that our understanding of the dysfunctional nature of civilization has evolved. It is out of the Alcoholic Recovery movement that the term "Codependent" has emerged."

(Text in this color is used for quotes from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls by Robert Burney)
This index page lists, describes, and give quotes from the Joy2MeU pages which are focused directly on alcoholism and 12 step recovery tools.
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The Dance of Wounded Souls
Joyously inspirational Spiritual book - Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls
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In late December of 2008, as I was working on some of the new sites we are launching in relationship to Robert Burney, I decided to make some changes in this index page for the Alcoholism and Twelve Step Recovery section of my web site.  I am adding an excerpt from an article that I published in November of 2008 on the Law of Attraction, because in the first part of that web article I talk about Twelve Step recovery as I approach my 25th anniversary clean and sober.  What follows is that excerpt.

The Law of Attraction - Misunderstood & Misinterpreted

"On January 3rd of 2009 I will have 25 years in twelve step recovery - a quarter century clean and sober.   An amazing miracle.  I have scheduled one of my Intensive workshops for that day - because it is the Saturday after New Years and fits into my practice of scheduling the workshops on Holiday weekends.  When I discovered that Saturday was the 3rd, I smiled and took it as a perfect part of the Divine Plan.  Perhaps some of you will join me on that day to celebrate that anniversary.;-)

Anyway, when I first got into 12 step recovery in January 1984, I  didn't want to hear anything about God or anything that sounded religious because of the shaming religion that I had grown up in.  It was the twelve step concept of a 'Higher Power of my own understanding' that made it possible for me to start learning how to live life based upon Spiritual Principles - aka Metaphysical Law.

"Basically, the reason that life as it is experienced by humans is so messed up, is because we have been dancing to the wrong music.  We have had our dance of life defined by fear and shame, by lack, scarcity, and separation.  The Twelve Step process helps us to change our relationship with life and self - it helps us learn to dance with music that is aligned with Love and Joy and Truth.  That is what is so miraculous and awesome about the twelve step recovery process - it helps us to enjoy our dance.

The True meaning and purpose of life is Spiritual in my opinion.  I know that when I started living life from that perspective - the perspective I learned from working a 12 step program - was the first time that life made any sense to me.  The twelve steps work to help us align with what I believe is Metaphysical Truth.  The basic steps of that dance are 1, 2, 3, - and once we start to get into the rhythm of that Spiritual dance we start to live life in alignment with the Metaphysical Truth contained in the Serenity Prayer.  It is the beginning of transformation.  It is the path home to Love."- The Miracle of The Twelve Step Recovery Process: The first three steps

Unfortunately there is still wide misunderstanding about the 12 step programs - including people who claim it is a cult.  I received a hate e-mail last week (October 2008) from someone who said I should be taken out and shot for misleading people - and included a link to a site that claims Alcoholics Anonymous is cult.  It is sad that someone has been so wounded in their experience of AA that they would send this kind of profanity laced threat.  Unfortunately the way the 12 steps are practiced in AA - and sometimes in other 12 step programs - can manifest in ways that are not aligned with the Spiritual Principles that are the True foundation the 12 step process.

"The underlining dynamic of codependency is black and white thinking.  Drinking or not drinking is a black and white issue.  Thus many recovering alcoholics can stop drinking while still empowering the black and white thinking of codependency.  Many recovering alcoholics are rigid in their perspective and don't ever do the emotional healing of their childhood wounds because they tell themselves it is not necessary to sobriety - and they are scared to death of their own emotions on a subconscious level.  Some of the most wounded codependents I know have 30 or 40 years sober and have never addressed their emotional issues - while justifying their rigidity as doing AA the "right" way.

According to this "old time" AA perspective, "outside issues" should not be discussed in AA meetings.  There are many suffering codependents in AA who are not open minded enough to realize that Bill Wilson - one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous - would have loved to have had the tools we have available to us today.  He would have run to an Adult Children of Alcoholics or Co-Dependents Anonymous meeting where he could have found the roots of the depression which tormented him.  The suffering codependents in AA are terrified that if they don't follow a rigid formula - the "right" way - in their recovery, they will end up drinking again." - Inspiration from the Big Book of Alcoholic Anonymous
There are also people who don't understand the concepts of powerlessness and surrender - which in the 12 step process are applied in a way that helps people align with Metaphysical Law.

"Twelve step recovery is a program of empowerment.  Many people erroneously assume that the fact that first step involves admitting powerlessness means that 12 step recovery disempowers people. The Truth is exactly the opposite.

It was only when I admitted that I was powerless to control my drinking that I gained the power to stop drinking.  As long as I was trying to control my drinking out of ego and will power, I was powerless to stop drinking alcoholically.  It was when I opened up to getting help from a power greater than myself that I gained the power to transform my life. . . .

. . . . If I had been told in January 1984, at the beginning of my recovery from alcoholism, that the only way I could quit killing myself with alcohol was to accept the standard version of "God" - I would never have gotten sober.  I would have been dead long ago.  But what I was told, was that I needed to find a concept of a Higher Power that worked for me - a Higher Power of my own understanding.   That was what saved my life - the revolutionary concept that I could develop my own idea of a Higher Power, and develop a personal relationship with that Higher Power that did not have to conform to what anyone else believed." - A Higher Power of my own understanding 2 - the beginning of empowerment

As I state so often in my writing and in my book, in order to change our relationship with anything, we need to change our perspective of it.

"Perspective is a key to Recovery.  I had to change and enlarge my perspectives of myself and my own emotions, of other people, of God and of this life business.  Our perspective of life dictates our relationship with life.  We have a dysfunctional relationship with life because we were taught to have a dysfunctional perspective of this life business, dysfunctional definitions of who we are and why we are here." - Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

The perspective I was taught of God growing up was abusive and punishing.  The idea that I could find a concept of a Higher Power that was Loving was incredibly liberating.

"The thing that made it possible for me to start getting honest with myself and to start being willing to surrender was the possibility that there might be a Loving Higher Power.  When I first came to the program I would not even use the word God - and thought that these people must be a bunch of religious fanatics.  I wanted nothing to do with God because I had been Spiritually, emotionally, and mentally abused in childhood with a concept of God that was vengeful and punishing.  I had my sexuality abused by a shame based religion that taught me that God would send me to burn in hell forever for even thinking about sex.

Is it any wonder that I didn't want to surrender to God as I understood 'him.' "The Miracle of The Twelve Step Recovery Process: The first three steps

I count my conscious codependency recovery as starting on the day that I realized that my relationship with myself and life was still being dictated subconsciously by the image of God as I had been led to understand 'him' in childhood - even though I had personally discarded that concept consciously in my late teens.  The religion I was subjected to in childhood taught me that life was about sin and punishment - and I was a sinner who deserved to be punished. (The Story of "Joy to You & Me")  That day (June 3rd, 1986) was the day that I really got on a gut level something that I had heard and known intellectually - that the Law that governs life is cause and effect, not sin and punishment.  That was the day that I made a conscious decision to do whatever it took to change the subconscious and emotional programming that had caused me to live life in a really painful, unloving way.

Given the freedom to search for a concept of a Higher Power that was Loving and on my side - instead of lurking in the shadows waiting to punish me for being human - started me on a quest to find out how there could possibly be a Loving Higher Power in the Universe." - The Law of Attraction - Misunderstood & Misinterpreted  
Pages that focus on alcoholism, how codependence relates to alcoholism, and the principles and tools of the twelve step process.

Alcoholism and Codependence - Two Fatal Diseases

The Death of an Alcoholic  -  An article about a friend of Robert Burney - who was also named Robert.  "My friend Robert was one more of the many Alcoholics to die of Codependency."
Questions about Alcoholism - Answers to some questions about alcoholism. "The most Loving thing friends and families can do for an alcoholic is to quit enabling them by rescuing them from consequences."
Grave Emotional and Mental Disorders - An article about "grave emotional and mental disorders" which is AA language for Codependence. "Bill Wilson would have loved to have had the tools we have available to us today. He would have run to an ACA or CoDA meeting because that is where he could have found the roots of the depression which tormented him."

Expectations & Serenity -  A column about how it is very difficult to have any serenity if our expectations are not realistic.  "By having expectations I was giving power away. In order to become empowered I had to own that I had choices about how I viewed life, about my expectations."

Gratitude  -  A column about how gratitude is one of the most important tools in the recovery process.  "Ninety-eight per cent of the time when I am in fear it means that I am in the future.  Pulling myself back into the now, turning the future over to my Higher Power, and focusing on gratitude, frees me to have some happy moments today."

(The pages above are linked together so that you may go from one to the next in the order listed - those below are also.)

The Miracle of The Twelve Step Process:

The Miracle of The Twelve Step Process - The twelve steps are a formula for finding some Spiritual integration and emotional balance in life.  "I am profoundly, deeply, everlastingly grateful for the gift of the 12 steps.  The process of learning to apply the Spiritual Principles in my life has changed my life from an unendurable hell to an adventure that is exciting and enJoyable most of the time."

The first three steps -1, 2, 3, and a 1, 2, 3 - the Recovery 3 Step.  "When I first came to the program I would not even use the word God - and thought that these people must be a bunch of religious fanatics."

4 thru 9 "The Clean Up Steps." - Step 4 inventory. - Step 4 is where we start getting honest with our self and taking responsibility for our side of the street.  "I hate the term "defects of character."  There could be no better term to describe toxic shame.  That is what I felt most of my life - that I was somehow defective, that something was wrong with who I am."

4 thru 9 "The Clean Up Steps." - These are the "house cleaning" steps, where we can start seeing the past more clearly so that we can identify our patterns, uncover our denial, and learn how to take responsibility for our lives.  "The old adage "that you are as sick as your secrets" has a great deal of Truth in it.  The reason it is so important to bring our secrets to the Light is because they are hurting us."

10 thru 12 - The Maintenance Steps - These three steps are vital in working an ongoing spiritual program, an active and successful recovery program. "It is very common when applying the tenth step in our life to make an amends for our part in an incident at the same time we set a boundary with another person in regard to their part."

For more information on the twelve step process see Powerlessness & Empowerment and the article Co-Creation: Owning your Power to Manifest Love which contains a significant section on early alcoholism recovery.

A series of articles on applying the Serenity Prayer in one's life can be found in the Spiritual Belief section.  For the history of how the concept of codependence grew out of the alcoholism recovery movement see the Codependence page The evolution of of the term Codependence.  There is also a series of articles about my quest for a Higher Power of My Own Understanding that starts with A Higher Power of my own understanding.

August 25, 2003, I have added two articles originally published on Suite101 to this site:

To Parents of Alcoholics / Addicts -  An article written in answer to an email from a parent who wanted to know if she caused her son's drug addiction. "Parents do not cause their children to become alcoholics - or drug addicts.  Alcoholism / addiction is not caused by environmental factors.  It is a physiological, genetic allergy - a hereditary predisposition involving brain chemistry."

Enabling & Rescuing vs Tough Love - A follow up article to the one to parents of alcoholics / addicts, explaining enabling and tough love.  "A person who is acting out self destructively has no reason to change if they do not ever suffer major consequences for their behavior.  If they are rescued from consequences, they are enabled to continue practicing their addiction."

Robert added thoughts about his recovery on this page A Higher Power of my own understanding 2 - the beginning of empowerment on the occasion of his Sobriety Birthdays in 2010 and 2012.
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Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls by Robert Burney is copyright 1995.  Material on Joy2MeU web site (except where otherwise noted) is copyright 1996 thru 2018 by Robert Burney  PO Box 1028  Cambria CA 93428

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.