"At the core of the disease of codependency is toxic shame - the feeling that something is wrong with who I am, with my being. The feeling that we are somehow unlovable and unworthy, inherently defective, is at the heart of the fear of intimacy defenses that our ego's adapted to protect our hearts in early childhood. "I am unlovable and it is my fault" - is the core lie of codependency."On this page is an article by inner child healing pioneer / Spiritual Teacher / codependency therapist on his fear of emotional intimacy defenses.
"I have stated in numerous places in my writing that I believe that romantic relationships are the greatest arena for Spiritual and emotional growth available to us - because they are the ones that push all of our emotional buttons, trigger all of our deepest wounds. I have been in conscious codependency recovery for many years, but I have had relatively little experience in romantic relationships because of the relationship phobia I talked about in my May column: Fear of Intimacy - Relationship Phobia
It was because of that relationship phobia that I didn't understand my fear of intimacy defenses - had not had the opportunity to work through the layers of the defenses in an actual relationship experience - enough to be able to stop them from causing me to sabotage the relationship that began in December of last year."
"Underneath the gatekeeper that was guarding my heart to protect me from being hurt by others, was the toxic shame that was a deeper level of my gatekeeper - that was keeping me from opening my heart to myself on the kind of powerful and transformational levels that were in balance with the magnificent way I had opened my heart to Love another. Truly insidious and baffling and powerful is this condition of codependency.
But my codependency recovery has helped me to keep stripping away the levels of dishonesty - the rationalization and denial and justification - that the critical parent voice creates to hide the real reason I was behaving the way I was. It helped me to stop focusing so much on her and her part in things, and bring the focus back to me and my part in things - so that I could take responsibility for my side of the street and uncover the real reasons for my codependent behavior."
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|This ia an article that is part of a series of articles
which were focused upon issues involving gender, sexuality, romantic relationships,
and directly related topics. This article Codependent Defenses - Part 3 My Gatekeeper was
originally published online October 31, 2004 on Robert's Inner Child / Codependency
Recovery page on the Suite101.com Directory - which he wrote monthly column
for from March 1999 until October 2005. There is a list of - and links
to - the other articles in this series on Suite 101 on the Suite101 Articles page.
The original article was used to create this page on Joy2MeU in May of 2007.
"The hardest thing for any of us to do is to have compassion for ourselves. As children we felt responsible for the things that happened to us. We blamed ourselves for the things that were done to us and for the deprivations we suffered. There is nothing more powerful in this transformational process than being able to go back to that child who still exists within us and say, "It wasn't your fault. You didn't do anything wrong, you were just a little kid."
To be able to say "I Love you" to the child/children within us, and to the person who we are today, and really mean it on an emotional level, is one of the goals of this process."
I saw the movie Ray yesterday - the story of Ray Charles. An excellent movie that will undoubtedly receive lots of Academy Award nominations - including for best actor. The reason I mention this, is because there was one specific point in the movie that hit me with great emotional force - that triggered some deep grief energy within me. It involved a vision that Ray had when he was struggling to kick addiction to heroin. In that scene both his deceased mother and brother appeared to him. His brother who had died in childhood with Ray watching unable to help him, said to Ray in this vision, "It wasn't your fault."
At the core of the disease of codependency is toxic shame - the feeling that something is wrong with who I am, with my being. The feeling that we are somehow unlovable and unworthy, inherently defective, is at the heart of the fear of intimacy defenses that our ego's adapted to protect our hearts in early childhood. "I am unlovable and it is my fault" - is the core lie of codependency.
"One of the hardest things for any of us to do is to learn to have compassion for our self. In childhood we felt like it was our fault that our wounded parents treated us in the way they did. We felt that any abuse, deprivation, neglect, and/or abandonment (actual or emotional) was because there was something wrong with who we were - that we were defective or bad or evil or unlovable in some way. . . . I will be continuing the discussion of emotional intimacy in my columns here in the coming months - including sharing how my fear of intimacy caused me to sabotage my latest romantic relationship which in turn led to me opening my heart in a Truly magnificent way." - Emotional Intimacy = in to me seeThis months column is kind of a wrap of the series of articles focused on my fear of intimacy that I started in April of this year - although the first column I actually wrote as a direct result of the transformational relationship I have had the gift of being involved in this year was my March column.
"There are people whom we have a closer vibrational relationship to than other people - people who we can feel closer and more connected to within a few hours of meeting them than we do to people we have known our whole life. . . . . . . . There are always multiple levels of reality, of vibrational energy dynamics, involved in this human experience we are having. . . . . The Truth is that someone can feel familiar in a way that recreates our wounding with our parents / patterns - and be a soul mate also. In fact, it is inevitable that when we do meet someone who is our soul mate - or even more powerfully our twin soul - there will be Karma to settle." - Energetic Attraction - emotional familiarity or Karmic connection?Even before I had met in person the woman who was such a magnificent catalyst for my growth this year, such an amazing teacher for me in my recovery, I felt a powerful connection to her. When I did meet her on December 16th 2003, it was what I described as "thunderbolt experience" that took my breath away. This was a feeling of connection that involved much, much more than mere physical attraction - this was Truly a Cosmic and Karmic connection of great power.
I have stated in numerous places in my writing that I believe that romantic relationships are the greatest arena for Spiritual and emotional growth available to us - because they are the ones that push all of our emotional buttons, trigger all of our deepest wounds. I have been in conscious codependency recovery for many years, but I have had relatively little experience in romantic relationships because of the relationship phobia I talked about in my May column: Fear of Intimacy - Relationship Phobia
It was because of that relationship phobia that I didn't understand my fear of intimacy defenses - had not had the opportunity to work through the layers of the defenses in an actual relationship experience - enough to be able to stop them from causing me to sabotage the relationship that began in December of last year.
"I recently had the gift of being involved in a romantic relationship that helped me to open my heart in a way that I had never before been capable of doing in this lifetime. Unfortunately, when we first got involved I was still reacting to old tapes that I hadn't yet been able to stop giving some power to. Those old tapes caused me to sabotage - and then end - the most Loving and nurturing relationship I have ever been involved in. . . . It was only after ending it that I was able to get in touch with the fact that what needed to change was me. Recognizing what I had done was the shock to my system that I needed to look at and start changing the old tapes that were blocking me from opening my heart. I was then able to open my heart to Loving myself and the other person in Truly magnificent ways." - June 2004: Emotional Intimacy - A romantic tragedy / a Spiritual TransformationIt was Truly magnificent, amazing, and awe inspiring to me, for me to open my heart to Love in a way I had never experienced in my life. To break through what I thought were the most formidable, entrenched blocks to intimacy - to opening my heart to another human being - is the single most powerful and transformational experience I have had in my life. I was Truly in awe of what I discovered about my own capacity for Love, for Loving.
That was when the truly insidious nature of my codependency really kicked in. Once I had gotten past the huge, obvious defenses to intimacy, the more subtle and deeper levels of my wounding started to cause me to behave in ways that would sabotage my ongoing relationship with her. That is, that after my fear of intimacy defenses against opening my heart to another person had caused me to sabotage and end our original relationship, then the core wounding / the toxic shame caused me - even after I had opened my heart to her - to sabotage the possibility of reconnecting with her on a romantic level.
"In this relationship, I started out in the role of counterdependent with her being the codependent - and then it switched. . . . . . My dysfunctional "destination thinking" kept me reacting from a place of thinking that if she could just open her heart in the way I had, then we could be together in a wonderful way - a version of happily-ever-after. I would fall into pushing - campaigning - for the destination I wanted which would sabotage being able to be present and enJoy what we had in the moment because it would push her into her counterdependent reaction of running away and thinking she needed to banish me from her life." - July 2004: Enjoying the Journey - a Birthday MiracleI fell into a horrible codependent trap. I was behaving towards her in ways that were not Loving in order to try to convince her of how much I Loved her and how wonderful we could be together if she could get past her fear of intimacy.
"She however, who had been totally committed to the relationship as long as I was still somewhat emotionally unavailable, was afraid of my new capacity to Love. She hadn't opened her heart to herself yet, so she was afraid of me being available to Truly Love her in healthier ways that she had ever known - in healthier ways than I had ever been capable of. In the attempts we made to reconnect, she kept reacting to her old tapes that told her that she was not deserving of my love, that she would fail me if she gave me another chance to be in relationship with her." - June 2004 Emotional Intimacy - A romantic tragedy / a Spiritual TransformationWhat I said in this quote from my June articles is the truth - she was reacting to her own fear of intimacy and betrayal issues, and to the toxic shame at the core of her relationship with her self. And I could see that in her clearly - and kept trying to help her understand. But in that June column I was still not seeing my self clearly - was not owning my responsibility in what was happening.
I was behaving in ways that gave her good reason to pull back - so that at the same time she was reacting to her wounds, she was taking care of her self by pulling back from my unhealthy behavior. I got past the gatekeeper that was guarding my heart from opening to another being, but then the gatekeeper that was guarding me from opening my heart to my self caused me to focus upon and blame her gatekeeper for keeping her unavailable to me in the ways I wanted her to be available. As I said in one place in my processing about all of this, it is like I pushed her into a corner and then in effect judged and blamed her for being in a corner.
Even though I was starting to see my part in things more clearly in July, I was still primarily blaming her gatekeeper when I wrote my August article about the Gatekeeper
"The woman I was involved with this year was a quantum leap forward in terms of my patterns. She was not mean and abusive. . . . Her patterns were similar to mine in that she was either people pleasing and being deprived and abused or running away - so the fact that she hung in there with me so long and was willing to confront issues and work through them was great. I believe that the reason she hung in there for so long is because of the powerful level of soul connection between us - a connection that her Gatekeeper puts in a great deal of energy denying . . . She has run away now - and may never come back, which is very sad to me. But I am still incredibly grateful for all that I have learned from what has been the most powerful and authentic emotionally intimate relationship I have ever had the privilege of experiencing with anyone. . . . . Writing this has given me some more insights into my gatekeeper defenses. I will explore this topic further next month." - August 2004: Codependent Defenses - Part 1 The GatekeeperShe did react to her wounds and run away - but she was also responding to unhealthy and imbalanced behavior on my part. Underneath the gatekeeper that was guarding my heart to protect me from being hurt by others, was the toxic shame that was a deeper level of my gatekeeper - that was keeping me from opening my heart to myself on the kind of powerful and transformational levels that were in balance with the magnificent way I had opened my heart to Love another. Truly insidious and baffling and powerful is this condition of codependency.
But my codependency recovery has helped me to keep stripping away the levels of dishonesty - the rationalization and denial and justification - that the critical parent voice creates to hide the real reason I was behaving the way I was. It helped me to stop focusing so much on her and her part in things, and bring the focus back to me and my part in things - so that I could take responsibility for my side of the street and uncover the real reasons for my codependent behavior.
The real reason - the bottom line reason - was toxic shame. In next months column, I will talk about what I discovered about my gatekeeper - the power of my toxic shame - as I stripped away the layers to get more honest with myself so I could take responsibility for my part in sabotaging the possibilities presented by this relationship experience.
For more articles on Romantic relationships, see the Relationship section.
"As long as we are judging and shaming ourselves we are giving power to the disease. We are feeding the monster that is devouring us.
We need to take responsibility without taking the blame. We need to own and honor the feelings without being a victim of them.
We need to rescue and nurture and Love our inner children - and STOP them from controlling our lives. STOP them from driving the bus! Children are not supposed to drive, they are not supposed to be in control.
And they are not supposed to be abused and abandoned. We have been doing it backwards. We abandoned and abused our inner children. Locked them in a dark place within us. And at the same time let the children drive the bus - let the children's wounds dictate our lives."
"As long as we are reacting to old wounds and old tapes we cannot respond to the now. The more we heal, the more responsibility we have - that is, ability to respond. The ability to respond in the moment.
By honoring and releasing the sadness and the pain and the anger we can get to the Joy and the Love and the Peace."
(All quotes in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls)I ended up last month's column with this paragraph.
"The real reason - the bottom line reason - was toxic shame. In next months column, I will talk about what I discovered about my gatekeeper - the power of my toxic shame - as I stripped away the layers to get more honest with myself so I could take responsibility for my part in sabotaging the possibilities presented by this relationship experience."
First of all, I want to mention how important it is to be willing to take an objective look at my own side of the street. To not buy into the black and white thinking of the disease which used to cause me to try to blame everything on the other person or blame everything on myself. The Truth is always in the gray area in between. In other words, some of it was my responsibility because of what I was doing to sabotage the relationship - and some of it was hers because of her reactions out of her old tapes and old wounds.
It is really vital to be willing to do some processing about what has happened - in order to understand it better. And processing is much more than thinking about it. As I tell people all the time, it is important to write, or talk out loud, about what happened in order to get in touch with the feelings. Just thinking about things does not necessarily get the emotional energy moving - does not get us in touch with our feelings. (And when I say talk out loud I mean in a 12 step meeting setting, or to a friend or therapist who will give us feedback when they notice codependent rationalizing going on - not the kind of talking many codependents do, that is complaining to friends who will just endorse their behavior and be allies in agreeing that it was all the other person's fault.)
Being willing to process through what has happened and take inventory of my side of the street has been a key to being able to keep growing and learning for me.
"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.
In learning how to achieve some emotional balance in our lives, it is necessary to be able to look at our self, our own inner process, and the life dynamic itself, from different perspectives. It is this looking at different levels that is the process of processing. Processing is a matter of looking at, filtering, discerning, getting clear about what is happening at any given moment in our relationship with life, with ourselves, with everything that is stimulating us." - The Recovery Process for inner child healing: Part 1 Sharing experience, strength, and hope, taking action
There are always multiple levels to anything that is happening - and it is very important to look past the surface level to get to the cause (s) underneath. The venue that has been so valuable for me in getting clear on what is happening / has happened in my life has been writing for the personal journal I share in my Joy2MeU Journal.
As I said in last month's article.
"But my codependency recovery has helped me to keep stripping away the levels of dishonesty - the rationalization and denial and justification - that the critical parent voice creates to hide the real reason I was behaving the way I was. It helped me to stop focusing so much on her and her part in things, and bring the focus back to me and my part in things - so that I could take responsibility for my side of the street and uncover the real reasons for my codependent behavior." - Codependent Defenses - Part 3 My Gatekeeper
It was in processing through the events that had occurred - stripping away the layers - by writing about them in my journal that I uncovered the deeper reason that I had been sabotaging the relationship.
"I hate this!!! My fear of the outcome caused me to behave in ways that made that outcome inevitable. SHIT!!!!! This goes back to a pattern that I recognized in 1986 - on the day I count as the start of my conscious codependency recovery - when I recognized that I had a pattern of sabotaging good things in my life because I couldn't stand the suspense of waiting for that judgmental, punishing god I learned about in childhood, to take whatever it was away from me because I was unworthy." - Joy2MeU Journal Mini Newsletter September 2004
In the premier issue of that Journal, I shared some stories from the early years of my codependency recovery - including what I realized in the writing I did on the day I count as the beginning of my conscious codependency recovery.
"I realized that the belief that "life was about sin and punishment and I was a sinner who deserved to be punished" was running my life. When I felt "bad" or "bad" things happened to me - I tried to blame it on others to keep from realizing how much I was hating myself for being flawed and defective, a sinner. When I felt good or good things happened I was holding my breath because I knew it would be taken away because I didn't deserve it. Often when things got too good I would sabotage it because I couldn't stand the suspense of waiting for god to take it away - which "he" would because I didn't deserve it." - Joy2MeU Journal The Story of "Joy to You & Me"
Getting in touch with the deeper layer of wounding was the key to stopping the behavior that I had been powerless over - the behavior of pushing for a destination because of my fear of being rejected / abandoned / betrayed / banished.
"I knew deep down that the relationship was doomed until / unless she opened her heart - but that I was not capable of letting go of it due to some powerlessness on my part (that I will discuses later) that was a perfect part of the unfolding adventure. It was that deep level of Knowing that caused me to have so much fear of what I knew was inevitably going to happen. (I am talking here about a level where I was conscious that she needed to make a shift within her relationship with self or our relationship was doomed - this is not the same thing as the old pattern I uncovered in the mini-newsletter where my ego programming felt that it was inevitable that I would be rejected because of my unworthiness.)" - Joy2MeU Journal The Path of one Recovering Codependent ~ the dance of one wounded soul ~ Dance 39
The fear that being rejected was inevitable was very similar, the same kind of theme, as "the relationship was doomed unless she opened her heart" - but they were different levels of my reality.
While the doomed feeling was a pretty accurate interpretation of the reality of what was happening in my interaction with another being whom I was powerless over - the inevitable feeling was coming from deep within me. The feeling that rejection was inevitable was a very deep level of my wounding which I do have some power over - once I got in touch with it through my writing / processing.
Thus when I got another opportunity to interact with her in the last half of October and early November I was able to clean up my side of the street. To not allow the fears generated by the toxic shame at the core of my codependency to cause me to sabotage things. Unfortunately she was still reacting to her terror of her own issues and feelings - and to the toxic shame at the core of her relationship with her self. I gained the power to change my behavior, but I was still powerless over her codependency.
In June 2010 I was fixing an article (that was part of the same series as this one) which had a bad link in it and ended up adding the following paragraph at the bottom of the page as a way of bringing things up to date.
"The relationships in 2003 and 2004 (which I referred to here as an authentic experience) is something I refer to in a later Update Newsletter in 2007: "That was followed by a relationship experience in the Spring of 2003. It was a long distance relationship that included two short visits by the woman to Cambria - and was about 95% fantasy and 5 % relationship. (As opposed to the relationship in 2004 with my "twin soul" delusion, which was about 80% fantasy and 20% reality.)" Those two experiences prepared me for the reality of the relationship that started in 2005 (the history of which is probably best understood on the page about my step grandson Darien.) We just celebrated 5 years together and decided today (as I update this page to fix a bad link) that we are going to formalize our commitment to the relationship. - RB 6/20/10"
We did formalize our commitment by getting engaged shortly after I added this paragraph to my article Setting Internal Boundaries in relationship to Romantic, Sexual Relationships.
In this Gatekeeper article I say that I Truly opened my heart in the relationship in 2004 - and that may have been true as far as I was capable of it at the time, but it was really nothing compared to where I have gone since then. In fact, my Higher Power had to trick me into believing the person I was involved with in 2004 was my twin soul in order to prepare me for the relationship that I am in now. I am adding this addendum to this page in August 2010 in order to bring it up to date as far at the personal references I make within the article. ~ Robert 8/13/10
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Codependent Defenses - Part 3
My Gatekeeper was originally published online October 31, 2004
on the Inner Child / Codependency Recovery topic page Robert used to write
for the Suite101.com Directory.