"Willard F. Harley, Jr. reveals himself to be a raving codependent in his article "How the Co-dependency Movement Is Ruining Marriages" - in my opinion. So, I have been moved to post a web page here on Joy2MeU in direct response to the misinformation and ignorance that this man shows in his article on codependency - and also to use this as an example of how therapists and counselors (and sponsors as well) who are invested in a polarized belief system are set up to try to force their agenda on the people they work with. A counselor as codependent as this person seems to be from his article, will cajole, manipulate, and bully the people they work with to do what the codependent counselor believes is "right." And will then shame and abuse the people they are supposed to be helping if they do not meet the agenda he projects onto them. It is a sad fact that far too many counselors and therapists in our dysfunctional society are not in recovery from their childhood issues / codependency - and are being codependent, and sometimes abusive, in their counseling / therapy."On this page Spiritual teacher/codependency therapist responds to an internet article that claims the codependency movement is ruining marriage.
"Codependency is a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Codependence as Delayed Stress Syndrome) which was adapted in early childhood to survive the emotional pain we experienced. (Loving the Wounded Child Within) Since we did not have the tools and knowledge we needed to heal our wounds, we were forced to use denial and unconsciousness to deal with the pain of being human.
Codependency can be described in a variety of ways - looking at it from different levels, different perspectives (What is codependency / codependence ?) - but the one I just referenced in part above is a good one. Codependency is a compulsively reactive condition which is the result of growing up in emotionally dishonest, Spiritually hostile, shame based environment. Spiritually hostile in my definition meaning: based upon belief in separation (from our Source, from other people, from nature) - instead of connection to everyone and everything. Shame based meaning, founded upon the belief that humans are inherently flawed and defective, shameful.
The Magnificent Spiritual Being who is inhabiting the body of Dr. Willard F. Harley, Jr. in this lifetime, exhibits his shame programming with his statement that we do not have worth just because we exist. He believes that a human has to earn worth. I strongly disagree."
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The codependency movement is NOT ruining marriages!
I am putting this web article together in response to an article called "How the Co-dependency Movement Is Ruining Marriages" by a marriage counselor named Willard F. Harley, Jr. - who has a web site called Marriage Builders (http://www.marriagebuilders.com/ )
I first wrote a response to this sadly misinformed article in 1998 on a Question and Answer page on my original web site. That site http://www.silcom.com/~joy2meu/ is still in existence - as are those question and answer pages - though that original site now contains maybe half of the pages that are on Joy2MeU. The Q & A pages were something I started when I began getting a lot of e-mail questions, and had to find a way to have some boundaries with myself about how I utilized my time. Instead of just replying to the questions individually, I started posting pages with the questions and answers so that other people could also benefit from them. Those question and answer pages are some of the hand full of pages from my original site that I did not move to this domain site Joy2MeU.com when I started it in February 1999. They were pretty loosely written - in terms of how much I was paying attention to punctuation and such niceties - and many different pieces of the information were becoming part of new pages as the web site expanded. I eventually adapted answers from those Q & A pages to create two web pages on Joy2MeU - Jesus & Mary Magdalene and Buddhism.
The thought of making a web page based upon the answer on my Q & A page about this article, has been in the back of my mind for a while. I did, in fact, mention it in passing in one of the articles of my Inner Child Healing series that I wrote for my suite101 page about a year ago. In the past week the issue surfaced again because my attention was drawn to this person's web site several times. He has extensive discussion lists dispensing his advice on how to save marriages - and still has this article posted to give insight into his belief system.
Willard F. Harley, Jr. reveals himself to be a raving codependent in his article "How the Co-dependency Movement Is Ruining Marriages" - in my opinion. So, I have been moved to post a web page here on Joy2MeU in direct response to the misinformation and ignorance that this man shows in his article on codependency - and also to use this as an example of how therapists and counselors (and sponsors as well) who are invested in a polarized belief system are set up to try to force their agenda on the people they work with. A counselor as codependent as this person seems to be from his article, will cajole, manipulate, and bully the people they work with to do what the codependent counselor believes is "right." And will then shame and abuse the people they are supposed to be helping if they do not meet the agenda he projects onto them. It is a sad fact that far too many counselors and therapists in our dysfunctional society are not in recovery from their childhood issues / codependency - and are being codependent, and sometimes abusive, in their counseling / therapy.
The paragraph that originally appeared here, is now at the bottom of this page with an explanation of the work that grew out of this writing - and changes I am making to the later chapters in May 2003 - a little over a year after this page was originally published.
This is what I wrote for my Question and Answer page in 1998 (quote in green is the e-mail question, this color is used for quotes from his article.) The guy he cites - Dr. Edmund J. Bourne - is someone I have never heard of, and that article is no longer at the URL cited. I did some slight editing of this excerpt from the form it appears in on the Q & A page.
I found this, please read and tell me where the balance is in your opinion... http://www.marriagebuilders.com/graphic/mbi8110_cod.html
The article on this web page is called How the Co-dependency Movement Is Ruining Marriages by Willard F. Harley, Jr. - he quotes a definition by Dr. Edmund J. Bourne (http://www.npadnews.com/co-dep.htm ).
"Co-dependency can be defined as the tendency to put others needs before your own. You accommodate to others to such a degree that you tend to discount or ignore your own feelings, desires and basic needs. Your self-esteem depends largely on how well you please, take care of and/or solve problems for someone else (or many others)."
Which is an outdated and very inadequate (in my opinion) definition of codependency which describes the phenomena very poorly and completely ignores the counterdependency which is the other extreme of the disease spectrum. Willard F. Harley, Jr. says:
"I look at that definition and think of Mother Teresa, how co-dependent she must be. Not that I'm a Mother Teresa, but I certainly feel that I aspire to those objectives. What's wrong with being co-dependent? If we were all co-dependent, wouldn't this be a wonderful world?"
The guy who wrote this article does not understand codependence - and is in fact quite codependent himself.
Codependence is about giving power over our self-esteem to external conditions and/or outer forces (including other people) - being dependent on externals to determine how we feel about our self. That is dysfunctional. What we are striving for is to learn to be interdependent - to make allies, form partnerships - not make someone or something outside of us (i.e. popularity, career, money, etc.), or external to our being, our higher power that determines if we have self-worth. I have a column about the difference between co- and inter- on the Codependence vs Interdependence page.
Codependence is a disease of reversed focus - it is about focusing outside of ourselves for self-definition and self-worth. That sets us up to be a victim. We have worth because we are Spiritual Beings not because of how much money or success we have - or how we look or how smart we are. When self-worth is determined by looking outside it means we have to look down on someone else in order to feel good about ourselves - this is the cause of bigotry, racism, class structure, and Jerry Springer.
The goal is to focus on who we really are - get in touch with the Light and Love within us and then radiate that outward. I think that is what Mother Theresa did. I can't know for sure because I never met her, and it can be difficult to tell looking from the outside where a person's focus is. Mother Theresa could have been a raging codependent who was doing good on the outside in order to feel good about herself - or she could have been being True to her Self by accessing the Love and Light within and reflecting it outward. Either way the effect was that she did some great things - the difference would have been how she felt about herself at the deepest levels of her being - because it does not make any real difference how much validation we get from outside if we are not Loving ourselves. If I did not start working on knowing that I had worth as a Spiritual Being - that there is a Higher Power that Loves me - it would never have made any real difference how many people told me I was wonderful.
The guy who wrote the article says:
"What is self-esteem, anyway? It's feeling good about ourselves, feeling that we're okay. Getting back to my earlier question about the meaning of life, what do I have to feel good about? That I exist? No."
I say Yes - I can feel good because I exist and am connected to all things. This guy does not have any kind of Spiritual concept that says that people have worth simply because they exist.
"I don't give myself any credit for my existence. I feel good about the choices I make and what I can do. If I can't do anything, I'm certain I'd have no reason to have self-esteem. Self-esteem is not something that I need in order to be productive. It's being productive that gives me self-esteem."
This is a great example of how dysfunctional codependence is - if this guy has to be productive to feel good about himself then he is set up to feel like a victim when he isn't productive - if he were to get sick, or when he gets old - if he defines himself by what he does he is being codependent.
There is nothing wrong with being productive - if we feel good about ourselves the chances are we will be doing service or being productive in some way - because we know we are connected to others - so doing for them out of our self worth is healthy and is taking care of, doing for, our Self - while doing for them to gain self worth is codependent.
Which brings us to the reason that he is so upset with the codependence movement - he says it is wrecking marriages - he is a marriage counselor - he believes his purpose is to save the marriage (who is he to know if a marriage is worth saving - this is a great example of the kind of counselor who has an agenda - I have no doubt that this guy would be shaming and abusive in his counseling in order to get his patients to meet his agenda.) So it is interfering with his productivity and he is reacting from a victim perspective by blaming the codependency movement.
Links to the question and answer pages from my original site can be found on Joy to You & Me pages
I want to begin this section by saying, that I have no doubt that Dr. Harley has the best of intentions - and is a good person. I also have no doubt that he is severely codependent - or at least he had no consciousness of it when he wrote the article in question, and he still has it posted on his web site in April of 2002. The nature of codependency is that we unconsciously relate to life out of the programming that was adapted by our ego in early childhood - until we get into recovery from codependency and start awakening to consciousness.
Behavior wounds no matter how good intentions are
It was wounded people who had the best of intentions that most wounded us. There is a very telling statement in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous that was really a cover puller for me in early sobriety. It was a statement that said something like: "I always judged myself on my intentions, while other people judged me on my actions." The fact that I always intended to be a nice person and do the "right" thing was really immaterial - it was my actions, my behavior, that other people experienced.
It was the behavior of other people that wounded us - it doesn't really make any difference what their intentions were. In fact, knowing that they had the best of intentions sometimes makes it harder for us to own and honor our wounds - to own our self.
It is necessary to own and honor the child who we were in order to Love the person we are. And the only way to do that is to own that child's experiences, honor that child's feelings, and release the emotional grief energy that we are still carrying around.
(Text in this color is used for quotes from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls by Robert Burney)
We are all Magnificent Spiritual Beings who have been wounded by coming into human body in emotionally dishonest, Spiritually hostile environments. We were wounded in childhood and the defenses we adapted (our codependency) caused us to wound other people in our lives by the ways we reacted to protect ourselves.
Codependency is a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Codependence as Delayed Stress Syndrome) which was adapted in early childhood to survive the emotional pain we experienced. (Loving the Wounded Child Within) Since we did not have the tools and knowledge we needed to heal our wounds, we were forced to use denial and unconsciousness to deal with the pain of being human.
Codependency can be described in a variety of ways - looking at it from different levels, different perspectives (What is codependency / codependence ?) - but the one I just referenced in part above is a good one. Codependency is a compulsively reactive condition which is the result of growing up in an emotionally dishonest, Spiritually hostile, shame based environment. Spiritually hostile in my definition meaning: based upon belief in separation (from our Source, from other people, from nature) - instead of connection to everyone and everything. Shame based meaning: founded upon the belief that humans are inherently flawed and defective, shameful.
The Magnificent Spiritual Being who is inhabiting the body of Dr. Willard F. Harley, Jr. in this lifetime, exhibits his shame programming with his statement that we do not have worth just because we exist. He believes that a human has to earn worth. I strongly disagree.
Life is not some kind of test, that if we fail, we will be punished. We are not human creatures who are being punished by an avenging god. We are not trapped in some kind of tragic place out of which we have to earn our way by doing the "right" things.
We are Spiritual Beings having a human experience. We are here to learn. We are here to go through this process that is life. We are here to feel these feelings.
And there in lies the crux of our differences. The underlying belief systems are completely different - are in fact polar opposites. In my book Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls I use principles of Quantum Physics and Molecular Biology to try to impart some understanding of the Planetary Conditions that caused the condition of codependency - which I believe is the human condition as we have inherited it.
Beliefs dictate relationships"Due to the planetary conditions, the human ego developed a belief in separation - which is what made violence possible and caused the human condition as we inherited it. The reflection of that human condition on the individual level is the disease of Codependence. Codependence is caused by the ego being traumatized and programed in early childhood so that our relationship with ourselves and the God-Force is dysfunctional - that is, it does not work to help us access the Truth of ONENESS and Love. It is through healing our relationship with ourselves that we open our inner channel and start tuning into the Truth."The foundation belief system - the intellectual paradigm - we are empowering is what determines our perspective of life."Our intellectual paradigm - mental attitudes, definitions, and beliefs - determine our perspectives and expectations, which in turn dictate our relationships and emotional reactions. If our intellectual paradigm is limited - if we cannot imagine a larger perspective of life - than what we perceive is limited, is out of focus. If we cannot use our imagination to open up to different interpretations of what we are seeing, then we are wearing blinders - and can only see what we expect to see.Our definitions and beliefs about any concept / idea dictates and determines our relationship with it. The framework / context / perspective with which we are viewing anything, determines how we relate to that person, place, or thing.
As an example: A traditional therapist / psychologist / psychiatrist has a limited perspective that restricts them to labeling behaviors - that are symptoms and variations of codependency - in such a way that they fit into the boxes their intellectual paradigm dictates."Attack on America: A Spiritual Healing Perspective & Call for Higher Consciousness Chapter 8
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.
It is kind of like the old joke about three blind men describing an elephant by touch. Each one of them is telling his own Truth, they just have a lousy perspective. Codependence is all about having a lousy relationship with life, with being human, because we have a lousy perspective on life as a human.
We learned how to view, and relate to, life in early childhood from people who were wounded in their childhood. We learned how to relate to our self and other human beings as children.
We learned about life as children and it is necessary to change the way we intellectually view life in order to stop being the victim of the old tapes. By looking at, becoming conscious of, our attitudes, definitions, and perspectives, we can start discerning what works for us and what does not work. We can then start making choices about whether our intellectual view of life is serving us - or if it is setting us up to be victims because we are expecting life to be something which it is not.
One of the core characteristics of this disease of Codependence is intellectual polarization - black and white thinking. Rigid extremes - good or bad, right or wrong, love it or leave it, one or ten. Codependence does not allow any gray area - only black and white extremes.
Life is not black and white. Life involves the interplay of black and white. In other words, the gray area is where life takes place. A big part of the healing process is learning the numbers two through nine - recognizing that life is not black and white.
I not only disagree with Dr. Harley on the definition of codependency, I disagree with him about the meaning and purpose of life. I am going to touch on some different aspects of our differences in the course of this web article. I am going to look at it from different perspectives, on different levels. I am going to discuss some fundamental differences in our definitions about some very basic concepts, including: codependency, marriage, divorce, love, right and wrong,
I do not just have some different opinions and definitions than Dr. Harley, we have completely different world views. I live in a completely different world than Dr. Harley lives in because my relationship with life is so different. I am not writing this web article as an attack on him - although as codependent as he appears to be, he will no doubt take it personally. This does not really have anything to do with him personally - I am simply using him as a symbol for both the arrogant ignorance of the white male patriarchy and the dysfunctional nature of the traditional mental health system in this society. Since he is using the internet to expose his ignorance and limited intellectual paradigm, I am using him as a symbol to expose the dysfunction in the system he represents. It is most likely that the majority of therapists and counselors out there live in Dr. Harley's world. I want to warn people seeking help about counselors and therapists like him - and hopefully maybe even encourage some people in the helping professions to expand their consciousness and break out of the limited beliefs that plague our dysfunctional civilization.
The description of the Marriage Builders web site states: Dr. Willard F. Harley, Jr. has saved thousands of marriages from the pain of unresolved conflict and the disaster of divorce.
The Concept of Codependency
The first two paragraphs of his article state:
"Those of us in the business of trying to save marriages struggle daily with cultural beliefs and practices that make our job difficult. The sudden surge of divorces in the 1970's, that has made America the country with the highest divorce rate, has a great deal to do with changes in our basic beliefs. More to the point, it has to do with a major shift toward self-centeredness. Beliefs that encourage self-centeredness destroy marriage.
One of these is the belief that co-dependent behavior is self-defeating and that we should rid ourselves of it. It's a wolf in sheep's clothing and a marriage wrecker. I'll try to explain why I feel so strongly about this issue."
He then goes on to sarcastically pick apart a questionnaire that was included in the article he is using to define codependency. After using sarcasm to demolish the list and prove it inaccurate because he - a healthy person with a wonderful marriage - fits this definition which just goes to prove how mistaken the codependency movement is, he then concedes that the questionnaire fits people in relationships with someone who is addicted/alcoholic. He concludes:
"In my judgment, the co-dependency movement, which began with such valuable insight, has become a monster. In over-reaching, it has subjected healthy people to the same norms as unhealthy people, and in so doing, has caused much more harm than good. Married couples should be on guard from the ruinous effects of the co-dependency movement on marriage, especially if one of them suffers from anxiety or depression."
I was kind of shocked to see this article was still posted on his web site as an example of his beliefs. I would have hoped that he had learned some things in the years since he wrote this article.
The perspective of codependency that he is condemning is in fact, a reflection of a very early understanding of the phenomena, which did more accurately apply to someone who is in a relationship with an alcoholic/addict. The word codependency, and the codependency movement, has grown and evolved since that early understanding.
Here is a quote from my book that is included on my web page about The Evolution of the Term "Codependence":
The expanded usage of the term "Codependent" now includes counterdependent behavior. We have come to understand that both the passive and the aggressive behavioral defense systems are reactions to the same kinds of childhood trauma, to the same kinds of emotional wounds. The Family Systems Dynamics research shows that within the family system, children adopt certain roles according to their family dynamics. Some of these roles are more passive, some are more aggressive, because in the competition for attention and validation within a family system the children must adopt different types of behaviors in order to feel like an individual.
The term - which started out as co-alcoholic - has come to mean something quite different than what it was originally coined to describe. In fact, the word codependency or codependence is actually a lousy word to describe the phenomena that it has led us to discover.
Actually the term "Codependence" is an inaccurate and somewhat misleading term for the phenomenon it has come to describe. A more accurate term would be something like outer-dependence, or external dependence.
When I speak of someone being codependent, I am describing a phenomena where a person gives power over how they relate to self - allows their self definition and feelings of worth to be dictated by - external or outer conditions / forces / stimuli. We formed our core relationship with life - learned how to relate to self, to other people, and to life - in early childhood from people who were wounded and shamed in their childhood. Our relationship with self and life is dictated by the subconscious intellectual and emotional programming adapted by our egos in childhood. Until we become conscious of this basic human reality and start recovering from it - healing our emotional wounds and changing our intellectual programming - we live life reacting to our core programming.
We survived the environments we were raised in by adapting defenses to protect ourselves. The ways in which these defenses manifest behaviorally can look very different on the outside. Descriptions of these defenses can vary greatly depending on what they are being described in relationship to - but the underlying emotional dynamics are the same for all human beings.
In my article Roles In Dysfunctional Families I describe one way of looking at them (family hero, scapegoat, etc.) - while in the excerpt from my book on the page just quoted The Evolution of the Term "Codependence", I describe them in relationship to the terms aggressive and passive (ranging from bulldozers to martyrs.) The bottom line however, is that the different varieties of codependency are reactions to the same basic emotional wounds from childhood. They are defenses designed to help us survive. They are the ways we learned to try to control and manipulate our environments to protect us from emotional pain that felt life threatening."Attempts to control are a reaction to fear. It is what we do to try to protect ourselves emotionally. Some of us (classic codependent behavior) tried to control through people pleasing, being a chameleon, wearing a mask, dancing to other people's tunes. Some of us (classic counterdependent behavior) protected ourselves/tried to be in control by pretending that we didn't need other people. Either way we were living life in reaction to our childhood wounds - we were not making clear, conscious choices. (If our choice is to be in an abusive relationship or not to be in a relationship at all, that is not a choice - that is reacting between two extremes that are symptoms of our childhood wounds.)The definition Dr. Harley wrote his article in reaction to, is a very weak attempt to describe what I refer to as classic codependent behavior. Counterdependent behavior is just as much a part of the larger definition of codependency as the classic people pleaser, caretaker variety.
Both classic codependent and classic counterdependent behaviors are part of the condition/disease of codependency in my definition. They are just two different extremes in the spectrum of behavioral defense systems that the ego adapts in early childhood."Codependent Relationships Dynamics part 3 - Codependent & Counterdependent Behavior
The levels, varieties and permutations of codependency are also greatly influenced by another facet of the phenomena that very directly relates to Dr. Harley's perspective of codependency. This involves the differences in the way society has traditionally treated men and women. This is something that I described in the very first column I wrote for a local monthly alternative newspaper in February of 1996."Traditionally in this society women were taught to be codependent on - that is take their self-definition and self-worth from - their relationships with men, while men have been taught to be codependent on their success/career/work. That has changed somewhat in the past twenty or thirty years - but is still part of the reason that women have more of a tendency to sell their souls for relationships than men do. Codependence is all about giving outside or external influences power over our self-esteem. Everything outside of our 'self' - rather that is people, places and things or our own external appearance - has to do with ego-strength not self-worth. We all have equal Divine worth because we are transcendent Spiritual beings who are part of the ONENESS that is the Great Spirit/God-Force - not because of anything outside of us."The reason that Dr. Harley betrays his codependency in his statement about the need to be productive, is because that is how codependency has manifested in dysfunctional civilization - men were taught that their worth comes from being human doings, not human beings. Men are defined - and determine their worth - by what they do, their work, fulfilling their role as provider. A man can be a lousy father and husband - can be a really unpleasant and nasty human being - and still be considered successful and worthy of admiration in our dysfunctional society.
The traditional view of a male - female relationship is that: the male has worth because he does (brings home the bacon), and the woman has worth because she serves the male. Is this why Dr. Harley believes his marriage is such a success? I can't know that. It is possible that his wife is independent enough to have carved out a role for herself in their marriage that doesn't conform to the traditional model - and that he could be still be unconscious enough, his ego could be fortified enough by the feeling of superiority/worth he gets from what he does (being an "expert" marriage counselor), to have not integrated lessons learned in the evolution of his marriage into his fundamental belief system. Denial is an incredibly powerful survival tool. When someone is heavily invested in being right, they wear blinders that keep them from seeing any other possibility. What I do know is that an unconscious acceptance of traditional dysfunctional definitions dictates the way one relates to life, to women, and to the institution of marriage.
As I said above, the my differences with him in terms of our perspective of the concept of codependency, is a symptom of differences in the underlying belief systems. He believes that some people grew up in functional homes and are normal healthy people. I believe that all families are dysfunctional to some degree - because civilized societies are emotionally dishonest and dysfunctional.
In this society, in a general sense, the men have been traditionally taught to be primarily aggressive, the "John Wayne" syndrome, while women have been taught to be self-sacrificing and passive. But that is a generalization; it is entirely possible that you came from a home where your mother was John Wayne and your father was the self-sacrificing martyr.
The point that I am making is that our understanding of Codependence has evolved to realizing that this is not just about some dysfunctional families - our very role models, our prototypes, are dysfunctional.
Our traditional cultural concepts of what a man is, of what a woman is, are twisted, distorted, almost comically bloated stereotypes of what masculine and feminine really are. A vital part of this healing process is finding some balance in our relationship with the masculine and feminine energy within us, and achieving some balance in our relationships with the masculine and feminine energy all around us. We cannot do that if we have twisted, distorted beliefs about the nature of masculine and feminine.
When the role model of what a man is does not allow a man to cry or express fear; when the role model for what a woman is does not allow a woman to be angry or aggressive - that is emotional dishonesty. When the standards of a society deny the full range of the emotional spectrum and label certain emotions as negative - that is not only emotionally dishonest, it creates emotional disease.
If a culture is based on emotional dishonesty, with role models that are dishonest emotionally, then that culture is also emotionally dysfunctional, because the people of that society are set up to be emotionally dishonest and dysfunctional in getting their emotional needs met.
What we traditionally have called normal parenting in this society is abusive because it is emotionally dishonest. Children learn who they are as emotional beings from the role modeling of their parents. "Do as I say - not as I do," does not work with children. Emotionally dishonest parents cannot be emotionally healthy role models, and cannot provide healthy parenting.
I will address those traditional roles, and beliefs about the "institution" of marriage, in other parts of this article when I look in more depth at the masculine/feminine dynamic as it has evolved in patriarchal civilization. I want to wrap up this page by emphasizing how vital it is to start becoming conscious of how our early childhood experiences have dictated our lives.
"When we were 3 or 4 we couldn't look around us and say, "Well, Dad's a drunk and Mom is real depressed and scared - that is why it feels so awful here. I think I'll go get my own apartment."We were forced to disassociate from our self in early childhood because of the emotional pain. This is true rather we came from an overtly dysfunctional family or from what appeared to be a healthy, loving family. Those of us that came from families that looked good on the outside - and didn't have some overt, easily identified dysfunction - often have a much harder time getting a handle on our wounding because it was much more subtle. That does not make it any less damaging. Dysfunctional cultural beliefs and emotional dishonesty wounded our parents and they wounded us with their behavior - no matter how wonderful their intentions were.
Our parents were our higher powers. We were not capable of understanding that they might have problems that had nothing to do with us. So it felt like it was our fault.
We formed our relationship with ourselves and life in early childhood. We learned about love from people who were not capable of loving in a healthy way because of their unhealed childhood wounds. Our core / earliest relationship with our self was formed from the feeling that something is wrong and it must be me. At the core of our being is a little kid who believes that he/she is unworthy and unlovable. That was the foundation that we built our concept of "self" on.
. . . . . . . It is not only dysfunctional, it is ridiculous to maintain that what happened in our childhood did not affect our adult life. We have layer upon layer of denial, emotional dishonesty, buried trauma, unfulfilled needs, etc., etc. Our hearts were broken, our spirit's wounded, our minds programmed dysfunctionally. The choices we have made as adults were made in reaction to our childhood wounds / programming - our lives have been dictated by our wounded inner children."
On an emotional level the dance of Recovery is owning and honoring the emotional wounds so that we can release the grief energy - the pain, rage, terror, and shame that is driving us.
That shame is toxic and is not ours - it never was! We did nothing to be ashamed of we were just little kids. Just as our parents were little kids when they were wounded and shamed, and their parents before them, etc., etc. This is shame about being human that has been passed down from generation to generation.
There is no blame here, there are no bad guys, only wounded souls and broken hearts and scrambled minds.
Our ego adapted emotional and behavioral defenses to help us survive. We constructed ourselves a defense system that by necessity was built on unconsciousness and denial. As long as we are not in recovery from our codependency, we are not making conscious choices, we are reacting to our childhood programming.
When Dr. Harley says, "I feel good about the choices I make and what I can do." that is Truth - we can feel good about the action we take. An important part of recovery is learning to take responsibility for the things we have some control over. It is vital to start learning how to make choices that allow us to behave in alignment with our intentions and highest beliefs - how to "be" honest with ourselves and others, to "live" our lives with integrity, to walk our talk. If we are reacting to childhood emotional wounds, then what we say and how we behave will be contradictory and self defeating - which throws us into the codependent dilemma of having to come up with some rationalization that makes it someone else's fault, or plunge into the emotional abyss of shame and self hatred within us. Codependents dance through life to the music of dissonance and strife - recovery allows us to start achieving some integration and balance, some peace and harmony in our human dance.
As long as we are reacting out of a limited, polarized, shame based belief system then the choices we make are dictated by the limitations of that belief system. If we are reacting out of our childhood intellectual programming and emotional wounds then we are powerless to be a positive co-creator in our lives - we are only able to react and co-create out of emotional dishonesty. If we are reacting, we are not making conscious, enlightened, mature choices.
Owning our power of choice is the key to empowerment. It is vital to start owning our power to choose the beliefs that we are allowing to define our relationship with self - and dictate how we live our lives. In order to start manifesting Love into the world it is vital to start seeing with more clarity - and understanding our own inner process with more objectivity and compassion. It is essential to become conscious so we can stop reacting blindly out of the dysfunctional programming from our childhood."We all observe ourselves, but we do it from the perspective of the critical judge. It is our critical parent voice that provides the witness perspective in our lives. . . . . . .
The critical parent voice is rooted in the subconscious intellectual paradigm that is defining and dictating our life experience. It is the play by play commentator that is providing running commentary on how well we are playing the game of life - and it is judging our performance based upon false beliefs about the nature and purpose of life, based upon a black and white perspective that dooms us to be the victim of being imperfect humans. It dictates how we react to life and then judges us for those reactions.
It is very important to start learning how to take power away from that critical parent voice so that we can start developing a witness perspective with a compassionate level of consciousness. So that we can start learning how to be our own best friend - instead of our own worst enemy."
It is vital to start awakening to consciousness so that we can learn to start Loving our self and our neighbors instead of judging, shaming, and blaming. Instead of either beating ourselves up constantly for our defectiveness or gaining ego strength by self righteously looking down on others.
Your role models for what a romantic relationship looks like, were your parents. Think about that. Dr. Harley seems to think that a marriage that lasts is successful, is producing good role models. I disagree.
April 14, 2002: - I will be posting the next articles in this series in about a week - and will activate the link at that time. When I do that I will announce it on my New and news page. To be notified by email when the New page change, sign up for the Notification service.
This web article ended up growing into 5 pages. I am first going to share the response I wrote in 1998 and talk about the concept of codependency. Part 2 of this web article will focus on romantic relationships and codependents as emotional vampires. Part 3 will expand upon and clarify what I said in the 1998 response in terms of levels of motivation - as well as discussing emotional honesty and responsibility. Part 4 will focus on the reality of dysfunction in patriarchal civilization - specifically in relationship to the role of women and the concept of marriage. Part 5 will address the destructiveness of black and white polarized thinking in it's impact on any relationship - and specifically in regard to counselors and therapists.The work grew to something quite a bit beyond what I envisioned when I wrote this paragraph - and includes 15 chapters as of May 2003. I very happy with, and proud of, the chapters that grew out of this initial source. It has since grown into an in depth look at the phenomena of codependency on multiple levels - which in my opinion, is really much larger and more important than just a response to the silly article by Dr. Harley. So, in early May 2003 I am separating this article from most of the chapters that grew out of it - as I spoke of doing in my February 2003 Update Newsletter.
"I have mentioned in previous Updates that this online book pounced upon me when I wasn't expecting it - and turned into something quite different than the article it started out to be. It has turned into quite a wonderful work in my opinion - and is so much larger and more important in my view than just a response to the internet article that sparked the writing. One of the things I am going to change is the title - which I really dislike.I am going to leave this article as it is presently named, as a two part web article, this page and the next one. I am changing the subtitle of part 2 slightly, but otherwise am not making any changes to either of these pages. There are some places in these two pages where I use some quite harsh language in reference to Dr. Harley and his beliefs - and I am going to leave that language as I wrote it. It doesn't have anything to do with Dr. Harley personally, but rather with the type of ignorant and arrogant white male attitudes that he represents to me. Over a year later, and farther along in my recovery process, I probably would tone down that language some if I wrote these two pages today - not because my beliefs and views have changed, but because I wouldn't be quite so reactive out of my own personal wounds. Sometimes it takes some harsh language to make a point however, and at this time I do not feel compelled to change the language as I originally published it. ~ Robert Burney
What I am thinking now, is that the chapters I have published will be part two (or book 2 perhaps) of the process level book I started to write several years ago: Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light. Part 1, or the prequel, or whatever it is, will be focused on how to do the inner child healing / spiritual integration work." - Joy2MeU Update February 2003
September 2005 - Chapters 3 through 15
of this work are now exclusively available in the Dancing
in Light pay to view component of Joy2MeU.com.
Attack on America: A Spiritual Healing PerspectiveJoy to You & Me silcom siteJoy to You & Me pages