"In a war, soldiers are forced to
deny their emotions in order to survive. This emotional denial works to help
the soldier survive the war, but later can have devastating delayed consequences.
The medical profession has now recognized the trauma and damage that this
emotional denial can cause, and have coined a term to describe the effects
of this type of denial. That term is "Delayed Stress Syndrome."
In a war soldiers have to deny what it feels
like to see friends killed and maimed; what it feels like to kill other human
beings and have them attempting to kill you. There is trauma caused by the
events themselves. There is trauma due to the necessity of denying the emotional
impact of the events. There is trauma from the effects the emotional denial
has on the person's life after he/she has returned from the war because
as long is the person is denying his/her emotional trauma she/he is denying
a part of her/himself.
The stress caused by the trauma, and the
effect of denying the trauma, by denying self, eventually surfaces in ways
which produce new trauma - anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse, nightmares, uncontrollable
rage, inability to maintain relationships, inability to hold jobs, suicide,
Codependence is a form of Delayed Stress
Instead of blood and death (although some
do experience blood and death literally), what happened to us as children
was spiritual death and emotional maiming, mental torture and physical violation.
We were forced to grow up denying the reality of what was happening in our
homes. We were forced to deny our feelings about what we were experiencing
and seeing and sensing. We were forced to deny our selves.
We grew up having to deny the emotional reality:
of parental alcoholism, addiction, mental illness, rage, violence, depression,
abandonment, betrayal, deprivation, neglect, incest, etc. etc.; of our parents
fighting or the underlying tension and anger because they weren't being honest
enough to fight; of dad's ignoring us because of his workaholism and/or mom
smothering us because she had no other identity than being a mother; of the
abuse that one parent heaped on another who wouldn't defend him/herself and/or
the abuse we received from one of our parents while the other wouldn't defend
us; of having only one parent or of having two parents who stayed together
and shouldn't have; etc., etc.
We grew up with messages like: children should
be seen and not heard; big boys don't cry and little ladies don't get angry;
it is not okay to be angry at someone you love - especially your parents;
god loves you but will send you to burn in hell forever if you touch your
shameful private parts; don't make noise or run or in any way be a normal
child; do not make mistakes or do anything wrong; etc., etc.
We were born into the middle of a war where
our sense of self was battered and fractured and broken into pieces. We grew
up in the middle of battlefields where our beings were discounted, our perceptions
invalidated, and our feelings ignored and nullified.
The war we were born into, the battlefield
each of us grew up in, was not in some foreign country against some identified
"enemy" - it was in the "homes" which were supposed to be our safe haven
with our parents whom we Loved and trusted to take care of us. It was not
for a year or two or three - it was for sixteen or seventeen or eighteen
We experienced what is called "sanctuary
trauma" - our safest place to be was not safe - and we experienced it on
a daily basis for years and years. Some of the greatest damage was done to
us in subtle ways on a daily basis because our sanctuary was a battlefield.
It was not a battlefield because our parents
were wrong or bad - it was a battlefield because they were at war within,
because they were born into the middle of a war. By doing our healing we
are becoming the emotionally honest role models that our parents never had
the chance to be. Through being in Recovery we are helping to break the cycles
of self-destructive behavior that have dictated human existence for thousands
Codependence is a very vicious and powerful
form of Delayed Stress Syndrome. The trauma of feeling like we were not safe
in our own homes makes it very difficult to feel like we are safe anywhere.
Feeling like we were not lovable to our own parents makes it very difficult
to believe that anyone can Love us.
Codependence is being at war with ourselves
- which makes it impossible to trust and Love ourselves. Codependence is
denying parts of ourselves so that we do not know who we are.
Recovery from the disease of Codependence
involves stopping the war within so that we can get in touch with our True
Self, so that we can start to Love and trust ourselves."