Abundant Spirituality + codependency recovery + inner child healing + Love = Joy2MeULogo of Joy to You & Me Enterprises, publisher of Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls Joy2MeU Home Page

This is an Update Newsletter of the Joy2MeU web site of codependency therapist, inner child healing pioneer, Spiritual teacher Robert Burney - who is the author of the Joyously inspirational book of Spirituality: Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls.

In February of 2009 I am updating the copyright on all my Update Newsletter pages and removing the code that blocks search engines from indexing these pages.  The message on the top of this page originally was: "The search engines are blocked from indexing this page so I am not including the left hand column with all the identifying info and graphics."
This is the second page of the Newsletter portion of the June 2003 Update.
(There are references in the writing below to that Update and to Newsletter part 1 - so if you haven't read them already, you might want to take a look at them to understand the context.)

Joy2MeU Update Newsletter 2

Posted July 7, 2003

Loving and losing

Emotional pain, feeling hurt, is an inevitable part of this human experience we are having - just as loss and grief are unavoidable parts of life.  There is no happily ever after when we find our Prince or Princess, when we do life "right."  Judging and shaming our self for having been hurt is part of the inner war that is codependency.

The dysfunctional dance of Codependence is caused by being at war with ourselves - being at war within. 

We are at war with ourselves because we are judging and shaming ourselves for being human.  We are at war with ourselves because we are carrying around suppressed grief energy that we are terrified of feeling.  We are at war within because we are "damming" our own emotional process - because we were forced to become emotionally dishonest as children and had to learn ways to block and distort our emotional energy. 

We cannot learn to Love ourselves and be at peace within until we stop judging and shaming ourselves for being human and stop fighting our own emotional process, until we stop waging war on ourselves. - Quotations in this color are from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

I realized in my codependency recovery that getting hurt was not the biggest problem for me - it was the way I beat myself up, and blamed myself, when I got hurt that felt unbearable.  Judging and shaming myself for the pain and heartbreak I experienced caused me to live a life of suffering. 

"When I had first gotten sober, I had noticed a saying on some bumper stickers or wall hanging or someplace.  That saying was "The pain is mandatory, the suffering is optional."  What I was really beginning to realize at this point in my process was that the suffering came about because of resistance to feeling the pain - and anger and fear.  By changing my attitudes, I was changing my perspective and giving myself permission to feel the feelings.  I was starting to allow them to flow instead of putting all my energy into damming them, suppressing them.  That is where the suffering really comes from - denying my own emotional reality." - Joy2MeU Journal - My Spiritual Path: 30 Days in the Desert - Falling Apart and Breaking Through II
I had to deny my own emotional reality in childhood because in my parents were my Higher Powers whom I was incapable of seeing as anything but perfect.  I felt like it was my fault I was hurting, because something was inherently wrong with me.  In my adult life I was still emotionally reacting to life out of the intellectual beliefs I had adapted in childhood - out of the interpretations of an immature egocentric mind.  Until I started separating my adult perspective of reality from my childhood subconscious and emotional programming, I was incapable of having compassion for my own pain.

Until I started to learn discernment intellectually, I was set up to keep allowing my childhood experiences to dictate my relationships with life - and with love.  In this quote from one of the articles in my Healthy Relationships series, I have done what I suggest in the article - that is, I have inserted "love" into the quote from my book everywhere it says "life." 

"We learned about life (love) as children and it is necessary to change the way we intellectually view life (love) 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 (love) is serving us - or if it is setting us up to be victims because we are expecting life (love) to be something which it is not." 
Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls by Robert Burney

Consciousness raising is a process of enlarging the intellectual paradigm which we base our relationship with life upon.  As I have stated previously in this series, our beliefs, attitudes, and definitions determine our expectations and perspectives - which in turn dictate our emotional relationships to everything and everyone in our environment.  And when I say everything, I am not just talking about objects.  Everything includes ideas, concepts, opinions, etc.

In order to have healthier romantic relationships it is very important to examine our concept of romantic love.  If we do not have a healthy concept - realistic definitions and beliefs about - romantic love, then we do not have much chance of having a healthy relationship.  If our concept of romance is based on the fairy tales and books, songs and movies, from our childhoods, then we are set up to be disappointed in our romantic relationships.

Read the quotation above and substitute "love" everywhere it says "life" and you might better understand why you have felt like a victim in romantic relationships.  We were set up to be victims in romance because we were taught that it is a magical paradise where we will have all of our needs met - and live "Happily ever after".  We were taught that getting the romance was the goal and that after that everything was smooth sailing." -  Healthy Relationships - Part 6, Romantic Love as a Concept

As long as I saw love / life as a black and white test of my worth, as a competition that could be won or lost - with winning taking me to happily ever after and losing causing me to judge myself as unlovable because of my hurt and heartbreak - I was not only incapable of loving and allowing myself to be loved, I was incapable of really living.

Living our life trying to avoid getting hurt keeps us from Truly being alive.  It is Truly better to love and lose than to never love - but until I started changing the programming that told me I wasn't lovable I was powerless over my patterns.  I was unable to be discerning in the choices I made about who to get involved with because of my codependency.  I was incapable of really receiving love because I did not believe I was lovable at the core of my relationship with myself.

My ego interpreted emotional pain in childhood as a threat to survival, and adapted a defense system to try to protect me from being hurt emotionally.  That defense system - my codependency - does not want me to relax and be in the moment, because then I might get hurt.  It does not want me to take risks, to venture into the unknown.  In one of the first installments of my personal journal in the Joy2MeU Journal, I shared part of an email I had written to a friend about how important it was for me to start learning how to take power away from the old tapes - from the codependent programming that had been running my life.

". . . . . . A client was admiring the bouquet of flowers that I had in my office and I told her the story of why I often buy flowers for my office.  About two years ago I did a workshop at a church in the San Fernando Valley on a Sunday afternoon.  When I was packing my stuff up getting ready to leave they gave me the flower arrangement from the Sunday service.  I didn't want it.  I watched my reaction - which was I didn't want the flowers - and the thought that I saw pass through my mind was "Why do I want those flowers, they will just die."  I immediately recognized that for what it was, an old tape.  When I discover old tapes dictating my reactions I need to do something to counter them - so I started buying flowers to put in my office.

Why have flowers when they are just going to die? . . . . . .

Why take a risk if I will fail?

Why open up to Love if I am just going to get hurt?

Boy is that my old stuff! - my disease talking.

I don't remember if you ever heard me give my talk before it became a book - but I used to always end my talk with quoting the words to a song that was perfect for ending the talk.  I couldn't use it in the book because they wouldn't give me copyright permission.  The song was The Rose.

Some say Love it is a river that drowns the tender reed, 
Some say Love it is a razor that leaves your soul to bleed.

Some say Love it is a hunger  - an endless aching need ...
I say Love it is a flower - and you it's only seed.

(This next part is the part that really speaks to me of the way that I lived most of my life)
It's the heart afraid of breaking that never learns to dance,
It's the dream afraid of waking that never takes a chance.

It's the one who won't be taken that never learns to give,
It's the soul afraid of dying that never learns to live.

When the night has been too lonely and the road has been too long,
and you think that love is only for the lucky and the strong.

Just remember in the winter far beneath the winter snow,
Lies the seed that with the sun's love in the spring becomes the Rose

So once more I get to work on countering all the old tapes and all the seemingly concrete evidence to the contrary and tell myself that: YES :

It is better to Love and lose than never Love,

it is better to have flowers that are beautiful for a few days than not to enjoy the flowers. . . . ." - Joy2MeU Journal The Path of one Recovering Codependent ~ the dance of one wounded soul My Unfolding Process - Dance 2 July 1999
As long as I was not in recovery from codependency I was trying to avoid being hurt by not taking the chance of opening up to someone who was available to love me.  This was my codependency's way of trying to keep my shameful, defective being a secret.  In my unconscious codependent defense system this translated behaviorally into being attracted to women who were unavailable so that I could blame them.  Thus my attempts to have a relationship became self fulfilling prophecies - repeating behavior patterns.  Having my heart broken meant that either I was a loser or it was the other person's fault - so I needed to blame it on her to keep from falling into the bottomless abyss of pain and shame within me. 

The ridiculous thing about this, one of the things that makes codependency such a stupid, dysfunctional defense system, is that feeling rejected by anyone could throw me into that abyss.

"It is a defense adapted by my ego in an attempt to keep me from opening my heart so that it can be broken again.  If my heart is broken again, I have to make it your fault because the only other option in a polarized perspective of life is to admit that I am to blame.  To blame myself is to plunge into the abyss of pain and shame at the core of my being - the unendurable, hopeless, want to die, place within me where I feel shamefully unlovable and unworthy.

This is the behavior that I was powerless to change until I started to get emotionally honest with myself.  The intellectual and emotional programming from my childhood set me up to be incapable of having a healthy intimate relationship.

Codependency is very dysfunctional.  It hurts just as much to be rejected by an unavailable person as by an available one.  As long as we are reacting out of our inner child wounds, we will take any perceived rejection as personal - as a reflection of our shameful defectiveness.

Until I started to consciously work on changing the ego programming which was keeping me in denial and emotional dishonesty, I was unable to change my core relationship with self - I was unable to see through the false self image, was unable to see my self with any clarity." - Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light Chapter 4: False Self Image

There is nothing we humans beings want more than to feel Loved - in my opinion. 
"On one of my web pages I state that romantic relationships are the greatest arena for Spiritual growth available to us.  I believe that this is the Truth because it is the area that is most important to us.  Recently I saw a communication from the Dalai Lama in which he stated a very simple Truth:  we all want to the same thing, to be happy and feel Loved.  I would simplify that even further to say:  feeling Loved makes us happy - so ultimately we all want the same thing, to feel Loved." -  Healthy Relationships - Part 5, Healthy Joyous Sexuality
This is a reflection of our desire to return home to LOVE - to reconnect with our Source.  On a human level it manifests as a desire to feel Loved by other human beings - and especially to feel Loved by one other human being in a romantic relationship, in a relationship that includes physical union.
"Everything on the physical plane is a reflection of other levels.  Ultimately, the strong sexual and sensual desires of human beings really have very little to do with the actual physical act of sex - the True compulsion to unite is about our wounded souls, about our endless, aching need to go home to the God/Goddess Energy.  We want to reunite in ONENESS - in LOVE - because that is our True home." - Jesus & Mary Magdalene - Jesus, sexuality, & the Bible  Part 2
Our codependent programming causes us to believe that love has to come from external sources and validation.  That feeling loved by another person will fill the hole in our soul.  It cannot.  When we think another person is the source of love for us, then we are making that other person our higher power.

I believe that the great quest for all of us old souls who are doing this healing is to feel Loved.  Before we are open to that however, we need to heal our relationship with ourselves enough to start believing that we deserve Love.  Doing the inner child healing work is an act of Love that is a Loving thing to do for our self.

As long as we are looking for that Love externally, we are looking for love in all the wrong faces and wrong places.  That doesn't mean that another person can't help us access that Love - what it means is that it is important to remember that the Source of that Love is accessed internally, not found externally.

"You are together because you resonate on the same wave lengths, you fit together vibrationally, in such a way that together you form a powerful energy field that helps both of you access the Higher Vibrational Energy of Love, Joy, Light, and Truth - in a way that would be very difficult for either one of you to do by yourself.  You are coming together to touch the face of God.  You are uniting your energies to help you access the Love of the Holy Mother Source Energy.

You are not the source of each other's Love.  You are helping each other to access the LOVE that is the Source.

The Love that you see when you see your soul in the others eyes is a reflection of the LOVE that you are.  Of the Unconditional Love that the Great Spirit feels for you." - A Wedding Prayer / Meditation on Romantic Commitment

If we are not open to accessing Love internally - through our Spirit - then we will not be able to take in and hold love coming from another person.  We won't feel like we deserve it on a gut level - so we will sabotage it in some way.

My Terror of Intimacy

What we want the most is also what terrifies us the most.  It was more comfortable for me to sabotage myself (never learns to dance, never takes a chance) and beat myself up than to Truly open up to Love.  I was more comfortable beating myself up for being defective than I was in taking the risk of believing that I was Truly deserving of Love. 

This was not at all a conscious thing - it was a result of the compulsive reactions of my codependency.  I was powerless to choose someone who was actually available, and capable, of Loving me as long as I was unconsciously reacting to life out of my childhood emotional wounds.

In our disease defense system we build up huge walls to protect ourselves and then - as soon as we meet someone who will help us to repeat our patterns of abuse, abandonment, betrayal, and/or deprivation - we lower the drawbridge and invite them in.  We, in our Codependence, have radar systems which cause us to be attracted to, and attract to us, the people, who for us personally, are exactly the most untrustworthy (or unavailable or smothering or abusive or whatever we need to repeat our patterns) individuals - exactly the ones who will "push our buttons." 

This happens because those people feel familiar.  Unfortunately in childhood the people whom we trusted the most - were the most familiar - hurt us the most.  So the effect is that we keep repeating our patterns and being given the reminder that it is not safe to trust ourselves or other people 

Once we begin healing we can see that the Truth is that it is not safe to trust as long as we are reacting out of the emotional wounds and attitudes of our childhoods.  Once we start Recovering, then we can begin to see that on a Spiritual level these repeating behavior patterns are opportunities to heal the childhood wounds.

I compared myself to others and thought I saw that they had reached happily ever after - and since I had not, that was evidence which reinforced the false belief that I was shameful and defective.  My patterns caused me to pick people who could not give me what I needed because of my emotional wounds - and those repeating patterns seemed to be evidence that reinforced the false belief that I was unlovable and defective.  Insidious and incredibly powerful is this codependency.

As the quote in Discernment part 1 from my article Feeling the Feelings - grief / emotional energy release stated:

"4. We are attracted to people that feel familiar on an energetic level - which means (until we start clearing our emotional process) people that emotionally / vibrationally feel like our parents did when we were very little kids.  At a certain point in my process I realized that if I met a woman who felt like my soul mate, that the chances were pretty huge that she was one more unavailable woman that fit my pattern of being attracted to someone who would reinforce the message that I wasn't good enough, that I was unlovable.  Until we start releasing the hurt, sadness, rage, shame, terror - the emotional grief energy - from our childhoods we will keep having dysfunctional relationships."
We keep repeating patterns in an attempt to earn the love we are so starved for - on some level the little child within us is still trying to earn our parents love.  We are still trying to prove we are lovable by winning the love of someone who resonates as being similar to our parents.  Until we start learning to be discerning so that we can separate the child's emotional truth from our adult reality, we keep looking for love in all the wrong places and wrong faces.  Until we start seeing life in a spiritual context that allows us to start understanding our powerlessness and forgiving ourselves for the "bad" choices / "mistakes" we have made in our adult relationship choices, we are blocked from Loving our self.  Discernment is necessary to start really owning our deep emotional pain from a perspective of having compassion for ourselves instead of shame and judgment.

In relationship to romance my patterns meant being attracted to women who were not available to me on some level, and rejecting any woman who was available.  This was the counterdependent pattern I mentioned in the update that spawned these Newsletters.

It was vital for me in my recovery to see that I actually felt less loneliness when I was alone - because my patterns were more of the counterdependent type, trying to convince myself I didn't need other people.  My fear/terror of intimacy issues were so powerful that I effectively had a relationship phobia.  Those of you whose patterns were more classically codependent, tended to make the relationship your higher power and hold on for dear life because of inner child fears of being alone.  These are two extremes in the patterns I have observed in how codependents react to fear of intimacy - to be isolated and alone most of the time or to stay in relationships that aren't meeting our needs out of fear of being alone.  The third major pattern is to go from relationship to relationship, often being more codependent in some (trying to take a hostage / make the other person our drug of choice) and counterdependent in others (resisting being someone else's drug / being taken hostage.) 
I did not feel Loved in childhood because my parents were wounded - and because the concept of God that I was taught was a punishing one, the pain in my life felt like punishment. (The pain of life feels like punishment even to people who were taught a metaphysical, Loving concept of God in childhood, because the emotional experience of life does not match the metaphysical Truth.  Sometimes people who were taught about a Loving God in childhood have more trouble getting past their feelings of betrayal than someone who was raised in a shame based religion like I was.)  My inner radar caused me to be attracted to someone who felt on some emotionally energetic level like my parents.  The extremes of the spectrum that I experienced in childhood, dictated how I related to intimate relationships - to opening my heart to another human being.
"For most of my adult life, I effectively had a relationship phobia.  The extremes I learned in childhood were completely unavailable (my father) and completely enmeshed (my mother.)  In my first sexually and emotionally intimate relationship (not any true emotional intimacy because I was incapable of it then - more accurate would be to call it emotional attachment) I got completely enmeshed with a woman I met in college.  She was the one who really initiated me into being sexual.  We got engaged to be married.  I caught her in bed with my best friend - literally, caught them in bed.

I realized in retrospect in recovery, that she had almost certainly been the victim of incest from a young age - and was a sex addict.  The pain of that experience, was to say the least, incredible.  I was so much in denial of my feelings, and so codependent, that I stayed engaged to her for another year and a half.

I did not again in the next twenty years, make the mistake of getting involved with someone who was available enough to have the power to hurt me like that.  I pursued only unavailable women.  I always had someone unavailable that I was obsessing over, trying to figure out how to get her to see how wonderful we could be together.  (This was completely unconscious and something I only realized looking back at my patterns in recovery.)

The other extreme for me, was allowing myself to get physically involved with women I did not really want to be with, with women I did not feel a strong attraction / energetic connection to.  Then I would be the unavailable one."  -  Joy2MeU Update May 2001 Newsletter 2

Since the only options I could see in a romantic relationship were unavailable or enmeshed, being alone was actually the option in between the extremes for me.  Settling for being in a relationship with someone who wanted me more than I wanted her (being the unavailable / counterdependent one) made me feel as if I were incapable of loving - and caused me to feel incredibly isolated and alone because I could not be (did not even want to be) the prince she thought she needed.  When I was in a relationship where my self worth was dependent upon her (codependent pattern) - where she was the princess who could turn me from a frog into a prince - then she was my higher power, my drug of choice.  Addicts have an incredible need to protect their supply.  When I was enmeshed in a relationship I needed to try to take her hostage, keep her under my control, to protect my supply. 

In the May 2001 Newsletter processing about my fear of intimacy issues (quoted just above and referenced in the Update) I made a big breakthrough in consciousness by uncovering and discovering some layers where I was still empowering black and white thinking - and therefore victim feelings - in relationship to women.  It was a breakthrough that took me to a level of consciousness that for the first time felt like I had reached in my personal process the level of consciousness that my book had been written out of 10 years earlier. (Joy2MeU Update - August 2001)  I was rocketed into a whole new dimension of consciousness because it also helped me to make a great leap in my capacity to have compassion for myself.

"As I am putting the final touches on this Newsletter on June 15th so I can post it, I had another insight into why I have been so terrified of intimacy.  It was not just the shameful unworthiness that would cause a woman to go away, that was so painful.  It wasn't abandonment that hurt so much - it was the betrayal, which I felt was the consequence, the punishment.  I am sobbing as I get in touch with the pain of that little boy who felt like he was punished for that unworthiness.

The excruciating pain of finding my fiancé in bed with my best friend was the proof of, and felt like punishment for, that unworthiness.  It was only in recovery when dealing with my emotional incest issues, that I realized how my mother had betrayed me.  She always told me how wonderful I was, how special and gifted - she acted as if the world revolved around me.  But she never protected me, or herself, from my father.  My mother was my first love.  She was my Goddess.  The fact that she allowed my father to terrify and traumatize me - she who was perfect in the eyes of that little boy - obviously meant there was something wrong with me. 

I got in touch with the fact that my mother betrayed me years ago.  What I had never seen before today, was the connection between the two betrayals - and the common theme. 

My fiancé's betrayal was just a repeat of my earliest experience of loving a woman.  Both situations involved betrayal by the primary woman in my life, and the primary man.  The excruciating pain I experienced as a young adult was only a fraction of the devastation felt by that little boy.

That poor little boy.  His first experience of love, the first loves of his life - his God and Goddess - punished him.  Terror of intimacy is a pretty appropriate response.  I have some work to do with this issue".  -  Joy2MeU Update May 2001 Newsletter 2

Intellectually accepting that we were powerless does not change the core programming.  Being willing to plunge into the grief (the black hole of emotional healing as I describe it in my book) was what led me to peeling away enough levels to really understand that powerlessness on a gut level - so that I can truly start having compassion for myself, Loving my self.  I needed to really own that little boys pain in order to start changing my patterns in my adult relationships.

(In Discernment 1, I mentioned that by learning discernment and peeling away the layers I was able to see the silver lining, to be grateful for, my relationship phobia - which means I came to see a silver lining to this betrayal I experienced in my early twenties.  What I realized is, that the combination of my alcoholism and the rage I was carrying towards my mother, would have made me powerless to not be abusive had I married this woman and started having kids.  I may have spent most of my adult life alone, but at least I didn't have a family that I terrorized for those years.)

Set up to fail in romance

Codependency is on a very simple level giving power over our feelings of self worth to external sources.  Learning to be discerning - to separate / draw boundaries in our perspective of - our issues, and the levels and layers of those issues, is vital in seeing our self and life with more clarity.   It vital in the process of learning to Love and to create the potential for having a healthy romantic relationship. 
"Starting to practice discernment in relationship to the mental level of our being helps us to start taking responsibility for the emotional level.

My attitudes, beliefs, and definitions set up my perspectives and expectations - which in turn dictate my emotional reactions.  It was vital for me to start seeing how the beliefs I was empowering were responsible for the expectations that were setting me up to feel like a victim of other people.  It was vital for me to start seeing myself clearly enough to stop buying into the illusion that what I was feeling was your fault.

"A very important part of my process of finding some balance in my life - of learning how to see myself and how I relate to others and life more clearly - was to get clear that everything in my process relates back to me and my growth process.   I had to get past my codependent belief that I was doing something for you - or you were doing something to me." - Sharing Experience, Strength, and Hope - My Recovery Process
. . . . . . . .  It is vital to start learning how to be discerning in our relationship with life in order to achieve some integration and emotional balance.  It is empowering to start having a perspective of life that allows us to see a separation, a boundary, between the vertical - our Spiritual yearning to return home to Love, to reconnect with our Source - and the horizontal - our needs for human interaction and stimulation.  Once we stop unconsciously allowing our feelings of self worth to be emotionally enmeshed with our external relationships, then we can start seeing both our self and our Self more clearly.   Then we can start seeing other people and life with more clarity." - Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light Chapter 9: Codependency = Emotional Anorexia
Starting to discern the difference between a codependent relationship and a healthy relationship helped me to start seeing the concepts of romance and love with more clarity - helped me start to understand the difference between a healthy interdependent relationship and a dysfunctional, codependent relationship.
"Codependence and interdependence are two very different dynamics.

Codependence is about giving away power over our self-esteem. Taking our self-definition and self-worth from outside or external sources is dysfunctional because it causes us to give power over how we feel about ourselves to people and forces which we cannot control. Any time that we give power over our self-esteem to something outside of ourselves we are making that person or thing our higher power. We are worshiping false gods.

. . . . . . . . Interdependence is about making allies, forming partnerships. It is about forming connections with other beings. Interdependence means that we give someone else some power over our welfare and our feelings." - Codependence vs Interdependence - healthy relationship vs dysfunctional

Giving away power over my self esteem and giving away some power over my feelings are two separate issues that I could only start discerning the difference between by starting to see what a dysfunctional concept of romance I learned in childhood.  Our fairy tale perspective of romance was compounded by our experience of love in childhood, so that we were totally set up to be incapable of having a healthy romantic relationship.  I had no idea what Love really is because of my childhood experience of love.
"I don't remember how the particular insight that I am writing about here came about - whether I heard it, or read it, or just had the thought occur (which would mean, to me, that it was a message from my Higher Self/Higher Power - of course any of those methods would be a message from my Higher Power.)  In any case, this particular insight struck me with great force.  Like most great insights, it was amazingly simple and obvious.  It was to me earth shattering/paradigm busting in it's impact.  The insight was:

If someone loves you, it should feel like they love you.

What a concept!  Obvious, logical, rational, elementary - like 'duh' of course it should.

I had never experienced feeling loved consistently in my closest relationships.  Because my parents did not know how to Love themselves, their behavior towards me had caused me to experience love as critical, shaming, manipulative, controlling, and abusive.  Because that was my experience of love as a child - that was the only type of relationship I was comfortable with as an adult.  It was also, and most importantly, the relationship that I had with myself.

In order to start changing my relationship with myself, so that I could start changing the type of relationships I had with other people, I had to start focusing on trying to learn the True nature of Love.

This, I believe, is the Great Quest that we are on.  Anyone in recovery, on a healing/Spiritual path, is ultimately trying to find their way home to LOVE - in my belief.  LOVE is the Higher Power - the True nature of the God-Force/Goddess Energy/Great Spirit.  LOVE is the fabric from which we are woven.  LOVE is the answer.

And in order to start finding my way home to LOVE - I first had to start awakening to what Love is not. . . . . . 

. . . . Love is also not an addiction.  It is not taking a hostage or being taken hostage.  The type of romantic love that I learned about growing is a form of toxic love.  The "I can't smile without out you," "Can't live without you." "You are my everything," "You are not whole until you find your prince/princess" messages that I learned in relationship to romantic love in childhood are not descriptions of Love - they are descriptions of drug of choice, of someone who is a higher power/false god.

Additionally, Love is not being a doormat.  Love does not entail sacrificing your self on the altar of martyrdom - because one cannot consciously choose to sacrifice self if they have never Truly had a self that they felt was Lovable and worthy.  If we do not know how to Love our self, how to show respect and honor for our self - then we have no self to sacrifice.  We are then sacrificing in order to try to prove to ourselves that we are lovable and worthy - that is not giving from the heart, that is codependently manipulative, controlling, and dishonest." - The True Nature of Love - part 1, what Love is not

We need to start being discerning in relationship to the concepts of love and romance - and start taking action to change that programming before we start to have any chance of having a healthy relationship. 

One of the core components of Codependency is black and white thinking.  For this reason it is possible to quit drinking and using without being in recovery from codependency - because to drinking and/or using is an "either or" "black or white" issue.  Life is not black and white.  Issues with food, spending, relationships, etc. are not black and white.  These issues exist in the gray area of life.  What we are seeking is balance - and in order to find balance we need to learn to practice discernment. 

When I was learning how to take responsibility for my feelings by getting honest with myself about my expectations - one of that last layers I peeled was in relationship to romance, to "falling in love."  My Higher Power - who can sometimes be quite literal and show an amusing sense of humor - brought a wonderful opportunity for growth to me on April First 1990.

"One of the biggest areas in this culture where we are trained to come from a victim perspective is in relationship to romance.  We are taught about "falling in love" as if it were a camouflaged hole in the sidewalk that we were powerless over falling into.  Falling in love is a choice - which is what I got to get real clear on starting on that April Fools Day in 1990 

Falling in love is a state of mind which is very different from Loving someone.  Love is a vibrational frequency that we can tune into (more on that in the article next month.)  What we learned growing up was love that was an addiction - with the other person as our drug of choice, our Higher Power.  (See Toxic Love )   Love is not something that someone else gives to us - it is something that another being can help us to remember and access.  (See Wedding Prayer or Adventure in Romance.)

I understood much of this only theoretically - and not that much - that afternoon in the meadow by the sea.  What I had gotten real clear on by that time is that buying into being a victim was disempowering and dysfunctional for me.  So that evening I got real clear with myself.  It went something like this:

"OK.  Let's look at this.  Here is a beautiful woman who feels like she might be my soul mate.  Having that powerful an emotional, energetic reaction to her could mean that she is my soul mate but it is much more likely to mean that she is unavailable in a way that is perfect for my patterns.  I have choices here.  (Empowerment is all about owning that we always have choices - Empowerment & Victimization page.)  I can run away in fear that she is a repeat of old patterns but if I do that I won't learn anything. I can choose to explore what this connection with her is - in which case I will probably get hurt.

Since getting hurt is an inevitable part of life and I definitely need to learn some lessons about romance and emotional intimacy - I think that I will explore what our connection is - but do it differently than I ever have before.  I will make a commitment to myself (our first commitment needs always to be to our self) to learn whatever lessons I need to learn from this woman and will remain alert so that I do not buy into any victim beliefs.  I am choosing to go into the emotional place that she will lead me to learn lessons about my self.  I will not buy into the belief that she is victimizing me.  When I am hurting because: she is not doing what I want her to;  when she is not opening up to the potential of how wonderful we could be together;  when she is reacting to her fears and wounds; I will always remember that I choose to venture down the path this way and that any feelings that result will be my responsibility - they will be the consequences of my choice.  They will not be her fault.  She does not have the power to hurt me unless I give it to her - and I am choosing to give her some power over my feelings."  Joy2MeU Journal Premier Issue  Newsletter April 2, 1999

I learned to stop giving power to the illusion that I was the victim of love.  Since I realized that falling in love was a choice, I have played with the energy of falling "in love" a few times but have only chosen to dive in head first / "fall in love" one time.
"As a reminder (since it is a year later): in writing my May 2001 Update I realized I that my fear of intimacy and deprivation issues had broken the surface for me to look at.  That spawned 3 pages of Newsletter processing about my fear of intimacy issues.  In the second of those 3 pages I talked about the polarized, black and white, thinking that is a fundamental dynamic of the condition of codependency.  I described how this black and white thinking affected the way I related to romantic relationships.
"The rut for me in respect to romance is for my thinking to be either (1) I will never have another romantic relationship, or (10) we will move in together and be fully immersed in the relationship.  A watered down, less powerful version of the choices I learned in childhood from my role models - either completely unavailable or completely enmeshed.

My thinking in relationship to a relationship, is much healthier and more balanced than it used to be - but it still tends towards the extremes within the spectrum of what is I believe is possible.  It feels more natural for me to completely let go of the idea of having a romantic relationship or to think in terms of what it is going to be like when we are living together, then to think in terms of getting to know someone gradually.  Kind of like, either pretend the water isn't there, or dive into the deep end without looking first to see what may be just under the surface.

It is easier for me emotionally to not even consider going in the water than to gradually ease myself into the shallow water - because if I am even looking at the water it gets me in touch with grief about being alone.  The abyss of wish-to-die pain and desperate loneliness from my childhood - the deprivation issues that I spent so much of my life either denying or allowing to run my life - do not have anywhere near the power they used to because of the healing I have done.  It is relatively easy now for me to separate out the childhood feelings of loneliness - and they do not any longer have a life threatening feeling of desperation to them.  But I also have been very deprived in my adult life - of Love, companionship, affection, touch, sexual fulfillment, etc. - because of my patterns.  So the grief around those deprivation issues still has power because the deprivation is still happening." - Newsletter part 2 May 2001 - posted June 15

So, it is easier for me to let go of the idea of ever having a relationship, then to be open and willing to explore a relationship - because being conscious of wanting a relationship triggers my deprivation issues. . . . . . 

. . . . . . . . The romantic within who wants the fairy tale, is the archetypal part of me that I have talked of elsewhere as having always swung between the extremes of allowing the fantasy to rule or locking that part of me in an inner prison and wanting to ignore it.  The one who has the frog self image and wants to worship the princess who can turn me from a frog into a prince.  The romantic is always looking to dive right into any attractive swimming pool - never looking to see if there is even water in the pool, let alone if it is full of big rocks." - Joy2MeU Journal The Path of one Recovering Codependent ~ the dance of one wounded soul My Unfolding Process - Dance 12 June 2002

In that instance - which I describe in my article An Adventure in Romance - Loving and Losing Successfully - the other person dove into the pool, fell "in love" with me, and invited me in.  When I accepted the invitation and dove in, she got scared and ran away emotionally.  And I was able, when that woman seemingly rejected me, to own my responsibility for my feelings and not blame her.  I also did not blame and shame myself.  There was great emotional pain / hurt / grief, but I did not buy into shaming and blaming myself for being hurt - an incredible gift!  I did Truly Love and lose successfully.
"I have learned:

That when I know who I am and have my self-esteem rooted in my Spiritual connection then I have nothing to fear from intimacy.  I can be hurt for certain because I will be choosing to give some power away over my feelings - but hurt is part of life and well worth the adventure of Loving and Losing.

That it is Truly possible to do enough healing to be able to open my heart to someone and then not take it personally when the other person "rejects" me - because I Truly know in my gut that she is just reacting to her wounds not to some inherent flaw in my being.

That I can have my worst fear of abandonment and rejection appear to come true and not give it any power because I do not have to buy into the disease telling me that it is my fault - that I did something/said something/am something that is wrong/a loser/a mistake/unlovable/unworthy.  This is such a gift - to know that I can keep the critical parent shut up and out of the game is Truly an Amazing Miraculous reward for being willing to do my healing." - An Adventure in Romance 3 - Loving and Losing Successfully

Having the freedom to not feel the victim of "falling in love" with someone who was unavailable in some way, has saved me countless hours of obsession and agony in those intervening years.  It has been an invaluable asset in learning how to be present in the moment to enJoy my life journey today without feeling I am incomplete because there is no princess in my life - instead of putting so much energy and time into trying to force someone else to play a part in my dream, or beating myself up for being unlovable.

And choosing not to fall "in love" doesn't mean that I can't be open to Loving a woman.  "Falling in love" is a temporary condition - a kind of temporary magical insanity that feels delicious and wonderful.  Loving another being in a romantic relationship can be a dynamic, growing, expanding gift if both people are committed to their individual healing so that they can keep returning to some kind of balance and clarity in the relationship.  It can include recurring periods of feeling "in love" for all of the years of the relationship - but expecting the magic of feeling "in love" to last, to be present all of the time, is a set up.

"Being in Love is a wonderful, magical feeling.  It fills us with energy and lightens our spirit so that we feel we are soaring on the wings of Love.  It is wonderful to feel that energy.  What is dysfunctional is expecting it to last forever.  It is important to know that the feeling of being in love is not going to last forever, or be there all of the time.  Two people who are working on emotional intimacy - who are communicating and working through issues - can recapture that feeling again and again for years and years, but it is not going to always be the reality of your relationship." -  Healthy Relationships - Part 6, Romantic Love as a Concept
It is in some ways sad that since 1990 I have had only one occasion to choose to "fall in love" - a reality that is directly related to both my issues and to the fact that my "road gets narrower."  I am actually not sure I am ever going to choose to dive in head first again - because I am don't think that is part of a healthy, realistic relationship.  However by owning that I have that choice, I can play with the energy of falling "in love" while exploring the pool / learning to Love someone as a person in reality rather than just casting her in the role of the princess of my dream.  I can act as if, treat the other person as if, I am "in love" with her in the moment, while still staying grounded in reality enough to have boundaries and not lose myself in the illusion that the dream of happily ever after has come true.

In my personal process, my terror of intimacy was so huge that it has taken years of pealing away layers to discover pockets of black and white thinking that were blocking me from being available to explore a romantic relationship.  One of the gifts to me of this web site - and especially the processing I have done in my Joy2MeU Journal - is that it has brought me to the point where recently I have been getting to play with the magical energy of "in love" while learning about giving and receiving Love in relating to a woman in recovery.  The processing that I did in those May 2001 Newsletter pages peeled off a huge layer - as did subsequent processing first in July of 2002 and then in October and November of last year.  More will be revealed about whether this relationship opportunity will continue and/or where it will take me, but it has led to breakthrough after breakthrough in my process of learning to open up to Love.  It has been / is a magnificent gift in my life.

By learning:  to separate my self worth from emotional attachment to another person;  to separate the emotional truth of my childhood from the emotional energy of Truth which is my intuition;  to see romance and love from a more realistic, adult, recovery perspective;  to recognize the reactions coming from the magical thinking romantic part of me so that I don't deny reality in my desire to have the dream come true;  are all areas where learning to practice discernment has helped me to make major progress in getting past my terror of intimacy.

As I have stated elsewhere in my writing, in every relationship break up that I have ever dealt with, it was letting go of the illusion / dream of the relationship that caused more grief than letting go of the actual person.  We want the dream so desperately that we deny and rationalize abuse and deprivation in a relationship - blame the other person or blame our self - and sometimes settle for the illusion of not being alone.  We hold onto the dream - deny and rationalize the reality of the relationship - because of the desperate loneliness of the wounded child within us.  Separating the dream from the person can help us to see more clearly - can help us to let go.

It was not possible to become an empowered, conscious co-creator in my life until I could see my self and my issues with more clarity - until I could start to separate the different issues and levels of those issues.  As long as my self worth was bound up in the outcome of a relationship, it was necessary for me to try to control that relationship - to try to manipulate the other person to live up to the role I had cast her in as the princess who could turn me from a frog into a prince.  As long as my inner child terror of abandonment, betrayal, and rejection was involved in determining my perspective of a relationship, the thought of the relationship ending felt life threatening.  Until I could start separating the reality of romantic relationship from my fairy tale of what a relationship "should" be - I was incapable of having a healthy romantic relationship.

I realized early in my recovery, that I had a pattern in my human relationships - friendships as well as romance - of sacrificing my self and my needs in the now for illusion of connection.  With a woman whom I was romantically attracted to, I sacrificed my self for the "potential" of the future, the possibility that she would be the princess who could transport me to happily ever after. 

No one can transport me to "happily ever after" because there is no happily ever after in these bodies on this plane of existence.  It is not part of the reality of this human experience we are having.  The reality is that a romantic relationship takes a lot of hard work and willingness to work through issues that come up.  It is not a destination, it is the start of a new chapter in our life adventure, a new stage of our journey.  It is an opportunity for growth and healing.  We do not get to know how long any particular stage of our journey is going to last - and if we try to make it into what we think it "should" be, we miss out on experiencing what it is.  By letting go of the destination and being present in the moment, we can "Love as if we have never been hurt" - some of the time.

"The more you do your healing and follow your Spiritual path the more moments of each day you will have the choice to Truly be present the moment.

And in the moment you can make a choice to embrace and feel the Joy fully and completely and with Gusto.

In any specific moment you will have the power to make a choice to feel the Love in that moment as if you have never been hurt and as if the Love will never go away." - A Wedding Prayer / Meditation on Romantic Commitment

I cannot stress enough how important it is, how empowering it is, to start to see life as it is and learn to make the best of it - instead of allowing false beliefs about life and love to cause us to be blocked from learning to Love our self.  We were emotionally traumatized in childhood and programmed with a bunch of false beliefs that cause us to have an appropriate and unavoidable fear of taking the risk of loving and losing.  Discernment is a key to learning how to move through that fear so that we can take the risk of Loving

Learning to separate feeling hurt from blame and shame - so that we can stop beating our self up for having our hearts broken;  learning to see life, our self, and other people more clearly so that we don't deny reality in our quest for the dream;  learning to own and release the grief from our childhood and our adult life so that we can be present in our own skins in the moment instead of reacting out of regret for the past or fear of the future;  learning to see life as a journey of growth and healing, of experiencing and learning, instead of as a test we can fail;  are all parts of the process of learning to give and receive Love.

It was vital for me to stop buying into the belief that I was a victim:  of love;  of deprivation;  in romantic relationships - so that I could stop allowing fear to run my life. 

"Love as we have been programmed to understand the concept, is one of the great victimizers in our culture - and one of the biggest excuses for unhealthy behavior. 

Whenever someone I have been working with answers the question "Why do you stay?" - in a relationship that is abusive or with someone who is unavailable - with the line "because I love him/her,"  my response is "No, what is the real reason."  Because the "love" is never the bottom line.  The bottom line is always fear.  Fear of being alone, of not being able to support self, of never having another relationship, of getting in a worse relationship, etc. 

If we are living life in reaction to fear, we are being victims - and there is no chance of us being healthy in a relationship if we are making our choices in reaction to fear."  -  Healthy Relationships - Part 6, Romantic Love as a Concept

We will always feel fear - the key is to not allow fear to define and dictate our lives for us.  That is why it is so important to have a spiritual belief system that gives us the courage and faith to move forward in life and in Love.  We need to enlarge our perspective of life so that we can separate Truth from false beliefs in order to open up to accessing the Love that is our True nature.

The more we enlarge our perspective, the closer we get to the cause instead of just dealing with the symptoms.  For example, the more we look at the dysfunction in our relationship with ourselves as human beings the more we can understand the dysfunction in our romantic relationships.

Sophisticated Discernment 

When I refer to the sophistication of the online book I have been writing for the past year, it is primarily the levels of discernment that I discuss in that work that I am referencing. 
"I do not have any idea at this time when I will be writing the new chapters for the beginning of this book, or how many more chapters I will be adding at the end - as I say, to be revealed.  I just felt that it was time to begin this separation because as written, the chapters from 3 onward took on a whole new tone and focus than the first two had.  It has been obvious to me for quite awhile that they were different works.  Now the process of separating them has begun.  Another ironic note since separation is one of the themes in this online book.  As the detachment section of this Author's Foreword states: 
One of those paradoxes is that in order to get in touch with our ONENESS with everything, we must first be able to define our self as separate from others.  And in order to become an integrated whole being, we must first separate and own all of the different parts of our self within.
In Book 2, I discuss the importance of separation on multiple levels in regard to a number of different issues, including:  separating ego strength from self worth and separating our feelings of self worth from our emotional relationships to external sources." - Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in The Light Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life Author's Foreword
Learning to separate our feelings of self worth from our emotional relationships to external sources is a complicated and complex process that involves reprograming our ego defenses to align with how life really works instead of how we learned it worked in childhood.  The attitudes, definitions, and beliefs we learned in childhood have been dictating our perspective and expectation of life - have been the determining factor in our relationships and emotional reactions to life.  In recovery we need to be willing to take a clear look at all of those attitudes and beliefs in order to change our perspectives and relationships. 

One of the reasons that our perception of, and relationship with this life business has been so out-of-balance is that we have lacked the ability to discern between different levels.  The twisted, distorted perspective of life that humans have evolved is, in part at least, the result of trying to apply the Truths of one level to the reality of another. . . . . .

. . . . . . So we have four levels, perspectives, on which "happily ever after" is a concept that contains at least some Truth.  However, applying that Truth to the physical plane in the form of believing that you will achieve "happily ever after" when you get married or find your mate is obviously a false and dysfunctional belief that has resulted from human inability to discern between levels.

Human beings have also tried to apply realities of the physical level to the Spiritual level with the disastrous result that humans have come up with an image of the God-Force that fights wars.  This image of the God-Force, with the characteristics of a war-like male, is completely out of balance because it is not the image of a balanced male warrior - it is the image of a male with no feminine side.

In Chapter 14 I talk about separating the Metaphysical power of the name, message, and symbolism of the Master Teacher Jesus Christ from the angry, vengeful, Old Testament male image of god that is at the foundation of so much of the war we see manifesting in our world today.  In Chapter 15 I talk about the masculine feminine imbalance that has dominated human evolution on this planet and how the message of Love taught by Jesus brought feminine energy into the concept of god in Western Civilization.  I also point out how this is one of those good news / bad news situations.  It is bad news because people that are stuck in black and white thinking don't have the capacity to pick the baby out of the bathwater - thus truth is seen as a question of right and wrong, us versus them.  Some people feel the resonance of Truth in the message of Love and accept the dirty bathwater with the baby - while others reject the shame and judgment and throw out both.  I used to throw out both because of the shame based religion I grew up in.  My recovery helped me to find the wisdom to separate and discern so I could pick the baby out of the bathwater.  The wisdom to discern the difference is the key to balance, inner peace, and freedom.

The teachings of all the Master Teachers, of all the world's religions, contain some Truth along with a lot of distortions and lies.  Discerning Truth is often like recovering treasure from shipwrecks that have been sitting on the ocean floor for hundreds of years - the grains of Truth, the nuggets of gold, have become encrusted with garbage over the years.

In the process of escaping from my black and white thinking and trying to discover a Spiritual belief system that supported the belief that I was Lovable and worthy, I was led to question any belief that didn't support Love and my intuitive belief that we are all ONE. 

In my personal recovery, I found that I needed a Spiritual container large enough to allow for the possibility that I was not a defective, shameful being.  I searched until I found some logical, rational means to explain life in a way that would allow me to start letting go of the shame I was carrying and start learning how to be Loving to myself. - Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light   Chapter 14 Spiritual Manifesto
The bottom line for me in my quest to find a concept of a Higher Power that could Love me can be summed up in a couple of places I quoted myself in Chapter 12: Codependency in New Age Movement
"What matters are questions like:  How does this information apply to my healing process today?;  How can this message help me see myself more clearly?;  Can the information help me to forgive myself and be more Loving to myself?;  Is the information and the way it is being presented about Love - does it support Love or is it empowering separation?" - The True Nature of Love part 6 - Twin Souls, Souls Mates, and Kindred Spirits
"There is Truth in all religions, spiritual belief systems, esoteric practices, etc. - but there is also twisted, distorted misinformation in them all. . . . . If our intellectual paradigm is limited, then we cannot see and hear clearly.  If our emotional wounds are being allowed to unconsciously run our lives then we are incapable of Truly understanding our intuition." - My Spiritual Belief System and the New Millennium
The bottom line to my message in the Spiritual Manifesto of Chapter 14, is that the meaning and purpose of life is Spiritual.  We are on a journey to reconnecting with Love - to learning how to Love our self so that we can open up Loving, and being Loved by, other human beings - by our neighbors. 

The reason that we have not been Loving our neighbor as ourselves is because we have been doing it backwards.  We were taught to judge and feel ashamed of ourselves.  We were taught to hate ourselves for being human.

We are here to learn to Love ourselves so that we can Truly Love our neighbors.  We've been doing it backwards:  hating our neighbors like we hate ourselves.

It is kind of a cosmic joke, see.  We have been taught that we are human and that it is bad and shameful, and that we have to somehow earn the right to be Spiritual.  The Truth is that we already are Spiritual and there is nothing bad or shameful about "being human."

We are Spiritual Beings having a human experience.  We are here to experience feelings and touch and Love.  The goal of the healing process is not to reach someplace where we are above all the human experiences and feelings. We are here to feel these feelings.

As I say at the end of that chapter: 

It is certainly not necessary for you to agree with my beliefs - but please for the Love of Jesus (or Allah, or The Goddess, or Jehovah, or whatever name resonates for you as a representation of a Loving Higher Power) and for your self, question any belief you are carrying that is blocking you from opening up to Love. - Chapter 15 Spiritual Manifesto
Love is our quest.  Recovery from codependency - the inner child healing work - is a path to reconnecting with Love, to learning to give and receive Love.  It is a terrifying, painful, Joyous, fascinating, awe inspiring journey.  I recommend in highly. ;-) ~ Robert 7-7-03
Two hearts with an arrow through them symbolizing both Love and heartbreak.
September 2003 Update Newsletter
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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 2009 by Robert Burney  PO Box 235401 Encinitas CA 92023.