Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Shame as an Identity

When one suffers from alienation, that means that one experiences parts of themselves as alien.  For example, if you were never allowed to express your feelings (anger, happy, sad etc) in your family then your feelings becomes an alienated part of you. And the outcome of that is you will feel shame when you feel particular feelings. This is a part of you that must be disowned or severed & avoided.

The problem with this is there is no way to actually get rid of your emotion without expressing them. For example, anger has odd qualities that most in recovery don’t associate with anger. Anger is self preserving, it is self protecting.  Without the energy of Anger we would all become door mats and people pleasers.

When we deny our feelings and push them aside shame is generated.  If left to its own devices shame becomes an identity. Now because it is so deeply and completely internalized shame stops having a proper place in our life. It no longer is a marker about what we are doing … it becomes who we are.  When it is completely internalized and becomes an identity, it is impossible for any of us to speak about how we feel think or wish because we have become the object of our own contempt.  I am shamed whenever I feel my feelings.

Thus it follows that to feel shame is to feel exposed or be seen for whom we imagine us to be and who we imagine us to be is always a considerably diminished picture of who and what we really are.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

George Eliot, Silas Marner, p. 150

"In old days there were angels who came and took men by the hand and led them away from the city of destruction. We see no white-winged angels now. But yet men are led away from threatening destruction: a hand is put into theirs, which leads them forth gently towards a calm and bright land, so that they look no more backward; and the hand may be a little child's."

-- George Eliot, Silas Marner, p. 150

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

An Interesting Place to Be

I seem to be pointed in an interesting direction now, but this is anything but easy, in fact it seems to be a lot like work.  I seem to have a good sense of my Higher Power now but I seem to be weighed down by who and what I think I am. 

Time to begin to examine who it is that I think I might be. 

So, I find a place by a mystical stream and take off this metaphorical backpack and begin to examine whom it is that I think and thought I was and am.

My pack is full to overflowing with stuff.  Old stuff, new stuff, embarrassing stuff, stuff I wouldn’t tell anyone, even on my death bed, and stuff I don’t even know that I have done.  There is so much stuff, I cannot count it all.  So I reach in and take hold of some stuff, a shiny sort of thing, and I begin to examine it.  I have been told to catalogue what I find, just for posterity’s sake.  Not too sure why, other then it sounded like something I should do and one of my fellow travelers said may be it was a good idea.  Out comes the shiny thing and I see me reflected in it and I sort of like what comes out, it shows me off to be a nice, loving sort of a person. I am actually sort of surprised, but I catalogue it and carry on. 

Then out comes a handful of goop, and it is black and sticky and smelly, and I just know everyone is looking at it and I am so embarrassed by it.  I catalogue it too and then set it aside. 

I watch both of these items in the light of day and notice something unusual. First the goop, as it is exposed to the light of day, it dries out and slowly the smell lifts. I notice that it could be brushed off, if I wanted.  I acknowledge this, and as I do that the shiny sort of thing, the loving parts of me, begins to melt into the pores of my being and become part of what I know about myself.  Interesting.

I check in with my Higher Power and I ask what should I do with all this stuff in the backpack?  That Voice of Sanity tells me, with great certainty, to continue until all is examined and catalogued. 

What a task; I don’t think I can go through with it, but I know I have to. It is part of my ritual of surrender. It really is my first action I have had taken toward my own recovery.  I carry on into my future.

. . . Experience Has Taught Me That . . .
I am thankful for the opportunity to come to know me
Thankful for the opportunity to learn to trust.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Codependency is a child's reaction to families that are messed up.

Codependency is a child's reaction to families that are messed up. It comes from; the children living their lives adjusting to someone else’s problem:

• Divorce

• Marital problems

• Affairs

• addictions

• Battering

• Abuse of all kinds like: unpredictability -- enmeshment -- abandonment -- emotional denial -- threats --neglect -- incest --parents being unhappy about themselves, their relationships and lives.

• Parents not dealing with their problems, expecting the kids to make it OK

• Lack of affirmation of self

• Parental unavailability which produces self-doubt in the child

• Shame inducing

• Excess pressure to fill the family needs Perfectionistic expectations -- covert stress and control -- issues of martyrdom by parents

• Children are overly involvement with parents' problems.

It is the crushing of our trust, identity, autonomy, safety, reality, self-image, industry, pleasure and creativity.

We learn to react to the needs, problems and dysfunctions of those around us, rather than to our feelings, our reality, our needs and wants. It comes from a child's insecurity of living with parents in a dysfunctional marriage—a family that produces fears, anxi¬eties, worries, phobias, hyper vigilance, and control issues.

As children we tried to make everything better and were unable to do so. We believed our survival depended on fixing the family. We be¬came over-responsible or totally irresponsible and swung frequently between the two places. The prem¬ises, the myths, our modeled behavior, rules, scripting and the repetition all contributed to our pain.

We re-enact dysfunction. As adults, we pass the legacy of our dysfunction and denial to whoever is handy: wives, husbands and children. As children we existed for our parents. The family roles were set up to take care of the parents needs—role reversal is abuse. Dishonest, spiritually bankrupt, hopeless, dysfunctionality, emptiness and undependability are all hallmarks of the dysfunctional family structure today. As the crisis and problems occur and recycle themselves in our present lives the solution to our healing lay back in the pain of our family of origin issues. We must go there and resolve our feeling for our healing to be affective. Nothing changes until it become real. We learned to protect, deny, obey and "live with” the intolerable. We have created a national parental protection racket. We try to believe that parents always did their best or at least tried to do their best. Not True! In protecting the family system we lose touch with the real source of our codependency and stay focused on symptoms not the problems.

Like a conduit, the child receives abuse and dysfunc¬tional lifestyle. We are unaware of the connection between our painful lifestyle and our unresolved childhood issues. Hiding what underlies our dysfunction makes change difficult, even impossible as long as the denial clouds our vision of the truth about what happened. Our behaviors, such as over-responsibility, enabling, excess tolerance of the inappropriate behavior in and by others; our mood swings or disordered eating and the list goes on and on, are truly expression of our compulsivity. It is our response to a system that did not meet our needs. The Fact Is We do not choose any of this. It may seem voluntary that we did or do what we do but we can only choose when we have full awareness, not just of the driving forces beneath the behavior, our feelings and our internal conflict. We subconsciously repeat the dilemmas, fears and pain of child¬hood—or we avoid repeating them to the point of going in the opposite extreme. 180 degrees from sick is still sick.

Many of us maintain our shame so our parents don't have to feel guilt. In role reversal and care taking children are set up to give meaning to parents' lives and as a result get lost or enmeshed in the parents' problems. The issues created become multi/intergenerational in nature. What doesn't get passed back gets passed around or passed on to the next generation. Our problems become our children's problems. Our children's problems become our cultural problems.

Family violence, social messages, school, church, culture and peers all play a part in creating codependents.

We live with an educational system that often:

• Stifles our ability to become who we were meant to be.

• Squelches our curiosity, creativity and interest. Smothers awareness of the awesomeness of creation. Breaks down creation into meaningless components.

• Forces us to stay within the lines with our crayons.

• Coerces us to memorize and repeat without understanding or interest. Compels us to compete and learn so little in such a long period of time.

• Denies our ability to question or think critically for ourselves.

• Demands of us to discover ourselves either as a failure or a success.

Survival in the system depends on one's ability to adapt to whatever school style or teacher style we happen to be in at the time and to be the recipient of the frustration of the teaching profession. This is codependency reinforced in our educational system.

Religion contributes with:

• Undercurrents of sexual shame, frequently over lapping onto female revulsion and hate. Concept of God as a judgmental, powerful, punishing father figure who selects those to favor and those to punish randomly.

• Focus on a God of miracles, of power, who alters the course of creation, who is jealous and petty, and vindictive. Over-ritualized liturgy. Religion being based on intolerance. Religious Institutions operating with addictive greed with a focus on punishment, shame and threats.

• Religiosity (an addiction) rather than spirituality. Religious arrogance. Religious extortion and exploitation & sick religious leaders.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Imago/Coupling ... Rules of the Road ... From Harville Hendrix

You have relied on yourself to find your mates and partners. The days of arranged marriages etc are over. We take what we get or so we think. There is a place deep inside each of us that wants to guide you in your search for the ideal mate, someone who will both resemble your caretakers and compensate for the repressed parts of yourself. You like every one else has relied on self and the thought of freedom of choice to handle this aspect or better said relied on an unconscious image of the opposite sex or the ideal work mate or ... and that image has been forming since birth. This is called the Imago ... Latin term for 'image.'

The Concept of the Imago: It is for all practical purposes, a composite picture of the people who influenced you most strongly at an early age. This may have been your mother and father, siblings, or maybe a babysitter or close relative. But whoever they were, they were, a part of your experience and your brain recorded everything about them … the sound of their voices, the amount of time they took to answer your cries, the color of their skin when they got angry, the way they smiled when they were happy, the set of their shoulders, the way they moved their bodies, their characteristic moods, their talents and interests. Along with these impressions your brain recorded all your significant interactions with them. Here is the important part, your brain didn't interpret this data; it sim-ply etched them onto a template.

It may seem improbable that you have such a detailed record of your caretakers somewhere inside your head when you have only a dim recollection of those early years. In fact, many people have a hard time remembering anything that happened to them before the age of five or six-even dramatic events that should have made a deep impression.

But scientists report that we have incredible amounts of hidden infor¬mation in our brains. Neurosurgeons discovered this fact while per¬forming brain surgery on patients who were under local anesthesia. They stimulated portions of the patients' brains with weak electrical currents, and the patients were suddenly able to recall hundreds of forgotten episodes from childhood in astonishing detail .

Our minds are vast storehouses of forgotten information. There are those who suggest that everything that we have ever experienced resides some¬where in the dark, convoluted recesses of our brains.

Not all of these experiences are recorded with equal intensity, how¬ever. The most vivid impressions seem to be the ones that we formed of our caretakers early in life. And of all the interactions that we had with these key people, the ones that were most deeply engraved were the ones that were the most wounding, because these were the encoun¬ters that seemed to threaten our existence (literally a death threat to the observer).

Gradually, over time, these hundreds of thousands of bits of information about our caretakers merged together to form a single image. The old brain, in its inability to make fine distinctions, simply filed all this information under one heading: The People Responsible For Our Survival. You might think of the imago as a silhouette with few distinguishing physical characteris¬tics but with the combined character traits of all of your primary caregivers.

To a large degree, whether or not you have been at¬tracted to someone depended on the degree to which that person matched your imago. A hidden part of your brain ticked and hummed, coolly analyzing that person's traits, and then compared them with your rich data bank of information.

• If there was little correlation, you felt no interest. This person was destined to be one of the thousands of people who come and go in your life with little impact.

• If there was a high degree of correlation, you found the person highly attractive.

This imago-matching process bears some resemblance to the way soldiers were trained to identify flying aircraft during World War ll. The soldiers were given books filled with silhouettes of friendly and enemy aircraft. When an unidentified plane came into view, they hur¬riedly compared the plane with these illustrations. If it turned out to be a friendly plane, they relaxed and went back to their posts. If it was an enemy aircraft, they leaped into action.

Unconsciously you have compared every man or woman that you have met to your imago. When you identified a close match, you felt a sudden surge of interest.

This is all hidden behind the scenes so to speak. It happens as a natural process without our thinking but and here is the important part it has far more influence in the day to day doings of our life then most would care to admit. All aspects of the unconscious mind have this unknowingness of process in common, after all you had no awareness of this elaborate sorting mechanism was there or that it was operating in your life. There is a place where you can catch a peek at it in action, in your dreams.

• If you reflect on your dreams, one thing you will notice is that your old brain capriciously merges people together.

• A dream that starts out with one person playing a part suddenly has another person filling that role; the unconscious has little regard for corporeal boundaries.

You may be able to recall a dream where your spouse suddenly transmutated into your mother or father, or a dream in which your spouse and a parent played such similar roles or treated you in such a similar manner that they were virtually indistin-guishable.

Self: I have a problem

Dream: Here let me show you.

This is the closest you will ever come to directly verifying the existence of your imago. But when you do the stemming exercises especially in the off hand you will have a chance to compare the dominant character traits of your mate with the dominant character traits of your primary caretakers, the parallel that your unconscious mind draws between spouses and care¬takers will become unmistakably clear.

Let's take this information about the imago and see how it adds to our earlier theories of attraction.

The question that I'm frequently asked when I talk about the uncon¬scious factors in mate partner selection is this: how can people tell so much about each other so quickly?

Are We Soul Mates?

The reason that we are such instant judges of character is that we rely on what Freud called “unconscious perception.”

• We intuitively pick up much more about people than we are aware of.

• When we meet strangers, we instantly register the way they move, the way they seek or avoid eve contact, the clothes they wear, their characteristic expres¬sions, the way they fix their hair, the ease with which they laugh or lie, their ability to listen, the speed at which they talk, the amount of time it takes them to respond to a question—we record all of these characteristics and a hundred more in a matter of minutes.

• Just by looking at people, we can absorb vast amounts of informa¬tion.

• When I walk to work each morning, I automatically appraise the people on the crowded sidewalks.

• My judgment is instan¬taneous:

A. this person is someone I wish I knew;

B. that person is someone I have no interest in.

I find myself attracted or repulsed with only a superficial glance. When I walk into a party, one glance around the room will often single out the people that I want to meet. Other people ¬report similar experiences. As a police officer on Hwy Patrol, I could pick out which cars had booze in them while cruising at sixty-five miles an hour and be right. A Free Lunch ... bet with my partner... depended on the “call” being right.

Our powers of observation are especially acute when we are looking for a mate/partner, because we are searching for someone to satisfy our funda¬mental unconscious drives.

We subject everyone to the same intense scrutiny: is this someone who will nurture me and help me recover my lost self?

When we meet someone who appears to meet these needs, the old brain registers instant interest.

In all subsequent encounters, the unconscious mind is fully alert, searching for clues that this might indeed be the perfect mate, or soul mate ... New Age red-herring phrase for an attempt to understand what was unnoticed consciously but felt deeply.

If later experiences' confirm the imago match, our interest climbs even further.

On the other hand, if later experiences show the match to be superficial, our interest plummets, and we look for a way to end or reduce the importance of the relationship.

Not everyone finds a mate or partner who conforms so closely to the imago.

Sometimes only one or two key character traits match up, and the initial attraction is likely to be mild. Such a relationship is often less passionate and less troubled than those characterized by a closer match. The reason it is less passionate is that the old brain is still look¬ing for the ideal ‘gratifying object,’ and the reason it tends to be less troubled is that there isn't the repetition of so many childhood strug¬gles. When people with weak imago matches terminate their relation¬ships, it's often because they feel little interest in each other, not because they are in great pain. ‘There wasn't all that much going on,' they say.’ Or ‘I just felt restless. I knew that there was something better out there.’

At this point in our discussion of partnering, we have a more complete understanding of the mystery of attraction. To the biological theory and the exchange theory and the persona theory and family systems dynamics theory I have added the idea of the unconscious search for a person who matches our imago.

Our motivation for seeking an Imago Match is our urgent desire to heal childhood wounds.

We also have new insight into conflict:

If the primary reason we select our mates is that they resemble our caretakers, it is inevitable that they are going to re injure, stumble over, and be blamed for awakening some very old and sensitive wounds; when we sink into this quag¬mire of pain and confusion, need and control, called “the power struggle” that is a sure sign That History’s Strange Tale is unfolding before us, actually better said, deep within us.


Amber flame burns clear in the night.
Pain and Strain pushed out of sight

Caring is lost
In history's strange tale

Life's just the Past made present in detail

No one sees that Amber flame
It slowly consumes
And leaves only pain

It smiles

Neil Douglas–Tubb (1993)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Suzuki Roshi

In the Beginners Mind,
There are many possibilities.
In the Expert's Mind,
There are few.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

135 On Healing Monsters Real and Imagined

EXPERIENCE has taught us that if we are to heal or have any hope of healing, we have to come to terms with the concept that life is not what we thought it was. 

Most of us developed opinions early on in life about how we thought life was supposed to be, and we spent the balance of our lives fitting whatever it was that came along in our life’s experience into our original version of Life 101. 

An early opinion cast in bronze and destined never to change.

Well, that’s the job that lies ahead of us, if we are to change, to break out of our old opinions that were cast in bronze. To look into ourselves, to find the hurt, to find the pain, and to gently allow the past to pass, to recover our here and now and allow the pathway to our future to open. 

Release The Past In The Present And That Gives Us Back Our Future[1].

Taken from Experience HasTaught Us --- 175 Missing Pieces  Bright Star Press ...Available on Amazon.com

[1] A Course In Miracles – adapted from 50 Principles -- Text

First Rule of Holes

First Rule of Holes

If You Are In One

Stop Digging

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Wound Is Part Of The Curriculum

The Wound Is Part And Parcel Of The Curriculum ... Spiritual Curriculum

Four Ways The Soul speaks to us about what we are meant to do with our lives:

I get up every morning determined both to change the world and have one hell of a good time doing so. I have found that sometimes all this planning on how I should spend my day can make my day difficult.

We all leave childhood with wounds ... that is a truth ... In time we may transform these wounds from liabilities into assets. Those injuries suffered early on invite each of us to enter into the most human of experiences and vocations: to heal ourselves and others that we touch.

Signals From My Soul that can act as a guide as I make my way through this life...

• Being Bliss(ed): What brings me to alive ... What bliss’s me out... fascinates me ... excites me and or gives me energy ... makes me feel alive???

• Being Blessed: Who has blessed me ... who has told me I did something right ... something good ... who has believed in me ... supported me at the most critical time in my life ... my most difficult moments...???

• Being Pissed: Who/What pisses me off ... Righteous indignation ... What do I think needs to be changed or improved in this world ... What injustices need to be righted???

• Being Diss(ed)/Wounded: Who/What has wounded me ... what things still affect me to this day ... Where and when have I been disrespected or seen someone else treated badly and I was powerless to act ... what have I become sensitive to ...???

The difference between a wound that festers and diminishes us and one that leads to growth is whether or not we use the wound to energize us to change something in the world and make a contribution. We use the process of the healing to lead us someplace new in our psyche.

Do we sit by the side of the road and simply watch as life goes by?

We have choice!

It is a fact that if we withdraw due to the wound or shrink from engaging with the world or others then the wound cannot lead us to healing ourselves or the world. The wound is part and parcel of the curriculum ... It Is Part of The Curriculum For Life.

There are things, situations, people that energize me, bring me to alive, makes my heart sing. What they are for you?

• I am righteously upset about this situation or that circumstance in my life:

• I think I could contribute to changing this situation or that condition by doing:

• I have identified my wound(s) as:

• Because of my wounds and how I work at healing them, I have made the following contributions to my life:

• Who has told you that you were gifted ... that you mattered?

• Who has given you unconditional messages of love and support ... encouragement?

• Who mentor (s) (ed) you?

• Out of all these blessings and opportunities mentioned above, what path could you follow and what path have you followed?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Shift In Perception

The Miracle
The Shift In Perception

The Miracle is the shift in perception … that is the healing … simply shifting our way of thinking from this to that.

That shift may or may not cause other things to happen in your life, and for me many did happen as a result … but what I learned on my journey was the outcome is not the exercise. The miracle comes in the simple shift of focus , and the rest is simply how things will work out; First Comes The Shift Of How I Think, And Then The Process Of Change As It Reverberates Through The Universe.

Sometimes my cancer passes and sometimes I can die peacefully, but my point of view shifts; that’s all and I see that everything is exactly the way it is supposed to be. I borrow and adapt from Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book:

Acceptance is the key to my relationship with God today.

I have discovered in my journey that it is not in my best interest to just sit there and wait for God to unfold the universe before me.

What I have found is that I need to be doing something that I have come to know is constructive for me, and I need to do that in His world not just in my head. I need to do that for both others and me.

Then have the faith that the outcomes of my endeavors will be the outcomes He wants.

So, however life turns out, that is God’s will for me … me being proactive with my creator and creation.

I have come to learn that it is a must that I keep my ego’s thought processes off my expectations … of what I think life should be for me and for others. Why? Because my peace of mind is directly proportional to my level of acceptance of me and my circumstances … as they are, not how I want them to be.

“When I remember this, I can see I've never had it so good.”

Page 415 in first edition and page 455 in second edition of ACIM Chapter 21 paragraphs 1 and 2 adapted from AA’s Big Book

There Is A Truth

There is a truth that I had to come to terms with as I did this stuff called my recovery:

My Awakening Has Nothing To Do With My Analysis Of My Awakening … or … The Analyzing Of Just What The Awakened State Is … or … for that matter … The Analysis Of The Various Types Of Blunders And Mistakes I Have Made That Kept Me From Awakening.

What I have come to know is this:

My Awakening Is Simply My Awakening … all I need to do is forget my latest dream or imagining on how I think things should be … then get past my Ego and my best thinking and simply Turn To God And Let Go.

Sounds So Easy

Yet So Very Difficult