Saturday, June 23, 2012

Codependency 101

The Primary Purpose
The primary purpose of a long term interactive group is to provide a setting in which the issues of codependency emerge spontaneously ... Interactive group therapy works best when members discover themselves behaving inside the group much as they do in real life – being distrustful, controlling their feelings, sacrificing their own needs to ensure that others are taken care of, revealing only carefully chosen parts of themselves ... when they finally understand that those behaviours reflect habitual and unconscious patterns, the group can become a laboratory for experimenting with alternative behaviours ...  

Dr Timmen Cermak:  
Diagnosing and Treating Co Dependency (pgs 88-89)
Part One

     All of the secrets of healing from co dependency are wrapped and hidden in the above statement. 
     What Cermak has been able to do in that statement is note that the fastest way through the recovery process from something that is all encompassing is to walk right through and notice/change what it is that you have never noticed about yourself before, all done in a safe environment and taken over time. 
     It is necessary to understand that when a person is raised in a dysfunctional home ... the imprinting done by the circumstances of that home and those people be that healthy or unhealthy forms the building blocks that the designs ... the road map ... the individual will follow unconsciously as he or she attempts to live a normal life. The truth of the matter is the normal life pattern is a repeat in some way shape or form of the road map that was designed in childhood, and it never worked very well then and it won’t work well now ... it is something akin to attempting to build an atomic reactor with a screw driver and a ball peen hammer and nothing else. 
     Then if we are left to our own devices to try and figure out what materials we need to use to construct this imagined place called a life, we are left with making a choice on what materials will be used and how we are going to use them from our previous experiences.     The problem is we don’t have the remotest idea on how to solve the problem of constructing something you have no idea how to do or what it should look and feel like.
     To be able to heal you have to be able to see yourself as you have never seen yourself before ... that is one of the keys to healing. 
     Seeing, Accepting and Owning are key and separate stages in the healing function. It takes all three to be in place for effective change to happen. 

     The only way to transform, to make the changes you say you want to make is to come to terms with what you believe about yourself. Then once you come to terms with what you believe about yourself the next step is to unlearn what you have learned. 

   Understanding your experience in life may not have been aligned with Truth and Honesty initially but at the same time appreciating the fact, It Was What Happened is a necessary first step. 

     The concept of healing is very simple, but at the same time very hard to do. After all, you depend on what you have learned about yourself from the world around you. That much is true, the problem with this whole thing is: not a lot of all this experience that you had ... happen to you ... was based in any truth, honesty or love ... most likely the experience(s) happened in the shadow of someone else’s pain and twisted view of life.

    What most don’t understand is that everyone is perfectly normal considering what they have been through ... the only exclusion to this rule is organic psychiatric disorders/mental illness ... all Personality Disorders are directly related in the causal sense to the environment the individual is or was immersed in ... 

     A personality disorder is described as being: an enduring pattern of experience(s) and behavior(s) that deviates markedly from the expectation of the individual’s culture. 

     These patterns are both pervasive and inflexible. These patterns have an onset factor usually seen in early adolescence and extends well into adulthood. These patterns lead directly to distress for the individual and often as not lead to the impairment of relationships and all this is spread out over the individual’s timeline.  These patterns and this disorder respond well to treatment.

     To be more specific, a personality disorder is a pattern of behaviors that a person follows religiously and doesn't want to change even though it causes him or her emotional upsets and trouble with other people at work and in their personal relationships. One of the clear identifying facts is: It is often denied as a problem in the face of over whelming evidence to the contrary. 

     Codependency does not have an organic base; thus not limited to episodes of mental illness, it is a disorder not a disease. It is not caused by drug or alcohol use, head injury, or illnesses; although drugs, alcohol, food etc are often sought as a temporary relief from the despair and depression that accompanies personality disorders. 

     There are about a dozen different behavior patterns classified as personality disorders by DSM-IV:
     (1) cognition -- i.e., perception, thinking, and interpretation of oneself, other people, and events;
     (2) affectivity -- i.e., emotional responses (range, intensity, liability, appropriateness);
     (3) interpersonal functions;
     (4) impulsivity.

     The healer in these matters is like the gate keeper.  They must know the way through but at the same time have the patience of Job to wait out their client’s progress and process on the path. One of the defining characteristics that surfaced at the Brassaville Tex conference in 1988 was that co dependence and personality disorders were often treated by untreated co dependents suffering from personality disorders ... 

     If you don’t really know what you are up against then there is no way in hell of recovering from what you can’t see or understand.  All that anyone is left with is their inability to cope with something that is slowly destroying their life.  
They know it ... they just can’t do anything about it ... 

(003 EHTU)
EXPERIENCE has taught us that getting to the truth of our experiences is absolutely essential to our well-being (at all levels - mentally, emotionally, and spiritually).  The surrender of this truth to the mythology of our defensive delusions is almost always expressed, sooner or later, in some form of grave illness.  

In order to become whole we must try, over a long period of time, often until death, to discover the truth of our history, a truth that may often cause pain before we can reach past it to our freedom.  

If we choose instead to content ourselves with an intellectual appreciation and understanding of this loss of truth, often mistakenly referred to as wisdom, we will remain in the sphere of delu¬sion and self-deception. 

We Begin Our Journey
Of Awakening
With A Single Step

First Need to Know
The recovery process has some very predictable need to’s in it and attached to it. 

The “I need to’s” are a necessity ... like it or not. 

     The rule that always works with the healing process is “If You Do It— It Will Work.” 

     The first corollary is: If I Don’t ...  It Won’t ... 

     That is followed by 

     The second corollary: My Best Thinking Is Not My Best Friend.

I caution here: there is a difference between want to’s and need to’s and the vast majority of us tend to lean on the side of want to’s until our life becomes so unmanageable and so painful that ...we’ll do anything, even do the need to’s.

The “need to’s” become a very important term in the process of recovery because if you forget or miss or don’t honour them then it may seem that all is for not. All sorts of things happen: anxiety, anger, fear, neurotic behaviours, phobias, various addictions kick up and we go out or do research or whatever the current buzz phrase is for acting out. The list is quite extensive

The particular ordering in the acquiring of the need to’s is likely to be different for each of us, and it really does not matter how we got them, but it does seem to matter how we process them, i.e., in the various literature sources for 12 Steps it is pointed out that not until the steps are done and done in order and done thoroughly will results happen. 

It is something like trauma first aid. It does not matter how the injury was caused, but it matters immensely how the patient is treated and in what order the treatment is applied. 

It follows the 3 B’s - Breathing, Bleeding, and Broken.
Following that order tends to keep the patient alive.

Of course there are exceptions, and it is understood that no rule is fixed.
It is simply a pattern that works.

The best working concept in doing what all this is describing is:
An Open Heart,
An Open Mind and
A Willingness to Change ...
All the basics are outlined in that one statement ...  
The concept that needs to be embraced is: 
This is not about Who I am
This is about what happened to Me
And Beautiful ...
Some days my behavior stinks ...
I am not my behavior

With these two concepts as benchmarks the individual is ready to begin the journey of going nowhere the long way ... to find someone who was never really lost ... and at the same time confront each of the demons that comes out of the shadows of their life. 

This entire journey is not about what you are seeing ... but it is about how you are looking ... and what your mind does with what it thinks it is seeing ... 

What is an Addiction, Obsession and or Compulsion ...
Drugs, Alcohol Eating Disorder Etc ...

People use food, drugs, alcohol and other activities for many reasons; to feel pleasure, to forget their problems, to help them relax. 

An addiction is something that I do, something I consume, a set or subset of people that I hang out with that, if I do consume, do or hang out with them I know that there will be negative consequences. BUT I go ahead and do it anyway in fact I can’t seem to stop doing it even though I may want to.

No one chooses to become an addict or obsessive or compulsive, a co dependent ... but for everyone of us who has fallen prey to this disorder the very nature of what we do and how we do it was at one time the very thing we used to survive being in the midst of disorder, chaos and confusion. It was a time when we had no choice about whether what was happening around us. Now we have no choice we think to act out or not. The psychological and physical dependency on the substance or behavior overrides all logic. 

No matter how much we love our families we will engage in behaviours that can destroy those relationships – we lie, steal, cheat and abuse ourselves and others and it is usually the ones we love because they are handy.

People who are codependent have lost all hope, all faith, all belief that they can survive without alcohol or other drugs or their own particular behavior pattern that they learned in early to mid childhood. These substances and circumstances are not just stress relievers or crutches, they become life itself. 

It’s no wonder that if someone tries to take that thing away they’ll fight just like they are fighting for their life – because they are.

Codependents want the love and approval of their family and friends even if they act like they don’t need anyone. They tend to push people away, not because they don’t care about them, but because they feel shame and guilt and don’t want anyone else to see them as they see themselves.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Fact Of Life That Few People Really Understand

The only way to transform, to make the changes you say you want to make is to come to terms with what you believe about yourself. Then once you come to terms with what you believe the next step is to unlearn what you have learned. Understanding your experience in life may not have been aligned with The Truth of Life initially but appreciating, It Was What Happened is a necessary first step.
The concept is very simple. But at the same time very hard to do. After all, you depend on what you have learned about yourself from the world around you. That much is true, the problem with this whole thing is: not a lot of all this experience that happened was based in truth.
As you go through the process of unlearning ... things begin to happen ... things change. Your faith returns to you, that is, you have the ability to put it to use in the rituals of your dailyness ... this is not about Church and God, it is solely about perception ... actually about how I am looking and not necessarily what I am seeing.
Faith is a tool not an occupation nor vocation.
The same is true for your sense of self. As this grows your sense power increases. You are able to meet your own needs more readily... The Dependency On False Beliefs Diminishes Over Time.
As you recover the energy you have invested in false beliefs and their related systems and in defense strategies that once were a Godsend but now are debilitating ... you can invest that energy forward in your life and into your creativity ... you can become a co creator with the Creator.      

Thursday, June 7, 2012

So perfect in its pain

utter all absorbing soulful pain

unimaginable sadness

effusive gut wrenching sorrow

So perfect in its pain

that I cannot help but see it as a strange and unlikely part of heaven itself.

Christine Simcoe/5th June 2012

Knowing Your Default Settings

Like many of us, I was born into a normal family.  In my case, I was the oldest of six children with one brother and four sisters.  The idea of “Default Settings” came to me many years after entering a 12 Step Program.
 I am not a trained Therapist or Psychologist, but this book provides a venue for me to share my experience, strength and hope with others.  If you are reading this book, like me, you are searching for answers or you might be struggling with a life-challenging experience.  What I have learned is that, “if it is life-challenging, then it has the possibility to be life-changing”.  Ultimately, it is up to you.
My Introduction to the 12 Steps
I entered my first 12 Step meeting in July of 1992.  A few days earlier, I had learned that my wife, who I was separated from, had entered into a new relationship.  I came by this knowledge quite innocently.  My two sons, who were 6 and 8 years old at the time, recanted a story of spending the night at their mother’s new boyfriend’s home.  I immediately felt a rush of nausea sweep through my entire body and I became physically debilitated.  I couldn’t eat and all I wanted to do was sleep.
Six months previous, just after New Year’s Eve 1991 and following 3 days of not talking to my wife, I announced in dramatic style that I was leaving.  I packed some clothes and went to stay at a friend’s home.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was using one of my oldest, tested, tried and true manipulative tactics to control my wife, except this time it backfired on me.  She actually learned that she was happier without me (at least it seemed) and I sank into a deep depression.  For some time I had tried to re-unite with my wife and my broken family, but she resisted.  I had already put her through many years of my drinking and partying, while I enjoyed a career in the nightclub business.  She had finally had enough.
So with this as a backdrop, I entered into the room of my first 12 Step Program.  I recall that I could hardly sit in the meeting without becoming emotionally distraught.  I struggled to fight back my tears because this public display of emotions was very out of character for me.  Nonetheless, there I was sniffling and wiping the tears from my cheeks.  What I experienced was that, in the presence of these strangers, I did not feel ashamed or embarrassed.  Week after week I sat in that room, mainly listening to others who were braver than me shares their truth, while I continued to seek a salve for my broken heart.
 Like the beginning of a rain shower, the gifts from attending the weekly meetings began to fall; first I felt one drop and then another until finally the raindrops falling onto me began a cleansing and recovery process that continues today.
Step 1:  One of the first such raindrops occurred one weekend while I was out walking along the beach.  It was early in my process and I was struggling with the way my ex-wife was raising our sons.  Generally, I disapproved of her behavior and parenting style with our sons and, because I was no longer living with them, I couldn’t influence or control what was going on.  My belief system needed me to be in control of what was happening before, in my opinion, she did something that was going to deeply scar both children emotionally.  As I struggled with this dilemma I repeatedly recited to myself the first line of the “Serenity Prayer”, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things that I cannot change . . . ”   I remember thinking “how in the heck am I supposed to get serene about the stuff my ex-wife is doing?” 
As I struggled intellectually with the things that I thought I knew, and my frustration over the reality that I could not control what was happening (especially when I wasn’t there), I slowly began to get some awareness.  I cannot control the action or behavior of another person.  If I allow myself to be SERENE, then I can learn to ACCEPT that there are many things that happen day to day that I have absolutely no control over.  I can get angry, I can threaten, I can cry, I can attempt to use any manipulative tactic that I have been taught, but ultimately, I am POWERLESS over others.  The more I resist this principle, the more the level of peace and serenity is disrupted in my life. 
This awareness brought me to my initial understanding of Step One.

KS ... 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Rocks Are Hard and Water is Wet

That voice in your head, that committee of disturbing thoughts; that judge of all that you do and think, often times makes you feel ashamed of your feelings.
In fact as you read this and if you take the time to notice you will feel it. Right Now! It is always there ready to pounce at any opportunity.
To heal properly what you have to come to understand is there is nothing the matter with what you feel. Your feelings are a response to your thoughts; to your beliefs. If there is poison or toxicity in those thoughts or beliefs, then you will feel it; but your feelings are always an honest response to the deeper processes of perception.
There is no such thing as good emotions or bad emotions.  That is simply true ... good and bad are relative terms and are not the same for any two people.
Even if you feel anger or hate ... it comes from your integrity and your integrity rests in truth ... the fact is truth is trueeverywhere and always and it needs no support ... it just is.
Remember this ... if you feel it ... there is always a good reason for feeling it. Feelings are not necessarily an accurate portrayal of my surroundings or who I am but they will be an accurate portrayal of how I perceive my surroundings and how I perceive myself in my surroundings.

Adapted from the work of Don Miguel Ruiz
The Voice of Knowledge

Friday, June 1, 2012

Something To Remind Yourself Everyday

Something To Remind Yourself Everyday

Every time you lie to yourself, judge yourself or reject yourself, you have an emotional reaction, and it isn’t pleasant.
If you don’t like the emotional reaction, it is not about repressing what you feel; it’s about cleaning up the lies in your head, and the thinking that cause it.
All of your emotions change when you no longer believe the lies because your emotions are the effect not the cause.

Adapted from Don Miguel Ruiz  “The Voice of Knowledge”