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.

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