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Post Info TOPIC: Book Study: Codependent No More - Chapter 1


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Book Study: Codependent No More - Chapter 1
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The first chapter starts as it should, someone telling their story so we can identify.  This was Jessica's story.  A 32 year old woman married to an alcoholic.  Jessica tells of her inability to function in life anymore.  The depression - the lack of will to do even the smallest things like showering.  Naps became a necessity and her thoughts while awake are painful, full of resentment, and blaming her alcoholic husband for everything.  She shifts from anger to fear in moments - blaming the status of their life on him, then shifting to fear for the end of their marriage, then shifting again to worry about his whereabouts, drinking, infidelity, and losing his job.

The story continues as she explains how the day progresses as the family comes home.  She is mean and snaps at the children and that seems to be the way she treats them all the time anymore.  Her anger towards her husband seeps through her passive-aggressive words.  She even plays the martyr as she says she will go rake leaves as she is embarrassed what the neighbors think and knows he will not do it.

When a friend suggests Jessica accompany her to an Al-Anon meeting her resentments fly.  There is nothing wrong with her.  She is the one who holds it all together.  If he would just fix himself, then everything would be fine. 

Then we find out that her husband has been sober and in recovery for 6 months and he was getting better.  She wasn't, nothing was changing, in fact things were getting worse.

"Somehow, I had been affected by his drinking, and the ways I had been affected  had become MY problems.  It no longer mattered whose fault it was.

I had lost control."

Melody ends the chapter by explaining that Jessica was not crazy, she was codependent.  "Once you've got it, you've got it."  She explains that if you want to resolve the issue it is up to you - you have to do the work - it is your responsibility.  She says that  to begin we must learn about codependency and the associated thoughts and behaviors and then make changes.  Jessica got better.


-- Edited by Linistea on Sunday 20th of March 2011 09:36:10 AM

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Hi Linistea
 
Great first chapter  Thank you for the concise summary and your time 
 
I can so identify with the young lady in that chapter.  I do believe my problems started in early childhood and carried into my adult  years  The tools I used to manipulate my parents and siblings were destructive co-dependent tools and I did not know it .  My mom blamed everyone for her difficulties and although I knew that was not so I incorporated that thinking into my subconscious and when I ran into difficulties I too blamed others.  I martyred myself in an attempt to get others to do what I wanted. and gossiped to make myself look better than others and to keep the focus off me and on to others.
 
When I grew up and married an alcoholic my old destructive tools really played out    I felt anger, resentment. self pity and fear  Those were my only familiar feelings.  I tried to manipulate  to get my way, I thought he soul be able to ready my mind and never could be honest about what I needed or what I thought.
I was sinking fast- tried therapy, career change, church (in fact I was not talking to HP when I finally crawled into Al anon ), 
 
I too felt there was nothing wrong with me!!!! and if everyone would just change I would be fine  I really did believe this and did not see how crazy that was.!!!! I I also believed that I was perfect and knew all the answers.  I also thought that the anger, resentment self pity and fear were who I was and that here was NOTHING under that.
 
Thank God I found al anon and learned that these feelings were just that and that I could have them lifted and under that I would be fortunate enough to find Serenity, Courage and wisdom.  Living one day at a time, Focusing on myself, making gratitude list, meditating, accepting responsibility for myself was not an overnight change  It was all a process and I am still a work in progress but how grateful I am to have started on this road to recovering myself and allowing others to be themselves. I responded from an alanon persepective because no one else had responded and I thought I would start and then others might respond from another point  of view and i would learn.
 
Thanks for letting me share


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I could so identify with parts of Jessica's story,

'The list was endless, yet I couldn't get started. It was too much to think about. Doing it seemed impossible. Just like my life I thought'

That is the story of my life, the most motivation I could muster on some days was to write a list of things to do, I'd feel frozen to my couch with fear, feeling overwhelmed, and then sooner or later I'd just crawl back to bed. Using this as yet another excuse to beat myself up for being so pathetic and useless. Just a viscious circle, plagued by angry thoughts about what my partner should or shouldn't have done.

Looking back I think I've always been obsessive about my various partners behaviours, when I was drinking and using I was able to numb the pain a bit temporarily, untill it would get too much and the relationship would end. But since I've been sober, just over a year, I've only been with one man and got together in my early days of recovery and I'm repeating the same obsessive behaviour again, and feeling all the pain!!

I'm really looking forward to continiuing reading this book and growing through the experience.

Twyla

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I have to admit, that at first I had resistance at reading Jessica's' story. On some levels I cant relate. But pushing through anyway, I soon found my self feeling what she felt. My care taking was different in the physical sense, but non the less destructive to my spiritual, emotional, and physical health. I didn't grow up in an alcoholic home, didn't have children involved at home, and I did have a 12 step program in my life. Having had program going on, you would think I would see the truth of what was happening, and would have not made that long slow trip into hell. I have had a real big struggle with the victim thing. The program I have worked, gives no room for being a victim, yet I became as pathetic as Jessica and could not see it till I was waist deep in it. I was waist deep in a pitiful spiritual muddy swamp, and as I would fight to get free, the deeper I would sink.

Coming into Alanon was my own idea. There was a guy in my AA home group who's wife's drinking was killing him and he was attending with 12 years of his own sobriety, so I thought maybe it would work for me too. I made a hand full of meetings and came to the conclusion that it was not for me, I was not " that sick ". I did not need to sit in room full of woman, and join in complaining about how thier " A's "  have made them so sick. Wa wa wa....I have a program don't ya know. So I didn't stay. Looking back, they probably were not doing what I thought they were doing in those first few meetings. But I was, all I did was complain and tell my tale of whoa, everywhere I went, everyone I would talk to, wa wa wa ( all my program people ). I had become everything that Jessica described, only with my own brand of Superior smugness. A few more years of hell have gone by, and I hit Alanon again. I conceded that I am " that sick ". I have become sick from " her " drinking and ran with that for a few months, and tried to take some of the suggestions, I Started to learn some detachment as opposed to amputation. I started to be less angry and less self pity, but still feeling like a victim because I was made sick by her drinking, I found this codependent angle. Its not her fault or problem. Its mine. This board has motivated me to search out codependency recovery. I am enjoying this book and the guide to the 12 steps. I have also found another guy Robert Burney who goes a little deeper to the core of the matter. I am starting to really see that this codependent thing has been with me all my life, and not a result of living with an alcoholic. For me, the experience of living with an alcoholic was just a very fertile place for my codie stuff to just grow unrestrained and out of control.  I can take responsibility for what had happened in my life, not be a victim, and take responsibility for my own recovery. I, along with the power that runs the universe, can break free of this bondage. I really love this explanation of codependency that Robert Burney gives:................

 "Codependency is about having a dysfunctional relationship with self!  With our own bodies, minds, emotions, and spirits. With our own gender and sexuality. With being human. Because we have dysfunctional relationships internally, we have dysfunctional relationships externally.

Codependency is an emotional and behavioral defense system which our egos adapted in early childhood to help us survive.  We were raised in shame based, emotionally dishonest, Spiritually hostile environments by parents who were wounded in their childhoods by patriarchal, shame based civilization that treated children and women as property.  We formed our core relationship with self in early childhood - and built our relationship with self, life, and other humans based on that foundation.  Programmed to feel shame about being imperfect humans, and trained to be emotionally dishonest, we were set up to live life reacting to the emotional trauma and dysfunctional intellectual programming of childhood.  Because we feel shame about being human, we have a relationship with life that does not work to bring us Joy or inner peace. 

We do not have the power to change others - we do have the power to change our relationship with self by healing our codependency / wounded souls.  We can access the capacity to accept, embrace, forgive, have compassion for, and set boundaries with, all parts of self.  Learning to Love our self will allow us to gain the capacity to Love others in a healthy way.  Changing our relationship with life can transform life into an exciting adventure."  ~   Robert Burney




-- Edited by billyjack on Tuesday 22nd of March 2011 07:43:04 AM

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I can't relate to Jessica's story per se, but I can relate to her bottom and the physical and emotional aspects of it, being immobilized by depression and a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness and even powerlessness in a negative way, powerless to stop my emotions, powerless to change my situation, and helpless and hopeless as a result, the naps becoming a necessity, having my emotional life become so dominant it affected me physically

Truthfully what helped me finally break this pattern of thinking was working with a sponsor, we met, sat down, and he said the stupidest thing you could have ever said to me at that time

"So...how are you, what's going on?"

3 hours later when I stopped to take a breath he said "STOP!!!!!!!"

just.....stop...shut up!!!!

You bring your paper? pen? write this down

This ****'s gotta stop

then give me all the reasons it has to stop

he called this step zero

When I started writing, even though when i talked about all my "problems" it was a litany of misdeeds and harms done to me by others and my anger and helplessness, when I started writing something happened

this has got to stop only produced...me.....on the page, all the ways I was harming myself, I wrote pages on why this had to stop and every. single. thing. I wrote had to do with me

This was one of the most important and revealing things I had ever done, I learned my problem might have your name on it, but my solution had to have MY name on it, that all the changes that needed to happen in my life had to do with ME, the boundaries had to be mine, the changes had to be mine, that it was finally time for me to take back responsibility for my own emotional well being, that it was time to take back my power, I had given my power to others, now when I did that I initially did it knowingly, I put all my eggs in someone else's basket with the utter trust that this woman would care for those eggs like they were her own..and to say she didn't would be an incredible understatement, to say she took all my "eggs", including my nest egg and either stole them or threw them away would be fairly accurate....my friends had all told me "get it in writing, protect yourself Andrew"

I didn't think I needed to protect myself against my mother, I trusted her utterly

I was wrong

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I can relate to Jessica's story.  I have experienced losing control of myself and my actions and becoming obsessed with another.  It is hard to take ownership of that and not point your finger at the other person and blame them for your behaviors.



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For Tracey34. I hope you may find something here of interest. I suggested some literature & as well as the Step Study in accordance to CoDA we have this separately on the go at MIP also. It may help you with ideas. Never alone again. lilmzx



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Thank you so much!!!  Lilmz, i appreciate this post so much.  i am off to do my first day of clinical and this is a great reminder for keeping my head healthy.  i related to all of the comments made here, what a great way to start my day.   jj



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Thank you for this post. I read my story in this chapter 1, it was as if I had written it. I am Jessica! I have been struggling and not really getting it(anything really). I go to Alanon. But I guess I am a slow learner. I am excited to read this book. I have hope!

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Welcome, Coffeegrounds!  We are glad you are here.  We are up to Chapter 9 of Codependent No More, you may have to look on the other pages to find the chapters you are currently reading.

We would love to hear more from you!



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Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you.   ~H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned. ~St. Francis of Assisi



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I just got this book yesterday after someone (a guardian angle I think) suggested it to me. It was profound to me to read "Jessica's story" right away. I could be writing it. I'm 33 and have been married to / living with an alcoholic husband for the past 11 years. He has been in recovery for a few months and made enormous progress. I, on the other hand, have seemed to have had a complete breakdown and it's getting worse. I have been constantly asking myself why now? Now that I KNOW my husband won't "go to the store" and not come back until 4am, now that I FEEL his love for me, not just his scorn. Why can't I just be happy? What is wrong with me? Why am I getting more depressed every day? Therapy is beginning to help but it's slow and I did not see the real context of my behavior. This chapter hit me right between the eyes.

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Hello upintheair,

We are so glad you are here.

I had the same initial reaction when I read this book and it just gets better as you continue reading.  I had no idea what Codependent even was but was in a space of complete insanity when this book came into my life and it was the beginning of change for me.

Keep reading and keep coming back and sharing with us.

Yours in recovery,

willing



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Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you.   ~H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned. ~St. Francis of Assisi



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I see myself in Jessica's story. I have been separated from my alcoholic husband for about two months. I had always thought he had "all of the problems". I have reached a bottom with blaming others and expecting others to know how I feel. Coming to realise that I can take the focus off other people to do what I can do for my self - this gives me a glimmer of empowering me. The insanity of waiting for others to "fix" themselves - and telling myself that... then I would be ok, has been an unbearable way.

At the moment my lawn is longer than I would like it... the mower is in getting fixed - and today I am not concerned of the neighbours opinion because I know that mowing it can wait until the mower is repaired and back....lol
....

grateful

Kim

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Here I am, for the first time and EXACTLY where I need to be. I left a marriage of 35 years 6yrs ago. Yup "I" was the wounded one and HE had ALL the issues - and is still drinking SO the issues are all his. My therapist recommended Al-Anon two months ago and I just didn't have a clue why. So I finally went last week and this week and was still lost in a fog. The people @ the meeting were nice enough and their stories were interesting, but I was bored and got depressed at the meeting. I kept searching for info and happened upon CoDA. ALAS! I purchased the book, read the first chapter which I can Spool relate to and here I am (on the verge of tears) but ready to move on. Thank you all for being here. I need you.

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Hello Dove3,

Welcome to MIP!  We are so glad you are here and we need you to!  Please keep coming back and sharing with us.  That is how we all grow and learn.

Willing



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Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you.   ~H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned. ~St. Francis of Assisi



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Bump up for Oaktwig!

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Thanks Miao for linking all the chapters for me to study. I appreciate your kindness and help.

I first read this book rather quickly a few years ago. It helped me see that I was codependent. I joined an online group to work the 12 steps, and got a bit of relief there. I got stuck at about step 4 and realized that the rest of that group seemed as stuck as I was. This group seems to have members who have advanced farther and are still active. I look forward to your ESH and hope to be able to contribute in some way.

I relate to Jessica's story on some levels. I didn't grow up with alcoholics in the family - that I knew of at least. My family was more dysfunctional as a result of things that happened to generations in the past. I know some of these things, I believe there were more that were never discussed, or maybe never completely known.

The book lays out 3 fundamental ideas.

1). We aren't crazy, we are codependent.
This confuses me. The 12 steps tells me I'm mentally ill (ie crazy), this says I'm ill not crazy. I'm thinking the illness she is talking about is mental. So, am I insane or what?

2. Once you have it, you have it.
Uh, ok....? This seems like a statement of fact, am I missing something?

3. If you want to get rid of it, you have to do something to make it go away. It doesn't matter who's fault it is. It's my problem to solve.
This feels totally unfair. Again, I understand it, but there is still a big part of me that says what about the people with the real problems? Counterproductive thinking I guess. I can't worry about them, I have to worry about me. Have already started telling my family No, I'm not doing this or that. The blowback has been interesting to watch, when I'm not stressing out and feeling guilt over it (which is most of the time!). I am getting punished fairly soundly for just saying no. People are pulling back from me. At first I thought it was because I was isolating, but now I think it is an effort to make me see what life will be like without them in it. Thing is, even with the stress, I feel more centered, and less reactive.

ESH is welcome. Thanks for listening.

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Hi Oaktwig,

the way I understand it is like this; codependency is a personality disorder associated with "core issues" which means we did not get our needs met when we were dependent on our mother, or our caretakers. Obviously there are different degrees of damage depending on what actually happened to us. (which is essential in finding out in order to heal) For example borderlines, psychopaths, and narcissists are obviously very damaged people and need a lot more help.

My codependency made me very sick: spiritually, emotionally and physically, but till I found out what was wrong with me, I had no way of dealing and changing my behavior.
Since I started the 12 steps and most important Inner Child grieving work, I have seen big changes on how I relate to myself, my friends, family and life in general. I am healing and managing better how I live and relate to other people. I understand myself now and don't have to wonder why I say or do certain things.

In answer to your question, we cannot undo what happened to us, the damage is done, but we can manage our codependency and free ourselves from abusive and self hating behavior that is the consequence of the abuse. If i don't make efforts every day to be aware, patience, self loving and forgiving, the old coping mechanisms come back because our core, like that of a wheel is weak therefore all the spokes emanating from that core are fragile.

I believe with time, as we are reparented through a therapeutic approach, or in support groups such as this, or with trusted friends and family we become more and more self loving, self accepting, and freer to live our lives in a non codependent way.




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Thank you for taking time out of your day to help me Miao.

I signed up on the ACA board too. I think I saw some references there to Inner Child in the book that is for that group. Is that the "Inner Child grieving work" you mentioned above? I'm not sure how ACA and Coda differ as ACA seems to address codependency too.



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I am positive their grieving inner child work is the same you would do under any program. Also the twelve steps are similar, they differ in so far as what the addiction of choice is, and how to cope and deal with a particular addiction. While abstinence is essential for an alcoholic, non eating is not an option for a over eater.

Many codependents have addictions, they are coping mechanisms that we use to numb our pain.

I overeat, so I could also join OEA

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I really enjoyed this book but it has been  a while since I read it so thought I will go through these links for a refresher.

I have been in al anon for just over 6 years and coda for 3 years.  My HP brought me to my rock bottom three years ago and it was my partners sobriety that helped me to get there.  Although I was in al anon and attending meetings conventions doing service had a sponsor and was detaching and growing I did not realise I had been ill before I met my ABF.  Then he got sober and my co-dependency went crazy, he didn't need me as much he was sorting himself out and pulling away, I got the co-dependent crazies it was like someone removed my drug or drink I did not realise how addicted I had been to him.

I had already been to coda and did not like it I realise today it was because I could not hide behind it being someone else's   it was all about ME.  The rock bottom led me to going back to coda and truly looking at me my part in everything and were my co-dependency had begun in childhood.  I had chose the alcoholic for a reason and had been married to a gambler for 17 years before him.  I have worked the steps in coda and truly got the focus on myself.  I still have to be very careful, just today I felt myself slipping into depression and the poor me's looking outside blaming others.  However I did the right thing and came on here now the focus is back were it should be on Tracy and what Tracy needs to do.

Coda really had saved my sanity.

hugs tracy xxxx

 



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As I read these posts that I've read several times already, the words "relationship with ourselves" jumped out at me for the 1st time. I have been struggling to get this issue of codependency "under control"...bad words, right? But I'm always working the steps as they relate to others and not to how I relate to myself. I did grow up in a shame based environment and it worked so well that I am ashamed of myself for just being alive. It's like I am constantly reminded by others that I don't deserve to breathe. I get no respect from anyone I guess because I don't have any for myself??? Slowly my HP is taking all the people that were in my life all these years away from me. Everyone is just dropping off because I can't tolerate the relationships we've had. I hope my HP brings healthy people into my life someday but in the meantime I guess I'm stuck with just me to work on. Finally, the bottom line!

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Goosebumps Leandra!  What a wonderful new awareness.  I didn't even know I could have a relationship with myself, how poorly I thought of myself, how much fear was driving my life until I got into recovery.  Until I learned to respect, love, honor and forgive myself no one else could.

Sending love,

 

Willing



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Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you.   ~H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned. ~St. Francis of Assisi



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I can't believe it but I actually like this. Just stop. wow. And then writing about why it has to stop. I have to stop obsessing. For me. For my son. For my family. For my life. Mostly for me. So I can live my life instead of off in a fog, in a dream world, in a nightmare! 

I probably have to stop typing so much. 

If I don't want a teacher, I need to be my own teacher. Haven't been a very good teacher to MYSELF yet, so far....

Time to start. 

Time to start taking care of myself. REALLY, really taking care of myself. 

Nobody else is going to do a very good job. A few will try, and they may be very nice for a while, even...but its not their job. I don't really want them to do that job for me. They are not my HP nor are they me. 

OK, stop typing. I will stop. 

Thank you for this share. 

N.



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I am picking up Codependent No More, again. This time I pray that I don't put it down thinking I got this and recognize that this is going to be a life long journey in recovery.

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BillyJack -

 

That. Is. Awesome.

that quote is what I needed to hear



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Bump for Wondergirl.



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Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you.   ~H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned. ~St. Francis of Assisi



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Hi. I am really new to this. I mean, I am struggling to to even type this comment as I feel unworthy somehow. Everyone on these posts seem so positive, and so sure of what their next steps are... I think I have that "my life has become unmanageable" part... But I am having a hard time with "I am powerless over others". I don't know how to be this person everyone expects me to be. I guess, I still feel like if I do this - I won't be everyone's doormat anymore.. what's my value... Irrelevant

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Welcome, Not sure I understand what you are saying but I’ll take a try at it. You correct me if I’m wrong okay.

The powerless over others point is really truth right. No one can make someone love them if the other person does not feel that same way. I might think because I do X,Y and Z. My partner loves me. But if I stop doing X,Y,and Z. My partner treats me badly then there was really no equal love at all. It was just because of all the sacrifices I did to keep my partner from leaving me.

Healthy relationships don’t take that much work.

 

What value is there in being every one’s doormat?

I try to live my life caring for myself first and foremost. Anything else takes a distant second. With a few exceptions. Healthy relationships allow for others to take care of themselves.

 

Maybe give me some examples of what you have to do, to feel valuable,  and I can reply as to how I might see it. Everyone has Value and are worthy of LOVE. Sometimes we just don’t see it.

Keep reading the step and applying them, and soon you will know what the next steps are. Peace



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I had been doing well. Until I got in a healthy relationship w a RA..he works a healthy honest program. My habits, my real me began to surface. I then added my anxiety ridden 86 yr old mother to my which already included my RA son on disability from a tbI and his fiancee. So w mom n the house my old traits blew out to full force and I see me going to dark place. Anger..frustration. .ruminating thoughts. .ahh..but I'm working a step 1 every day for several days..breathing ..focusing on me. Today I laughed..belly laughed for first time in months. Regrow in on a deeper level. Step 1!

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billyjack wrote:

Thanks for this Robert Burney thing.

 "Codependency is about having a dysfunctional relationship with self! 

After a lot of heavy emotional work in ACA and CODA, I came back to a teaching that was given to me many years ago about Advaita or Non-duality which posses the question: Who/what am I?  My answer for now is: I am NOT a damaged, hurt, dysfunctional, messed up person or individual - I am that in which all of this is happening - Divine Being - or whatever term fits it.

Learning to Love our self will allow us to gain the capacity to Love others in a healthy way.  Changing our relationship with life can transform life into an exciting adventure."  ~   Robert Burney

After doing all that Recovery work, it has finally become clearer to me (a person) that I am NOT just a little, hurt, angry, frightened and NEEDY guy at all but that I am "all that there is" - to use just one of several million labels or descriptions of me - and now life is becoming an adventure as it has always been anyway but way more exciting without being totally focused on my dysfunctional little self or ego.   I believe that many experts in therapy and psychology recognize that we are NOT simply damaged individuals helplessly trod-ding through life until we finally die.  We are eternal, infinite Being itself (not just "beings") that has somehow become enmeshed in limited, personal and often miserable earth life as a person.  We are Divinity playing on the Stage of Life and it can be a thrilling play once we know who/what we are. 

-- Edited by billyjack on Tuesday 22nd of March 2011 07:43:04 AM


 



-- Edited by jimrich on Wednesday 12th of October 2016 01:13:44 PM

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Please take what you want and leave the rest.



Guru

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Very true Jim.

I try to take the simplest path to your thoughts.

 

Gratitude.

 

It changes everything everyday.

 

Willing



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Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring, and integrity, they think of you.   ~H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned. ~St. Francis of Assisi



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The example story given is me.  I am a codependent.  My life is unmanageable.  I surrender myself to God.  I humbly ask dear Lord that you come in and heal my life as I sumbit to healing and recovery.



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KIMBERLEY BARTON


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wonderful and tearing..



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I so relate to what you are saying. You are not alone this is my first coad post.

 



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I so relate to what you are saying. You are not alone this is my first coad post.

 



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