Sharing Experience, Strength, and Hope - My Recovery Process and Taking Action

In my March 2000 update, I was processing through an issue. Some people seemed to be a little confused about that update - and there were also inquiries in regard to my reference to forcing myself to take some action. So, I started to write this new page about processing to try to explain the process of processing - and taking action - a little bit more. What started out to be one article has evolved into three (at least). This one is going to be about my choice to share my process on these web pages and about how I have learned that it is sometimes necessary to force myself to take action in my personal recovery process.

Processing through my personal issues is something that I did in the Newsletters from my original Joy to You & Me web site on (You can find links to those Newsletters on the Joy to You & Me page of Joy2MeU site - which is listed on the Information index page, which also has links to recent update announcements - and on the Index Q & A page of the original site.) It something that I do in alignment with sharing my experience, strength, and hope. I believe it is very important for me to be willing to role model that it is OK to be human. I also know that it is helpful for people to have me discuss how I apply the principles of the twelve step spiritual program in my life in a concrete way instead of just as abstract concepts.

On the Miscellaneous Topic/Former Online Columns index page of the Joy2MeU site, I quote from one of those Newsletters about the personal nature of my writing. Among the things I say in that quote are these paragraphs.

"The thing that was the most damaging to us was the role modeling of the emotionally crippled adults we grew up around - the role modeling is what taught us the dysfunctional definitions of who we are as emotional beings. It is vitally important, in my opinion, that we have some beings who are willing to role model what emotionally healthy behavior is - which includes being emotionally vulnerable at times.

Traditional therapy/counseling in this society is set up as a one up-one down situation - that is the therapist is set up as the expert who treats the poor unfortunate patient. I happen to agree with something Ram Dass once said about this - "If you meet a therapist who thinks you are the patient - run!""

"I am in process just as my clients are - just as we all are. There is no hierarchy as far as I am concerned - just one wounded person/Magnificent Spiritual Being sharing what has worked for me with another wounded person/Magnificent Spiritual Being. I am doing what I need to do for myself, to heal myself - it doesn't have to do with anyone else - that it helps other people is just a bonus (and an opportunity to settle Karma)."

Once I started my Joy2MeU Journal, things shifted somewhat. I started doing most of my online processing about more personal issues in that Journal rather than in my update announcements. I had gotten feedback from several people that thought that my online processing was too intimate. I had a good chuckle about that because the level of intimacy which I was processing at, in both my old Newsletters and in my recent online personal journal in the Journal, was/is not that deep a level. Not nearly at the depth I process with someone in person who is safe. (Safe meaning someone who knows how to be present with me and supportive - who will not judge me or try to fix me - unfortunately, at the level I am at, a rare and precious commodity.) The people who thought it was too intimate were making a statement about themselves and their own level of emotional intimacy that really had very little to do with me.

The reactions I got from that recent update included quite a few thank you e-mails from people who understand the process and were reminded to be patient with themselves by my example. It also included such reactions as:

concern that I was worrying too much about other peoples opinions because of what I said about trying to communicate in a Loving way - when what I was really talking about was communicating in non shaming language. I am powerless over anyone else's opinion of me and have had numerous lessons from the Universe that helped me let go of that one having much power. In trying to communicate in non shaming language what I am attempting is to maximize the possibility of people being able to hear what I am saying - and not use it to beat themselves up. We are so good at beating ourselves up that I want to minimize the possibility that anyone can use what I say to do that to themselves. I am, of course, powerless over how people react - but I try to make it as clean as possible.;

several messages telling me not to be afraid - when what I was doing was processing through levels of fear so that I could take the power away from it. I will talk more about that in the emotional balance article.;

a person I know who is quite emotionally unavailable said "You sounded human. Ha Ha." - implying that perhaps I had made a mistake. I, of course, took it as a compliment since part of my message is that it is OK to be human. The more we can accept and embrace our humanity through taking the toxic shame out of the process, the easier it becomes to reconnect with our True Spiritual nature - and vice versa. If my sharing helps you to be a little more patient in your relationship with your own humanity, then I have accomplished part of my mission.

I was not as clear as I could have been about the fact that I was processing in that update. Which I am not beating myself up for because it was, of course, perfect - because it brought to my attention the need for this article. I had written part of this article back at the end of March when I got those reactions. But then I couldn't finish it and had to shift my focus to doing some redesign and some writing for my Journal. The work that I did on the Journal, plus the most recent article I have written about spirituality for agnostics and atheists, both needed to happen before I could finish this article properly.

Get this, this is part of the reason that I Love this process so much, and how perfectly it unfolds (in the times when I am not hating it of course.;-)

So, my procrastination about finishing this article in March in response to some people's reactions to my Update in which I was processing about writing an article in an attempt to not buy into beating myself up for procrastination, was perfect to allow the process to unfold until such time as it was time to finish this article at the end of May (well almost, one article became three - and then 5 - and my trip interfered and now I am publishing them in July.). In addition to that, there was a another right on reason I was not aware of for my resistance in March to writing the article about which I procrastinating - which caused me to process about procrastination. (I mention that in my latest update. The structure of the article was not working for me - and I did not see that clearly until after I had published it. My resistance was not that much about the content or the writing process.)

Integration and Balance - The Process

The process of processing is a dynamic that in many ways is easier to demonstrate over time than it is to explain. Explaining it on an intellectual level is complicated and difficult because the process itself involves being able to look at multiple levels. The recovery process is spiritual, emotional, and mental. These levels are separate but intimately interrelated.

In learning how to achieve some emotional balance in our lives, it is necessary to be able to look at our self, our own inner process, and the life dynamic itself, from different perspectives. It is this looking at different levels that is the process of processing. Processing is a matter of looking at, filtering, discerning, getting clear about what is happening at any given moment in our relationship with life, with ourselves, with everything that is stimulating us.

In trying to explain this dynamic here, I am going to be describing a relationship.

"Everything within the Illusion exists in relationship to the rest of the Illusion. This means that communicating Truth about any facet of the Illusion can be done in relationship to a variety of factors. This involves perspective through multiple levels. It can make a great deal of difference rather a facet of Truth is being described individually, or in relationship to (i.e. God, objective reality, human emotional process, etc.), or if the relationship itself is being described."

The Dance of the Wounded Souls Trilogy Book 1 History V

In the articles that have grown out of this one I am going to be looking at processing from the perspective of integration and balance. In other words, I am going to be explaining this relationship with life and with ourselves, in relationship to - using the parameters of - integration and balance.

"Recovery is not a dance of right and wrong, of black and white - it is a dance of integration and balance. The questions in Recovery are: Is it working for you? Is the way you live your life working to meet your needs? Is the way you are living your life bringing you some happiness?"

Quote from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

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. Here is another quote from the Newsletter that is excerpted on my Topics index page.

"Which brings me to the second thing, which I believe is a Spiritual Truth - I teach best what I need most to learn. I teach people how to Love themselves because I am trying to learn how to Love myself. I learned to always listen to what I was saying because, though I have no control whether anyone else hears me, I do have the power to choose to hear myself - and there is always something in what I am saying that applies to me and my process in that moment."

Miscellaneous Topics/Former Online Columns Index Page

A part of my process is doing this writing - as well as the counseling I do in person or on the telephone. I not only get insights into my own personal recovery process from my interaction with clients/other wounded souls, I also get insights into the overall process - that is, the dynamics of the phenomena: that is codependence; that is recovery; that is life in human body.

My mission in this lifetime is to be a messenger and teacher. I have known since a very young age that I was going to write a book of Truth. I didn't however have any idea what Truth was for much of my life. It was only after I got into recovery that I started pealing away the layers of denial and lies so that I could start unearthing Truth.

As I mention in my book The Dance of Wounded Souls, and go into more detail about in the stories of my Spiritual Path in the Joy2MeU Journal, the most important book of Truth in my personal recovery process was Illusions by Richard Bach. I quote that book several times in my book. One of the quotes from Illusions that had a lot of impact on me was something to the effect that: "Learning is remembering, teaching is reminding others that they can remember also. We are all teachers and students." (This is a paraphrase which I am using rather than pulling out the book and getting the exact quote. If I quoted the exact quote, I would need copyright permission - which I had for the quotes I used in my book. So this is a weak way of not violating copyright - my apologies Richard, I am sure you understand.)

I learn from every person I teach. I often do not know the answer to a question until I hear myself answering someone. I can not attempt to answer a question I have never been asked (either by myself or someone else), or look at an aspect of the dynamic I have never looked at before, until someone or something brings it to my attention. We all need other people in our lives in order to stimulate us to look at life - all the levels, issues, and facets that entails - from different perspectives.

I write a great deal about the importance of being open to looking at anything and everything from alternative perspectives in my latest article Spirituality for Agnostics and Atheists. I was stimulated to look at some different aspects of spirituality by a client who is an agnostic. I am very grateful to her for being my teacher. It has caused me to see some different facets of spirituality that I had not previously brought to consciousness.

That I was stimulated to look at spirituality and spiritual integration from some different perspectives during the same time period that I was reflecting on how to explain the process of processing was of course perfect. Integration in my definition is a necessary component of finding some emotional balance. So, for me to be able to look at spiritual integration from an enlarged perspective makes it possible that more people will be open to exploring the approach to emotional healing and balance that I have developed. The procrastination about finishing an article in response to queries about processing about procrastination was a perfect part of finishing that article (articles.)

Thus were the new articles The Recovery Process for inner child healing - spiritual integration and The Recovery Process for inner child healing - finding emotional balance born. (To be followed by several more .)

Forcing Ourselves to Take Action

"This is of course a dance of balance, because there are also times in which I need to force myself to take some action (which is a very different thing from trying to force an outcome.)" - Joy2MeU Update Announcement 3-24-2000

Taking action is one of the most valuable tools in the recovery process and is very much connected to the principle of taking responsibility. It is very important to become proactive in our own healing process. That means that we need to align our will and our will power with healing instead of with the disease.

In our disease we were reacting to life out of a dysfunctional belief system. We were playing the game of life according to a set of rules that do not work to bring us happiness, serenity, and fulfillment.

There is no happily ever after on this plane, in these bodies. The goal is not to do life "right" in order to reach a destination. True success is achieved by learning, growing, and enjoying the journey - not by reaching a specific destination.

"Life is a journey, a process - it's not a destination. Life is continuous and constant change and growth. We were taught to fight and try to control the change, to resist the growth. We were taught to swim upstream, to go against the flow. No wonder we get tired sometimes.

We were taught that death is a great tragedy and that we should spend our lives fearing and ignoring it. We were taught to fear death and to never live life. That's backwards.

Death is a transition, a transformation, death is a milestone in the longer journey. It is not a tragedy to be feared - it is an eventuality to be accepted. What is tragedy is not enjoying living while we are here."

Quote from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

Living can only be done one day at a time. Today is all we really have. If we spend all of our time focused on the future we will miss out on today.

We were taught to be human doings rather than human beings. The ability to "be" here now, in the moment, is one of the goals of healing and recovery. To be able to be present for, and live, in the moment is a gift (a present) that we can give ourselves by aligning our will and actions with healing.

That does not mean that being here now is the only goal. Some people use "being in the moment" as an excuse to indulge in instant gratification. Instant gratification is not bad or wrong, but if we are constantly empowering instant gratification we are not taking responsibility for being co-creators in our life. Because of our childhood wounds, the majority of the time when we indulge in instant gratification, what we are doing is letting the child's wounds run the show - the "King/Queen Baby" within us whose mantra is "I want what I want and I want it now!"

Having grown up in dysfunctional, emotionally repressive societies causes us to want immediate gratification that helps us repress the feelings and/or nurture the wounded child inside of us. Substances like Sugar, alcohol, drugs, etc., activities like isolating, obsessing, doing something (anything) rather than being in our bodies and feeling our feelings, are ways of escaping being in the moment.

What we are looking for in recovery is balance. What we are doing in recovery is growing up so that we can relate to life as a mature healthy adult who is able to have the choice to be in the moment at the same time that we are owning our responsibility as the co-creator of our life. We are learning how to be in the moment in a "stop and smell the roses" type of way instead of out of instant gratification.

Taking Responsibility for Being Co-Creators

We are co-creators in this life experience we are having. That means that there are some areas over which we have some power and control and some areas that we do not. The essence of the dysfunction of the condition of codependence, which is the human condition in my definition, is that we were taught to try to control things over which we have no control - and were not taught how to have healthy control over that which we can control.

"I spent most of my life doing the Serenity prayer backwards, that is, trying to change the external things over which I had no control - other people and life events mostly - and taking no responsibility (except shaming and blaming myself) for my own internal process - over which I can have some degree of control. Having some control is not a bad thing; trying to control something or somebody over which I have no control is what is dysfunctional. It was very important for me to start learning how to recognize the boundaries of where I ended and other people began, and to start realizing that I can have some control over my internal process in ways that are not shaming and judgmental - that I can stop being the victim of myself."

Quote from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

I cannot control other people. I cannot control life events. I do not have the power to force a specific outcome in my life in a way that will work to satisfy the need that I think it will satisfy.

It is possible to force an outcome. Someone with enough money and/or power (political, physical, corporate, emotional, etc.) can sometimes force other people to do what they want. It is possible to bully, intimidate, rape, take over, force out of business, steal, lay on guilt trips, etc., to get an outcome you desire.

It will not fill the hole in your soul however. It will not slake the thirst you are trying to quench in a way that is lasting. It will not ultimately meet the need which you fixated on that outcome to gratify.

It will not bring peace, fulfillment, and True Love into your life. Forcing an outcome is ultimately dysfunctional.

Likewise, life events cannot be controlled. You can work and slave to buy the dream house - and have it wiped out in a matter of moments in a fire or earthquake. You can scrimp and save for retirement - and have your life savings wiped out in a financial disaster, or die the day you retire.

There are no guarantees what tomorrow will bring. Focusing all of our time and energy on the future is dysfunctional - not only because it causes us to miss out on today - but because it simply does not work to guarantee an outcome.

The out come (end result / destination) is what we are powerless over. We can take action towards an outcome, but then we need to let go of the results. We can plant the seeds of the garden we wish to grow but we cannot guarantee that the results will be what we envision - or will satisfy our underlying need.

Our job as co-creators is to imagine the garden, plant the seeds and nurture them, and enjoy the process that we are involved in today. We are ultimately powerless over the outcome. We do have the power to be present for the journey no matter what the destination ends up being.

If we are always focused on the destination, we are not living today. I spent most of my life feeling like my life would begin when ____ - I got the money, or the success, or the relationship, or whatever. That is dysfunctional and codependent and sets me up to be a victim of life and other people.

In order not to be the victim it is necessary to own our power to make choices. It is necessary to exercise power in the areas that we have some power and control.

The things that I have the power to control to some extent are my own attitudes and behaviors. I have the power to choose what actions I take.

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