We are all on our hero’s journey. All of us. No matter what we are doing, or not doing-what we have done, or not done. Whether we are conscious or unconscious, awake, waking up or still in a deep slumber, we are all on a hero’s journey. The choice is whether we choose to live a reactive life by default or whether we begin to become conscious about how we live; our thoughts, actions and even what feelings we chose to indulge-or not. The choice is whether we continue to play out old predictable roles and scripts, feeling the same old feelings, having the same old thoughts and creating the same old scenarios again and again.
The time has come for us to wake up from the ingrained Newtonian materialistic version of our reality that we are somehow separate from the creator and that our existence and day to day life experiences are the result of forces outside ourselves. We must let go of the belief that we are helpless victims to the external world and that this external world is somehow more real than our internal world.
If we do not make this leap and embrace this new “quantum” view, then we will remain trapped in a disempowering paradigm of victim consciousness. When we perceive our life and reality from this state of consciousness, then no amount of healing can offer freedom from our addictions or codependency.
Often, making the choice to move out victim consciousness is more difficult than it seems. Feeling a victim or a martyr to a disease, diagnosis, a state of mind or feeling, may be safer and more comfortable for some than to take the necessary steps to recover from a disease or be diagnosis free. To release our identification with our disease means swimming in uncharted territories that may lead us to new experiences and a new reality. We often chose misery because it is familiar and we are used to it, rather than surrendering ourselves to the unknown which can be very uncomfortable.
Yet, don’t we all love the hero journey’s where the hero goes off on grand adventures to exotic unknown places, faces obstacles and pleasures never before experienced? The hero discovers that who he thought he was is no longer true and who he is becoming evolves and grows with each new moment. We love the hero who faces unbelievable pain and suffering and rather than having it take her down, or wallowing or glorifying in it, she transcends the experience. Like the alchemist, she is able to transmute her suffering into great wisdom; she finds the gifts in her challenges which she then brings back to the world to be of service. She crosses that finish line even though the odds were against her. She discovers strengths that she never knew she had. These are the stories we love, and yet are the stories we so resist in ourselves.
We had a guest a few years ago who was from the East Coast. He took care of his parents so he did not get out of the house often, much less travel. Alcohol and codependency were the only ways he knew to live in this limiting reality and like many, these coping mechanisms stopped working and eventually he experienced nothing but despair and hopelessness. He made the decision to drive cross country to Arizona and spend a month at The Sanctuary.
His road trip to The Sanctuary ended by driving 2 miles down a winding forest access dirt road, completely isolated and surrounded by the high desert national forest land. He also came at the time of the year that a local cattle rancher had his herd of cattle out on the National Forest Service land to graze. There were hundreds of cows on the land and many were in the road leading to The Sanctuary. It took our guest almost 45 minutes just to make it down this 2 mile road. You can imagine the state he was in when he finally arrived at The Sanctuary doorstep! He was disgruntled, discouraged and wanted a drink. He was also worried about his ailing mother and certainly did not feel like a “hero” on a hero’s journey. Instead, he felt like a victim to another overwhelming life situation.
After a week at The Sanctuary he began to remember his trip very differently. Without being consciously aware of it, his perception of his own journey was beginning to shift. Over dinner he told a new arrival about his road trip. He told the new guest that he had courageously stood up to his mother and told her that he was going to the wild-west to get some help, even though he knew she would not be supportive or understand. And, he continued, that when he got to The Sanctuary he had to navigate down a dirt road, without 4 wheel drive, and face the wild animals that were in his way!
Our guest, usually quiet and introverted, had become the storyteller of his own epic hero’s journey. He understood that the literal world version of his experience driving cross county was so much more than a middle-aged alcoholic, codependent man off to some addiction recovery center. Instead, his journey was of a man who broke free of his comfort zone and who had the courage to take a risk. His life shifted from the mundane, diseased and ordinary, to the mythic and extraordinary.
I don’t think our ultimate fear is death, I believe it is the fear of the void. That empty place where there is no sense of connection. A place where we feel alone, God is absent and are needs will never be met.
Although we may have moments where we feel that sense of a Higher Power in our lives, it is often short lived and it doesn’t counterbalance or offer hope during the more acute periods of low grade, or intense, suffering often manifesting as depression, anxiety and addictions. Deep down we feel this world is an unsafe place, where we must be hyper vigilant 24/7, just waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop. And whether it is subconscious or conscious, we find ourselves attracting into our lives situations and people that confirm this deeply held disempowering belief that indeed we are alone. This feeling is the darkest of the dark night of the soul.
No wonder so many turn to codependency! Codependency is a much used and yet confusing term. It seems to include any and all behavior involved in relationships, from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other. Codependency manifests as too needy, too giving, too narcissistic, too controlling, the victim, the martyr and the caretaker. Codependency is everything we do to not feel the void. It is what we do to deny, fill, and resist the void. And the best way to do this, we believe, is through another person.
If we can be loved, accepted and be taken care by another than we are not alone in the void. The problem is no one is able to love us enough to fill this empty space. And when they fail and disappoint us, we feel that familiar sense of despair, betrayal and deep wounding…again…and again. So we try harder. We love more and take care of their every need. And when this doesn’t work, we try even harder, trying to manipulate the person and situation so they will just love us enough. And often to cope with the pain of the codependent relationship, we turn to other disempowering addictions such as food, alcohol, pharmaceuticals, shopping, and a myriad of other life-depleting behaviors.
So how do we stop this vicious and seemingly never-ending cycle of codependency? The answer lies in the void. The one place we have been so afraid of holds the key to our freedom from all that stalks us. We must enter the void. This takes courage and a willingness to feel the acute discomfort of being in this unknown and seemingly empty place. Yet this is where we find deep connection to source energy. We must explore the void to become whole, to find our sacred purpose and our highest destiny.
While exploring the void we discover our stories. Our stories are events from our past that continue to play out in our lives and define who we are today. Our codependent fear of never being or doing enough and being “alone” is a story. Our fear of being taken for granted and unappreciated is a story. And, like the great alchemists, we can transmute our stories into our greatest sources of strength, power and wisdom.
We also turn, face and embrace our Shadow that stalks us in the void. The Shadow is that part of our self we deem unacceptable and that we disown, abandon, or shut away. Our unacknowledged Shadow lurks in the dark and feeds upon our fear. Yet our Shadow is a powerful source of energy-neither good nor bad in and of itself. Our unhealed codependency leaves us feeling resentful, drained and unappreciated. Our healed codependency allows us to be caring, compassionate beings with healthy boundaries and an ability to deeply love ourselves and others.
We also discover and remember our soul song in the void. Our soul song sings to us of our beauty, importance, and meaning in the universe. It reminds us that we are part of the great mystery. We must retrieve and integrate those missing parts of our soul that we have lost, given away or have been taken from us. We remember that all our life is Sacred, from brushing our teeth to praying on a mountaintop. We tap into our creative expression and begin to share our gifts with the world.
Soon the void is no longer a place a disconnection, emptiness and loneliness. Instead it is filled with our fully integrated, whole, ugly, beautiful, amazing and powerful selves. It hums with the music of our soul and vibrates with our heart’s desire. It becomes our refuge and the place of expansion and infinite possibility. There is just no room for our codependency in this sacred place, as there is no longer a void to fill.
Are you worried that you may be involved in a codependent relationship? You are not alone. Most people associate codependency with a partner who has an alcohol and substance abuse addiction, but there are other situations that can foster a codependent relationship. Following are 12 signs that you may be involved in a codependent relationship. The good news is that if you’re a codependent partner, you have the ability to recover, transform your life, and reclaim your soul’s destiny.
What is a Codependent Relationship?
A codependent relationship is one of inequality, where one person consistently gives more to the relationship than the other. Basically, it’s a one-sided relationship.
12 signs that you may be involved in a Codependent Relationship
These are just a few traits that may signal that your relationship is a relationship of inequality and codependency. Do any of these traits sound familiar to you?
- Your partner’s needs are more important to you than your own.
- You feel responsible for and make excuses for your partner’s behavior. You may even make excuses for why you have to put up your partner’s behavior.
- You take care of your partner and do not take care of yourself or you feel guilty about doing something nice for yourself.
- You feel anxiety when your partner has a problem; you feel compelled to help your partner fix their problem.
- You settle for being needed vs. loved; you think that being needed is being loved.
- You repeatedly tell yourself that they will change, it is your responsibility to help them change, and then they will finally love you the way you deserve to be loved.
- You think that you aren’t good enough and could never find a better partner.
- You think that being in a relationship with someone is better than no one; and wonder if you will ever find true love.
- You obsess, worry, and become upset about something your partner did and are unable to move on from the obsessive thoughts that cycle in your head.
- You doubt your ability to take care of yourself.
- You feel victimized, angry, hurt, and used. You feel underappreciated.
- You feel trapped within the relationship; feel guilty at the thought of leaving; you don’t want to abandon your partner because your partner needs you and couldn’t live without you.
If you found that codependency is a factor in your relationship, can it be fixed? Before addressing the relationship and attempting to fix the relationship (a sign of codependency), it is important to focus on yourself first. Are you willing to change?
How did you get here? – The Root of Codependency
Codependency is a trait that is learned from childhood. People who are often codependent grew up in a household with the same behavioral patterns of low self-worth, repression, obsession, need to control, poor communication, weak boundaries, anger, lack of trust, denial, and dependency. As codependency is often associated with substance abuse, maybe a parent or someone you were close to as a child may have been an addict or involved in an abusive relationship.
As the study of codependency has evolved, professionals realize that codependency isn’t just isolated to those who have been involved with addicts. Codependency can also be triggered in people who are involved in a variety of different types of dysfunctional relationships.
For example, codependency may be triggered if you are involved:
- with an emotionally or mentally disturbed person;
- someone who is chronically ill;
- you are the parent of a child with behavioral problems;
- you are involved with a partner who is self-absorbed and uninterested.
These and other types of dysfunctional relationship scenarios can lead to a codependent relationship. Codependent relationships are serious because they can rob a person of their dignity, independence, joy and self-love. Codependent relationships are additions and share the same patterns and traits. They are progressive, declining over time. The longer the codependent is in the relationship the sicker they become and the more they do things that are against their value system. These behaviors become the norm and before long the codependent is doing things they never thought themselves to do. They become someone else.
Is codependency recovery achievable?
Codependent recovery is absolutely achievable. Codependency recovery does not lie within your partner. Codependent recovery lies within yourself. Codependency recovery follows this path – each and every person is responsible for his/her own actions. You are not responsible for anyone’s behavior, but your own. To recover, you must focus on yourself and your necessities first. Once you start caring for yourself, the course of your relationship will naturally start to evolve or dissolve. Are you ready to recover? Do you believe that you can do it? Yes!
“At the center of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.” ― Lao Tzu
Codependency Recovery Options
Studying books, psychotherapy sessions, positive affirmations, and participating in 12 step codependency recovery programs have long been the popular choices for those seeking to recover from codependency. These methods are beautiful places to start your road to recovery. By addressing mental and behavioral patterns, you will discover opportunities for self-growth and improvement. However, these traditional therapies focus at the level of the mind and only address a singular part of you.
Your body, mind, soul, and spirit are the components that define your being. To completely recover and heal, you must deepen your connection to your body, mind, soul, and spirit. You must discover opportunities to nurture yourself and reconnect with your spirit and soul. If you do not heal all parts collectively, and only focus at the level of the mind, you are missing the transformative connection with your sense of self. You will most likely only alleviate the symptoms of codependency versus addressing the actual root cause of how you became codependent. Without addressing and correcting the actual root cause, sustainable recovery will be difficult.
There has been a breakthrough in codependency recovery that is more effective than traditional therapeutic methods alone. Specialized holistic codependency recovery programs, like The Sanctuary at Sedona, use a combination of traditional therapy and energy medicine to address the root cause of your codependent patterns, help you heal family of origin issues; reconnect and align your body, mind, spirit, and soul.
As part of these specialized holistic codependency recovery programs, you will lean techniques to help you honor and learn from the events of your past, finally let the past go, and break your cycle of destructive codependent relationships. You will learn how to spiritually connect and align your mind, body, soul, and spirit. You will also learn to inform your body with new healthy patterns of behavior that center your entire being and bring yourself into graceful alignment. Recovering through traditional therapeutic methods is not always enough. Working at the collective level of the body, mind, soul, and spirit to correct the energetic imbalance that has bound you to these harmful patterns of behavior is your best chance for complete codependency recovery.
As you start your codependency recovery journey, there is no guarantee that you or your partner will want to stay in the relationship. Before making any decisions about the relationship, it is important to get yourself the help that you need to bring your entire being into alignment. Now is the time to stop obsessing and worrying about others and find the strength deep within yourself to nurture yourself, hold yourself with love, honor your wounds of the past, and move forward to reclaim your personal power. Now is the time to enliven the force within you that knows you are loved and you are worthy of love.
My loved one has only been sober for 1 month. Why aren’t they answering their phone? Did he/she relapse again? Oh no…not again. You call. They don’t answer. You drive by their favorite restaurant; their favorite bar. They aren’t there. You call their friends. No answer.
There it is….that feeling in the pit of your stomach. The anxiety, the worry, the fear that something has happened to your loved one. You “know” something horrible has happened. You weren’t with him/her. Why weren’t you there? You should have been there. If you were there, “this” wouldn’t have happened. Where is he/she? Where on earth could he/she be?
Does this story or a version of this story sound familiar? The anxiety, the worry, the fear that something has happened to your loved one. You don’t even know what “this” is. You don’t even know if your loved one has relapsed, but yet you have that knotted feeling in your stomach. You just know that something bad has happened. This feeling has become a way of life for you. You have traveled this road before. The anxiety is paralyzing. You have become obsessed and you can’t get your mind off your loved one. You have deemed it your responsibility to fix them and to help them. Their addiction has now become your addiction. You are addicted to helping them solve their addiction. You have become codependent.
What is a codependent?
A codependent is one who has let another person’s behavior affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person’s behavior. (Beattie, 1992). A codependent relationship is one of inequality, where one person consistently gives more to the relationship than the other.
To you, the codependent, obsessing and controlling has become a way of life. You hold on tight to the control. You hold on tight to the fear. You can’t let go. If you let go, you fear that horrible things will happen to our loved one. You tell yourself that if you truly love your loved one, it is your responsibility to help him/her; to fix him/her. You believe that without your intervention, support, caring, and love, terrible things will happen to them. They may relapse. They might even die. If they relapse, it will be your fault. If they die, it will be your fault. If you help them this last time, maybe they will get it. How often have you told yourself these words?
It is human nature to want to help someone. No one wants to see their loved one suffer. Where the relationship became unhealthy and codependent is when the obsession, control, worry, and fear have taken you over and those behaviors adversely impact your life. Codependency keeps you from spending time doing things that you enjoy because you are too worried, too obsessed, and too fearful of what is happening with your loved one. Somewhere during their battle with addiction, you started holding yourself responsible for their behavior. You started holding yourself responsible for their actions. You held hope that they would get better and be the partner, or loved one you know they could be. You see their potential and spend all your time and energy trying to coax it out of them.
You are not responsible for other people’s actions. Period. The choices they make are not your responsibility. To know this logically and to feel this within the core of your soul are often two separate things.
Is codependent recovery truly possible?
Yes codependent recovery is possible. Codependency recovery does not lie in the other person. Codependent recovery lies within ourselves.
Twelve-step programs have become a popular choice for those who are on the path of codependent recovery, however, there is an immergence of progressive codependent recovery treatment programs that utilize holistic and energy medicine therapies to effectively treat codependence. These codependent recovery programs utilize both energy medicine and traditional therapeutic techniques to help you heal core issues, heal family of origin issues; heal from unhealthy family relationships, and reconnect with your soul.
Codependency is often handed down from generation to generation. Maybe your mother, father, or someone you were close to as a child was an addict or involved in an abusive relationship. Maybe learned this from another role model.. Either way, you were attracted to someone who was or became an addict. Why? You have an unhealthy imprint in your energetic field. “Imprints are formed when the negative emotions that accompany trauma are not healed”. (Alberto Villoldo, 2000). The energy field is known by a variety of terms including life force, qi (chi), prana, and spirit. Energy medicine practitioners are trained to work within your energy field to correct imbalances that have manifested themselves emotionally, physically, socially, and spiritually.
As part of codependency recovery programs that utilize energy medicine techniques, you will learn how to cleanse your energy field from unhealthy energetic imprints. You will learn how to heal your core issues; learn from the events of your past; let go of the past, and break the cycle of unhealthy relationships. You will learn how to align your mind, body, soul, and spirit and let the past go on an emotion, physical, spiritual, and energetic level. You will re-inform your body with new, healthy patterns that will bring your entire being into balance. Through codependency recovery programs that utilize energy medicine techniques, you will have an opportunity to connect with your highest destiny and rediscover your life’s purpose. You will find the courage and the strength to reach deep within your soul and recover your soul’s longing to become whole.
Trying to recover from being a codependent on will power and therapy is not always enough. Correcting the imbalance at the level of the energetic, removing the imprint that has bound you to these unhealthy patterns of behavior, combined with traditional therapeutic practices are your best chance for sustainable codependent recovery. You can recover from the codependency patterns that rule your life. Through specialized codependent recovery, you will learn techniques to bring your mind, body, spirit, and soul into balance. You will learn to let go, to love, to care, and be involved without losing sight of yourself.
Alberto Villoldo, Ph.D. (2000). Shaman, Healer, Sage. New York, NY: Harmony Books.
Beattie, M. (1992). Codependent No More. Center City, MN: Hazelden Foundation.