Love as a Vibrational Frequency

By Robert Burney

"Spirituality is about relationships. God exists in the quality of our relationships.

When I look at a beautiful sunset - I am a temporary illusion and the sunset is also a temporary illusion - the most real, God-like quality is the energy of Beauty and Joy that I allow myself to access by being open and willing to experience the sunset. If I am caught up in one of my ego's "trauma dramas," then I will not be conscious of the sunset or open to experiencing the Joy and Beauty of the moment."

"Humans have always been looking for a way home. For a way to connect with our Higher Consciousness. For a way to reconnect with our creator. Throughout human history, human beings have used temporary artificial means to raise their vibrational level, to try to reconnect with Higher Consciousness.

Drugs and alcohol, meditation and exercise, sex and religion, starvation and overeating, the self-torture of the flagellant or the deprivation of the hermit - all are attempts to connect with higher consciousness. Attempts to reconnect with Spiritual Self. Attempts to go home."

"Each and every one of us has an inner channel. We now have the capability to atone - which means tune into - to atone, to tune into the Higher Consciousness. To tune into the Higher vibrational emotional energies that are Joy, Light, Truth, Beauty, and Love."

Quote from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

Love is a vibrational frequency. It is our direct channel to The Source. When we can tune into that higher energy vibration we are closer to our True Selves. In The Goddess we are LOVE. LOVE is home. Humans have never felt comfortable in this lower vibrational illusion - we know from a very early age that something is wrong with this place. So we try to alter our consciousness - to raise our vibrational frequency.

It is not bad or wrong that you are an alcoholic or drug addict or workaholic or love addict or food addict or whatever - it is just an attempt to go home. We have felt lost and alone and not a part of - and we did whatever we could to try to transform that painful level of consciousness into a higher level. The problem was that those outside means of altering our consciousness are temporary, artificial, and ultimately self-destructive in some way. When we look to outer or external sources that interfere with consciousness to alter our consciousness, to make us feel better, we are worshipping false gods, we are giving power to the illusion - we are not owning our True Self and our own inner channel to God.

Now that does not mean there is anything wrong with outer stimulation helping us to access Love. What is dysfunctional is focusing on the outer or external as the source of the Joy. We can combine our energy with a place or a person or a group of people or an animal to form a more powerful energy field which makes it easier to access the higher vibrational Source energy. What outer or external sources can do is reflect back to us the Beauty of who we really are - that is a most powerful way of accessing the Love within ourselves.

We all can do it at times. The easiest place for many of us to access this Love energy is in nature. Watching a beautiful sunset or looking out over a magnificent landscape can make it easier to access the vibrational frequency of Love, Light, Truth, Beauty, and Joy. Small children can help many of us to tune into the Love within us. Music, or other vibrational emanations such as chanting or meditation or movement, can also facilitate this connection. Perhaps in your relationship to your dog or cat or horse, you can find the space to tune into the Love within.

What all of these things - from babies to animals to dancing - have in common is that they help us to be in the moment. It is in the moment that we can access the Love vibrational frequency within us.

It can be relatively easy to access Love and Joy in relationship with nature. It is in our relationships with other people that it gets messy. That is because we learned how to relate to other people in childhood from wounded people who learned how to relate to other people in their childhood. In our core relationship with ourselves we don't feel Lovable. That can make it very difficult to connect with other people in a clean and energetically clear way that helps us to access Love from the Source instead of viewing the other person as the source. We are so defended, because of the pain we have experienced, that we are not open to connecting with others. If we haven't done the grief work from the past we are not open to feeling our feelings in the moment. As long as we are blocking the pain and anger and fear, we are also blocking the Love and Joy. The more we heal our emotional wounds and change our intellectual programming the more capacity we have to be in the moment and tune into the Love within.

Next month I will talk about the difference in my perspective between emotions of the horizontal and the vertical. In the meantime, try whenever you think of it to be in the moment. Take a deep breath, let go of tomorrow and yesterday, and see if you can't find something in your environment to be grateful for - something that will help you to tune into the Love energy within you. This is a new age - The Age of Healing & Joy - and we have greater access to the transcendent emotional energy than ever before in recorded human history. It Truly is a time for Joy. A time to change the dance from one of suffering and endurance into one that celebrates the gifts of life in human body.

Next in series: Balance on the horizontal, Integration of the vertical

Vibrational Dance

By Robert Burney

"The key to healing our wounded souls is to get clear and honest in our emotional process. Until we can get clear and honest with our human emotional responses - until we change the twisted, distorted, negative perspectives and reactions to our human emotions that are a result of having been born into, and grown up in, a dysfunctional, emotionally repressive, Spiritually hostile environment - we cannot get clearly in touch with the level of emotional energy that is Truth. We cannot get clearly in touch with and reconnected to our Spiritual Self.

We, each and every one of us, has an inner channel to Truth, an inner channel to the Great Spirit. But that inner channel is blocked up with repressed emotional energy, and with twisted, distorted attitudes and false beliefs."

"Each and every one of us has an inner channel. We now have the capability to atone - which means tune into - to atone, to tune into the Higher Consciousness. To tune into the Higher vibrational emotional energies that are Joy, Light, Truth, Beauty, and Love.

We can tune into the Truth of "at ONE ness." Atone = at ONE. Atonement = at ONE ment, in a condition of ONENESS.

We now have access to the highest vibrational frequencies - we can tune into the Truth of ONENESS. By aligning with Truth we are tuning into the higher energy vibrations that reconnect us with the Truth of ONENESS.

This is the age of atonement, but it does not have anything to do with judgment and punishment. It has to do with tuning our inner channel into the right frequencies.

But our inner channel is blocked and cluttered with repressed emotional energy and dysfunctional attitudes. The more we clear our inner channel through aligning with Truth attitudinally, and releasing the repressed emotional energy through the grief process, the clearer we can tune into the music of Love and Joy, Light and Truth.

It is not easy because we have been taught to look at being human backwards. We were forced to accept a reversed perspective. We were emotionally and subconsciously programmed to react to life dysfunctionally based on reversed belief systems.

We are Spiritual Beings having a human experience.

NOT human creatures who have to earn Spiritual existence. We are not flawed, shameful humans who have to do human perfectly, who have to do the "right" things in order to transcend."

Quote from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

In last months column (Quantum Physics - expanding my Spiritual paradigm) I discussed the importance of Quantum Physics in my quest to find a Higher Power of my own understanding - and mentioned that I didn't know what led me to start reading books on the subject. I realized as I was working on this month's column, that my interest in the subject was sparked - at least in part - in the summer of 1988. That Spring I had gone through a 30 Day treatment program for codependency - and had then moved from Los Angeles to Arizona where I had gone through treatment. In the summer of that year, I was led to do some study with a group in Sedona Arizona. In the course of that study, I remembered seeing a chart that showed the vibrational frequencies of different emotions.

That was a new combination for me - emotions and vibrational frequency. The most important thing I had learned in the treatment program I had gone through earlier that year was about the grief process. Doing my emotional healing had led me into doing deep grief work which I discovered involved releasing energy. The more I became clear that emotions were actual energy that needed to flow instead of being blocked, the easier it became for me to get in touch with my emotions and open up to healing them through energy release.

The combination of what I learned about grieving - and this new concept of emotions having a vibrational frequency caused a shift in perspective for me. Emotions are energy. Energy has a vibrational frequency. Anger has a higher vibrational frequency than pain or fear - thus the human defense mechanism which allows us to turn pain or fear into anger because it is has more energy mass and therefore feels empowering instead of vulnerable and weak. Much of world history becomes clearer just by understanding how humans - as part of trying to survive - have reacted to fear and pain by getting angry and acting out that anger.

The Universe is one giant dance of energy. This realization led in part to the title of my book: The Dance of Wounded Souls. We are all dancing energy made up of dancing energy. I realized that the reason the dance was painful and dysfunctional is that humans have been dancing to the wrong music (wrong as in not aligned with the Truth of a Loving Force.) The dance of life for humans has been grounded in shame and fear, empowered by belief in separation, lack, and scarcity. These are lower vibrational emotions and beliefs based on the three dimensional illusion that humans experience as reality. As long as the dance of humans harmonizes to music - vibrational emanations - that are rooted in shame, fear, and separation the only way to do the dance is destructively.

As I did my deep grief work and started to clear up my internal process so that I could more clearly differentiate between Truth that was a vibrational communication from my Soul and the emotional truth that was coming from my wounded soul, I was able to start trusting myself to be able to discern Truth.

"Truth, in my understanding, is not an intellectual concept. I believe that Truth is an emotional-energy, vibrational communication to my consciousness, to my soul/spirit - my being, from my Soul. Truth is an emotion, something that I feel within.

It is that feeling within when someone says, or writes, or sings, something in just the right words so that I suddenly feel a deeper understanding. It is that "AHA" feeling. The feeling of a light bulb going on in my head. That "Oh, I get it!" feeling. The intuitive feeling when something just feels right . . . or wrong. It's that gut feeling, the feeling in my heart. It is the feeling of something resonating within me. The feeling of remembering something that I had forgotten - but do not remember ever knowing."

"Feelings are real - they are emotional energy that is manifested in our body - but they are not necessarily fact. What we feel is our "emotional truth" and it does not necessarily have anything to do with either facts or the emotional energy that is Truth with a capital "T" - especially when we our reacting out of an age of our inner child."

Quote from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

I was able to have a more trusting and Loving relationship with myself through getting more in touch with my Spiritual Self, my Higher Self, and through that Higher Self with God as I was coming to understand God. I was able to start having a personal, intimate relationship with my own concept of a Higher Power / God / Goddess / Great Spirit. I learned to trust the vibrational communications, the feeling of something resonating within. I was studying Quantum Physics, Molecular Biology, religion, theology, philosophy, mythology, esoteric metaphysics, science fiction - whatever was brought into my path to study. In those studies I was sorting out the wheat from the chaff - I was picking out the nuggets of Truth from the twisted, distorted beliefs they were embedded within. From this quest the Truth that I resonate with emerged - from this search I found a Higher Power of my own understanding.

"Who we are, are transcendent Spiritual Beings who are part of the ONENESS that is the God-Force. We always have been and always will be. We are perfect in our Spiritual Essence. We are perfectly where we are supposed to be on our Spiritual Path. And from a human perspective we will never be able to do "human" perfectly - which is perfect.

We have been trying to do "human" perfectly according to a false belief system in order to "get Spiritual." It does not work. It's dysfunctional and backwards. It is not bad or wrong or shameful - it is the best we have known how to do life until now.

All any human being in the history of the planet has ever done is the best that she/he knew how to do to survive in the moment.

Humans have always been looking for a way home. For a way to connect with our Higher Consciousness. For a way to reconnect with our creator. Throughout human history, human beings have used temporary artificial means to raise their vibrational level, to try to reconnect with Higher Consciousness.

Drugs and alcohol, meditation and exercise, sex and religion, starvation and overeating, the self-torture of the flagellant or the deprivation of the hermit - all are attempts to connect with higher consciousness. Attempts to reconnect with Spiritual Self. Attempts to go home."

Quote from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

Next in series: Love as a vibrational frequency

Quantum Physics - Expanding My Spiritual Paradigm

By Robert Burney

I mentioned in second column of this series that Richard Bach's book Illusions was a major factor in my quest to understand how there could possibly be a Higher Power, a God-Force, that was Loving. In fourth column I talked about Dr. Paul's chapter of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous and the impact it had on my Spiritual Belief system. This month I am going to focus on another major influence in enlarging my perspective of how the Universe works, in expanding the intellectual paradigm that was dictating my relationship with life - Quantum Physics.

(I am using a quote about quantum physics from my book at the end of this column - as well as several short ones within it - instead of the beginning, because it works better that way.)

The groundwork was laid for paradigm expanding concepts of quantum physics by a mystical messenger named Albert Einstein. There are several quotes that I use on the page facing the copyright page in the beginning of my book that come from individuals whom I consider to be mystical messengers.

"Imagination is more important than knowledge." - Albert Einstein

"You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus." - Mark Twain

Quote from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

This quote from Mark Twain speaks to the reality of human internal dynamics that I keep repeating throughout my writing. Our intellectual paradigm - mental attitudes, definitions, and beliefs - determine our perspectives and expectations, which in turn dictate our relationships and emotional reactions. If our intellectual paradigm is limited - if we cannot imagine a larger perspective of life - than what we perceive is limited, is out of focus. If we cannot use our imagination to open up to different interpretations of what we are seeing, then we are wearing blinders and can only see a limited view.

As an example: A traditional therapist / psychologist / psychiatrist has a limited perspective that restricts them to labeling behaviors - that are symptomatic manifestations of codependency in my belief - in such a way that they fit into the boxes their intellectual paradigm dictates. A Freudian will twist everything to fit into the second chakra perspective that Freud was viewing life from. A Jungian will come from more of a heart chakra centered point of view because Carl Jung reached that level of consciousness - but even then emotions are usually discounted.

Someone who believes that brain chemistry is the higher power in determining emotional health, will look for chemical solutions. (For more on this topic, see the addendum to my article Obsession / Obsessive Thinking Part 1- which is on the site)

 Einstein was not saying that knowledge was unimportant - what he was talking about is how the growth process works. Here is a paraphrase of a paragraph in which I describe this paradigm / perspective expansion in another work of mine.

What I found, is that every time I let go of how I viewed some aspect of self, other people, and/or life, and surrendered to my intuitive guidance - I was led to a larger intellectual paradigm in which to view life. By trusting my emotional, intuitive side, I was led to a larger perspective of life, a higher level of consciousness. And I found - when the dust of my old shattered definitions had settled, and I started looking around and exploring the new perspective of reality / or some aspect of my reality - that everything eventually made perfect sense in a logical rational way. I could not get to the new level through logic, but once I had trusted my intuition to guide me to it - it was perfectly rational. The pieces of the puzzle fell into place because I was looking at the puzzle of life from a larger perspective.

(Intellectual growth in relationship to some concept / topic / area - physics for example, or a new invention of any kind - works dynamically through these intuitive, imaginative leaps of perspective. The same dynamics apply to the emotional and spiritual growth process - and can cause emotional turmoil because what we need to let go of to grow emotionally are ego definitions that are limiting our relationship with self and life. There is an inherent conflict between the human ego and the nature of the life experience for humans that I wrote about in this article: Loving and Nurturing self on your Spiritual Path.)   Einstein was able to make huge leaps in knowledge because he was willing to surrender to expanding his intellectual paradigm by trusting his intuition to guide his imagination into seeing the puzzle of life from a larger perspective. He was able to think outside of the box - and make huge breakthroughs in understanding - because he learned to follow his intuitive, mystical guidance to higher levels of consciousness that afforded him expanded perspectives of whatever aspect of the puzzle he was looking at. Albert Einstein stated that there were dimensions beyond the concrete three-dimensional one that humans experience.

"Physicists have now proven through Einstein's Theory of Relativity and the study of quantum physics that everything we see is an illusion.

Einstein, in looking at a macroscopic perspective of the Universe, said in his Theory of Relativity that there are more than three dimensions. Human beings can only visualize in three dimensions. We can only see three dimensions so we have assumed that that is all there is."

Quote from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

Einstein's pioneering work paved the way for the revolutionary, mind expanding concepts of quantum physics.

"One of the fascinating things about the Age of Healing and Joy that has dawned in human consciousness is that the tools and knowledge that we need to raise our consciousness, to awaken to consciousness, have been unfolding in all areas of human endeavor over time, and at an accelerated rate in the last fifty to one hundred years.

One of the most fascinating things to me, and a key in my personal healing process, is in the area of physics."

Quote from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

I was so desperate to find some meaning and purpose to life that I was willing to go wherever I was led in my quest to find a concept of a Higher Power that could possibly Love me. I was open to the messages that were coming my way - and willing to buy Illusions when I discovered it in a grocery store at only 3 months of sobriety. I was later willing to start reading and trying to understand quantum physics when I was led to books like The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra and The Dancing Wu Li Masters by Gary Zukov. And, let me tell you, I hated science in school. In college I took geology to fulfill my science requirement - even though it involved twice as many course hours - because I hated physics and chemistry and such. (I ended up really getting into geology by the way - fascinating stuff.) So, we are talking a major surrender here. I don't remember now how I was led to studying quantum physics - or when exactly on my Spiritual growth path it happened - but it was a major influence for me in a multitude of ways. I will be sharing some of the ways this impacted my Spiritual beliefs in some future columns. The following quote from my book however, is kind of a bottom line as I see it.

"Quantum physics has now proven that everything we see is an illusion, that the physical world is an illusion.

Everything is made up of interacting energy. Energy interacts on a subatomic level to form energy fields which physicists call subatomic particles. These subatomic energy fields interact to form atomic energy fields, atoms, which interact to form molecules. Everything in the physical world is made up of interacting atomic and molecular energy fields.

There is no such thing as separation in the physical world.

Energy is interacting to form a gigantic, dynamic pattern of rhythmically repeating energy interactions. In other words, a dance of energy. We are all part of a gigantic dance of energy.

This Universe is one gigantic pattern of dancing energy patterns.

Separation is an illusion. There is energy traveling at thousands of miles per second in your body right at this moment. There is energy interacting between, passing between, you and the chair you are sitting on, you and the air around you, you and any other beings in the room.

We are not separate.

Physicists have scientifically proven that separation in the physical world is an illusion. . . . We are all part of one gigantic, dynamic dance of energy.

Oneness is the Truth, the scientifically proven Truth, on this physical plane. . . . . The mystical Truth that we are all ONE in God has been known through the ages."

Quote from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

We are all connected. We are all part of the ONENESS that is The Source. The Great Spirit is present in everyone and everything.

Next in series: Vibrational Dance

God the Father, and My Father

By Robert Burney

"Our traditional cultural concepts of what a man is, of what a woman is, are twisted, distorted, almost comically bloated stereotypes of what masculine and feminine really are. A vital part of this healing process is finding some balance in our relationship with the masculine and feminine energy within us, and achieving some balance in our relationships with the masculine and feminine energy all around us. We cannot do that if we have twisted, distorted beliefs about the nature of masculine and feminine.

When the role model of what a man is does not allow a man to cry or express fear; when the role model for what a woman is does not allow a woman to be angry or aggressive - that is emotional dishonesty. When the standards of a society deny the full range of the emotional spectrum and label certain emotions as negative - that is not only emotionally dishonest, it creates emotional disease.

If a culture is based on emotional dishonesty, with role models that are dishonest emotionally, then that culture is also emotionally dysfunctional, because the people of that society are set up to be emotionally dishonest and dysfunctional in getting their emotional needs met."

"As a child, I learned from the role modeling of my father that the only emotion that a man felt was anger.""Human beings have also tried to apply realities of the physical level to the Spiritual level with the disastrous result that humans have come up with an image of the God-Force that fights wars. This image of the God-Force, with the characteristics of a war-like male, is completely out of balance because it is not the image of a balanced male warrior - it is the image of a male with no feminine side."

Quote from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

We buried my father this last weekend. He had gone into the hospital almost two months ago as an emergency admission. A gall stone led to several surgeries and uncovered other problems. He was in the hospital suffering from numerous complications - in a situation that contained no dignity and much pain. It was a blessing last week when congenital heart failure cropped up and took him within a couple of days. The things he was suffering from previously could have caused him to linger for weeks and weeks.

He was 80 years old and had lived a full life. All of his family members got a chance to see him while he was still lucid and able to communicate. I went to visit him in the hospital in Phoenix several weeks ago after doing a workshop in the Bay area. I was able to get some closure of a sort - to tell him I loved him. He couldn't say it back to me. He has never been able to say he loved me.

My father was an emotional cripple. A man who had learned that real men don't get scared or hurt or sad - real men only get angry. I wrote a column about how as a little boy I was terrified of him - and how sad I was about my relationship with my father - for Father's Day in 1997. (Emotionally Crippled Fathers - a sad tragedy of the masculine)

I had actually done much grieving about my relationship with my father - and his inability to treat me in a way that felt loving - years ago. I didn't actually have a lot of grief at his passing last week - some, but not a great deal because of that previous grieving. There was actually more grief for me in seeing my family members who have no recovery, who have no understanding of how wounded they were by his behavior, in pain over the myth of fatherhood they were still empowering.

The most damaging thing about our relationships with our parents growing up, is that we incorporate the messages we received from them directly - and indirectly through their behavior and role modeling - into our relationship with our self. It is not possible to develop healthy relationships with our parents if they do not change and get into recovery themselves. We can certainly get healthier in our interactions with them - but we cannot develop healthy relationships with anyone who is not getting healthier themselves. We can however heal our relationship with ourselves by taking power away from the old tapes and emotional wounds their behavior caused us to incorporate into our relationship with self.

This is what I am focusing on as I write this. A dysfunctional level in my relationship with myself that still needs some healing. This is a level of wounding that came not just from my relationship with my father - but also with the concept of God the Father I had imposed upon me as a child.

The Old Testament concept of a punishing, judgmental God the Father - a god with a human ego who created humans to adore him - is an abusive, ridiculous concept in my opinion. (I share some of my beliefs in this regard - along with links to articles focused on different aspects of my beliefs - in my December 2004 Update Newsletter.)  That masculine image of a God is - as I say in the quote from my book above - an image of a male with no feminine side.

That image of an angry patriarch has been a fundamental component of the template for the way men were trained to express their masculinity and deny their feminine side in Western Civilization. The similarities between the way our fathers treated us and the image of the judgmental, abusive God the Father has been devastatingly wounding to not only many men in society - but also the many women who have tried over and over again to win the love of the emotionally unavailable, abusive males that were recreating the ways they were wounded in relationships with fathers who were emotional cripples like my father.

The combination of the reality that my father did not ever treat me in a way that made me feel that I was lovable and worthy, but rather the very opposite - along with the concept of a Father God who would send me to burn in hell forever because I was inherently sinful and shameful - are at the core of the toxic shame that is the foundation of my codependency. I have been working on healing - and have made great progress in eliminating - that shame about my being in the years of my recovery. I count my codependency recovery as beginning on June 3rd, 1986 - so I am coming up on my 19th CoDA anniversary.

There has been however, a dark corner deep within me where the feeling that I am not lovable or worthy - that I am somehow defective - has still been causing me to sometimes engage in self sabotaging behavior. I still have some terror at the core of my relationship with myself at fully opening up to believe that I deserve Love and Joy and abundance, some resistance to fully embracing being alive - and because of that terror I have periodically found myself justifying some behavior that is hurting me.

I deserved to be treated better than my father treated me. I certainly didn't deserve the emotional and spiritual abuse heaped upon me by a shame based religion. And I need to stop indulging myself in this self destructive behavior - so that I can more fully honor and respect my self by treating myself in a way I deserve to be treated. Today I am leaving that behavior behind. Today, May 31st 2005 - to honor that I deserve to be treated better than my father was capable of treating me - I am going to commit myself to stopping the self abusive behavior that directly relates back to how his behavior wounded a little boy many years ago. Today I am going to defy that stupid ridiculous concept of an angry male god the father by stopping the self sabotaging behavior that I have until now been powerless to stop completely. Today I make this commitment to myself - to treat my self with Love and respect in all my behaviors. I commit my self to accessing the power available to me from my Higher Power to be more Loving to my self - because I deserve that Love.

Next in series: Quantum Physics - expanding my Spiritual paradigm

Inspiration from the Big Book of Alcoholic Anonymous

By Robert Burney

"One of the core characteristics of this disease of Codependence is intellectual polarization - black and white thinking. Rigid extremes - good or bad, right or wrong, love it or leave it, one or ten. Codependence does not allow any gray area - only black and white extremes.

Life is not black and white. Life involves the interplay of black and white. In other words, the gray area is where life takes place. A big part of the healing process is learning the numbers two through nine - recognizing that life is not black and white."

"The Twelve Step program of AA provides a practical program for accessing Spiritual power in dealing with day-to-day human life. A formula for integrating the Spiritual into the physical. Even though some of the steps, as originally written, contain shaming and abusive wording, the Twelve Step process and the ancient Spiritual principles underlining it are invaluable tools in helping the individual being start down, and stay on, a path aligned with Truth."

Quote from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

In the quote from my book just above, I mention that some of the 12 steps contain shaming and abusive wording. I was speaking specifically of step 5 and 6 - which are part of the 4th step inventory process. Here are those steps in an excerpt from an articles on my site in a series on the 12 steps.

"4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.

Even though this page is about step 4, I included step 5 and 6 above because I want to first address the shaming language in which the twelve steps - as used in AA and adapted by CoDA - are written. Step 6 actually refers to the negative side of the inventory done in step 4, so is a part of the fourth step process. . . . .

I hate the term "defects of character." There could be no better term to describe toxic shame. That is what I felt most of my life - that I was somehow defective, that something was wrong with who I am.

I prefer to refer to these "defects" as codependent behavior patterns and dysfunctional attitudes. They are part of the emotional defense system which we adapted to protect ourselves as children. They are not signs that we are defective, nor are they "wrongs" as step 5 states - they are dysfunctional because they do not work to help us have a Loving, fulfilling relationship with ourselves. They are a part of the disease of codependence that we were powerless over as long as we were unconscious to them. By starting to get conscious of these behavior patterns and attitudes we start to access the power to change them. That is what step 4 is Truly about - becoming conscious."

- The Miracle of The Twelve Step Recovery Process - Step 4 inventory

The underlining dynamic of codependency is black and white thinking. Drinking or not drinking is a black and white issue. Thus many recovering alcoholics can stop drinking while still empowering the black and white thinking of codependency. Many recovering alcoholics are rigid in their perspective and don't ever do the emotional healing of their childhood wounds because they tell themselves it is not necessary to sobriety - and they are scared to death of their own emotions on a subconscious level. Some of the most wounded codependents I know have 30 or 40 years sober and have never addressed their emotional issues - while justifying their rigidity as doing AA the "right" way.

According to this "old time" AA perspective, "outside issues" should not be discussed in AA meetings. There are many suffering codependents in AA who are not open minded enough to realize that Bill Wilson - one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous - would have loved to have had the tools we have available to us today. He would have run to an Adult Children of Alcoholics or Co-Dependents Anonymous meeting where he could have found the roots of the depression which tormented him. The suffering codependents in AA are terrified that if they don't follow a rigid formula - the "right" way - in their recovery, they will end up drinking again.

That "right" way, according to the rigid members of AA, includes not discussing drugs in an AA meeting. Alcohol is of course a drug - so this is nonsense in my view. But some old timers are very adamant about AA being only for alcoholics and not for drug addicts.

That rigid black and white thinking led in recent years to something which I personally find ridiculously petty. In the newest revision of the AA Big Book, the story that was most important to me in the book had it's title change to remove the word addict.

This chapter - which used to be called "Doctor, Alcoholic, Addict" - was written by a man named Dr. Paul. It was from his chapter that I got a lot of the basic foundation for my codependency recovery. His chapter was instrumental in my search for a Higher Power of my own understanding.

There is a multitude of good stuff in this chapter but I will touch on three that were very important to me here.

1. He talks about being part of the solution instead of being part of the problem. Seeing the half of the glass that is full instead of focusing on the half that is empty. Out of this I came up with a little saying for myself: "I don't have any problems, I have opportunities for growth."

This was a little saying that had a huge impact on my recovery. It started shifting me out of the victim role I had been programmed to react out of in childhood. This saying was a paradigm buster for me. It caused me to change my perspective of how I viewed life and led to me changing my relationship with life. I stopped automatically seeing myself as the victim of life and other people and started looking for the silver lining, the opportunity for growth, attached to the events in my life.

Little sayings can have a huge impact on our healing paths.

2. He says something in his chapter that I interpreted to be "If God Loves me unconditionally, whom am I to not Love myself." It was a shocking concept to me. That God could actually love me - the shameful, sinful, weak creature of the flesh who was certainly going to be condemned to burn in hell forever - was shocking enough when I first started in the program. What was more shocking was to realize that if I put myself down I was saying that God made junk. I realized it was actually arrogance to believe God could love everyone else but I wasn't lovable. It was my dysfunctionally programmed ego that was giving me that message - it was negative grandiosity. It was another paradigm buster for me and a real catalyst in me changing my perspective on, and relationship with, both my self and a Higher Power of my understanding.

3. The other vitally important thing that I got out of this chapter was a new perspective on how I gave away power over my emotions. Dr. Paul talks about how his serenity was directly proportional to his level of acceptance - and inversely proportional to his expectations. Looking at how my expectations were setting me up to have emotional reactions to life - and learning to be honest with myself about those expectations - was one of the most important pieces of the puzzle for me. It was vital in the process of learning to be emotionally honest with my self - and in learning to take responsibility for my emotional reactions. I have an article on my web site in which I talk about how pivotal focusing on my expectations was for me in learning to stop buying into the belief that I was a victim. Serenity and Expectations - intimately interrelated I mention Dr. Paul's chapter in the Big Book in that article.

So, I am very grateful for Dr. Paul's chapter of the Big Book - it was inspirational for me, and provided a great deal of fundamental insight into my relationship with myself and life. I am also very grateful to Alcoholics Anonymous because it saved my life. I find myself alternately sad and angry about the rigidity in AA caused by codependency - and the shaming messages that rigid members often give to anyone who is looking at other issues or doing emotional healing. Something that has been true in a lot of religions in world history is also true in AA to a certain extent. When human beings - reacting out of fear - place rigid interpretations on the words that carry the message, they often lose the spirit of the message.

Next in series :God the Father, and my father