Day 20

Can you set others free to feel and do whatever they need? Can you trust that they have  a Higher Power who has a divine plan for their life? Discuss any codependent thoughts or feelings around this subject.

This is my question for the day. For those of you that are not aware, I have been working through the book 30 Shamanic Questions by Linda Star Wolf.  I am on Question 20. This is sort of intendended to be done in about 30 days. Without actually looking, I feel like I have been working on this for about 3 months!

Most of these I keep private and work on them internally. I feel that this question is a little different. It impacts how I interact with others.

“Most of us suffer from a certain degree of codependent behaviors. One of the main symptoms is the belief that you know what is best for another; that it is your responsibility to fix, control, heal or cure someone else. You are unconsciously projecting your process on to others ‘for their own good’, or so you believe.”

That is a brief description of codependency.

There are two quotes in this chapter that resonate with me as well. I’m sharing them before diving into where I am on all of this…

Each of us must reinterpret his family experience from an evolutionary point of view, from a spiritual point of view, and discover who he(she) really is. Once we do that, our control drama falls away, and our real lives take off. ~ James Redfield from The Celestine Prophecy (one of my favorite self help books)

then a new quote that really leapt out at me….

It may help you to realize that moving from the Tribal mindset into individual power is inevitable. Most of us will arrive at some point in our lives when the world with which we are most familiar no longer works for us. For some people, it happens more than once. We are meant to outgrow ourselves; indeed, we can no more avoid this development than we can stop the aging process. The only question is how gracefully – and healthily – we will handle the transition. ~ Caroline Myss, Ph.D. from Why People Don’t Heal and How they can

So this is my prompt today, this week.

In fact, I think this prompt captures something that I have been feeling especially keenly lately. I’m going to avoid politics, but the results of politics has many many people all around the world coming to terms with that concept that the “world with which we are familiar no longer works for us.”

Over and over and over this last week, I have participated in, joined in, been sucked in, been blindsided, witnessed others…. fall into debate|argument|fights|unfriending|blocking related to the impact of this on all of us.

I have been working on my second codependency.

I’ve been codependent for a long time. I worked through it once and reduced it significantly when I was in my teens and twenties. Later in life it rekindled when I wasn’t paying attention and it bit me in the ass!

I have been working on my second codependency for the last two years. I am making lots of progress and on a good day, I will never have a political conversation.

Politics is a peculiar beast. As humans we need interaction. We need to establish our own personal boundaries such that we can control our lives and live with free will. We need to do what we need to do.

Yet, we are not alone in this world. There are other people and sometimes we bump into one another and our free will’s collide. This is where politics comes into existence.

It is the rules that we collectively establish to maintain healthy boundaries.  We might also have to setup additional boundaries, but they may not be enforced by laws.

Politics gets painful when we feel that someone else is trying to rewrite those boundaries and ‘control us’ or remove controls that we have over ourselves.

Why would someone deem that they can change rules and attempt to control our lives?

Lately, I have witnessed this on both sides of the US political spectrum and more. It seems to happen most often when we ‘judge’ other people.

At some point, when people judge others (instead of minding their own business and working on themselves), AND when people specifically judge others to be deficient, this is when this thought seems to creep into their minds…. This thing is not right. This person is not right. This way of living is not right.

We need to do something about this thing. We need to change it. We need to control it. We need to control them.

Judgement + the decision to control others

To simplify this concept, its akin to judging someone to be less than human and enslaving them.

This is how painful the impact is on those that experience it. They may or may not be in actual shackles, but they lose rights, they lose control, they lose representation in a democracy, they lose their identity in the world.  The result is a level of slavery. At its worst, it becomes actual slavery.

So it comes as no surprise that people will rebel against being enslaved. They will rebel against people that will Decide to control them. They will rebel at people that take that early first step to Judge them.

Judgement of others leads to Slavery.

We can judge ourselves. We can assess where we are and recalibrate where we are going.

This is where Question 20 comes into play!

First, we have to take care of our own destiny.

But Empathy, a very human emotion and capability, it is also a judgment trap!

We humans have this awesome ability to share information. We can share stories. We can learn from each other. We can empathize and put ourselves into the shoes of other people, characters that are fictional or real people that we meet.

It is literally one of the things that makes us human. We can feel at a smaller level what others feel when they have an experience.

We can try that experience and feeling out mentally and we can contemplate how we would react. What we would choose to do the same and what we would choose to do differently.

Sometimes we come to a conclusion. “I’d never do it that way!”

Sometimes we even share our conclusion with the person that shared their story, but we draw a foul when we say “Don’t do it that way. You are wrong to do it the way you are doing. You should do it this way. Don’t be foolish”   or something worse.

We have suddenly delved into judgment and control.

This is not to be confused with situations where someone asks us for our advice. (Another sticky wicket of a thing to do, but at least they are asking for help or our perspective or maybe even our judgment. )

The cool thing is that we can all be a lot happier when we choose to only live and control our own lives.

When we stop telling other people what to do and how to live, when we stop trying to judge and enslave people, we are happier. They are happier.

When we empower people to make their own choices and do their thing and cover their own responsibilities, it liberates and frees them. It removes the shackles of slavery.

When we stop imposing controlling political constraints the same thing comes to be.

The trick of the lesson just learned…

Now I am some 29 years on this path working to hold codependency at bay. I am two years into working at it better than I have in my entire life. I’m at a new level.

I am no master of this process. It is all new. I am unskilled. I am unpracticed. I am a novice. I am learning.

Professionally, I work in a culture that shares lessons learned with each other. If someone learns something from someone else, they then turn around and mentor or teach the next person coming up behind them learning the same thing.

A -> helps B -> helps C -> helps D to infinity.

Along the way, B usually learns something A did not know and C learns something neither B nor A knew and so on. There’s a synergy to the learning cycle such that we all get enriched by the process.

We utilize a system known as Open Source where we share this information in the form of code and iterations of code to make things happen.

I mention this as this is something of an over developed skill. It is a hammer that I bring to many situations. I work in a culture of people where this is the norm.

In other areas of my life, I am quick to want to take the most recent lesson I learned and then share it with the next person I run across that has experienced the same challenge!

Oops, Did they ask for that?

This is one of those areas where one of the symptoms or expressions of Codependency can flare up. It is known as caretaking. Trying to take care of someone or help them, before they have asked for help.

When we do this, we are judging them in need of help and controlling them by providing for help that they did not ask for. It can be done with good intentions, even love, but it does not change the fact that it is judging and enslaving that person.

I am trying Rico. I am trying real hard.

These days, I am working hard to remember to ask if it is ok to provide help.

Failing to ask has gotten me into trouble in personal relationships and professional relationships.

This used to be a weakness of mine.

It is currently something transitioning from a weakness to a strength.

I am aware of my former weakness. Awareness is a big first step!

I work to ask people more and more now.

I do not always remember. These are not words that come naturally or more importantly ‘quickly’ enough.

Many times, I spot something that needs improvement, or I spot something that could be done a bit more effectively, and I just jump in and fix it.

it comes from years of being taught to work that way. If you see something wrong fix it. If you see litter on the ground pick it up. If you are going from one room to the next, take something with you that needs to be put away. Help the family. Watch your brother’s back. Look out for your battle buddy. Your soldiers are your responsibility. Take care of your employees. You have kids to raise and look after and stop them from putting pipe cleaners in electrical outlets….

There are lots of scenarios where this care taking thing can creep into our lives and become dominant traits….

Dominant controlling, enslaving traits.

We can make our world a better place. We can care for our environment.

We cannot MAKE our fellow humans better. As soon as we control them, we have lost ourselves and they have been damaged for the worse.

So I have to remember to ask to help!

I have to practice working these words into my conversation before I do anything.

I have to also remember to just let it go!

I need to remember that even if I spot something that could be done more effectively, if I rob someone of the time and space to spot the thing too, that too is preventing them from doing their thing and becoming their full potential.

So this is where I am.

I share this Question 20 publicly. I share it as you might be able to help me.

If we have a conversation, and I am too quick at suggesting a fix when I am not engaged to be in the role of providing a fix, I would love it if you help remind me.

“I’ve got this. Thanks for caring, but I’ve got this!”

or
“That’s nice and it might or might not help, but next time please ask me before you help.”

or

we are talking about judgment and enslaving here

“Fuck off. This is my life. Go focus on your own life. Stop trying to control me!”

Sometimes the harsh words are needed to help the message penetrate our lizard brains. Sometimes we need that harsh defense to protect our personal boundaries.

Sometimes the path to hell is paved with good intentions of codependents trying to judge, control and ‘help’!

Grief Feeding Anxiety & Depression Feeding Life Sabotage

Its late in the morning on Sunday. I’m sitting on my porch after a rainy night, a rainy week. The sun is out and its windy, but not yet warm. The sun and the wind are blowing away the last of the rainy weather in preparation to start up the pre-Memorial Day weekend roaster.
I’m feeling …. Too much this morning, but none of it heavily. I’m feeling a bit depressed, a bit anxious. I’m feeling a bit depressed looking back at the past of a long marriage that ended just over a year ago. I’ve had lots of reminders of this the last week, many interactions with my ex-wife, the mother of my children. These were positive interactions and some of the best examples of our potential to be co-parents in the future. This is something that I want, but it does not come quickly nor easily.
We do not get training in life in how to be a good divorced coparent. Some people, I hesitate to call them lucky, might have been able to see their own parents become good coparents and set an example. Even when this happens no one wants this for their future, because that infers that we have to get married and then get divorced and then become good coparents.For what its worth, I do think there is a big difference between being ‘coparents’ verses being ‘divorced parents’. In my mind, coparents work together to raise their kids. Divorced parents in my mind are single parents that individually take care of their children, sometimes alternating and sometimes negotiating or through lawyers organize some things. 

The difference I suppose is working together for the good of the children verses working individually or working together out of forced legal obligation.

The Conscious Uncoupling movement offers up a way to help make coparenting and ending relationships more positive and more healthy for everyone involved, but its very new and through the ever snarky media has been much maligned without any actual critical evaluation of what is involved.

Today, this morning for myself, I have not gone through a conscious uncoupling experience. I’m doing my best to try and move from being a divorced single parent to a coparent someday.

As I started going through the detachment from my ex-spouse, whom I still loved, I worked to detach with love. I was codependent and didn’t realize it until after we decided to divorce, but I did need to detach for my own health and well being. 

I did not want to detach using anger to fuel my break away from her. I did not feel that would serve me well and I definitely did not feel that it would serve my children. I did not feel that it would be healthy for them to see their father go through a process of ‘hating’ their mother. I do not hate their mother. I never have. I never will. She is a wonderful person. She is not perfect, but I have never dwelled on her negatives. We all have our negatives. I am no where near perfect. 

I do not think I am very bad either. I like myself. I am happy with who I am. I am happy with where I am going. I am happy with how I am getting there. To use a rock climbing analogy I feel like I am part way up a mountain, climbing up a cliff at the moment. A year ago as I climbed, I suffered a bad fall and injured myself. I am still healing from that and part of that healing involves the fear of the fall or the event itself. But I am on this cliff now, climbing and when I look back that takes my focus away from the handholds I need to maintain now. I can see this cliff that I dangle from is very difficult, but I can also see another section higher up that is inverted and even more difficult!  

My past fall and the setback it caused, represents my occasional depression. Some of that depression is something I am feeling this morning. As I dangle from my handhold now and wonder whether I can keep hanging on and move further up, this represents a piece of my anxiety about my future. Will I slip and fall?

As I look to the inverted ledge that I have to navigate in my future, that too adds to my anxiety about the future. 

Will I be able to do something even more difficult than what I have already done?

Sabotage

I need to do some basic things today. I need to do some work. I need to move myself up and forward. I have no time to reflect and dwell on the past and feed my depression. I have no time to be distracted by my anxiety over what might happen in the future.

Yet, these are real feelings. They are in touch with real pain that I have. Shutting this pain and these feelings out is a mistake as well. If I attempt to simply block them, this is the seed of a problem… I’ve done this before, ignoring this type of pain and it came back to bite me in the form of divorce.

We have to deal with these feelings and emotions and pain. Otherwise when we are trying to live, these things might creep up on us and surprise us and cause us to slip or trip or fall very hard right when we needed to move safely.

So that’s what I am doing right now. I’m raising this up in my consciousness. I’m dealing with it in part by writing about it. I’m chasing away my inner storm by casting light on it with my inner sunshine just as the sun outside is burning off the storm clouds from last night. Each breath I take and each word I write helps to blow the remaining clouds even further away.

I am working through the grief cycle. Its been over a year since this started for me. The grief cycle takes as long as it takes. I was married and in love for twenty three years. It might take me twenty three years to fully put all this grief behind me. It might take twenty three more days, or twenty three months or however long it takes. In the meantime, this does not stop me from living, from moving on.

I fell in love again this last winter. I did not stop loving my ex-wife, but that relationship was not my love. The relationship burned up over night (from my perspective) but the love did not. I fell in love this winter with a new person in my life named Sharon. We have been building a new relationship with each other every since. 

I view these two relationships of mine like growing a forest. In the first case, I grew a beautiful forest for twenty-three years. It burned down in a forest fire and there are only smoldering remains of tree stumps left.

Near that forest, I am growing a new forest with Sharon. It is full of beautiful new growth, new trees and plants and is full of light and good things. 

The two forests exist near each other in my heart. I can even look upon both at the same time. I can love the beauty of the old forest before it burned and the grief of that destruction for what was lost will be with me for a long long time. I can love the beauty of the new forest and the hope that it represents and the beauty of all the good it offers in the present.

Getting Through the Day

Each day I work through these feelings. Somedays I have to work through them more than others. Some days I am so busy as a single parent that I can barely focus on putting my shoes on and other days I the emotions or feelings build up to the point where I have no choice but to confront them, to work through them and deal with them. I have to raise them up and take them on and clean the wounds and dress the wounds and allow them to heal. I have to work my soul through physical therapy, through psychic therapy. It takes effort.

In the meantime, I also have to rebuild my life around me. That is what I have to do next. I have work to do for my clients. I have work to do on my business as a WordPress Consultant and Web Presentation Architect and as a Writer. I have work to do on my household and with my family, with my children and parents and brother and my wonderful friends and clients, all of which are part of the family that I am growing in yet another forest in my heart.

I can only do one of these things at a time. I can gaze out from my cliff at the vast collections of forest around me, all the relationships. I can walk through those forests and care for them pruning and weeding and watering and growing them each.

I can rarely work on them all at the same time, but I can care for them. I do care for them.

Writing this warms my heart, just as the sun is finally starting to rise to a point where its rays now touch my skin, starting to warm my shoulder and back. In the reflection of my iPad I can see the wind chimes that my son purchased for me for my birthday. I am reminded that his language of love is spoke with gifts. My language of love is spoken by doing things together. I need to remember to consciously speak his language of love back to him. This is part of the way that I can help care for this section of forest.

So many forests to care for. So much life sustaining beauty and purpose that can be added to my life when I do these things well….

I breath in deeply and out again, blowing away more of the minor depression and anxiety whisps that were in my system when I first put my fingertips to my keyboard. I feel infinitely better. I’m ready to move higher up this cliff as I reach for another handhold and lock my fingers on it.

This is going to be a very good day. I’m going to make it a very good day. I trust that you will make your own day very good and care for the forests in your own heart!

🙂

Focused On Control Dramas mixed with codependency

The last few days have brought my attention to control dramas. I am not going to define control dramas, but will point you in the right direction to quickly learn what I am talking about.
At a high level, a control drama is a way of trying to control someone else, specifically in a way that gives the controller energy taken from the person being controlled.

The ‘drama’ aspect of this hinges on the concept that the control is accomplished through an act of either being an Interrogator, an Intimidator, acting aloof and mysterious or playing the role of a ‘poor me‘.

I first learned about Control Dramas from reading a fiction book, sort of like a modern day Aesop’s Fables written to teach through fiction, called The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield. I highly recommend the book!

These are roles that can enter into personal dynamics if one or more people come from a family background where the different roles may have been recycled generation after generation. They are very very common.

They do not indicate a mental illness, more of a less optimal coping mechanism…

It’s common for a person to default to one, their dominant role. It is also possible that they might take on any of the other roles depending on the circumstances or group dynamics they find themselves in

Fast forward from what it is to what I have been focused on..

🙂

The concept of a control drama is based on the notion that a person that is not trying to control another, is able to build up their own energy without having to control or dominate the attention of others.

If we encounter a person acting out a control drama, the antidote is to name the drama, point it out to the person putting on the act. In ‘naming’ the drama and maybe how it is being used, it is possible to stop the actor from trying to use that process to control us, to drain us of energy, to feed off of our attention or more.

For the people that find themselves acting out these dramas, we need to work to be aware not to allow ourselves to fall into drama situations with others that are acting out a role. We too need to name the drama that we might be ensnared in. We also need to work to be self-aware not to act out our own dominant control drama.

Many of these were learned when we were children from our parents or others close to us. When we can spot our own behavior through awareness and we can end the drama that others might bring us into, we then have a chance of living and interacting with others as equals. We rely on our own ability to maintain our energy, to make ourselves happy and we let others do the same.

I find a lot of tie ins with the control drama concept and codependency, which also touches on controlling or manipulative behaviors. In a codependency situation we are not controlling or manipulating to make ourselves happy, we are reacting to people whose own challenges might be creating triggers and driving us to react in ways that we normally would not react. Their unbalance is driving us to react in an unbalanced way. We start to see their unbalance and react hoping to ‘balance them’, but that is a way of controlling them and not allowing them to find or not find their own means of finding balance.

When a codependent or two codependents in a relationship are also playing out control drama roles, things get amplified even more. Not only are the codependents (when there are two) trying to balance and control the other, but they are competing for the energy of the other through control.

Yipes! Things get messy quick!

I’ve done and am doing a lot of work to eliminate codependent reactions and bad learned habits from being a codependent from myself. In many ways, I’m finding this somewhat straight forward. We learn to live our own lives, not those that are close to us. We set boundaries with the people that are close to us, such that their challenges or issues do not cause us to react. We own our own shit and let them own theirs.

We want to be happy also. We want to be able to sustain our own happiness and be independent. We want to be able to exist in a healthy and balanced relationship in the future.

All of this means that we also need to take steps not to temporarily try on control dramas on purpose or accidentally through different situations.
Ok, so let me get real with some personal examples.

I have gone through some extra tough times this last year or so. I am confronting those tough times and doing my best to adapt and overcome my challenges. I have things I need to heal from, things I need to improve on, and many good things I need to grow even more.

When I go through tough times, as I did this last month. Money did not come easily this last month.

I need to avoid playing out control dramas. As I open up and get real with people sharing my truth, as this is important to me and that’s a whole other topic of conversation, I do not want to make the mistake of playing out the control drama of the ‘poor me’. I do not want to make people feel guilty for my troubles. I am not trying to elicit sympathy.

I do want to be open and honest and share with people what is important to me. Just because life is not going easily for me, it does not mean that I feel negative about how my life is going either!

I feel very positive. There is a difference in feeling negative about our adversity and feeling optimistic about our future in the face of adversity.

I feel very optimistic about my future. Sure, I would love for the adversity to lighten up a bit. But I do feel that things are and will get even better.

Still in a control drama, if I were to act it out, I might bemoan my circumstances too much and worse try and elicit sympathy or guilt from someone, hoping they might try to make me feel better (sending energy) to boost my spirits. That is controlling and manipulative and would leave a person feeling tired or drained after the experience.

This is not what I want to do.

Earlier today, a friend that I hadn’t spoken to in a a couple months asked me how I was doing. I mentioned that things were tough, but I had managed to pay my rent today and that I hoped that this would be less difficult in the future. I mentioned it in a chat comment. About a minute after I typed that, I was aware that this might almost sound like a ‘poor me’ kind of thing. It felt a little ‘whiny’ to me.

I most definitely did not want to whine nor start up a control drama situation trying to drain guilt or sympathy or something from the other person. I did want to be open and honest and real.

I replied again trying to point out the potential for misinterpretation of my comments as whiny. I went on to elaborate more. I realized that in my initial comment, I had been feeling a bit tired or weary and the comment ‘slipped out’. I may have almost reverted into the start of a poor me drama. I caught it just in time and pulled it back.

My friend went on soon after to point out a business opportunity that might be a good fit for my own company. I later went on a run and have been stewing on how I might do something useful with that since. 🙂

A few weeks back, I had a conversation with a friend that really helped me gain a better understanding on a number of things in my life last year. They had had major challenges of their own and like me, they were healing. When I ran into them and several other friends at the same time, the friend pulled me aside from the group and talked with me at great length.

I can’t quite place the drama that was being played out, but not only did I notice it, but so did some of my friends that were present and separated from me. I think this might have been either an interrogator or an intimidator monopolizing my time.

Now, I was more than willing to share with them and open up and have a conversation with them. 🙂 This was not against my will. Yet, I allowed myself to be singled out and pulled away from the group.

Something similar happened a few days ago with yet a different friend. I ended up allowing myself to be pulled into their drama. Again, I was more than willing to be there for them and engage.

the thing is that I am a recovering codependent. I am attracted (not necessarily a sexual attraction) to wounded people. The codependent in me wants to help the (find balance). This opens the door for me to want to help and if they are unknowingly playing out a control drama as well and I do not spot it and do not name it and thwart it, I realized I might allow myself to give more than I can afford, allow my energy to be drained a bit.

I absolutely do not feel any negative feelings towards my friends that helped me see this over the last few weeks. The situations gave me very clear examples to learn from as I was aware. I may or may not have been fast at learning the lessons, but I am learning!

I do want to be there for my friends. I want to be there for them in a way that is healthy for me and in a way that is healthy for them. 🙂

I need to build up my friendships. I need to reconnect with my existing friends more and build up more friendships with others.

I am a social person and having and maintaining and growing friendships is important to me. Healthy friendships are even more important to me.

I am not cutting loose or letting go of any existing friendships. This is most definitely not my way. I do not feel that the way to living a positive and happy life comes from cutting negative people out of our lives.

I feel the way to living a positive and happy life comes from cutting the negative feelings out of our own selves out of our own reactions to ourselves and our own negative reactions to those wonderful people that choose to be in our lives. Some of those people may have very big challenges. Some of them may be hurt or unhappy. I will probably not be able to help them fix themselves. I can be happy and a good friend and supportive as they figure out how to fix themselves on their own and without me cutting them loose and walking away from them. I need not abandon my friends that have challenges or issues.

🙂

So there is my thought for the day. This one is a work in progress. Its just a quick marker along the road that I am following. I’m working to better juggle my recovery from codependency. I do not see this as a negative. I see this as an evolution to a bigger positive.
I also am working to be self aware enough to insure that I do not engage in control dramas nor allow myself to get pulled into the control dramas of others.

I have big enough challenges keeping my own energy levels up, keeping my own momentum traveling a path of progress and certainly do not need to unwittingly allow people to suck my energy low or divert me from my path. This is something where I definitely do have a choice! I can choose to pay attention and prevent myself from losing energy to others or I can choose to blindly stumble into control dramas and live a very reactionary life. I can choose to let myself stumble through a control drama and right back into a codependent relationship if I am not careful.

I will be careful. I will be aware. I will also be aware enough not to foist my own control dramas on others and pull them off their own path.

🙂

This is not an easy thing. It is something that is possible.

I hope you will consider it more yourself. Raise your own awareness about your behaviors and the impacts of your behaviors on the people close to you. Are you accidentally draining the energy from people by unknowingly playing out control dramas of your own? Self awareness is a good place to start to fix and heal ourselves. I hope you will join in and work to make things easier and happier for yourself and the relationships you encounter! I know I will be working at it very very diligently. 🙂