A loving & humorous gaze at codependence
Updated: Nov 8, 2021
The topics mentioned today are perhaps very sensitive to us. There is no sense or intent whatsoever in this that there is anything wrong, or that anyone is to blame for anything.
Life is a happening and not a doing, we are all merely reading from the script that was given us.
Below are edited transcripts of one of our meetings. You will also find video clips that pertain to the particular content in each section.
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I’ll use the word codependence even if it is not really ultimately what I mean.
Real biological co-dependence is required for organisms to be successful in life as a species. That's not what we're speaking about here.
Here we speak about the false belief most of us have or have had that our safety, wellbeing and worth are dependent on external factors.
It is based on the implicit belief that we are merely physical objects, separate from life and therefore essentially lacking. We must then "complete one another" in some mysterious way which includes "having" or "doing" behaviors as a result of which (supposedly) this lack will be removed. This is why most relationships are primarily codependent: “Oh, you’re uncomfortable with yourself (feeling separate) so let me become uncomfortable myself (let's feel separate together) so that you can feel better”. Or: "Why are you doing/saying/feeling this, it makes me very uncomfortable (I feel incomplete, empty) so I need you to stop it or explain/justify your behavior..."
These implicit beliefs are based on an acquired sense of guilt, a sense of being unworthy and perhaps, even worthless in the light of others, who are better than me. Of course, this goes both ways as we will observe later.
Another way to live is to simply play our role in life, to do whatever I happen to have been given to do; but with a very different perspective.
This perspective arises from reasoning, which will right away, if we wish, render our lives very clear and sharp. Right here and right now the only reality is that I AM, the pure intelligence that is behind all experiences such as those of my body writing, and your body reading these words.
With anyone, it is reasonable to help them feel comfortable and happy to the extent that it is sane, to the extent that no harm (fractioning or separation) is brought to anyone and everyone is equal in the situation. In other words, you know who you are and therefore you know that the other is also you.
I am not internally affected by what others are doing or saying in a way that strengthens the sense of separation and conditionality in my life. I don’t need to develop a psychological disease, which is what guilt is. And in this view, guilt is just an exotic (psychologized) version of shame. Shame is a healthy biological response that keeps the tribe safe. Guilt is a psychological disease which results in a false sense of self-importance. It is our nervous system being fooled by social conditioning, which also is a result of natural laws.
This sense of self is imaginary (psychological), it does not exist in the impartial sense. It is a survival strategy developed during childhood. This happens if we grew up within an unsafe relational container, usually when our parents were unavailable emotionally, or their behavior towards us was anything less than loving. Our nervous system was trained to cause us to believe that feeling shame and then guilt about our being alive was of survival value.
If I’m with someone who is psychologically uncomfortable with themselves that’s fine, it’s not a problem with which I have to get involved. It is biologically natural for us to want to feel safe and help others as well. But our culture has taken it too far into the realm of the absurd. As long as we continue to play with psychological objects, we will find relationships to be an intractable problem. In psychological terms and only as a temporary measure, we can learn to cultivate a form of mindfulness which is to recognize, develop and strengthen inter-personal boundaries. At a rudimentary level we can ground ourselves in this necessary developmental stage -a stage that any 3-year old understands- but this is only a temporary coat, which we must discard as soon as possible - as soon as I know who I really am.
By the way, we are not judging or claiming that this is negative and "others" are bad – it is only so for ourselves if we wish to be unconditionally happy.
Am I going to get involved and suffer, myself, because I’ve come to be dependent upon someone’s psychological well-being?
Psychological well-being really means that it is the well-being of a fragment, of a mind-based sense of self that is not impartial, in other words is not whole, and depends on external conditions for its fulfilment.
The suggestion here is to simply remain as yourself regardless of circumstances, so that I am free of psychological fragments -free of psycho-energetic objects in the nervous system that are held in place by fear.
Then I am impartial, whole and I remain so in the face of any circumstances which are going to challenge my resolve to BE. I simply, out of freedom, choose to see life as an experiment- which can also be an enjoyable game- where outwardly I play the role assigned to me by the circumstances of life - consciousness.
This in the face of perhaps the majority of others who do not see life as an experiment, but rather take it dead seriously. To see life in this way requires courage, strength, love and humor.
Showing up for life in an unlimited way
As M said, we maintain these dynamics out of fear. The actual situations are not frightening. Some part of us, however, is afraid that they might be. Yet this possibility, perceived by a part, a fragment, can and does keep us from our totality, our impartiality. Yet we can, and do come to wish for our being more than we are humbled by the experience of fear. There is this energy bound up in the psychological fragment-object of fear.
The analogy of the park meter
I met his beautiful lady from Mexico. Since she is from a different culture, she sees the world differently. Her insights regarding codependence are so valuable for us.
She's been having this husband for 50 years and just recently realized how a major relational dynamic works between them.
This is where her cultural difference comes in: she sees the humorous aspects of situations that might be seen rather negatively (personally) under a different light.
She has come to understand this particular dynamic which she illustrated for me with the following analogy:
With her husband, she plays the role of a parking meter that prints parking passes for him. He puts coins in the machine, waits for the pass to be printed, then places the fresh parking pass under the windscreen, on top of the dash. He is safe while the pass is valid -he does not have to deal with his personal discomfort since the pass takes care of that for him. The uncomfortable energies are processed for him by the parking machine –in this case our friend- and the resulting freshly printed parking pass protects him from the pressing realities of life right here, right now. This pressing reality is simply that his sense of self is based on nothing, it is an illusion. This illusion is subject to be disturbed every time our friend is present, simply by being herself.
The full process is delineated in general below:
1. One begins to experience discomfort with oneself – the energetic sensations broadcast by the Autonomic Nervous System ANS) when it detects threats. Its sympathetic activation means that it is trying to discharge the energies of survival – it is attempting to self-regulate and complete the threat response cycle.
2. One remembers -through mechanical conditioning- an easy way to make the discomfort go away, get rid (at least temporarily) of this unpleasant energy within oneself. For the ANS this is the equivalent of increasing the threshold for motor cortex deactivation, or simply put, it delays reaching the breaking point where loss of control happens.
3. One locates a conveniently situated parking meter, gets some coins, reaches out to feed them into the machine, and waits for it to print the pass. (Depending on the particular interpersonal dynamic, this can be more or less troublesome).
4. One then takes the pass from the slot in the machine, places it on the windshield and goes about one’s life. The danger of seeing oneself impartially has passed, for now.
5. We see the parking officer approaching in the distance (the energies of discomfort are returning) and we might be getting a very expensive ticket soon (the truth will come out).
5. Back to step 1.
When we want to park, we put in the coin, someone prints the parking pass for us, and we put it on our dash – everything’s fine. So that’s one of our major relational dynamics, one I’m sure we’re all familiar with in one form or another. It’s really the exact same dynamic when we are the one trying to park, only we are playing the role of the user and the other gets to play the role of the park-meter.
You can reason with yourself relative to this dynamic which has been made explicit for us, and plug in the different variables pertinent to your own life circumstances. If you view it in this way, you might see how humorous it is, and also that the result is the same every time – a familiar sense of fragile comfort tinged with dread -resulting in a sense of precarious safety within the relationship. We pay for this by essentially devaluing ourselves – we treat ourselves and "the other" as things.
In a relational dynamic consisting of mechanical objects, each one requires a certain input to work properly -to bind the energies that cause discomfort. The input is also a form of energy. This energy is bound up in behaviors that allow us to feel temporarily safe. The perception of safety comes from the implicit meaning of the codependent behavior, which is to transactionally assign some value to the other, but only temporarily, and only as a thing. Some psychotherapists refer to this discomfort with oneself as “free-floating anxiety”. It is this anxiety which is at the root of psychological codependence.
The intelligence from which these words are both cognized, written and understood right here, right now is of no value from this mechanistic viewpoint.
Being of value is biologically required when we live in large tribes, it keeps the tribe going strong. Our value in the large tribe of society is a function of our capacity to have or do, say or behave in a certain way which happens to be valued -for instance, being productive.
When faced with loving relationships however, these transactional dynamics are inappropriate. A loving relationship is one where the apparent other is clearly understood and seen to be myself, the only self. I am of value because I AM.
Our essential value is I AM, and this is not dependent on circumstances nor is it a function of what one might do, say, or behave.
Having and Doing are necessary stages of life. Being is the treasure of the heart beyond all conception & understanding
People have become so conditioned in this way that it is now a seamless worldwide culture. This is a culture of objects at many different levels. It is the materialistic, transactional view of life. From the point of view of biological survival, it has worked (although temporarily now, that is changing). On the larger scale of love, happiness, truth and peace however, it has failed.
If this makes any sense to you, it can be verified right away, now. Do I remember the last time that I tried to get a pass from a person in my life? The last time that I reached for a coin, put it in that person’s slot and waited for the pass to come out?
Do I remember the bodily sensations, thoughts, and sense perceptions of that last time, what it is that caused me to feel uncomfortable with myself?
We have the advantage of seeing this impartially and therefore in a humorous way, since we can't really victimize ourselves anymore because we are doing the same to others.
All that physiological energy which had been hitherto channeled into this illusion of fear can be redirected into you, the one who is aware right here and right now, experiencing life directly, witnessing as my body writes these words and your body reads them. Out of time and space we meet and are one.
We are seeking what everyone seeks in their own way – the end of wanting. That actually is happiness for the human being, because nothing is missing in this life.
You are no longer interested in objects -whether internal or external. If it appears that unhappiness is present within me, then I am responsible for this. I can always find my way back by asking: “is it true that right here, right now, ALL is not well?
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