Fear of Intimacy - Relationship Phobia
By Robert Burney

"Codependence is a disease which involves the being's emotional defense system being dysfunctional to the extent that it breaks our hearts and destroys our ability to Love and be Loved, wounds our souls by denying us access to our Spiritual Self, and scrambles our minds so thoroughly that it causes our minds to become our own worst enemies."

Quote from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

For most of my adult life, I effectively had a relationship phobia. The extremes I learned in childhood were completely unavailable (my father) and completely enmeshed (my mother.) In my first sexually and emotionally intimate relationship (not any true emotional intimacy because I was incapable of it then - more accurate would be to call it emotional attachment) I got completely enmeshed with a woman I met in college. She was the one who really initiated me into being sexual. We got engaged to be married. I caught her in bed with my best friend - literally, caught them in bed.

I realized in retrospect in recovery, that she had almost certainly been the victim of incest from a young age - and was a sex addict. The pain of that experience, was to say the least, incredible. I was so much in denial of my feelings, and so codependent, that I stayed engaged to her for another year and a half.

I did not again in the next twenty years, make the mistake of getting involved with someone who was available enough to have the power to hurt me like that. I pursued only unavailable women. I always had someone unavailable that I was obsessing over, trying to figure out how to get her to see how wonderful we could be together. (This was completely unconscious and something I only realized looking back at my patterns in recovery.)

The other extreme for me, was allowing myself to get physically involved with women I did not really want to be with, with women I did not feel a strong attraction / energetic connection to. Then I would be the unavailable one.

It was actually less painful for me to be alone, obsessing about someone who was unavailable, then it was to be the unavailable one. In those interactions, the evidence seemed to indicate that I was incapable of loving. The other person would often accuse me of exactly that. Being able to blame someone else for my feelings of abandonment and betrayal was less painful than blaming myself for being defective. More bearable than the pain of that little boy who felt he had failed in his responsibility for his mother's feelings and well being.

It was my emotional incest issues that really dictated my emotionally intimate relationships. Obsessing about someone who was unavailable, feeling betrayed by their inability to see our potential, feeling abandoned when they rebuffed me, was the less painful of the two extremes that my spectrum in relationship with romantic relationships involved. The result which would have been more devastating - in my subconscious emotional perspective of the options available to me - was getting into a relationship with someone who was available and being revealed for the shameful, unlovable being that I felt I was.

I was terrified of being responsible for another persons feelings, for their happiness. I had failed in my responsibility to my mother - and was certain (subconsciously) that I would fail again, because something was obviously wrong with me. Any woman who felt available, was someone to run away from, or push away. I was terrified of being smothered, of being engulfed, by a woman's emotional needs - and then being betrayed because of my defective being. This is one of the effects of emotional incest.

The excruciating pain of finding my fiancé in bed with my best friend was the proof of, and felt like punishment for, that unworthiness. It was only in recovery when dealing with my emotional incest issues, that I realized how my mother had betrayed me. She always told me how wonderful I was, how special and gifted - she acted as if the world revolved around me. But she never protected me, or herself, from my father. My mother was my first love. She was my Goddess. The fact that she allowed my father to terrify and traumatize me - she who was perfect in the eyes of that little boy - obviously meant there was something wrong with me.

I got in touch with the fact that my mother betrayed me early in recovery - but it was only a few years ago in processing about my fear of intimacy issues that I saw the connection between the two betrayals. My fiancé's betrayal was just a repeat of my earliest experience of loving a woman. Both situations involved betrayal by the primary woman in my life, and the primary man. The excruciating pain I experienced as a young adult was only a fraction of the devastation felt by that little boy. That poor little boy. His first experience of love, the first loves of his life - his God and Goddess - punished him. Terror of intimacy is a pretty appropriate response.

In my latest relationship experience I went from the unavailable one to the one who was available because of my breakthrough. Then the woman that I opened my heart to Loving became the unavailable because of her fear of intimacy and betrayal issues. That caused her to react to her issues by getting involved with another man - which left me feeling abandoned and betrayed. A wonderful opportunity for growth. {Play}

Emotional Intimacy = in to me see
By Robert Burney

"Learning what healthy behavior is will allow us to be healthier in the relationships that do not mean much to us; intellectually knowing Spiritual Truth will allow us to be more Loving some of the time; but in the relationships that mean the most to us, with the people we care the most about, when our "buttons are pushed" we will watch ourselves saying things we don't want to say and reacting in ways that we don't want to react - because we are powerless to change the behavior patterns without dealing with the emotional wounds.

We cannot integrate Spiritual Truth or intellectual knowledge of healthy behavior into our experience of life in a substantial way without honoring and respecting the emotions. We cannot consistently incorporate healthy behavior into day to day life without being emotionally honest with ourselves. We cannot get rid of our shame and overcome our fear of emotional intimacy without going through the feelings."

"A "state of Grace" is the condition of being Loved unconditionally by our Creator without having to earn that Love. We are Loved unconditionally by the Great Spirit. What we need to do is to learn to accept that state of Grace.

The way we do that is to change the attitudes and beliefs within us that tell us that we are not Lovable. And we cannot do that without going through the black hole. The black hole that we need to surrender to traveling through is the black hole of our grief. The journey within - through our feelings - is the journey to knowing that we are Loved, that we are Lovable."

"It is necessary to own and honor the child who we were in order to Love the person we are. And the only way to do that is to own that child's experiences, honor that child's feelings, and release the emotional grief energy that we are still carrying around."

Quotes from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

One of the hardest things for any of us to do is to learn to have compassion for our self. In childhood we felt like it was our fault that our wounded parents treated us in the way they did. We felt that any abuse, deprivation, neglect, and/or abandonment (actual or emotional) was because there was something wrong with who we were - that we were defective or bad or evil or unlovable in some way.

As long as we have not done the work to heal our relationship with the child who we were - with the inner child wounded places that still exist within us - we are not available to Love our self. When we are not able to Love our self, then we are more comfortable in relationships with people who are emotionally unavailable. Being emotionally unavailable to our self makes us emotionally unavailable to others - and will cause us to sabotage any relationship where the other person is Loving us more than we feel we deserve to be Loved.

And I am not talking about consciously telling our selves we are Lovable. I am not talking about an intellectual - or even an intuitive - level of awareness where we know and believe we are Lovable. It does not matter how much we believe intellectually we are Lovable - although working on believing that by introducing Loving programming such as positive affirmations is a vital step in the process of healing - if we have not worked on changing the emotional programming.

When I use the term emotional programming, I am referring to both the emotional wounding / unresolved grief and to subconscious and conscious intellectual ego programming that resulted from the ways we were traumatized and how we interpreted the messages we got from the behavior, communication, and role modeling of our parents and any other significant older people in our lives in childhood. We have within us emotional wounds - inner child places - that are a result of arrested states of ego programming from different ages in our childhood.

It is impossible to become aware of all the subconscious programming without doing our grief work. It is necessary to go through what I refer to in my book as the black hole of our grief in order to bring the subconscious programming to Light. Anything that is in the dark within us has power. The emotional wounds and old tapes from our childhood have power as long as we have not done the grieving and the ego reprogramming work that is necessary to start opening our hearts to our self.

As long as we are disconnected / disassociated from ourselves emotionally, we cannot be emotionally honest or intimate with ourselves. As long as we have not been willing to go through the black hole of our grief so that we can own and reconnect emotionally with the child who we were - we can not be fully or clearly in touch with our own heart and soul.

Intimacy is "in to me see." We need to be able to see into our self - and be willing to take the action necessary - to stop allowing the emotional wounds and old tapes to run our lives and sabotage our relationships. We need to learn to open our hearts to our self, in order to be capable of Truly opening our hearts to another person. If we can't open our hearts to our self, then we will continue to choose emotionally unavailable people to get involved with in our romantic relationships. We are doomed to be in relationships that do not meet our needs - or to avoid relationships - until we start learning to have compassion for the child that we were.

I am going to end this months column with a quote from an article in my series on The True Nature of Love to give an example of how important it is to do this grief work so that we can change the old tapes that have been dictating how we relate to Love and romance.

"We cannot get clearly in touch with the subconscious programming without doing the grief work. The subconscious intellectual programming is tied to the emotional wounds we suffered and many years of suppressing those feelings has also buried the attitudes, definitions, and beliefs that are connected to those emotional wounds. It is possible to get intellectually aware of some of them through such tools as hypnosis, or having a therapist or psychic or energy healer tell us they are there - but we cannot really understand how much power they carry without feeling the emotional context - and cannot change them without reducing the emotional charge / releasing the emotional energy tied to them. Knowing they are there will not make them go away.

A good example of how this works is a man that I worked with some years ago. He came to me in emotional agony because his wife was leaving him. He was adamant that he did not want a divorce and kept saying how much he loved his wife and how he could not stand to lose his family (he had a daughter about 4.) I told him the first day he came in that the pain he was suffering did not really have that much to do with his wife and present situation - but was rooted in some attitude from his childhood. But that did not mean anything to him on a practical level, on a level of being able to let go of the attitude that was causing him so much pain. It was only while doing his childhood grief work that he got in touch with the pain of his parents divorce when he was 10 years old. In the midst of doing that grief work the memory of promising himself that he would never get a divorce, and cause his child the kind of pain he was experiencing, surfaced. Once he had gotten in touch with, and released, the emotional charge connected to the idea of divorce, he was able to look at his present situation more clearly. Then he could see that the marriage had never been a good one - that he had sacrificed himself and his own needs from the beginning to comply with his dream / concept of what a marriage should be. He could then see that staying in the marriage was not serving him or his daughter. Once he got past the promise he made to himself in childhood, he was able to let go of his wife and start building a solid relationship with his daughter based on the reality of today instead of the grief of the past." -The True Nature of Love-part 4, Energetic Clarity {Play}

Energetic Attraction - emotional familiarity or Karmic connection?
By Robert Burney

"In our disease defense system we build up huge walls to protect ourselves and then - as soon as we meet someone who will help us to repeat our patterns of abuse, abandonment, betrayal, and/or deprivation - we lower the drawbridge and invite them in. We, in our Codependence, have radar systems which cause us to be attracted to, and attract to us, the people, who for us personally, are exactly the most untrustworthy (or unavailable or smothering or abusive or whatever we need to repeat our patterns) individuals - exactly the ones who will "push our buttons."

This happens because those people feel familiar. Unfortunately in childhood the people whom we trusted the most - were the most familiar - hurt us the most. So the effect is that we keep repeating our patterns and being given the reminder that it is not safe to trust ourselves or other people."

"Western Civilization (in reaction to earlier ages when it was out of balance to the other extreme of allowing superstition to rule) does not acknowledge that multiple levels of reality exist and as a result, has been way out of balance towards the left brain way of thinking - rational, logical, concrete, what you see is all there is. . . . . Because emotional energy could not be seen or measured or weighed, and was not sanctioned by the AMA, emotions were discounted and devalued."

"It is because there is more than one level of reality that life is paradoxical in nature. What is True and positive on one level - selfishness out of Spiritual Self, can be negative on another level - selfishness out of ego-self. What a caterpillar calls the end of the world, God calls a butterfly.

Humans have always had expressions that describe the paradoxical nature of the life experience. Every ending is a beginning. Every cloud does have a silver lining. For every door that closes, another door does open. It is always darkest before the dawn. Every obstacle is a gift, every problem is an opportunity for growth.

These are all expressions that refer to the paradoxical nature of life - the seeming contradictions that are a result of the multiple levels of reality. When we start to understand and recognize that there are multiple levels of reality, then we can begin to unravel the paradox and see how all of the pieces fit together perfectly."

"What I have found is that in many instances even though the levels that I can see, that I am conscious of, are mostly dysfunctional - arising out of the false beliefs and fears of the disease of Codependence - on deeper levels there are "right on" reasons for behaviors for which I was judging myself. . . . . . . And on a much deeper level I came to understand that I am - and have been, ever since polarization - looking for my twin soul."

Quotes from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

I am using more quotes from my book (above) than usual for this months column. I am doing that to kind of set the stage, create a context, for not just this article but more which are to follow it. What I am going to be focusing on here and in coming months is the multiple levels of reality that come into play in romantic relationships - including metaphysical levels. (The way this series evolved, what the following articles end up focusing on was fear of intimacy - and in particular what I learned about my fear of intimacy defenses in a romantic relationship experience in 2004.) This month I am going introduce two of the most prominent and powerful levels of metaphysical reality that come into play in romantic relationships.

Metaphysical means beyond the physical - that is beyond the concrete three-dimensional reality that we experience, that can be seen and measured. One of the reasons that emotions have been so discounted in Western Civilization has been because it is not possible to take an x-ray and see that we have unresolved grief from the past that is knocking our system out of balance and causing us to be depressed. Emotions have also been discounted in Eastern Civilization although the Eastern approach to medicine and science is much more Holistic in general and does acknowledges the existence of energies of a metaphysical nature.

In my book Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls I use principles of Quantum Physics and Molecular Biology to explain my Spiritual belief system - and my understanding that this human experience is a dance of energy governed by vibrational energy interaction dynamics and patterns.

So, what does this all have to do with romantic relationships, you are probably asking. Everything actually. There is literal vibrational Truth to such expressions as being "on the same wave length" with someone. There are people whom we have a closer vibrational relationship to than other people - people who we can feel closer and more connected to within a few hours of meeting them than we do to people we have known our whole life. The people we connect with in these ways are Kindred Spirits, and they are members of what could be called our vibrational tribe or stream. A few of those Kindred Spirits are soul mates with whom we have been involved romantically in past lives. In addition, we all have a twin soul - that as the quote from my book states - we have been separated from because of the condition of polarity that has dictated the human condition for tens of thousands of years. (Polarity being the "Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil" - and the story of Adam and Eve being not an account of what caused polarity but a twisted symbolic interpretation of planetary conditions as humans were experiencing them.)

What is so vital for us in recovery is to start to learn to have discernment in sorting out what levels of energetic connection we are feeling when we meet someone. Because we were raised with fairy tales of the Prince and Princess living happily ever after - an archetypal energetic imprinting which resonates with all of us because of having been separated from our twin soul - we believe such powerful feelings of connection are a sure sign that we have reached the door step to happily ever after.

This is very much not true. There are many different levels of energetic connection but the one which has been most powerful in shaping our lives is the one I talk about in the first quote from my book above - the feeling of familiarity with someone who vibrates on an emotional energetic dynamics level "on the same wave length" with the emotional dynamics from our childhood. In other words, people who feel familiar because they are some how like our parents in their internal emotional dynamics.

There is a good reason that I make a point by saying - in both my writing and my work with people individually - that it was important for me to realize that if I met someone who felt like my soul mate I had better watch out. As long as I was not in recovery from my codependency - as long as I was not actively involved in the process of healing my inner child wounds and changing my subconscious ego programming so that I was learning how to have the wisdom / discernment to recognize when a feeling of attraction was mostly coming from the codependent familiarity of feeling abused, abandoned, and betrayed - then I was doomed to keep repeating the same relationship patterns over and over again. It was only when I got into recovery that I could start learning the lessons that I needed to learn and developing the discernment to be able to start changing my relationship patterns.

There are always multiple levels of reality, of vibrational energy dynamics, involved in this human experience we are having. It is vital to start seeing our own internal dynamics more clearly in order to start practicing discernment in our relationships. The Truth is that someone can feel familiar in a way that recreates our wounding with our parents / patterns - and be a soul mate also. In fact, it is inevitable that when we do meet someone who is our soul mate - or even more powerfully our twin soul - there will be Karma to settle. Which means no happily ever after in this body in this lifetime - though such a connection can certainly help us access great Joy and Love.

What it does mean is, that we have been given an incredibly wonderful, immensely valuable, probably excruciatingly painful at times, opportunity for emotional healing, Spiritual growth, and Karmic settlement. A real E-ticket ride as it were.

It is very important to be in recovery paying attention to the lessons being presented to us to make the most of an opportunity that can potentially be the greatest, most sublime gift we have ever received on our path. Working through the issues and Karma involved can take us to a level of emotional intimacy, of opening our hearts to Loving and being Loved, that can allow us to regularly touch the Sacred and Divine. A union of two beings in body with such an energetic connection creates an transcendent energetic connection with The Source more powerful than any single being can access individually. Truly a magnificent gift to be grateful for - and well worth going through the emotional healing to create. {Play}

Emotional Incest = Sexuality Abuse
By Robert Burney

"Consider a scenario where mother is crying in her bedroom and her three year old toddles into the room. To the child it looks as if mom is dying. The child is terrified and says, "I love you mommy!" Mom looks at her child. Her eyes fill with love, and her face breaks into a smile. She says, 'Oh honey, I love you so much. You are my wonderful little boy/girl. Come here and give mommy a hug. You make mommy feel so good.'

A touching scene? No. Emotional abuse! The child has just received the message that he/she has the power to save mommy's life. That the child has power over, and therefore responsibility for, mommy's feelings. This is emotional abuse, and sets up an emotionally incestuous relationship in which the child feels responsible for the parent's emotional needs.

A healthy parent would explain to the child that it is all right for mommy to cry, that it is healthy and good for people to cry when they feel sad or hurt. An emotionally healthy parent would "role model" for the child that it is okay to have the full range of emotions, all the feelings - sadness and hurt, anger and fear, Joy and happiness, etc."

"This emotional repression and dishonesty causes society to be emotionally dysfunctional. Additionally, urban-based civilization has completely disregarded natural laws and natural cycles such as the human developmental process. There is no integration into our culture of the natural human developmental process.

As just one blatant example of this, consider how most so called primitive or aboriginal societies react to the onset of puberty. When a girl starts menstruating, ceremonies are held to celebrate her womanhood - to honor her coming into her power, to honor her miraculous gift of being able to conceive. Boys go through training and initiation rites to help them make the transition from boyhood into manhood. Look at what we have in our society: junior high school - a bunch of scared, insecure kids who torture each other out of their confusion and fear, and join gangs to try to find an identity."

"Many so-called primitive or aboriginal tribal cultures, such as the Native Americans, had far more integrated and balanced cultures for their place and time than any "civilization." They were not totally integrated and balanced by any means. They were, however, closer to the rhythms of nature and had respect for nature and natural laws, so were more aligned with universal laws than urban-based civilizations."

Quotes from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

As the last quote from my book above states, tribal cultures that lived in close relationship with the land, had more respect for the rhythms of nature - for natures cycles of growth and development. I find great wisdom in some of the ways the natural developmental process was integrated into certain Native American cultural practices.

For instance, a father did not teach his son how to become a man. It was an uncle - either by blood or honorary - who taught the boy how to be a man. Such wisdom, to take the father's ego out of the boys training process. Of course, as Robert Bly talks about in his book Iron John, because of the progress of civilization, women have primarily been teaching boys to become men ever since the Industrial Revolution pulled men out of the home a great deal of the time.

Another nugget of wisdom that I see in Native culture, is that when boys and girls reached about the age of 5 or 6 there came a point where they could no longer speak directly to the parent of the opposite sex until they reached adulthood. Boys in their relationships with their mothers, and girls in their relationships with their fathers, would communicate through a third person - and would avoid direct eye contact. The effect of this tribal wisdom was to prevent emotional incest.

One of the articles in my inner child healing series here on Suite 101 is focused upon emotional incest. I don't just want to repeat things I said in that article in this one - so I am just going to use a quote from it (and provide a link to it) to make a point in alignment with the focus of this series of articles.

"Emotional incest is a violation and invasion of our emotional boundaries. It is not sexual abuse, nor is it sexual in nature - although sexual incest is often accompanied by emotional incest. It can however cause great damage to our relationship with our own gender and sexuality. Emotional incest, along with religions that teach that sexuality is shameful and societal beliefs that one gender is superior to the other, fall into a category that I call sexuality abuse - because they directly impact our relationship with our own sexuality and gender." - Inner Child Healing - Part 6 Emotional Incest

In last month's article on Sexuality Abuse, I talked about shame based religious teaching and societal influences. Emotional incest is another type of wounding that can causes us to have a dysfunctional relationship with our own sexuality.

Those of us who have emotional incest issues, feel responsible for the feelings of the people we get involved with in romantic relationships because we felt responsible in childhood for one or both of our parents emotional well being. Because our emotional boundaries were violated by our parents in childhood, we don't know how to have emotional boundaries in intimate relationship.

Not having emotional boundaries sets us up to go to one extreme or the other in the reactive polarized behavior dictated by our codependency. Each of us has our own spectrum of codependent reactions that cause us to swing between extremes in our own personal behavioral defense system. We can swing from one extreme to the other within the same relationship - or have primary patterns of one extreme in some relationships and the other in different or alternate relationships. (The codependent - counterdependent dynamic I describe in my series on Codependent Dysfunctional Relationship Dynamics - Part 3 Codependent & Counterdependent Behavior)

In terms of the effects of emotional incest, these extremes involve on one hand complete enmeshment - being totally focused on keeping the other person happy. One's self worth is completely at the effect of the other person's mood. When we are in this extreme we are always trying to do more, be more - be what the other person wants us to be. We have them on a pedestal and when they are happy with us we feel on top of the world. Such periods of feeling happy can only last for short periods of time however, because when we sacrifice ourselves so completely to make another person happy, they inevitably will not respect us - will end up being abusive to us. (This is not unconditional love by the way. Sacrificing our self is not noble when we do not have any concept of self that we honor and respect. This is martyr victim behavior that sets us up to be a doormat.)

The other extreme is having huge walls to keep anyone out. The fear of being engulfed by the other's emotional needs, of being smothered, of losing one's self, is so great that we throw up an impregnable fortress to keep people out. This is the counterdependent extreme where we try to convince ourselves that we do not need other people. Or at least that we do not need anyone who is foolish enough to think we are worth loving. Walls are not boundaries. Walls that keep others out, are also prisons that keep us isolated and alone.

If we are incapable of respecting our self, or having boundaries, we are incapable of getting our sexual needs met in any healthy way. Often people with emotional incest issues will have a pattern of being sexual with people they don't even like - because being sexual with someone they feel close to emotionally feels wrong, feels taboo. Emotional incest can have a very detrimental effect on a person's relationship to their own sexuality - and on their ability to have a healthy romantic relationship. {Play}

I also have an article I wrote some years ago on Emotional Incest - emotionally devastating child abuse

For more articles dealing with relationships and sexuality go to Energetic Attraction - emotional familiarity or Karmic connection?
Sexuality Abuse - the legacy of shame based culture
By Robert Burney

"We live in a society where sex is somehow shameful and should not be talked about - but we use sex to sell cars. That is backwards. Human sexuality is a blessed gift to be honored and celebrated not twisted and distorted into something demeaning and shameful."

"Our creator did not give us sensual and sexual sensations that feel so wonderful just to set us up to fail some perverted, sadistic life test. Any concept of god that includes the belief that the flesh and the Spirit cannot be integrated, that we will be punished for honoring our powerful human desires and needs, is - in my belief - a sadly twisted, distorted, and false concept that is reversed to the Truth of a Loving God-Force."

Quotes from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

Sexuality abuse is a term that I came up with in my own codependency recovery. I have never heard or read of anyone else using this term. It is very accurately descriptive however of something that I have been working on healing in my recovery - and a form of wounding that I believe many others have suffered.

Sexuality abuse for me refers to any messages I got, or emotional trauma I suffered, in childhood which damaged my relationship with my own sexuality. Those message were both direct - from sources which outright taught me that sexuality was shameful and sinful - and indirect, from the role modeling of sexually repressed adults in my life. Those messages were compounded by the twisted, distorted relationship that American culture has with sexuality because of it's Puritan heritage.

The sinful, shameful direct messages came from the Catholic Church in it's general teachings, and specifically from nuns and priests that I encountered in 7 years of education in Catholic schools. I still have a distinct memory - one of those snapshots from the past that endure through the years because of the emotional content attached to them - of Sister Alberta when I was in the eighth grade. She told our class, that if we kissed for longer than 60 seconds, or if our bodies touched at all while kissing, it was mortally sinful. Mortal sins were the big ones, the death penalty felony of sins - the ones that, if one mortal sin stained your soul at death, you were consigned straight to hell to burn in everlasting damnation.

Any religion that teaches children that God loves them but may send them to burn in hell forever is Spiritually and emotionally abusive in my belief. And as the quote above from my book states, I believe that any concept of god that teaches that the Spirit and the flesh cannot be integrated is abusive and shaming - and does have an impact on anyone raised in such a religion in terms of their relationship with their own bodies and sexuality.

The Catholic Church in my experience is the champion of sexuality abuse however, because it was not necessary to actually do anything to commit a mortal sin - thinking about sex was enough to condemn one to hell. For a teenage boy to never think about sex is impossible - but I was so brainwashed that I did not even masturbate as a teenager. Now that is unnatural and abnormal. It was very sad to me to realize in recovery how much impact the words of codependents as emotionally crippled, sexually repressed, and shame based as Sister Alberta had on me growing up.

That the puritan heritage of the United States has had such an impact on our society is kind of mind boggling. Attitudes towards sexuality in most of Western Civilization are much less shamed based than American attitudes. Even as sexually repressed as English culture still seems to be in many ways, it seems to have more freedom from it's Puritan past than the US. On a visit to England in the mid-seventies, I was pleasantly shocked to see nudity on television - but very little violence. American culture has glorified violence while maintaining a very conflicted and twisted relationship to sex - using it blatantly to sell cars (and almost everything else we market) as I say in my book, but still maintaining a Puritanical sense of shame in relationship to sexuality. Many of the politicians and ministers who strive to uphold the Puritan ethic in public are often caught acting a very different way in private - a great example of the hypocrisy and dishonesty inherent in a codependent society.

I grew up with parents who were sexually repressed and shame based in a society where Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore were a married couple that were not allowed to sleep in the same bed on television. My parents gave me a book to explain the birds and bees - and said if I needed to talk about it to feel free to ask, at the same time their attitude and behavior very directly communicated that they were terrified of me asking. I had to look up a lot of the words from the book in the dictionary, and still would have been clueless had not my older cousin filled me in with a graphic description of what sex involved. I was horrified and started making plans to become a priest.

The role modeling of sexually repressed parents had an impact on most of the people of my generation. Many of us as a result swung to the other extreme in the sex, drugs, and rock and roll days of the sixties and seventies. Many of the children who grew up in the generations following us "baby boomers" had role models who expressed their sexuality in ways that were unhealthy and out of balance to the other extreme. Many of today's children are being subjected to knowledge of, and images of, sexuality that is out of balance to the other extreme - and I believe can also be classified as sexuality abuse.

Another major aspect of my wounding, that impacted my relationship with my sexuality and gender, was emotional incest. I am going to need to wait until next month to address that topic however.

I want to include in this month article - because I am on the topic of cultural role models and beliefs that can contribute to sexuality abuse - something I wrote in an article 6 or 7 years ago. It is an article about fathers, and how being raised by fathers who were emotionally crippled by dysfunctional societal beliefs has impacted us all. In that article, I wrote about a way that I believe many women in society have been wounded in a manner that I would describe as being - at least in part - sexuality abuse. A form of wounding that I have never seen addressed anywhere else. I am going to conclude this month's article with an excerpt from the Fathers article in which I talk about this particular type of wounding.

"There is an additional way in which women are wounded by their fathers that I have never heard, or read, anyone talk about. It is a devastating blow that many daughters suffer on a subconscious level. It comes at a very vulnerable time and contributes more evidence to the message that there is something wrong/less than about being a woman that most girls have already received in ample supply from society and the role modeling of their mothers.

This happens when girls start developing a female body. Their fathers, being males of the species, are naturally attracted to the awakening feminine sexuality of their daughters. Some fathers of course, act this out in incestuous ways. The majority of fathers however react to this attraction (which in shame-based western civilization is not acknowledged as normal but rather is so shameful that it is seldom even brought to a conscious level of awareness) by withdrawing from their daughters, emotionally and physically. The unspoken, subconscious message that the girl/woman gets is "when I turned into a woman Dad stopped loving me." Daddy's little princess is suddenly given the cold shoulder, and often is the recipient of angry (sometimes jealous) behavior from her father - who up until that time, often, has been much more emotionally available for his daughter than for his wife or sons.

In a healthy environment an emotionally honest father could recognize that his reaction was human - not something to be ashamed of - and also, not something to act out. He could then communicate with, and have healthy boundaries with, his daughter so that she would know she wasn't being abandoned by her Dad." - Wounded Parents - the tragic legacy of dysfunctional families. {Play}

The next article in this series is Emotional Incest = Sexuality Abuse