Taking self worth out of the equation in

Romantic Relationships

By Robert Burney

"One of the false beliefs that it is important to let go of, is the belief that we need another person in our lives to make us whole. As long as we believe that someone else has the power to make us happy then we are setting ourselves up to be victims.

A white knight is not going to come charging up to rescue us from the dragon. A princess is not going to kiss us and turn us from a frog into a prince. The Prince and the Princess and the Dragon are all within us. It is not about someone outside of us rescuing us. It is also not about some dragon outside of us blocking our path. As long as we are looking outside to become whole we are setting ourselves up to be victims. As long as we are looking outside for the villain we are buying into the belief that we are the victim.

As little kids we were victims and we need to heal those wounds. But as adults we are volunteers - victims only of our disease. The people in our lives are actors and actresses whom we cast in the roles that would recreate the childhood dynamics of abuse and abandonment, betrayal and deprivation.

We are/have been just as much perpetrators in our adult relationships as victims. Every victim is a perpetrator - because when we are buying into being the victim, when we are giving power to our disease, we are perpetrating on the people around us and on ourselves.

We need to heal the wounds without blaming others. And we need to own the responsibility without blaming ourselves. As was stated earlier - there is no blame here, there are no bad guys. The only villain here is the disease and it is within us."

Quote from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

I state in my book that codependence is a lousy word to describe the phenomena it has come to be associated with. A more accurate term would be outer or external dependence. We are programmed to give power over our sense of self worth - over how we feel about our self - to external sources and outside conditions.

Nowhere is the result of this programming more disastrous on a personal level than in the area of romantic relationships. Our subconscious and emotional programming started with fairy tales that taught us that when we meet our prince or princess we will live happily-ever-after. Movies and books and songs reinforced the original programming that in order to be whole and happy we must be in a relationship.

The result of this programming is that we are set up to feel like failures in romantic relationships. When we give power over how we feel about our self to another person in a romantic relationship we are practicing toxic love - making the other person our drug of choice, our higher power.

A healthy romantic relationship is an interdependent relationship - not a codependent one. An interdependent relationship is one where two people who have a healthy sense of Self worth, choose to become partners, to form a union. Two whole individuals - or more accurately (since as I have stated in past articles, we are all wounded and learning to access a True sense of self/Self worth) two people who are in recovery from their codependency working on owning their inherent worth and wholeness as beings, working on learning to be emotionally healthy and honest - who form an alliance / partnership with each other, not two half people who come together to feel whole.

In a healthy interdependent relationship we give the other person some power over our feelings - not over our self worth. Giving another person some power over our feelings is a completely different thing than giving them power over our self worth.

When we choose to give power away over our feelings we give the other person the power to help us feel happy. That also means we are giving them the power to hurt us. Caring for anyone or anything - a pet, a car, etc. - means we have an emotional investment in our relationship with that person or thing. To emotionally invest in a relationship is to take the risk of getting hurt - of getting our hearts broken - if we lose that relationship.

But it is not having our heart broken - it is not pure grief / emotional pain - that can be so debilitating, paralyzing, and agonizing when a relationship ends. It is the loss of self worth that we feel - the level to which we have invested, are dependent upon, the relationship to feel good about ourselves - that causes us to feel like we are going to die, that can make us feel like we want to die. The blame and shame and judgment caused by our codependency creates artificial feelings of inadequacy, of trauma, of agony. The unresolved abandonment / rejection / betrayal issues from our childhood are triggered and throw us into a place where we feel the hopelessness and powerlessness that we felt as a child.

The critical parent disease voice - old tapes / subconscious and conscious intellectual ego programming - tells us what losers and failures we are. The wounded inner child places react out of pain and shame from our childhood - the places within us where we feel unlovable and defective. We blame ourselves for the relationship ending with codependent messages like: if only I had not said that; I should have done that; I will never have a good relationship; I will always be alone; etc. Or we go to the other extreme and try to blame it all on the other person. People stalk and murder ex lovers because of the blow they feel they have suffered to their self worth - because they feel they have lost the source / drug that was making life bearable.

Getting our hearts broken is a normal and natural part of life. Blaming our self or the other person is codependency. The emotional pain of a heart break is very painful, but it gets better over time. The blame and shame of codependency causes us to be bitter and resentful, causes us to avoid relationships or to pick another person who will recreate our wounds - another person to try to fill the hole we feel inside of our self.

"Loving and losing is better than never loving" when all we experience is a broken heart. It is the blame and shame of the disease that makes us feel like failures who are incapable of loving - like a victim of our own unworthiness.

A little over 5 years ago, when I had reached a place in my recovery where I was secure in my self/Self worth, the Universe presented me with an opportunity to experience a romantic relationship in which my worst fear of rejection seemed to manifest - and I did not blame her or me. It was an incredible experience - very painful, but also very liberating.

"It Truly is a completely different experience to have a relationship where my self-worth is not at risk . . . . . if my self-worth is not at risk then another person can only add to me, they have no power to diminish me. What a gift." - An Adventure in Romance - Loving and Losing Successfully

As that relationship was ending, before it ended, I wrote what I think is one of the most beautiful pieces I have ever written. It is called: A Wedding Prayer / Meditation on Romantic Commitment

"You are not the source of each other's Love. You are helping each other to access the LOVE that is the Source.

The Love that you see when you see your soul in the others eyes is a reflection of the LOVE that you are. Of the Unconditional Love that the Great Spirit feels for you.

It is very important to remember that the other person is helping you to access God's LOVE within you - not giving you something that you have never had before." - A Wedding Prayer / Meditation on Romantic Commitment

Anytime we see another person as our source of love, we will feel a need to control and manipulate that person to be what we want them to be - to be there for us to feed off of emotionally so we can feel good about our self. There is nothing Loving about using another person emotionally because we do not know how to feed ourselves by accessing the True Source.

Love can feel magical and wonderful - can help us feel like we are soaring as the other person helps us to access the higher vibrational frequencies of Love and Joy. To have the opportunity to experience Love is one of the major reasons we have come into human body - but thinking a romantic relationship is what give us worth is codependent and dysfunctional. Romantic relationships can be wonderful opportunities for growth and Spiritual Awakening when we start seeing them realistically, when we stop allowing the perspective of the magical thinking romantic within us to dictate our relationship with romance.

"You are not going to live happily-ever-after once you find your prince or princess. There is no happily-ever-after on this plane of existence. You may find your prince or princess but they will have issues to deal with. Relationships are something that needs to be worked on - not some magic wand that makes everybody happy." - Healthy Romantic Relationships Part 1 - Interdependent, not codependent

The next article in this series is Falling in love as a choice
Men and Women are from the same planet

By Robert Burney

"In this society, in a general sense, the men have been traditionally taught to be primarily aggressive, the "John Wayne" syndrome, while women have been taught to be self-sacrificing and passive. But that is a generalization; it is entirely possible that you came from a home where your mother was John Wayne and your father was the self-sacrificing martyr."

"As a child, I learned from the role modeling of my father that the only emotion that a man felt was anger. From my mother, whose definition of love included the belief that you cannot be angry at someone you love, I learned that it was not okay to be angry at anyone I loved."

"The point that I am making is that our understanding of Codependence has evolved to realizing that this is not just about some dysfunctional families - our very role models, our prototypes, are dysfunctional.

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."

Quotes from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

Men and women are not from different planets. Anyone who is trying to explain male - female relationships without taking into account the impact that culturally programmed emotional dishonesty, generational shame about sexuality, and centuries of patriarchal supremacy have had on how human beings relate to their own gender and sexuality - let alone to romantic relationships - is focusing on symptoms. It is not possible to bring about fundamental change or true understanding by focusing on symptoms. Just as it is not possible to understand our romantic relationship patterns without starting to see how our childhood wounding and programming was causal in producing those patterns.

Men and women are different of course, but not nearly as different as the emotionally dishonest, comically bloated stereotypes of normal male and female behavior - that have been the prototypes for society - would have us believe.

As I have shared elsewhere, we are only a generation or two removed from cultural treatment of both women and children as property. It is only within the last 15 years or so, that such things as healthy parenting classes existed to acknowledge the reality that though we may have to get a license to have a dog or drive a car, there are no such requirements for becoming a parent.

We learn how to relate to our self, our own emotions, our gender, our sexuality, our bodies (all distinctly different relationships though intimately interrelated) in early childhood from the role modeling of our parents - and the messages we get both directly from them and society, and indirectly from how their behaviors wounded and affected us. It was our parents - who were wounded in their childhood - who role modeled for us how male and female emotional beings act, and how they relate to each other.

This is the first of a series of articles in which I am going to be focusing on how important it is to learn to practice discernment intellectually and emotionally in relationship to issues of gender, sexuality, romantic relationship, and related topics. There are enough facets and levels to the issues that come into play in a romantic relationship that this series will probably be running for the rest of the year.

Although the primary focus of this series of articles will not be emotional and intellectual discernment, the articles will be an attempt to help you to practice discernment in relationship to your own inner process - and all the levels of wounding and dysfunctional programming that come into play in romantic and sexual relationships.

Romantic relationships are the greatest arena for spiritual and emotional growth available to us. It is when we start opening our hearts to another human being that our deepest wounds come into play - that our codependent defenses have the most power. It is not possible to see our issues in romantic relationship with any clarity until we start seeing our own inner process with more clarity. And then it is necessary, not just to start to understand the dynamics of our wounding and codependent patterns, but to start intervening in our own inner process to set boundaries within.

To start being healthier, we need to learn to set internal boundaries - not only with the critical parent voice as I have spoken of in several of my recent articles, but with the various emotional wounds / inner child places within us.

In the articles in inner child healing section of my web site, I discuss some examples of the inner child wounds and how to start relating to them in a more Loving way, including: how to set a Loving boundary with the magical thinking child within; and how I learned to set a boundary with the 7 year old within me that wanted to die.

In my last article, when I talked about choosing between instant and delayed gratification - making that choice is setting a boundary within. As I mentioned there, we have archetypal energies - like the rebel - that we react out of dysfunctionally because of our wounding and programming. (The article mentioned is: Intellectual Discernment - Choices, not "shoulds")

One of those archetypal energies that has caused most of us a lot of grief over the years is the romantic.

"The romantic within is a wonderful, magical part of us - the idealistic, dreamer, lover, creative part of us that is a wonderful asset when kept in balance - and can lead to disastrous consequences when allowed to be in control of choices. In our unconsciousness, many of us swung between the extremes of letting the romantic within be in control of our choices - in which case we cast the wrong person in the part of our Prince or Princess and then because we wanted the fairy tale so badly we denied any evidence to the contrary and ended up heartbroken - and reacting to our heartbreak by slamming the romantic into an inner dungeon and believing we will never find love." - Inner Awareness - Internal Census

In this series of articles, I will be discussing issues ranging: from setting boundaries with the maiden archetype within (and the male counter part - which in emotionally dishonest and immature men involves being stuck in a horny teenage perspective of women) to the genetic species programming that provides one grain of truth at the heart of the comically bloated stereotypes of masculine and feminine; from concepts such as monogamy and marriage to the effects of sexual abuse and emotional incest: from the scapegoating of Eve to the Masculine and Feminine Principles of the Universe. It will probably be a pretty interesting series. ;-) {Play}

Next in the series: The Maiden and the Horndog
Old tapes / Traditional beliefs and gender roles for Men and Women

By Robert Burney

"The act of suppressing emotions was always dysfunctional in its effect on the emotional, mental, and Spiritual health of the individual being. It was only functional in terms of physical survival of the species."

"Codependence is an emotional and behavioral defense system which was adopted by our egos in order to meet our need to survive as a child. Because we had no tools for reprogramming our egos and healing our emotional wounds (culturally approved grieving, training and initiation rites, healthy role models, etc.), the effect is that as an adult we keep reacting to the programming of our childhood and do not get our needs met - our emotional, mental, Spiritual, or physical needs. Codependence allows us to survive physically but causes us to feel empty and dead inside. Codependence is a defense system that causes us to wound ourselves."

"We live in a society where a few have billions while others are starving and homeless. We live in a society which believes that it is not only possible to own and hoard the resources and the land but one which can rationalize killing the planet we live on. These are symptoms of imbalance, of reversed thinking."

Quotes from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

Yesterday one of my phone counseling clients was telling me about her brother's beliefs about the difference between men and women. He told her that women want to settle down with one man while men want to be with a lot of women - and that it went back to the days of cave men, so there was nothing to be done about it.

The very thing that I touched upon in last month's article - except for the "nothing can be done about it" part. That was part of my point in the April article about the Maiden and the horndog - we can do something about it. I was trying to point out how stereotypes arise from a grain of truth that has gotten twisted and distorted over the years - and that we don't have to be the victim of those stereotypes.

The very programming that helped the human race survive is now threatening to destroy the planet. We do not have to be the victim of genetic survival programming that is no longer necessary for survival - nor do we need to be the victim of our codependency.

Just as codependency is an emotional defense system that helped us survive childhood and results as adults in breaking our hearts, wounding our souls, and scrambling our minds - so too has the survival programming of our early days on the planet brought us to the brink of destroying the planet.

Human beings have the capacity to grow. Any time someone says anything to the effect: "That is just how it is." "That is just how I am." "I can't help myself." etc., they are making a victim statement.

We as human beings individually and collectively, not only have the capacity to grow and change, we will destroy the planet if we do not. That is one of the reasons that it is so important to be willing to question traditional values, roles, and beliefs - to be willing to change the old tapes.

As I point out so often in my writing, our attitudes, definitions and beliefs - the intellectual paradigm we are empowering (consciously or subconsciously) - determines our perspectives and expectations which in turn dictate our emotional reactions and relationships.

We do not have to be the victim of our childhood programming. In terms of the inner child healing process, we can learn to set boundaries with the Maiden and the horndog within so that we do not let the feelings arising from those parts of us dictate our attitudes and behaviors.

We also do not have to be the victim of tradition - of the programming from our days of living in caves, or any traditions that have developed since that time. The "traditional" context for viewing male and female roles (to say nothing of such areas as "family values" and marriage) in this society is patriarchal supremacy. As I say in the second article of my inner child healing series (Inner child healing - Why do it?) that I first published here on Suite101 in June 2000:

"Modern civilizations - both Eastern and Western - are no more than a generation or two removed from the belief that children were property. This, of course, goes hand in hand with the belief that women were property."

It is the underlying belief system that makes our perspective of men and women so dysfunctional - and has caused so much of the dysfunction in the human condition.

I spoke in last months article about how traditionally in our society: "men were programmed to be codependent (define self and take their feelings of self worth) from their work, their ability to produce. Women were programmed to be codependent on their relationships with men." and how in a dysfunctional society a man "can be a really unpleasant and nasty human being - and still be considered successful and worthy of admiration if he is a success in the realm of money, property and prestige."

Men are programmed to be emotionally dishonest - which causes them to be cut off from connection to their heart and soul. It is an emotionally dishonest patriarchy focused on material "success" in cultures whose value systems do not honor and respect individual dignity and worth, that can justify war - that has brought us to the brink of destroying the planet.

Women have a greater capacity for love - and more respect for individual human life - than men because that life grows in their bodies. This capacity for love and men's overwhelming attraction to the Feminine is part of the reason that men have feared, and attempted to subjugate, women in "civilized" cultures for thousands of years.

The Women's Movement caused many great and wonderful changes in society that have allowed women to start owning their individual worth and dignity - and has helped women to start seeing themselves as more than just extensions of men. Like any change that takes place however, there were both positive and negative affects. One of the negative affects of the Feminist Movement for many women is that they now feel that they are dependent on both relationship and career for their self worth. Many women feel that unless they are both successful in career, and in a romantic relationship, they are failures - because they are still looking externally for self worth.

The even more devastating negative affect of the Women's movement in my perspective, is that women who inherently are most heart connected because of their ability to give birth - have been given the right to compete with men who have never been heart connected in an economic system that does not honor the heart. In other words, women have won the dubious right to be more like men - in the emotionally dishonest, human doing prototype of traditional accepted male behavior.

A healthier trend that is also unfolding because of these changes, is that many men are becoming more like women in terms of owning their emotions and connecting to their hearts. When I say becoming more like women, what I really mean is that more men are connecting to their own feminine energy and owning their humanity - they are becoming healthier and more balanced as human beings. Women have been more in touch with their humanity in the history of the world than men who have been emotionally cut off from their heart and soul. Men who are blocked from accessing their own heart and souls are out of touch with their own humanity and thus able to act in ways that are inhumane.

For the men who are getting emotionally healthy and heart connected, acting out of the horndog within to have sex with many women with no emotional connection does not work. I believe that men who are learning to be emotionally healthier also tend to want to settle down with one person - like the Maiden archetype. This will lead us into next months topic: monogamy. {Play}

The Maiden and the Horndog

By Robert Burney

"Actually the term "Codependence" is an inaccurate and somewhat misleading term for the phenomenon it has come to describe. A more accurate term would be something like outer-dependence, or external dependence."

"As long as we look outside of Self - with a capital S - to find out who we are, to define ourselves and give us self-worth, we are setting ourselves up to be victims.

We were taught to look outside of ourselves - to people, places, and things; to money, property, and prestige - for fulfillment and happiness. It does not work, it is dysfunctional. We cannot fill the hole within with anything outside of Self."

"Not only were we taught to be victims of people, places, and things, we were taught to be victims of ourselves, of our own humanity. We were taught to take our ego-strength, our self-definition from external manifestations of our being.

Our bodies are not who we are - they are a part of our being in this lifetime - but they are not who we Truly are.

Looks deteriorate, talent dissipates, intelligence erodes. If we define ourselves by these external manifestations, then we will be victimized by the power we give them. We will hate ourself for being human and aging.

Looks, talent, intelligence - external manifestations of our being are gifts to be celebrated. They are temporary gifts. They are not our total being. They do not define us or dictate if we have worth.""

Quotes from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

In my book, I explain the evolution of the term Codependence from a word coined to describe the significant others of alcoholics (co-alcoholic) to a term which I use to describe the dysfunction in the human condition as we have inherited it. A codependent defines him or her self - and takes their feelings of self worth - from outer or external conditions / circumstances / manifestations.

I believe that we all have inherent worth because we are Spiritual Beings having a human experience - we are children of God/Goddess, part of The Great Spirit, emanations of The Source Energy - not because of any temporary outer conditions or external manifestations. When we focus on external sources - as we were programmed to do in childhood - to determine our worth we are worshipping false gods (to use Western terminology), we are too attached to the Illusion (in Eastern terms.)

Traditionally in dysfunctional civilized society on this planet men were programmed to be codependent (define self and take their feelings of self worth) from their work, their ability to produce. Women were programmed to be codependent on their relationships with men. (The Feminist Movement changed this somewhat in recent history - but in some areas that effect was negative. I will address this in a later article in this series.)

The bloated stereotypes of masculine and feminine that the quote from my book in last month's article mentioned - like all stereotypes - started with a grain of Truth that got twisted and distorted by the planetary conditions that dictated human evolution on the planet.

Besides all of the ways we are set up to have unhealthy relationships with our self by the dysfunctional cultures and role models we grew up with - we are also set up by our genetic species programming. The genetic survival programming that may have been necessary in the days of the early Homo Sapiens cavemen is thousands of years out of date and now can provide a source of conflict and misunderstanding between the genders.

One of the seemingly baffling differences between men and women, is that men are at their sexual peak period in their late teens, while women reach their peak period of sexual desire in their thirties. It almost seems like some kind of cruel Cosmic joke.

In order to find any perspective where this can somehow make some sense, it is important to look at historical context - both recent and ancient. Just as it is helpful in understanding how vital the inner child healing process is, to realize that we are only a generation or two removed from treating children like property, so too it is important to realize that teenagers did not exist as a subculture in society until recently. Until only a few generations ago teenagers of 14, 15, and 16 were married and on their own as young adults. The addition of the teenage years to the period of childhood rather than adulthood is a very recent phenomena in society. These years of raging hormones (and resultant emotional volatility) with no acceptable outlet has added new emotional trauma to the process of growing up.

In terms of ancient times, in order for the human race to survive in a hostile environment where living past the age of 30 was considered quite old, it was necessary to propagate the race as quickly as possible - be fruitful and multiply. One of Mother Natures ways of ensuring that this would happen was to give teenage males of the species a very strong sex drive that was aroused by the female body - most any female body - rather than to primarily seek strong emotional attachment to one female. This was necessary because the high mortality rate - both through death in childbirth of females and death through various means of both men and women - created a need to take on new and/or additional mates very soon to insure survival. It was necessary that the men be willing to copulate with (and thus also agree to protect and provide for) whomever needed a mate.

Early homo sapiens were forced to live together in close knit communities - and conform to community standards to remain a part of those communities. Thus the cultural proscription that a man would provide for a woman he impregnated was broken only at risk of expulsion and severe risk to survival. The perspective of teenagers as children rather than adults in some ways absolves teenage males of responsibility for their sexual behavior.

It was necessary for women on the other hand, to have as many children as they could in their healthiest childbearing years, to insure survival of the species. Therefore, it was more important for teenage women to be driven by their instincts to give birth rather than by sexual desire itself. In order to try to ensure protection and sustenance for themselves and their children during the vulnerable times of pregnancy and after childbirth women were programmed to desire to bond with one man to produce children and then to protect and provide for her and her children. Women were capable of, and did, hunt and provide protection for the clan during the times that they were not physically vulnerable due to pregnancy, childbirth, and early child rearing - it was during those months of vulnerability in a harsh environment that women needed a protector and provider.

This genetic survival programming is the source of the Maiden archetype in women. The Maiden is the romantic teenager whose instincts are to settle on one man and start having children - which manifests as daydreams that "her Prince will come." This Maiden is one level of the romantic within.

This genetic human programming can set up a woman to keep a man around for the illusion of having a male protector and supporter. I have worked with many women who not only did not need to be protected and supported by a man, but they in fact were providing the bulk of the support for the man. In the inner work the "maiden within" is the part of themselves that women can set a boundary with so that they do not unconsciously buy into the set up of believing that they have to have a man in their life to be OK. That certainly doesn't mean that there is anything wrong with having a relationship with a man or that the Prince isn't going to show up (he will definitely have issues to work through however.) The point is to be conscious about our choices. If we are reacting unconsciously to subconscious or genetic programming then we are giving power away and not owning our choices.

Men in modern day society are trained to be emotionally dishonest - get the message that it is not "manly" to be emotionally vulnerable - and that their worth and definition comes from what they do. This sets men and women up to have completely different priorities in regard to relationships. In a dysfunctional society a man can be a lousy husband and father - can be a really unpleasant and nasty human being - and still be considered successful and worthy of admiration if he is a success in the realm of money, property and prestige.

An unfortunate consequence of life in an emotionally dishonest and dysfunctional society - that is based on beliefs that deny men the full range of their emotional being - is that the great majority of men are emotionally immature. This is especially true in their relationships to women. Most men - in terms of how they view and relate to females - are stuck in a horny teenager place that I call: the "Horndog" [an archetype that Jung overlooked. ;-)]

It is very important for men to start being able to set boundaries with the "Horndog", with the horny teenager inside them. In order to have a chance for healthy relationship and emotional intimacy it is vital to stop letting the horny teenager be in control of our choices in romantic relationships (this is just as true for same sex relationships as heterosexual ones) or influence how we relate with women in general. This horny teenager within is not bad or wrong or shameful - it is a normal, natural result of growing up in the dysfunctional societies we grew up in. What is dysfunctional, and can sometimes lead to behavior to be ashamed of, is to allow that immature version of male animal lust to run the show. In order to be a mature, adult - a Real Man - it is vital to be conscious and emotionally honest enough to not allow the attitudes we developed as horny teenagers dictate how we treat women today. {Play}

The evolution of the term "Codependence" contains an excerpt from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls explaining the evolution from co-alcoholic to the present day meaning of the term codependence. {Play}

Next article in this series on this site: Old tapes / traditional beliefs and gender roles for men and women
Monogamy - A Spiritual Teachers Perspective

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."

"Trying to get our emotional needs met through sex does not work. It is dysfunctional. Human sexuality is a blessed gift when it is in balance with the emotional, mental and Spiritual. This is an emotionally dishonest society which knows very little about True, healthy emotional intimacy."

"The gift of touch is an incredibly wonderful gift. One of the reasons we are here is to touch each other physically as well as Spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. Touch is not bad or 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.

We need to strive for balance and integration in our relationships. We need to touch in healthy, appropriate, emotionally honest ways - so that we can honor our human bodies and the gift that is physical touch.

Making Love is a celebration and a way of honoring the Masculine and Feminine Energy of the Universe (and the masculine and feminine energy within no matter what genders are involved), a way of honoring its perfect interaction and harmony. It is a blessed way of honoring the Creative Source."

Quotes from Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls

A friend sent me an e-mail a few months ago, asking me what I thought of polyamory. This is a belief system that holds it is possible to have emotionally and sexually intimate relationships with more than one person at a time. Or as I have seen it described: "responsible non-monogamy."

In my reply to her I stated that I had heard of it but did not really know a lot about it - and that I wondered how many people living that life style have ever done any healing of their childhood wounds. And then I shared with her an excerpt from my online journal which I am going to expand for this article.

Someone once said to me, that they thought monogamy was a screwed up concept that was a result of the shame around sexuality that has been so strong in Western Civilization. This person - who was a man (surprise) - thought that monogamy was unnatural.

There has certainly been a great deal of shame associated with sex in Western Civilization. This is especially true of America with it's Puritan heritage.

I told him that I had no idea what sex in a healthy society would be like. Perhaps in the fantasy land where everyone is Spiritually connected, everyone is emotionally healthy and in touch with their connection to everything - perhaps there, we Spiritual Beings could truly enjoy this experience of being in body by being sexual with anyone and everyone we felt like. I have no way of knowing what a healthy Spiritually evolved society would look like.

I then told him, that given the societies we grew up in, given the emotional dysfunction and wounding that we experienced, I did not think anything but monogamy had a chance of being healthy. That the only people I knew who could be sexual a lot with a lot of different partners, either were using drugs and alcohol, or were acting out addictively because of their emotional wounding. (And I was not just referring to sex addicts here, I also include love or relationship addicts who feel desperately incomplete alone and use their sexuality to try to get the love they are starved for - looking for love in all the wrong places and accepting sex when they really want love.)

The first challenge for us in recovery is to start learning how to be emotionally honest and intimate with our self - which means we also need to develop a healthy concept of, and relationship with, our self. This is a process that takes some time - as we learn to practice intellectual discernment in changing the dysfunctional programming from childhood, and emotional discernment that allows us to have internal boundaries so we can grieve our wounds and disarm the emotional mine field within us related to opening our hearts to another human being. To be able to do that with another person whom we are attracted to romantically / physically, who is also healing their relationship with self - is an incredible gift, and a rare opportunity. The more people that get into recovery on the level where they are healing their inner child wounds, the more chance that we can find someone who is doing this work.

Uncovering and healing all the different levels of dysfunctional programming and emotional wounds in regard to our own gender and sexuality - and changing how we relate to people that we are attracted to - is a process that takes time and energy. To think we could develop the needed level of emotional intimacy to engage in sexual activity in a healthy way with multiple partners is kind of insane in my opinion. To engage in sexual activity without developing healthy emotional intimacy is codependent and dysfunctional most of the time.

I specifically said "most of the time," because sometimes it can be the path to developing a healthy relationship. So many of us learned to jump right into the sexual relationship without knowing how to be emotionally intimate, and most of the time - because one (or both) of the partners are not willing to do the healing - that will end up leaving us feeling empty and beating ourselves up for another "mistake." If however, two people who are in recovery jump into a sexual relationship, it may be the stimulus that forces them to learn how to develop healthy intimacy. Sometimes two people who are not in recovery from their childhood issues will be led into recovery to heal their wounds because of a sexual encounter - if both people are willing to do the work.

Whatever the circumstances, healing ourselves and developing a healthy relationship with another person who is healing, takes an investment in time and energy that is huge - just to do it with one person. I have a hard time understanding how it could be done with multiple partners.

I just really don't know what healthy sexuality would look like for emotionally healthy people. I don't know any emotionally healthy people - just people who are in the process of learning to be emotionally healthy. What I do know, is that our childhood role modeling, emotional trauma, and intellectual programming causes codependency - which involves having a myriad of dysfunctional relationships inside of our self before we ever attempt to relate to another human being.

As I say towards the top of the home page of my web site Joy2MeU.com:

"Codependency is about having a dysfunctional relationship with self! With our own bodies, minds, emotions, and spirits. With our own gender and sexuality. With being human. Because we have dysfunctional relationships internally, we have dysfunctional relationships externally.

Codependency is an emotional and behavioral defense system which our egos adapted in early childhood to help us survive. We were raised in shame based, emotionally dishonest, Spiritually hostile environments by parents who were wounded in their childhood's by patriarchal, shame based civilization that treated children and women as property."

There are layers of wounding that need to be peeled off gradually as we do the healing and change the dysfunctional programming. We all have huge fear of intimacy issues because the first people we opened our hearts to - our parents - were wounded, and in turn they wounded us. In several places in my writing, I note that in my opinion romantic relationships are the greatest arena for Spiritual growth available to us - because being romantically, sexually involved with another person pushes all our buttons, triggers all of our deepest wounds and strongest defenses. For one person in codependency recovery to develop a romantic relationship with another recovering person, is a process that evolves over time and involves a lot of hard work - and a lot of emotions.

To find one recovering person who is willing to put in the time and effort, who is also someone we are attracted to emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically, is an incredible gift in my opinion. I really can't see it happening with several people at once.

I, personally, don't see how it would be possible for someone who was raised on this planet to have a healthy physically intimate, emotionally honest relationship with more than one person at a time. {Play}