Codependency Recovery

Here is an interesting thought;

Gravity sometimes doesn't work.

Some things are both waves and particles. . .at the same time.

Electrons simply disappear . . . all the time.

If the universe is this wild and unpredictable, so full of possibility, why are our thoughts about our own lives so limited?

Codependency recovery involves learning to take responsibility for our own actions, feelings behavior, issues and lives.

All of that stuff starts in my brain.

So codependency recovery is a full time job. For me, it is summed up in the words, "Awareness gives me choice."

And that awareness must be running in the background if not the foreground of my consciousness constantly, because I can call up a codependent response to any set of cues in my environment anytime, and usually that response is way too powerful to the current circumstances.

Lots of folks working on codependency recovery, as they learn the characteristics of codependency, can identify the thoughts they have that are codependent (victim thoughts for example) or the feelings, or the behaviors. I usually feel fear in my belly and can identify that rather than a thought.

So when I feel that fear, I can begin to do relaxation, take a deep breath, do my HeartMath, ect. to diminish the feeling, then the thoughts can follow.

The memorized codependent response happens a little bit faster than I can create words of caution in my head, so awareness has to be a constant function.

I first came across the concept of codependency when I read a book by Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse called Hope and Health for the Alcoholic Family. (I am almost positive that is the correct title).

I was amazed by her work, because she was describing my family with a tremendous amount of accuracy, right down to the roles (jobs) the children in the family are offered and interview for and sign up for.

I was early in my own recovery then and not in a relationship, so I focused on the family aspects of codependency, my role in my family and how it shaped my behavior.

I was the eldest and did lots of things to make the family look good as the hero, until we moved from a small Minnesota town to Champaign, Illinois, which was home to the University of Illinois, and many talented people from all over the world.

What had been excellent hero stuff in Mankato was very run of the mill in Champaign, and I got my first experience with shame.

Dealing with the feeling of shame is an important part of recovery from codependency, but more later on that.

As my recovery progressed, I found myself in a relationship with a very beautiful lady, and we had this wonderful high intensity relationship of fighting and sex, which we called love.

We actually met a an ACOA meeting, and like moths to the flame, we were drawn together.

It did not work. As much as both of us wanted it to, neither of us had the cognitive or emotional skills to handle the storms of emotion we had at crucial moments in the relationship.

Codependency Recovery

Our relationship and the codependency involved in it was a mixture of a number of issues including the classic definition of codependency, a kind of addiction to another person, but for both of us, the memories of our family of origins were important factors in our ability to sustain intimacy. Intimacy in a solid relationship is not about intensity. It is about choices. It is about choosing to listen, to what might seem inconsequential, boring.

I had PTSD, her father was an alcoholic, as was her sister, and one brother. My parents were both alcoholic, and abusive and neglectful.

While we read the books just becoming available at the time, neither of us knew anything about sustaining an emotional balance inside, thought by thought or heart beat by heart beat, and neither of us knew anything about how quickly the human physiology works.

In other words, given the right cues, my amygdala memories can take over my body about twice as fast as I can blink my eyes, much faster than I can create a thought like, "I would prefer not to go to the park right now."

So codependency recovery at its most basic, once I learn the overview of the subject, involves teaching myself how to keep my physiology calm and my thoughts about offering choice, rather than making demands.

Reflective listening is a wonderful skill to mix in there too, because as I get better at it, I am focused on listening to my speaker, not agreeing or disagreeing, just listening.

Keeps me calm.

When I offer choice, I must be prepared to hear no, and remember that my partner's response of "no" opens a door for me.

But you might ask, what does all that mean if I am in a relationship with someone who is still using, or early in recovery, and I am feeling anxiety and relief and watching every behavior very closely, ect.

Well, same model applies, learn how to relax, and you may have to repeat that process frequently (heart beat by heart beat, prayer by prayer) until the relaxation feeling stays with you for awhile, and you learn that offering choice allows you an internal experience different than power and control.

That controlling biochemistry is always stress hormone based, meaning adrenaline and cortisol, which always has some health related consequences to it.

Luckily for us, scientific research has made possible some powerful tools to help us regulate our heart rate and attentional skills.

What that means is that with some practice, I can recognize an amygdala highjack coming and stop it, or even stay on an even keel.

I have tried a lot of tools over the years, all of which have had great value in teaching me something about myself, and the best tool for managing my physiology is the HeartMath emWave tool.

Using the emWave, I can learn to manage the time between my hear beats, making my entire body, every cell, work on the same frequency.

Very good tool for opening higher perceptual centers in the brain.

relieve stress and increase mental clarity

A very important aspect of codependency recovery involves keeping your brain healthy.

Believe it or not, getting neurons talking together with their full complement of letters and words, meaning vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acic, ect. is very important in making the rapid choices we have to make to sustain our internal commitment to recovery.

Remember controlling behaviors or choice behaviors happen in 1/18th second in the brain.

The best book on brain fitness I know of is Brainfit for Life by Simon Evans, Ph.D., and Paul Burghardt,Ph.D., both neuroscientists at the University of Michigan.

Evans and Burghardt say that the brain, which is where both my codependency and codependency recovery live, can be kept fit if I pay attention to the pillars of brain fitness, like physical exercise, nutrition, sleep, stress management, and novel learning experiences, including computerized brain fitness programs.

If I take care of the pillars, then the brain will be doing two things that Wegscheider-Cruse didn't know that the brain could do, which are grow new brain cells, called neurogenesis, and form new connections between neurons, which we call neuroplasticity.

Neuroplasticity from the practice of Buddhist meditation for 10,000 hours has been shown to change the structure of the brain, increasing gamma waves associated with compassion, so recovery from codependency is possible.

The best novel learning experiences using the computerized brain fitness programs are the the Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro, Lumosity, and the Posit Science Brain Fitness Program.

The research being done on them is remarkable.

Would You Share Something That You Are Grateful For?

When I was beginning my personal growth journey, a wise person told me that when I was feeling resentful or afraid or sad, that I should remember the phrase "gratitude is the attitude" when I was ready to feel better. That phrase has helped me feel better tens of thousands of times.

Would you share what you are most grateful for? Your story could be just what another person is searching for to renew themselves? Thanks.

Have a question and want to talk with a therapist? Call 815-316-2621 for Julie Logan, LCSW, RN. 7121 Windsor Lake Parkway, Loves Park, Illinois 61111

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