Moving from a dysfunctional codependent relationship to a conscious one – Part I

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We were born dependent. First, we were one with our mother in her womb. Then birth separated us from her. We had to start breathing on our own.  As we grow up, we learn to move on our own, to feed ourselves, to make our own decisions and live our own destiny. Little by little, we are learning autonomy however we still long for the primordial desire of fusion with our own mother. Our parents did the best they could but they passed onto us their own deficiencies so we arrive to adulthood in a state of incompleteness.  Love acts as a powerful spell because we feel incomplete and we are desperately looking for a better half to fill our void.

Falling in love is the subconscious drive towards completeness. Without this incentive, most of us will simply not have the courage to work on our shadows (mostly transgenerational). This is why intimate relationships are so difficult but also so rewarding. Shadow, more than light, is the foundation for the powerful attraction between lovers. Because we are all so afraid to change, nature gave us the perk of sex to incentivize us towards evolution. Nature gave us the ability to experience the ecstasy of integration at a physical level so that we may want to experience it at an emotional, mental and spiritual level.

Orpheus

I re-read recently the story of Orpheus. He was a demi-God, a legendary musician, poet, and prophet in ancient Greek religion. Even he could not bear the loss of his wife Eurydice. After he failed to retrieve her from the kingdom of Hades, he wandered randomly as a hermit and inconsolable, he fell prey to the Thracian Maenads. Romantic love is by far the most fulfilling experience here on earth, but it is also the most fragile. It is dependent on the free will of another human being because without genuine reciprocity, it is not a relationship. Even when both lovers are connected, many external events or people may disrupt their passion: parents, status or financial issues, visa issues, ex partners or children, illness. When it is not something external, even if they love each other very much, they may face incompatibilities that they may be unable to solve such as a different attachment style, power struggles, ineffective communication, different vision for life or preferences,  or children conflict for recomposed families. And even when everything aligns, death may take away one of the lovers leaving the other one in utter despair.

Until we are able to love ourselves and experience autonomy, we are limited to be in codependent relationships. These relationships will still help us to grow and develop but a great deal of suffering is typically associated with them. The great attraction between the lovers is proportional to their own lack and incompleteness. These relationships have amazing potential as the partners commit to grow and to do their inner work. But they will feel miserable if they resist their own expansion. They both need to realize their own incompleteness with humility, and support each other personal growth.

From my personal experience, I would like to describe the characteristics of such relationships.

At the base of the dysfunction is always the lack of SELF-LOVE. Because we do not love ourselves, we feel dependent on our romantic partner to experience love. This weak sense of self will manifest in the following forms:

self love
  • Inability or unwillingness to give space

Even the most compatible partners will have some areas where they diverge. They may not like the same type of food, enjoy different set of activities or may want spend time with different people. People who are insecure will interpret mistakenly the unwillingness to join in an activity as a sign that they are unlovable so they will put pressure on the partner to stick together even if this means that one of them will miss out on something important for him/her. This will build resentment on both sides. Other times, we may not be in an emotional state to provide adequate support to our loved one. In this case, it is best to recommend that they see a good friend or a therapist. Unfortunately, the partner will interpret this as rejection or abandonment. Of course, giving space should be more the exception than the rule otherwise there may not be enough compatibility to hold the relationship together. At the same time, it is natural for conflicting needs to arise in the course of a relationship; so giving space to each others to meet these needs separately will release considerable pressure.

  • Distrust

We all have weaknesses so we cannot be trusted in all areas. If you do not trust your partner to take the garbage out every Monday night because he is often distracted, then it is fine to give him a gentle reminder because history has proven that he is likely to forget. However, if we cannot trust our partner in aspects that are fundamental to us in the relationship, we should either work on our trust issues or exit the relationship. Without this underlying trust, there cannot be a relationship. Here are some examples of what could be a deal breaker for a couple but it varies from relationship to relationship and I highly recommend that the lovers discuss them clearly before fully committing to each other: sexual infidelity, emotional infidelity, physical or emotional abuse, circumcision of the children, caring for aging parents or stepchildren, providing financial support, regular sexual intercourse, emotional intimacy & affection. What may be a deal breaker for one couple may be insignificant for another so communication is key. The first step however is to know your own boundaries and love yourself enough not to violate them, even if this means letting go of the relationship. We can only trust our partner if we can trust ourselves.

false persona
  • Projecting a false persona

Because we believe we are unlovable, we create a false persona in order to get that love we are desperately starving for. This however is a recipe for disaster. This is very common with men.  Where they are in the courting mode, they perform lots of actions that they would simply not do in an established relationship: offering thoughtful gifts, organizing breathtaking dates, spending more money than they can afford on their beloved, being ultra gentle and considerate. Then, once their object of desire gets attached to their false persona, they relax and a less attractive personality surfaces. Inevitably, the lady feels duped and this is not a healthy foundation for a relationship. Being yourself from the start will limit the number of dates you may be able to get however what is important is the quality of the relationship and not the quantity. Here are some examples of not so innocent white lies.  We may pretend we like some activities or food we dislike, or we exaggerate our wealth, success or sexual performance. It is just a question of time for your mate to know you intimately. If she or he fell in love with a false persona, she or he will surely leave once she or he discovers your true self because this is not what she or he signed up for. Ensure to only display behaviors or attentions in your courting phase that are sustainable over the long run not to disappoint your loved one down the road.

  • Over reliance on the relationship for important needs

A mistake that many men providers do after getting married is to rely solely on their wife to organize their social life while all their energy is focused on work. If for any reason, their wife leaves them or even dies; they are left alone or completely unable to take care of themselves emotionally. The same applies for financial needs if one partner gets used to a certain lifestyle with the inability to earn money on their own. Too much dependency creates insecurity and a tendency to compromise oneself for the benefit of the relationship because we feel incapable of sustaining ourselves outside the relationship. It is healthy to be attached to someone special and it is natural to grieve when this person disappears from our life but we need to know that we have the ability, resourcefulness and the resilience to bounce back given enough time to heal. This certainty takes self-love. Unfortunately, life is unpredictable and tragedy can strike inadvertently. A certain level of dependency is healthy in a relationship so that both partners can focus on their strengths however not to a point where a person is unable to function at all without their other half. Where there is too much dependency, breakups end up being much more difficult than necessary and the abandoned partner may become revengeful and obsessed with terrible consequences.

annoying husband
  • Fixing the other person

People with lower self-esteem may feel ashamed about who they are but do not have the strength to face it. It is less dreadful to keep focusing on other people’s flaws and keep fixing them. As they focus on their partner’s weaknesses, they get distracted so that they may not see their own flaws. They resent aspects of themselves but their ego cannot admit it. So they keep projecting their deficiencies onto others. They find compliant tormented souls that are well too aware of their imperfection and actually enjoy the constant reproaches because this reminds them of their early abusive family environment where they were repeatedly put down. Constant nagging is a relationship killer. We have to put at least ten times more pressure on ourselves for positive change than our partner. Let us inspire them with our own example. And when we share constructive feedback, it is best to address it vulnerably in the first person (i.e. I feel unloved and taken for granted when you make plans without including me)

self promotion
  • Constant self-promotion

People who believe something is wrong with them have an ego that needs to hide and repress their perceived imperfections at any cost. They do not believe their value can speak for itself so they use every opportunity to express how good they are, how much they are doing for the other person, how successful they are, how much money they have, how educated they are, how good of a parent they are, how good of a cook they are, etc… When you are certain of your own value, you are happy just being and there is no need for self-advocacy. And if people are unable to see your value unless you are claiming it, you may have an inflated sense of self or it may be time to renew your circle of friends.

In the second category of characteristics of codependent relationships, we do not trust the universe to bring someone even more special after we complete the healing of a painful breakup. So we resort to manipulation to keep our partner chained to us at any cost and there are many forms of CONTROL we can exercise:

  • Deprecation

If we keep denigrating or criticizing our partner, it will lower their self-esteem. They will lose their self-confidence and they will not believe that anyone else will be able to love and appreciate them. They should just be comforted that we stick around for them. This is one of the favorite tools used by narcissists. The recipient of such abuse needs to remember that if there is genuine love & attraction, there is mutuality so one partner is not entitled to feel superior. It is likely that the two partners are replaying the abuse of their childhood whether as a victim or a perpetrator, which are two sides of the same coin.

jealousy
  • Jealousy

This is one of the indications of possessive love.  While it is natural to have sensible expectations on one’s partner, jealousy is the irrational fear of losing the object of love of which we have become dependent. So we need to limit them  (as well as their well-being and personal growth) when we should be the ones working on our limited beliefs and insecurities. We forbid them to interact or even to appreciate beauty from people of the opposite gender. We punish them emotionally through stonewalling, anger or withdrawing affection when our jealousy is triggered.

  • Power play and emotional blackmail

Every partner in a relationship typically has assets that are desired by their significant other. It may be money, beauty, sex, fame or skills. It is natural for lovers to benefit each other as long as giving comes from the heart. Manipulation comes from our transactional mind.  This is the type of actions that the transactional mind will take. We purchase a nice bag for our wife before we ask her to go to a wild bachelor party in Las Vegas with our best friend. We give her a nice massage to get sex afterwards. We buy her beautiful flowers because she is suspecting that we are having an affair with a colleague. We let our husband have sex with us so that he will stop stonewalling us. It is best to express one’s needs and concerns directly instead of resorting to manipulation. When the relationship stops feeling fair, we can communicate about it in a vulnerable way rather than punishing them without any explanation. They will probably not understand, and it will make things worse. When we do something in a transactional way, it would feel off from our partner’s perspective. She or he would feel objectified and then resentful. We will then feel unloved, confused or rejected, not understanding why our partner is always dissatisfied. It is a no win situation.

peer pressure
  • Peer pressure

We are wired to accept as truth what the majority thinks. A manipulator will often draw family members, colleagues or friends that are already loyal to them to prove a point and show they are right. Someone who is sincere will be patient with their loved ones and use logic to share their perspective, or draw from experts’ neutral opinions. For this reason, a couple should be weary to live with family or community members especially if they will automatically side with one party in case of a conflict.

A good relationship takes maturity, experience and SELF-AWARENESS. Here are some of the difficulties that couples may face unintentionally because of their lack of wisdom and personal development

  • Projection

Our intimate partner is our closest mirror. As such, we often interact with the person in the mirror, which is ourselves, instead of our lover. If we make a list of what annoys us in our partner, we will find undoubtedly aspects of us that we have repressed and judged severely. A lot of the attraction we feel for our partner comes from the fact that they express naturally what we have repressed in us. Unfortunately, instead of bringing these aspects back to the conscious mind for positive manifestation, we irrevocably repress or shame these aspects in them, reproducing in them our own fragmentation. Never forget that your intimate partner is for the most part your repressed self, and as such they have invaluable lessons to share with you if you can pay close attention.

projection
  • Needs’ conflict

We may have a tendency to impose our needs over our partner’s needs or on the opposite, put their needs before our own. Both approaches are not sustainable. People can only repress their important needs for so long. First, it takes a commitment for spouses to understand their important needs and communicate them clearly to each other. Then they should creatively think on how to meet all of their needs creatively. Partners are intimately connected so dissatisfaction in one will immediately surface in the relationship  to impact the other. By helping your significant other to get their genuine needs met, you are helping yourself to enjoy a more harmonious relationship. And an affectionate relationship will dramatically improve your quality of life and personal happiness.

double standards
  • Double standards

“Do as I say but not as I do” is the opposite of positive inspiration. It does not work with children and works even less with our partners. In a relationship, double standards can be allowed and will not build resentment only if both partners are consciously aware of them, and it feels fair to them. There are some double standards that may be customary, such as a woman waxing but not her husband. It may be accepted for one spouse not to contribute in cleaning the household if they are the one that brings in all the income. All these agreements have to be made consciously and not assumed because this is the way we were raised. There are some other double standards that may be more problematic. In recomposed families, one spouse may want a lot of focus and attention on his/her own children while feeling very uneasy around his/her partner’s children.  They may want to be the center of attention of his/her partner while providing little care for him/her. Or they may want all of their social time to be spent with his/her friends and not their significant other’s comrades. This is the fastest way to lose credibility. The Golden Rule of treating others as oneself is found in many religions and cultures for a reason.

  • Idealization followed by demonization

This is unfortunately common to so many relationships. At the beginning of a relationship, we can only see the positive in our beloved but give it a couple of years, and we can only see the negative. Then the break-up happens, and we make them literal monsters. People do not change that much and chances are that the person we adored is the same one that we now detest. We just applied a different filter. We shifted from the awareness of our own inner greatness revealed by this person to the projection of our own ugliness. The person you love is just as imperfect as you are. If you were with them, it means they were your match for the time being so demonizing them is nothing different than criticizing yourself. It is best to acknowledge with humility and truth their qualities and shortcomings, and realize that they have a lot to say about you too. Let all feelings of disappointment, anger, sadness and betrayal run inside of you because this is important for your healing, but once these emotions have run their course, strive for objectivity and truth. Forgive them in order to find peace within yourself.

splitting
  • Expectations

Expectation is the other relationship killer. As an example, we have had a long day and we expect our spouse to take care of us when we come home. It is likely that your spouse will have had the same hard day and has the same expectation. This inevitably will lead to a dispute. We always need to come back to the relationship with the intent of giving. If we are unable and we need to receive, let’s express it authentically and vulnerably. Let your partner have the freedom to not support you if they are too drained and not in the right state of mind to do it. As a general rule, you should have 10 times more expectations of yourself than your partner. This will help you receive with gratitude all the little things they do to improve your life. 

don't leave me

It is now easy to see why these types of relationships are the source of so much struggle and suffering. Love feels like a curse. Our loved one drives us insane but we cannot live without them. We are so afraid to be abandoned, or of their emotional reactions that we make a lot of compromises that hurt our personal integrity. As life’s pressures increase with children, financial & professional challenges, or illness, the dysfunctions in the relationship appear even more clearly. The relationship acts as a magnifying glass for our traumas, and our own shortcomings. The only solution is to be introspective, evolve, improve and grow in self-love and self-awareness. Then we will be able to transform our relationship or attract a new one that feels good.

Read part II

Integrating the three aspects of the self

Švenčiausioji_Trejybė

This blog is published in The Mindful Word

https://www.themindfulword.org/2018/aspects-of-the-self/

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Article translated in French below

Intégrer les trois aspects du soi pour s’éveiller

Les cercles de développement personnel et spirituel parlent souvent des concepts du Moi supérieur (ou l’âme), de l’enfant intérieur et du besoin d’une personnalité positive, introspective, reliée aux réalités de la vie matérielle et efficace. La plupart des ouvrages de développement personnel abordent un seul aspect, rarement deux à la fois et presque jamais les trois. Si quelqu’un me demande ce qu’est l’éveil spirituel, je réponds simplement « Vivre le paradis sur terre », c’est-à-dire la capacité à fonctionner dans cette dimension physique selon des principes spirituels élevés. De manière pratique, nous avons en nous trois aspects principaux et très différents : 1. l’adulte, 2. l’enfant et 3. l’âme, et les trois doivent coexister en harmonie afin que nous puissions être véritablement intégrés et devenir ce que nous appelons un être éveillé. Le développement d’un aspect sans les autres est en réalité un danger pour soi et pour les autres.

L’adulte ou adulte intérieur n’est rien d’autre que notre personnalité. Notre personnalité s’est construite selon notre éducation familiale, notre culture, notre éducation et notre environnement. En conséquence, elle est pleine de concepts erronés, de perspectives limitées, d’idées fausses et de contradictions. Par l’introspection, l’étude des grands sages, l’application des leçons précieuses tirées de notre expérience, la pensée positive et consciente, nous pouvons peu à peu améliorer notre personnalité pour mieux soutenir notre vie et celle des autres qui nous entourent. Beaucoup de livres sont consacrés à nous aider à développer une personnalité plus efficace afin que nous puissions avoir plus de succès dans la vie, qu’il s’agisse de gagner plus d’argent, d’améliorer notre relation de couple ou d’être plus heureux. Un adulte mûr a une pensée claire, répond aux situations de la vie de manière réfléchie, projette des valeurs positives et comprend les étapes nécessaires pour atteindre ses buts. Il sait aussi comment se protéger et protéger les autres. Il est capable de tirer parti de ses précieuses expériences de vie pour améliorer la qualité de vie de tous ceux qui l’entourent.

L’enfant intérieur est un concept plus récent. Bien que Carl Jung soit à l’origine du concept dans son archétype de l’enfant divin, John Bradshaw est en réalité celui qui a popularisé le travail sur l’enfant intérieur auprès du grand public dans les années 1980 grâce à ses best-sellers et à ses apparitions aux côtés d’Oprah. Tous les professionnels de la santé mentale sont maintenant familiers avec le concept de l’enfant intérieur. L’enfant intérieur correspond à notre essence et au noyau de ce que nous sommes. C’est un aspect hyper sensible, complètement ouvert et la source de notre créativité, de notre spontanéité et de notre joie intérieure. Quand nous grandissons dans ce monde difficile avec des parents imparfaits, notre enfant intérieur (ou nos enfants intérieurs) est victime de traumatismes. Ceux-ci vont engendrer une faible estime de soi, une pauvre image corporelle, des déséquilibres affectifs, l’auto-flagellation, des masques bloquants, des problèmes d’identité, d’intimité et d’engagement, des dépendances, etc. Le travail sur l’enfant intérieur a pour objectif de renouer avec cet aspect subconscient du soi, de revivre consciemment les émotions refoulées afin que nous puissions aider notre enfant intérieur à poursuivre son développement.

L’âme est notre moi transcendantal. Celui-ci est déjà parfait, pleinement développé et connecté à l’ensemble de l’existence. Le moi supérieur est au-dessus du cycle de la naissance et de la mort. C’est la conscience elle-même. Grâce à cela, nous pouvons faire l’expérience de la conscience de Dieu. Qui mieux que Rumi, le mystique soufi du XIIIe siècle, pour nous décrire le moi supérieur ? « Ces formes que nous sommes sont comme des tasses flottant dans un océan de conscience vivante. Elles se remplissent et coulent sans laisser de traces. Ce que nous sommes, c’est cet océan, mais nous sommes trop proches pour le voir, même si nous y nageons et le buvons. Ne soyez pas une tasse avec un rebord sec, ou quelqu’un qui chevauche toute la nuit et ne connaît jamais le cheval entre ses cuisses. » Nous ne travaillons pas sur l’âme, il s’agit simplement d’élever notre conscience et de nous rappeler qui nous sommes en tant qu’âme. L’âme est indestructible et ne peut être blessée, car elle est cet amour infini.

Permettez-moi d’illustrer l’évolution de ces trois aspects à travers mon expérience personnelle. Quand j’étais enfant, j’ai subi une série de traumatismes qui m’ont conduit à une dépression profonde et à une forte anxiété à l’âge de treize ans. Ma personnalité adolescente cherchait des possibilités de sortir de mon enfer émotionnel. Bien que les progrès aient été lents à cet âge, j’ai développé petit à petit des concepts et des idées pour rendre mon existence plus supportable. Mes progrès touchaient uniquement le niveau de la personnalité (ou mon moi adulte). Je suis devenu adulte trop rapidement et j’ai géré ma douleur affective en devenant le meilleur élève possible à l’école. Je manquais de spontanéité, j’étais très sérieux et me sentais comme un vieil homme à l’intérieur. À dix-neuf ans, j’ai passé tout l’été aux États-Unis, ce qui a élargi mes horizons. Je suis tombée amoureux d’une fille à mon retour à l’université, et une rupture douloureuse trois mois plus tard a ouvert ma conscience. L’intensité de la douleur émotionnelle m’a fait vivre pour la première fois un état de conscience mystique où je me suis senti extatique. Soudain, je me suis rendu compte que la vie était bien plus grande que le monde visible. Je me suis lancé dans une quête spirituelle et suis devenu obsédé par cet éveil dont parlent les grandes philosophies et religions. Pendant les sept années suivantes, sans le comprendre consciemment, j’étais à la recherche de mon moi supérieur que je n’avais ressenti que pendant quelques instants. En tant que chercheur spirituel, je suis tombé dans un premier piège, et j’ai rejoint une secte. Les sectes sont des organisations toxiques, qui se positionnent comme des intermédiaires dans notre relation à Dieu afin de nous exploiter. Après en être sorti trois ans plus tard, et après avoir pris le temps de me déprogrammer, j’ai poursuivi mes efforts pour m’éveiller. Cela a porté ses fruits et quand j’ai eu vingt-six ans, j’ai vécu un état de conscience où j’ai vécu un état extatique ou le pur amour pendant plus de vingt-quatre heures. Cela a ouvert une porte où j’ai pu retourner consciemment à cet état avec une discipline de vie spécifique. Tandis que j’éprouvais des états de conscience extatiques, je me suis rendu compte que j’étais devenu un junky spirituel et que ma vie ne reflétait pas extérieurement les états de conscience extraordinaires que j’éprouvais intérieurement. J’ai commencé à me sentir seul et j’ai concentré mon attention sur la manifestation physique. Sans le savoir, j’avais changé la focalisation de mon travail intérieur de mon âme à ma personnalité. Pour faire mûrir cet adulte intérieur, je me suis inspiré de gourous de du développement personnel tels qu’Antony Robbins, Wayne Dyer ou Brian Tracy. Je me suis marié avec une PAJ (princesse américaine juive), et j’ai fondé une famille. Je me suis concentré sur ma carrière pour réussir ma vie. Je suis devenu un entrepreneur prospère dans la Silicon Valley et le vice-consul honoraire de Monaco.

J’étais un lecteur assidu avec toujours pour but de m’améliorer. Mon succès professionnel était un mécanisme d’adaptation à ma douleur émotionnelle que j’avais continué à enfouir, et qui se manifestait à travers une relation tumultueuse avec ma femme. Quand j’ai eu trente-cinq ans, je n’ai plus réussi à contenir ces émotions sous-jacentes. Je suis entré en thérapie à ce moment-là et ai commencé à renouer avec mon moi transcendental, car j’avais constamment le sentiment que quelque chose me manquait. Je suis devenu un grand fan d’enseignants de non-dualité tels qu’Eckart Tolle, Adyashanti, Krishnamurti ou David Deida. Quand j’ai eu trente-huit ans, la grâce est venue au travers d’un événement inattendu. J’ai eu une commotion cérébrale à la suite d’un accident de ski, qui m’a recâblé le cerveau. Après avoir récupéré de l’accident, je pouvais méditer sans effort et le sentiment qu’il me manquait quelque chose a alors disparu. Je suis devenu beaucoup plus intuitif et me suis toujours senti guidé dans mes actions. À ce moment-là, j’avais fait un énorme travail pour développer une personnalité consciente afin de soutenir ma vie et ouvrir le chemin intérieur à mon âme. Cependant, jusqu’à ce moment-là, je n’avais fait que très peu de travail sur mon enfant intérieur (je n’étais pas au courant du concept à l’époque) et l’écart s’accentuait entre cet enfant intérieur sous-développé et brisé et le reste de mon être. J’ai connu une crise de milieu de vie et ai attiré une partenaire encore plus déséquilibrée que moi-même. Elle était un canal clair pour son moi supérieur, détenait la connaissance spirituelle la plus remarquable, mais toute sa vie était en réalité contrôlée et rendue misérable par les traumatismes de son enfance qu’elle se sentait impuissante à guérir. À cause de ses dons spirituels, elle pouvait voir à travers moi, et je ne pouvais plus cacher mes enfants intérieurs blessés. J’avais tellement réprimé la douleur de mon enfance pour atteindre le succès matériel et spirituel que mes enfants intérieurs perdus se sont manifestés sous la forme de l’aliénation parentale de mes enfants réels. Tout au long de ma vie, j’ai fait face à de nombreux défis, mais aucun n’était comparable à la brutalité de cette expérience. Mon dernier mariage s’est également effondré quelques temps après. Cette année passée a été difficile, mais riche en apprentissage. Elle m’a permis de réintégrer mon enfant intérieur avec ma personnalité d’adulte et mon moi transcendantal. Maintenant, lorsque mon enfant a mal, je m’assieds en méditation avec la douleur. Mon adulte et mon âme le rejoignent, lui prennent la main et l’aident à guérir. J’ai arrêté de le brimer et de le faire taire comme je l’avais fait pratiquement toute ma vie. Qu’il s’agisse de solitude, de trahison, de dépression, de colère, de jalousie, de suspicion, de méfiance ou de tristesse, je reste assis avec lui sans jugement. Avec suffisamment de patience, mon enfant intérieur est en train de se reconstruire lentement grâce à la confiance en mon adulte intérieur et à la sagesse et la présence de mon âme. En fait, je n’ai pas découvert un seul enfant intérieur, mais plusieurs, qui ont entre deux et onze ans. Il est clair que cet aspect de moi est encore un peu en retard par rapport à ma personnalité et à ma connexion avec mon moi transcendantal. C’est donc sur cet aspect que je me concentre afin d’atteindre mon plein potentiel, et ainsi finir par me reconnecter à mes enfants réels.

J’espère qu’en partageant  mon expérience personnelle, j’aurai réussi à illustrer l’importance de rester équilibré avec ces trois axes de travail tout au long de notre cheminement spirituel. Je pense intuitivement que Wayne Dyer aurait pu faire face à un déséquilibre similaire. C’était un professeur remarquable, doté d’une personnalité très intelligente et d’une profonde compréhension de l’âme. Sa troisième épouse, Marcelene, mère de cinq de ses enfants, a divorcé après vingt ans de mariage, et il est décédé plus tard d’une leucémie, révélatrice d’un traumatisme infantile non guéri (Wayne était un enfant de l’assistance publique). De la même manière, Jerry Hicks, l’auteur inspiré de la loi de l’attraction avec sa sixième femme Esther, est décédé d’un cancer.

Les individus qui font l’expérience de leurs aspects transcendantaux sans faire le travail nécessaire sur leur personnalité pour développer l’objectivité et l’intégrité nécessaires, peuvent facilement devenir des leaders de sectes. Leurs traumatismes non guéris génèrent alors des fausses croyances et des illusions.

Les Amérindiens ont souvent un lien authentique avec le divin et ont un enfant intérieur en bonne santé. Malheureusement, le manque de développement de leur personnalité fait cependant d’eux une cible facile pour l’exploitation, les abus ou la dépendance.

Les personnes ayant une personnalité très développée, mais peu connectées à leur âme peuvent avoir beaucoup de succès, voire faire des choses magnifiques dans la vie, si elles ont un enfant intérieur en bonne santé, mais il y aura peu d’incitation à aider les gens en dehors de leur famille proche. Celles dont l’enfant intérieur est traumatisé seront souvent autocratiques avec le désir d’exploiter leur prochain.

Ces trois dimensions sont faciles à voir chez les êtres éveillés. Par exemple, le Dalaï Lama agit souvent comme un petit enfant qui adore s’amuser ou plaisanter, mais peut exprimer des concepts complexes à partir de sa personnalité sans jamais perdre de vue sa nature transcendantale. Il peut basculer entre ces aspects à volonté en fonction de ce qui est requis dans le moment présent. Une personnalité développée peut comprendre et connaître Dieu, cependant seul l’enfant en bonne santé en nous peut en faire directement l’expérience en tant qu’amour, unité et créativité. C’est pourquoi on dit souvent que le cœur (auquel l’enfant intérieur a un accès direct) est le siège de l’âme. Ayant développé cette trinité en nous, nous pouvons maintenant regarder les étoiles avec les pieds solidement plantés dans le sol et créer le paradis sur terre.

Growing and healing together as a couple

3 part series of the dysfunctional dance between co-dependents and borderlines

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Part III – Growing and healing together as a couple

social stigma

For the most part, my last blog on Understanding and Loving the Borderline was well received except on a Facebook group that brings together a vulnerable minority group. My blog triggered them, as they felt stigmatized and shamed. I removed the post from this private group as my intent was to make people feel better not worse, and they were unable to make use of the information. They probably suffered a lot in the hands of a mental health system that often uses labels to prescribe drugs and to scapegoate them instead of providing them with genuine support for healing. Labeling is indeed a dangerous thing. It is fine for people to label themselves as borderline or codependent as a tool for self-observation, but we should refrain from labeling other people this way, as it would just trigger their shame. Shame and self-awareness are incompatible states. This is why, once our shame is triggered, any positive change towards our authentic healthy self becomes impossible. We become frozen and what can happen instead is more fragmentation, meaning that we would build a false self in order not to experience this feeling of shame again. This is actually the process of how false cult personalities are created, and how the false “good guys” personalities are built with codependents. The borderline is however unable to cope and goes into rage. I sincerely do not know which is healthier. Every tool can be used for empowerment or to hurt people. It is up to each one of us to use this information wisely.

We mirror each other’s disowned self

the angel and demon in us

As I was doing inner work, I remember when I first met my “inner borderline”. We call this process voice dialog or parts work. I display externally little of the BPD characteristics. As I mentioned previously, I have been struggling instead with codependency in my intimate relationships. This makes sense as we manifest externally what is deeply repressed in us. This is how attraction works. As a child, the borderline aspects of my mum and stepmom terrified me but I had to bond with them for my emotional survival. I had made the depression of one and the anger of the other one unacceptable emotions. I created these parts internally to mirror them but buried them deep within my psyche out of fear and in a subconscious attempt to feel safe. I could not have been a magnet for PBPD partners all of my life unless there was a part in me to reflect them. So if a codependent is in a relationship with a PBPD, we need to remember that the borderline is the repressed aspect of the codependent, and vice versa. There is futility in blaming our partner because they are you, both representing the positive and negative aspects of you that you have disowned. The most extreme form of internalizing the people we feel traumatized from, and that we feel dependent on for our survival is well documented as the Stockholm syndrome. An example was the adoration of Nazi concentration camp SS physician Josef Mengele by his victims. Josef Mengele performed the most horrific deadly human experiments on prisoners and in particular on children twins. I recommend a quick read on other famous cases of the Stockholm syndrome. Here is how it works. When a traumatic event occurs that we are not able to process consciously, we fragment. This means that aspects of our consciousness leave our body to find escape somewhere else. In very powerless situations, these fragmented selves actually find refuge in the abuser as it feels it is the safest place to hide. As a result, we create deeply repressed internal parts of the very same persons that traumatized us. We cannot acknowledge these aspects consciously as otherwise we would live in a constant state of anxiety so they manifest externally in particular in the form of romantic & intimate relationships. We have a tendency to fall in love with people showing the same dysfunctional aspects of our parent of the opposite gender. This is why women raised with an emotionally unavailable father would attract the same in their partners. And this is why I have been with PBPD most of my life. I am not a victim. They are simply mirroring the aspects of me that I have repressed. They are helping me to become conscious. In the same way, all the PBPD I have been with had a codependent father that I was mirroring back for them. It may be depressing news but most of us are simply trying to earn back the love we did not receive as a child (from our parents). We are actually replaying the traumas and the stories of the past instead of actually truly connecting with our partners. There is only one way out, which is bringing these lost aspects of ourselves back to the light of consciousness. Seeing these parts, accepting them, loving them and ultimately forgiving oneself for reenacting this drama subconsciously are the steps to recovery.

Think of yourself as the trinity: adult, child and soul

The sacred trinity: personality, inner child and soul

In the process of integration, I have found it a helpful tool to see myself as the composite of my (hurt) inner child, my adult and my transcendental self. The codependent identifies with his adult self, while the PBPD identifies with her hurt inner child. The borderline feels too much while the codependent is hardly in touch with his feelings. For a healthy development of the individual, we need a balance between these two aspects. The inner child gives us our spontaneity, our creativity, our joie de vivre, access to more subtle aspects to our being. The adult self keeps us out of trouble, has wisdom to draw from, and helps us function in this physical reality. A genuine partnership between our child and adult has to be formed to restart an inner development that likely stopped during an early traumatic event. We do not want an overbearing internal adult (codependent) or tyrannical and out-of-control inner child (BPD). Life has its way of recreating balance. This is why children of PBPD get parentified, and why codependents are irresistibly attracted to PBPD. If you able to create a healthy balance of these aspects within yourself, the universe will also mirror it externally with a more stable partner. How does this work in practice?

  • When you feel uneasy and stuck, do shadow work to bring these aspects of you into awareness. Do not bulldoze your inner child into performing other activities that may appear more important to the inner adult. I understand that life has constraints so if you cannot attend right away to the inner child (which is the ideal), commit to schedule this inner work within 24 hours.
  • Follow personal inspiration, creativity and your inner joy whenever you can. Look for simple ways to feel genuinely happy
  • Stay aware of the consequences of your actions. Spontaneity does not have to equate with recklessness
  • Temper your internal fears with the wisdom from your personal experience
  • Know your limits, and assess your personal boundaries wisely. Follow-through, be responsible but not at the expense of your authentic self.

Try to visualize some of the healthiest parent/child relationships you have witnessed in your life. This is what you need to create internally. The inner child is the seat of the soul. The bible says “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”. But the child needs to develop to become this clear channel to the higher self. And he needs a wise, compassionate and supporting inner parent to grow-up. As we enter the spiritual path, many of us will find a hurt inner child whose development stopped at a very early age. We need to take this traumatized child where he is, without judgment and patiently re-parent ourselves. Another way to look at it is to see our inner child as our essence and our adult as our personality. When these two aspects of us start working in harmony, we can consciously access the more transcendental aspects of our beings.

Authenticity

unique red umbrella among black umbrellas with city background symbolizing authenticity

To get out of codependent relationships, we need to realize that “People in the relationship are more important than the relationship”. This sentence goes against many of our social bias. Miserable married people are often advised to stay together even when they have become toxic to each other. I understand that any intimate relationship will go through their ups and down and I am not advocating to breakup as soon as there is a bump in the road. Sometimes we struggle with the relationship but we deeply care about our partner and we feel this is helping us become a better version of ourselves. This is a situation where we need to fight for the relationship because it is supporting us as an individual. Actually, as we are able to successfully survive these difficult times, the relationship will then reach a much higher intimacy. There are other situations however when the marriage brings both pain and the loss of self. These are times to get out. Staying in a miserable marriage for the sake of the children does not make sense; they are well aware of the conflicts and this is damaging to them. We want to be models that they do not have to compromise their personal happiness to be in an intimate relationship. Putting the self above the relationship is a very scary and risky choice for the codependent. We probably entered the relationship pretending we were someone we are not because of our personal shame. Our partner may feel betrayed, duped or threatened as we reveal the real us. We may be rejected, abandoned as a result, and if your partner is narcissistic, they will surely do this and also discredit you to any common acquaintances. This is a very painful experience but a price worth paying to recover your authentic self. In any case, we need to remember that any other option is futile. What makes us attractive and sexy is our individuality; not being an accessory to someone else. As we compromise ourselves to fit into the relationship box dictated by our nascissistic partner, we will stop our attractiveness and our mate will abandon us anyway. We need to remember that it is better to be alone than being in the wrong company. We can remind ourselves that we survived brutal breakups in the past, and ended in a better place once the grieving was done. As we feel depressed by the loss of the relationship and see no end to our personal misery, we can bring King Solomon’s wisdom: “This too shall pass”. Actually, when we look back at the most difficult times of our life, we can see retrospectively that these were the times we did the most growth, and created the foundations of our future happiness. Life is a series of steep climbs and flat plateaus, then further climbs. Being in a relationship should always be a free choice. This is the only way to experience a true heart-to-heart connection to our partner. While there are external forms of coercion such as the threat of personal injury, losing one’s children or litigation when attempting to leave a relationship, these are quite rare and extreme. What is more insidious and common is the coercion coming from our own personal fears. Here are some examples.

If I leave her/him, if s/he breaks up with me:

  • I will have to compromise my personal lifestyle, take care of my personal finances and probably lose financial security
  • I will be alone which I cannot handle
  • I will have to be back on the dating scene, which I detest
  • I will lose face with my family, friends and community
  • I will have to go back to work
  • I will have to move
  • I will not have sex anymore
  • I will not handle seeing my ex with a new partner
  • I will have to take care of the children on my own which I feel incapable of doing
  • I will die because I cannot handle another breakup
  • I will not handle the guilt of hurting my children
  • I will have to start cooking and do my own laundry
  • I will lose all of our joint friends
  • I will have no one to protect me
  • I will have no one to take care of me if I am sick
  • I will lose the relationship with my children
  • I will lose the relationship with my in-laws
broken chain towards independence

Can you see these are all wrong reasons to stay with someone? It makes the person a means to an end and this will destroy your intimacy. The times for selecting our partner for survival reasons are well over. In this day and age, intimate relationships are primarily for emotional nurturing, experiencing love, feeling seen, felt and understood, personal growth and enjoyment. If you are just looking for transactional relationships, you can simply use service providers as our world can offer any possible service imaginable in exchange for money. This is why it is so important to develop personal autonomy in our life as this allows our closed ones to be with us because they want to be there and not because they have to. We can move from the conditionality of love of the sacral chakra with all its cords, control drama and power struggles to the unconditional and pure love of the heart chakra. Of course, we should not take the goal of personal autonomy to the extreme to the point of being afraid of asking for support from others. The key is never to put yourself in a state of dependency that may lead you to compromise your personal integrity or stop honoring your personal boundaries. When your personal situation does not allow for this right away, just make a goal to create this personal autonomy in the future and make it a priority. Authenticity cannot strive in a controlled environment because the price to pay for your personal truth would be too high. Also, when we are incapable of taking care of ourselves, we will create expectations in our union, which in turn will create tension. This is not a conducive environment for love to flow. If you want a clean house and both you and your partner dislike cleaning, best is to hire a cleaning lady. If you are in need of physical affection but your partner is drained, go get a therapeutic massage. As a codependent, authenticity can be daunting as we are so afraid to lose everything once we find ourselves, and start sharing our authenticity with the world. It is true that the world reacts often very brutally to codependents finally standing in their truth. If you express your authentic self to your partner in a vulnerable way but s/he is not able to carve a place for your authentic self, it is best to let go. Our authentic self is our most treasured possession and without it, there cannot be the possibility of a joyful and happy life. I had given everything to my relationship but once I stood in my authenticity, the relationship did not survive. It took courage and it was incredibly painful but as a result, I received the ultimate gift of living an authentic life and stepping out of codependency. It was all well worth it.

Loneliness

loneliness

Loneliness is one of the most painful feelings to experience consciously. We understand conceptually that we are one and connected to everything that is alive. I remember reading Radical Forgiveness years ago from Colin Tipping, and I had an epiphany when the author stated that our experience on earth is first about experiencing the illusion of separateness. Separateness is an enduring illusion because our physical body is separate from other beings. We are one with our mother then separate from her at birth to create an individual experience. We go through the process of death and many other painful experiences alone. We cannot go through life without feeling rejected, abandoned or criticized at times. In my personal experience, there is actually no biggest suffering than losing the connection to our creator. Even Jesus doubted on the cross if God had abandoned him “Father, why have you forsaken me?” Many of us with attachment traumas are suffering from profound loneliness and we become vulnerable to a variety of addictions as a result. There is a compulsory need to fill this void at any cost. This feeling of emptiness is actually caused by our internal fragmentation as we have lost many aspects of ourselves through the traumatic events of our upbringing. Filling this void with people or various addictions can only give us a temporary relief, and this is what codependents and borderlines attempt to do. It is like the person who lost his way in the forest who gets relief by meeting someone else only to realize this person is lost too. This may bring some temporary comfort however the two people are still lost. From my perspective, this form of pathological loneliness can only be healed in two steps. First, we need to feel consciously our deep and profound loneliness without trying to escape it. This is best done in a meditation setting where we create an internal container for the painful emotion with no judgment, letting our internal torment and fears run their course. From this place, if we are patient enough, eventually grace will come in and we will remember somatically our divine nature and recover our connection with God. As we realign with our soul and our sense of purpose, we can feel complete. We may still feel lonely at times as we go through phases when we do not have special people in our life to reflect our wholeness. However these phases are temporary and they do not destabilize us because we feel the security of our connection with our higher self that is connected with everything. Overtime, we learn to be alone without feeling lonely and aloneness becomes even a means to strengthen our connection to the divine. Our deep longing for an intimate connection becomes more a thirst to reflect our divine nature than to fill an endless void. Our divine nature is love, giving and receiving love. Is there anything better in the world than intimate relationships to experience it?

Stepping out of the drama triangle victim/persecutor/rescuer

Dreaded Drama Triangle

The PBPD is addicted to the victim role. She feels so unworthy and hopeless that she believes she can only get attention through pity and other form of victim control drama. The codependent is addicted with the rescuer role. He feels so unworthy that he feels he has no value unless he fulfills a specific role or does something for someone. To break this negative cycle, the codependent needs to apologize to the PBPD for putting her in a state of dependency, disempowering her and not creating the conditions where she could solve her own problems. Without bypassing her pain, the PBPD needs to find the strength to find the hidden treasure that came from her abuse, to realize that her persecutor is just another victim like her and eventually forgive her abuser and herself for creating this painful experience at a soul level. The Hawaiian prayer Ho’oponopono “I am sorry – Please forgive me – Thank you – I love you” is another powerful way to break out of the dysfunctional roles of the drama triangle and undo the false narration. But please remember to do this prayer from the adult or soul perspective but never from the hurt inner child as this could be very damaging.

Transition plan as we rewire our brain for real love

rewire the brain

Because of his unhealthy childhood environment, the codependent actually got addicted to constant drama. He thrives with chaos, conflict and dangerous situations as this gives him the opportunity to prove his self-worth by rescuing. Drama is actually associated with love in his brain. Because it takes time to rewire a brain and examine all false beliefs, I recommend the recovering codependent to engage in more productive activities where he could experience the same adrenaline rush. He can start a more risky professional activity (reward and risk often go together), or enjoy extreme sports. On the other end, the borderline is addicted to emotionally abusive situations so that they can get attention through victimhood. Abuse equal love in her brain. One of my partners had suffered in a horrific way in the hands of one of an extremely disturbing violent cult. The abuser of her childhood pretended to be her dad but was also sexual with her. As we can expect, her intimate relationships were very unstable as a result. She would start all of her relationships idealizing her partner but then would slowly start seeing her companion through the filter of her childhood abuse. She would then replay the escape of her childhood nightmare by orchestrating the end of the romance. Then, she would enter a demonization phase where she would try to convince anyone willing to listen to her that her ex was part of the same cult that inflicted her so much grief as a child. In a similar way than the codependent, the PBPD can turn her addiction to abuse to productive use by helping the unfortunate ones. Since 2001, Angelina Jolie has been on field missions around the world and met with refugees and internally displaced persons. She also adopted 3 children. French sex symbol Brigitte Bardot has dedicated the second half of her life rescuing animals. Princess Diana was involved in over 100 charities and she made a big impact fighting homelessness and helping victims of HIV/AIDS and leprosy. Overtime, as healing takes place, both PBPD and borderline learn to enjoy a more peaceful and simple love without relentless crises. They realize that can experience intimacy and love without the roller coaster.

The 80/20 rule in seeing the positive in your partner

images

The PBPD will have a tendency to catastrophizing and only focus on the negative in herself and her partner. The codependent will often err on the opposite. He will stay positive and apparently strong any time his partner feels bad or negative. This is his way to cope and exercise control in the situation. He has a tendency to act too optimistic in situations potentially dangerous to his partner. Even if his wife struggles with alcoholism, he could say “Let me give you a glass of champagne darling, this will help you relax”. He will let his wife go out with a man interested romantically with her trusting them a bit too much. He will give his daughter to a baby-sitter with bad vibes. He will decide to go out with his friends at the time his wife feels suicidal. Wearing pink glasses is his way of coping. He thinks he can make himself safer when imagining that we live in a good world with good people. He actually endangers himself and his family with this attitude. His borderline partner, on the opposite, feels too much the potential dangers and often amplifies them. She feels she cannot trust her codependent partner to keep her safe and will go ballistic at him when her anxiety reaches a threshold. The codependent will typically only crash emotionally and display negative emotions when his borderline partner feels happy! First, he feels very threatened by her happiness as he fears that she will not need him anymore if she feels good. Secondly, he built resentment through the many crises but did not allow himself to feel any of it because of the instability in the relationship. If he sees his borderline partner doing well, he feels this is his opportunity to share everything that upset him over the last few weeks, which unmistakably overwhelms and triggers his borderline girlfriend.

It is very frustrating for the PBPD as she feels she spends most of her time in doom, and when the sunshine comes, he immediately spoils it! In my twenties, I worked as an engineer in the Silicon Valley software start-up. We had a borderline male employee called Steve with constant conflictual relationships with many co-workers. The CEO liked him however because Steve’s mind was always focused on what could go wrong and this helped avert potential business threats as he felt that the rest of the management team was too optimistic. Though there are some positive aspects in looking at a glass half empty however there is a problem in always seeing the negative in your partner. The codependent struggles with shame too. If he is constantly shamed who he is and what he does, he will start deflecting the shame and pointing to his partner her own shadows. They will work on each other non-stop. It will cease to be a relationship. It will become a self-improvement torture chamber. To support someone towards positive change, it is well known that we need to receive more compliments than criticism. By continuing to reflect the positive of our partners, we will support their development towards their higher potential. On the other hand, the codependent needs to be more connected, aware of his environment and realize that the policy of burying one’s head in the sand is not the right strategy to follow. He should ensure to stay positive when his borderline partner feels good so that she can fully enjoy these brief moments of happiness. He needs to improve his communication so that he can bring constructive feedback in a way that would be best received by his borderline partner. He needs to express things as they come so that they do not have the time to fester in him. The borderline has to learn to see her codependent partner more objectively. She goes from idealization to demonization back to idealization and then again demonization in no time. She needs to recognize that her partner has qualities and flaws just like she has. Putting in writing how she feels about her partner will help her realize her “splitting” and eventually heal from it.

Become an expert in your partner

the woman's manual

First by becoming an expert in your partner, you will learn to spend enjoyable time together while minimizing triggers. Ask lots of questions, be inquisitive and curious about him/her. The better she feels, the better you feel or more succinctly “Happy Wife, Happy Life”. By better understanding your partner’s dysfunctions, you can also better support their recovery and avoid fatal mistakes. This knowledge is best received when it is inconspicuous and unconditional. It should not be a way to score points for a hidden agenda. In this day and age, we are lucky that so much valuable information is at our fingertips. About any question we have may be answered by an insightful YouTube video or podcast. We can make our car a university on wheels during our commute time and keep improving our relationships. There are optimal communication strategies for any type of person and this is what we need to become skillful at using the right words at the right time. If you partner is codependent, here are some of the approaches that may work:

  • If he feels disconnected, be inquisitive, ask him how he feels, use his love language to bring him back to his heart, help him bring out to the surface what is bothering him deeply inside
  • If he says yes but you feel no weight behind his words, challenge him in his commitment. Either get him accountable and make it easy for him to say no. Confront him every time you feel he is lying to him and others (mostly subconsciously because he is a people pleaser). Do not let him off the hook. Point out his lack of consistency and how this is impacting others
  • If his words or actions are hurting you, become vulnerable on how he is making you feel and take responsibility for your feelings not to trigger his shame. Empower him to make things better for you. Tell him you hurt because you love him
  • Get him in touch with his shadows. Create a safe container for him to express the parts behind the “good guy”, all of the unsavory aspects of his hurt inner child. Reward him every time he has the courage to go there

It is important that we learn to clearly communicate our needs and likes instead of expecting our partners to know them telepathically. While this feels great when our partner does things what we treasure without the need to ask them, why not make it easier on them instead of constantly testing their love for us? Let us coach them to speak our love language instead of doing things for them with the expectation of getting something in return. Even the most compatible persons will have difference in their love language so communication is key. Make separate lists of your needs, what you love and share it with your loved one. Provide loving and non-judgmental frequent feedback so that both partners can improve constantly of making each other feel loved.

The importance of the commitment to self

commitment to self

Happiness comes from the simple things of life: knowing who you are, feeling love for who we are, intimacy with special people and relationships, a supportive community, feeling creative, have our needs met at a physical level, being healthy, a connection to something greater than ourselves (ideal, God, values) and practicing activities that we enjoy. This is not rocket science but it takes commitment to fill our life with the ingredients of joy. In codependent relationships, we sacrifice our authentic self for the relationship. We are so desperate to be loved that we project a false idea of us so that we may be liked. The commitment to self has to come first as the people in the relationship are more important than the relationship. If the relationship stops supporting the individuals within the relationship, it does not have to mean a break-up. People can find creative ways to adjust the relationship in a way that they will feel better supported. This takes tremendous courage as these changes may trigger our insecurities and fears of abandonment. The commitment to self requires us to be OK to be alone, as we cannot control the reactions of others. This may not be our preferred way of being but unless we can sit in peace with ourselves, we will not be able to give our partner the freedom to love us by choice. Once our sense of self is secure, the commitment to the relationship comes with less anxiety so we can navigate the ups and downs in a more astute way. We typically make the worst relationship mistakes when we are triggered. As we dive deeper in intimacy, we start including the other into our personal field so the commitment to self will naturally encompass them too. Loving oneself extends to loving our partner and eventually to the whole universe as we increase our awareness.

Own your shame

shame guilt woman pointing fingers sad

Most fights between codependents and borderline are escalated when shame is triggered. Owning your shame is the best way to de-escalate the argument. Let me give you a couple of examples. Instead of “Why did book this shitty hotel? This is the last time you do the travel reservations”, say “I felt small and taken for granted when you booked this hotel for us. I really want to feel safe with you and it is hard to do when you do not seem to see me”. Instead of “Can I have some space now? I cannot take this constant drama” say “I feel at odds with myself and I do not think I can be a good company for you until I can sort things out. May I go meditate and reconnect with you after I am done?”. Instead of “How can you be friend with that asshole? He is just a narcissistic jerk” say “I feel triggered around your friend. He always speak about himself and never seems to care to listen about things in our life”. Instead of “Being with you is like being with a cold stone. It is obvious why none of your relationships never lasted very long” say “I do not feel seen, felt or understood right now. I feel unsafe as a result. I need you to really connect to me right now”. If you can show some genuine vulnerable emotions, your communication will be that much more effective. Owing our shame starts with the courage to believe that our innate nature is lovable, which would allow us to be vulnerable and therefore to build intimacy. It is important to stay humble because unless we are willing to acknowledge our own failings, we will continuously project what we refuse to see in ourselves into our partner. I had once a partner who kept saying obsessively that I had duped her to get in a relationship with her. This was partly true because as a codependent, I would portray myself as someone I am not in order to conquer the object of my desire because I felt unlovable deep within. However, what she failed to realize is that she felt even more intensely like a bad apple and did not believe anyone could love her for who she is. There were just as many things she hid about herself than her codependent partner. Projecting this deep shame solely into her partner prevented her to own it.

Therapy

Therapy

A good family therapist is important to help us navigate through the intricacies of interpersonal relationships with our partners, children and parents. There is a significant stigma in Europe with people using therapists. They are often labeled as crazy and unstable so most people in Europe would see a shrink in secret. People in the USA and even more Californians are very open to it. When a situation triggers both partners at the same time, a qualified therapist is critical. I do not recommend using a friend because the friend would typically be biased and they do not have the professional training to rise above the interpersonal conflict. The therapist primary goal is to help release the unconscious into the conscious, support introspection and empower the stakeholders towards a creative solution as their awareness is lifted. It is important to take your time to find a good family therapist. Many enter this profession because they feel damaged and they have not done yet all the inner work necessary to help others. A skilled family therapist is important at times to any intimate partnership but it is absolutely critical for codependent/borderline couple who need all the help they can get with their rocky relationship. The best therapists would actually be the ones that experienced earlier in their life the same negative patterns. I have an absolutely extraordinary family therapist. He is an older gentleman. He was raised in a horrendous family dynamic and he had a disorganized attachment style as a result. He was married and divorced 3 times before he was able to finally develop a healthy and intimate relationship with his 4th wife whom he has been for over 30 years now. He has done immense inner work to get where he is now, which makes him incredible knowledgeable and insightful in helping his clients.

Make the couple a sanctuary

sacred union

Codependent/borderline relationships are inherently turbulent and therefore experience power struggles. Power struggles come from personal insecurity and powerlessness. We attempt to control our partner to love us because we feel deep inside unworthy of love. If someone does not feel secure in a relationship, they have the tendency to enroll their personal friends to validate their opinions and show their partner that they are right. This can do no good to the relationship. While venting to your friends can be sometimes helpful to release some of the internal pressure and frustration one may experience, enlisting them to prove your points would just damage the relationship. We need to keep remembering what is more important to us, to be loved or to be right? I was once in a very unhealthy community situation where all the community members were either employees or followers of my wife. They worshipped her and she could do no wrong. It was very tempting for her to enlist them to make herself right to me, ignoring the fact that they were all biased to start with. If I had used my close friends or French family to rally to my opinion, they would have sided with me. That would not have made me right. This was not an option anyway because they were not in our living community. And this would have just made the conflict larger instead of contributing towards a meaningful resolution of the conflict. This is why a trained therapist should be used instead of friends or community members to work through a relationship conflict. Communities are a very dangerous place for committed intimate relationships. As a young man, I remember that most couples that moved to the Fellowship of Friends community in northern California would divorce the first year. Community life diffuse the commitment between the two individuals and there is a high temptation to get one’s needs met outside the relationship instead of doing the hard work of focusing and solving the conflicts within the relationship. In my recent situation, community members that were my wife followers surrounded her. It was like living at the queen’s court. They were always fighting for her attention and it was difficult to have time where only the two of us could be together alone to simply connect. If you are looking to live in a community, I would advise to look for an equal community where members relate to each other on an equal basis and have interdependent relationships instead of dependent and hierarchical ones. It would be a model where each family knows very well their neighbors, and where the community is enhanced through regular get together, instead of a pyramidal structure. My situation was extreme and is quite rare, but it is important for any couple to make their intimate relationship a priority. As we discussed, the self is the priority because if we are not true to ourselves, we cannot be in an authentic relationship but the relationship is next in line even before the children for a married couple. The children feed from the energy of a healthy marriage and get damaged by the constant conflicts of their parents. So by putting your marriage first, you are putting your children first. Recomposed families are more complex systems and they are outside the scope of this article. It is a big temptation once we have children to put our marriage after the children, after our hobbies and sometimes even after some of our friendships. The result is often disastrous because the marriage is supposed to be the foundation of our family life but no more energy gets invested into it. You need to treat your relationship like a sanctuary if you want a happy life. The codependent and the borderline need to stop their destructive habit of enticing people outside the relationship to look like victims and instead take full responsibility for their personality disorder and their relationship.

The law of mirroring in relationships

sacred relationship mirroring

Do not fool yourself that you will jump dramatically in terms of quality of partner from one relationship to the next. Remember that your partner comes to you through the law of attraction so they are an external mirror of who you are inside. What is far more important than finding a perfect partner is to find a partner that you can grow with. If you have attachment traumas, it is then far more sensible to find an introspective partner that has done a lot of inner work, and has learned from their personal wounds. Even if you meet someone with a secure attachment style, it is likely that there will not be any chemistry unless you have a secure attachment style yourself. For this reason, my future partner is likely to be a conscious borderline. After the initial honeymoon phase of a new relationship, we usually come back to the same personal flaws that contributed to our last breakup. Intimate relationships are a personal growth accelerator so there is simply no escape to what we are supposed to work on this lifetime if we are going to share our lives with someone special. I trust in the power of attraction in terms of intimate relationships. Many people have been hurt in intimate relationships so they learned to distrust their own chemistry & attraction feelings. They would rather cut their attraction sensors and focus solely on a compatibility checklist out of fear. Our body never lies. It is all about understanding and becoming conscious of what our body is attempting to communicate to us. Attraction is the path of freedom and back to oneself. However it is critical we move into this attraction with self-awareness because of our personal shadows. If there is no chemistry, there is limited growth. Our society is addicted to the removal of pain and struggles but suffering is a fact of life that needs to be embraced instead of feared so that we can become whole again. A friend of mine has a joke about the frozen packages of processed chicken in supermarkets. He called them boneless, skinless and flavorless chicken. Do you want a boneless, skinless and flavorless relationship or do you want to be consumed by love and be transformed to the full potential of who you are?

Final words

Love and intimacy are powerful forces because they reflect the movement of God towards integration. Many of us with attachment traumas, whether we are codependents or borderlines have been damaged through relationships. We can now heal through relationships too. This is why we need each other.

Hands making heart

I was fortunate to have many experiences in my lifetime. I have traveled in many parts of the world, I have built companies, non-profit organizations, I have connected with people from many different cultures, I have networked with the rich, wealthy and famous and experienced high-flying lifestyle. Among all these experiences, not a single one ever came close in intensity and happiness than the deep and intimate connection with a beloved. This experience is available to any of us as we open ourselves to authentic love no matter what may be our background.

Love,

Vaillant

Read part I – The dark side of the co-dependent

Read part II – Understanding and loving the borderline