- "...looking for care, presence and empathy from another human, and being devastated by its lack. I pour it onto another to get it back".
The reality of us all having some difficulties to negotiate with boundaries becomes much easier to navigate the more I heal. Before recovery, I was excessively open and messy and carefree, but these days I am constantly having to be intensely discerning. The discernment process is always a reintegration of innate perceptive abilities which have been dissociated by cognitive dissonance. From an exclusively codependent paradigm, NPD is an alien way of thinking. We think we have things under control by projecting onto people. Despite the traumatically crazy-making, mind-breaking deception of realising narcissistic abuse, controlling behaviour specifically is neurologically more robotic, so with mindfulness, it becomes possible to predict, observe and cauterise the destruction. I have used my educated discernment to navigate dangerous domestic and financial abuse situations. Healthy behaviour is far more dynamic. ‘Interior Castle’ by St Teresa of Avila, which I don’t recommend to anyone with internalised Abrahamic issues). Spartan Life Coach also talks about the Jungian self-concept of ‘House and Garden’. For people with weaker boundaries when getting to know someone, you can visualise the person entering through your front gate and walking up your garden path to the facade of your house, and then coming into the kitchen for a cup of tea and a relatively short conversation. They dont stay all day, and you don’t show them your bedroom or tell them about your finances or burden them with your concepts of mental illness, for example. Its the same with group spiritual practices where people are invited to shed their boundaries and connect.
I have learnt to embrace the suffering and hardwork of my own problems, but it takes an extra level of gentility, patience, love and forgiveness to deal with the learned helplessness of the wounded child and fully accept the ground that needs to be covered. It takes love alone to really feel that screaming helplessness and just sit with it and be ok with it before realising the power to get moving. It's quite an experience. Codependency recovery is about going deep, and getting your hands dirty. It doesn't get you more social acceptance than taking Abilify. We have a Great Work to accomplish, and it's not even a political stripe. It is the struggle simply to coexist in integrity. This engagement is necessary to create win-wins in a world that is alive and immediate. Codependency is a relationship paradigm rather than solely an individual mental illness paradigm. Codependents tend to be extremely flexible and resilient, but they use their own intelligence against themselves to get out of cognitive dissonance with the narcissist to preserve the peace. Codependency isn’t a common paradigm in Australia. This peace is often enforced pervasively by other codependent caregivers. Therapists prefer to treat individuals’ atomised, internality. I’ve found codependency recovery to be the best approach for me in areas which I had found no solutions for for decades. I haven’t found any therapists practising in it here, but Ross Rosenberg puts out some good information from the USA. In this video, he identifies four stages of codependency recovery, and what to expect at each point. He says the first stage is the hardest, and the last stage is the most rewarding. I wish I had watched this first or had a therapist, in hindsight. You can also seek therapy with the coaches I feature in this text. I highly recommend Lisa A. Romano, Spartan Life Coach and Ross Rosenberg.
There are two types of people pleasers. One type is the covert narcissist, and the other type is the codependent empath. Empathy is a real spectrum, and can also contribute to a character flaw in people with porous boundaries. Narcissism itself is a parasite. A disempowered codependency recovery process is sadly a potential tool of stagnating self-flagellation by the narcissist. Narcissists seek out people who will burst their bubble, because the moment their tower falls is their only opportunity for emancipation from their false self. The first step in codependency recovery is to set boundaries with narcissistic people and reclaim a distinct identity, as the narcissist desperately tries to transgressively relate. It is unhelpful in facilitating self-responsibility, to further project other people's flaws and problems on newly recovering codependents, because they should be allowed to have and explore their own for once.
CPTSD is the underlying condition for the entire spectrum of interrelatonal disorders, from high empathy codependency on one end, right through to psychotic predatorial pathologies on the other. The common thread is poor boundaries with inaccurate internal modelling of external objects. CPTSD is extremely common in our society. C-PTSD is not in the DSM, but is being considered for inclusion. As an internalised PTSD, it includes a self-image warped by trauma, emotional disregulation, and problems in relationships. An individual can develop a wide variety of mental health or relationship issues as a by-product of the coping mechanisms for CPTSD. For me, CPTSD was easier to cure than the codependency relationship wiring. CPTSD took two months of neurologically-focussed hypocampal-volume growth to heal. I experienced CPTSD as neurophysiological disregulation of stress hormones such as norepinephrine and cortisol. Three pillars of my CPTSD recovery were breath meditation, learning a new skill such as a language, and aerobic exercise. CPTSD is not something one can realistically catastrophise and conflate with antisocial personality disorder and skapegoat away, but when does skapegoating ever need to be realistic?
My favourite Life Coach, Lisa A. Romano, said it took her seven years of non-stop work to recover from codependency, which is how long it takes cells to fully regenerate like the Ship of Theseus. I am fully shifting gears into the second half, and it's an expedential perspective shift, getting over the disorientation of sudden freedom even. Codependency recovery is the call of many lifetimes to do something of wider necessity and import. I would like to frame codependency as the shadow of collective mental illness, whilst acknowledging that our current paradigm doesn't completely allow adequate resources to implement the necessary changes. We need to shift now, as I strongly believe that codependency recovery is not only relevant to, but lies at the heart of the flourishing of all spiritual and political movements of value.