Breaking Barriers

So I recently listened to Tommy Rosen talking to Nikki Myers as part of his Recovery 2.0 conference and they discussed co-dependency.


Now that I’m coming up 2 years in recovery and have put down the substances I’m left with many residual issues and addictions.  The biggest two for me are emotional eating and co-dependency.  I gave up sugar for Lent and wrote a series of posts about those experiences which you can read here.  Plus I touched on co-dependency here.

Nikki in the last year has launched a training programme to tackle co-dependency called Breaking Barriers and you can attend it if you’re in the US (more details here).

This is what she says:

Co-dependence has been described as ‘the addiction to look elsewhere.’ It’s the belief that something outside of ourselves; people, places, things, behaviors or experiences, can give us fulfillment and joy. This is not only the most common addiction, it is the base out of which all other addictions and compulsions arise.  Codependents can have difficulty: experiencing appropriate levels of self-esteem, setting functional boundaries, making decisions and/or verbalizing requests …… codependency is often expressed as the need to control or be controlled and/or approval seeking or confrontation avoidant.
Co-dependency has been called the ‘disease of the lost self’. Thomas Merton wrote ‘To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to the violence of our time.” This is often how we lose ourselves; we minimize what’s going on inside, while over-reacting to the outside.
Gulp ……. reading that felt like a punch to the gut and listening to what she said to Tommy felt deeply reassuring in a painful way.  She talked about how our thinking becomes delusional and how we can veer from one extreme of arrogance to the other of feeling worthless.  How when we are triggered we dysregulate and how we became not-present and effectively time-travel.  Or in psychological terms we disassociate.
I actually had to watch this part of the interview twice as the first time it was so close to home that I actually disassociated while listening.  My brain couldn’t cope and so I stopped concentrating and didn’t hear – or didn’t want to hear it.  I’ve written about the feeling that she expressed before: these were my words written that day on 21st June last year Is it just me who swings from feeling they are as worthless as something you just trod in to feeling like they are behaving like a cocky gobby upstart in the time it takes to blink? “Worthlessness to arrogance anyone?  It’s spooky how she summarised exactly what I had expressed.
I share this with you and have no answers to offer.  All I can say is that around food and boundaries I am learning to listen to my body because it will tell me if things aren’t right about what I’m putting in my mouth, how I’m feeling and responding to someone and whether it is my work to do, which invariably it is!
She recommends:
  1. Using the pause button with breath because we cannot breath in the past or the future only the present and so it brings up back
  2. To keep coming back into the body as a somatic embodied experience as it is empowering
  3. To surrender using a specific yoga position (which as a non-yoga person I don’t know!) but to make sure that it is a relaxed surrender suggesting letting go rather than a rigid tight position which suggests resignation and collapse, not surrender.

I’m a work in progress and I sense that this will take many more years to work all of this out.  Good job I’m going back into weekly therapy as part of my Cambridge course in October!!

13 thoughts on “Breaking Barriers

  1. Thank you so much for sharing. I also am co dependent and am trying to recover. Blessings to you.

    1. Hey Shar 🙂 I think probably many of us ex-boozers are co-dependent, particularly if you are the children of addicts and alcoholics. Almost unavoidable …..

  2. I heard an interesting quote recently (wish I could remember who said it!) which is that as our behaviour becomes less uncontrollable, our emotions do too…

    I have certainly found this, that huge swings in emotion are less frequent nowadays. when our behaviour stops rocking the fairground carousel so much, we have a chance to hit the pause button and come back into our bodies – which is an absolutely priceless tool, I quite agree.

    have you tried the self-esteem package on Headspace yet btw? just started it… though not sure self-esteem is the most appropriate title for it (I was nearly put off tbh!) I’m finding it really useful, lovely visualisation too xx

    1. Good quote Prim! 🙂 I have indeed started the self-esteem pack on Headspace and was about 5-6 sessions in before we moved. Suffice it to say I haven’t got back to it yet (although I have been listening to Tara Brach talking to Tim Ferriss so not completely abandoned thoughts on meditation. Am planning to restart tomorrow now that the dust of the move is settling xx

  3. Hi Louise,

    Beautiful post, and food for thought…. very much so.

    On ‘Worthlessness to arrogance anyone?’ I notice that in myself too. I once read in the Anodea Judith book that they go together. I think I found that for me I throw myself, my feelings towards ‘oooooh, so useless and worthless’ because I can not deal with critique or reality on an ‘equal level’? If that means anything to you? I have two modes: up or under (yes, sorry world 🙁 ). It’s a control thing, a power thing which in this stage very much backfires at myself.

    Well, power things are never a good idea but this one I think is stimulated by the poor me saying: Oooh, I’m sooooo bad, you can’t kick me when I’m down.’ I’m thinking it got there because in my shame based family there was no place for learning from experiences other than being shamed and criticised and made to feel guilty.

    To me the ‘over the top happy and cocky’ possibly has a sort of excape effect from the harsh reality or the created unworthyness too. I remember thinking I had to over, over, over produce/learn/act/perform/be to impress my parents in order to be even seen or appreciated. Later, specifically in late drinking time I think it became something like ‘can’t touch me here on my happy cloud…!’ A place where I was ‘doing well’ and ‘could not be touched’ by the misery of reality.

    If I want to find the conversation do I need to sign up at Y12SR? Or..?

    xx, Feeling

    1. Ooh not sure how to access the interview feeling as it was shown as part of Tommy Rosen’s 2.0 recovery programme. My bet is to hang on until the next one in October when I’m sure he’ll interview Nikki again 🙂 Glad the post helped you xx

      1. Ooh, ok, I have seen that but I was not interested in the subject then. Looking forward to the new Recovery 2.0.

  4. Great post!
    I sure was always seeking outside approval, and I still am, although not as much.
    I still look for outside people, places or things to make me feel full-filled, although again, not as much as I used to.
    I am still working on this.
    My therapist, life coach, and hubby (not all the same LOL) try to help me!

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