December 19, 2011

It is normal to want things and to get attached to that which is important to us. People, places, and things share our existence and enrich the quality of our life, or at least they should enrich our lives. Disentangling is not about ending the good attachments we have in life. It is about shedding unhealthy and dysfunctional attachments that detract or take away from the quality of our life.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - IV (DSM-IV) indicates that a disorder exists if whatever condition present causes significant distress or problems in one or more important areas of one’s life. These important areas of life include health, relationships, work, etc. A few examples of such problems that can come from unhealthy attachments include:
Loss . . . of job, of temper, of friends, of family, or anything else we deem important.

Neglect. . . of spouse, of children, of ourselves, of our health, of our work, financial, or school-related responsibilities.

Failure. . .to prepare for the responsibilities of life or to show up for life, for example by isolating or staying in bed all day or all week not due to a physical illness. 

The result of these losses, negligence, or failures on our part is that they take up space in our mind, and our mental preoccupation with them drains us of our life’s energy. The preoccupation of our mind will cause us to engage in unhealthy behaviors. Pursuing, watching, sneaking, and above all waiting, drains us causing us to neglect other more important areas of our lives. Our focus narrows, and we concern ourselves only with the needs of the other person. As this preoccupation with the other person grows, our Self will wither and die deep down inside. When given the choice of meeting our own needs or that of another, we will choose to neglect ours in favor of those of the other person. As the unhealthy attachment continues to grow, we sink deeper into the hole we have dug for ourselves.

Unhealthy attachments rob us of our peace of mind. This concept is not new. The Buddha (563-483 BCE) discusses attachment in his Four Noble Truths. Essentially he said that suffering arises from attachment and it ceases when attachment to desire ceases. The damaging effects of attachment are documented throughout human history. How many conflicts are fought because a leader becomes fixated on taking, gaining, or having something…anything? How much mayhem is caused by someone whose romantic aspirations became larger than life and yet they chase the affections of another to the brink of insanity? Things can easily get out of hand without the ability to objectively view what is happening. It can happen…you can get hooked…on anyone or anything. The key is to recognize the attachment so you can begin to reverse the process.  

It is no surprise that attachment to another person can be so damaging to our health and welfare. Yet it can happen, and we may be unable to comprehend what is happening or when it is happening. We definitely feel its effects, whether physical or emotional, yet we still think we can handle it if we just try a little harder.

For now just think about the relationships you currently enjoy and ask yourself if any of them have become unhealthy or are draining you. Have any you used to enjoy become just too difficult and yet you can’t figure out what changed? Whatever you do, acknowledge it, but don’t dwell on it.

If there is an unhealthy attachment to another person in your life, there is still hope. You can disentangle, but in order to do that you must find YOU! And in my next blog I will discuss how to go about finding YOU.
December 6, 2011

In my last blog I introduced The Basics of disentangling. In today’s blog, I will discuss the first Basic: It’s about the experience of losing your Self.

Notice in this first Basic the word “Self” is capitalized. This is the first important concept for you to understand. Your Self is the real you, the spiritual you, deep down inside. Your Self is what is lost when you become entangled in relationships with others. This entanglement may not have been apparent when the relationship(s) began; it developed over time. As more and more of the “true you” went underground, you became emotionally drained and spiritually disconnected. Reversing this process so as to retrieve, connect with, and develop the true you is why I wrote Disentangle.

Losing your Self in someone else can happen quite easily. Enmeshing or entangling emotionally with someone else chips away at your sense of self and your individuality. This often happens in dysfunctional relationships that are familial, romantic, or can be professional. Living vicariously through someone else, and being emotionally consumed with another person can turn your life upside down. Worry, anger, confusion, anticipation, hopes and dreams—always centered on another person—is unhealthy.

Entangling is common among codependents and/or Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOAs). Many professionals in the counseling and addiction fields have differing definitions of codependence. However, regardless of the definition you choose, one similarity remains. That single similarity is the continued investment of one’s sense of self in the other person. This investment is damaging because when one links his or her sense of self to their ability to meet another’s needs—and those needs are dysfunctional and unstable—the result is suffering. Suffering comes in emotional and physical forms. The desire to change the other person, the desire to control them, or fix them is the root of much of the insanity. You cannot make them well or make things better by loving them more.

The other person with whom you are entangled may well be ill. That illness is often addiction-related but need not be. Controlling or care-taking behaviors may or may not be present. However, the insanity experienced when you are entangled keeps you hyper-vigilant or on a heightened state of alert. You can’t really take a break from the worry and stress if you are always attuned to the needs of another. Losing your Self causes emotional difficulties and can make you physically ill.

Stress and worry can manifest in many physical forms, including chest pains, difficulty breathing, upset stomach, body tension, and problems with sleeping and eating. If you have reached the point where you have physical problems associated with entangling you may need more help than this book can offer. There are many excellent options available to address the physical symptoms of the stress and worry.

However, if you are entangled you must also address the underlying loss of Self through the process of disentangling. Admitting that you have a problem—recognizing you have lost your Self—is the first step in getting well. I have helped many individuals along this path, and every journey and every story is unique. However, they all share a few common threads and they are a loss of Self, a desire to find it, and a desire to take the necessary steps to begin the process of change. Change is not always easy but it is vital if you find that you have lost your Self in someone else. Begin your journey today and look for future blogs addressing nine more of The Basics which explain the underlying processes of disentangling.

November 21, 2011

The above article discusses codependency as a learned behavior; what is learned can be unlearned. Many people have heard of codependency as it relates to those who live with individuals addicted to things such as drugs, alcohol, sex, and gambling. However, codependency can occur in any type of relationship, even those relationships which do not involve someone else’s addictions. Codependency, which I choose to speak of as loss of self in someone else, can occur in a variety of relationships including our relationships with our partners, our children, our aging parents, our friends, and our co-workers, and its origins can come from a number of possible sources that include but are not limited to living with addictions, chronic illness, abuse, neglect, perfectionism, and rigidity.

In Disentangle: When You’ve Lost Your Self in Someone Else, the central theme is codependent relationships. It offers practical tips on how to get emotional freedom from such relationships and to rediscover your true sense of self. The process is not easy, but you can do it. I have worked with many individuals over the years who felt trapped by such relationships and yet many have benefited by this recovery process. As you begin this disentangling process, I have found it useful to understand it in terms of these ten Basics:

It’s about the experience of losing your Self

It’s about unhealthy attachments

It’s about finding you

It’s about getting balance

It’s about intervening on your behalf

It’s about spiritual growth

It’s a process without rules or sequence

It’s a process that takes time

Every day ain’t great

Don’t go this alone

In future blogs, I will delve into each of these Basics and cover many other aspects of this disentangling process including specific ideas for change. However, for now, an understanding of the Basics is a good foundation for learning and growth.
November 18, 2011

Last week I had the pleasure of participating in and presenting at the Carolinas Conference on Addiction and Recovery in Morganton, NC. Thanks to Jim Van Hecke and all those who work with him to offer this 13th Annual Conference. Much good work is being done there in the Carolinas in treating addictions.

My presentation was “When You’ve Lost Your Self in Someone Else: Working with the Dynamics of Codependence.” This is a topic familiar and close to my heart. It is also a topic which does not get as much attention at an addictions conference as most other topics. I am always glad for conference organizers who do recognize the importance of treating codependence in order to treat addictions, and I am always glad for the participants who choose to come to my session for they, too, are acknowledging its importance.

With all of this in mind, as I prepared for my session, I decided to write the following on my flip chart for participants to read as we started:

I do not believe codependence is an old topic. I believe it remains a new topic with much we do not yet understand and accept about it and the ways it affects our lives and the lives of others.

I have reached this statement of belief after having studied this topic both personally and professionally, written Disentangle and done numerous workshops and retreats on the topic, and examined the current professional literature on codependence.

Codependence does remain a step-child topic in our fields of addictions and mental health. But it is, in fact, as very real constellation of behaviors which can profoundly affect our lives. I was recently having a casual conversation with a colleague on this topic who said, “Codependence is every where.”

I am not trying to sell books. I simply see that our loss of self in others depletes us, frustrates us, and can leave us stuck in bad feelings and emotions. I believe it is good to know a way out of this.

More blogs will follow offering further information on this topic and ideas to help us free our self.

September 9, 2011

As you know, I have been blogging about the meanings of codependence as well as its importance as a topic. I usually like to write in linear ways, one writing naturally following from the other. That is not the case as I am finding things I want to say on my blog. Maybe that’s how blogs go anyway – a burst of thought and meaning.

I will be writing more about codependence as a sleeper topic, as I promised, but today I am winding back to my call for efforts by all of us to further understand what we mean by codependence.

Recently I was speaking with someone who is new to the word and meaning of codependence. As we were talking, they said, “Well I am not codependent. I am very independent.”

Aha! A very useful comment.

This person is, in fact, very independent and has been so since a young age. They had to learn to take care of their self and then others as well. They do function well independently. Often this is the case with codependents, we are the ones earning the money, paying the bills, keeping the calendars, maintaining our home. So what’s so wrong about that?

To respond to the person’s comment about being independent and not codependent, I explained to them, and to me once again, that the dependence in codependence is about us acting in ways that make the other person dependent on us. We are not necessarily even aware of our doing this as we offer and give, but as we continue to do such things, our own independence and strengths enabling us to do this, the other person becomes less and less empowered and more and more dependent on us and perhaps on addictions of their own.

And if we are not additionally mindful, we can become dependent on their being dependent on us: a heap of dependence with any hint of independence eventually being lost.
Last week in my blog I referred to codependence as a sleeper topic. I have said this before and realize I want to say a bit more about what I mean by this.

I call codependence a sleeper topic, because it does not receive the time and attention that many other topics related to addictions receive. When I look through the brochures and booklets listing sessions offered for addiction and mental health conferences, there are not many sessions on codependence, if any at all. There may be a few sessions offering information for helping families living with addictions, but the deeper issue of loss of self in someone else is seldom addressed.

I have even had someone say to me in reference to conference planning, “Oh, we did codependence last year.”

Would we say that about offering sessions on helping the substance addict to recover or on strategies for relapse prevention? - “Oh, we did that last year.”

I know that codependence remains unclearly defined and can be over-used. I also know some academic work is being done to develop assessment tools to better define codependence and thus be able to study it better.

In the meanwhile, loss of self in someone else remains an important clinical dynamic which I believe needs consistent, valued attention from each of us in these fields of mental health and addictions.

We can encourage people to “do something for your self” or “just tell them ‘no’”,  but the individual being coached to do this probably needs some deeper work within their self in order to be able to make this profound change.

Yes, this is a profound change, to be able to consider and assert self in the face of someone else’s addiction, dysfunction, or neediness.

Untreated codependence can lead to many things, including anxiety, depression, and relapse. I will write about each of these topics in my next blogs.

In the meanwhile, I will continue to help wake us up on this topic. There are some strong voices in our fields that have gone before me and sounded the alarm to wake us up to codependency. I applaud them and join them.
Barnes & Noble on the Duke of Gloucester Street, Williamsburg, VA

, 2011
I know I am not blogging very often. And I know that when I do blog, I am often writing about the importance of understanding and offering help for codependent behaviors.

I am not doing this to sell books. I am doing this because as I am out in the world talking to people and as I am at home functioning as a wife and mother, I keep seeing many of us struggle with questions about how much to help others and when to stop helping; when to step back from my involvement in someone else’s space/life and into my own world/life; when to move away from my preoccupations with others and back into attending to things I need to do for my self.

Since I last blogged, I have had two wonderful opportunities to do book signings: one at the William & Mary Bookstore/Barnes & Noble in Williamsburg, VA on the Duke of Gloucester Street and the other in Washington, DC at the American Psychological Associations annual convention. Both were powerful times with many conversations about tangles and disentangling with people talking about:

raising their children.
adult children returning home.
helping friends.
sibling problems.
workplace conflicts.
leaving job.
living with addictions.
their own recovery.
their own over-functioning.

Both the general public and professionals in our fields of mental health and addictions have been eager to talk with me, often not necessarily about Disentangle, itself, but about their own situations and stories.

These are very important questions for us each to be willing to bring into our awareness and then see what we want to do about our self and our role in entanglements. I still maintain that codependence is a sleeper topic in our fields and that ironically, it is quite a fundamental problem that feeds the more predominant problems such as anxiety, depression, and addictions.

So keep your questions and stories coming. The more we look at codependent behaviors and what we can do about them, the closer we can get to good mental health.

Thanks to those of you who have been talking with me about your experiences with the word and concept of codependence. As you know, I am writing another book on this topic and invited such talks through my last blog.

I have heard from people in person, by email, and by blog comment. So far, the responses tell me that the word and meaning of codependence are useful to you and that you don’t mind the word, are not “ashamed” of it. Several responses tell me that understanding the meaning of codependence helped individuals to make sense out of their behaviors and life in a way that they had never been able to do before.

So I want to keep on talking about this.

Today I am narrowing our focus to the question of what you think codependence means. I would like to hear from you whether you are a person recovering from codependence or a person who has heard the word and has only a general idea of what it is supposed to mean or a person who has stayed away from anything that has to do with codependence.

Last blog I mentioned that I think of it as loss of self in someone else. Others responding to my blog stated that their codependence came from never having had a self at all. I believe both of these can be the case.

What do you think codependence means?
I am writing on a second book, as you likely know. It, too, is about codependence with new views and thoughts about it gleaned from the past 20 years of my personal and professional work. I have had the book in mind for a number of years, and it is quite wonderful to be so fully into this project now.

As part of that this work, I have been looking at both self-help resources as well as academic writings on this topic. Most are supportive and knowledgeable about codependence and the importance of our understanding it better and knowing how to help those who want help with it.

And as I am doing this work, I realized that I would like to invite you to send me your comments through this blog about your understanding of, feelings about, experiences with codependence. I like to think of codependence as loss of self in someone else. Please let me know how you think of it, how you experience it.

My preferred mode is conversation not lecture or monologue. Sometimes I have trouble with blogging, because it is not as conversational as I like. I am a therapist. I work through conversations. When I teach in workshops, I talk and then encourage discussion and sharing. I believe this is a great way to move into greater understanding and growth.

I hope to hear from you.
Book Exposition of America, 2011

Lucky Me

I’m back again to blogging. I have been away with many things both personal and professional. My tweets have attempted to keep you updated on some of what’s been going on for me, but its time to really jot you more than a line.

Today I pick telling you a bit more about being at the Book Exposition of America (BEA) in New York City, NY, USA. You have probably already seen some of the photos from this incredible book event at When I was invited to come to BEA by my press, Central Recovery Press, I had no idea what to expect. Here’s some of what I found:

Without really knowing what business was being conducted at BEA, I have been informally describing it as the stock exchange of book publishers, distributors, and sellers. The Javits Center in NYC where the Expo was held is enormous. Hundreds of book publishers were there, some with exhibits that qualified as small book stores. Nearly everywhere were people gathered in small groups actively exchanging information and doing their book jobs – networking, promoting, educating, and selling.

Many of us authors were invited by our publishers to come to autograph copies of our books and give them away. This was happening all over the Expo. A catalog listed all the autographing opportunities – hundreds of them – and I was lucky enough to not only get some free, autographed books but to also be an author signing and giving away my book.

It was a wonderful experience to meet the people who came to get signed copies of Disentangle. They represented what seemed to me to be very varied professional backgrounds, including librarians, therapists, other authors, radio interviewers, and who knows what else.

What I also noticed about these people was that regardless of the professional work that brought them to my booth, most of them seemed to have intentionally selected getting a copy of Disentangle because of the title/topic itself. How encouraging to hear people say: “I need to read this right away.” “No, this book is not for my job. It’s for me.” “This is the perfect time for this book to come out.” “What do you mean you are out of books? I came to your booth especially to get this book. Will you send me one?”

Now I am not really into self-promotion, so telling you all of this makes me a bit self-conscious. But as I write, I realize that what I am also really saying to me and to you is that this is an important topic for us to talk about and work with. We are not alone in our tangles and desires to have more serenity. Strangers-to-me are wanting to openly join in these conversations and work that helps us to not lose our self.

In Disentangle I have an essay entitled Don’t Go This Alone. I am pleased to say that many of us are not alone in our work. We are meeting and reading and conversing and understanding new things together at local, regional, and, now I can say, national levels.

A true cause for gratitude and celebration!

6.     What can a mother do to prevent getting too entangled in her children’s lives?

A mother can help her self to not become too entangled in her child’s life if she is able to keep in mind these circles that I speak of representing the child and her self. Healthy development overall involves each person’s circle growing strong and clear and being able then to interact with others in ways that respect both the other person and our self.

Much of what I have spoken of above is about helping to foster the development of the child’s individual self. Being aware that that is part of our task as a mother over the lifetime of the mother-child relationships can help to reduce entanglements which can come from not acknowledging that the mother and child are, in fact, separate and different people.
And preventing entanglements is helped equally by us mothers remembering to foster our own self-development as we are raising our children. Even when the child is very young and very dependent on us, how can we get a little time for our self? How can we pause and listen to our self and find out what we need for us? How can we assert our needs to others who may need to help us? Losing our self in our mothering is ultimately no help to any of us

And as our child gets older and our circles are sliding further apart, there is even more space in our circle of self for our own strengthening and growth. As you move into this new, open, and perhaps empty space, know that your learning to listen and respond to your self, creating your own life, is one of the best things you can do to keep your relationship with your growing child well and strong.
5.     What should a grown child do when Mom is too entangled in their life?

The words love and limits comes to my mind here. When a grown child is feeling that their mother is too involved in their life – whether that be physically, emotionally, or financially, for example – that grown child will be helped by explaining to their mother the ways the mother can and can not be helpful to them now.
This is really what we call setting boundaries. Those boundaries can include stating what they do not want as well as what they do want from the mother: “You are welcome to come by and visit us on Wednesday nights, but please do not clean my house while you are here. I want to visit with you. Thank you for your help, but I want to take care of the house in my own time and way.”
4.     How does “too much mothering” impact a child?

The above list in Part 5 gives us a glimpse of the effects on the mother when bonding may be getting too tight and an entanglement is developing.

For the child, our over-functioning on their behalf can create a wide variety of responses from them including:

-           A belief that they are not capable of doing things on their own.
-          A belief that who they are as a person is not okay.
-          A dependency on the mother that keeps them from growing into a healthy, individuated person capable of school, work, and independent living.
-          Angry conflicts that results in the child distancing them self.
-          Worry and guilt as the child separates despite messages that they should not.
-          Not getting to learn from the natural consequences of their actions.
3.     What are some warning signs that the bonding has become entanglement?

Entanglements have to be identified by the individual(s) within a relationship. Each relationship has its own levels of separateness and closeness that can work for the individuals in that relationship. With that said, we may be becoming entangled with our child if we:

-          Are very preoccupied with them.
-          Are constantly dropping things we need to do, places to be, opportunities of our own to help or manage them.
-          Protecting them from the natural consequences of their actions.
-          Driving them away by our controllingness.
-          Are feeling extra depressed or anxious because of our relationship with them.
-          Feel over-powered by the relationship.
-          Feel afraid in the relationship.
-          Are unable to listen to and respond to our self in the relationship.
-          Have no time for self.
-          Think about them all the time and wonder/worry what they are doing.
-          Have no idea what to do when our child is not available to us.
2.     How old should a child be when a mother begins to loosen her bonds with that   child?

Each child and mother is an individual, and therefore, the answer to this question does not involve naming an age to start loosening bonds. I will say that this loosening of bonds is an on-going process over many years and has many different forms depending on the developmental level of the child.

Even as children are very young, they may start to say things like, “I can do that.” “Let me do that.” We want to notice this and honor it if reasonable. This is an early form of the child establishing their autonomy.

As our children ask to pick out their own clothes, decorate their own room, and make their own friends, each of these behaviors is about the child trying to healthily separate their identity from their mother. They mean no harm by this. This is a natural process of growing up and out.

As we parent our teenage children, the loosening of bonds becomes even more complex. The developmental task of a teen is to develop identity and autonomy. As they do this, we want to both keep them safe by enforcing rules and guidelines and give them freedom to make their own decisions and experience the natural consequences of those decisions.

And as we continue our relationships with our adult children, we want to remember that they are adults, not children, and we want to honor the independence and autonomy that is theirs and continue to speak and act in ways that leaves them responsible for themselves and us responsible for our self.
And now to the questions posed:

1.     We all know the importance of “bonding” with our children. How should a healthy mother-child relationship change over the years?
To answer this, I will continue to use the circles I spoke of in On Mothering – Part 2 as a way of talking about this evolving relationship between mother and child.

When the child is young, the circles of the child and of the parent are importantly very overlapping. We are protecting them, nourishing them, and helping them to grow. They require our involvement in order to become healthy individuals. As they become older and move toward becoming their own person, the circle of the child and that of the parent will naturally go through a process of less and less overlapping, encouraging more independence and a healthy self for the child and a healthy, individuated self for the parent.

And of course remember, even as these circles separate, the separation is not a permanent breaking away. It is a cultivation of an individuated self for both the mother and child which then allows that healthy flow of coming together and moving away to occur over the rest of our lifetimes.
As I said yesterday, I have been asked to elaborate on this together-and-separate dynamic as it applies to mothering and will be doing so by responding to questions on this topic starting tomorrow.

First, I wish to offer this picture I use as I work with people and relationships:

I like to work with circles. I think of each person as being a circle. Each person or circle represents that person’s self.

Enmeshed relationships are where the two circles, representing two people, overlap almost completely. There is almost no differentiation between the two people, and in an enmeshed relationship, they stay locked this way, both persons contributing to this.

Alienated relationships are represented by the two circles not intersecting at all, not having shared space where the circles overlap to even some degree.

In a Healthy relationship, the two circles or two individuals are free to come together and to overlap as they mutually agree upon. Similarly, they are free to separate themselves some from the other as is healthy for them to do. There is a mutual give-and-take, a flow that respects both self and the other person.

I have most often used this mental picture with adult-to-adult relationships, but it certainly can be applied to raising our children. It applies to both mothers and fathers, but in this article I am simply addressing mothers as we honor us on Mother’s Day and look at what helps to create both healthy children and healthy selves.

So think about these circles as you go through your day. Remember you have one and your child has one. Our intent is, over a lifetime, to help each circle of self to be clear, strong, and honored for the person they/we are.

I will talk more about the circles tomorrow as I start answering some questions.
Being a mother is certainly one of the most wonderful experiences over our lifetime. And being a mother can be one of the most challenging experiences over our lifetime. I know this, because I am a mother.

As many of us remark over the years of raising our children, no one really told us how to do this. With all the classes we have taken in school, parenting was not taught. Seldom are there classes where the knowledge and wisdom of mothering is shared in an organized and meaningful way. Often we are on our own to perform this most important job.

One of the challenges of mothering is learning how to bond and how to let go of our child, learning when to stop doing things for our child so they can do those things for them self, learning that mother and child share much and at the same time are separate human beings.

These are important relationship issues we do not necessarily think of directly as we parent. We are so intent upon being a good mother and doing what we believe is best for the child that we don’t stop to consider this together-and-separate dynamic until we run upon a problem of some sort in our relationship with the child or with our self.

As a mental health therapist, I work a great deal with what I call tangled relationships, relationships in which one person is over-functioning, over-involved, or over-reactive to someone else. I speak of an entanglement as involving loss of self in someone else. In healthy mothering, we do not want to do this. In healthy mothering we want to constantly be working to keep a balance between our self and the child, honoring our responsibilities to them and honoring that each of us have a self to respect and cultivate.

I have been asked to elaborate on this together-and-separate dynamic as it applies to mothering and will be doing so by responding to questions that were posed to me on this topic in seven more blogs between now and Mother’s Day.

More tomorrow.
Me with my Mother and my Daughter
Spring Greetings!

Spring brings us many gifts: green grass, warmer temperatures, singing birds, and blooming flowers. It just brought us Easter, and soon we will have Mother’s Day.

As we have been marketing Disentangle, we have been looking at its many applications. One of those applications is to parenting, and even more specifically, the material in Disentangle can be applied to mothering.

In preparation for an article for Mother’s Day, my publicist asked me to answer some questions about how mothering can involve entanglements and what we as mothers can do to have our own self as we simultaneously help our child develop and then have their own self.

In my usual way, I wrote way more than she needed for the article we ultimately created. I liked the questions she had given me to answer, and I liked the answers I wrote. So I have decided to offer all that I wrote on mothering and entanglements in a series of blogs entitled On Mothering.

This blog is the announcement of this series On Mothering. There will be eight parts in this series which will run every day or so here on my website until Mothers’ Day on May 8th.

The series intends to help us mothers see how to have both healthy children and a healthy self. This can be a challenge and involve an on-going balancing act, but my experience is that it is so worth the effort for all concerned.
I love it when I am in the presence of people who are willing and wanting to look at themselves, and in this case, are trying to understand this disentangle material further and how it might relate to them.

I love it when I am in the presence of people who already get this material, who are wise to their over-controllingness or tendencies to people-please, fix, or over-function in someone else’s life.

I love it when someone says to me, “Oh, I bet the outcome of this work is happiness.”

The outcome of this work can be happiness, serenity, centeredness, and healthy growth for all involved.

Two wonderful radio interviews this morning filled me with these good feelings that can come from healthy conversations and efforts to really understand each other and to understand our self.

I say these things not because I am trying to sell books.

I say these things because I truly believe that our functioning as parents, friends, family members, community members, and creators of our social and political worlds involves us being willing to really stop and look at our self and see what we are bringing to our interactions with other people.

Beyond awareness campaigns and public information services, I believe I need to be willing to look at my deeper issues that keep me re-creating patterns of interactions that result in conflict, dissonance, alienation, and isolation for both my self and other(s). It is my willingness to do this self-examination and the work that follows that holds hope for the peace we all want.
Okay, so yes, only an hour or so has gone by since I wrote the previous blog, and I have been blessed with more to say today. You see, I believe that my quieting my self and going to my internal places, which I just wrote about in the previous blog, moves me to more within me. To move to more is not my intention in quieting my self. It is just that as I quiet my self and connect with me, rich internal things can be accessed and/or may come forth.

It is a beautiful Spring afternoon here with temperatures in the 70’s. My husband and I just took our dogs out on a walk to soak up sun and explore what’s growing. While out, I spontaneously said to him, “It is good I was grounded today.”

“In what way do you mean that?” he asked.

“Well, I meant it in that I was grounded today by Grace’s car breaking down the other day and her having to use my car to go to work today. By her having my car, I’ve had to cancel a couple of things I had on my schedule for today, and so I feel like I have been grounded.”

I said this in the spirit of a teenager who has had their plans canceled by their parents due to something that has happened. In the same way that the teen is likely to have been upset by their change of plans, so was I as my day started and I knew I could not do what I wanted to do.

And yet as the day has passed and I have quieted and settled, my being grounded has turned into me feeling grounded. What a blessing to have had things taken off of my to-do list for the day, leaving me with more time and space for my self.

It is a shame that it takes a car breaking down to clear my schedule and my life enough to deepen my personal grounding.

I want to learn to ground my self more often.

Blogging remains a very new thing to me. I often don’t have time to blog. I am not sure what to blog about. I don’t know if anyone is reading my blogs.

So today I have time to blog and am finding my way to what to say. I am moving my self away from all those external questions about what to say, how to say it, and how will people respond. I am using this time to quiet my self and listen to what my true self may have to say today, here and now.

I am grateful to have time today for my self. I have been very busy these last couple of weeks with events and radio interviews to help Disentangle find its way in the world. I have moved from one thing to another with little time in between to let things settle and find their places in my being. I don’t do real well with this state-of-affairs after a while. I need space within to process and to just let things be.

So in this moment that is what I can do: Let things be. Following my natural breath, I can quiet and calm my thoughts that want to rush into this next week, feelings that want to drag me back to the past or to the future. Over and over I encounter these pushes and pulls, and over and over I come back to my breath and my very present moment sensations to stay connected with me.

This connection with me is what keeps me out of entanglements. This connection with me gives me ground under my feet and an internal spaciousness that helps me to have an open mind and heart.

I am glad I know how to find my way to this place of mine.