Quotations in maroon are from
The Dance of Wounded Souls by Robert Burney (Copyright 1995). Quotations
from columns & articles (Copyright 1996, 1997, 1998) written by Mr.
Burney are noted and in blue text. Blue text material that is not in quotes
is from Robert's upcoming book Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light
(Copyright 1998) unless otherwise noted.
There are several authors quoted in excerpts from The Dance of Wounded
Souls, those are noted with copyright acknowledgment at the end of the
This is an excerpt from Codependence: The Dance
of Wounded Souls by Robert Burney.
Codependence as Delayed Stress Syndrome
"In a war, soldiers are forced to deny their emotions
in order to survive. This emotional denial works to help the soldier survive
the war, but later can have devastating delayed consequences. The medical
profession has now recognized the trauma and damage that this emotional
denial can cause, and have coined a term to describe the effects of this
type of denial. That term is "Delayed Stress Syndrome."
In a war soldiers have to deny what it feels like
to see friends killed and maimed; what it feels like to kill other human
beings and have them attempting to kill you. There is trauma caused by
the events themselves. There is trauma due to the necessity of denying
the emotional impact of the events. There is trauma from the effects the
emotional denial has on the person's life after he/she has returned from
the war because as long is the person is denying his/her emotional trauma
she/he is denying a part of her/himself.
The stress caused by the trauma, and the effect
of denying the trauma, by denying self, eventually surfaces in ways which
produce new trauma - anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse, nightmares, uncontrollable
rage, inability to maintain relationships, inability to hold jobs, suicide,
Codependence is a form of Delayed Stress Syndrome.
Instead of blood and death (although some do experience
blood and death literally), what happened to us as children was spiritual
death and emotional maiming, mental torture and physical violation. We
were forced to grow up denying the reality of what was happening in our
homes. We were forced to deny our feelings about what we were experiencing
and seeing and sensing. We were forced to deny our selves.
We grew up having to deny the emotional reality:
of parental alcoholism, addiction, mental illness, rage, violence, depression,
abandonment, betrayal, deprivation, neglect, incest, etc. etc.; of our
parents fighting or the underlying tension and anger because they weren't
being honest enough to fight; of dad's ignoring us because of his workaholism
and/or mom smothering us because she had no other identity than being a
mother; of the abuse that one parent heaped on another who wouldn't defend
him/herself and/or the abuse we received from one of our parents while
the other wouldn't defend us; of having only one parent or of having two
parents who stayed together and shouldn't have; etc., etc.
We grew up with messages like: children should
be seen and not heard; big boys don't cry and little ladies don't get angry;
it is not okay to be angry at someone you love - especially your parents;
god loves you but will send you to burn in hell forever if you touch your
shameful private parts; don't make noise or run or in any way be a normal
child; do not make mistakes or do anything wrong; etc., etc.
We were born into the middle of a war where our
sense of self was battered and fractured and broken into pieces. We grew
up in the middle of battlefields where our beings were discounted, our
perceptions invalidated, and our feelings ignored and nullified.
The war we were born into, the battlefield each
of us grew up in, was not in some foreign country against some identified
"enemy" - it was in the "homes" which were supposed to be our safe haven
with our parents whom we Loved and trusted to take care of us. It was not
for a year or two or three - it was for sixteen or seventeen or eighteen
We experienced what is called "sanctuary trauma"
- our safest place to be was not safe - and we experienced it on
a daily basis for years and years. Some of the greatest damage was done
to us in subtle ways on a daily basis because our sanctuary was a battlefield.
It was not a battlefield because our parents were
wrong or bad - it was a battlefield because they were at war within, because
they were born into the middle of a war. By doing our healing we are becoming
the emotionally honest role models that our parents never had the chance
to be. Through being in Recovery we are helping to break the cycles of
self-destructive behavior that have dictated human existence for thousands
Codependence is a very vicious and powerful form
of Delayed Stress Syndrome. The trauma of feeling like we were not safe
in our own homes makes it very difficult to feel like we are safe anywhere.
Feeling like we were not lovable to our own parents makes it very difficult
to believe that anyone can Love us.
Codependence is being at war with ourselves -
which makes it impossible to trust and Love ourselves. Codependence is
denying parts of ourselves so that we do not know who we are.
Recovery from the disease of Codependence involves
stopping the war within so that we can get in touch with our True Self,
so that we can start to Love and trust ourselves."
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