Written By: Mark Smith
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A new client pleasantly surprised me this week with an excellent turn of phrase when she said that due to her being so lost and directionless in college she had "jumped on her husband's compass" because he seemed supremely confident in his direction in life. I loved the symbolism but in today's world perhaps we should upgrade the metaphor from abdicating the work of internal guidance and self-development by marrying a fellow who seemed to know where he was going to today's leaching onto the internal GPS workings of another. My lovely, new to driving daughters have very little sense thus far, I can assure you, of where anything in our town is. They would be utterly and completely lost without the GPS devices in their phones. Living life without a reliable internal GPS system of your very own makes the world a very scary and frustrating place indeed.
A dependable GPS system is not standard equipment for a Codependent. They are by nature insecure, lacking in direction, needy, way too other centered and way too passive for their own good. They spend a lifetime basically living the lives of others rather than their own actual lives. A Codependent is frequently in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people for the wrong reasons. They go through life with a prevailing sense on powerlessness. Codependents are ticking time bombs. An entire life time of unspoken words, unmet needs and being treated disrespectfully ultimately results in a clumsy attempt to fight back with explosions of rage, confusion, misdirection, disconnection, punishment, bitterness, emotional cutoff and eventual self-destruction.
What is the next step? We are presented with so many next steps in life. How are we to know beyond a shadow of doubt that the step that we have before us is the right step that will lead us to the next right step or if it is a dreadful mistake that will get us off our proper path and doom us to a life of misery and unmet expectations. We have no guarantees.
Internal sense of self development or our GPS installation is a process of growth, healing, recovery and a coming to grips with who we and where we have come from. It is a painful process. It is not easy. You learn from making mistakes. Our relationships are designed to help put an end to our blind spots. The pain of marrying a hidden version of our parents worst qualities (which is what marriage is) tears down our psychological defenses and leaves us with a crisp vision of the broken, dysfunctional, flawed parts of ourselves that we had been denying or blaming on others. To know one's self deeply (even though that requires ten of thousands of tears) is priceless. The tears can wash us out and leave us will a very profound sense of ourselves. Now we are centered. Now we not only know the next right step, but we have more than enough courage to take it. The next right step might very probably mean turning our whole lives upside down. It will mean taking risks. It will mean getting rid of things in our lives that do not bring us life. David Whyte, a brilliant poet brings this concept to light with his amazing poem 'Sweet Darkness'.
by David Whyte
When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.
When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.
Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.
There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.
The dark will be your womb tonight.
The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.
You must learn one thing.
You must learn one thing.
The world was meant to be free in.
Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.
Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn that
anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
Is too small for you.
Depth, connection to self, awareness, being fully alive, having a fully functioning GPS system that guides us through life unerringly, all these treasures come at a great price. The answer is not to run away from your current life and marriage as Meryl Streep's character did so many years ago in the Academy Award picture 'Kramer Verses Kramer'.
The challenge is to fully embrace the changes and callings that mid-life demand without throwing the baby out with the bathwater. It means bloom where you are planted. Be true to yourself but don't abruptly throw away the people in your life or the places in your life that don't quite fit you right right now. It is all about openly having the conversation between your newly minted and powerful self and all the people who now are required to adjust to the new you by embracing some changes of their own. Some people are thankful for your bold growth as it also helps to raise them from the dead. Others might choose to cling to who they have always been thus sealing their decision to distance themselves from you. But that is their choice. You can't control that.
Jump on your own compass. Build your own internal GPS system. Invest in you. It will be the most expensive, worthwhile and the most wonderful gift that you have ever given to yourself and to the people around you.
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