Ask: Can you talk about co-dependency and intimacy in relationships?
Can you discuss in one of your articles co-dependency in relationships? And also, the basis for intimacy from a spiritual perspective. -LB
“Co-dependency” is a term that describes a lack of healthy boundaries in a relationship. It is the personal thought system’s (ego’s) dysfunctional response to your longing for the Unity (Wholeness) that you experience in Truth (God). It begins by you seeing you and another as incomplete. So you blur the line between where your personal self ends and another’s personal self begins to “join” and try to be whole. In practice this means you take responsibility for the thoughts, feelings, situation, and/or actions of another. Or you ask another to take responsibility for your thoughts, feelings, situation, and/or actions. This is unhealthy because it means you enable another to remain immature, dysfunctional, or in an active disease, like addiction or mental illness. Or someone else enables you to remain immature, dysfunctional, or in an active disease.
The result of co-dependency is a conflicted relationship. The one who takes more responsibility than is really theirs feels burdened and victimized, even when the other has not asked them to take responsibility for them. And if the other does give up responsibility they feel manipulated, controlled, and victimized even though they have chosen this.
A co-dependent relationship is a relationship based on the idea that sacrifice is love. At least one person in the relationship feels that he or she gives more than the other. Usually, both feel this way. If you think that this describes most human relationships then you are correct! The belief that love means sacrifice is why the world equates relationships with resentment and pain and feeling “trapped”. And it is why Truth (Love) is feared.
A healthy, loving relationship is not stressful. It is affirming and supportive. So when you feel stress in any relationship, ask yourself where you are taking responsibility for the other. If you are not taking responsibility for them, ask yourself where you are asking the other to take responsibility for you. When you experience stress in a relationship the problem is always within you. This is why all relationships are really relationships with yourself.
When you are aware of the Truth within you, you feel whole and complete within yourself. So you don’t feel a need to drop your identity boundaries to become whole by “joining” with another. You are also aware that the Truth is in others just as It is in you. So you know that others are whole, too, even when they are not aware of it. In practice this means that you maintain the boundaries of personal identities because you realize that enabling others to remain in their dysfunction is not the way to love them. You love them by recognizing their wholeness and giving them an opportunity to grow into this awareness themselves. If they choose to grow, they will be grateful for your boundaries. If they do not choose to grow, they may resent your boundaries. But they are responsible for this choice, not you. When you have healthy boundaries you do not have unhealthy people close to you. This leaves room for healthy, loving people to be close to you.
To be “intimate” with another means to feel emotionally close to another. So the source of true intimacy is open and honest communication. Of course first you must be honest with yourself before you can be honest with another. So intimacy with another first requires self-awareness and self-acceptance. You must be intimate with yourself before you can be intimate with another.
The source of intimacy is the same whether one is spiritually aware or not. But an awareness of Truth facilitates intimacy because it frees you from the insecurity that makes intimacy impossible. If you fear that if someone really knows you that they will reject you, or if you fear that if another knows your vulnerabilities that they will use them to attack you, then you will not feel that you can be open and honest with them.
An awareness of Truth leads to you feeling secure within yourself. So you are set free to be honest with another because you are not dependent on them to feel loved and whole. You look at relationships as manifestations of the Love within you, rather than as your source for love. And you accept that any conflict that comes up in a relationship is an opportunity for you to undo an obstacle you have to being aware of Love within you.
Learn about the books The ACIM Mentor Articles, The Plain Language A Course in Miracles, and 4 Habits for Inner Peace at www.acimmentor.com.
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