September 25, 2018

Codependency and Intimacy: How Can We Make Love Last?

This week, Bee Uytiepo concludes her powerful series by exploring the those things that end love and the antidotes to these love killing behaviors.


---

Recapping the past three posts on co-dependency and intimacy:

Post One - We explored how perceiving love as a verb keeps us aware of the way we’re referencing past love experiences and how we choose to move forward in the way we love.

Post Two - We emphasized the importance of knowing our values. As individuals, we weighed the significance of how being increasingly more in alignment with ourselves, protects us and others from harming one another.

Post Three - We concluded that it’s each person’s responsibility within a relationship to row (take action) towards it’s best journey. However, we, as individuals, only have the ability to take responsibility for our own actions and choices of how and what kind of boat (relationship) to be in with others.

So let’s say we’ve got all those things in check. We’re loving with profound and proactive maturity. We know what we value, what we want and what’s realistic to expect from others. And lastly, we take responsibility for our part, show up and love with great care and effort. The final question we’ll ask is how can we make love last? The quick answer is, you won’t run out.

Remember, from this perspective, love is not a thing. It’s a verb. So we choose to keep loving, for as long as we choose to. The question can actually be answered more clearly by exploring it from the opposite direction. What ends love?

Sabotage - What’s happening: We are still referencing past experiences of conditional objectified love. Through this, we’ve concluded that we’re somehow unworthy of love, so we create or allow obstacles to prove that we’re unlovable. So we conclude, "See, I knew i wasn’t lovable!" Manifest destiny. 

The antidote: Check your self-esteem with a fine tooth comb. We may or may not be consciously doing this, but check to see if there was some belief that you had about yourself, that just won’t let love continue. Do you believe you’re worthy, lovable and amazing for a lot of things, except in regards to (fill in the blank)? Maybe you think you’re good at short term, long distance or you should only be with people within a certain status or culture? Some people believe, "only other people deserve to be loved." We are all loved. (Revisit Post One) We may be putting our secret forces to work on "how to close myself off to love". Ask yourself about how you might be doing that. Open up to the possibility that perhaps you get to have lasting love, without being attached to what it looks like.

Pride - What’s happening: We aren’t willing to ask for what we want (or don’t want) because we’re ashamed, think we shouldn’t or believe we shouldn’t have to. Again, we may not be conscious that we’re doing this. Perhaps we want a little more of one of the five love languages: quality time, touch, gifts, service and or words. 

The Antidote: Check your humility. Can you start by telling yourself your secret wishes and desires? Can you hold space for yourself the possibility that you’re willing to entertain the possibility of getting what you want? And then, if appropriate, can you take a risk by telling your loved one what you would love to see happen or change?

Distraction - What’s happening: We’re so distracted with our, perhaps stagnant, values and wishes. In fact, I would go as far as to say sometimes we’re not even paying attention, at all. If we fail to notice that we need to take actions to seek out the wisdom to sustain the love, we are failing our own capacity to love. We may miss the boat all together! 

The Antidote: Pay attention with concentrated effort. If you or your partner is experiencing the same problem over and over, something needs to be addressed. And it may take some time to resolve, but hoping it’s not serious or that it will go away on it’s own, will not nourish the expansion of love.

Fear of Loss - What’s happening: We’re afraid that if we show our love too much, that we will run out. Perhaps, in the past, we witnessed someone opening up to love and experiencing tragic loss. 

The Antidote: Love is everywhere and it’s abundant. We need to really feel in to how love is everywhere and that it’s bottomless. To be clear, we’re not talking about an immature unrequited love. We’re talking about fully present love with the clarity of understanding that we cannot run out of love. It’s not like we each get a bottle of love when we’re born and as we go through our life we run out in some finite moment. Love is a verb. You don’t run out of something that’s a do. It’s not a thing. You either love or you don’t.


Making Love Last
So how can we make love last? We keep loving. Keep engaging yourself in how to love more and better with wisdom and compassion. Difficult relationships can be made navigable. However, it doesn’t mean we stay in relationships that are harmful for us or the other person. The important take away, is to always find a way back to love within our hearts. So yes, it may mean loving someone from afar in a quiet inner way, while staying physically or emotionally
safe. Love someone that harms us? Yes, safely. Because who is suffering from resentment and blame, we are. So make love last, by loving persistently. Learn how to forgive, so you can keep loving fearlessly. Learn how to be patient, so you can love tirelessly. Learn to how to pay attention, so you can love with great care. Learn how to be respectful of varying boundaries, so you can love in a way that others are willing to receive it. This is multilayered, but keep learning, so you can keep loving. As you learn how to love, your love will naturally be more and more expansive. You will learn that it is completely possible to love anyone that comes across your path, generously.


Loving with Presence
Sometimes, if we are fortunate, we get to share the love we engage in with another person that reciprocates our love with kindness. This is a temporary privilege, so cherish it and nourish it. It is not to be taken for granted. Stay present as best as you can and soak it up. In the end, we are all to return to grandmother earth when we die. So love with an open receptive heart, love with humility, love with concentration and care, love fearlessly and generously. Even if it’s only for a moment and in complete silence. This will make love last, in your heart, regardless of whatever anyone else is up to. You get to choose to return to the path of expanding your love.
Moment by moment you can make love last.



Thank you so much for exploring co-dependency and intimacy with me for the last few weeks. I learned a lot by some of the questions I’ve been asked by my loved ones. I would love to hear about your explorations. Post in the comments below or email me at bee@healingisgiving.com. Lots of love to you! I hope this exploration brings you much love and blissful heartfelt experiences of love, for you and for you to share.



---
Deborah “Bee” Uytiepo 
Wholistic Health Practitioner and Personal Coach.

Deborah “Bee" Uytiepo is the owner of Beelight, a women’s wholistic health and person coaching practice. Her therapeutic bodywork combines neuromuscular therapy, brain function and visceral organ health, specializing in optimal pelvic and reproductive health. Bee has studied and practiced meditation for over 30 years. She has taught meditation as a volunteer throughout Southern and Northern California for over 15+ years. In order to benefit her clients with the vast rewards of her life’s personal growth work, Bee developed The Let Go Sessions, a series of macro retreats that support your Let-Go’s, holistically and completely, body and mind. Bee is the founder and principal facilitator of Healing is Giving. Healing is Giving hosts community events, fundraisers and workshops that prioritize harm-free(dom). For a more detailed bio, please visit her website: healingisgiving.com

September 18, 2018

Codependency and Intimacy: Is Love Enough?

This week, Bee Uytiepo explores how codependent relationships can actually rob us and others of the growth opportunities we need.


---

Is love enough? The quick answer is, if you’re the only one rowing the boat, it’s likely only going to keep moving at the rate you’re willing to row. And who’s job is it to row anyway? We’ll get back to this, but first let’s talk about walking.

We’re so nice. Some of us see a person really struggling and having a hard time. And we think "Oh they’re just so cute, like a baby tripping and falling over." So we think, "Oh! I better help them. They might hurt themselves." Red flag! If we have co-dependent inclinations, be alert of there being a well meaning voice in the background saying, "Besides, they need me to help them. If I don’t do it. Who will? I’m the best person to do it, because I care about them more than anyone else." The truth is, most babies need to crawl, trip and fumble all over themselves to learn to walk.

In fact, as a bodyworker, I’ve learned that the crawling we did as a baby actually helps our bodies learn the fine motor skills it takes to activate all the subtle contralateral movements we take for granted as abled walkers. So while we think we’re being nice, we actually might be hindering someone’s learning curve. Granted, life happens anyway, and we’ve likely been in a codependent relationship of some kind, if we’re not still in one. So what we can do is identify our tendencies and examine the habits of our inner voices. Once we can identify these habitual voices, then we can decide whether to and how to row the boat onward.



Habitual Victim Voice

We’ve all got one. Some of us focus on the way other people’s victim consciousnesses arise, but what we really need to ask ourselves, is what is my victim consciousness talking about? What is YOUR fumbling baby, inner teenager, angry grown up blaming other people, places or things about? The key word is blame. If we find the story of blame, we can find the voice of the victim.

Inside of you. If we listen carefully, we can hear our inner victim blaming someone who is at fault for why we "have to" or "can’t" do x, y and zed. Why we we’re afraid, why we’re too small, too big, not ready and just not enough. It’s my mom, my dad, my enemy, my lover, my child, my assailant and/or the organization’s poor planning. It’s "so and so’s" fault!! It’s because of that awful thing that happened and that’s why.

So we wait. A part of our mind has hopes and dreams that it will be magically whisked away and someone or something (ideally that person or another one) will come and make it all better. Like a fairytale. If not them, then hopefully someone or something else will clean up this wounded world. Maybe it will be my next partner, my dream job, a yoga pose, a pill, or my chosen family instead of my family of origin. Someone or something, out there, will make this sad and wounded soul in me, be healed.

The victim mind is not a "bad" habitual voice, it’s a super important part of ourselves meant to be found and be aware of, because we’re all highly capable of making decisions from the codependent default on autopilot (see Part Two) from places of fear, rejection, abuse and abandonment. We need to give voice to our victim consciousness in healthy arenas, like therapeutic sessions: talk, somatic and otherwise. Knowing ourselves with this intimacy allows us to be more compassionate with our victim and guide ourselves to healing.



Habitual Rescuer Voice

Not everyone has an inclination to rescue, but if you have co-dependency coded into your DNA, then you probably have some of this going on too. When we engage in rescuing, we aim to be the person, place or organization’s EVERYthing. We become the indispensable parent, partner and friend because we’re so “nice and helpful”, right? Being nice and helpful isn’t the problem. It’s learning to be able to decipher what is truly helpful, versus potentially harmful. It’s tricky, because it’s not always all or nothing. It can be a completely sincere wish to help, but ends up being flavored with some level of meddling.

For example, when I was in elementary school, I told my mother that I needed help drawing maps for a school project. I was so nervous and excited to ask her, because my mom was a great artist. So instead of patiently helping me learn how to draw maps, she drew them for me. She rescued me. I remember feeling confused, like I should be so grateful that she helped me, perhaps even relieved because I didn’t have to do it at all. But I remember feeling kind of ripped off. Like she helped me by cheating and I didn’t get to draw with her. And in the end, I felt robbed of the experience of accomplishing and creating a perfectly imperfect map with my mom.

It may not be a parent-child dynamic. It could be any number of scenarios: lovers, co-workers, teacher-student. Some rescuing is relationship appropriate: doctor-patient, firefighter-house and doula-new mom. Rescuing is not necessarily a bad habit, it’s about being able to decipher what is truly helpful. It takes courage to be humble within our own mind to know when we are capable of being smothering or kind. When we rescue skillfully, we are acknowledging our profoundly intrinsic interdependence, not perpetuating codependence.




Conscious Rowing

So back to rowing. When a relationship is struggling. Who’s job is it to keep the boat moving forward? If we love each other, shouldn’t that be enough? Shouldn’t it be smooth sailing here on out? Have you ever sailed? I haven’t, but conceptually I understand that in every moment there are decisions to be made. Literally decisions ranging from when to relax with alertness and when action is a matter of survival.


Help is Available


Of course we can enlist the help of others and rely upon their guidance. At the end of the the day, the people in the boat need to row their boat. They may need rowing or sailing lessons. It’s up those on the boat to work as a team to get to the next part of their journey! The key is to do it with wisdom whenever possible. When you don’t know what to do next, meditate on it, get qualified advice from someone with wisdom. Then allow your inner qualified rower to guide you to make the next best decision.


Navigating Your Perfectly Imperfect Map

Then you navigate where you are on your perfectly imperfect map. Discern whether you and your teammates are rowing in circles, treacherous waters, upstream or what ever the course may be. Watch for the unruly influence of habitual voices leading you astray from your map. Sometimes it means ending the journey early. Sometimes it’s more loving to leave than it is to stay. However, if you can row like a pro with the wisdom you’ve earned or learned, then by all means continue to contribute to the forward momentum within your relationships.

So is love enough? You can love someone forever, but not be in the right kind of boat to sail with them in. If that resonates, maybe it’s time to change the roles in your relationship? If the boat (relationship type) is right, then who’s job is it to row/take action? Ideally, whoever is in the boat. It takes team work. There are no right answers, but there’s is usually the next best action to take. Even when the best decision is to take no action and go with the tide, it will literally changes the course of the journey. So row mindfully and row towards your best loving selves.


Letting Love Last

All that said, you may have more questions. I will try to answer some more in the next and last post. For example, how can you make love last? The quick answer is, remember you won’t run out. Next week, we’ll explore how we expand and contract our willingness to love. In the meantime, be a little more mindful about how the habitual voices are influencing the way you’re rowing (or not) in all of your relationships? Are you coasting upstream or are you active rower? Where and when can you gather resources to be a more active rower/ team player in the your relationships?


I would love to hear about your explorations of imperfect rowing. Post in the comments below or email me at bee@healingisgiving.com. Lots of love to you! I hope this exploration brings you much love and blissful heartfelt experiences of love, for you and for you to share.


---
Deborah “Bee” Uytiepo 
Wholistic Health Practitioner and Personal Coach.

Deborah “Bee" Uytiepo is the owner of Beelight, a women’s wholistic health and person coaching practice. Her therapeutic bodywork combines neuromuscular therapy, brain function and visceral organ health, specializing in optimal pelvic and reproductive health. Bee has studied and practiced meditation for over 30 years. She has taught meditation as a volunteer throughout Southern and Northern California for over 15+ years. In order to benefit her clients with the vast rewards of her life’s personal growth work, Bee developed The Let Go Sessions, a series of macro retreats that support your Let-Go’s, holistically and completely, body and mind. Bee is the founder and principal facilitator of Healing is Giving. Healing is Giving hosts community events, fundraisers and workshops that prioritize harm-free(dom). For a more detailed bio, please visit her website: healingisgiving.com

September 11, 2018

Codependency and Intimacy: Does Love Hurt?

This week, Bee Uytiepo continues her series on codependency and love. She further defines the types of attachment that lead to healthy and unhealthy bonds and the impact that codependency can have on a cellular level.

---

Does Love Hurt?

What if love hurts? The quick answer is, if it hurts, it’s not love. So what does it mean, if we feel a pang of discomfort while thinking of a loved one? It means we want something we’re not getting OR someone wants something from us we can’t or aren’t willing to give them.

Go back to the definition of Love being a verb (see Part One). While we are actively engaged in a mindset of love we cannot simultaneously be engaging in a mindset of 'what’s in it for me?' There have been studies that show we can’t actually 'multitask', we are merely switching between various tasks distractedly.

So when we feel pain while thinking of someone we love, it’s because it’s mixed with something else. We’re vacillating between what we want, don’t want and what we want for or from them. Love is unconditional, so it will never bring pain. Note that the definition shared in Part One does not include an amendment with a list of the things we are guaranteed to get (or be spared of) in return. That’s not love, those are wants and needs; desires separate from love. So it’s attachment and aversion, not the love, causing the pain and discomfort.


Attachment and Aversion*

Almost inevitably, there is some level of attachment or aversion in our relationships. There is a subtle or powerful longing to "get" or "get rid of" something that is being entangled with our ever present unconditional love that only knows how to "wish for happiness". If there’s discomfort, our love has strings attached.

Attachment is when we we want something to go our way. We want said person, place, thing or experience - our way. An attachment can be neutralized quickly if we know how to pilot the navigation of our desires. If we can be flexible about how, when and whether or not we’re even going ever to get what we want. With this flexibility, then maybe, we’ve got our attachments in check. Because, we really can’t always get what we want, exactly how we want it! And that’s just being real.

Or, alternately or interchangeably, we have can aversion. There’s a lyric to a song: It’s a thin line between love and hate. Well, this is that mind that is distractedly zig-zagging between the two minds. We want to change something about a person, place or thing. Or we just want them to stop, go or stay away. This is a aversion.

These minds are so common, so we shouldn’t use this information to give ourselves a hard time about our love being slathered with ulterior motives. We just need to know what’s going on, so we’re not blaming the other person, place or thing. We need to take responsibilities for our wants and needs. We need to be able to distinguish between love, attachment and aversion.



Desirous Attachment*

But! What if we want our way and are willing to go so far as to compromise our own values to get our way? Then we can easily get into a sticky mess. We become obsessed with getting it our way, exactly how and when we want it - and we can’t stop thinking about it. We start obsessing. This is desirous attachment. Desirous attachment is harder to navigate, because it often hijacks our ability to stay reasonable, patient and discerning. We lose our better judgement.

Let’s use an example. Let’s use something relatively benign. Let’s say you really want a toasted macadamia nut butter and guava jelly sandwich. (I’m in Kauai writing this). You’re anticipating the feel of the crunch of the toast, perfectly soft, but firmly browned. You imagine feeling the chunks of macadamia bits sliding across your tongue - elongating the flavor of the salty nut butter. And as you chew you, you get the crunch of the nut chunks, sending a burst of more nut butter yumminess tantalizing your taste buds. The guava jelly is a bonus, but secondarily sweet delight. Organic and local of course. It’s a perfect nut butter and jelly sandwich. So if you can get this, when you want it - it’s fine right. And you move along your day and go back to work after your lunch break.

But what if you can’t? What if you’re back in California where macadamia nut butter is hard to find, much less guava jelly. But you know your friend is going to be in Hawaii a little longer and so you could get her to bring you some. How much money are you willing to pay her, to bring some back to you? She doesn’t usually check in her baggage, so she’s not likely going to want to pay the $25 bucks just to bring you back jars of mac nut butter and guava jelly. Are you willing to pay the extra $25 bucks? How badly do you want it? How much do you really need it? Would you lie and say your mom wanted some and if she could please buy it for your mother? Would you be willing to promise her double the amount it would cost for the jars and the baggage check? What are you willing to do, to get what you want? Do you see where I’m going?

Let’s talk about physical intimacy. In fact, let’s talk about sex. Let’s replace the nut and jelly sandwich with sex. Sex itself isn’t inherently bad, good or neutral. But are you so preoccupied with it, that you’re willing to have sex under compromising circumstances? Are you willing to lie (including white lies), steal, cheat, harm (in deed or in word) or kill to have sex?

If not for sex, what would you be willing to lie, hide (tricky right?), steal, cheat, harm or kill for? Money, partnership, status, financial security, possessions, to have a child, buy a house, get drugs or to achieve rock n’ roll fame (within your field)?

What’s your longing? Is it painful? Maybe we’re even willing to use our wiles to get excessively more and more of the things you want? Maybe you don’t think so, but many of us work in jobs that we hate and aren’t proud of, because we get a steady paycheck. It’s a form of selling out on ourselves and our values. It’s essentially pimping ourselves out for money (or fame, companionship; fill in the blank). Granted, sometimes it’s the only way we can make a living. I understand this, but we still need to know that internally we feel and know we are compromising ourselves and our value due to our desirous attachments. So it’s essential to examine our attachments, especially desirous attachments and how they’re effecting ALL of our relationships, to people, places and things.



Codependency on Autopilot and the Internal Special Forces

When we are on autopilot with our codependency (see Part One) AND we’ve got full on desirous attachment functioning, it’s like having our internal special forces on full tilt. We’re defaulting to the inclinations of all our disempowering references of love and we’re on a mission to get what we want at any cost. We’ve got all our wily skills on high alert, helping us to get our longings fulfilled. We spend a lot of our internal and external resources aiming to fulfill our longings to the point that we compromise our values, likely on many levels. This is what is so painful. Or if it’s been a long time, this is what numbs us. Hence we’re on autopilot.

When we compromise our values for the sake of fulfilling our longings, we feel out of alignment with ourselves and it hurts. Sometimes is a dull ache underneath the surface other times it is acute agony. We wonder, "Why do I seemingly have everything I think I should have, but I’m still miserable and apathetic?"

For example, someone who wants partnership so badly, may engage in manipulative actions of hiding things about themselves, so that a potential partner is willing to interact with them. It may not be sex that they’re after, they may just want companionship. So they might say all the right words and do all the things they know that partner wants to hear or do, just to get them to be with us or to stay interested just a little bit longer. We’re often so afraid of being alone. So we latch on to what we know and get all our special forces to stay on task. We can do the same thing with a job, a friend and typically the most difficult codependent relationships are with family.


The Cellular Compromises of Codependency
Is this concentration of our internal and external resources wishing for that person’s happiness and peace? Maybe. Do we have some vested interest in things going our way? Probably. We try to sugar coat it by telling ourselves that we’re so "nice". I’m just doing something nice and supportive for them. When actually we might be obsessed with doing our damnedest to control the outcome, however possible? If so, this is co-dependency. This is what hurts. At it’s worst, this is what we’re numb about. It’s so painful, because we’re literally and figuratively investing hefty parts of our being in the quest of the mission of our attachment. It can get so insidious that it acts like neuropathy. We tell ourselves, "everyone needs to sacrifice a little", "I’m just taking one for the team." Yet, what if there’s a numb, burning and tingly like ants underneath the skin feeling, with no clear explanation? It is compromising some or all of our internal resources? It’s important to be aware of, because it’s not just a matter of the heart, it’s a matter of our cellular health. If we are being supportive and giving all we’ve got, within the alignment of our values, will not compromise ourselves cellularly. If we are, we could figuratively and literally kill ourselves. This is why it’s really important to know what are values are.


Knowing Our Values, Deepens Our Intimacy

The main way to deter the pain of this kind of co-dependency on steroids, is to know our values. Each of our values are different and may or may not be changeable. This is such an empowering self-exploration. When we’re younger, we may unknowingly compromise ourselves to get what we want because our values aren’t fully formed yet. Or they’re just defaults from our childhood and teens. Over time, we may strengthen our values and get clearer about what we want for ourselves and how we want to interact with others.

Knowing our values also helps us to know how to develop and navigate healthy intimate relationships with people. It helps us know what we’re looking for and how we’re seeking to relate to others. It helps us to connect clearly and mindfully with others that have shared values. Knowing that some of our values aren’t fully formed also protects us from harming ourselves and others. It’s like knowing what we’re good at and being open about what you’re not sure if you’re good at yet.

For example, we may have really clear values about sexual boundaries, but not about lying. I don’t value the skill of being a good liar, but I have come across more than one person that has said that they or their family and friends operate with the value that lying is important and useful tool an. If you and another person have different values about lying, you can see how that might become destructive really quick. You might have different values about having multiple lovers. In some cultures, it’s acceptable to have a lover that you don’t speak about to one another. Not my guava jelly, but non-monogamy is very popular in my part of California and if it’s a shared value between partners, it’s a value they are willing to work for. So the homework isn’t to judge your values and interests, it’s to know them and be keenly aware of how their evolving and how they affect you.

Do you like to drink alcohol, do you value a lot of open communication in your relationships, do you value cooking together, traveling, sports, not driving, physical comfort, being a homebody, truth, art, live music, activism against oppression? Glamping vs. camping? Both? What’s important to you? What are your deal breakers? It’s not to say that you will only have friends, coworkers and intimate partnerships with only people that share your exact values. In fact that can be limiting too. How else do we evolve if we’re not exposed to values we may or may not want to try on? I think it takes a village of variety to keep any one individual happily aligned in their values and interests. I have friends that I can watch sci-fi with and friends that I have deep heart bearing conversations camping in nature with. Knowing prevents us from harming others and helps us to prevent others from harming us - on purpose anyway. Sometimes you only know when you know. Our responsibility is to know ourselves.


Directing Our Internal Special Forces

I was in a relationship with someone that I shared many values with. They were super fun and enjoyable. Our shared values and interests included worldly and spiritual priorities. But one value, truth over lying, wasn’t shared in the end. It turned out that they had relapsed back into heavy alcohol and drug abuse. Because I was so devastated by this seeming betrayal, I based my next relationship choice primarily on whether or not I thought the next person was going to have problems with alcohol and drug abuse. I threw all my other values of fun and spirituality out the window, because I was so terrified of being heart broken again. So my special forces were all on vacation and I ended up in a dead relationship based on one priority- avoiding the fear of being alone.

So not only do we need to to know our values so we can find people we share values and interest with, we also need to keep our values at the forefront -so we can prioritize them for ourselves! Otherwise, we’re hurting ourselves, by neglecting our values, in our pursuit of our desirous attachments. It’s important to keep our special forces consciously and purposely on task to protect our values, not protect to our attachments. If we don’t hire them to, they will likely go on autopilot and we’ll end up wondering why we’re so miserably unaligned with ourselves.


Intimacy with Boundaries

Knowing our values also helps us to get clear on what we’re focused on, so we can have the ability to create a foundation that supports our ability to love unconditionally. As I eluded to earlier, the end goal isn’t to surround ourselves in a protective bubble of twinsie liked minded people that always agree with us on every issue or ways to play.

My parents couldn’t be more different than me in regards to sociopolitical perspectives, but I’ve found a way to love them, unconditionally, with conversational boundaries. Don’t get me wrong, it was a painful path to walk down. The key is to allow ourselves to have all of your feelings around these clashes. Feel your feelings. Ideally with a witness (friend or therapist) that you trust. In fact, grieve whatever loss of a dream you had around these rifts. I never thought I would hang up the phone on my father over a raging political debate, but it definitely happened. And it was heart wrenching. We’ve agreed to disagree. At first begrudgingly, I’m sure, but I saw them a few months later. Thankfully we’ve moved forward by prioritizing what we want. We wanted to move towards love again, for tolerable measured chunks of time. Let’s be real.

As my values have grown clearer over the years, I’ve also had to learn how to maintain distance from previous partners, friends and communities who do not share my values. I do value finding a way to love them unconditionally - internally, often with more sincerity than before, from a distance. As aversions and desirous attachments arise, I examine them with greater ease. And when I feel hurt. I know know I need to call a goal setting meeting with my internal special forces! At the end of the day, I prioritize loving myself and generating love from my heart, in order for me to easily access my peace and happiness. Because I value being in alignment with myself, I’ve got my special forces on task to help me maintain my alignment. When I’m aligned, it’s easier and more effortless to generate unconditional love to almost anyone. This makes for a pain free, happy and peaceful heart. Having this kind of intimacy and knowing with ourself, makes it incredibly easier to be profoundly intimate with others.


Is My Love Enough?
All that said, you may have more questions. I will try to answer some more in the next few posts. For example, will your unconditional love be enough for a healthy relationship? The quick answer is, if you’re the only one rowing the boat, it’s likely only going to keep moving at the rate you’re willing to row. Next week, we’ll explore who’s job it is to row. In the meantime, be a little more mindful about the tasks your special forces are assigned to, exam how flexible you are about how you fulfill your desires and make a list of your top five values and top five interests.


* The teachings of Attachment, Aversion and Desirous Attachment are from Buddhism found in books by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso like Understanding the Mind. If you’d like to nerd out on this further, I can’t recommend these teachings enough.


I would love to hear about your explorations into love that doesn’t hurt and keeps you aligned in your values. Post in the comments below or email me at bee@healingisgiving.com. Lots of love to you! I hope this exploration brings you much love and blissful heartfelt experiences of love, for you and for you to share.



---
Deborah “Bee” Uytiepo 
Wholistic Health Practitioner and Personal Coach.

Deborah “Bee" Uytiepo is the owner of Beelight, a women’s wholistic health and person coaching practice. Her therapeutic bodywork combines neuromuscular therapy, brain function and visceral organ health, specializing in optimal pelvic and reproductive health. Bee has studied and practiced meditation for over 30 years. She has taught meditation as a volunteer throughout Southern and Northern California for over 15+ years. In order to benefit her clients with the vast rewards of her life’s personal growth work, Bee developed The Let Go Sessions, a series of macro retreats that support your Let-Go’s, holistically and completely, body and mind. Bee is the founder and principal facilitator of Healing is Giving. Healing is Giving hosts community events, fundraisers and workshops that prioritize harm-free(dom). For a more detailed bio, please visit her website: healingisgiving.com

September 3, 2018

Codependency and Intimacy: Who Loves You Baby?

This month, I am happy to introduce you to Bee Uytiepo, Wholistic Health Practitioner and Personal Coach. What that title doesn't capture is the powerhouse of a woman that Bee is. And this month, she is going to guide us in an exploration of love and how to break out of codependency so we can have healthy, healing relationships.

---


Love
Before we talk about love we need to define love.
Often a song, a poem, a movie will come to mind and we think - yes, that’s how I want my love to be, feel like or look like. We want it to last forever, don’t we? We want it to feel good, all the time. But is love a thing? Or is love an action? Does love last on its own? Does love, alone, have its own ability to persist effortlessly? I don’t think love is a static object to attain. I think that it’s a being and doing. I think it’s a verb versus an noun. Any attempt to make love a noun, is already a pursuit (or lack of) of the unattainable. So the next time you listen to a song or read a poem, see if it’s treating love like a noun or a verb.

So from this perspective of love, as an active mindset, as an ever-moving action, I’d like to explore love as an evolving feeling that cannot be obtained or owned, but can be only experienced, given and received.

Love is a warm, affectionate, cherishing and/or wishing mind that actively seeks (an)other’s peace and happiness. The ultimate expression of love is wishing for the happiness and peace of all living beings without exception. 

Baby Love
So who loves you baby? Generally, we like to think, or hope, our parents (or guardians) love us. If you know and feel your family’s love, you are blessed to have such a significant emotional reference point. But it’s not always experience for all of us, is it? In my youth, I certainly didn’t experience my parents that way. In fact, I don’t remember my parents even telling me they loved me as a child or teenager. I don’t remember them saying so, until I started saying it first. This was so important to identify. As a grown person, if we’ve never overtly felt our parents love, we can spend our whole lives searching for it. If we don’t get it from our family of origin or raised by, we can spend our whole lives searching for it. Unconsciously or overtly seeking love from our teachers, our friends, our lovers, our coworkers, our bosses, our teams, our mentors and our communities. Where have we looked for love? Where are we looking for it now? And have we somehow been trying to attain it, as if it’s a thing to possess? And when we found it, did it last? 

In Psychology 101, I vaguely remember the concept of developing our ideas of love was from whatever our formative experience of home was. Home equated love. To know ourselves fully, we may want to take an objective inventory of what home felt like and how people behaved. How did it influence the way we have been defining love up until now? Did it look like a rageaholic father and a codependent mother? Did it look like tenderness, home cooked meals and handmade quilts? Did it look like fighting and the silent treatment? Did it look like affectionate glances, cuddles and tidy dishes? Did it look like abuse, manipulation, sarcasm, lies and pouting to get one’s way? Did it look like Dad cheerfully making breakfast on Sunday mornings, road trips and shared holiday meals? It may have looked like all of the above or non of the above, but what stayed with you? What did you accept as your default reference to love? And in hindsight, what do you agree with? What aligns with your truth of what love is to you now? How do you like your loving?

Co-dependency on Autopilot
This is where we get into co-dependent inclinations. We have these varying references of what love looks like and feels like, then we try to replicate them. The positive references of love are enjoyable, but it’s the harmful and painful references that get us in trouble. It’s almost like we’re on autopilot. We just do it, because it’s what we know. When my parents were young parents, they fought a lot. They would get in these fiery fights that ended in dramatic silences and sharp words. When I was a teenager, I remember trying to imitate this in my early attempts at intimacy. I experimented with slamming doors, dramatic vocalizations, tears and cutting words. It all sounds so immature now, but I think I was testing it out. I would engage in the relationships that I thought were right for me, but were actually based on a co-dependent dynamic that I learned from watching my young parents.

Piloting Our Dependencies 
When we detach from co-dependent behavior, we don’t magically become in-dependent  We start to pilot the dependencies we notice we have. We are inherently interdependent beings, but we can navigate which dependencies are harmful and helpful. 

When I finally understood that love was not an object that my my parents were deliberately withholding from me, it was because I actively sought out what love was. I kept the home cooked meals and sharing road trips as ways I liked to love. Luckily, for me and my siblings, my father went to therapy not too long into my parents marriage and sorted himself out. It was a blessing that I will always be grateful for. I saw my father transform into a kind, thoughtful and giving husband. That gave me a visceral reference for what it means to love and be committed to your partner. The message was loud and clear. If you love someone, you work on yourself to keep love going. My mother on the other hand, did not offer a clear example, so I continued my search. I had to learn how to pilot that part of my heart. I wanted to understand how to experience being more loving, as a femme, in spite of the other more difficult defaults examples I was offered by my mother. My mother never went to therapy. So I still had many challenging references of the way she loved to contend with. So I had to unlearn ways that I didn’t want to pilot my dependencies and learn how to navigate when I felt lost. And often times, that means asking for help from people that are good at piloting their dependencies.

Internal Intimacy
Slowly and with a lot of internal and external work, I began to experience love within myself as a feeling towards myself and that could share with them. I began wishing for my own happiness and peace. I began loving myself, inside and out.  I felt close and safe with myself, knowing myself intimately. Then, I began to tell them I loved them, first. Then they awkwardly, but sweetly eventually began to say it back.
And this is not to say the goal is to get our parents to say they love us. They may no longer be alive or safely or easily a part of our lives. We may have parents that already do say they love us and still not feel it. I think the goal is to experience love first for ourselves and those we feel safe to share it with. Then as we expand that ability, we can then share it with our families and with anyone and everyone that we can, all the time. For people that aren’t safe to be around, we develop a wish to generate a mind of love for them, internally without interaction. As we don’t need to say it out loud. Engaging in a mind of love at the grocery store checkout line, sitting quietly next to a friend, eating a meal with a co-worker or sitting in traffic are each incredibly profound. Seriously profound. Try it! 

External Intimacy
Eventually, proclaiming love out loud is very powerful, because the vibration of saying and receiving the words, is very expansive and healing for all concerned. And don’t worry. You won’t run out! It took me a long time to find a source of love references, that I wasn’t afraid would run out. Because we think we won’t have enough! Don’t we? We think, I’ve only got this much, so I better be careful with how I dole it out! The truth is, love is immeasurable - and once we tap into the experience of engaging in it, through direct experience, we see, through testing, we won’t run out, because it was never an object to begin with! It’s an action and feeling that cannot be measured in quantitative terms. 


An Immeasurable Source of LoveHow did I find this immeasurable source? It took me a while. I hope I can offer you a short cut. I didn’t know I was looking for a seriously profoundly huge reference of love. After all, where does love come from? If it doesn’t only come from the nurturing of our parents?  If love only came from our parents, a lot of us would be SOL (so out of luck - haha). We wouldn’t have a chance!

Let’s go back to the idea of love being equated with home. We need to expand what "home" is. It’s not just the house (or multitude of places) we grew up in. I found love in our our collective home; specifically from Grandmother Earth. Ask yourself: Who has loved you from the moment you were born? From before you were born? Who has loved you from the beginning of time? Who has loved you before humans named time? Grandmother Earth has loved you. Who feeds you everyday, bathes you, rocks you to sleep, every night? I spent half my life longing for my mother to soothe my once jaded heart. Then one day, through a flower essence healing session with a human friend Susanna Delman, I received messages from Grandmother Earth through the Bog, Carnelian, Foxglove, Lilac, Dwarf Poincianas, Monkeypod tree, the whales and the Four Whites. The Great Mother, Grandmother Earth finally soothed my longing heart. I found this powerfully helpful, because humans aren’t always the best messengers of pure love. Some are great at being references of love. Just know, the ones that aren’t may be on autopilot.

They All Love You
We’re all trying to love the best way we know how. The key word is trying. And if you don’t believe it, ask her best unconditional love messengers yourself. Go outside and find a blade of grass coming through the concrete. This may feel like an esoteric exercise, but try it out. Without words (or with them) ask the flowers, trees, the sky, the moon, the non-human animals, mountain ranges, prairies and desserts. Ask them with a sincere open, humble and curious heart: Am I alone? Do you love me? How do you love me? How much do you love me? She will reply through the countless grains of sand on the beach… and you will never feel alone and unloved again. She will love you in every color, regardless of whether your breath smells, who you have crushes on, whether anyone knows how to say your name or not, and no matter how much money you have in the bank. Take her love in, drink it, shower in it, taste it and revel in it. It’s yours to experience, forever. All you have to do, is actively be open to receive it.  It’s been there, since before time. 

What If Love Hurts?
All that said, you may have more questions. I will try to answer some more in the next few posts. For example, what if love hurts? The quick answer is, if it hurts, it’s not love. Next week, we’ll explore what does hurt. In the meantime, be a little more discerning about your consumption of love songs, share your findings and let yourself be and do love.

I would love to hear about your explorations into love as a noun versus a verb. Post in the comments below or email me at bee@healingisgiving.com. Lots of love to you! I hope this exploration brings you much love and blissful heartfelt experiences of love, for you and for you to share. If you’d like to explore these concepts and work with me one on one, I’d love to connect with you about The Let Go Sessions. 


---
Deborah “Bee” Uytiepo 
Wholistic Health Practitioner and Personal Coach.

Deborah “Bee" Uytiepo is the owner of Beelight, a women’s wholistic health and person coaching practice. Her therapeutic bodywork combines neuromuscular therapy, brain function and visceral organ health, specializing in optimal pelvic and reproductive health. Bee has studied and practiced meditation for over 30 years. She has taught meditation as a volunteer throughout Southern and Northern California for over 15+ years. In order to benefit her clients with the vast rewards of her life’s personal growth work, Bee developed The Let Go Sessions, a series of macro retreats that support your Let-Go’s, holistically and completely, body and mind. Bee is the founder and principal facilitator of Healing is Giving. Healing is Giving hosts community events, fundraisers and workshops that prioritize harm-free(dom). For a more detailed bio, please visit her website: healingisgiving.com

August 21, 2018

This Isn’t What We Expected: You & Me and Our Therapist Makes Three


This week, Jamie Kreiter concludes her series by describing some evidence-based therapies used to treat postpartum mood and anxiety disorders. This will help you make the right decision for your family!

---

It is difficult to convince a postpartum woman to go to therapy. Whether or not she is depressed, a new mom is exhausted, overwhelmed and preoccupied with her new baby. Understandably, early motherhood is not the best time to introduce a therapeutic-relationship or impose a healing process that is time-intensive and costly. However, if her symptoms become worse after the baby is born, if she is experiencing intrusive or distorted thoughts, or if she is suffering enough, then she needs help and there may be no choice, but to get help right away. But how do you encourage her to engage in therapy?

Many postpartum women initiate therapy at the urging of partners and loved ones or are dutifully following a referral made by their obstetricians or pediatricians. Most of these women enter therapy with a desire to be better for their babies and their families. Very few enter therapy willingly or for themselves. Therapists who are trained in Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs) and are familiar with this population, can address a mother’s resistance and convince her that the road back to herself is worth the exhausting effort of therapy, whether she believes this or not.

If you or someone you know is suffering from postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety, you face two initial challenges: 1) deciding that you need therapy and 2) finding the right therapist. For clarity, I am going to describe some evidence-based therapies used to treat postpartum mood and anxiety disorders. This will help you make the right decision for your family.


Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT):
CBT is one of the most widely used therapies for treating depression and anxiety. It has proven to be effective in treating postpartum depression and anxiety. CBT theorizes that the way you think affects the way you feel. CBT treatment with a postpartum woman is focused on helping the mom have control over her thoughts so that she can change them. This is especially effective with intrusive, distorted and obsessive thoughts.

When I am working with a mom, I help her identify and acknowledge her automatic thoughts, (“Something bad will happen to the baby, if I take her out of the house”) evaluate the evidence supporting and opposing these thoughts, (“Nothing bad happened when I took her to the pediatrician last week”) exploring and challenging unhelpful thoughts and underlying beliefs, (“I feel like I am not capable of keeping her safe when we are out of the house”), and developing a new and more helpful perspective, (“While I have a distorted fear about leaving the house with my baby, I actually am capable of keeping her safe and it important for both her and me to leave the house.”) Using CBT, I help a mom to develop effective coping skills so that she feels better equipped to manage her distress and anxieties.


Interpersonal Psychotherapy (ITP):
ITP is thought to be one of the most effective therapy models for treating maternal distress, such as postpartum depression, as it is directive, time-limited. The primary goal of ITP is to provide symptoms relief. ITP can be used with couples to help improve communication and build a stronger and more supportive relationship. I like to use this type of model with individuals and couples. When I use this form of treatment with my clients, I address four main areas:

1) Grief: Grief acknowledges losses; these can be the losses that occur to sense of self, losses or changes in relationships or more specific losses. We don’t always talk about the grief that comes with being a new mother, but it is important to acknowledge that adding a new baby to your family also brings a sense of loss. 

2) Role Transitions: Role transitions refer to life stage transitions and social transitions. This is a big one for new moms who are transitioning to parenthood. All new moms are required to reconstruct themselves in some way in order to meet the demands of a new baby. 

3) Interpersonal Disputes: Interpersonal disputes occur frequently after the birth of a new child and can include unmet expectations and intimacy struggles within partnerships. When partners are involved in treatment, they can address and explore conflicts that occur around the challenge of having a new baby. See Part I. 

4) Interpersonal Deficits: Interpersonal deficits look for struggles with attachment in other relationships, which may be causing distress. The birth of a new baby can complicate a mother’s attachment to her own mother. In therapy she can explore how these attachment issues may or may not be causing her distress.


Solution-Focused Therapy:
Solution-Focused Therapy is a goal-directed collaborative approach that focuses on solutions rather than problems or past failures. Therapy focuses on the mom’s strengths and skills. She sets goals and focuses on solutions. When my client’s main complaint is that she is exhausted and overwhelmed, I help the mother look for opportunities where she can increase sleep by having a partner take on a night-feeding, asking for help from family or friends or finding times during the day where she can rest. We focus on increasing the mom’s overall wellness to address and decrease maternal distress.


Group Therapy


A postpartum depression support group combines psychoeducation, which can range from teaching about maternal mental illness to life strategies to typical new mom distress, with validation from other group members who may be experiencing something similar. The goal of PPD support groups is to build a community and give a mother the space to be heard by others who are experiencing similar struggles. The mother is helped and feels less alone.

Couples Therapy
Couples therapy brings both partners into therapy and focuses on the couple’s relationship, not only the individual issues. This helps the person suffering from PPD to feel like it is not just her problem. The partner has a supportive and active role in the treatment process. There is also the opportunity for the partner to accept and receive help. In my work with postpartum couples, we address issues related to PMADs, as well as addressing changing dynamics in a relationship, discussing decrease in romance and intimacy, improve communication and restore the couple’s connection to one another. We do this by providing a space for the couple to hold and validate one another’s thoughts and feelings without rushing to “fix” it right away, which can often feel dismissive.

There are many benefits to individual and couples’ counseling. Starting therapy as a couple may feel less threatening and blaming to an individual. A marriage counselor can help the couple explore thoughts and feelings about their new family in a non-judgmental environment that is safe. After the birth of a baby, couples can have difficulty working together and can lose the connection with one another. All of this can be addressed in therapy and explored in a way that protects the sanctity of the couple’s relationship.

Four reasons to see a marriage counselor:
1. Partner support is associated with better outcomes
There is a well-known link between a supportive partner and postpartum depression; however, perceived support within the context of postpartum depression can mean different things to different people. Some women feel supported by their partners and are open about how they are feeling. Other women withdraw from their relationships and reject any emotional connection their partner attempts to provide. Sometimes the depressed partner is so good at hiding how she is feeling that her partner is in the dark. And other times, women are reluctant to ask for help from their partner out of guilt and fear.

A therapist understands that depression places an unintended strain on any marriage. The therapist makes sure both partners get the support that they need provides coping tools for them to use outside of session.

2. Help the non-depressed partner understand the changes that mom is going through and learn what is most helpful in supporting her.
Most people don’t expect a new mom to become depressed after the birth of her new baby. It can be disarming and confusing for partners, who anticipated a joyful experience. Many partners find themselves unprepared to cope with the feelings of their wife’s depression.

Therapy can help this partner understand what is happening to their family. Therapists can provide psychoeducation as a way to normalize, strategize and provide hope in this situation. Therapists can also help the partner learn the words and behaviors to best support mom as she finds her way out of depression.

3. Improve communication
The way that couples communicate and the way that they listen to one another is essential to a healthy relationship. Sometimes fears, ambivalence, guilt and shame come up. Partners can learn to communicate their feelings effectively and respectively. One of the most effective things that a therapist can offer in couple’s treatment is to acknowledge the couple’s shared struggle and help them find the words and space to talk about it.


4. Restore romantic and sexual connection
Restoring a couple’s connection to romance, to sex and most importantly to each other is the foundation of couple’s work. A therapist can help the couple restore the connection that they had prior to the birth of their baby. That is to say, not the current relationship as it exists now, but rather the couple’s connection that has carried them throughout their relationship and supported them through difficult times previously.



A woman, who is suffering from postpartum depression or anxiety, knows that something is not right. She knows that this doesn’t feel like her. But usually she doesn’t say anything. She might think that there is something inherently wrong with her; she might feel worthless or guilty for wanting a child and now feeling ambivalent about her new role as a mother, or worse, she may believe that this is just what motherhood feels like.

As partners, friends and family members, it is up to you to get her to go to therapy if she is unwilling to go herself. PMADs are serious mental illness. She may hope that the symptoms will go away on their own. She may feel embarrassed that this is happening to her. No one asks to be depressed or anxious after a baby is born. What she needs to understand, and what the people around her need to convey, is that this is not her fault, she is not to blame and that help is available.


 


---

Jamie Kreiter, LCSW is the founder and owner of Jamie Kreiter Therapy, a Chicago-based psychotherapy practice, offering in-office and teletherapy based services. She is women’s health therapist specializing in maternal mental health and perinatal depression and anxiety.

Jamie has a master’s degree from the University of Chicago: School of Social Service Administration. Jamie has a great passion for working with mothers and their families. She has extensive training and experience in Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders. Jamie is a Chicago-native and has a private practice offering counseling, education and support located in Chicago, Illinois.

Instagram: @jamie_kreiter_therapy

If you are experiencing stress related to pregnancy and/or parenting, please call (847-363-0628) or email jamie@jamiekreitertherapy.com to set up a free phone consultation.  



References:


Gagnon, C. (n.d.). And baby make 3: A marriage counselor can help you adjust to your new life and keep your marriage strong. [Blog post]. The Couples Expert. Retrieved from https://www.thecouplesexpertscottsdale.com/2014/05/5-reasons-see-marriage-counselor-postpartum-adjustment/


Grigoriadis, S. (2007). An approach to interpersonal psychotherapy for postpartum depression: Focusing on interpersonal changes. The College of Family Physicians of Canada, 53(9): 1469-1475. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2234626/

Hibbert. C (n.d). Postpartum Depression Treatment: 10 things you should know & 10 things you can do. [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.drchristinahibbert.com/postpartum-depression-treatment/postpartum-depression-treatment-for-couples/

Kleinman, K. (2015, November 7). Are you treating a postpartum woman in distress? [Blog post]. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/isnt-what-i-expected/201511/are-you-treating-postpartum-woman-in-distress

Kleinman, K. (2016, January 3). Postpartum women and therapy? Replace pathology with purpose. [Blog post]. Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/isnt-what-i-expected/201601/postpartum-women-and-therapy

Kripke, K. (n.d.) 8 types of psychotherapy for postpartum depression treatment. [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.postpartumprogress.com/8-types-of-psychotherapy-for-postpartum-depression-treatment

O’Hara, M.W., (2018). ITP for perinatal depression. Interpersonal Psychotherapy Institute. Retrieved from https://iptinstitute.com/ipt-for-perinatal-depression/


O’Hara, M.W, Stuart, S., Gorman, L. L. et al. (2000). Efficacy of interpersonal psychotherapy for postpartum depression. Jama Psychiatry, 57 (11). Retrieved from https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/481669  





* We recognize and celebrate diversity in families. All families, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, marital status, culture, race or religious beliefs should be treated with equality and respect. For the purposes of the piece, “partner” can be used to describe “mother” or “father”. “Mother” refers to the partner who birthed the baby. Please be aware that the topics discussed impact same-sex couples and couples who are married or not married.

Sign up for my free guide so you can stop spinning your wheels and instead navigate your way through each stage of recovery with ease and clarity. Get the support you need today

GET YOUR COPY