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.


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 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:

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