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I've been reading a lot of threads today...

Old 07-14-2011, 07:39 PM
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I've been reading a lot of threads today...

...and many talk about unconditional love. I have to share this opinion:

Unconditional love is simply code for codependancy/enabling.

I don't mean to say you can't love somebody no matter what they say or do. I love my daughter despite the dumb things she consistantly does these days.

What I do meant to say is that, in my opinion, the majority of people manifest their "unconditional love" through enablement and codependency, and do not hold the people they love accountable for their actions, or allow them to suffer the consequences of the same. I know I did, and for a long, long time.

I don't think it's a coincidence that my wife began to engage with recovery when I stopped relying on unconditional love, stopped protecting and saving her, and started responding to reality using the tools I learned in Alanon. It's now over a year, with one relapse, that she has been going to AA two or three times a week, and she is now actually secretary of one of the meetings, freely admits she's an alcoholic, and even calls other members for support. If you knew her, you'd know it's a miracle in the truest sense of the word.

My contribution to this? Minding my own damn business and leaving her to fend for herself when she drank. It drive's me ****ing nuts every time I read in a thread that somebody, newbie or not, actually believes you can love and/or control somebody into sobriety, or that somebody will find sobriety simply because of the love of a spouse, parent, children, or The Lord.

Good Lord-- as a species are we really that dumb? I was-- that's for sure. Not only am I a recovering codependent, I'm also a recovering Pollyannish moron. It's good to be in recovery.

Take what you want and leave the rest.

Cyranoak
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Old 07-14-2011, 07:51 PM
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Oh yeah I played the unconditional love game for 15 years. Throw in the fact that I served in the Marine Corps with concepts like death before dishonor and never retreat, never surrender and you have a Codie from hell. I've moved on and i'm not sure where she is headed but that is her problem now.
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Old 07-14-2011, 07:52 PM
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For me, unconditional love means I am consistently lovable regardless of my strengths or limitations, and when I understand that about myself, I begin to see something consistently lovable in others, even those who suffer from an unlovable disease.

I can love someone and not like what that person does and not enable bad behavior. I can love someone unconditionally and not accept unacceptable behavior.

I hear what you're saying, Cy. I'm not sure I share your opinion about what is unconditional love, but I certainly share your opinion AND your experience that things got better in my own life when I quit enabling and started minding my own business.

I love this program, and I still love that I learn something new all the time.
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Old 07-14-2011, 08:21 PM
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I think unconditional love is OK, it is the unconditional commitment that will do a person in.

Codependency is based on a toxic mix of conditional love and unconditional commitment. In a healthy adult relationship it’s more the opposite way round, that is love is unconditional, while there are, as there should be, clearly stated conditions related to maintaining a high level of commitment -- From "Growing Awareness" by John Bligh Nutting. This guy wrote The Fable of Two Codependents which I've read many times because it so accurately reflected my relationship with my xah.
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Old 07-14-2011, 09:21 PM
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Good God! That was well said.
~T
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Old 07-14-2011, 10:27 PM
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You crack me up..

but in the beginning of this journey, I was one of those
who believed "I" could get him sober.

Thank God I have opened my eyes & have learned alot more since day one.

Still Learning.....
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Old 07-14-2011, 10:45 PM
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For those who haven't read it...

The fable of the two codependents*

(Quoted verbatim from growingaware.com.au)

Two codependents were out walking one morning when they came to a shallow river. "I’m scared of getting wet." said one. "If you really love me you will carry me across the river." The first codependent naturally agreed to this but, as codependents do, added a condition to the agreement. "I am so scared of walking in the dark woods on the other side" said the first one. "If you love me, you will walk in front of me as we go through the woods to scare away the bad spirits. After all I am doing for you, carrying you over the river, that’s not much to ask."

The second codependent agreed to this condition, as codependents do, so they set off across the river. But before they could reach the other side, the first one started to make comparisons as codependents do: "This isn’t fair. All you have to do is walk ahead of me in the woods. Carrying you is much harder. You make me so angry!"

The more anger he felt, the more exhausted he became from the strain of carrying his partner (as codependents do) until he couldn’t go any further. "I’m too tired." he said "You’ll have to walk the last bit to the river bank yourself." And with that, he let her down (gently but firmly) into the river.

This hurt the second codependent very deeply because it meant he no longer felt any love for her. So, naturally, as codependents do she hid her sadness by getting angry, hoping this would bring the love back again. After complaining bitterly about getting wet she stormed off, forgetting about her half of the bargain.

The first codependent was even more hurt by this because he now knew that there was no love between them any more. He walked sadly through the woods, feeling alone and lost and scared but naturally hiding this behind a mask of anger. However, he built up courage by working out what to say that would hurt his partner the most, when she got home.

Unfortunately neither of them ever discovered that had they looked a little further along the river bank they would have seen a pretty little bridge where two lovers could hold hands and look at the view.

Nor did they ever discover that the bridge led over the river to a path that went safely round the dark woods and on through a meadow full of green grass and flowers, just meant for lovers who wanted to stroll together, side by side, instead of taking turns to carry each other or walk in front of, or behind, one another (as codependents do).

*******************

When one person tries to get their needs met through their partner and the second partner tries to get his or her needs met the same way, (through their partner) the relationship is codependent*.

For this to work there has to be an endless series of conditions and contracts with built-in penalty clauses for non-compliance. These conditions are almost always unspoken because part of ‘getting my needs met through you’ includes the requirement that you will always know automatically what my needs are, without being told!

To make things worse, many of the ‘needs’ that codependents most want taken care of (like the ones in this story) relate to inner fears rather than external problems. That means the partner who tries to meet the need has little hope of success. Even if your inner child tries with the best will in the world, they will seldom be able to fix another person’s internal fear for very long.

In reality, these 'contracts' are constantly being broken and penalties applied, so the underlying fear and vulnerability on each side gets worse and worse. This is exactly the environment where the inner selves take over as protectors and, as they do, the chance of intimacy and trust developing becomes less and less.

People who ignore this problem become too codependent too much of the time and end up with additional troubles including failed health, broken relationships and other losses.

Codependency is based on a toxic mix of conditional love and unconditional commitment. In a healthy adult relationship it’s more the opposite way round, that is love is unconditional, while there are, as there should be, clearly stated conditions related to maintaining a high level of commitment.

So, when I am being codependent, I not only miss the chance to learn about meeting my own needs by myself, I also lose the chance of experiencing unconditional love with another human being.


* There really is no such thing as ‘a codependent,’ just ordinary people who act in codependent ways.
However there is certainly a problem called ‘codependency.’
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Old 07-14-2011, 11:04 PM
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There are only 3 people I will always love unconditionally, my children. They may tick me off and I may not like who they become, but I will always love them. Period. No one else will ever get this from me.
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Old 07-15-2011, 01:06 AM
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Cyranoak -

Comparing Unconditional love and Control is like comparing the Ocean and the Desert. While I do think some try to mask control with love - that is not something that is unique to dealing with alcoholics. That is something that is wide spread. People take something good all the time and use it for something bad. A good example is religion. Religion is meant to unite people, bring people closer to their purpose for living - yet why are there so many wars and so many people being killed in the name of it?

But that doesn't mean that God doesn't exist and that doesn't mean that Love doesn't exist. Every person is unique and only they can reflect on their actions and know their motivations.

But do I believe in Unconditional Love? Of course. It is what makes life mysterious and enjoyable. Without it, I would still be the same person I was when I was teenager. I am grateful for it. Not only for receiving it, but being able to give it as well.

I am reading a book right now called the Undiscovered Self by C.G. Jung. In it he talks about how people have become disconnected from themselves by subscribing to ideologies and mass thinking. They don't know who they are. He argues that it is only by reconnecting with our true nature and answering our own moral dilemmas free of "mass thinking" that we can be authentic.

Every person is free to think what they want and become what they want. We all make choices. I can be a loving person or I can be a cynical person - I hope I chose the latter.

Panther
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Old 07-15-2011, 04:47 AM
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People don't always agree on what constitutes "love". In the broadest sense, it is concern for another person's well-being. You can have that concern regardless of what they do--it's when you sacrifice your own well-being for someone else's unhealthy behavior that it becomes a problem. And then, the problem isn't the "love", it's the behaviors and the self-blame or resentment that is the problem.

But I absolutely agree that keeping yourself in an unhealthy situation in the name of "love" is a bad, bad idea for everyone involved.
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Old 07-15-2011, 04:47 AM
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Great response, Panther.

I do believe wholeheartedly in unconditional love, largely because of my spiritual faith. However, I know that I have grossly misused the concept to justify codependent behavior.

As long as fear is driving my train, I'm not loving unconditionally. So if I get in his business because I'm afraid he's going to yell at me, or walk out on me, or hurt himself and put more burden on me, that's not loving unconditionally.

Unconditional love is what allows us to be free and pass that freedom on to others.
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Old 07-15-2011, 06:20 AM
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actually believes you can love and/or control somebody into sobriety
I think that's where my daughter is right now with AW. A few weeks ago, daughter confronted AW again about her drinking, and AW said daughter and I were just trying to control her.

AW finally did (peevishly) agree to stop, but it didn't last. She was drunk again within two weeks. That was when Daughter came to me and said that maybe AW was right, that we were trying to control her. (Daughter still doesn't think AW is alcoholic).

I didn't argue... I gave that up months ago. I think I'm just biding my time until Daughter moves out of the house and I get up the courage to divorce AW.

As this relates to the topic of unconditional love, I think Daughter loves her mother unconditionally, but I don't love my alcoholic wife unconditionally. That may explain why I am more willing to let go than she is. If it were my daughter who was the alcoholic, I might find it equally difficult to let it go.
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Old 07-15-2011, 06:21 AM
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If one of my sons turned into an ax murderer I would be devastated, but I would still love him. My dog loves me because he is dependent upon me for his survival. One is real the other is imagined. I believe only a parent truly knows what unconditional love is.
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Old 07-15-2011, 06:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Jazzman View Post
I believe only a parent truly knows what unconditional love is.
I respectfully disagree.
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Old 07-15-2011, 06:47 AM
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I understand that others would disagree, especially folks who post here. Call me skeptical but if some one other than my parents or my own children claimed they loved me unconditionally I would think to myself.. codependent. I mean no disrespect....

I remember years ago during a tough break up I said,, but I need you! As it turned out I didn't need anyone.
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Old 07-15-2011, 06:59 AM
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This is getting interesting. I can see both points of view and agree with them. Dam you shades of gray!

My take on this is that I was using unconditional love as a reason to control my wife's behavior and prevent her from hurting herself. (being Codie)

I also agree that there have been several post with an underlying "love conquers all" theme and I can use my love to save them. (Codie and denial)

It is easy when you love someone to want to help them or even save them. This leads to control and losing yourself in the concept of unconditional love. The more it hurts the more it shows you really care.

Take what you want and leave the rest.
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Old 07-15-2011, 07:24 AM
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Meh

They're different sports man.
No reason to try and kick the soccer ball over home plate at a tennis match.
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Old 07-15-2011, 08:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Cyranoak View Post
It drive's me ****ing nuts every time I read in a thread that somebody, newbie or not, actually believes you can love and/or control somebody into sobriety, or that somebody will find sobriety simply because of the love of a spouse, parent, children, or The Lord.

Good Lord-- as a species are we really that dumb?
It drives me nuts when people deride other people's real life experiences just because they don't correlate with their own. Especially when those other people's experiences are the norm.
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Old 07-15-2011, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by KittyP View Post
It drives me nuts when people deride other people's real life experiences just because they don't correlate with their own. Especially when those other people's experiences are the norm.
Hhhmmm...with all due respect, KittyP, I didn't read it that way at all. I suppose we all have our own subjective interpretations (of this post and the concept of unconditional love) but what I got out of this is the idea of influence vs. control. I wanted influence in my marriage. I didn't have any because its impossible to have influence with someone who is addicted to a substance. The substance rules. So I took the idea of "influence" to the nth degree and it became control. I got very controlling with my husband and his drinking...make threats that I didn't follow up on, threw my own tantrums, was mean and harsh and judgmental...all under my own denial of what "having influence" really meant. For a period of time, I was desperately trying to control his behavior to control my own emotions - I was looking outside of ME and thinking if only he would (fill in the blank) then I would feel better. If he really loved me and our family, he would stop this craziness. He didn't stop when I demanded it, therefore I mistakenly believed he didn't love us. I was wrong about that. He couldn't stop because he wasn't ready to make the commitment to do whatever it would take to stop. That choice had nothing to do with me or love or anything else.

Cy, correct me if I am wrong but that was what I got out of this thread. Many of us go through this same experience of thinking we have some sort of influence over the substance when in fact, we really don't.
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Old 07-15-2011, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by KittyP View Post
It drives me nuts when people deride other people's real life experiences just because they don't correlate with their own. Especially when those other people's experiences are the norm.
KittyP, if these posters had been able to control, love or whatever their A into sobriety they wouldn't be posting here.

If that was the norm there would be no need for AA or Al-anon or this site.

Step 1 is to accept you powerlessness over another person's drinking and in actuality their life.

Your friend,
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