Codependence

Intervention: Shane
Intervention: Shane

A&E Network Television Channel has a program called Intervention. It has 14 seasons so far about people who have serious life threatening addictions. A&E sends help for an Intervention for these people and their families. Seasoned professionals counsel with the family. Both the addict and the family are offered treatment. Often the treatment saves the life of the addict and the family members.

Play and watch the above Intervention about Shane: Shane was a talented cellist and an aspiring music producer, whose musical aspirations were out of reach because he abused prescription drugs and dealt drugs out of his grandmother’s house where he was living. He also used cocaine. Jeff Van Vonderen, the facilitator of the Intervention had this to say to the family in the pre-intervention meeting:

Delusion turns into denial and delusion isn’t just really bad denial, delusion is a whole different thing. Shane doesn’t know he’s lying any more. You guys know when you’re lying, don’t you, OK? Look at it like this: It’s like this thinking grid,  you give him this picture of reality and on the way in, it takes a couple of hits and gets twisted up and looks different, so when he gives you his answer, it’s based on his picture, and he is so sincere and convincing that you start thinking you saw it wrong in the first place. That’s why, when he tells you his answer, he’s not lying. He’s telling you the truth. That’s why it seems so crazy.

Learn to ask yourself, this is the quick test, “Do I agree with this?” If you don’t agree with it, don’t let it happen. We call him the dependent, because he’s dependent on the chemical for his high; we call you guys co-dependents because it’s actually possible for you to become dependent upon the dependent for your high. Which means when Shane’s looking good and trying hard, looking great and making promises, your mood alters up; and when he’s being scary and dangerous and doing bad stuff, your mood alters down. But now put yourself in his place, where now he has to do well, so you guys have a good day….

 Let’s pause for a moment and look back at Herbert Armstrong and the Worldwide Church of God with his multiple addictions to narcissism, needing constant praise and adulation, needing to feel important and following his addiction to buy expensive material things to satiate his lust for self-importance, his panic following the manic phase of realization that he’s overspent, requiring him to loudly demand the membership to make sacrifices to resupply the money to support his destructive habits with money and prestige being his drugs of choice. Over the years, we’ve covered this topic in various ways. What we have not covered is our own codependence.

When Herbert Armstrong was all positive, looking good, trying hard, looking great and making promises — we would have our high. When he showed us news of the world which supported his prophetic nonsense, we seized on that because we were dependent upon it for our high. He offered us British Israelism to support our codependence. And, of course, when things went south and he started yelling about how “this WORK could go down!” our attitudes and mood would alter down. This kept us in the nightmare of being subjected to his moods and whims for our highs and lows. We lived on his promises that we would become God as God is God for our codependent high and faced the imaginary reality of the Great Tribulation for our depressive lows, only to be raised to manic levels on the promises of a Place of Safety, to sink back to the lows of the reality of life, only to be lifted again in enthusiasm with the promise of attending yet another “Best Feast Ever!” spending, as it were, 10% of our gross income in 10 days to experience the excessive highs stimulating the endorphin flow from sumptuous eating, drinking, travel and activities that supposedly reflected the addictive highs of being Kings and Priests in the millennium wielding great power over masses of people under us, vulnerable to our own mood swings.

Subjecting ourselves to this addict was not healthy. He was not living a sane healthy balanced life. He lived a life of excess, bracketed by real alcoholism. We allowed him to manipulate our thinking in inappropriate unhealthy ways, and, in many cases, causing many of us to follow him to become addicts ourselves as well as being codependent.

After the death of Herbert Armstrong and the collapse of his empire, the problem became worse: Addicts like Roderick Meredith, David Pack, Gerald Flurry, Ronald Weinland and so many others, made codependents of their followers, draining the followers of their resources to support their habits of addiction. People could sit in services at United each week and hear the Regional Pastor express his desperation about not having enough money for retirement and discuss salary and money problems. It was clear where his priorities were. Those of us listening to him week after week, year after year, wallowed in his self-pity, which was also accompanied with his revelation that his parents were alcoholics and addicts who beat him as a teen. This was a gross transgression against the 5th commandment, but we were all hearing it through his twisted grid of reality, fed back so that he altered our moods to make us codependents. In fact, at every turn, the delusions of the addict leaders of Armstrongism make their followers codependents.

The solution, of course, is to stop providing the addict with an environment in which he can abuse himself with his addiction and refuse to be a codependent where his moods are reflected in our own.

In the case of Shane’s family, two members had to get treatment from the Betty Ford Clinic to wean them from their codependence and live their life, not for Shane, but for themselves. Without altering their behavioral responses to Shane, they would provide the environment to support Shane in going back to his addictions after his own treatment.

The final result of this is that Shane beat his addictions and has been living sober since November 2nd, 2009.

If you are still codependent with Armstrongist addict leaders, what’s it going to be for you?

Living a nightmare of someone else’s making?

Or getting free to live your own life?

It’s way past the time to move from codependence to independence.

8 Replies to “Codependence”

  1. Most excellent posting here Mr. Becker.

    It is indeed true that a religion can be an addiction in the sense of dependency and co-dependency.

    I recall watching the ‘World Tomorrow” show and couldn’t get enough back in the day. It was the highlight of the week. All the doom and gloom and how ‘you can be saved’ as you abandon your family that see’s thru the con.

    I really didn’t like the people. They were weird. But I chalked it up to “God calls the weak of the earth” excuse that the cult provided in order to justify your staying in the fray. It really was a stretch to justify how I was to ‘love them’ as my brethren. I did not like but a few people. The rest were fanatics.

    Every single person who is still in the religion knows what I mean. This is why there is little unity and much division. Everyone is self centered/focused just like their leaders who compete for the last of the blue ribbon tithe payers.

    Sad commentary on the human race. Even worse if you are part of ‘Gods church’. I guess ‘God’ is divided.

  2. I just wonder if being a victim or a codependent isn’t written into some peoples’ DNA coding. It seems like some people will go to any lengths to avoid looking at truth. Now, there are actually ACOG people posting at Banned, labeling a lot of our very legitimate information and logical questions as crazy black ops and biker stuff! One person even says he deleted much of some of the material he intended to post for fear of “atheist bikers.” I’m beginning to think there isn’t much hope for being able to help these people, at least not in this life time.

    BB

  3. “You’re codependent for sure if, when you die, someone else’s life flashes in front of your eyes.” anon

    Eventually, you will smile not because you are happy but only to put a smile on his face.

  4. [the charlatan angle]
    [cliff notes for the clueless]
    HWA’s con game?
    “Don’t believe me, BELIEVE your Bible! YOU CAN PROVE all things with your Bible and THE Bible WILL tell you who to BELIEVE IN(meaning HWA)!

    For those that listened to HWA, most didn’t even care, some checked and disagreed, and others proved HWA to be in agreement with their highest authority. By doing this, they had transfered their authority of the Bible to HWA. And for those that didn’t, “good riddance”. HWA didn’t have to waste his time or money on ‘them’. With lures and nets(free booklets), HWA was more efficent by just casting and reeling in more fish or sheeple. Fishers-of-men he was but only for HWA’s gain. GIVE and GET? You ‘give’, HWA ‘gets’! LOL!

    becker:”…Roderick Meredith, David Pack, Gerald Flurry, Ronald Weinland and so many others,…”
    are still fighting over a dead man’s con game. Who has the most ‘blue ribbons’. HWA was so good at this game that even today they have to do it through HWA. This doesn’t have to mean that all of them are conscience of this game. It just seems that the most powermad and delusional tend to make their way to the top. It is automatic for them. While the sheeple continue to try and create the illusion of a utopia for the worst that get on top.
    The solution for codependency is simple but can be difficult in practice. Especially if you don’t how. Believe it or not, Armstrongism will not teach, demonstrate or allow the following.
    1. Honesty with your self.
    2. Honesty with others.
    3. Expect honesty from others and hold them accountable if they are not.
    4. Well-formed outcomes. Don’t plan for disapointment or let others plan it for you.

    As a side story, subtracting COG7 and the similar, was there people who checked and agreed totally with HWA’s doctrines(only the doctrines that were broadcasted on radio and tv) and thought “Why should HWA be my sheperd when I already have a sheperd named Jesus Christ?”
    I ask this to effect the belief that it was the narcisstic powermad types that wreaked havoc and not necessarily the ‘doctrines’.

  5. I’m not a fan of Dr. Phil, but he has his moments and his book, “Life Code” is an excellent resource. Of late, he has been running episodes of women who have an online ‘lover’ they are convinced are the love of their life. Dr. Phil takes them through the facts and they are shown that the whole thing is a scam — usually after these women have spent as much as $2 million or more on the empty promises of men they have never seen, never talked to in person, never met and don’t even have a picture. They have been flim-flammed and bamboozled out of their money by emotional extortion.

    The reaction of these women is astonishing: They not only don’t want to believe it and won’t believe it, they are angry with Dr. Phil for dispelling their delusion.

    There’s no gratitude for the revealer of truth.

    The obstinancy is frustratingly puzzling. Besides Intervention, I watch Kitchen Nightmares and Bar Rescue. It never ceases to amaze me that some of these people who really need help and are failing spectacularly sometimes refuse help because of stubborn arrogance. They are wrong and they just don’t want to hear it.

    Those of us who endured the earlier years of the Cult of Herbert Armstrong Mafia were mercilessly skewered by ministers with ‘correction’ with pitiless painful (and sometimes spectacularly wrong) assessments of our core being, often in Spokesman Club and certainly in ‘private’ counseling (which became part of a permanent record against us and sometimes was revealed publicly to the congregation from the pulpit). One would think that being taught that we should seek ‘correction’ would be a preface to seeking truth and responding to the conclusions, but apparently just the opposite is true. It is my belief that this is the reason for so much anti-science. No one should be surprised that what we say would be framed as so much black ops and biker stuff.

    For both addicts and codependents, when you need an excuse to cling to your kook ideas, any excuse will do.

    So much for honesty.

    Nevertheless, it is important for people to consider the state they are in because in the long run they will pay spectacularly for failed strategies.

    As Jon Taffer says, don’t embrace excuses — embrace solutions.

  6. Doug, kudos for a well thought out and expressed analysis. You mentioned listening to UCOG pastors complaining about their unfunded retirement years. This hit me hard because such a comment was literally the “last straw” for me: in the summer of 1995 in Seattle, a minister & his wife (who I had a crush on while at AC) were traveling through the area and stopped by for church services. He “let his hair down” to me, & said bluntly that they’d barely been able to hang on until United got up & running! Perish the thought that he might actually have to “go out into the world” to earn an honest living! Later I thought about the thousands of marriages that the “ministers” had destroyed—many of them by “company men” who knew what they were doing was not even biblically justifiable, but did it rather than lose the great perks that came to the “territory managers”.

  7. Outsiders would probably not understand the full extent to which Armstrongism made members and their families codependent. The basic diet advocated by the church in the 1950s and ’60s caused just horrible flatulence. You talk about breaking down human dignity! It was a constant problem in the AC dorms, the SEP dorms or booths, and particularly at school, (leg lifts or situps in gym class were when it usually slipped out!) The thing is, even when you tried to pinch it back, it would make very audible sounds while still in your intestines. And this, as if it were not already totally embarrassing to have to wear the hopelessly out of style clothing insisted upon by the church. At the time it was cool to wear them, they were Satan’s styles, but several years later when they hit the thrift shops, suddenly they were fully approved.

    Years later, someone who had spent a lot of time in the military shared with me that in the Army, you didn’t want anything about you to be radically different, or to draw attention to you personally. The ones with personal quirks were the ones usually singled out by the drill sergeants, were “volunteered” for unpleasant tasks, and were mocked and made fun of by fellow soldiers. That’s exactly what happened in the public schools. Armstrongism set us up with a bunch of prefabricated quirks, until we learned to mask them.

    It is difficult to fathom why spiritual leaders would deliberately inflict these things on their followers, and worse, how some can remain so loyal to them after being subjected to this sort of thing for decades.

    BB

  8. Douglas Becker:”There’s no gratitude for the revealer of truth.”

    From my understanding and experience, the more codependant and dysfuctional a group or system is, the greater the punishment will be for the one speaking a truth. Truth is like ‘kryptonite’ for them. So, they MUST destroy the credibility of those who are able and willing to point out the hypocrisy.

    “…I watch Kitchen Nightmares…”

    If you have seen “Amy’s Baking Company” from Kitchen Nightmares, you will have met my sister who behaves the exact same way. I can only imagine the greater terror she would have created if she was involved with Armstrongism instead of being a “charasmatic christain”.

    Douglas Becker:”…because in the long run they will pay spectacularly for failed strategies.”

    In the long run, the abusers will leave behind a ‘trail of tears’ till they hit rock bottom. In the short run, their failures will almost always come from other people’s expense.

    Byker Bob:”It is difficult to fathom why spiritual leaders would deliberately inflict these things on their followers, and worse, how some can remain so loyal to them after being subjected to this sort of thing for decades.”

    Projection? Since they are already in a higher position, they will believe that they are already better than those under them. Their title will be all the evidence they need. Any challenge will be a major crisis. As they become more insecure, the need to put others ‘in the wrong’ will grow. Especially in a powermad cult like Armstrongism.
    As for the sheeple, it is the lesser of two evils. Douglas Becker:”emotional extortion”
    “If you think you feel shitty now just wait till you cross me!”
    “How DARE YOU DUCK when I throw things AT YOU!”

    drive-by philosopher

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