What Johnson found in her therapeutic practice was that the experience of losing yourself in another person is common among people whether they identify as codependent, adult children of alcoholics, or as women who love too much. She writes:
Unhealthy attachments lead us to losing track of what's important to us. They preoccupy our thoughts and then they can preoccupy our behaviors. We pursue, snoop, sneak, watch, and wait. And we wait and wait, waiting for things to be better, for things to be more like we'd like them to be. And the rest of our life goes to hell. And we don't even care. We may not even notice. It just doesn't seem to matter.This notion struck a chord. Because I've been reading so many books lately, endlessly searching for the one thing that will help me clear away part of the fog I seem to be living under, I began to wonder if it would help. Her definition and description of the problem was dead on, but I wasn't sure I could apply it in a way that would help me to change...until I got to the first exercise about illusions:
Think of a person or situation in which you presently feel entangled.
What is a present illusion of yours relative to this person or situation?
What is a hope or belief you are holding about this person or situation that may or may not really be happening?
What has happened that makes you believe your illusion may be true?
What has or has not happened that tells you your illusion may not be true?
Looking at this data, what is the reality about this person and/or your situation?
How are you feeling about this reality you are finding?
I did the exercise last night, thinking generally about a relationship. I was astonished by what I was able to write. There was something about the way the questions were posed that released me from my typical type-A analysis and freed me to write down my raw feelings. Once I'd finished, I realized it would be better to deal with a more specific situation or event so that specific learnings can be obtained.
There are three other sections in addition to "facing illusions": detaching, setting healthy boundaries, and developing spirituality. I'm really looking forward to using the exercises in a more structured way each time a specific situation makes me feel anxious and out of control. In this way, I feel like there will be change in the way I view things. At the moment I can know something intellectually, but getting my heart to catch up has been a real challenge.