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Hug Your Demons Or They Will Bite You In The Ass

Written by: Ailsa Keppie, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


I read this quote recently in a book about the disease of Co-dependence by Pia herself. I was surprised to find how much I resonated with the introduction and even the idea that Co-dependence was a disease stemming from childhood experiences.

I personally have struggled to understand my own personality traits and tendencies, especially around relationships, and finally this idea of codependence actually makes sense. Unlike other addictions or even the experience of being a child of an addict, co-dependence is an unseen and unrecognized epidemic in our culture. There are a few programs and groups for codependency as we are beginning to understand the scope of this problem, but for the most part, many who suffer from this are still told they are crazy or overreacting.

Having the courage to face our past experiences, especially regarding relationship dynamics is not easy. Often abuse within families is not acknowledged or even recognized for what it is. It’s not just overt physical or sexual abuse that can cause us to respond with the people-pleasing behaviour of the co-dependent. Emotional, psychological or even spiritual abuse is often an even bigger factor.

To see past the denial or minimization patterns we have used as coping strategies for years takes huge courage and is really the first step toward healing from this emerging issue. We must indeed ‘hug’ our demons into the light and see what they have to teach us. “If you do not embrace what is dysfunctional, you are doomed to repeat it and stay in the pain.” As Pia states in her book ‘Facing Co-dependence’.

I have noticed that I still have moments where a simple question from my partner can send me into a panic which can quickly slide into rage or helplessness depending on the situation. My body tightens, my lower back almost spasms and I immediately get a headache. I also, quite often, become speechless or lose my ability to have a voice. This physiological response shocks me in its immediacy as I have done countless therapy sessions and Somatic trainings that target this exact type of thing.

What is going on?

Labelling my experience as a disease is not something I want to attach myself too strongly to, however, as an interim step, it is extremely helpful. Seeing my reactions in this way helps me to identify that it is not something inherently wrong with me as a person, but that I have developed these in response to growing up in a dysfunctional family. My subsequent dysfunctional relationships with both myself and others now have a possible road to healing and resolution.

I want to add here that these realizations of mine in no way blame my parents for all of my relationship woes. They did the best they could with the tools and understanding they had at the time. However, I also now understand that what I experienced growing up was not always the best for me as a child.

The delusion was formed in childhood that my parents and how they acted were normal and therefore, because I was uncomfortable with this, I was therefore ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’. This delusion was necessary to preserve my place and belonging to my family. Fortunately, now I have a choice about how I continue to see myself and my relationships and to nurture those parts of me that didn’t get a chance back then to flourish.

One of the most incredibly affirming aspects of seeking help with the disease of co-dependence is finding someone who tells me I am ok and loveable no matter what. That my wants and desires are normal and that I have a right to have them and even voice them!

This relationship that is carefully curated and sacredly held, between a therapist and a client, is important in the journey of healing. There must be true caring in the relationship that shines through the exchange of money for time. This cannot be faked.

I have had the privilege of having a number of gifted and compassionate therapists along the way and I am grateful to all of them. As I now work with clients of my own, I remember my journey and the loving hands that guided me towards my own healing.

We all have the opportunity to hold each other and in this frame it is easier to imagine hugging our demons. If you suffer from the ‘disease’ of Co-dependency and want to heal, check out my website and reach out for support. I humbly offer my experience to walk with you in your experience and to find freedom together.

In love,


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Ailsa Keppie, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Ailsa is a trained intimacy Educator and Somatic Therapist and has been working in hands-on bodywork, somatic coaching, and healing for over a decade. Ailsa Keppie brings aspects from her background in circus arts, physical theatre, music, dance, myofascial release, bioenergetic processes, archetypes, and spirituality to her work with clients. She is a published author of her compelling memoir entitled "By the Light of the Crescent Moon," which describes her incredible journey into Islam and polygamy and how it lead to her awakening and reclamation of her own Eros and power. Ailsa works with individuals, couples, and groups both online and in-person at her retreat center, Our Celtic Hearth, in Nova Scotia, Canada, where she resides with her current life partner.



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