ACoAs & Boundary INVASIONS (Part 2)

no limits


Then why do I feel so alone?


3. Family System SYMBIOSIS

a. Insecure parents:
• push for an ‘us against the world’ attitude in hopes of increasing family solidarity, which is powered by an unbearable threat to their sense of self
• can be over-protective. On the surface it looks like showing their love but is really trying to keep us attached by dis-empowering us. It gives the message that we are incompetent, weak & should be afraid of everything

• may attribute the wrong motive to peoples’ unpleasant reactions to any family member, no matter what we actually did (be controlling, arrogant, withdrawn, belligerent….) in order to make the family look better, saying things like: “Those kids are just jealous of you because you’re so much better than everyone else in the class”, “The boss doesn’t like me because I’m smarter than her”….

b. Distortions :  These & other CDs cause many problems for children:distortion
• prevent them from becoming fully socialize, from normal risk-taking & learning about the many options available in the world
•  give them a distorted view of events & how the world functions, making it hard for them to take responsibility for their motives & action
• severely increases their inappropriate social behavior, making it easy to become a target for bullying, insuring their isolation from peers & dependence on the family

Some familiar phrases: Blood is thicker than water ~ We’ve got to stick together  Never air our dirty laundry in public  We’re better than everyone ~  No one else will love you like we do  ~ You’ll never make it on your own ~~ Which reminds us of the childhood taunt:  “You have a face only a mother could love, & she died”!

c. Family Insularity is built on fear-based rules that inevitably lead to
constriction, intolerance & hopelessness about collaborate with others well.  Ironically it also creates isolation, scapegoating, splits & alliances inside the family, which then get repeated in adulthood.
EXP: Being in a toxic Role, like the Scapegoat (not like being scapegoated), had some advantage in the dysfunctional family mobile – feeling useful by ‘protecting’ a parent from the consequences of their addiction by being the focus of the family’s troubles).  We then look for the same kind of payoff when playing out that role in the larger world (protecting a spouse or boss…), but it rarely works & only reinforces our S-H, A. & negative benefits.

4. Parental NARCISSISM (N)
This topic has been covered in many other posts, so it’s not necessary to belabor it here. As it relates to B. invasion:
• Ns require that everyone around them be their carbon copy, so there’s no room for children to develop their own individuality
• children need mirroring (feeding back what you see of the other person without adding anything of yourself) & Ns cannot give it because they are only reflecting themselves, not who the child is

Narcissists do not recognize there are such things as boundaries, that others are separate & not extensions of themselves. People either exist to meet their needs or may as well not exist at all. Anyone who provides narcissistic supply will be treated as if they are part of the controller, who demands that the victim live up to their expectations (think: spider & fly). 
• Some N. phrases:be like me
“What yours is mine & what’s mine is nobody’s business”
“Do as I say not as I do”, “Put a sweater on, I’m cold”
“No some of son of mine is going to…..”
“This is the thanks I get – after all I’ve done for you”
“Do that in the morning when you’re fresh” said by a mother who was always raring to go at 6 am, to her child who was born a dyed-in-the-wool night person!
Watch ‘Angry-martyr Narcissist” on YouTube

NOTE: If you have firm boundaries in the face of a narcissist, the relationship won’t last! Good!

Role Ambiguity
Parental N. spawns much identity confusion  – since only their needs counted, so the children take on parent role – “I am them”,   & many a parents acts like a needy kid – “They are me”.   Family members aren’t sure who’s in or out of the clan, who’s performing what tasks of legitimate roles : Dad acts like a ‘girl’, Sis is the ‘mom’, little Brother is the family shrink….. Growing up, whose pain were you feeling – yours or theirs? Were you parent to your siblings? Spouse to one of your parents? Did you ever get to just be a kid? Which role did you have – Hero, Scapegoat, Mascot or Lost Child?

Al-Anon IMAGE: A co-dependent decides to kill himself by jumping off the roof of a tall building.  As he’s falling, someone else’s life flashes before his eyes!

NEXT: B. Invasions (Part 3)


4 thoughts on “ACoAs & Boundary INVASIONS (Part 2)

  1. Blech. This post hit on all too many “scenarios” growing up. Some things we experienced….to this day don’t make any sense, just strange behavior on their part and resultant mistreatment of us.

    I have been grateful in that I have always felt (hoped?:) I had emerged relatively unscathed. But now I realize that those early days did have an effect on me, if only in my private thoughts… but then that is how I view the world. Erg. I detest that admission, that they had that power. Today, I grudgingly tease out those thoughts and try to work with them. It has been to some benefit, but I wonder what ELSE I may be missing, and yet I do not want to waste my precious life digging around in that filth. My day to day is really good but then I read something or get flooded with memories…..yuck. I have been told just to “put it behind me” on the rare occasions I even discuss it! What a treat it would be just to flush all of it from my mind. If that trick is out there, teach me! LOL

    Cheers, Kira


    • Hi Kira,
      Anything positive in your life comes from the ‘real’ you & is to be valued & celebrated.
      But all children are programmed by their upbringing, not just you, so it’s ok to admit their original power over us. It’s normal. All my posts talk about this – “The Introject”, “CDs: Info & the Brain”, “Self-Hate”, etc.

      The “filth” you mention is what you lived in as a kid – which you did not deserve! Now you can save the little girl in you by acknowledging what happened, clean it out & love that part of yourself like your parents couldn’t!

      Only sick people in denial will tell you to put it all behind you! That’s a negation of what you went thru & is not acceptable. To get free of them comes from ‘going thru’, NOT around! I’ve done it & it has paid off.

      Thanks for reading & commenting.
      Donna Marie


  2. Cannot tell you how much I felt…I don’t know if “vindicated” is the right word. I certainly didn’t like the content of this, but I like the relief I felt that there is a name to what I experience. I certainly grew up with the covert abuse…it was THE most maddening thing ever. I could never “prove” anything and felt absolutely crazy. Today I live with a woman that has the same kind of behavior and she can’t understand why I get nuts when she does it! I am drawing my line in the sand here. I am dealing with this so that it no longer creates the havoc in my life that it has. i will continue reading your great blog. thanks for all the info.


    • Thanks Steve. I identify with feeling crazy growing up – outwardly nothing was wrong – but…. If your lady-friend would be willing to read some of the blog – then she might understand!


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