IT’S SO HARD TO LET GO
I want to stay loyal to them!
PREVIOUS: Symbiosis & ACoAs (part 1)
DEF: Emotional Symbiosis is when a person has a limited capacity to be aware of, respect, appreciate, comprehend the subjectivity of another. It is a common dysfunction because of the incomplete way most babies are treated. People who are Symbiotic need everyone to agree with their point of view – about everything – & tend to put others down when they don’t. Unfortunately, Emotional Symbiosis is usually passed down through generations, & always has a negative impact on a family’s life.
INFO: Symbiosis can best be explained with the use of the ego state model. In a relationship with a symbiotic pattern, both people use only some of their ego states to relate to each other, resulting in less flexibility. It’s as if both partners take on stable roles and don’t come out of them again. In symbiosis, two people function as if they only had one set of ego states between them.
Family enmeshment is a form of psychic incest – inappropriate
cross-generational bonding. It is characterized by:
— has poor boundaries between the various members
— are in each other’s business all the time
— has no respect for individuality
— have to conform to a narrow Role (Scapegoat, Hero….)
— there’s a demand that everyone conform the party line – whatever it is in that family
— punishes any member not conforming, trying to be a separate individual, either by outright attacks, the cold shoulder or banishment
— children are caught up the needs of the parents, having to ignore their own
ADULT Symbiosis – in us or our parents
The compulsion to symbiose in adults comes mainly from the WIC ego state (wounded child) but is held in place by its attachment to a damaging parent (introject) who was either unavailable or overly-attached themselves. Some characteristics:
• earliest nurturing needs not met as an infant
• not having a strong healthy sense of one’s TRUE self (identity)
• not feeling safe on ones own
• deep fear of abandonment
• ‘control’ relationships
• intense self-hate, shame, guilt
• not having boundaries
• not knowing ‘who I really am’
• not having appropriate role models for healthy ways to relate
Keep in mind:
• Symbiosis is all about original Abandonment, since it’s our WIC who is still desperate to gain that sense of safety – at any cost, to self or others – which healthy infant symbiosis would have/ should have given us, but was not available.
IN THE PRESENT
As adults, ACoAs desperately try to be symbiotically attached to others, fueled by NOT wanting to acknowledge that as kids we had to buy the family line about how worthless & unlovable we are. We didn’t have a choice then – but we do now.
• Denying that we were emotionally abandoned as kids is maintained in many ways – like trying to prove we’re nothing like them – while at the same time acting out the very family drama we’re trying to escape (the ‘repetition compulsion’), unconsciously choosing the same kind of people, place & things that are familiar from childhood, again & again!
• SYMBIOSIS is a narcissistic state, appropriate for an infant – but NOT for an adult – where it is an unsuccessful attempt at getting maternal nurturing & gaining self-esteem thru other adult relationships.
It’s frustratingly unsuccessful (even if someone is willing to co-dependently try), because we know at some very deep level that it’s not legitimate connection. We are trying to force someone else to give us permission to be on the planet & demand the mother-infant love we never got, rather than being with us out of genuine affection & respect, as equals. And – if they agree to “help” you, THEY are doing it to feel needed, to fill a hole in themselves. SO it’s not really about you, and both would be using each other!
Symbiotically attaching oneself to another person is:
• taking someone emotionally captive (the saying is: “Alcoholics – & other narcissists – don’t have relationships, they take hostages”) instead of having equal, healthy, inter-dependence with others
• actually USING others to take care of us instead of caring for ourselves, in order to cover up our self-hate & incomplete identity and to not have to do the deep emotional work that can heal our damage & free up the real us
• the need to insist everyone be a carbon copy of oneself (a mirror image) to validate one’s identity, because we don’t have permission to be our true self, so – if everyone agrees with us then we’re OK (allowed to live).
NEXT: Symbiosis – Part 3