I ONLY FEEL REAL & ALIVE –
if I can see myself reflected in you!
Previous: Symbiosis & ACoAs (Part 1)
SEVERE version of Symbiosis
CONTROL, CONTROL, CONTROL – is all about keeping someone or something in a symbiotic lock. For many ACoAs, the wound is so deep that we’ll symbiose with a wall, because at least it will hold us up! Or with a book, a chair, even the corner of a sofa – if it makes us feel cozy & safe – for a little while.
For some of us a fantasy serves the same purpose – the guy in the office (who doesn’t notice you), a movie star, professor, guru, …. AND of course we can be in fantasy about the person we’re currently with – seeing in them only the qualities we imagine they have that will save us from our anxiety.
• The desperation for a connection with someone who is our carbon copy & therefore won’t leave us, is so great that NO differences are tolerated. When the other person has a different need, taste or opinion, they’re not mirroring us (perfectly) & without that we don’t know who we are. Without that reflection it feel as if we’re going to die – that we’re invisible & therefore non-existent.
Our very life depends on that false bond, because the HOLE inside (scroll way down) – where the Good Parent should be – is so great.
We experience any ‘differences’ as a betrayal & if the other person tries to leave, the profound loss can make our reaction quite severe:
– we’ll chase (an ACoA favorite!), stalk, kidnap….
– get very ill or try suicide, but usually not ‘serious’
– threaten, verbally or physically attack, or otherwise punish
– whine, cry, accuse, manipulate to get then back with us
People with less severe damage, or a fair amount of recovery have less extreme ways of trying to mesh in close relationships. These are often garden-variety forms of controlling actions or statement. It still has more than a whiff of narcissism, but indirect – so it doesn’t SEEM as bad. We have to be more awake for this type, because It looks like they’re including you, but they’re not.
EXP – any time someone (you) likes or hates something & assume others will too:
• “We’re going to this restaurant/ Here, put this on / We’re moving to …. I know you’ll love it!”
• “You just have to see that movie / read this / go to that shoe store…”
• “Don’t take your bag / that coat / this paper… – you don’t need it!”
• “I don’t see why you’d want to go there / do that / be with them…”
• “I just don’t understand her /him… I would never do / say that!”…..
• “Are you sure you want that dress, pen, car, class….?” (since I can’t stand it!)
SIMILAR: Sometimes kindred souls, both looking for the ultimate bond – will find each other. With similar interests, perhaps a sexual attraction and always the shared experience of a traumatic childhood, they link up & are ‘loyal forever’.
This can be a friendship, but more often a mating. It may be a kind of love, but basically the love of 2 wounded children trying to provide for the other what they barely have for themselves. It’s not uncommon for such couples to isolate & insulate themselves from the rest of the world.
OPPOSITE: What’s more common is that a needy, symbiotic person (the ‘stayer’) will choose to marry, become best friends with or go into business with (tho’ less likely) a ‘leaver’ type who is terrified of being swallowed up BUT also wants to be taken care of. So the stayer seems like the right fit – for a while! Eventually, the neediness of the symbiotic clinger will become too much & a rupture occurs. It may take years, but it’s inevitable. The leaver finally has to get away, & the stayer is devastated!
• If we rely exclusively on others to hold us up, they will eventually become exhausted. And when that person (or group or institution) we’re too reliant on needs to save themselves – from us – OR go away for some other reason (divorce, death, a kid going off the college or getting married…), the loss of symbiosis brings up old abandonment panic An unhealed ACoA can :
— become immobilized by depressed
— increase the use of familiar addictions or take up new ones
— have panic attacks // end up in the hospital // try suicide
MILD: Naturally there are degrees of this problem, & all wounded people are afflicted with the hunger to be cocooned, to some extent. For people with long-term recovery / sobriety, our day-to-day life may not reflect this problem, but once in a while some big stressor may drop on us & we get that terror in the pit of our stomach.
HEALING: The best case scenario for anyone with this issue, but especially someone losing a long-term symbiotic connection, is that it drives them into Recovery, via Al-Anon, therapy & other appropriate groups, often with the help of some medication, & hopefully with spiritual guidance & support.
NEXT: Separation & Individuation – #1