inner conflict 

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PREVIOUS: Bs & ACoAs (Part 3)

REVIEW posts: “Separation & Individuation


a. Fear of Engulfment
b. Feat of Separation

A basic requirement for S & I is a sense of efficacy – able to (allowed to) have an appropriate effect on our environment

SYMPTOMS of poor or no Separation & Individuation (S & I) :
• weak sense of Self: the child’s core injury comes from not receiving a meaningful, empathic emotional response from mother
• narcissistic vulnerability is based on shame of having needs : child is injured by being constantly slighted or ignored
• emotional detachment or clinging: abandonment is played out as “come here – go away” in adult relationships

CONSEQUENCES of symbiosis : creates difficulty with —
✓ feeling all our emotions
✓ loving others unselfishly
✓ nurturing our young
✓ mourning the dead
✓ boundaries re. time & space
✓ caring about the human race
✓ dealing with conflict (isolating) & taming aggression….

✶ These problems make it very hard for ACoAs to have healthy intimacy, often relating to others as if we each were inanimate objects, used to fix unresolved infantile issues

A common example of the symbiotic conflict is the push-pull syndrome.
While some ACoAs are primarily Stayers & others primarily Leavers, there are some whose conflict is subtle & very confusing because both are acted out in every relationship. Either way, ACoAs don’t realize we’re recreating our early abandonment – again & again

1. Come-Here/Go-Away : ACoAs very much want to have relationships, but don’t acknowledge our deep fear of emotional closeness. We invite people in, let them come close if they approach, & some of us even compulsively chase after anyone we can snag
✶ At the same time, we have an invisible barrier around us used as a substitute for real Bs others cannot see & that we are rarely aware of
2. As someone gets emotionally & physically closer, wants to know more about us, spend more time, be more permanent – we start to panic. Since we’re not allowed to say what we need, want & don’t want, how we feel…. if we let them in we’ll be taken over by their needs & wants

3. As the person moves in, they inevitably cross that ‘line in the sand’ the WIC is hiding behind BUT which we never acknowledge, so can’t verbalize.
Then how can we possible expect others to know when they’ve gotten too close?
We feel invaded, suffocated, endangered – terrified. At that point the need to protect ourselves is much greater than our fear of being alone!

4. As the terror builds we do or say things that are a slap in the face to this person who cares about us – we verbally punch them in the stomach &/or become distant & unavailable.  They are shocked, hurt, confused, appalled! They try to figure out what they did wrong — but their only sin was getting too close to our wounded self! So naturally they back off & then go away!

5. Now it gets interesting! WE have pushed the person away by cruelty or withholding AND then wonder why they withdrew!  Suddenly our abandonment fear come to the fore & we act confused & surprised at the others reaction!  Where did you go?? & WHY?

6. So without understanding what we’ve done – that we set up the painful outcome – some of us will invite, cajole, beg the person to come back to us.  If they do, AND we still cannot identify where our boundaries are, they’ll come too close again, & the cycle repeats!

• This pattern is crazy-making for us & our friends or partners. It makes them sad & eventually very angry.  We are condemning ourselves to an endless round of seduction & loss.  We look like the crazy one, hate ourselves more, blame others, say we can’t trust anyone, think we can’t love or the ‘universe’ is against us….. without looking at our Symbiotic Conflict!good Bs

RECOVERY – As Usual 😔
•  Admit our damage – cut thru denial
• Feel the old rage & terror
• Nurture the Inner Child
• Reduce S-H, CDs & obeying the PP
• Connect with others in Recovery
• Form an alliance with the loving H.P.

NEXT: How ACoAs Boundary Invade

2 thoughts on “BOUNDARIES & ACoAs (Part 4)

  1. So like me, it was like you were describing all my past relationships. Obviously, I am now alone, as I though that’s how I wanted to be. But I don’t know how to heal.


    • Do you go to AL-Anon meetings? In person or on the phone – there’s a lot of healing there. Books, this blog…. there are many avenues to recovery.


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