ACoAs : Detaching with Boundaries (Part 1)


PREVIOUS: B Distortion (#4)

SEE: Healthy vs Unhealthy Parenting’ , ‘Healthy Family Characteristics (ACoA website)


Co-dep HUMOR: I Think I’m Codependent With My Cat – And I wouldn’t have it any other way – Jessica Olien, Cartoonist

TRYING TO LEAVE a dysfunctional system
To outgrow Boundary Distortions, we have to DETACH Emotionally, Mentally & Spiritually (PMES), first from our family of origin (FoO) & then other unhealthy relationships – but not always Physically. We can love someone & still outgrow our symbiotic way of connecting. For others, staying away for a time – or longer – is the only way to have the space to develop our True Self.

Detachment is letting the addicts experience the consequences of their choices, instead of taking responsibility for them. It’s a core requirement for Recovery. Redirecting focus away from the their self-destructive drama will allow the ACoA an opportunity to develop self-care. But it’s difficult & comes with a price!

In GAMES PEOPLE PLAY, by Eric Berne, we’re warned that when one person in a symbiotic / addictive relationship arbitrarily ends a psychological game before the other person is ready to disengage – the latter will become highly agitated, demanding, clinging, enraged, even suicidal (See 4 of the games).
DEF: “Games are a series of complementary ulterior transactions progressing to a well-defined, predictable outcome”

• Many ACoAs have shared about their active addict or depressed co-dependent parent committing suicide once the adult-child withdraws from the family drama, rather than be left alone with their loss.  Unless someone is physically in terrible pain & dying, the reason for suicide is almost always the person’s rage at others for abandoning them, as a punishment.  Yes the person is depressed, affected by chemicals, isolating, not getting any help… but their narcissism has them blaming everyone else for their misery, & it’s often their children!

Favorite Game :  with “Alcoholic” in the lead Role
b. Persecutor : most often the mate – usually the opposite gender. His/her assignment is to judge, criticize & list all the consequences of the Alcoholic’s disgusting behavior
c. Rescuer : usually the same gender – often a doctor or psychotherapist. They congratulate each other that the Alcoholic’s been sober for 6 months, who then wakes up the next morning with a terrible hangover
d. Patsy : often the Alcoholic’s mother, who sympathizes with the addict, providing money or booze, often blaming Persecutor for not understanding the Alcoholic’s stressors
e. Connection : a-ny professional, like a bartender, who understands the language of alcoholics, supplies them with liquor for a while, but knows when to stop ‘playing’

In LOVE & ADDICTION, Stanton Peele (videos) says about Relationship Addicts:
“…. people who never learns to deal with their world, looking for stability & reassurance through some repeated, ritualized activity. The addict’s lack of internal direction or purpose creates the need for ritualized escape….
Drugs give them an artificial sense of self-sufficiency, which eliminates the small motivation they may have had for complicated or difficult tasks. A major feature of the addiction cycle is withdrawal – the anguished reaction to an interruption of their supply”

• Yes, we can become addicted to another person just as much as to a physical substanclove addicte. We can tell this because when we lose our ‘drug’, whether temporarily or from a break-up – we experience many of the same cold-turkey  symptoms when detoxing from a chemical — anxiety & panic attacks, listlessness, physical aches & pains, sleeplessness, trouble focusing thoughts…. with feelings of despair, hopelessness, anxiety & anger

• In relationships based on symbiotic attachment – each person is intensely dependent on the other for their sense of identity & safety. BUT if one of them needs to get away for their psychic survival, the other is deeply threatened & can become depressed or enraged. Whether we’re talking about adults & their parents or love partnerships, amicable separations are rare.
Often the only way to separate will include an explosion – fights, yelling, threats, stalking, harassing texts & calls, even violence….

As ACoAs, we have to brace ourselves for feelings of guilt  & anxiety when breaking any toxic family rule. Don’t let that emotion stop you from continuing to S & I, which is what we’re need to do to be free & empowered humans.


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