PREVIOUS: B Distortion (#3)
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, see them & still outgrow our symbiotic way of connecting. For other ACoAs, staying away for a time – or longer – is the only way to have the space to develop our True Self.
Detachment includes letting the addicts AND the non-addicts experience the consequences of their choices, instead of taking responsibility for them. It’s a core requirement for Recovery. Redirecting focus away from their self-destructive or victim drama will allow us the opportunity to develop self-care. But it’s difficult & comes with a price!
In “GAMES PEOPLE PLAY”, Eric Berne warns that when one person in a symbiotic / addictive relationship chooses to end 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!
A 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 : often the same gender – can be a doctor or psychiatrist, uneducated in the ritual of alcohol’ism. 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, while blaming the Persecutor for not understanding the his stressors
e. Connection : any professional, like a bartender, who understands the language of alcoholics, supplying them with liquor for a while, but knows when to stop ‘playing’
In “LOVE & ADDICTION”, Stanton Peele (videos) says about Relationship Addicts:
“….they’re people who never learned to deal with their world, look for stability & reassurance through some repeated, ritualized activity. The addict’s lack of internal direction or purpose creates the need for ritualized escape….
The love-object is their drug. Attaching to another person gives them an artificial sense of self-sufficiency, which eliminates the small motivation they may have had for complicated or difficult tasks (like Recovery). 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 substance. We can tell this because when we’re without our ‘drug’, temporarily or from a break-up – we experience many of the same cold-turkey symptoms other do when detoxing from a chemical :
—> anxiety & panic attacks, listlessness, physical aches & pains, sleeplessness, trouble focusing thoughts…. with feelings of despair, S-H, hopelessness, terror & rage.
• 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 be through an explosion – fights, yelling, threats, stalking, harassing texts & calls, even violence….
As ACoAs, to grow, we have to brace ourselves for feeling guilt & anxiety when detaching because it’s breaking toxic family rules. Don’t let those emotions stop you from continuing to S & I, which is what’s needed to become free & empowered.
NEXT: Detaching with Boundaries (#2)