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 early wounds are 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
Fantasy can serve the same purpose – the one person 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, assuming they have qualities that will save us from our anxiety
• The hunger 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 their own 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
The WIC is absolutely sure that 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:
– chasing (an ACoA favorite!), stalking, kidnap….
– we 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. 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.
When someone (you) likes or hates something & assume others will too:
• “We’re going to this restaurant/ Here, put this on / Kids, 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….?” (I can’t stand it!)
SIMILAR: Sometimes kindred souls, looking for the ultimate bond, will find each other – as a friendship, but more often a mating. With similar interests, perhaps a sexual attraction & always a shared traumatic background, they link up & are ‘loyal forever’
It may be a kind of love, but really it’s the love of 2 wounded children trying to provide for each 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: More often it’s when a needy, ES person (the ‘Stayer’) chooses to marry, become best friends with or go into business with 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, their dependency 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!
• WHEN we rely exclusively on others to hold us up, they will eventually become exhausted. And when that person, 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 abandonment panic. An unhealed ACoA can :
— become immobilized by depression
— increase familiar addictions or take up new ones
— have panic attacks // end up in the hospital // try suicide
MILD: Naturally there are degrees, & all wounded people are afflicted with the longing to be cocooned, to some extent. With long-term recovery / sobriety, our day-to-day life may not reflect this issue, 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, but especially when losing a long-term symbiotic connection, is that it drives us 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