SYMBIOSIS & ACoAs (Part 3)



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 hole in soulgoing 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!”a little shove
• “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 failed symbiosisperson, 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

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