ACoAs & RIGID Boundaries (Part 1)

heart in jail 

it’s the only way I can feel safe!





Healthy BOUNDARIES are about having personal power. When used appropriately they’re our “line in the sand,” defining who we are & protecting from unwanted influences.

• In any family – parents are supposed to provide emotional nurturing, & teach children how to function successfully in society.  This includes age-appropriate boundaries, allowing children enough leeway & options to find out who they are as separate individuals, not just extensions of the caretakers.

Unhealthy – However, in families where boundaries rigid Bsare too rigid, all the power & control is with the parents. There’s no room for kids to breathe, make mistakes, take their time to learn or be playful & relaxed.  One-sided power strangles communication, limiting or eliminating any real sharing between the generations (“no back talk” / “children should be seen & not heard”…)

• Some parents are monolithic – standing together as a unit, against the children, rather than for them
• OR one parent, often the father, is the tyrant dictating all rules, to be followed without question
— If the other parent simply capitulates or escapes, children at the mercy of the bully or  mentally ill mate
— OR the weaker parent will join forces with the children, either to secretly help, or in self-protection, & manipulate/ coerce/ guilt them into obeying the abuser

• As children become adolescents, they’re either withdrawn or flattenedrebellious.
EXP: Ben was a happy talkative little kid, friendly to everyone, even strangers. His narcissistic parents were performers, constantly forcing him to be on stage – which didn’t suit his personality.
Over the next 10 yrs. he lived thru several uprooting family moves, physical & emotional abuse at home & bullying at school. Gradually he withdraw, & by 13-14 he’d stopped talking or socializing. His parents wondered “what’s wrong with him”!

ACoAs develop overly-rigid Bs in families:
• that were too restrictive, dictatorial, cruel. Even tho it made us very angry, we end up copying their pattern, afraid to break out of the suffocating shell they created,
• who were neglectful but overly-dramatic & boundary invasive. Being constantly terrified, we over-compensated by tightening our own Bs, as a way to have a tiny measure of internal control, to quiet the intense anxiety

EITHER way – Physical, psychological, emotional &/or sexual assaults forced some ACoAs to choose this per-version of Bs as protective armor (Toxic Rules & Roles  – (“This is how we’ve always done it // It’s the right way to do things”….).
So afraid of being personally violated -again-, we become inflexible & hyper-vigilant, even paranoid.
All our relationships suffer because we’re incapable of true emotional intimacy, convinced that if we let our guard down, we’ll fall under the total control of The Other. Instead of protection, it only leaves us deeply empty & lonely.(‘’Come here-Go way )

• Traumatized children naturally become very mistrustful (just like animals abused by humans). Since the Brain is innately organized in schematics…. we associate people & experiences in generalities. Therefore ACoAs set up defensive walls against those who originally hurt us, & then extend that to everything else, losing the ability to make the connection: people=pleasure.
EXP: A woman violated by an adult male as a child will definitely not trust any man. And a man ‘broken’ by beatings & betrayal from his mother won’t able to trust his judgment or intuition about other women…..wrong guy

ACoA irony: When isolation becomes unbearable, in desperation we reach out to whoever is immediately around, whether inappropriate or not.
If that person or group shows any interest or kindness – we fall profoundly under their influence before even realize it! For an instant we drop our guard & drift into the fantasy of finally being loved & taken care of. They become our sole obsession – for a time – convinced we can’t live without them

**Eventually, we may feel strangled & overrun, because rigid Bs are not Bs at all! They just mask a desperate need for connection, but is actually symbiosis. Then we’ll experience the other person / group as a virus invading our inner sanctuary, which must be expelled. We absolutely have to devalue & discredit them by finding fault, starting fights or withholding & losing interest!

NEXT: RIGID  Boundaries (Part 2) – Characteristics