ACoAs & LISTENING (Part 2)

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if I don’t DO something to help!

PREVIOUS: ACoAs & Listening (#1)

POSTS: Anxiety & T.E.A

proverb: “If Speaking is Silver, then LISTENING is GOLD”

LISTENING ‘situations’ (cont)

2. (E) When someone wants you to listen to them AND they’re expressing intense emotions (sadness, anger, fear…) 

BUT their emotional state sounds ‘crazy, irrational, ‘out of proportion’ to the current situation, remember: “If it’s Hysterical, it’s Historical”. It usually means their WIC is in the foreground, who is expressing intense old pain – accumulated from childhood trauma.

It’s not your job to parent them & you’re not their therapist. Here too – trying to make them feel better can be heard by them as denying their experience!
CAVEAT:  If you’re listening to someone deep into the emotion of self-hate, there’s very little you can do to make a difference in that moment.

DO NOT try to talk someone out of Self-Hate. It’s futile. Their WIC has completely regressed into a familiar childhood state & locked in for the time being.
Because S-H is about denying the pain of abandonment & trying to avoid feeling vulnerable, while having a little control over their sense of hopelessness (S-H gives a false sense of power) – they’re not going to come out of it right away.

◆ You could say: “Wow,_____, I hear that you’re really beating yourself up mercilessly. Why is that?”
◆ You can also ask: “What’s happened recently that hurt you or disappointed you so much?”
If you think they’ll understand, you can gently suggest they’re feeling some deep childhood abandonment
◆ If appropriate, you could add your own reaction: “Your self-hate is really painful for me to hear. It’s like watching someone I care about cut themselves or shoot heroin!”
Yes, that’s how devastating S-H is!
💝   💘   💔
3. (AWhen someone wants you to listen to them AND it’s a practical issue (lack of funds, health or relationship problems…..)

AND you insist on offering a way for them to solve their problem (actions)
you’ve actually failed them, strange as it may seem, because…..
….. when you do for them what they can AND need to do for themselves, you contribute to their sense of inadequacy & fear of taking appropriate risks.
And they can do things for themselves. As adults, they’re not helpless. Maybe discouraged & faltering, but not helpless. Maybe all they need is information – but it has to be something they can apply for themselves.
(Review posts: “Rescuing – False helping” and “Healthy Helping“)

• ACoAs would rather do for others that themselves. It’s our training & a great distraction from taking care of ourselves- which we don’t want to do.Screen Shot 2016-06-19 at 5.18.42 AM

• IRONY: we use a great deal of intelligence, creativity, money, time – even wisdom – on someone else, BUT genuinely believe we don’t know how to handle our own problems! How is that possible, when we just used all those skills for others?

• REALITY: We use up a lot of energy trying to save someone else, while silently expecting, even demanding, that someone else do the same for us! WE too want to be taken care of, even though we too have the ability to care for ourselves.

• Rule #1, again – zip the lip!
• Often people just need a non-judgmental sounding board – to hear themselves think.  By running it past a good listener, they can hear the problem for what it is, maybe even find their own answersScreen Shot 2016-06-19 at 5.14.43 AM

• You can ASK if they need practical suggestions, but only give it IF….
…. they say yes & they seem willing to do for themselves (not just trying to be taken care of, or need to be oppositional)
…. you actually know, maybe from experience, what you’re talking about
• You need to CHECK what they….
…. want to do, in the near future
…. have already done, but for some reason didn’t work or didn’t help!

NEXT: ACoAs & Listening (Part 3)



& have nothing left for myself

PREVIOUS: Fear of Responsibility (FoR)  #2a


AS ADULTS (cont.)

a. re. OTHERS – Part 2a
b. Re. US
Being aleaver’ includes leaving ourselves – not just putting ourselves last, but barely enough survive, or to make life worth living.

We do NOT:
• take care of ourselves – appearance, health, living space…..
• acknowledge the damage done to us, & get the right help
• stand up for our rights, provide for our own needs
• use our inborn talents, so don’t contribute our best to society
• prosper, perpetuate general ‘anorexia’ – such as under-earning, bad relationships, isolation, no fun ….

Most ACoAs do not show outward signs of our underlying wounds, but all of us suffer from it to some degree, even in Recovery.
• We didn’t learn self-care from our family, having been neglected & mistreated, thus given the message that we didn’t deserve any better, and
• This left us with a lack of information about self-care, so we don’t actually think in terms of what we need

At the extreme, the self-neglect of some ACoAs is more visible.
Gibbons (2006) defined self-neglect as: “The inability – intentional or not – to maintain a socially & culturally accepted standard of self-care, with the potential for serious consequences to the health & well-being of the self-neglecters, perhaps even to their community.” (Wikipedia) (MORE….)

Some symptoms of self-neglect include hoarding items & pets, compulsive need to isolate, living in an unclean environment, poor personal hygiene, neglecting household maintenance, unwillingness to take medication, unkempt personal appearance, eccentric behaviors……

OVER-RESPONSIBLE = the “Stayers”
Being ‘over-responsible’ toward others includes our children & grandchildren (small or grown),
BY: • doing too much for them
• people-pleasing & not setting boundaries
• letting them get away with unhealthy behavior, spoiling them
• giving in to unhealthy requests or demands
• not holding them responsible for bad behavior
• not teaching them the best ways to live in the world

As long as the WIC is still running our life, we focus all our attention outside of ourselves. We’re looking for someone to take care of us – to give us permission to even be alive, much less be ourselves.

• doing too much for them But most of the PPT we pick to do that are just are incapable of being there for us as our family, with a few exceptions.
Also –
• Because our parents were so angry, depressed & unhappy, ACoAs are convinced (unconsciously) that everyone else is the same.  We project the way our family was onto every situation we encounter in our daily lives, whether it’s similar or not.

That means we have to react & behave in the same way we did as kids = that we have to be responsible (R) for others’ feelings & needs, to ‘help’ / fix everyone we deal with, whether important to us or not (lover, parent, sibling, OR “butcher, baker, candle-stick maker”…..).

We BELIEVE that:
• without our intervention they too will fall apart, which would be our fault, so we rush to put out other people’s firesput out fires
• if we don’t take care of them they won’t have any need for us, & ‘leave’
• by so doing we will finally become worthy of getting our needs met (‘earning’ love)

⚡️ For prolonged rescuing, we stay with those:
• who are more wounded than we are (assuming we’re not), so we can feel useful, appreciated, even superior
• who don’t want to take care of themselves & could, but live in Victim mode – so would rather we do it for them, since we’re so good at it (& desperate to please)
• who are intensely narcissistic, using us to feed off of, which we agree to, at least for a time, because it makes us feel needed & important

AND, we automatically stay away from anyone who is reasonably healthy – competent, self-directed, doesn’t need or want rescuing…. because they don’t ne-e-ed us & we wouldn’t know how to interact with them as equals

 Fear of Responsibility – #2c

Double BINDS – Origins (Part 2)

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but I have to stay……”


SITE: Double Bind Theory: Still crazy-making
after all these years”


The ego’s unconscious intentional structure has the “logical form” of a double bind.  
Everyone’s original DB is the un-resolvable early childhood conflict between staying connected to or leaving the protection of the mother. It starts out psychologically, but later also becomes physical.
It’s a pull between attachment & safety vs separation & independence. Whichever the young child wishes for at any given moment, it will experience fear & a sense of loss.
It’s the need TO:
a. develop one’s own identity, which requires ‘leaving’ – but not too early in life! Total separation causes traumatic anxiety – the terror of facing a vast alien world alone, unprepared & helpless. The outcome would be ‘death’
b. stay under the mother-hen’s wings, for safety & warmth. But if the child stays too long, it can’t develop the crucial S & I of maturity. Symbiotic clinging will also result in anxiety. By betraying a legitimate need for autonomy there’s a constant fear of completely losing one’s identity & freedom. The outcome would be ‘death’

In healthy families, this dilemma gets (more-or-less) resolved for the child by being given a balance of loving availability & personal freedom.

CHART: Great info, like how injury blocks consciousness….
Consc -Unconsc

RESULTS of the attachment-separation dilemma start in infancy. Once set in motion, they continue underground into adulthood, until brought to consciousness & resolved. If not, we’re available via the WIC – to be manipulated by unscrupulous or unaware people who tap into the original DB.

PROCESS in Childhood
1. Not able to decide on either unbearable alternative (be free vs. to stay), the infant’s MIND develops the Super-ego (SE), a judgmental voice of the Ego-Self that’s been captured by the BIND.
>> It then creates a second layer of psychic binds (bondage) – the demand to always ‘be good’.  If the child gives in to the ‘voice’, it’ll feel weak & enslaved, but if it rebels, it’s stung by guilt

2. To counter the power of the Judge (SE’s too-ethical perfectionism), the subliminal censor creates yet another voice, the ‘evil SE’ Rager, demanding the Ego-Self throw off all social conventions & appropriate behavior.

In adults Rager might say: “Tell the boss to stuff it, have another drink, don’t pay your bills, cheat on your spouse….”. It viscious cycleenjoys the delicious feeling of power that comes from sticking it to the overbearing Judge…..  so the Rager scores.

3. BUT defiance scares the child’s id, worried about losing its connection to the only internal caretaker (SE) it knows, which would cause a collapse (death).
This leads to self-punishment, dictated by the Judge, such as isolation (from shame), sabotaging daily functioning & plans, physical suffering or injury, in trouble with authority…. so the Judge scores

4. The vicious cycle continues. To keep from crumbling, the Rager takes over again, & in adults revels in antisocial / immature behavior, like missing work or avoiding other unwanted obligations (even sexual) – but also causes depression, migraines, being fired….
score points go to the Judge, who gets double points, as it enjoys punishing the Rager with the pain it caused

🦠 But the Rager rescues / ‘soothes’ the Self with remedies, such as drugs that otherwise would not be allowed by the Judge…..
— so the Ego-Self finally gets to score a point too – by numbing out.
Everyonmental gamese ‘wins’, right??
BUT:“What does it benefit a man if he gains the whole world but looses his own soul?” Mark 8:36

COMMENT: This unconscious game is how most people function, wondering why they haven’t fulfilled their dreams or found happiness.  Unresolved, It can turn us into damaged Senders or Receivers, limiting our True Self, which is mostly free of internal or external coercion
• We may say “I never play games, I like to be direct.” Unfortunately most of us DO (4 outlined on, but they’re so incorporated into our daily relationships & spread over a lifetime, we don’t recognize them.

NEXT: DMs (Part 5)

Double MESSAGES – Mind Games (Part 4a)

confused turtle 

but I can’t figure out what’s wrong


REVIEW posts:‘Emotional abuse’  and ‘Toxic family Rules’


REVIEW: Double Messages (DMs) are manipulative forms of verbal & emotional abuse – always about control rather than love, no matter what someone tells you. DMs are not usually blatant or presented directly, but often come in the form of seduction or as accusation. They’re structured so that the Receiver is deliberately conned into believe there’s no solution, & so no escape from the trap. We can also play this game with ourselves, & ACoAs often do.

In most cases, Receivers who are vulnerable to Senders’ DMs are not likely to know a way to side-step or challenge the game, because they are:
children, who are -of course- dependent on their caretakers & don’t stand a chance when subjected to a manipulative parent
• oblivious: any adult raised by such a parent, therefore pre-conditioned

•‘normal’ people who are too idealistic & naive, assuming no one would wish them harm (like themselves), especially if the S starts out by being ‘so nice & helpful’
• adults conditioned by their society, religion &/or family to accept whatever an ‘authority’ tells them, without question not allowed to think for themselves, or to think clearly, no matter how natively intelligefall inot DBnt

SPEAKING OF GAMES (in Part 3), these 2 posts is a slight digression from the topic of DMs & DBs, but so striking that it’s worth including. The following examples may or may not be a part of some DBs, but they’re cruel, the same way DBs are. This is by no means complete, so add your own family’s dysfunctional games as you become aware of them.

DEF of GAMES, from Eric Berne’s “Games People Play“:
“A pre-set, structured series of social transactions, superficially plausible but with (selfish or destructive) hidden motives, leading to a well-defined predictable outcome.”
Games are usually dysfunctional, subconscious programs created by the Little Professor ego state (& scroll down), to gather ‘strokes’ not allowed directly – negative ways to emotionally feed the Self. As far as the WIC is concerned, even negative strokes are better than none at all

NOTE: Some games are for fun & generally harmless, like a flirting ritual used to cajole someone into bed – as long as both people understand the rules & agree to the outcome.

HARMFUL mind GAMES – from an article by Brenda Nelson, 2008.
These are abusive emotional TRICKS played by parents on their children, and on each other! They insure not being able to form strong family bonds, generating lack of trust in the children, who will NOT look back on them fondly.

🦨 When You’re Older / Maybe for Your Birthday / Wait ‘til Christmas

This game starts any time a child asks for something (a doll, a bike, a trip, a car…. ) which the parent has no intention of providing. While sometimes asking a child to wait is legitimate, most often it’s just a cowardly & dishonest way for a parent to avoid saying ‘NO’broken promises outright.  

What unhealthy adults don’t realize is that a child will always hear these phrases as a promise : “Yes, but later”. What’s really going on is that the parent hopes the child will forget, but of course they don’t – they just wait. What children also never forget is the broken promise, but which is in fact being lied to & conned

🦨 Your Mother / Father Said
When parent A tells parent B to get the child to do something, t& makes B themselves be the messenger: “Your mother said you have to clean your room  pronto / Your father wants you to mow the lawn, right now……”. This is chickening out by both adults, a triangulation (A should have told the child him/herself) and B making A seem like a bully so B can be the ‘nice’ one

NEXT:  Styles of DMs, Part 4b

EGO STATES – Basics (Part 1)

inner child
& I feel best when they get along!

PREVIOUS: Process, Recovery #2b

REVIEW: S & I – Healthy Individuation

• We’re all born with the potential for 3 basic personality components – Parent / Adult / Child (P.A.C.) which vary in size & importance. They show up early in life in immature form, & are supposed to keep developing throughout life.
They’re called ‘ego states’ – because whichever one we’re in at the moment we think of as ‘me’, our sense of identity (ego = Self). Each is internally ESs-Basic part 1consistent, having its own Thoughts, Emotions & Actions (TEA).

Experiences & activities from childhood become grouped into these ‘clusters’, also called the “Family of the Self” (NOT schizophrenia), which are neural pathways in the brain forged by chemical connections as a result of thinking, feeling or doing (TEA) the same thing over & over, year after year.
How well these internal parts get along among themselves – in order for the individual to function effectively – can vary greatly from person to person

These clusters contain our conscious beliefs, opinions, inner ‘voices’, attitudes… & include memories, roles, physical feelings & postures, mental rules….
They become our habitual way of responding toward ourself & the world, each cluster formed around some point of view or common ‘truth’, either healthy or not – depending on upbringing & native personality
Healthy =  P : “I protect” / A : “I get things done”/ C : “I play”

Unhealthy (P) may organize around rigid rules
“I have to rid the world of all wrong-doing / It’s my way or the highway”
Wounded (C) may base it’s sense of identity on —
“I have to be perfect to be loved / I have to hide all my needs”
Limited (A) may focus on self-importance
“I want everyone to be impressed // I have to do___ no matter what”

E.S. are conscious aspects of our psyche which we can shift in & out of – one minute acting like a kid, the next handling a problem in Adult mode…. Unlike 2 of Freud’s 3 states (superego & id), ego states are visible, making it possible to notice, value, work with & modify aspects of them, if desired. Even so, most people are not aware of having different states, much less which one they’re expressing at any given moment.

However, they can be noticed by others, just by listening to or watching how someone acts, even if they don’t know the terminology. Whichever E.S. is ‘on’ has its own reactions to events : “Boy, is he being a brat!”(C),  “You’re not the boss of me! “(PigP), “Yes, your suggestion is workable” (A)

🔴 General rule: Most people you deal with are either coming from their Wounded Child (WIC) or Negative Parent (PP) ego state

NORMAL – Childhood parts become integrated into a larger whole, with the Healthy Adult in charge. They work well together internally, partly because they include Adaptive Introjects of caring, supportive caretakers & teachers, as healthy role models.

This allows such people to function successfully in the world because they :
• act in appropriate, productive ways
• experience & manage a full range of Es
• have flexible rather than rigid thinking
• hold positive beliefs about Self & the world
• live in the present (instead of all in the past or all in the future)

HEALTHY ego states form in childhood in response to positive, affirming relationships within a family that’s loving & able to connect to the child in all 4 PMES ways (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual)

EXP of a mature internal dialogue
Healthy ADULT: “Hmmm, it’s Saturday. I want my place to look, feel & smell nice, so I’m going to clean today”
Playful younger CHILD: “NOOO, I want to play. I want to go to a movie with my friends & have fun!”

Loving PARENT: “I know little one, but the place is not in good shape right now, & you know how much better you feel here when it’s all clean & fresh.
We can do something you like tomorrow, & then we’ll have even more fun knowing we’re coming back to a nice clean home”
Older CHILD : “Ugh! I know you’re right & I won’t stop you, but you’d better keep your promise!”

NEXT: Ego States – basics (Part 2)

Negative INTROJECT (Part 2)

those voices
Is it the Pig Parent or the damaged kid?

PREVIOUS: Negative Introject  (Part 1)

Pig Parent (PigP) comes from”Games People Play

💠WHY is it so IMPORTANT to identify the PigP?  (Part 1)

💠HOW CAN WE TELL when the ‘PigP’ Introject is talking?
a. Using the ‘YOU’ form – when talking to ourselves in a negative, harsh way.
“You should have know better, You know everyone thinks you’re stupid, You could have done more” ….

In this form, our original caretakers can keep us terrified, dependent, dis-empowered – so they won’t lose their grip & fade away. The they wouldn’t get their needs met (thru us), not wanting to do that for themselves. That’s what they need us for!

denialOR we may only hear:
b. The ‘I’ form – the Wounded Inner Child (WIC) expressing its S-H in response to & fully believing the PP, who’s off stage – but definitely not absent – spewing it’s poison from the wings.
We can only hear it indirectly, as puppet master, when we self-talk in the same judgmental, impatient way they talked to us.
Only now it’s in the first person, the WIC mimicking : “I’m such a looser , I never do anything right , I don’t know how to do things , No one could ever love me”…..

‘b’ is much sneakier 
THEM: By being way in the background it can’t be held accountable – staying off the hot seat, harder to catch as the source of the abuse, which it’ll never admit to anyway, even when we try to confront it!

US: We collude (unconsciously) with it to keep it hidden from ourselves, because we can’t bear to admit how dangerous our ‘loved ones’ were. But now that they’re ‘inside’, we don’t know how to get rid of them.

💠 UNHEALTHY tries at shutting up the PigP :
• heavy drinking & drug use, & all other addictions (sex, food, spending, exercise, internet….)
• overworking, endless schooling, career we hate….
• suicide attempts or suicidal behavior (dangerous people & activities)

BTW – Some ACoAs refer to our PigP by a name & image that suits its character & our imagination: THE ‘Bat’ we hit ourselves with / ‘Bats’ – parent’s who only call at night when they’re drunk /  Vampire / Gorn – from Star Trek / Monster /  Mom or Dad / the Shadow….  What’s yours?

💠PURPOSE of the PigP
a. The WIC hangs on to it with a fanatic devotion because it’s the only version of a ‘parent’ it’s ever known. It’s afraid to let go because  – as one ACoA screamed in therapy “What will I do without them?”
Slowly replacing it using the UNIT to consistently, lovingly parent ourself, the WIC will let go, but not quickly or easily!

b. The PigP uses it’s convoluted, sadistic power to pour gas on the flame of life’s stresses TO:
• validate its beliefs (T) & actions (A), so it never has to face change
• mask its own FoA by keeping us symbiotically attached.
⚠️If we stay convinced their abuse was our fault, we’ll never expel it

💠POWER of the PigPintrojecting
a. Technically – it’s wired into our brain from birth into deep pathways, by repetition & emotional bonds (the limbic system & frontal cortex).  Each groove forms the easiest way electrical energy travels (strongest chemical trace), so it becomes our default setting

AA-ers say “Alcoholics dig their own ruts, then decorate them – making them so comfortable they never want to move out!”

b. Psychologically – From the WIC
• all children are completely loyal to their parents & their zeitgeist, but ACoAs can’t afford to admit how toxic they were. We love & need them, even when we hate them. So we keep protecting them – at our own peril!

• Those original adults taught us to be afraid of the world AND that we are unlovable. Our connection to them is painful, but the world feels even worse, so we won’t ‘leave home’. Convinced no one else will want uego statess &/or they’ll trample us, we stay attached to the PigP rather than risk the ‘horror’ of the unknown. (Acceptance, #1)

From the PigP – Internalized voices have a life of their own (ego states), made up of our family’s:
• dis-owned emotions (S-H, fear, rage, shame, guilt, loneliness, hopelessness…..) AND
• destructive thoughts, rigid beliefs, irrational opinions (‘stinking thinking’), & occasionally something useful, positive, interesting…..

NEXT: Negative Introject (Part 3)

INDIRECT Abusers (Part 1)

the rest of the time!

PREVIOUS: Direct abusers

Dr Irene’s great Verbal Abuse & Recovery site

See ACRONYM Page for abbrev.


COVERT ABUSE  (CA) – Emotional, Mental & Spiritual
• Emotional abuse is one of the most under-reported stressors in the US today. Blatant emotional cruelty may be noticed by others, & definitely felt by the Victim (V) – even if they ignore or excuse it.
For the indirect type is consistently administered in small doses, which the abuser uses so it’ll be easily overlooked, as it gets woven into the fabric of the relationship.
In China this is a form of torture called Lingchi =”Death by a thousand cuts“.

Typically, the V. will say : “It’s not all bad, You don’t know him the way I do. I know she loves me. When something goes wrong it’s really my fault. He didn’t meant it. She’s just under a lot of pressure. I don’t want to miss out on the good things we have together. He needs me. It’s only because she’s in pain” ….

• Sneaky Perpetrators (P) are also full of S-H & FoA, but they hide it better than Vs.  They also think they’re unique, so different from others that they don’t have to follow the same rules as everyone else. Yet they actually have a lot in common with all other Ps, sharing similar thinking & behavior patterns.

While they may never lift a finger to physically injure anyone, the psychological damage they do to others, with it’s long-term scars, are much harder to heal.
Victims are threatened & terrorized emotionally when they try to object to how they’re being treated. A major result is that they don’t believe they have a right to identify themselves as Vs, or to admit their mate, adult-child, friend, relative, boss….is actually abusive.

• TO outsiders, emotional abusers (E.A.s) don’t stand out – they usually present themselves as decent, successful, calm. They have a talent for creating an image for the public that contradicts how they are behind closed doors. They use public venues to have an adoring audience & as an outlet for their ‘better’ qualities (at work, church, politics….) —covert abusers
— but will take out their emotional sickness on those who are closest, most vulnerable & most dependent on them. In general, Ps needs a safe place to let their dirty hair down where no one will judge them, hold them accountable, object or leave!
TO their families, they’re often childish, controlling, self-absorbed, hypercritical, compulsive, & mean-spirited. What’s so confusing is that this type of abuser is actually BOTH. But the abusive side always wins out in private.

• Covert Abusers are passive-aggressive, which means they show their anger (aggression) sideways (passively) by withholding information, deliberately stalling, being stubborn, sulking, and/or not trying their best. They ignore reasonable requests to put in a reasonable amount of effort into their closest relationships. They pick partners who are push-overs with low self-esteem, who find it easy to make excuses for the other person’s terrible behavior.

EXP: Ps will make you choose an action that affects you both (dinner, movie, trip….) & then blame you because they didn’t like it or it didn’t work out. They also may deny that you asked them for their opinion or input in the first place, accusing you of being controlling. You get set up! Altering another’s reality is abuse.

FORMS of Cover Abuse
Brainwash: using systematic & often forcible pressure, they coerce someone into adopting radically different beliefs from their own
Crazy-making: to throw someone mentally or emotionally off-balance, making them easier to control (not trust their own thoughts)
Divert / Evade : change undesirable topic to something irrelevant, illogical or crazy

Gaslight: psychological manipulate someone into questioning their own sanity (not trust their own memory or observations )
Groomingprepare or train someone to become submissive for a particular purpose or activity, by first being overly-attentive

Guilt-tripping : shift blame, act sincere then retaliate with silence, word twisting & circular conversations
Playing the Victim : act like they’ve being injured by any request for communication or appropriate responsibility  (MORE…)

NEXT: INDIRECT Abusers (Part 2)

ACoAs & Boundary Distortion (Part 3)


but I’m stuck in YOUR mud!

PREVIOUS: B Distortion (#2)



The Family MOBILE
• All of us grew up as part of a larger generational inter-connected mobile – even if we were cut off from actually spending time with various relatives.
A mobile is a collection of objects that are in constant motion within a framework. A family is the most complicated, ever-changing one that exists, made up of human personalities.

The stability of a mobile depends on all the parts being in balance, in a specific relationship to all other parts.  But balanced does not automatically mMobiles-aquean beautiful to see, safe from falling apart, nor having lots room to move.

IN unhealthy families, everything may look fine on the outside, but the mobile is barely held together, or is so rigid it can’t move at all.  In the ARTICLE : “My 10-year-old says no one cares about him, and talks of suicide – the mother is shocked because she thinks everything is fine!

EXP Addicts upset a mobile’s very delicate symmetry. Their unpredictability, violence, contempt & self-focus distorts much of the family’s interaction. To keep the mobile’s skewed ‘balance’ other members try to adapt by:
— absorbing the addicts anger, & suppressing their own
— denying the effect of the addict’s behavior on everyone in the family
— avoiding the addict, while trying to cover up the dis-ease to outsiders
—> forcing each one to become progressively more skewed to make up for the constant disruptions of the addict, causing long-term damaged & be co-dependently trapped in that state.

• Dysfunctional families are always crammed full of confusion & chaos. But there are also rules that must be followed to keep the mobile from collapsing.
a. Equilibrium
On the one hand, no matter how distorted the mobile, each person has a part to play in keeping the status quo, called homeostasis. And just like an inanimate mobile returns to its normal state after being shaken up, so do families.

So if the addict goes into treatment to get clean & sober, their return to the family is often met with great resistance – & anger. They’ve changed too much – the role they originally played isn’t available, undermining the shape of the familiar structure, sending the whole setup tilting uncomfortably off its normal axis.

• To regain the old balance the most common way is for the spouse, & even the kids – to manipulate the recovering person back into their original role by sabotaging their growth & getting them to drink or use again

• A better way would be to form a new mobile. But this is much harder, met with a lot of anger & may never work: every member of the family would have to face their own damage & make serious changes

EXP: Picture a broken arm that was never set professionally – it ‘heals’ crookedly & is only partially useful. To make it fully functional again it will have to be re-broken & set, then patiently wait for it to heal, maybe needing rehab & re-learning how to use it correctly!
It’s scary, painful & tedious. Broken lives & broken families are like that too, so people would rather keep to the twisted familiar ways than have to fix the problem in Recovery

b. Fragility
On the other hand, we learn how precarious the dysfunctional mobile actually is. Because members of a wounded family are bound by symbiotic needs rather than healthy egos – with self-hate, fear of abandonment & distorted boundaries – there’s little room for ‘error’ in the system (newness, difficulties, unexpected changes, expansion…). This mobile, with all its convoluted problems, has been jury-fragle castlerigged, held together by Toxic Rules & Toxic Roles.

• While it appears solid & inflexible / rigid, it’s actually too fragile to withstand any major shift, such as one person becoming sober or another going into Al-Anon / ACoA Recovery.
Unless other members are also willing to grow, like a parent doing some deep soul-searching….the family unit will fall apart. This is particularly threatening when there are small children, so members will do almost anything to keep the (sick) status quo.

NEXT: DETACHING w/ Boundaries, #1