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"What is a Dysfunctional Family and How Does it Lead to Co-Dependency?" (a4u)

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2:46 am
February 1, 2006


angel4U

New Member

posts -1

Hi all,

I just read something that hit home for me and seemed to relate very much to the confusion and fear many of us share when it comes to confrontation with loved ones about their alcohol abuse and/or poor behavior towards us …

From: http://www.nmha.org/infoctr/factsheets/43.cfm

"What is a Dysfunctional Family and How Does it Lead to Co-Dependency?"

A dysfunctional family is one in which members suffer from fear, anger, pain, or shame that is ignored or denied. Underlying problems may include any of the following:

o An addiction by a family member to drugs, alcohol, relationships, work, food, sex, or gambling.
o The existence of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse.
o The presence of a family member suffering from a chronic mental or physical illness.

Dysfunctional families do not acknowledge that problems exist. They don’t talk about them or confront them. As a result, family members learn to repress emotions and disregard their own needs. They become “survivors.” They develop behaviors that help them deny, ignore, or avoid difficult emotions. They detach themselves. They don’t talk. They don’t touch. They don’t confront. They don’t feel. They don’t trust. The identity and emotional development of the members of a dysfunctional family are often inhibited.

Attention and energy focus on the family member who is ill or addicted. The co-dependent person typically sacrifices his or her needs to take care of a person who is sick. When co-dependents place other people’s health, welfare and safety before their own, they can lose contact with their own needs, desires, and sense of self.

My personal comments to follow …

2:52 am
February 1, 2006


chloeysmomma

New Member

posts -1

i know i was in a codependant crazy dysfunctional to the tee of a family rangeing from sexual abuse drugs achoal and co dependancy u would being in a family of 8 kids and a parent who would rather buy cigeretts and ignore all her kids then love them equally and a dad whos as narrsasistic as they come and only thought of himself on a daily basis and then my child molesting grandfather who molested me at the age of 9 yr s old and then my mom told everyone i lied and said it was basically my fault and then my bro who is now in jail due to drugs and achoal and cant do for himself maybe this is scary to say but that was and still is my life to this very day i always felt left out my mom favored my sister i ran away alot and i married young got pregnant thats the truth anyways iam shareing hugs cm

3:29 am
February 1, 2006


angel4U

New Member

posts -1

My COMMENTS:

The paragraph that starts with "Dysfunctional families do not acknowledge that problems exist" hit home for me the most. Our family NEVER discussed anything really important, not in a caring and compassionate manner anyway. Instead people would just get angry, yell & shout, Mom would either go to her room and lock the door or go into a screaming/critical rage or humiliation/guilt trip tactic, Dad had the habit of hiding in the basement where he lived for years and would sneak drink (I found empty liquor bottles in the crawl space and garage).

Talking through things was out of the question, which left in me a feeling of fear & mistrust in my entire family. I also remember it causing me to feel unloved, disconnected and lost for a very long time … when I was young and the chaos would start, I remember going into my own world because I learned (or believed, anyway) it made absolutely no sense to join in theirs. I also remember when my mom was beating me once that I all of a sudden escaped into this world again and stopped crying and felt absolutely no pain (mind over matter does work … I even remember saying to myself "it's not you, she's crazy"). I did the same thing after a couple of incidents with my Dad beating me for no reason. (When I say beatings, I am not talking spankings for wrong doing … I am talking about all out rage. And many times it came out of nowhere.) I remember also focusing a great deal on learning and doing well in school, as I saw this as a way to accomplish something good for myself (since homelife was not good).

I see this "escape" reaction as my own personal coping mechanism, since I felt no other healthy coping strategy would work at the time. I was a child, and I was stuck. And I thank God I had the smarts to know that their behavior was not healthy and that I did not deserve it. This attitude is what helped me to survive and make it and be the strong & compassionate person I am today. And I'm damn proud of me! … =))

My opinion of all of this today (knowing my parent's family histories and without giving excuses) is that my parent's unfortunately never learned healthy coping strategies themselves. My mom grew up in a family surrounded by guilt, humiliation, ignoring, screaming, criticism, no showing of affection, etc. (many of them are still this way). My Dad's dad was an alcoholic and left his mom, him & his brother when my Dad was 5 yrs old. His dad was found on skid row when my Dad was in his early thirties (I think) and his mother (who was supposedly a very shy/hard-working lady)died when I was 5. My Dad still doesn't open up about his family past too much, but did share that he felt his brother was always in competition with him, and when he was staying here he always claimed of having nightmares of fighting with his brother.

I have always had a very strong desire to "break the mold", but it hasn't been an easy road. I have had to fight hard to learn what is the right way, and what is not, when it comes to dealing with emotions and life's everyday struggles that get thrown at us (especially because I have learned there are LOTS of people with the same poor coping mechanisms that my family exhibited). The nice part is, the more I learn, the less I have to use "escape" techniques to "survive". And the less I allow other people's unhealthy coping mechanisms to impact me (this is still a tough one sometimes for me though, I'll admit).

In my opinion, fear, anxiety, controlling & manipulation, abuse, staying in victim mode, abusing alcohol/drugs, avoiding, not communicating or confronting a problem situation, etc. are all escape techniques for coping with life's struggles/uncertainties. And I believe the only way to break these unhealthy habits is to find better ways to cope and communicate more effectively (without fear). And to be patient with ourselves in the learning process.

Knowing this about myself has also helped me to be more compassionate towards (and less angry at) others that have not yet learned. And I am finding the best way to teach what I learn is to lead by example (by taking care of me and using assertive communication without fear), while at the same time reminding myself that "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink" (a tough one to accept still!) Unfortunately THERE ARE going to be people that don't want to change and you will bump into a wall (been here, done this MANY times, as many of you have). And the only recourse you will have is to take care of you anyway. Maybe they'll catch on and start treating you better, maybe they won't, but at least YOU will be OK either way … and that's what's most important!

I'll end by saying that the next time you feel in "stuck mode", don't beat yourself up (or anyone else for that matter)! Instead, be patient with yourself (and others) and ask yourself what is it that you need to learn to get through it and find peace again. And then practice, practice, practice!!!

Lots of love to you all,

angel4U

4:13 am
February 1, 2006


angel4U

New Member

posts -1

RE: "Attention and energy focus on the family member who is ill or addicted. The co-dependent person typically sacrifices his or her needs to take care of a person who is sick. When co-dependents place other people’s health, welfare and safety before their own, they can lose contact with their own needs, desires, and sense of self."

Added note here … I remember at a VERY YOUNG age thinking I was emotionally stronger than my mom & dad (I actually believe I was, and still am). I used to "feel sorry" for my Dad as he was the quieter one, and never stood up to my Mom's criticisms. I'm learning more now about how emotionally unavailable he really was, which caused many of their marital problems. My mom is an amputee (lost one leg when she was 7), which I believe contributed to her insecurities, and I felt sorry for her because she was always so angry and unhappy.

For years I felt there was something I should be doing to show them that their lives could be happier. I think some of this came from a subtle expectation placed on all of us kids by my mom (she is BIG with guilt trips … and neither her or my dad ever really showed interest in us kid's happiness/desires).

Over time both of them have become more ill and severly depressed (mom has been in a wheelchair now for 16 years and has cancer and dad has emphysema and a slew of other problems). They are now coming to me even more to lean on, and I am finding I am resenting it somewhat. I am finding myself wanting to say "you EXPECT me to be there for you when you were NEVER there for me!" … but I bite my tongue because they are still my parents and I do love them, and my compassion and smarts won't allow me to follow in their bitter footsteps. What I am finding works better for me instead is to simply find a healthy balance that works for me, without feeling guilty if I don't measure up to their expectations. 9Letting og of the guilt is a HUGE accomplishment for me!!

A live example is that I was taking care of mom (taking her to cancer treatments since July), and at the same time had Dad staying here after his hip surgery in October. I had rearranged my work schedule to do this, and given up alot of "me" things as well. Dad became pretty sick while he was here and was/is a handful emotionally, as is my mom. By late December I found myself feeling overwhelmed & drained, and was becoming depressed. I finally decided that I could not handle this myself any longer, and made arrangements for my dad to stay at his own house and have my brother watch after him instead. I felt SOOOO guilty at first and cried (to myself) because I felt like I let my Dad down (that was that nasty old GUILT my mom, and now my dad, instilled creaping in, I know).

I now am very happy I made this decision. I no longer feel overwhelmed, and my life is getting back on track. And now I am better able to be there for everyone, including myself!

4:22 am
February 1, 2006


angel4U

New Member

posts -1

((((((((((((chloeysmomma)))))))))))))

I am so sorry you have had to go through all of this. But I promise you, you can change your future … you do not have to stay living in this unhappy way of life.

Try to start by letting go of the blame of your parent's (they are who they are, they made mistakes, it wasn't fair to you, your past is your past … we can't change that no matter how hard we try) and use that energy instead to learn to love yourself enough to find new ways to help you live a better life. It may not be easy, but it CAN be done! I promise you. Keep the hope & faith that you can do it … and then put one foot in front of the other, and keeping reaching out to people on the same path as you … the path to peace & happiness!!!

((((((HUGS)))))

angel4u

1:35 pm
February 1, 2006


hopeful for change

New Member

posts -1

wow, that all hits home. I have been living in denial. I don't want to get sucked back into it either. My husband is completely not here emotionally, someone on this site told me that if I stay with someone like that, I am abandoning myself. That really hit home. My whole life I have felt alone and abandoned. Just wanted someone to love me and take care of me, and I am allowing someone to emotionally abuse me now, he has abandoned me and I have somehow accepted that or tried to live with it and disassociate or live in fantasy to forget it. I am truly unhappy like this. I am struggling to move out of this mess THAT I HAVE ALLOWED MY LIFE TO BECOME.

2:25 pm
February 1, 2006


anniem

New Member

posts -1

I can't believe the timing of this topic. Dysfunction should be my family's surname. I recently found my brother on MySpace.com. I sent him a message. His reaction was harsh and swift. He made it very clear that he didn't want any messages from me. You see, all of my siblings want no part of me ever since I sent my father a confrontation letter re: the sexual abuse I finally remembered when I was in my 40's. Things were bad enough before that, when I confronted him about all the physical abuse, all the alcoholism. Typical of the dysfunctional family, my brother is the achiever (he is a famous guitarist), I am the family member with the presenting problems (I have bi-polar disorder), and my sisters who are twins: one is Daddy's Little Girl, the other is Daddy's Big Disappointment. Daddy's Little Girl absolutely hates me, has had my daughter's ear for quite a few years now, so my daughter doesn't talk to me either. I'm the trouble maker. I'm the one who blows the whistle on the Pink Elephant in the middle of my father's living room. My brother also has his own web site, and on it he has an autobiography. His story talks about how his wonderful Dad got him his first guitar. WHAT A LIE! It was my dear dead mother who did that. Then he goes on to make it sound like it was his Dear Dad who supported him in his choice of career. WHAT A LIE! He seems to forget the beatings over my brother refusing to work a 9 to 5 job b/c his dream was to become a famous guitarist. He even lied about where he came from! I don't get THAT one. Anyway, I now live many many mile away from where I was brought up, there is no communication between me and my family of origin, my daughter has been turned against me, and Dysfunction is our family name.

2:39 pm
February 1, 2006


garfield9547

New Member

posts -1

Angel4U

Thanks for all the information
Something from joy2meu.com

Codependency Recovery: Wounded Souls Dancing in the Light
Book 2: A Dysfunctional Relationship with Life
Chapter 10: Normal Families are Dysfunctional
"One of the reasons that I have been giving specific examples of the type of things that codependent parents say and do to try to control their children, is because it is so important for us as recovering codependents to start seeing more clearly that normal in society is codependent. We were wounded by behavior that is considered normal in the dysfunctional civilizations we were born into. The environment where we were first wounded was in our families. Our parents were our first abusers. They were / are not bad people, they were / are wounded codependents. The way they normally related to us in our childhood was codependent – is still codependent unless they are in recovery healing their wounds. "
"It is only in recent history that human beings have acquired the ability, the knowledge, and access to Spiritual guidance, that is allowing us to change the human condition. We are no more than a generation or two removed from societal beliefs that allowed children – and women – to be treated as property. Most of us grew up in societies that did not include such things as: healthy parenting classes; wide spread knowledge and information about alcoholism and child abuse; the concept of personal boundaries and information about the grief process; etc., etc. Most of us grew up in societies where we were taught that the choices are between right and wrong, and wrong is shameful."

"We need to let go of old beliefs in order to heal our relationship with self, in order to find our Self. As a young child I had no discernment, no perspective, that would allow me to realize that my parents weren't healthy. I thought the pain I felt was my fault. I thought that the reason I felt so bad was because I was abnormal – that something was wrong with me. My family was normal to me, and part of feeling good about myself was to see my family as better than other families – because I was taught to look outside in comparison. I developed my own personal myth about my family. When I got into recovery at age 35, I would tell people that I came from a pretty good family and it was just me that was messed up. When I first started going to Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings as I was opening up to the possibility that my family – though not alcoholic – was dysfunctional, I did not speak for weeks because my family had not been as overtly, blatantly dysfunctional as all those other people's families had been.

My families dysfunction was not as overt, so my wounding was of a more subtle nature than people who had been beaten by drunken fathers and mothers. As I got further into recovery and learned more about codependency, I saw that the dysfunction in my family wasn't really subtle at all, that it was actually quite blatant – but that it was normal in a dysfunctional culture.. I started to realize that it was my view of it as normal, as better when compared to other families – my childhood investment in my myth about my family – that was causing me to discount and minimize my own wounding."

"I have no idea what Hillary Clinton's book is about, but the concept that it "takes a village" to raise a child contains some fundamental Truth in my opinion. I do not believe that children are meant to be raised by two adults separate from community – and certainly not by a mother alone most of the time. The American Dream, a nuclear family living in isolation in the suburbs – with the father gone most of the day – is a dysfunctional ideal in my belief. Our normal societal model for what constitutes an ideal family is dysfunctional in its impact on the emotional, mental, and spiritual health of children raised in those families."

4:42 pm
February 1, 2006


anniem

New Member

posts -1

Garfield:
Bravo and Thanks!

4:56 pm
February 1, 2006


LostLilly

New Member

posts -1

Garfield – WOW – thank you for that!

8:08 am
February 2, 2006


hopeful for change

New Member

posts -1

anniem do you think maybe your brother has been living with disassociation and magical thinking? These are two words I have recently learned. I learned as a child to live in a fantasy world to escape the pain, to survive and I find I do the same things now. I also seperate my thinking from my feelings.

9:22 am
February 2, 2006


garfield9547

New Member

posts -1

Angel4U

I was reading on what you have posted:

A dysfunctional family is one in which members suffer from fear, anger, pain, or shame that is ignored or denied. Underlying problems may include any of the following:

This is so true. I can remember the fear in my family. We were not aloud to be honest and speak our minds. Just keep quite to keep the peace.
The shame and anger.

Something else I saw in your thread.

Dysfunctional families do not acknowledge that problems exist. They don’t talk about them or confront them. As a result, family members learn to repress emotions and disregard their own needs. They become “survivors.” They develop behaviors that help them deny, ignore, or avoid difficult emotions. They detach themselves. They don’t talk. They don’t touch. They don’t confront. They don’t feel. They don’t trust. The identity and emotional development of the members of a dysfunctional family are often inhibited.

I used to have allot of surpressed emotions. I ran away from home in order to survive.

Thanks so much for sharing

Love
Garfield

2:39 pm
February 2, 2006


garfield9547

New Member

posts -1

Angel4U

Added note here … I remember at a VERY YOUNG age thinking I was emotionally stronger than my mom & dad (I actually believe I was, and still am). I used to "feel sorry" for my Dad as he was the quieter one, and never stood up to my Mom's criticisms. I'm learning more now about how emotionally unavailable he really was, which caused many of their marital problems.

Yes,Yes,YEs
I can relate. My father was emotionally unavailable and my mother was always critical. I am still to this day more mature than both of them put together.

Can I ask you something?

Did your fathers emotional unavailability and the fact that your mother was full of critisim cause problems for you in relationships when it comes to intimacy?

Garfield

3:08 pm
February 2, 2006


angel4U

New Member

posts -1

Hi garfield -

I just finished reading the rest of the posts and unfortunately ran out of time to respond. I promise I will do so later.

take care,

angel4u

p.s. The readings & writings on this thread touched something very emotional for me that I believe has been with me forever and is at the core of why I do what I do/feel how I feel about alot of things. I am guessing it has for you to?

Talk more with you all later!

3:10 pm
February 2, 2006


garfield9547

New Member

posts -1

Thanks Angel

I will catch up tomorrow.

Garfield

4:59 pm
February 2, 2006


loverbee

New Member

posts -1

According to my family psychology professor, there are no dysfunctional families. There are dysfunctional behaviors. I just thought it was interesting.

9:18 pm
February 2, 2006


free spirit

New Member

posts 0

Hi,

There is so much great information on this thread. I have been trying to process feelings and thoughts about my own family lately. I actually started this work previously, but it got interruped and I somehow never engaged in it again.

Angel4u – how much adversity you have overcome, WOW! You have learned healthy relating patterns on your own. Your posts remind me to be patient and tolerant of those who have much to learn.

Garfield – you always give really great information, thank you.

((((anniem))))

((((chloe)))))

I'm so sorry for everything you went through in your family. Sometimes it's hard to be the "curve breaker" even when you know you are the healthy one.

In my own family, my mother was completely emotionally unavailable. Over the last several years I have been able to identify some very unhealthy patterns in her relationship with me and others in the family. I cut off contact with her in May of last year. I had to do this in my own best interests. I have told her over and over that I will have a "different" relationship with her, that I love her, but I will not have this relationship anymore. She became very openly critical of everything I did, judgemental about life decisions, second-guessing my every move and causing a number of problems in my parenting by undermining my authority with my two youngest girls. She finally did stop that after several problem incidents, but there was always an "enmeshment" with my two youngest girls. Sort of a usurping of parental roles etc. Very hard to put my finger on all of it sometimes.

I believe there was a lot more dysfunction in the family than I ever recognized until about three years ago when the problems started with my mom. It is sort of vague in my mind and almost more insidious than over abuse because it is so difficult to define. The last three years have been so hard for me. Cutting off contact was one of the hardest things I've ever done, I think. But the decision is the right one, I think until she will agree to engage in healing the relationship. I have been willing to do this and have dragged her to a couple of counseling sessions and then continued on my own when she refused to return.

I don't mean to be disjointed in my posting, I'm just processing as a way to grow and do some healing, I guess. Thanks for reading if you made it this far.

My struggle now is that I have not finished grieving the lost relationship and I still refuse to accept that it can't heal right now. I want to insist that she re-engage in counseling to make it right, but cannot do it on my own. I am still sometimes angry at her and not very forgiving. Sometimes I understand that she is a product of her early upbringing which had it's own issues, for sure. But other times I hate, hate this and her. Other times I JUST WANT MY MOTHER! Sigh, I have much work to do, I guess.

Garfield and Angel – do you mind if I ask what you have done to engage in the recovery process? What has helped you the most in the healing?

Take care everyone,

free spirit

3:22 am
February 3, 2006


garfield9547

New Member

posts -1

Free Spirit

We are in the same boat. I also had to cut contact with my mother as far as possible. Also for my own good and mental health I must add.
In 2002 I started therapy and also dragged my mother along.
It was quite funny when they said she had to make her own appointment.
I was so enmeshed with her.
I have changed so much. She looks like will never change.

My struggle now is that I have not finished grieving the lost relationship and I still refuse to accept that it can't heal right now

I am also still grieving the lost relationship. It was so part of my life. I am left with a big hole in my heart. I always wanted to believe she could change and that we could have a relationship.
Everytime I tried I burned my fingers.
No Contact was the first answer and the beginning of a new life.
Its also hard to realise that I tried for (and wasted my time) so many years to make my mother happy, bc then I am happy.
This is so true and remember you cannot make another person happy or change them.
I hate my mother and I also miss her.
I think I miss something I never had.

Garfield

11:05 am
February 3, 2006


garfield9547

New Member

posts -1

Angel

I hope you have some spare time this weekend.

I have posted a question for you on the thread.

Garfield

12:57 pm
February 3, 2006


kathygy

New Member

posts -1

anniem,

I wonder if the truth is too painful for your brother to acknowledge about his childhood and also for the rest of your family. Your brother may feel that by saying all of these wonderful things about your father that will make them true.

You are the courageous one in your family. You have been willing to face the reality of the dysfuncton.

I think writing a letter to your father about your sexual abuse was the healthy thing to do to heal it and by doing that you are giving priority to your wounded child within over trying to protect your father from the truth.

I think it is sad that you had to loose your family by facing the reality but the most important thing is that you did not abandon yourself.

I see the relationship with myself as the most important relationship in my life.

angel,

I think that another component of a dysfunctional family is that everyone is acting according to the family script rather than being in the moment, and having genuine responses that are not based on the past or old wounds.

I think also, at least in my case, care-taking my parents and doing what I could to try to make them happy was a survival mechanism. My very survival depended on them being O.K.

Good for you for all the hard work you have done. You have a lot of insight.

2:11 pm
February 3, 2006


angel4U

New Member

posts -1

Hi garfield,

Sorry for the delay on this one … you and free spirit and asked some loaded questions that I am needing to time to think through.

yes, I can be on this weekend. Unfortunately I can't commit to a time as I am leaving for a ski vacation early Sunday morning and have lots to prepare.

I can answer some right now briefly though …

You asked: "Did your fathers emotional unavailability and the fact that your mother was full of critisim cause problems for you in relationships when it comes to intimacy?"

My answer is, absolutely. But I think there was a lot more to my problems/struggles than just this, some of which I am still trying to understand. The #1 impact of much of what I have been through was fear – fear of "not being good enough", fear of not being able to discern trustworthy from untrustworthy people, fear of being unhappy like my mom & dad were, fear of being expected to be strong all the time, fear of people (or me!)placing higher expectations on me that I couldn't live up to, fear of being manipulated and controlled, fear of not knowing what love truly is, fear of not being able to cope through struggles. I have so much more to say about this all, but would prefer to put some deeper thought into it.

Free spirit – you asked: do you mind if I ask what you have done to engage in the recovery process? What has helped you the most in the healing? "

Briefly for now I will say that educating myself (about me & my family), learning that there are other ways/options of working through some of the struggles we went through that I found to be more healthy, facing my fears head on and working through them, building confidence through trial and error, and learning boundaries.

kathgy – I agree that this is a big factor …

"I think that another component of a dysfunctional family is that everyone is acting according to the family script rather than being in the moment, and having genuine responses that are not based on the past or old wounds."

It's hard to break those molds of who people think we are supposed to be based on how someone (our families mainly) viewed us in the past … possibly because they need to keep you there for their own survival or because change is difficult for them to accept maybe, especially if they haven't changed? For me, the only way I found to get out of whatever negative labels they placed on me was to disconnect and and/or stand strong when they tried to pull me back in. And to understand that everyday is a day to learn and grow, and everyone has the capability and opportunity to do so if they chose … noone stays the same!

I can also very much relate to what you shared about your parents, and I'm not sure it's a totally bad thing. Knowing what's our responsibility and knwoing how to balance giving with taking care of us, for me, is the key.

loverbee – I'm not sure what your professor was trying to get at, but I see this as more of a twist on words. My thoughts … Dysfunctional relationships are deemed such when the relationship is not functioning in a productive manner, for whatever reason. I believe dysfunctional behaviors amongst the people in the relationship certainly play a role. But so can conflicts in values, beliefs, goals, etc.

Gotta run. More to come later guys.

Love,

angel4u

2:31 pm
February 3, 2006


garfield9547

New Member

posts -1

Angel

The #1 impact of much of what I have been through was fear – fear of "not being good enough", fear of not being able to discern trustworthy from untrustworthy people, fear of being unhappy like my mom & dad were, fear of being expected to be strong all the time, fear of people (or me!)placing higher expectations on me that I couldn't live up to, fear of being manipulated and controlled, fear of not knowing what love truly is, fear of not being able to cope through struggles. I have so much more to say about this all, but would prefer to put some deeper thought into it.

This says it all. I have so much fear i never knew about bc i could never express it. Not to them anyway. I am still more mature today than they are.

This leaves me with a problem. The lost teenage and fun years of my life.

If I am happy and laugh I CANNOT do it infront of my mother.

I watched cartoons with my two daughters today for the first time.

This was a stepping stone for me. I am going to do this as much as I can from know.

I am going to have fun and fill the gap.
I was tooo responcible and lost my childhood.
Thanks Kathygy and Angel

Garfield

3:20 pm
February 3, 2006


on my way

New Member

posts -1

"Attention and energy focus on the family member who is ill or addicted. The co-dependent person typically sacrifices his or her needs to take care of a person who is sick. When co-dependents place other people’s health, welfare and safety before their own, they can lose contact with their own needs, desires, and sense of self."

This was lethal for me growing up, I can identify with this paragraph statement above…."lose contact with their own needs, desires, and sense of self." = failed relationships, or being too needy, or having a needy partner. Thank goodness there is a light at the end of the tunnel, getting brighter and brighter for me.

But here is a thought:
I am attracted to intelligent, bright, funny, tall, confident men. The men I am attracted to are very confident (or at least appear to be!…another scenario)and sure-footed. But the very personality I am attracted too, frightens me a bit…and I end up being afraid to be me. Their stature is intimidating. Any one relate, or have any suggestions?

3:44 pm
February 3, 2006


free spirit

New Member

posts 0

Hi everyone,

WOW, ((((Garfield)))) I can relate so much to your story, it really hurts like a SOB doesn't it sometimes? I too approached and approached my mother looking for a different relationship to no avail. She doesn't understand when I set boundaries, nor does she seem to understand any of my attempts to communicate assertively with her. It has left a huge hole in my life as well and caused other difficulties in the family.

I think your focus on "play" is a wonderful way to free yourself. My therapist suggested a tool, I think it's called "Magical parent, Magical child" to encourage creativity in parenting, etc. It is apparently on the Internet to print out – I have been meaning to look it up for sometime now. Maybe it would help you play?

On my way – I too am attracted to the exact same type of man, outgoing, bright confident men as well. I have never thought about the fact that they might frighten me a bit. What a dilemma. I have experienced this in sports though to some degree. I'm not quite sure it's the same thing, but believe it is. Previously in high pressure situations (I can think of one bowl off for first place), I always choked. I managed to get beyond this, conquered it!!! about two years ago and in the next bowl off did very well!!

What I do sometimes wonder is if somehow the unavailability of a parent, my mother, in my case "bleeds" over so to speak in my choice of men. What I mean is am I not able to recognize the unavailablity of a man, and when I do, am I unable to stop trying to make him available (past the time when I should) to compensate for the dysfunction in my family?

I want to think deeply about this fear issue….I think I need to explore that as well for myself.

I also wonder about the "roles" that the dysfunction leads to in families. Are there behaviors so ingrained that they lead to fairly stagnant roles in families? If there are enough dysfunctional behaviors this creates a dysfunctional family. The roles are played out over and over. I believe in my case, and maybe others see this as well, that attempts to "bread-out" of the prescribed role, or say that it isn't acceptable lead to tension and stress in the family. Maybe leading to pressure, subtle or not from members to get back in the role.

Sorry to ramble, I am finding this whole discussion very interesting!

Garfield I am still thinking about your question about emotional intimacy as well!

Have a great weekend!!

free spirit

3:59 pm
February 3, 2006


garfield9547

New Member

posts -1

free spirit and on my way

I will definately look it up. Magical play. I need this.

After being in therapy for more than 2 years now I think we tend to marry our mothers emotionally.

Just a though.

This is just on a emotional basis. The rest of the person and some characters would be completely different.

If you say for instance think of your brother and the women he married.
Can you see a relation between her and your mother?

Garfield


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