“Don’t try to understand everything, because it’s not intended to be understood, but it can be accepted.” ~ Unknown
As a kid, I didn’t have the opportunity to develop my own senses. I had a drug addicted father. A mother abused by her father. And later we had my mother’s possessive and dominant boyfriend. It was hard to find a consistent role model in the mix.
I was one of four kids, raised on a trailer and shared a bunk bed. As children, we often brutally fought each other. We all wanted our own space and sense of self, but it wasn’t enough to get around.
Her boyfriend was looking at us because our mom is so working. He seemed to enjoy punishing us. I remember being very afraid. I didn’t want to do anything wrong. I wanted to have his love because I felt it was the only way to be safe. Not to mom, dad, boyfriend, I never felt good enough.
Codependence began in earnest when I was a teenager, and I wanted my mother for everything. I was unknowingly part of her triangulation between me and my sister. We both longed for her love and wanted to have her favor.
As a wild kid, my sister was stuck with a negative self-projection of my mother, I received a positive one. Over the years, these roles reversed and I suffered a sense of refusal and confusion about what I did wrong.
Life was hard and I couldn’t live with fear and embarrassment, so I learned to unplug from my feelings. At the same time, these unprocessed emotions cause an outburst of anger. I started to feel angry. When I was a kid, I felt like my life was kicked so hard, but why didn’t it get easier? Why did it get worse?
The dysfunction I learned kept me longing for a connection, but feared it and at the same time kept people away. I couldn’t trust others in a healthy way. Every time I lost, I felt more shame and failure.
As I struggled in my life, I didn’t realize the amount of shame that my family’s dynamics had on me. My mother’s triangulation and manipulation created an environment where she was justified to beat her unaccountably. Everyone else was due to her poor reaction to the situation.
When my mother and sister teamed up, it became a problem that I had to learn how to accept and love unconditionally. There was nothing wrong with them treating other people poorly. It was okay for them to trick and hide family secrets because I disagree (eg: mom got drunk from the bar and didn’t remember going home), so they justified it was done.
The “rules” of justification changed so quickly and always in their favor that I felt like I was on the island, broken and unable to understand what was wrong and how to fix myself. It was.
I felt more than broken every time I was accused of not being able to have unconditional love because I had no sense of myself and was completely intertwined with my mother and sister. I was a disgusting person who was worthless and couldn’t even have the basic emotions that everyone else had.
It took me a lot of time to see her love for her mother make me feel intimate only when she was experiencing difficult times and make me part of her club someday (Our motto: “someday” never happens to us).
My sister learned to use her money to express her love. She took me to dinner and gave me her quality dresses. It was also justified that she did clumsy things towards me while I was grateful, usually when she was drinking.
If she has a problem while sober, she will choose to “forgive.” The only problem is that one night everyone was having fun, she didn’t really forgive me because I was tired, didn’t find the joke funny, or saw her the wrong way, And it all becomes a flood out — all the preserved sensations she had suppressed for days or weeks.
If either my mother or sister hurt me, I had the expectation that I would have to overcome it. They didn’t have to be accountable because “we are humans” and “I’m happy with who I am”.
I wanted to be loved and accepted, but the dynamics were so unstable that I couldn’t find my place in the family. I was suffocating with conflicting feelings. I was angry but embarrassed. I felt unhappy and worthless.
When I hit the bottom and I couldn’t find anything of value to me, I knew I needed to make a difference. I contacted the therapist for help and joined a local support group.
Here’s what helped me when I was away from the pattern of dysfunction:
1. Ask for help.
The dynamics of dysfunctional families often embarrass the idea of talking to others. It reveals family secrets and is seen as opposed to troops. No one should suffer from being out of their control. Reaching out will help you find the compassionate outlet you deserve and need.
I have been treated for about 2 years. It is the only time in my life that I have experienced a consistent, reliable and healthy direction. Having self-compassion helped me learn how to make healthy but difficult choices.
I didn’t want to accept the reality that mom and sister would never really see me. My role as a scapegoat is cruelly necessary for the emotional “economics” that occurs within my family.
Therapy helped me in choosing to be outside my family of origin. From meeting my family every weekend to living outside of my family, I had a lot of pain. It required fundamental acceptance and knowledge that no one but myself could change.
I was fortunate that a kind, caring and trustworthy therapist guided me to deal with each of the emotions that emerged during this period.
2. Accept other people as they are.
As a dysfunctional family unit scapegoat, I learned to accept my situation about what it is. I need to set my expectations on what others can give.
We have no control over others or their worldview. What we can do is accept the situation of what it is and assess whether it is healthy for us. Admitting that my mother and sister did not consider family dynamics to be dysfunctional, I was able to free myself from anger and the need for control. They don’t know how to protect themselves emotionally and don’t want to have an open mind about it.
There is sadness, but the dynamic relationship is very painful for me and I can’t fix it myself. I am considerate of the pain they should have, but I don’t think I can continue to have a dysfunctional habit-based relationship.
3. Know your value.
As an intertwined individual, my value was defined by external sources. I wanted my mother, sisters, brothers, friends, colleagues and acquaintances to prove that I was a good and valuable person. I had to feel like me enough for others to feel worth me.
We now know that all of us are worth it. It is our personal responsibility to maintain this value from the inside out.
I have a strict inner critic, so having a consistent mindfulness practice helped me establish my value. It’s hard to find value when you get caught up in your head and believe in the negative thoughts that go through it. Mindfulness helps me to look away from these ideas and label them exactly as they are.
The more you adjust for negative self-talk, the more you can admit your mistakes and learn from them without being sluggish and falling on yourself. This gives us the recognition that our mistakes do not undermine our value. Our value is essential. Mistakes are just mistakes.
4. Learn what healthy love looks like.
Our family does not always tell us what healthy love looks and feels.
In dysfunctional families, each person loves based on their limited ability to handle their emotions. Ask yourself when someone has to keep reminding you that you are loved unconditionally, how do I feel now? For me, I was disgusted and limited to what was easy for my mother and sister.
Love should connect you with your inner joy. We are all sometimes depressed and cannot always rely on others to feel good about ourselves. But when someone loves you unconditionally, I feel you shouldn’t get lost. This joy of love is consistent and should help us overcome difficult times (eg disagreements, hurt feelings, etc.).
When it came to my mother and sister loving me unconditionally, I had to accept that they loved me best. If they rampage, they cannot carry the shame and embarrassment of their own actions. They can never verify my feelings and experiences. They require me to take this responsibility for them. This is not unconditional love.
As you take the steps necessary to separate from the dysfunction of the family you have learned, remember that you did not learn these things yourself, you do not have to learn them yourself, and you should not. Please.
Depression and anxiety are often hurdles. Building a community is scary, but necessary. This is to contact the therapist or look for a support group in the local community.
For years, I had a hard time thinking that I could fix my bad things myself. Until I reached out and got help, my mind was open, able to handle trauma and make lasting changes.