Who’s the boss of you?

An unhealthy attachment to others as a way to:
• compensate for emotional abandonment in childhood
• to cope with deep anxiety of being a separate entity
• escape having to face the struggle of growing up emotionally
• mask self-hate & fear of abandonment

As we heal we move thru layers of growth with the ultimate goal of being Inter-dependent.
Symbiosis ------>Autonomy -------> Attachment ------> Inter-dependence

1. GENERAL - As part of the human life cycle, the normal, healthy psychological goal of adulthood is to develop our true identity, be inter-dependent with others & to contribute positively to society.
• If we grow up in a reasonably healthy family, we are encouraged to be connected to the family group as well as to develop as separate individuals & then be able to function successfully in the larger world
• However, as ACoAs we were:
-- not allowed to know our true personality, fully develop our identity & become separate beings
-- either forced to stay in emotional & sometimes physical bondage to the family
-- or so ignored & neglected &/or tortured that we couldn’t form a stable bond with them or others. See def. at ‘Attachment Disorder’ site

a. S & I - In order to connect successfully with others in a healthy way, we need to FIRST be autonomous, via S & I, (Separation & Individuation) which is the opposite of co-dependence & symbiosis, to:
• know our true identity & be comfortable in our own skin
• know what our needs & tastes are, & provide for them
• have good self esteem, which is not arrogance or superiority
• feel a sense of safety & ease in dealing with others by having strong boundaries

b. Motivation
✶ A hallmark of Personal Independence is being our own motivator
-- not from egotism, but rather from being responsible for ourselves. Spiritual & psychological teachers tell us that we need to look inside for the answers to our problems - that it’s an ‘inside job’, not what we have, but what we are.

✶ Being self-Motivated is about what makes us want to DO THINGS. It’s the reason behind our actions, our guiding principle.
NO - Being our own motivator does NOT mean ignoring or disrespecting our family, the needs of others or our spiritual connections
YES - What it DOES mean is that, as adults, we are not waiting for someone else do give us permission or a reason to act

➼ You may have noticed that too many times we can take actions FOR others, or because OF others, but rarely just because WE want to. Without someone pushing or pulling us, ACoAs become like dormant trees in the forest or hibernating bears, waiting for the sun to shine on us , warm us up, give us a reason to move. This is the essence of co-dependence. It is not emotional maturity. See ‘Responsibility’ post.

✶ CONNECTIONS: We need to disconnect much of the umbilical cord we have attached to our family (see post: ‘Process, Part 2, b, iii’ - 8/28/10)
• Past motivators - Normal: Our parents & family, school, teachers, friends, peer groups, religion, our country
• Present day motivators
-- negative: MAINLY by our damage: what’s hidden from us in our subconscious (our Shadow side) - old unresolved pain, our toxic beliefs, our allegiance to our wounded family system, our resentments, fears... which are all expressed thru the W.I.C.’s behavior
SECONDARILY: by other people’s opinions, a punitive H.P./ religion, the needs & wishes of our friends, relatives, mate, children, bosses, our community....
-- positive : a loving H.P. and Ourselves. All other reasons to act need to be secondary, evaluating them based on mental health, common sense, recovery (not from the kid or bad parent) - ie. only from emotional maturity (pg. 63 )

• written inventories, journaling, morning pages, I.C. writing
psychology/ personality tests, Enneagram, Myers-Briggs
• astrology & numerology charts, I Ching
dreams, visualizations, prayer, meditation
• feedback from reliable sources
• meetings, therapy, body work
• listening to ourselves, mindfulness, staying in the now
• observing our behavior patterns, over time (being mindful)
• talking with the IC thru the day, listening to our intuition/ gut reactions
• paying attention to emotional responses to every situation
• list things we’re good at, ask others for a list of our good qualities

ATTACHMENT - ... attachment “may be defined as an affectional tie that one person or animal forms between himself and another specific one – a tie that binds them together in space and endures over time. Attachment is not just a connection between two people; it is a bond that involves a desire for regular contact with that person and the experience of distress during separation from that person.” says psychologist Mary Ainsworth

➼ Healthy attachment is NOT fueled by anxiety, low self-esteem, fear of abandonment, weak boundaries or neediness.
RATHER - it’s grounded in the opposite:
✶ A clear sense and acceptance of our true personality, based on our heredity, personal qualities, character, education, accomplishments, experience, tastes, & talents - as well as lacks, limitations & defects
✶ Having reasonable expectations of ourselves and others, in order to have mutually satisfying relationships, and not be
devastated when others can’t be what we want them to be
✶ The ability the tolerate differences, limitation & imperfections in others
✶ Having good boundaries - knowing what our needs are, how we’re the same or different from others, how we want to be treated - and be able to clearly state our needs & wants, when appropriate

✶ Choosing emotionally available people who are reasonably healthy, are
generally compatible & don’t need us to take care of them
✶ It’s OK to choose people who have some traits like our family (it’s normal to connect with the familiar), but they treat us better
✶ When people act in ways that push our buttons, we don’t react as intensely & can respond from our Healthy Adult (not from the WIC or PP)
✶ Being able to tolerate disconnections with others, even outright losses,
while keeping a sense of our own identity, & knowing that no matter what, we are OK, lovable, strong, capable of taking care of ourselves & being on our own, if necessary.
➼ For those of us from wounded families - we need to slowly DETACH
from the inner damage we brought with us from childhood --
in order to ATTACH ourselves to the many gifts Higher Power has given
us as our birthright - & thus be able to connect with peers !

Excellent article at HELPGUIDE : “Attachment & Adult Relationships”

Growing successfully thru the other stages will results in our ability to be Interdependent. 
Of course, most of us are in flux, sliding back & forth between stages. The goal is to keep working at the process, & not get stuck along the way. (People who are interdependent) are more likely to see themselves as basically good, good at taking advice, love birthdays, prefer to do things with others, easier to get to know, more expressive about feelings, like to be part of a group, learn better with others, more trusting, more positive, more likely to be content, tend to be traditional, do not like to be without guidance, more likely to feel indebted/grateful to parents, values society, less intellectual, less rigid, more open & relationship oriented

Wikipedia ....(interdependence) is a dynamic of being mutually and physically responsible to, and sharing a common set of principles with others.....

✶ Independent thinking alone is not suited to interdependent reality. Independent people who do not have the maturity to think and act interdependently may be good individual producers, but they won't be good leaders or team players. They're not coming from the paradigm of interdependence necessary to succeed in marriage, family, or organizational reality. Stephen Covey, ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, 1989

✶ Interdependence is and ought to be as much the ideal of man as self-sufficiency. Man is a social being. Without interrelation with society he cannot realize his oneness with the universe or suppress his egotism. His social interdependence enables him to test his faith and to prove himself on the touchstone of reality. Mahatma Gandhi, 1929
Need I say more?
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Author's Bio: 

is a psychotherapist in private practice for 24 yrs in New York City, specializing in ACoA RECOVERY (adult-children of alcoholics & other narcissists).
She has appeared on radio, television & at New Life Expo, created & presented ACoA / Al-Anon intensive weekend workshops & ran an ACoA therapy group for 6 years.
She was an instructor at the NY OPEN CENTER  for 9 yrs, presenting her 12-week interactive lecture course “KNOWLEDGE Is POWER: 
What makes an ACoA”

She works with individuals & couples/partners, in person and by phone & Skype. FREE Intro Session, to see if there is compatibility.
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