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. http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/co-dependency
Many of the habits
of dysfunctional families
are not from the lack of love
but are the result of fear.
David W. Earle
Mother Haters are… disturbing. These guys have never had a good relationship with the female representative in their life. While this is sad, and can be for any number of reasons, this does not bode well for the woman in his life if he hasn’t faced and dealt with the issues that this situation can create. A mother hater will probably have some serious control and possession issues. He’ll be Jekyll and Hyde, and this will lead to some serious disagreements. Because of his lack of positive relationship with the female figure in his life, he will try to take away some of your confidence in public or in private, to gain control, and to also bring you to a manageable level. Communication from him will be very poor. He will find it difficult to relate to you and when he sees you upset, he’ll struggle to feel sympathetic. If your partner is a Mother Hater, it’s ideal for him to spend some time in counseling to get to the heart of his issues. If he doesn’t recognize why he’s the way he is, the relationship is doomed because you’ll always be the bad guy, and he’ll always be the misunderstood perfect guy that can’t get a woman to be the way that he wants her to be, reinforcing his very skewed idea of women. I admire any woman that can overcome the different types of struggles that each of these guys bring. It takes patience, care, love, trust, and it takes a hell of a lot of understanding. The key is to ensure that your feelings and needs are not forgotten in the quest to ‘fix’ these guys. Ultimately either type of guy needs to want to change and if it’s like pulling teeth and he’s showing resistance, it would be best to hand over the fixer upper project to someone else and invest your time in a mutual relationship. http://www.baggagereclaim.co.uk/mother-lovers-mother-haters/
The best years of your life
are the ones in which
you decide your problems
are your own.
You do not blame them
on your mother, the ecology,
or the president.
You realize that you
control your own destiny.
The energy of self-indulgent anger is contagious just like a nasty virus. It can infect your family though one member and be passed on to the others. Each person is affected by the anger in their social system and acts it out in their own unique way, whether they cower in silence with resentment or act out their anger on others. Anger is a major side effect of the chaos in the home and vice versa. The research on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder shows that the survivors of traumatic events are left with anger. The universal desire to survive during situations of threat are linked with high physiological arousal and anger. The hormones, increased muscle tension, and pounding heart are all activated to produce the resources to “fight or flight” to deal with the threat. Children learn this survival mode of reactive stress and hyper alertness when they are traumatized. Anger can become an automatic response and a protective mechanism, which “revs” up the body to deal with threat or perceived threat. Even when there is no emergency, the person can go into full activation of anger and become ready to fight. Children from angry families most often pick up anxiety, frustration and agitation that flavor how they see life. The research on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder shows that early trauma in life interferes with the ability to regulate emotion, which then leads to excessive anger, fear and rage. This inability to deal with frustration and anxiety can lead to extreme out busts of aggression. Or it can surface as icy cold hostility as a means of controlling other using looks of disgust to convey displeasure. From “So You Love An Angry Person” by Lynne Namka, Ed. D. http://www.angriesout.com/family2.htm
How much more grievous
are the consequences
of anger than the causes of it.
Men are much more likely to be addicted to alcohol and other substances than women. Two thirds of attendees at Alcoholics Anonymous are men (although this figure was 80 per cent in 1972). A large American study has found that men are twice as likely as women to have a substance dependence disorder, with a lifetime prevalence of almost 36 per cent for men and 18 per cent for women. In other words, over one-third of the male population of the U.S. has been dependent on alcohol or drugs at some stage of their lives. Men in the 25 to 34 year age group were twice as likely as those in the 45 to 50 year-old age group to report substance dependency. Alcohol and drug abuse are strongly associated with an increased suicide rate in men. In a large British study men were three times more likely than women to be alcohol dependent and twice as likely to be drug dependent. Almost 8 per cent of British men and almost 5 per cent of women said that they had been drug dependent at some time in their lives, 3 per cent of men and 1 per cent of women reporting dependence during the previous year. Marriage appears to protect men from addiction problems. Never being married or becoming single is associated with increased alcohol consumption, while getting married is associated with a drop in alcohol consumption. By Dr. Ciaran Mulholland http://www.netdoctor.co.uk/menshealth/facts/addiction.htm
…most substance-addicted people
are also addicted to thinking,
meaning they have a compulsive
and unhealthy relationship
with their own thinking.
David Foster Wallace
Abuse: Touching someone’s body without their permission, hitting, punching, pinching, slapping, tickling, pulling hair, hitting with objects, banging the head, so that marks are left on the person…Punching someone to the point of knocking them off their feet, slamming them into walls or hard objects, strangling or choking someone…Intimidating someone with the threat of violence, punching walls or throwing objects. …you might think that because some other member of your family was receiving the blows you are not a victim of physical abuse, but (you were) if the underlying fear is, “When will it be me?” Physical sexual abuse is bodily sexual activity with a child or touching in a sexual way. It includes: intercourse, oral sex, anal sex, an adult masturbating a child or having a child masturbate an adult, sexual hugging, sexual kissing, and sexual touching. Many people who have been molested or incested feel responsible for what happened, feel that they caused it to happen or wanted it to happen. I have also heard clients express acceptance since it was the only kind of attention that they received. You are not responsible and it is not acceptable behavior. A child will not seek out sexual encounters except what may be age-appropriate sex play with other children. It is the adult’s responsibility to set appropriate boundaries and protect the child. Taken from “Adults Abused as Children” by Licia Ginne, LMFT http://www.latherapists.com/articles.html
The consequences of your denial
will be with you for a lifetime
and will be passed down
to the next generation.
Break your Silence on Abuse!
Patty Rase Hopson
The purpose of defining abuse is so we all have a common language and so we can fully experience and embrace the depth of the hurt we have suffered. It is not about blaming but lets us understand why we may always feel like someone is blaming us, or out to get us. We have our feelings in a context that makes more sense and gives us options to choose our behaviors and not just always reacting to things. It helps us to understand why we may feel or think the way that we do. We all struggle with understanding and believing in how these behaviors have affected us. From the safety of our lives now we can look back and rethink our experiences. We tend to empower our past experiences — like being a latchkey kid – by saying it toughened us up, that it built our self-confidence or independence. Yet research supports that being left on your own actually causes us to doubt our perceptions, feelings, thoughts and lower self-esteem. Latchkey kids were forced to grow up too quickly and take on too much responsibility, and they were not allowed to be afraid. As you grow up and develop intimate relationships, you may find it is hard to form close relationships. Trust has been broken and there is a fear to depend upon anyone else. A fear of feeling let down and rejected the way you did as kid when no one was around. Taken from “Adults Abused as Children” by Licia Ginne, LMFT http://www.latherapists.com/articles.html
Research on child abuse suggests
that religious beliefs can foster,
encourage, and justify
the abuse of children.
When contempt for sex
this creates a breeding
ground for abuse.
If you’re codependent and want to take control of your life, there are plenty of do’s to pay attention to, and at least as many don’ts. Do the following:
– Learn about chemical dependency. It’s a disease that thrives on ignorance.
– Talk to a therapist. Well-meaning friends and others untrained in the dynamics of addictions can do more harm than good.
– Contact Al-Anon or Codependents Anonymous. Attend several meetings before you decide if they’re for you. Each is listed in the white pages of the phone book.
– Be honest with your kids. They’re not deaf or blind when it comes to family problems. – Plain talk from you can relieve some of their fears and insecurities.
– Be patient. Change is difficult and slow. You won’t solve all your problems overnight, but you will improve your ability to cope and resolve problems with time.
Gayle Rosellini http://www.doitnow.org/pages/804.html
You’ll always get
what you’ve always gotten
until you become
the person you’ve never been!
Nothing changes if nothing changes.
Witnessing physical and emotional abuse is harmful to children, even when they’re not being targeted. Just because your wife/girlfriend isn’t currently attacking your children doesn’t mean it’s not affecting them. We learn about relationships from our parents and other caregivers. What do you think your children are learning by observing mom’s and dad’s relationship dynamic? If you could choose a relationship partner for your children when they’re grown up, would you want it to be like your relationship with their mother? By staying in the relationship, you’re telegraphing that it’s okay for the person who “loves” you to abuse you and that one individual’s needs and feelings are more important than the other’s. Additionally, when and if the children ever begin to assert their own identities and challenge mom in any way—that is if they’re not terrified to do so after witnessing the way mom treats dad—they’ll typically be subject to the same hot and cold abuse. Your kids are going to have issues, especially around relationships, whether you stay in the marriage or not. You’ll be in a much better place to help them later on if you’re healthy, strong and happy. Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD http://shrink4men.wordpress.com/2009/08/10/10-lies-men-tell-themselves-in-order-to-stay-in-emotionally-abusive-relationships-with-their-wives-or-girlfriends/
There are far too many silent sufferers.
Not because they don’t yearn to reach out,
but because they’ve tried
and found no one who cares.
Richelle E. Goodrich
One characteristic of growing up in a dysfunctional household is that we may learn to feel guilty if we fail to ensure the success and happiness of other members of the household. We may feel responsible or be made to feel responsible for the failure or unhappiness of others. Thus, in adulthood, we may come to feel or be made to feel responsible for our partner’s failures. The guilt we feel when our partner fails may drive us to keep tearing down our personal boundaries so that we are always available to the other person. When we feel the pain, the guilt, the anger of being overly responsible for another person’s behavior or life experiences, we may seek alleviate this feeling by rescuing them from the consequences of their behavior as we learned in our family of origin. Thereby depriving them of one of the most important features of an independent, healthy and mature life, the ability to make our own life choices, accepting the responsibility for and the consequences of our/their decisions. Or we may bear the burden of their unacceptable behavior for many years. A healthier response is to show our partners respect by allowing them to succeed or fail on their own terms. You, of course, may choose to support your partner’s fulfillment of life goals but it is unhealthy to rescue them from all of life’s consequences. When you do agree to help, ask yourself two questions: 1) is it something they can do for themselves? and, 2) do I resent the giving of my own resources (self, time, money, etc.)? This may be a difficult choice if we have confused love with rescue. You can be there to comfort or encourage your partner when times become difficult, and you can rejoice with them when success is the outcome. When boundaries are healthy, you are able to say, I trust and respect you to make your own life choices. As my equal partner, I will not try to control you by taking away your choices in life. John Stibbs http://www.hiddenhurt.co.uk/emotional_boundaries.html
It is hard to imagine a more stupid
or more dangerous way of making decisions
than by putting those decisions in the hands of people
who pay no price for being wrong.
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