IN healthy families, infants are given the security

  & safety of being first symbiotically attached to

  the mother & then, as it grows, allowed to 

  develop it’s own identity, creating a sense of   

  separateness without the threat / fear of

  disconnection, punishment or abandonment.

  This was not the case for us as CoAs.  We rarely

  had the comfort of the initial symbiosis, but

  were always treated as mere extensions of our

  parent / caretakers.

  So, NOW we assume ‘love’ is the same as being

  ‘one with the other’ (symbiotic narcissism) &

  that we have a right to....

... always be agreed with (because disagreement

     is = to disloyalty)

... always have our own way, since we never did

     as kids

... be taken care of (everyone becomes a potential


... be understood, completely, all the time

... have others automatically know our needs &

     respect our rights (mind-read)

... never be felt, or left alone (take others  


... take care of other adults (who dies & made

     us god?)

... the other person’s soul (their deepest

    thought, emotions, secrets, etc)         ☛



... be happy, yet we become unhappy

... get joy, yet experience misery

... be sociable, yet become argumentative

... have friendships, yet make enemies

... gain strength , yet become weak

... have courage, yet become afraid

... gain confidence, yet become doubting

... connect, yet feel abandoned

... be whole, yet become empty

... be secure, yet become anxious

... be nurtured, yet become unseen, uncared for

... be loved, yet become resented, even hated

... find ourselves, yet become increasingly  


... cope with life, yet invite sickness & death

  IN RECOVERY - we learn to relate simply to

  know others (not use them), & to express our 

  unique selves (not to be used). 

  WE are the ‘cake’, others only the ‘icing’!

We learned things incorrectly -- backwards!

   • allows little growth of the individual

   • attempts to change the other

   • attempts to take care of others’ feelings

   • cannot define ego boundaries

   • demands & expects unconditional love

   • exhibits sado-masochism

   • fear of abandonment when separated

   • fear of letting go

   • fear of risk, change, the unknown

   • feels all-consuming

   • gives in order to get

   • lacks true intimacy

   • looks to the other for affirmation & worth

   • needs the other to be secure, feel complete

   • plays games (Victim, Rescuer, Persecutor)

   • plays power games, is controlling

   • recreates old painful emotions

   • refuses to make a commitment

   • seeks solutions outside of oneself

                                                        SIGNS Of
          ADDICTIVE                                                                 HEALTHY

   • accepts endings ( not devastating)

   • accepts limitations in self & the other

   • affirms the equality of the self & the other     

   • allows for individuality & differences

   • brings out the best in both

   • cares, with detachment, doesn’t try to fix

   • doesn’t try to control or change the other

   • does not crave unconditional love

   • encourages self-sufficiency

   • enjoys ones solitude

   • experiences openness to change

   • experiences separateness, comfortably

   • experiences true intimacy

   • expresses emotions spontaneously

   • feels comfortable getting ones needs met

   • feels free to ask honestly for what is wanted

   • finds commitment acceptable

   • gives & receive, equally

   • has high self-esteem

   •  invites growth in the other

   • trusts the memory of the other when apart

   • welcomes closeness, risks vulnerability

    A few times in like we may be lucky enough to

   experience being loved & understood ‘perfectly’.

   This is not a matter of our right, not owed to us.

   It’s a gift - a matter of grace. It cannot be earned!

   As adults, we’re responsible for giving ourselves what

   we need so that when we get it from others it’s a   

   bonus, freely given. Then we’re more likely to

   experience being seen, valued & understood, in a  

   healthy relationship.

 Brenda Schaeffer, Hazelden,’86
Melissa Bailey, 1986
   Donna M Torbico, 2001

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    Adult-Children of alcoholics & other narcissists

RELATIONSHIPS +Relationships.html