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To grow up and to become a mature adult person with a sense of self-awareness is a very delicate and sensitive process. Among all the things we learn is how to take care of ourselves. Our parents and people around us will show us how to live, how to show feelings, how to make relations to people and things, how to attach and make bonds. Some things we learn will be beautiful and based on self love. Other patterns will be based on self denial because we have learned to be more loyal to someone else than to our own experience and our own feelings. This is not unusually since a child's survival is dependent on the  attachment to a parent even if it is painful or unhealthy. In this way we abandonen ourselves on a big or smal scale and we often came to believe that something was inherently wrong with us. We knew by the way we were treated that to be vulnerable was not safe. Maybe we expressed what we felt and needed and got humiliated instead of meet and respected. Sometimes we had the experience  that when we cried or were angry we were threatened. When a parent has not processed there own feelings, there own sorrow and fear, and not made peace with their inner self they can not stand a childs crying and raging. So we learned to listen for what others wanted us to be and to see other peoples needs. At the same time as we escaped our own self. As we grew up our behaviors became compulsive. What ever we used compulsively we became addicted to it. The brain and the physiology in our bodies were trained to give us signals whenever we acted out in our addiction trying to escape pain. When we totally neglected ourself our body told us  "right way to go!". We survived. We became adults by "age", a number, but emotionally we were torn and confused. We were now programed to live with this coping mechanism without a sense of self, with no connection or a very tiny connection to our feelings. 

Addiction is a way to run away from what is really happening inside of us and in our lives. Our feelings become distorted. As a result of how we are treated and what we live through we learn to shut down and suppress what we feel when it's not "suitable" or too painful. We don't trust what we feel at the core and we don't know how to live with feelings. Addiction can be a misleading and too strong word for many to identify with. We relate addiction to alcohol or chemical drugs however many  of us uses control, manipulation, work or self-sacrifice and "fit in" perfectly in society.

Following are a few descriptions of how emotional enmeshment and confusion develops out of dysfunctional families. 

  • Only a few feelings were allowed when I grew up. 

  • When I showed my true feelings and needs I was often ridiculed or not heard. I was told I was weak, a burden, childish or to demanding. 

  • My parents/ caretakers did not know how to express their feelings authentically with vulnerability. Instead of saying what they felt they used  sarcasm, bitterness, dominance and the mentality of being a victim to handle life.  

  • I developed an automatic response to fight, flight or freeze when life was to much, to painful or unendurable.    

  • Feelings were used to "get what I needed" (to survive). I learned to control and manipulate others and developed a distance to my true and authentic feelings.  For example If I was funny my dad would laugh instead of yell at me when he was drunk. But inside I was really terrified and wanted to cry and be held safely in my mothers arms. 

  • I had to take care of others so I stoped listening to what I needed. There was no space for me to have needs, I needed to be strong.

  • I Isolated so that others could not get to me. As a result I had no one to share with, I never could express what was happening. 

  • As we grew up with untrustworthy people we believe there are no trustworthy people when we become adults to.   

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