Family, you can’t live with them, but you can’t live without them either.
We take them for granted, mostly. But when we make peace with the friction and personality tensions, then we can finally get to actually appreciating and enjoying being family; being there for each other without losing sight of what you need as an individual.
Families commonly seek my services as a family therapist to address dysfunctions in their quality of relationships, citing some fallout that more recently happened whereas the root cause is more commonly derivative of an old wound that festered from long ago.
It’s in important step in the process of healing with families, but often complicated.
There are many ways families becomes unhealthy. There may be a history of dysfunction that gets passed down, abuse, insecure attachment, etc.
Many families are also too close, and in family therapy we call that enmeshment.
The definition of enmeshment, coined by Minuchin: Describes families where personal boundaries are diffused, sub-systems are undifferentiated, and over-concern for others leads to a loss of autonomous development (Wikipedia)
We move past the old wounds when we accept that our parents were human and did the best that they could.
Most failings were natural childhood disappointments and probably not as significant as we remember them.
Sometimes we have a tendency to hold onto the memories in a way that allows us to justify our wounds; when in fact we are merely injuring ourselves more than necessary.
This prevents repair to current family bonds that would allow for a better relationship quality.
If you’re anything like me you get to a point where you need your alone time to maintain your own peace of mind and stay productive.
Do you require a lot of down time and solitude to re-calibrate after periods of social activity? If so, make sure you take it.
It is essential that even while you are putting other people’s needs at the top of your list, yours must be at the top as well.
Whatever the values and expectations were from your family or origin, you must be sure to explore your own organic belief system within that framework.
If there are aspects that don’t fit for you, then you need to take the time and distance away to understand how to integrate them or separate them as appropriate.
Individuation happens as you separate from your family of origin well enough that you become self aware, but not necessarily independent, but inter-dependent.
Anyone who tries to convince you that full independent status is the goal is not leading you down the right path.
Family is essential, belonging is essential. You must have intimacy and secure attachment in your life to be fully functioning, healthy, and happy.
And you also need to be self aware and complete on your own. If you are too dependent on others or too independent from others, there is going to be some abnormal outcomes.
Just a brief reminder to reach out and prioritize your family and loved ones, but without losing yourself in the process.
If you notice yourself easily agitated, or you notice changes in sleep patterns, eating habits, energy and activity levels, weight loss or gain, or chronic IBS, or other physiological ailments you could be experiencing emotional distress.
If this distress is triggered by familial enmeshment or disconnection you should speak to a professional for support. Neither extreme is healthy and can perpetuate dysfunctional relationships in adulthood.
Intimate Bonds in Adulthood
Without communication, there is no relationship. Without respect, there is no love. Without trust, there’s no reason to continue. ~ Unknown
When developing and securing trust, you must be hopeful, and also stay discerning. You can’t just give your trust away and assume it’s going to come back or be rewarded with good behavior.
You should give trust in a steady flow, as you feel it emerging in tandem.
First things first though, what is your relationship to trust like? It’s usually a story that begins in childhood with your parents. Depending on your type of attachment bond.
Children are able to rely on their parents to attend to their needs without becoming co-dependent. The parents are a safe base from which the child can explore the world.
Separation anxiety is observed in this style when parent and child are apart and the child doesn’t feel comforted upon the parents’ return
In this style you see the child as more clingy and distressed with no feelings of security or comfort developed from the parents.
The goal is to obviously have healthy secure attachment that allows you to be inter-dependent with fluid intimate adult relationships where you can trust that your needs will be met by the other person, while you also meet their needs; without creating co-dependency.
Now let’s say you had secure attachment from your parents, but maybe your experiences in adulthood have not been great in romantic relationships or with sexual partners.
Or perhaps you experienced an interpersonal trauma, whether violent or not … like rape, sexual assault, robbery, kidnapping, burglary, harassment, etc.
These types of trauma can really impede your ability to trust. If this has happened to you and you have NOT sought out therapy services, please do reach out to me by replying to this email.
Trauma Recovery Disclaimer:
I am a trauma recovery specialist and seriously encourage you to prioritize your full recovery, so that you can finally heal from your traumatic experience.
You can achieve a lot of growth in 6 sessions, which is usually my benchmark for resolution with my clients.
Some require more of course depending on severity, but that is a good average duration to expect for most cases of mild-moderate forms of trauma. I can work with you for as long as it takes.
… Aside from trauma, however:
Your adult relationships, even the really bad ones, should not hinder your ability to trust in the next relationship. If you find yourself carrying that much baggage into the next experience, you also need a few sessions and some time to sort that out.
The goal here is to be resilient to negative outcomes and start over with a clean slate that returns you to “healthy and secure” status, but even better with the integrated lessons of life experience gained.
Secure Attachment Leads to Trust
& Insecure Attachment Leads to Distrust
Looking at attachment style in adulthood. You do not want to see anxious or ambivalent adults fearful of being abandoned or neglected or betrayed or otherwise detached and disengaged.
It’s important for everyone to establish healthy adult attachments in functioning long term relationships (LTRs) with strong and resilient levels of TRUST.
Unfortunately, I do see a lot of unhealthy, insecure, distrustful couples in therapy; and you probably see them on social media, on mainstream media, in friendship circles, even in your families.
Can you think of one or two right now? I bet you can!
Often you see men with ambivalent attachment styles because of absent or neglectful emotional bonds in childhood; you’ll see women more with anxious approaches to relationships where they are worried and frantic about getting their needs met.
Both of these examples are about trust. Using this as the example, the man doesn’t trust that he will get his needs met from the relationship and may avoid partnership and idealize the single unattached lifestyle.
The woman doesn’t trust that the man will be consistent, reliable, loyal, honest, etc… so she frantically tries to control or harass the man into proving he is able to meet her needs.
If you pair these two types together, you see how disastrous this will be, right?
I hope you do see it and I hope you aren’t ever in it!
Now that we have somewhat of a picture in our minds of what an unhealthy distrusting relationship looks like, I’m sure all of you want to avoid that like the plague.
The more we see this occurring the more we assume it is the norm, falsely. It is not the norm, but healthy and happy couples are often too busy enjoying their lives in private to highlight them in public.
In order to navigate the dating world or prevent a LTR from deteriorating to a point of distrust you’ll have to do two things:
Stay open to giving trust AND be very observant to discern signs of distrusting persons.
In this blog I’m focusing on how to navigate the dating world versus the latter, which is a bit more nuanced.
This isn’t about judging a person as inherently bad or evil or a gender as bad or evil, it is merely a way to identify that this person isn’t able to give you what you need and deserve at this time.
You can wish them well on the path of self growth and kindly find the exit door. They probably have a very good reason for being distrusting, but that doesn’t mean YOU need to fix them … because you won’t!
They need time to do that for themselves.
**** END ****
Reach out if you want to talk about anything that is coming up for you:
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org to speak directly to Dr. Taylor Burrowes
Or go here to book an online session: drtaylorburrowes.com/consultation