Because my parents never resolved their power struggle, I was elected “it”. That way each parent could find ways I was “wrong”. Emotionally, I was an island. I can not remember when I was elected the “tie-breaker”. But I can say, it was a thankless job.

After I was sober for 6 months, my husband, daughter, and I were transferred to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. I stayed there for five years. When I returned to visit my parents, I knew I had to get out of this hotseat of being in “control”. So one Sunday, we spent 3 hours in debate about whether to go to the Youngstown mall or the Pittsburgh mall. They were pretty equidistant so that wasn’t the issue. The issue was who would be “right” and who would be “wrong”.

I decided to stay completely out of it. I am not much of a shopper so I could have cared less. But I used to get high on that feeling of fake power by making “the” decision. Being in recovery I was slowly learning the games I played to feel good about myself were the games that were keeping me from being free.

From ACA Red Book; Chapter 1

“The adult child syndrome is somewhat interchangeable with the diagnosis of codependence. There are many definitions for codependence; however, the general consensus is that codependent people tend to focus on the wants and needs of others rather than on their own. by doing so, the codependent or adult child can avoid his or her own feelings of low self-worth. This is the sixth trait of the 14 traits. A codependent focuses on others and their problems to such an extent that the codependent’s life is often adversely affected. In addition to emotional suffering, codependents can suffer from serious or chronic physical illnesses. The illnesses include stomach problems, severe headaches, insomnia, colon problems, and skin ailments in addition to other physical problems.”

“In ACA, we realize we could not have reacted another way given our dysfunctional upbringing. As children, we focused on the odd or neglectful nature of our parents’ behavior. We mistakenly thought we caused their moods or attitudes or could do something to change circumstances. We did not realize that we were children and that adults were responsible for their own feelings and actions. Many of us thought we cause our parents’ addiction. We took responsibility for their drinking and drugging, thinking we could make them stop, slow down, and eventually love us. As children, we took responsibility for our parents’ anger, rage, blame, or pitifulness. We were children, but we unknowingly took responsibility for our parents’ feelings and poor behavior. This mistaken perception, born in childhood, is the root of our codependent behavior as adults. By living with a blaming or shaming parent, we developed a dependent, false self. Our false self constantly seeks outward affection, recognition, or praise, but we secretly believe we don’t deserve it. Meanwhile, the Inner Child is driven inward into hiding. The false self is the adult child personality expressed in the 14 Traits of The Laundry List.”

“People lack boundaries because they have a high level of neediness (or in psych terms, codependence). People who are needy or codependent, have a desperate need for love and affection from others. To receive this love and affection, they sacrifice their identity and remove their boundaries.

(Ironically, it’s the lack of identity and boundaries that makes them unattractive to most people.)

People who blame others for their own emotions and actions do so because they believe that if they put the responsibility on those around them, they’ll receive the love they’ve always wanted and needed. If they constantly paint themselves as a victim, eventually someone will come save them.”   

Mark Manson