Emotional Incest - an overview - Part 3

Sobriety Navigator: Emotional Incest – an overview Part 3 

Through learning and understanding the critical need and value of healthy strong boundaries, an adult child can begin to extract him or herself from the enmeshment created by the emotionally incestuous parent.  With time, they begin to feel clearer and cleaner by cleansing themselves of the “yucky” feelings of toxic shame they have been burdened with all their lives. 

This commitment to claim their emotional life is not without its challenges. As a person begins to extract himself from the enmeshment and starts to exercise his personal power, the emotionally incestuous parent will intuitively sense this shift.  The parent may begin to display resentment, anger, or self-pity for the changes that are occurring in their relationship. They are masters at pitting family members against each other and are very successful at getting other family members to participate in abusive tactics in an attempt to keep someone from becoming independent. They may rally as many allies as they can, including the spouse, friends, or other extended family members (under the guise of victimhood), to help them stop what they perceive as disrespect or mistreatment of their right to be in complete control of others.

The emotionally incestuous family has no boundaries of their own.  They feel what is yours is also theirs. It is not uncommon in emotionally incestuous families that the parent and siblings will look at the person you may be romantically involved with as competition and a threat to their sense of ownership. This is also an indicator of the arrested development of the siblings and their inability to form healthy intimate relationships outside the family.  They will often become resentful of the time, energy, and affection you display for a significant other since they feel you belong to them. It is not uncommon for these family members to try and sabotage and run off any romantic interests you might have. They will incessantly interfere, making sure they are a part of whatever you have. You marry him, you marry us all! 

It is imperative to explore how you self-medicated in order to survive the emotional and psychological abuse and dysfunction. These environments are set- ups for all types of addiction. What once helped you numb the pain and function in these environments have become the barriers to claiming your life and experiencing autonomy and freedom from guilt and fear. 

Recognizing your particular addiction and entering some form of recovery is the beginning of the healing process. By addressing and stopping the substance abuse, a person can recognize where their own instincts have gone array and are impeding any chance of serenity and success. Learn to keep it simple and gradually, at your own individual pace, learn how to set boundaries and heal your life.


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