The black widow

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The black widow is a spider that is well-known for sexual cannibalism. She would sometimes eat her male counterpart after being impregnated. While the idea of devouring your mate may seem terrifying, the idea of eating your own offspring may sound unthinkable, but it has been observed with a number of animal species. Female wolf spiders frequently practice filial cannibalism. Zoologists are assuming they get an energy benefit from this unnatural practice and they might be using it as a source of food when other sources are scarce. This same behavior is unfortunately much more common than we may think on a psychological level with human beings.


Many of us enter parenthood more for unconscious reasons than conscious ones. For example, our parents had children so we feel it is the right thing to do. At a subconscious level, we may want to heal our own childhood by having children of our own. We may be afraid of being alone or need to make our existence meaningful by having offspring that will survive us. In some culture, there is some expectation that children will take care of us during our old age. On a more positive note, we may aspire to have children to experience unconditional love. While it is painful to separate from a romantic partner, time heals everything and we move on with our life. The same cannot be said with children. Children are the flesh of our flesh, and we are never able to move on completely from the loss of children. Conflict with our children torments our soul. On a psychological level, our children reflect our light and shadow even more than romantic relationships. This is why parental relationships suffer a high level of projection. As such, our children are ultimately our most challenging teachers, and often choose to fulfill many of our unrealized dreams.

The ideal parent is able to see the uniqueness of his children, does not project his own unfilled desires and aspirations into them and encourage his children’s development according to their own abilities and desires. The ideal parent brings unconditional love, presence and support to the child so that he may eventually become autonomous and create a life that feels good on his own terms. Parental love should be about what is best for the child independently of what could be best for the parent. This is why we call unconditional love and the hidden purpose of parenthood is to bring us closer to this state of being.

Unfortunately, many of us have experienced trauma and we are far from being an ideal parent. As a result, we suffer a number of psychological ailments such as fear of loneliness or abandonment, depression, disconnection, low self-esteem, scarcity consciousness and many other insecurities. As long as we are not whole and we have not experienced the fire of self-love into our heart to become a sun of our own, the reality is that we are likely to vampirize our children. When children come to this world, they are pure and radiate unconditional love. They are still connected to Source so they easily fall prey to parents that are not whole and will pass on their own traumas to their children. I have a number of coaching clients that had neglectful or abusive parents. They may be scared to revisit the painful memories but they had no choice but to accept the shadow of their unfit primary caretakers. As such, they can move rapidly through emotional healing as they are not trying to protect the ghosts of their painful past. However, I commonly have clients with parents that exhibit narcissistic love. These are actually harder to work with, as it is so difficult for everyone to let go of the idea that they were not really loved when they were the center of attention of their parents. Wires are crossed in these children. The child (or the grown-up adult) is still convinced that he was loved whereas he was actually used and manipulated for the parent selfish motives. It may be difficult to observe and accept as the parents apparent actions only seem to indicate love & care.


This type of narcissistic parental love may be expressed in many ways. Parental narcissism is actually so prevalent that many people may become angry while reading my examples below as these may be the only times where they felt actually loved and cared for. Narcissism is just a mental state that limits us to see only our own reflection and not the child’s uniqueness when we relate to them. Unconditional love is rare and precious, but once we experience it, it is easier to let go of this form of conditional love.

Too much emphasis on school grades

So-called “good” parents are very identified with their offspring school grades. They make sure homework is done perfectly. They get offended if their child gets less than a perfect grade and do not hesitate to schedule a meeting with the teacher in such case. They punish the child emotionally when they get an unsatisfactory grade. Actually, this parental behavior is unhealthy for many reasons. First, it teaches the children that they are loved only upon achieving specific results, therefore they are not worthy as they are. This is conditional love. Additionally, this attitude does not nurture autonomy in children. They work to get good grades to please their parents and not get in trouble with them rather than for their own good. This is programming them to choose a career in the future to please mum and dad instead of choosing a path that is truly fulfilling. Over focusing on school results is a way for parents to avoid their true role as educators. The smarter parents understand the limits of the school system, and coach their children in other areas that is not covered by standard education. They develop their children emotional intelligence, character, compassion, expand their horizons, teach by example, promote their interest in sports and hobbies. While it is important to coach our children to have good results at school, it is far from being a necessary condition for living a successful and happy life. Many parents with low-esteem will use a child with good grades to compensate for their own insecurities and personal sense of failure. If they have one child with good grades and another one struggling at school, such parents will cause deep psychological damage to the child that is challenged academically. This child will feel even more unlovable, unworthy and is likely to resent his sibling. This is setting up the unhealthy dynamic of the Golden Child and the Scapegoat that is well known by therapists.

When extra curriculum activities are used as projective identification

While it is natural for a parent to initiate their children to activities they are familiar with for their mutual enjoyment, there is a healthy balance to reach. I knew a woman who dropped off musical school when she was 16 as her parents had prepared her to become a concert pianist. She refused to play at home for her family and friends as the memories of the pressure of having to play 6 hours a day had been traumatizing. However, when she had a son, she made a point that he would take piano. She would teach him piano from time to time but every session ended with her son’s tears. She was repeating her own trauma through him by giving him the same harsh treatment that she was once the victim. There are some professional athletes that had to endure a high level of projection from their coach parent. The 8 times grand slam tennis champion Andre Agassi went public about his father who put him through a brutal training as a young child. When young Agassi rebelled, his father just shouted at the top of his lungs “You’re a tennis player! You’re going to be number one in the world! You’re going to make lots of money. That’s the plan and that’s the end of it”. Mary Pierce is one of the best French female tennis players of all times. Jim Pierce, her father, once reportedly screamed “Mary, kill the bitch!” at a tennis tournament his daughter Mary Pierce played in. He verbally and physically abused his daughter. His outbursts at events were so bad that the World Tennis Association banned him from attending all tournaments. Many parents use their children to raise their social status vicariously. They use their children to look good to their family & friends. Sometimes, they have something to do with their children achievements but more often than we think, the children’s accomplishment are reached despite the parents’ unhealthy projections. These children feel excruciating pressure from their parents to perform and this is hindering their ability to truly enjoy their sport or activity. They tend to exhibit a lot of stress and anxiety. Failing in the activity would just reinforce the subconscious belief that they are not lovable.

Using children as weapons of war

Unfortunately, children are often caught in loyalty conflicts. In case of high divorce conflict, the narcissistic parent would turn his own children against the other parent. The children are brain-washed to take the alienating parent’s hatred towards the former spouse as their own. These parents are extremely toxic they are putting the child in a position to hate half of themselves. The psychological damage that these children suffer has been well-documented. Even outside of parental alienation, it is quite common for a parent to project their own resentment toward a friend or family member with their own children. One of my clients used to have a very close relationship with her stepdad. However, when the relationship ended the mother manipulated her daughter to behave very harshly towards the stepdad to get back at him. As a result, this young woman has had very unsatisfactory intimate relationships with men as she is very tormented subconsciously with the guilt of hurting someone she loved. The same process of alienation is not limited to the narcissistic parent’s former partner. Loving connections from uncles, aunts, grandparents, cousins and friends can be severed the same way.

My daughter as a Barbie doll

If the girl is good-looking, she may be used as an object of self-glorification and unhealthy pride for the parent, typically the mother. She is made to wear pretty little dresses and apparel to become a way to boost the self-esteem of the parent. The daughter is therefore compensating for the mother’s fear of getting old and losing her attractiveness. There is nothing wrong in the action of making our children look good when we can afford it. It is all about the intent behind the action. We need to examine if we have selfless or on the contrary self-centered motives. Because there are so many parents who think their children are so incredibly pretty, many photography agencies are exploiting this parents’ weakness by promising to submit the photo-shoot to modeling agencies. They charge an outrageous price for the photo-shoot but never submit anything. In such instance, the mother is grooming her daughter with the sole intent of getting attention and this is not coming from a nurturing instinct. In another example, a mother felt some jealousy towards her sister. She went over the top to make her daughter look gorgeous before visiting her aunt. The purpose was not a friendly and caring family visit. Her real agenda was to show that she was better than her sister because she had such a lovely, well-behaved and pretty daughter. Good behavior in this mother’s book is synonymous to anything that her daughter does to make her look good, and bad behavior is the opposite. The child’s best interest is never considered. She is just seen as an extension of the mother and any attempt to escape from her control is severely punished.

Children used as retirement and financial support

This is more prominent in cultures that do not offer a satisfactory retirement plan to their citizens. Parents have children so that they may support them financially and even physically during their old age. Parents see children as an investment, and if the child deviates from the plan that the parents have set-up, they are condemned as ungrateful, selfish and unworthy. This is the opposite of unconditional love. Children are geared towards careers that bring more money such as doctors or lawyers instead of following their passion. This way, they will not be a financial burden on the parent but on contrary could contribute to the parents’ materiel well-being in their old age. A friend of mine got a law degree just for his father. When he graduated, he told his father “This diploma is yours, now I am going to do what I like” What a waste of time! A caring parent is preoccupied first and foremost with his child’s happiness, not with the benefits he will draw from his children’s material success. While transactional relationship are required in the field of business, the world of family and friendship is there first to teach us about unconditionality. Real love is about giving without any expectation in return. I have a friend who used to help a lot financially his wife’s parents when they were married. When they decided to separate, she kept the expectation that her ex-husband should keep paying for her parents’ lifestyle. She has been suing her ex husband for the last 5 years for exorbitant child care fees charged by her parents for spending time for their own grandchildren! The irony is that she is also preventing her children to spend any time with their father.

Self-sacrificing behaviors

These self-centered parents are distorting reality to manipulate their children to feel a sense of indebtedness so as to better control them. One of my friends had a mother who had an affair with a young man during their marriage. She told her daughters that he was the love of her life but she decided not to leave their father as a sacrifice to them. In reality, she never had any intention to divorce as she enjoyed the financial stability of her emotionally unavailable husband. The daughters felt terrible as they felt responsible for their mother’s “sacrifice”. Many of these children, once they become adult, become very concerned when they receive anything in a relationship. They are afraid this may be used against them in the future. Some mothers may say they sacrifice having a fulfilling career because they had to raise their children while in fact they were afraid to face the workplace. People should never give out of sacrifice. Either they give from their heart or they should not give at all. I have heard from many grown-up children that they would have preferred not getting anything than feeling guilty because of their parent self-sacrificing behavior. They understand this is just plain manipulation. These parents have the habit of convincing their children that their own selfish behaviors were in fact self-sacrificing. They are just teaching their children that it is wrong to have needs of your own, and the only way to fulfill desires is through manipulation.

The helicopter parent

An helicopter parent pays extreme close attention to a child’s or children’s experiences and problems. This a coping mechanism not to experience their own inner void, self-worth issues and dissatisfaction about their own lives. They oscillate between being over-loving, over-protective or over critical to their children. With their actions, they are depriving their children of their own experiences and are severely limiting the child ability for autonomy. Children raised with helicopter parenting show poor emotional regulation as they are never given the space to handle, process and reflect on their own emotions. Whether they are feeling sad, angry, disappointed or distressed, the parent immediately takes over in solving the situation for them. Hence, they are disabled to handle real-life situations without their parent. The parent is enabling the child’s over-dependency of the parent. If the child is on school trip, the child will insist for example to talk with her mother at night before she is able to fall asleep. This child will continue to call her parent every day even far into adulthood. The child never cuts the umbilical cord with the parent which severely impacts his/her ability to experience life. The parent stays omnipresent and this leaves no space for other intimate relationships in the grown-up child.

The “gift” as a control mechanism

Such parents may give very generous gifts to their children however they may take the desired object just as quickly if the child deviates from their line of conduct. One of my friends had a boyfriend she was madly in love with. He was receiving financial support from his parents, and the parents found that she did not have the appropriate social status for their son. They threatened to cut financial support if he were to stay with her. He broke off with her shortly after. Another one of my friends got a dog when she was a teenager. She adored the dog as she received unconditional love from the animal in sharp contrast with her parents. The mother did not like the fact that her daughter could pour so much love outside of her. She got her husband to tell their daughter that they could only keep one dog because of the size of their house, but because her mother was very attached to her own dog, they would then give away the daughter’s dog. The daughter became so enraged with this decision that she actually became cruel with her mother’s dog. As a result, the dog started to exhibit some dangerous behaviors and they had to part with that dog too. The daughter developed some toxic guilt traumatizing this animal, and had to eventually work through it in therapy. This type of parent shows his or her omnipotence by making clear to the child that he has the ability to give but also to take away. In the most extreme form of this pattern, it is common for satanic cults to make little children attached to kitties before sacrificing the young cat in horrific ways in front of the child months later. This is imprinting the child with a deep sense of powerlessness so that they may be more easily controllable to follow the cult’s agenda. When the child becomes aware that anything they care for may be taken away at any time, they refuse to connect intimately with anyone or anything outside the toxic organization.

Preventing competing child’s intimate relationships


There are some parents that cannot stand if their children may start showing more affection towards someone else than themselves. They have a strategy of “divide and conquer” to stay #1 in their children’s heart or mind. Such parent would criticize the child’s boyfriend or spouse behind their back to ensure the child shows loyalty first to the parent and not to the romantic partner. One of my clients’ mother had left “inadvertently” an open bottle of pain medicine at her house and my client’s dog ate dozens of pills. The dog barely died as a result. Toxic mothers may even get jealous of their daughter’s attachment towards their newborn. In another situation, one mother took away her pregnant daughter’s chair as the latter was going to sit down. As she didn’t notice that the chair has been removed, she fell abruptly and almost got a miscarriage. These parents are very proficient at slandering anyone that may become too close to their child. These could be children, romantic partners, other grandparents, friends, animals or even competing activities that could prevent the narcissistic parent to feel his/her dominance. These parents only know possessiveness because they know no real love in their heart. There is a common pattern in families when the mother becomes jealous of the daughter as she becomes an attractive teenager. This mother would then use her husband to punish the daughter on futile ground. This achieves multiple goals at once. First, it reassures the insecure mother about the loyalty of her husband. Secondly, it antagonizes the daughter towards the father to ensure that the mother-daughter bond stays primary. Another mother would make sure to exhibit all his son’s pictures with his past girlfriends every time a new girlfriend of his would visit. This would make the new girlfriend feel insignificant and create strife in the relationship. The hidden purpose is to ensure that she stays the dominant female figure in her son’s life.

Before we can experience real love, we need to recognize what is not love. Narcissistic love can exhibit many of the attributes of real love: deep care and concern, commitment, gifts, affection and positive compliments. To differentiate conditional and unconditional love, we need to consider if the parent is able to see the child as separate to him, that he possesses his own desires, aspirations and dreams that may be different from the parent. While we come to this world in a state of fusion with our mother, the process of maturation is about recognizing our own individuality separate from our parents as we grow-up. It is also natural to be egocentric and think we are the center of the world as a small child. Problems start arising when we do not develop past this stage because of childhood traumas. Real love stems in complete freedom when we choose to spend time and affection with people we care for. Not because we have to, but because we want to.

French translation below – Article en Français ci-dessus

La Veuve Noire

La veuve noire est une araignée qui est bien connue pour son cannibalisme sexuel. Elle mange parfois son homologue masculin après avoir été fécondée. Si l’idée de dévorer son compagnon peut sembler terrifiante, l’idée de manger sa propre progéniture devient alors impensable. Toutefois, cela a été observé chez un certain nombre d’espèces animales. Les araignées loup pratiquent fréquemment le cannibalisme filial. Les zoologistes supposent qu’elles obtiennent un bienfait énergétique de ce repas contre nature et elles le font d’autant plus que d’autres sources de nourriture deviennent rares. Ce comportement est malheureusement beaucoup plus fréquent que l’on ne pourrait le penser à un niveau psychologique chez les êtres humains.

La plupart du temps, nous devenons parents plus pour des raisons inconscientes que conscientes. Nous pouvons le faire par simple mimétisme de nos propres parents. À un niveau inconscient, nous pouvons vouloir guérir les traumatismes de notre propre enfance en ayant nous-mêmes des enfants, voire même pour combler notre propre vide affectif. Nous pouvons avoir peur d’être seul ou nous voulons donner un sens à notre existence, c’est pourquoi nous voulons une descendance qui nous survivra. Dans certaines cultures, nous comptons sur nos enfants pour prendre soin de nous pendant nos vieux jours et ce également sur un plan financier. Dans l’ideal, nous pouvons souhaiter avoir des enfants afin de leur donner un amour inconditionnel et qu’ils puissent se développer afin d’améliorer le monde dans lequel nous vivons. Bien qu’il soit très douloureux de se séparer d’un partenaire romantique, le temps finit par apaiser un coeur blessé. Cependant, nous ne pouvons pas en dire de même en ce qui concerne nos enfants. Nos enfants sont la chair de notre chair, et nous ne sommes jamais en mesure de guérir complètement de la perte de nos enfants. La blessure persiste et tout conflit avec nos enfants nous perturbe profondément. Sur le plan psychologique, nos enfants amplifient nos aspects de lumière mais aussi notre part d’ombre, encore plus que ne le font nos relations amoureuses. Voilà pourquoi les relations parentales souffrent d’un fort niveau de projection. À ce titre, nos enfants sont en fin de compte nos enseignants de vie les plus difficiles. Ils choisissent aussi souvent de réaliser les rêves que nous n’avons pu réaliser.

Cependant le parent idéal est capable de voir le caractère unique de ses enfants, et ne projète pas ses propres désirs et vocations manquées sur eux. Ils encouragent le développement de leurs enfants en fonction de leurs talents et de leurs propres désirs. Le parent idéal apporte l’amour inconditionnel, la présence et le soutien à l’enfant afin qu’il puisse devenir autonome. Il les aide à se créer une vie heureuse. L’amour parentale devrait se focaliser sur ce qui est le mieux pour l’enfant indépendamment de ce qui peut être le mieux pour le parent. C’est ce que nous appelons l’amour inconditionnel et c’est ce vers quoi nous devons tendre en tant que parents.

Malheureusement, nous sommes loin d’être des parents idéaux du fait des traumatismes que nous avons vécu lors de notre enfance. Par conséquent, nous souffrons d’un certain nombre de maux psychologiques comme la peur de la solitude ou de l’abandon, la dépression, l’indisponibilité émotionnelle, une faible estime de nous-même, la peur du lendemain et bien d’autres angoisses. Tant que nous n’avons pas intégré et purgé tous ces aspects en nous et que nous ne sommes pas capables de nous donner de l’amour, nous sommes très susceptibles de vampiriser nos propres enfants. Lorsque les enfants viennent au monde, ils sont purs et rayonnent d’un amour inconditionnel. Du fait de leur innocence et pureté, ils deviennent les victimes de parents qui leur transmettent leurs propres traumatismes. Un certain nombre de mes patients qui ont eu des parents négligents ou abusifs, ont souvent peur de revisiter les souvenirs douloureux du passé alors que la guérison émotionnelle peut aller d’autant plus vite lorsqu’ils ne cherchent pas à protéger les illusions d’un passé cruel. Beaucoup de mes patients n’ont connu qu’un amour parental narcissique. Il est très difficile pour l’enfant une fois adulte d’accepter qu’il n’était pas vraiment aimé alors qu’il se croyait le centre de l’attention de ses parents. C’est une situation très confuse. L’enfant maintenant adulte veut se convaincre qu’il était aimé alors qu’il était en fait utilisé et manipulé a des fins égocentriques par ses parents. Cela est d’autant plus difficile à accepter que les apparences sont trompeuses, et que les gens extérieurs renforcent cette même image du parent parfait.

Ce type d’amour venant d’un parent narcissique peut être exprimé de plusieurs façons. Le narcissisme parental est en fait si répandue que beaucoup de gens pourraient sentir la colère monter en eux en lisant les exemples ci-dessous car ceux-ci peuvent être les seuls moments où ils se sont sentis vraiment chéris et aimés. Le narcissisme est juste un état de conscience qui nous empêche de voir à l’extérieur de notre bulle et donc de voir le caractere unique de l’enfant en face de nous. L’amour inconditionnel est rare et précieux, mais une fois que nous en faisons l’expérience, il est alors plus facile de cesser de s’accrocher à l’amour conditionnel.

Trop d’emphase sur les résultats scolaires

Ces soi-disant parents parfaits accordent une importance démesurée aux résultats scolaires de leur progéniture. Il faut que les devoirs soient faits parfaitement quite à ce qu’ils les fassent pour eux. Ils s’offensent si leur enfant n’obtient qu’une note moyenne et ils n’hésitent pas à exiger une rencontre avec l’enseignant dans ce cas. Ils punissent aussi l’enfant quand il obtient une note médiocre. Ce genre de comportement parental est malsain pour de nombreuses raisons. Tout d’abord, il montre aux enfants qu’ils ne sont dignes d’amour que par leur performance, ce qui veut dire qu’ils ne peuvent être aimés en tant que tel sans une action qui leur donne une valeur. C’est l’amour conditionnel. De plus, cette attitude ne développe pas l’autonomie chez les enfants. Ils travaillent pour obtenir de bonnes notes afin de plaire à leurs parents et ne pas avoir des ennuis avec eux plutôt que de réussir académiquement pour leur propre futur. Ils vont souvent choisir une carrière qui vont plaire à maman et papa plutôt que d’opter pour une vocation qui leur convient. La pression sur les résultats scolaires est aussi un moyen détourné pour les parents d’éviter leur véritable rôle d’éducateurs. Les parents plus expérimentés comprennent les limites du système scolaire, et aident leurs enfants à s’épanouir dans d’autres domaines qui développent leur intelligence émotionnelle, leur caractère, la compassion et l’empathie, l’élargissement de leurs horizons, et leur intérêt pour les sports et les loisirs. Alors qu’il est important de suivre nos enfants dans leur scolarité, les bons résultats sont loin de leur garantir une vie réussie et heureuse. Beaucoup de parents avec une faible estime d’eux-mêmes utiliseront un enfant qui a de bonnes notes pour compenser leurs propres insécurités et leur sentiment personnel d’échec. S’ils ont un enfant avec de bonnes notes et un autre en difficulté à l’école, ces parents causent des dommages psychologiques profonds en reproduisant la dynamique malsaine et bien connue de “l’enfant parfait” et de “l’enfant bouc-émissaire”. Cela montre non seulement que l’enfant est aimé de façon conditionnelle, mais cela engendre aussi une rivalité destructrice entre frères et soeurs ce qui permet au parent narcissique de renforcer sa toute puissance.

Lorsque les activités extra-curriculaires sont utilisées comme identification projective

Bien qu’il soit naturel pour un parent d’initier ses enfants à des activités qu’ils aiment personnellement, il y a un équilibre à atteindre. Une de mes connaissances avait abandonné le conservatoire quand elle avait 16 ans alors que ses parents l’avaient préparé à devenir une grande pianiste. Elle refusait de jouer à la maison pour sa famille et les amis car elle avait des souvenirs traumatisants à devoir jouer 6 heures par jour et regrettait de n’avoir pas eu d’enfance. Cependant, quand elle eut un fils, elle mit un point d’honneur à ce qu’il apprenne le piano. Elle commença à lui enseigner le piano, mais chaque leçon finissait par les larmes de son fils. Elle ne put s’empêcher de répéter le même traitement dont elle avait été plus jeune la victime. De nombreux athlètes professionnels doivent subir la pression et les projections de leur parent entraîneur. Dans le monde du tennis professionnel, le grand champion André Agassi a rendu public dans son livre autobiographique “Open” les entraînements terribles qu’il devait subir. Lorsque le jeune Agassi se révoltait, son père se contentait d’hurler à pleins poumons « Tu es un joueur de tennis! Tu vas être le numéro un mondial! Et tu vas aussi gagner beaucoup d’argent. Il n’y a aucune discussion possible! ». Mary Pierce est l’une des meilleures joueuses du tennis féminin français de tous les temps. Jim Pierce, son père, avait une fois crié pendant un match en parlant de son adversaire lors d’un tournoi professionnel « Mary, allez, tue-la cette salope! » Il abusait aussi verbalement et physiquement sa fille. Ses explosions de colère lors de matchs professionnels étaient si menaçantes que l’association mondiale de tennis lui a interdit d’assister à tous les tournois. De nombreux parents exploitent leurs enfants afin d’élever leur propre niveau social. Ils utilisent leurs enfants pour se faire valoir auprès de leur famille et de leurs amis. Alors que ces parents s’attribuent le succès de leurs enfants, bien plus souvent que nous le pensons, leurs accomplissements sont souvent atteints en dépit des projections malsaines des parents. Ces enfants ressentent trop de pression venant de leurs parents et cela les empêche de profiter pleinement de leur sport ou de leur activité. Au contraire, ils montrent souvent beaucoup de stress et d’anxiété. Ce genre de comportement parental renforce simplement la croyance subconsciente qu’ils ne sont pas dignes d’amour.

L’utilisation des enfants comme des armes de guerre

Malheureusement, les enfants se retrouvent souvent pris dans des conflits de loyauté. En cas de divorce très conflictuel, le parent narcissique n’hésite pas à retourner ses enfants contre l’autre parent. Les enfants sont manipulés pour prendre en eux la haine du parent aliénant envers l’ex-conjoint comme si c’était leur propre haine. Ces parents sont extrêmement toxiques car ils mettent l’enfant dans une position où il doit haïr la moitié de lui-même. Les troubles psychologiques que ces enfants vont alors développer ont été bien mis en avant par les experts. Il est aussi fréquent que les enfants s’approprient les ressentiments des parents envers un ami ou membre de la famille. Une de mes patientes avait une relation très proche avec son beau-père. Cependant, lorsque la relation a pris fin, la mère a manipulé sa fille afin qu’elle se comporte très durement envers le beau-père pour le punir d’avoir rompu avec sa mère. Par conséquent, cette jeune femme a eu de nombreuses difficultés en couple avec les hommes car elle est restée très tourmentée inconsciemment par la culpabilité envers son beau-père. Ce processus d’aliénation ne se limite pas à l’ancien partenaire amoureux du parent narcissique mais inclut souvent toutes les relations avec les oncles, tantes, grands-parents, cousins, cousines et amis.

Ma fille comme ma poupée Barbie

Si la jeune fille est belle, elle peut être utilisée comme un objet d’auto-glorification pour nourrir une fierté malsaine chez le parent, généralement la mère. On lui fait porter de jolies robes et vêtements afin de rehausser l’estime de soi des parents. La fille est simplement là afin d’atténuer la peur de sa mère à vieillir et de se sentir moins attirante. Il n’y a rien de mal à ce que nous voulons que nos enfants aient le meilleur quand nous pouvons nous le permettre financièrement cependant il faut regarder quelle est la véritable intention derrière nos actions. Nous devons nous poser la question si nous agissons de manière désintéressée ou égocentrique. Beaucoup de parents ont la conviction que leurs enfants sont d’une beauté extraordinaire. Beaucoup de photographes exploitent cette faiblesse en leur promettant de soumettre les photos de leurs enfants à des agences de mannequins. Ils facturent un prix exorbitant pour la séance photo sans jamais rien soumettre à l’agence. Dans d’autres cas, la mère habille sa fille dans le seul but d’attirer l’attention et de se faire valoir. Par exemple, une mère était jalousie de sa sœur. Elle s’assura que sa fille soit absolument superbe avant que cette derniere aille rendre visite à sa tante. Il ne s’agissait pas là d’une simple visite familiale amicale et chaleureuse pour la mère. Sa véritable intention était de montrer qu’elle était mieux que sa sœur parce qu’elle avait une fille si sage et si belle. Pour ce genre de mère, les comportements de son enfant ne seront jugés bons que s’ils vont dans son sens à elle et si elle peut en retirer quelque chose personnellement. L’intérêt de l’enfant n’est jamais pris en compte.

Les enfants utilisés comme un soutien financier

Ceci est plus commun dans les cultures qui n’offrent pas de régime de retraite satisfaisant à leurs citoyens. Les parents ont des enfants afin que ceux-ci puissent les soutenir financièrement et même physiquement pendant leur vieillesse. Les parents voient leur enfant comme un investissement pour le futur, et si l’enfant se détourne du plan que les parents ont mis en place, ils sont sévèrement jugés. C’est l’opposé de l’amour inconditionnel. Ces enfants sont orientés vers des carrières qui rapportent plus d’argent comme médecin ou avocat au lieu de suivre leur vocation. De cette façon, ils ne seront pas un fardeau financier pour les parents mais au contraire pourront contribuer au bien-être matériel de leurs parents âgés. Un de mes amis a obtenu une licence en droit juste pour son père. Quand il a obtenu son diplôme, il a dit à son père « Ce diplôme est pour toi, maintenant, je vais faire ce que je veux » et il commença de nouvelles études dans une branche complètement différente. Quelle perte de temps! Un parent attentif se préoccupe avant tout du bonheur de son enfant, et non des avantages qu’il tirera de leur réussite matérielle. Bien que les relations transactionnelles sont nécessaires dans le domaine des affaires, la famille et l’amitié devraient être basées sur un amour inconditionnel. L’amour véritable est de donner sans attendre en retour. J’ai un ami qui aidait beaucoup financièrement les parents de sa femme quand ils se sont mariés. Ensuite, quand ils ont décidé de se séparer, elle a consideré que son ex-mari devait continuer à payer pour que ses parents maintiennent le même mode de vie! Elle poursuit en justice son ex-mari depuis 5 ans pour payer les frais exorbitants de garde d’enfants réclamés par ses parents pour passer du temps avec leurs propres petits-enfants! L’ironie du sort est qu’elle empêche aussi ses enfants de passer du temps avec leur père.

Comportements pseudo sacrificiels

Ces parents égocentriques déforment la réalité dans le but de manipuler leurs enfants afin qu’ils ressentent un sentiment d’endettement et de culpabilité pour mieux les contrôler. Une de mes amies avait une mère qui avait eu une liaison avec un jeune homme au cours de son mariage. Elle a dit à ses filles qu’il était l’amour de sa vie, mais qu’elle avait décidé de ne pas laisser leur père car elle devait se sacrifier pour sa famille. En réalité, elle n’avait jamais eu l’intention de divorcer comme elle appréciait la stabilité financière de son mari même s’il était froid. Ces pauvres filles se sentaient donc responsables du malheur de leur mère. Un grand nombre de ces enfants, une fois adultes, deviennent très soucieux dès que quelqu’un leur donne quelque chose car ils ne veulent rien devoir à personne à cause du traumatisme lié à leur mère. D’autres mères disent qu’elles ont sacrifié une belle carrière professionnelle afin d’élever leurs enfants alors qu’en fait, elles avaient peur du monde du travail. Les gens ne devraient jamais donner par sacrifice. Il est préférable de ne rien donner si l’on ne peut pas donner de bon coeur. J’ai entendu de nombreux adultes dire qu’ils auraient préféré ne rien recevoir de leurs parents plutôt que d’être constamment culpabilisés. Ils comprennent finalement que tout était manipulation. Ces parents sont passés maîtres à faire passer leurs comportements égoïstes pour de l’abnégation. Ils enseignent à leurs enfants qu’il est mal d’avoir ses propres besoins, et que la seule façon de satisfaire ses désirs est par la manipulation.

Le parent “hélicoptère”

Un parent “hélicoptère” est trop identifié à l’enfant ou s’immisce de manière exagérée dans toutes les expériences et tous les problèmes de l’enfant. Il s’agit là d’un mécanisme d’adaptation afin que le parent ne fasse pas l’expérience de son vide intérieur, de son manque d’amour de soi et de son insatisfaction quant à sa propre existence. Ils oscillent entre des états remplis d’affection, sur-protecteurs ou très critiques vis-à-vis de leurs enfants. Avec leur ingérence permanente, ils privent leurs enfants de leurs propres expériences et limitent la capacité de ces derniers à devenir autonomes. Les enfants élevés par de tels parents montrent de la difficulté à gérer leurs émotions car ils n’ont jamais reçu l’espace nécessaire pour faire face par eux-mêmes aux problèmes de la vie. Qu’ils se sentent tristes, en colère, déçus ou en détresse, le parent prend immédiatement le contrôle dans la résolution de leur problème, et pas toujours à bon escient. Ces enfants se sentent donc perdus une fois qu’ils quittent le domicile familial. Le parent a créé une dépendance excessive de l’enfant. Si l’enfant est en voyage scolaire, l’enfant insistera par exemple pour parler avec sa mère la nuit afin de pouvoir s’endormir. Cet enfant continuera à appeler ses parents tous les jours quand il sera adulte. Cet enfant ne coupe jamais le cordon ombilical avec le parent, ce qui a de lourdes conséquences quant à sa capacité à vivre sa propre vie. Ces parents sont omniprésents, et n’hésitent pas à débarquer à l’improviste dans le domicile de l’enfant une fois adulte pour faire par exemple de nouveaux aménagements comme s’il s’agissait de leur propre domicile ce qui ne laisse par conséquent aucune place pour d’autres relations intimes.

Le « cadeau » en tant que mécanisme de contrôle

Ces parents peuvent donner des cadeaux très généreux à leurs enfants mais ils peuvent reprendre l’objet désiré tout aussi rapidement quand l’enfant s’écarte de la ligne de conduite qui a été tracée pour eux. Une de mes amies avait un petit ami dont elle était très amoureuse. Il recevait un soutien financier important de ses parents qui n’aimaient pas le niveau social de sa petite amie. Ils l’ont donc menacé de retirer tout soutien financier s’il s’entêtait à rester avec elle. Il a rompu avec elle peu de temps après. Une autre de mes amies avait un chien quand elle était enfant. Elle adorait ce chien car elle recevait un amour inconditionnel de l’animal, ce qui contrastait fortement avec celui de ses parents. La mère qui n’appréciait pas que sa fille porte plus d’attention à son chien qu’à elle-même, a mandaté son mari pour dire à leur fille qu’ils ne pouvaient garder qu’un seul chien à cause de la taille de leur maison. Comme sa mère était très attachée à son propre chien, ils ont alors donné celui de leur fille qui en a été très malheureuse. La fille était alors si en colère qu’elle est devenue réellement cruelle avec le chien de sa mère quand ils avaient le dos tourné car malheureusement les comportements pervers se transmettent généralement à la génération suivante. Par conséquent, le chien a commencé à montrer certains comportements dangereux et ils ont dû également s’en débarrasser. La fille a alors développé une forte culpabilité d’avoir traumatisé cet animal et d’avoir fait du mal à sa mère. Une fois adulte, elle s’acheta à deux reprises des chiens qu’elle finit par donner à sa mère. Le deuxième chien fut acheté pour son fils mais elle se plaignit de ses aboiements et le donna également a sa mere qui en fut ravie. Ce n’est qu’en faisant une thérapie qu’elle compris ce qu’elle avait rejoué inconsciemment. Ce type de parent montre son omnipotence en indiquant clairement à l’enfant qu’il a la capacité de donner, mais aussi de reprendre. Dans la forme la plus extrême de ce schéma, il est fréquent pour les sectes sataniques de faire en sorte que des enfants s’attachent à un petit chat avant de le sacrifier de façon horrible devant l’enfant des mois plus tard. Ceci fait naitre chez l’enfant un profond sentiment d’impuissance afin qu’il devienne plus facilement contrôlable par la secte déviante. Lorsque l’enfant se rend compte que tout ce qu’il aime peut être enlevé à tout moment, il évite de se lier profondément avec quelqu’un ou quelque chose. Son isolement est alors utilisé par l’organisation toxique à des fins utilitaires.

Nuire aux relations intimes de l’enfant qui pourraient menacer la suprématie du parent

Il y a certains parents qui ne peuvent pas supporter que leurs enfants puissent montrer plus d’affection envers quelqu’un d’autre qu’envers eux-mêmes. Ils adoptent alors la stratégie « diviser pour mieux régner » afin de rester maître dans le cœur ou l’esprit de leurs enfants. Un tel parent critique donc le petit ami ou conjoint de l’enfant pour que l’enfant continue à montrer sa loyauté envers ses parents plutôt qu’au partenaire romantique. La mère d’une de mes patientes avaient laissé « par inadvertance » une boîte grande ouverte de comprimés pour la douleur. Le chien de ma patiente a mangé des dizaines de pilules et il en est mort. Ces mères toxiques peuvent même devenir jalouses de l’attachement de leur fille envers leurs propres enfants. Dans une autre situation, une mère a enlevé la chaise de sa fille enceinte où celle-ci s’apprêtait à s’asseoir. Comme elle n’avait pas remarqué que le siège avait été enlevé, elle est tombée brutalement et elle a failli faire une fausse couche. Ce genre de parents sont très habiles à diffamer toute personne qui deviendrait trop proche de leur enfant, que ce soit des partenaires romantiques, d’autres grands-parents, des amis, des animaux ou même des activités concurrentes qui pourraient menacer la suprémacie du parent narcissique. Ces parents ne connaissent que l’amour possession et l’objetisation. Il est aussi commun dans ce genre de famille que la mère devienne jalouse de la fille lorsqu’elle devient une belle adolescente qui attire le sexe opposé. Cette mère utilise alors son mari pour punir sa fille pour des raisons futiles. Cela lui permet d’atteindre plusieurs objectifs à la fois. Tout d’abord, cela rassure la mère quant à la loyauté de son mari. En second lieu, elle créé ainsi un conflit entre la fille et le père afin de rester toute puissante. Une autre mère ne manquait pas d’exposer les photos de son fils avec une ancienne petite amie chaque fois que son fils venait avec nouvelle compagne. La nouvelle petite amie se sentait alors insignifiante, ce qui ne manquait pas de créer un conflit dans la relation. Le but caché de cette mère est de veiller à ce qu’elle reste la figure féminine dominante dans la vie de son fils qu’elle ne veut pas partager.

Avant de pouvoir expérimenter le vrai amour, nous devons apprendre à identifier ce qui n’est pas vraiment de l’amour même si cela ressemble à de l’amour. L’amour narcissique peut présenter un grand nombre des attributs de l’amour véritable: la préoccupation, l’inquiétude, l’engagement, les cadeaux, l’affection et les compliments. Pour différencier l’amour conditionnel de l’amour inconditionnel, nous devons nous demander si le parent est en mesure de voir son enfant comme un être séparé de lui-même et de voir qu’il possède ses propres désirs, ses aspirations et ses propres rêves qui peuvent être différents de ceux du parent. Alors que nous venons dans ce monde dans un état de fusion avec notre mère, le processus de maturation de l’enfant veut qu’il développe sa propre individualité au fur à mesure qu’il grandit. Il est bien naturel d’être égocentrique et de penser que nous sommes le centre du monde quand nous sommes petits. Les problèmes commencent lorsque nous ne dépassons pas ce stade infantile en raison de traumatismes affectifs. L’amour véritable s’exprime lorsque nous choisissons en toute liberté de passer du temps, d’aider, de faire plaisir et de montrer de l’affection sans rien attendre en retour. Non pas parce que nous le devons, mais parce que nous le voulons.

Is parental alienation an extreme form of the Oedipus complex?

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Mythology and neurosis have a common essence. The myths are a symbolic expression of the unconscious universal dramas. As such, they reveal many secrets into our psyche. Mythology is a projection of the collective unconscious and these archetypes manifest even more strongly when their awareness is limited.

Oedipus and the Sphinx

The Oedipus complex is a concept of psychoanalytic theory from Freud. It is inspired by the Athenian tragedy, Oedipus the King, by Sophocles. Oedipus could not escape his fate of marrying his mother and killing his father. When expressed in a healthy way, the child’s hatred for the opposite-sex parent and unconscious sexual desire for the same-sex parent urge the young adult to leave his parents’ nest to start his own life, and look for a compatible mate to start a family. The son leaves his father’s home that has become too restrictive for his own development, and finds a woman that shares many attributes of his own mother in order to heal his own childhood traumas. The father represents what is being rejected while the mother represents what is desired.

While mothers are just as affected by parental alienation as fathers, for the illustration of this article, I will refer the mother as the alienator, and the father as the targeted parent. There are many ways a case of parental alienation seems to evoke the Oedipus complex literally:

  • When the father is alienated, the son is used as a weapon of war by the mother to psychologically kill the father in the children’s mind
  • After the father has been eliminated from the family structure, the son becomes the new de facto husband of the mother. The son is heavily enmeshed and is asked to fill the void left by the father
  • Oedipus father, king Laius, attracted misfortune to him and his family because of his dark previous deeds against Chrysippus. King Laius is also the one ordering the killing of his own son Oedipus. The targeted parent’s tragedy can always be traced to unresolved traumas of his own past and this is what he needs to heal to change the alienation dynamics. He cannot see himself only as a victim but needs to take responsibility for his part in the alienation
  • Oedipus becomes obsessed in finding the killer of King Laius (before he realized that was him) whom he replaced as the new king because the Oracle said this unsolved murder is responsible for a plague in Thebes. In the same way, the alienated child’s life is plagued by self-hatred as he was forced to reject his father from his life. He does not realize that many of his psychological and intimate problems are directly related to the alienation of his own father.
  • In the Oedipus play, Jocasta eventually commits suicide after realizing the horror of incest by marrying her own son, the killer of her husband. Alienators are often very tormented as they eventually realize the psychological damage they have done to their children out of revenge
  • When Oedipus eventually learns that he is his wife’s son, he enters a fury and wants to cut his mother’s womb with a sword. This symbolizes the rage of the alienated child towards his mother when he finally realizes how he has been manipulated for so many years
  • When Oedipus becomes aware of the tragedy of his fate, he makes himself blind by piercing his eyes with golden pins. The alienated son is also torn by guilt about his own actions, in particular his harsh rejection of his father and his blind enmeshment with his mother. Seeing the truth may be so brutal that he may decide instead to shut down his conscience.
  • Oedipus’s sons Eteocles and Polynices end up fighting for power and killing each other. His daughter Antigone commits suicide. The alienated child carries with him the psychological damage coming from years of alienation. As an adult, he is likely to experience similar unfortunate events in his own family life because of transgenerational trauma
Blind Oedipus in exile with his daughter Antigone

The light of awareness has however the power to lift away the curse of parental alienation. As they mature, the alienated children have the ability to see the truth of their childhood, accept the limitations of their parents and start the process of forgiving them. Then, they will be able to break the cycle of abuse and abandonment to give their own children a life that is not plagued by intimacy issues.

What are transgenerational traumas and how do we transmute them?

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Healing legacies of pain

There have been a lot of studies that have attempted to show that mental illness is genetic. For example, two percent of the population is bipolar. However; the probability of a person being bipolar raises to fifteen percent if they have one parent that is bipolar and to fifty percent if they have two parents that have this condition. I have facilitated hundreds of healing sessions. Therefore; I can explain why we get this correlation. From my perspective, this is not about genes but about the psychological condition of the people raising us.

The first important thing to understand is that, as a child, we are all wired to bond with our primary caretakers, typically our biological parents. This bonding is critical to our survival and our primitive brain has instinctively learned this behavior through many thousands of generations. In ancient times, children that erred away from the protection of their parents would be eaten by predators and their genes would be lost. So naturally bonding between parents and children became instinctive to improve survival rates. In order to attach to their parents and feel safe, children need to make their parents right, perfect and good even when there are far from being exemplary. This is how all transgenerational trauma get passed from one generation to the next.

Child bonded with parents

Let’s say someone had some severe spankings from his father when he was a child and continued to have a good relationship with him throughout his adulthood. Unless there was conscious work done around these punishments, this person had to make his dad right as a child to continue bonding with his father even despite the fact he was beating him. Therefore he started developing beliefs such as “Dad is right punishing me because I am bad” or “Dad beats me because he loves me and is making me a better person this way”. These beliefs get subconsciously anchored in the inner child and will resurface in adulthood. Such a person will have a high tendency to reproduce the same physical punishments on his children because his inner child still believes that loving someone means beating them at times. They could also attract violent partners because deep in their subconscious mind, beating equal love. Or they may simply suffer from low self-esteem because they had to make themselves bad to keep dad good.

One of my clients was raised by an unstable borderline narcissist mother. She would give him severe beatings even after he became physically stronger than her and could have easily defended himself. He learned to always stay in control, de-escalate arguments and never express anger to sooth her neurosis. His mother was very sexual and flirted often with him when he was a teenager. He felt very ashamed with his sexual attraction towards her and buried those feelings too. As a result, he has been married twice to severely borderline women. The first one committed suicide and the second one left him for another man after destroying his life emotionally and financially. His inner child had to make mum perfect and good so he had to make her erratic behaviors, her rages, her constant dramas and her collapses as something good or even sexy! This is why he has been attracted to women like his mother all his life. When the scary and dangerous behavior is displayed in a potential mate, he feels irresistibly attracted. This is why we say falling in love and not jumping in love. Sexual attraction is more driven by shadow than conscious compatibility.

Borderline Angelina Jolie

One of my other clients was abandoned by his mother when he was 9. His mother felt unloved in her marriage, met a new romantic partner, and wanted to give a chance to the promise of love. He had been deeply hurt by his mother’s sudden disappearance but he had to justify his mother’s behavior because he had to continue to love her. Later in life, he got married and had children. When his own daughter turned 9, he also broke up his marriage, fell in love with another woman and moved out of the state. He actually did not see anything wrong with his behavior because his mother did this to him, and his mother could not have done anything possibly wrong. So he passed on his own abandonment traumas to his children because he subconsciously had to make his mum right and good. Actually his mother had been herself abandoned by her own mother as a young child too.

Vaillant healing an African woman in Cameroon

When I was in Africa, I provided healing to a number of people who had been abandoned by their parents and given away to an aunt. This is actually common practice in some parts of Africa as children are often seen as objects or helpers. This old custom is not frowned upon, but does considerable psychological damage because these children believe there was something wrong with them to be given away. They wonder why they were given away instead of their biological brothers and sisters. These abandoned children have to make this harmful practice normal or even beneficial to keep a good image of their parents. Consequently, they have a tendency to repeat the same pattern with their own children. This is how unhealthy behaviors get passed from generation to generation. This is why 80% of juvenile sex offenders have themselves been victims of sexual abuse. Horrors such as incest also get passed through the family line in the same way. Incest victims are more likely to enable the same dysfunction with their own husband later in life. By failing to protect their own children from sexual abuse from their partner, they are making dad right again. This sick behavior comes from the unconscious need from the child to bond with parents at all cost. Unfortunately, these aspects get frozen in time and stay at a very immature level of development. They cycle of abuse then continue.

When we are abused by someone we need to love, we fragment and we bury the traumatic event into our subconscious so that our conscious mind can just remember a good, protective and flawless parent. The mind then files the traumatic subconscious memories in the same category as love/fusion/safety/connection/affection because they are the values we associate with a loving parent. The mind not only buries all the traumatic memories but also all emotions that come with them. Fear, grief, anger, despair and many negative emotions get buried at the same time. Instead of being released with the body for healing purpose, these discordant vibrations go deep within our psyche to poison it.

Some other times, the conscious mind is not able to accept or justify the abuse anymore, so it will go the opposite way and demonize the formerly loved caretaker. The child becomes obsessed in not being like the abusive parent. He rejects all good aspects of him too. From all good, the parent becomes all bad. All aspects of the parent within the growing child become then repressed but they still exist in his subconscious mind. Self-hatred and denial develop within the individual. As a result, she or he is even more a match to attract romantic partners or co-workers displaying the same attribute as the rejected parent. The law of attraction always reflects the individual inner world whether it is conscious or not.

African polygamous priest

One of my other clients had a father that was a womanizer. This was a source of distress for his mother and him, and from the time he was a teenager, he cut all contact with his father and he judged his behavior very severely. He was very righteous and became a successful pastor in a church. He was a model in the community and led an exemplary life with his wife and two children. As he was a gifted orator, he attracted a lot of attention from the churchgoers. Ten years into the marriage, he felt however that his sexual life was unexciting and unfulfilling, and that he was missing out. He could feel the sexual energy of these young women looking at him like he was the eighth wonder of the world. The pull to experience adultery was getting stronger and stronger, and he felt more and more confused and haunted by the devil. One day, the temptation became too great and he had an affair with another married woman that attended his sermon regularly. He felt very tormented as a result. By being obsessed about not being like his father, he had actually made these aspects control him.

When we hate a parent, it is like hating oneself because we had to internalize them at an earlier age to deal with the abuse. So we create a war within oneself and in a war, there is never a winner, only losers. We cannot kill these internal aspects without hurting ourselves. These aspects still needed to be expressed but because we made them unacceptable, they had to hide deep in our subconscious. Because of this, we are only able to experience them through projections, just like this righteous pastor who would judge infidelity so severely.

There is a better way and it is neither in idealization or demonization of our primary caretakers. Truth will set us free. This truth lies in accepting that we will always love our parents and when we have the courage to see their flaws, limitations and good qualities for what they are, without judgment, we will be liberated. When the truth of our past gets revealed, our conscience grows. We then allow the same aspects within us to surface in our conscious mind for integration. For example; if your father is a sociopath, it is likely that you would have aspects of you that are very insensitive and shut down. If you are able to see and observe these sociopathic behaviors in your father with compassion, then you are able to have the same awareness about your own insensitive behaviors and make the choice not to act upon it. This is why awareness is everything in the process of integration and healing. These aspects of ourselves may be repurposed and used consciously. For example, there are some situations in life when we need to think and not feel (ie when dealing with toxic people or situations). This would be a good time to bring our sociopathic part. A romantic dinner is not a good place for it! Alternatively, we can recover the pain that we felt being raised with our aloof father. By doing so, we are able to develop more awareness to make people around us feel more supported, cherished and nurtured. Every part of us, even the most hurt and undeveloped, can grow and increase in vibration if we have the courage to objectively see our flaws and how they impact others.

Honest not perfect parents

Before we can reach this state of objectivity with our parents, it is critical that we allow ourselves to feel all the emotions about them that we have repressed since our early childhood, whether they are feelings of rage, hate, envy, pity or fear. We express all these raw feelings to ourselves through meditation or to a skilled therapist. Through this process, we become aware of them, and the light of consciousness will automatically transform them into higher emotions such as sadness, acceptance or even gratitude. However, this process cannot be rushed and we need to stay authentic about how we truly feel. If we are able to see our parents’ imperfection with compassion, it means we have made our own generation more conscious, which is expected of us. It shows us the progress we have already made. We also want our children to go further than us. One of the most important things we need to do on this earth is to transform the transgenerational trauma that came from our family line. This is what will bring us the most happiness, joy and inner peace.

Integrated family

Someone who is not at peace with his parents cannot be at peace him/herself. It does not mean we need to have frequent interactions with them, because in some situations, it would not be self-loving if we have toxic parents. Peace is above the polarity of adoration and detestation. It sits in the middle. It can make space for both perspectives without judgment with full awareness. It is simply interested in the truth. There are many extraordinary people that had very abusive parents. Just like the lotus, which grows from mud, our soul grows from life struggles and we have the power within us to transform the most unsavory into the most sacred.

From the difficulties of our childhood, we learn important lessons that we can share with our children and our community to make this world a better place. We can extract the most wisdom from the most painful life situations. When we suffer, we cannot stay stagnant and it has the potential to accelerate our growth as long as we do not get broken in the process. We need to see transgenerational weaknesses as unexpressed potential. A sex addict can become the most amazing lover, violence can be channeled into athleticism or a desire for peace, the perpetrator or the victim can become protectors. We need to accept that we were co-created by our ancestry (earth/matter) and God (heaven/spirit). To become whole, we cannot reject one or the other; we need to integrate both together. Healing our ancestry is to transcend the polarities that we inherited from our genealogy in terms of abuse, abandonment or neglect. It is to recognize that all these parts exist within us and stop judging them. Through the miracle of unconditional love and presence, they can start growing again and mature. Eventually inner torment will make way to a lasting inner peace.

Most of us spend the first half of our life very heavily influenced by the transgenerational traumas of our family line. As we heal these fragments, we can start living a more conscious life from our authentic self. We become more anchored in the present, more sensitive to what actually is, in the moment, instead of living through the filters of our upbringing. Things begin to flow naturally and the scope of possibilities expands dramatically as we are not limited by our ancestral traumas anymore. It is then that life takes on a completely different dimension, and we are then free to be the expanded, transformational and joyful beings that we came here to be. 

Growing and healing together as a couple

3 part series of the dysfunctional dance between co-dependents and borderlines

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Part III – Growing and healing together as a couple

social stigma

For the most part, my last blog on Understanding and Loving the Borderline was well received except on a Facebook group that brings together a vulnerable minority group. My blog triggered them, as they felt stigmatized and shamed. I removed the post from this private group as my intent was to make people feel better not worse, and they were unable to make use of the information. They probably suffered a lot in the hands of a mental health system that often uses labels to prescribe drugs and to scapegoate them instead of providing them with genuine support for healing. Labeling is indeed a dangerous thing. It is fine for people to label themselves as borderline or codependent as a tool for self-observation, but we should refrain from labeling other people this way, as it would just trigger their shame. Shame and self-awareness are incompatible states. This is why, once our shame is triggered, any positive change towards our authentic healthy self becomes impossible. We become frozen and what can happen instead is more fragmentation, meaning that we would build a false self in order not to experience this feeling of shame again. This is actually the process of how false cult personalities are created, and how the false “good guys” personalities are built with codependents. The borderline is however unable to cope and goes into rage. I sincerely do not know which is healthier. Every tool can be used for empowerment or to hurt people. It is up to each one of us to use this information wisely.

We mirror each other’s disowned self

the angel and demon in us

As I was doing inner work, I remember when I first met my “inner borderline”. We call this process voice dialog or parts work. I display externally little of the BPD characteristics. As I mentioned previously, I have been struggling instead with codependency in my intimate relationships. This makes sense as we manifest externally what is deeply repressed in us. This is how attraction works. As a child, the borderline aspects of my mum and stepmom terrified me but I had to bond with them for my emotional survival. I had made the depression of one and the anger of the other one unacceptable emotions. I created these parts internally to mirror them but buried them deep within my psyche out of fear and in a subconscious attempt to feel safe. I could not have been a magnet for PBPD partners all of my life unless there was a part in me to reflect them. So if a codependent is in a relationship with a PBPD, we need to remember that the borderline is the repressed aspect of the codependent, and vice versa. There is futility in blaming our partner because they are you, both representing the positive and negative aspects of you that you have disowned. The most extreme form of internalizing the people we feel traumatized from, and that we feel dependent on for our survival is well documented as the Stockholm syndrome. An example was the adoration of Nazi concentration camp SS physician Josef Mengele by his victims. Josef Mengele performed the most horrific deadly human experiments on prisoners and in particular on children twins. I recommend a quick read on other famous cases of the Stockholm syndrome. Here is how it works. When a traumatic event occurs that we are not able to process consciously, we fragment. This means that aspects of our consciousness leave our body to find escape somewhere else. In very powerless situations, these fragmented selves actually find refuge in the abuser as it feels it is the safest place to hide. As a result, we create deeply repressed internal parts of the very same persons that traumatized us. We cannot acknowledge these aspects consciously as otherwise we would live in a constant state of anxiety so they manifest externally in particular in the form of romantic & intimate relationships. We have a tendency to fall in love with people showing the same dysfunctional aspects of our parent of the opposite gender. This is why women raised with an emotionally unavailable father would attract the same in their partners. And this is why I have been with PBPD most of my life. I am not a victim. They are simply mirroring the aspects of me that I have repressed. They are helping me to become conscious. In the same way, all the PBPD I have been with had a codependent father that I was mirroring back for them. It may be depressing news but most of us are simply trying to earn back the love we did not receive as a child (from our parents). We are actually replaying the traumas and the stories of the past instead of actually truly connecting with our partners. There is only one way out, which is bringing these lost aspects of ourselves back to the light of consciousness. Seeing these parts, accepting them, loving them and ultimately forgiving oneself for reenacting this drama subconsciously are the steps to recovery.

Think of yourself as the trinity: adult, child and soul

The sacred trinity: personality, inner child and soul

In the process of integration, I have found it a helpful tool to see myself as the composite of my (hurt) inner child, my adult and my transcendental self. The codependent identifies with his adult self, while the PBPD identifies with her hurt inner child. The borderline feels too much while the codependent is hardly in touch with his feelings. For a healthy development of the individual, we need a balance between these two aspects. The inner child gives us our spontaneity, our creativity, our joie de vivre, access to more subtle aspects to our being. The adult self keeps us out of trouble, has wisdom to draw from, and helps us function in this physical reality. A genuine partnership between our child and adult has to be formed to restart an inner development that likely stopped during an early traumatic event. We do not want an overbearing internal adult (codependent) or tyrannical and out-of-control inner child (BPD). Life has its way of recreating balance. This is why children of PBPD get parentified, and why codependents are irresistibly attracted to PBPD. If you able to create a healthy balance of these aspects within yourself, the universe will also mirror it externally with a more stable partner. How does this work in practice?

  • When you feel uneasy and stuck, do shadow work to bring these aspects of you into awareness. Do not bulldoze your inner child into performing other activities that may appear more important to the inner adult. I understand that life has constraints so if you cannot attend right away to the inner child (which is the ideal), commit to schedule this inner work within 24 hours.
  • Follow personal inspiration, creativity and your inner joy whenever you can. Look for simple ways to feel genuinely happy
  • Stay aware of the consequences of your actions. Spontaneity does not have to equate with recklessness
  • Temper your internal fears with the wisdom from your personal experience
  • Know your limits, and assess your personal boundaries wisely. Follow-through, be responsible but not at the expense of your authentic self.

Try to visualize some of the healthiest parent/child relationships you have witnessed in your life. This is what you need to create internally. The inner child is the seat of the soul. The bible says “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven”. But the child needs to develop to become this clear channel to the higher self. And he needs a wise, compassionate and supporting inner parent to grow-up. As we enter the spiritual path, many of us will find a hurt inner child whose development stopped at a very early age. We need to take this traumatized child where he is, without judgment and patiently re-parent ourselves. Another way to look at it is to see our inner child as our essence and our adult as our personality. When these two aspects of us start working in harmony, we can consciously access the more transcendental aspects of our beings.

Authenticity

unique red umbrella among black umbrellas with city background symbolizing authenticity

To get out of codependent relationships, we need to realize that “People in the relationship are more important than the relationship”. This sentence goes against many of our social bias. Miserable married people are often advised to stay together even when they have become toxic to each other. I understand that any intimate relationship will go through their ups and down and I am not advocating to breakup as soon as there is a bump in the road. Sometimes we struggle with the relationship but we deeply care about our partner and we feel this is helping us become a better version of ourselves. This is a situation where we need to fight for the relationship because it is supporting us as an individual. Actually, as we are able to successfully survive these difficult times, the relationship will then reach a much higher intimacy. There are other situations however when the marriage brings both pain and the loss of self. These are times to get out. Staying in a miserable marriage for the sake of the children does not make sense; they are well aware of the conflicts and this is damaging to them. We want to be models that they do not have to compromise their personal happiness to be in an intimate relationship. Putting the self above the relationship is a very scary and risky choice for the codependent. We probably entered the relationship pretending we were someone we are not because of our personal shame. Our partner may feel betrayed, duped or threatened as we reveal the real us. We may be rejected, abandoned as a result, and if your partner is narcissistic, they will surely do this and also discredit you to any common acquaintances. This is a very painful experience but a price worth paying to recover your authentic self. In any case, we need to remember that any other option is futile. What makes us attractive and sexy is our individuality; not being an accessory to someone else. As we compromise ourselves to fit into the relationship box dictated by our nascissistic partner, we will stop our attractiveness and our mate will abandon us anyway. We need to remember that it is better to be alone than being in the wrong company. We can remind ourselves that we survived brutal breakups in the past, and ended in a better place once the grieving was done. As we feel depressed by the loss of the relationship and see no end to our personal misery, we can bring King Solomon’s wisdom: “This too shall pass”. Actually, when we look back at the most difficult times of our life, we can see retrospectively that these were the times we did the most growth, and created the foundations of our future happiness. Life is a series of steep climbs and flat plateaus, then further climbs. Being in a relationship should always be a free choice. This is the only way to experience a true heart-to-heart connection to our partner. While there are external forms of coercion such as the threat of personal injury, losing one’s children or litigation when attempting to leave a relationship, these are quite rare and extreme. What is more insidious and common is the coercion coming from our own personal fears. Here are some examples.

If I leave her/him, if s/he breaks up with me:

  • I will have to compromise my personal lifestyle, take care of my personal finances and probably lose financial security
  • I will be alone which I cannot handle
  • I will have to be back on the dating scene, which I detest
  • I will lose face with my family, friends and community
  • I will have to go back to work
  • I will have to move
  • I will not have sex anymore
  • I will not handle seeing my ex with a new partner
  • I will have to take care of the children on my own which I feel incapable of doing
  • I will die because I cannot handle another breakup
  • I will not handle the guilt of hurting my children
  • I will have to start cooking and do my own laundry
  • I will lose all of our joint friends
  • I will have no one to protect me
  • I will have no one to take care of me if I am sick
  • I will lose the relationship with my children
  • I will lose the relationship with my in-laws
broken chain towards independence

Can you see these are all wrong reasons to stay with someone? It makes the person a means to an end and this will destroy your intimacy. The times for selecting our partner for survival reasons are well over. In this day and age, intimate relationships are primarily for emotional nurturing, experiencing love, feeling seen, felt and understood, personal growth and enjoyment. If you are just looking for transactional relationships, you can simply use service providers as our world can offer any possible service imaginable in exchange for money. This is why it is so important to develop personal autonomy in our life as this allows our closed ones to be with us because they want to be there and not because they have to. We can move from the conditionality of love of the sacral chakra with all its cords, control drama and power struggles to the unconditional and pure love of the heart chakra. Of course, we should not take the goal of personal autonomy to the extreme to the point of being afraid of asking for support from others. The key is never to put yourself in a state of dependency that may lead you to compromise your personal integrity or stop honoring your personal boundaries. When your personal situation does not allow for this right away, just make a goal to create this personal autonomy in the future and make it a priority. Authenticity cannot strive in a controlled environment because the price to pay for your personal truth would be too high. Also, when we are incapable of taking care of ourselves, we will create expectations in our union, which in turn will create tension. This is not a conducive environment for love to flow. If you want a clean house and both you and your partner dislike cleaning, best is to hire a cleaning lady. If you are in need of physical affection but your partner is drained, go get a therapeutic massage. As a codependent, authenticity can be daunting as we are so afraid to lose everything once we find ourselves, and start sharing our authenticity with the world. It is true that the world reacts often very brutally to codependents finally standing in their truth. If you express your authentic self to your partner in a vulnerable way but s/he is not able to carve a place for your authentic self, it is best to let go. Our authentic self is our most treasured possession and without it, there cannot be the possibility of a joyful and happy life. I had given everything to my relationship but once I stood in my authenticity, the relationship did not survive. It took courage and it was incredibly painful but as a result, I received the ultimate gift of living an authentic life and stepping out of codependency. It was all well worth it.

Loneliness

loneliness

Loneliness is one of the most painful feelings to experience consciously. We understand conceptually that we are one and connected to everything that is alive. I remember reading Radical Forgiveness years ago from Colin Tipping, and I had an epiphany when the author stated that our experience on earth is first about experiencing the illusion of separateness. Separateness is an enduring illusion because our physical body is separate from other beings. We are one with our mother then separate from her at birth to create an individual experience. We go through the process of death and many other painful experiences alone. We cannot go through life without feeling rejected, abandoned or criticized at times. In my personal experience, there is actually no biggest suffering than losing the connection to our creator. Even Jesus doubted on the cross if God had abandoned him “Father, why have you forsaken me?” Many of us with attachment traumas are suffering from profound loneliness and we become vulnerable to a variety of addictions as a result. There is a compulsory need to fill this void at any cost. This feeling of emptiness is actually caused by our internal fragmentation as we have lost many aspects of ourselves through the traumatic events of our upbringing. Filling this void with people or various addictions can only give us a temporary relief, and this is what codependents and borderlines attempt to do. It is like the person who lost his way in the forest who gets relief by meeting someone else only to realize this person is lost too. This may bring some temporary comfort however the two people are still lost. From my perspective, this form of pathological loneliness can only be healed in two steps. First, we need to feel consciously our deep and profound loneliness without trying to escape it. This is best done in a meditation setting where we create an internal container for the painful emotion with no judgment, letting our internal torment and fears run their course. From this place, if we are patient enough, eventually grace will come in and we will remember somatically our divine nature and recover our connection with God. As we realign with our soul and our sense of purpose, we can feel complete. We may still feel lonely at times as we go through phases when we do not have special people in our life to reflect our wholeness. However these phases are temporary and they do not destabilize us because we feel the security of our connection with our higher self that is connected with everything. Overtime, we learn to be alone without feeling lonely and aloneness becomes even a means to strengthen our connection to the divine. Our deep longing for an intimate connection becomes more a thirst to reflect our divine nature than to fill an endless void. Our divine nature is love, giving and receiving love. Is there anything better in the world than intimate relationships to experience it?

Stepping out of the drama triangle victim/persecutor/rescuer

Dreaded Drama Triangle

The PBPD is addicted to the victim role. She feels so unworthy and hopeless that she believes she can only get attention through pity and other form of victim control drama. The codependent is addicted with the rescuer role. He feels so unworthy that he feels he has no value unless he fulfills a specific role or does something for someone. To break this negative cycle, the codependent needs to apologize to the PBPD for putting her in a state of dependency, disempowering her and not creating the conditions where she could solve her own problems. Without bypassing her pain, the PBPD needs to find the strength to find the hidden treasure that came from her abuse, to realize that her persecutor is just another victim like her and eventually forgive her abuser and herself for creating this painful experience at a soul level. The Hawaiian prayer Ho’oponopono “I am sorry – Please forgive me – Thank you – I love you” is another powerful way to break out of the dysfunctional roles of the drama triangle and undo the false narration. But please remember to do this prayer from the adult or soul perspective but never from the hurt inner child as this could be very damaging.

Transition plan as we rewire our brain for real love

rewire the brain

Because of his unhealthy childhood environment, the codependent actually got addicted to constant drama. He thrives with chaos, conflict and dangerous situations as this gives him the opportunity to prove his self-worth by rescuing. Drama is actually associated with love in his brain. Because it takes time to rewire a brain and examine all false beliefs, I recommend the recovering codependent to engage in more productive activities where he could experience the same adrenaline rush. He can start a more risky professional activity (reward and risk often go together), or enjoy extreme sports. On the other end, the borderline is addicted to emotionally abusive situations so that they can get attention through victimhood. Abuse equal love in her brain. One of my partners had suffered in a horrific way in the hands of one of an extremely disturbing violent cult. The abuser of her childhood pretended to be her dad but was also sexual with her. As we can expect, her intimate relationships were very unstable as a result. She would start all of her relationships idealizing her partner but then would slowly start seeing her companion through the filter of her childhood abuse. She would then replay the escape of her childhood nightmare by orchestrating the end of the romance. Then, she would enter a demonization phase where she would try to convince anyone willing to listen to her that her ex was part of the same cult that inflicted her so much grief as a child. In a similar way than the codependent, the PBPD can turn her addiction to abuse to productive use by helping the unfortunate ones. Since 2001, Angelina Jolie has been on field missions around the world and met with refugees and internally displaced persons. She also adopted 3 children. French sex symbol Brigitte Bardot has dedicated the second half of her life rescuing animals. Princess Diana was involved in over 100 charities and she made a big impact fighting homelessness and helping victims of HIV/AIDS and leprosy. Overtime, as healing takes place, both PBPD and borderline learn to enjoy a more peaceful and simple love without relentless crises. They realize that can experience intimacy and love without the roller coaster.

The 80/20 rule in seeing the positive in your partner

images

The PBPD will have a tendency to catastrophizing and only focus on the negative in herself and her partner. The codependent will often err on the opposite. He will stay positive and apparently strong any time his partner feels bad or negative. This is his way to cope and exercise control in the situation. He has a tendency to act too optimistic in situations potentially dangerous to his partner. Even if his wife struggles with alcoholism, he could say “Let me give you a glass of champagne darling, this will help you relax”. He will let his wife go out with a man interested romantically with her trusting them a bit too much. He will give his daughter to a baby-sitter with bad vibes. He will decide to go out with his friends at the time his wife feels suicidal. Wearing pink glasses is his way of coping. He thinks he can make himself safer when imagining that we live in a good world with good people. He actually endangers himself and his family with this attitude. His borderline partner, on the opposite, feels too much the potential dangers and often amplifies them. She feels she cannot trust her codependent partner to keep her safe and will go ballistic at him when her anxiety reaches a threshold. The codependent will typically only crash emotionally and display negative emotions when his borderline partner feels happy! First, he feels very threatened by her happiness as he fears that she will not need him anymore if she feels good. Secondly, he built resentment through the many crises but did not allow himself to feel any of it because of the instability in the relationship. If he sees his borderline partner doing well, he feels this is his opportunity to share everything that upset him over the last few weeks, which unmistakably overwhelms and triggers his borderline girlfriend.

It is very frustrating for the PBPD as she feels she spends most of her time in doom, and when the sunshine comes, he immediately spoils it! In my twenties, I worked as an engineer in the Silicon Valley software start-up. We had a borderline male employee called Steve with constant conflictual relationships with many co-workers. The CEO liked him however because Steve’s mind was always focused on what could go wrong and this helped avert potential business threats as he felt that the rest of the management team was too optimistic. Though there are some positive aspects in looking at a glass half empty however there is a problem in always seeing the negative in your partner. The codependent struggles with shame too. If he is constantly shamed who he is and what he does, he will start deflecting the shame and pointing to his partner her own shadows. They will work on each other non-stop. It will cease to be a relationship. It will become a self-improvement torture chamber. To support someone towards positive change, it is well known that we need to receive more compliments than criticism. By continuing to reflect the positive of our partners, we will support their development towards their higher potential. On the other hand, the codependent needs to be more connected, aware of his environment and realize that the policy of burying one’s head in the sand is not the right strategy to follow. He should ensure to stay positive when his borderline partner feels good so that she can fully enjoy these brief moments of happiness. He needs to improve his communication so that he can bring constructive feedback in a way that would be best received by his borderline partner. He needs to express things as they come so that they do not have the time to fester in him. The borderline has to learn to see her codependent partner more objectively. She goes from idealization to demonization back to idealization and then again demonization in no time. She needs to recognize that her partner has qualities and flaws just like she has. Putting in writing how she feels about her partner will help her realize her “splitting” and eventually heal from it.

Become an expert in your partner

the woman's manual

First by becoming an expert in your partner, you will learn to spend enjoyable time together while minimizing triggers. Ask lots of questions, be inquisitive and curious about him/her. The better she feels, the better you feel or more succinctly “Happy Wife, Happy Life”. By better understanding your partner’s dysfunctions, you can also better support their recovery and avoid fatal mistakes. This knowledge is best received when it is inconspicuous and unconditional. It should not be a way to score points for a hidden agenda. In this day and age, we are lucky that so much valuable information is at our fingertips. About any question we have may be answered by an insightful YouTube video or podcast. We can make our car a university on wheels during our commute time and keep improving our relationships. There are optimal communication strategies for any type of person and this is what we need to become skillful at using the right words at the right time. If you partner is codependent, here are some of the approaches that may work:

  • If he feels disconnected, be inquisitive, ask him how he feels, use his love language to bring him back to his heart, help him bring out to the surface what is bothering him deeply inside
  • If he says yes but you feel no weight behind his words, challenge him in his commitment. Either get him accountable and make it easy for him to say no. Confront him every time you feel he is lying to him and others (mostly subconsciously because he is a people pleaser). Do not let him off the hook. Point out his lack of consistency and how this is impacting others
  • If his words or actions are hurting you, become vulnerable on how he is making you feel and take responsibility for your feelings not to trigger his shame. Empower him to make things better for you. Tell him you hurt because you love him
  • Get him in touch with his shadows. Create a safe container for him to express the parts behind the “good guy”, all of the unsavory aspects of his hurt inner child. Reward him every time he has the courage to go there

It is important that we learn to clearly communicate our needs and likes instead of expecting our partners to know them telepathically. While this feels great when our partner does things what we treasure without the need to ask them, why not make it easier on them instead of constantly testing their love for us? Let us coach them to speak our love language instead of doing things for them with the expectation of getting something in return. Even the most compatible persons will have difference in their love language so communication is key. Make separate lists of your needs, what you love and share it with your loved one. Provide loving and non-judgmental frequent feedback so that both partners can improve constantly of making each other feel loved.

The importance of the commitment to self

commitment to self

Happiness comes from the simple things of life: knowing who you are, feeling love for who we are, intimacy with special people and relationships, a supportive community, feeling creative, have our needs met at a physical level, being healthy, a connection to something greater than ourselves (ideal, God, values) and practicing activities that we enjoy. This is not rocket science but it takes commitment to fill our life with the ingredients of joy. In codependent relationships, we sacrifice our authentic self for the relationship. We are so desperate to be loved that we project a false idea of us so that we may be liked. The commitment to self has to come first as the people in the relationship are more important than the relationship. If the relationship stops supporting the individuals within the relationship, it does not have to mean a break-up. People can find creative ways to adjust the relationship in a way that they will feel better supported. This takes tremendous courage as these changes may trigger our insecurities and fears of abandonment. The commitment to self requires us to be OK to be alone, as we cannot control the reactions of others. This may not be our preferred way of being but unless we can sit in peace with ourselves, we will not be able to give our partner the freedom to love us by choice. Once our sense of self is secure, the commitment to the relationship comes with less anxiety so we can navigate the ups and downs in a more astute way. We typically make the worst relationship mistakes when we are triggered. As we dive deeper in intimacy, we start including the other into our personal field so the commitment to self will naturally encompass them too. Loving oneself extends to loving our partner and eventually to the whole universe as we increase our awareness.

Own your shame

shame guilt woman pointing fingers sad

Most fights between codependents and borderline are escalated when shame is triggered. Owning your shame is the best way to de-escalate the argument. Let me give you a couple of examples. Instead of “Why did book this shitty hotel? This is the last time you do the travel reservations”, say “I felt small and taken for granted when you booked this hotel for us. I really want to feel safe with you and it is hard to do when you do not seem to see me”. Instead of “Can I have some space now? I cannot take this constant drama” say “I feel at odds with myself and I do not think I can be a good company for you until I can sort things out. May I go meditate and reconnect with you after I am done?”. Instead of “How can you be friend with that asshole? He is just a narcissistic jerk” say “I feel triggered around your friend. He always speak about himself and never seems to care to listen about things in our life”. Instead of “Being with you is like being with a cold stone. It is obvious why none of your relationships never lasted very long” say “I do not feel seen, felt or understood right now. I feel unsafe as a result. I need you to really connect to me right now”. If you can show some genuine vulnerable emotions, your communication will be that much more effective. Owing our shame starts with the courage to believe that our innate nature is lovable, which would allow us to be vulnerable and therefore to build intimacy. It is important to stay humble because unless we are willing to acknowledge our own failings, we will continuously project what we refuse to see in ourselves into our partner. I had once a partner who kept saying obsessively that I had duped her to get in a relationship with her. This was partly true because as a codependent, I would portray myself as someone I am not in order to conquer the object of my desire because I felt unlovable deep within. However, what she failed to realize is that she felt even more intensely like a bad apple and did not believe anyone could love her for who she is. There were just as many things she hid about herself than her codependent partner. Projecting this deep shame solely into her partner prevented her to own it.

Therapy

Therapy

A good family therapist is important to help us navigate through the intricacies of interpersonal relationships with our partners, children and parents. There is a significant stigma in Europe with people using therapists. They are often labeled as crazy and unstable so most people in Europe would see a shrink in secret. People in the USA and even more Californians are very open to it. When a situation triggers both partners at the same time, a qualified therapist is critical. I do not recommend using a friend because the friend would typically be biased and they do not have the professional training to rise above the interpersonal conflict. The therapist primary goal is to help release the unconscious into the conscious, support introspection and empower the stakeholders towards a creative solution as their awareness is lifted. It is important to take your time to find a good family therapist. Many enter this profession because they feel damaged and they have not done yet all the inner work necessary to help others. A skilled family therapist is important at times to any intimate partnership but it is absolutely critical for codependent/borderline couple who need all the help they can get with their rocky relationship. The best therapists would actually be the ones that experienced earlier in their life the same negative patterns. I have an absolutely extraordinary family therapist. He is an older gentleman. He was raised in a horrendous family dynamic and he had a disorganized attachment style as a result. He was married and divorced 3 times before he was able to finally develop a healthy and intimate relationship with his 4th wife whom he has been for over 30 years now. He has done immense inner work to get where he is now, which makes him incredible knowledgeable and insightful in helping his clients.

Make the couple a sanctuary

sacred union

Codependent/borderline relationships are inherently turbulent and therefore experience power struggles. Power struggles come from personal insecurity and powerlessness. We attempt to control our partner to love us because we feel deep inside unworthy of love. If someone does not feel secure in a relationship, they have the tendency to enroll their personal friends to validate their opinions and show their partner that they are right. This can do no good to the relationship. While venting to your friends can be sometimes helpful to release some of the internal pressure and frustration one may experience, enlisting them to prove your points would just damage the relationship. We need to keep remembering what is more important to us, to be loved or to be right? I was once in a very unhealthy community situation where all the community members were either employees or followers of my wife. They worshipped her and she could do no wrong. It was very tempting for her to enlist them to make herself right to me, ignoring the fact that they were all biased to start with. If I had used my close friends or French family to rally to my opinion, they would have sided with me. That would not have made me right. This was not an option anyway because they were not in our living community. And this would have just made the conflict larger instead of contributing towards a meaningful resolution of the conflict. This is why a trained therapist should be used instead of friends or community members to work through a relationship conflict. Communities are a very dangerous place for committed intimate relationships. As a young man, I remember that most couples that moved to the Fellowship of Friends community in northern California would divorce the first year. Community life diffuse the commitment between the two individuals and there is a high temptation to get one’s needs met outside the relationship instead of doing the hard work of focusing and solving the conflicts within the relationship. In my recent situation, community members that were my wife followers surrounded her. It was like living at the queen’s court. They were always fighting for her attention and it was difficult to have time where only the two of us could be together alone to simply connect. If you are looking to live in a community, I would advise to look for an equal community where members relate to each other on an equal basis and have interdependent relationships instead of dependent and hierarchical ones. It would be a model where each family knows very well their neighbors, and where the community is enhanced through regular get together, instead of a pyramidal structure. My situation was extreme and is quite rare, but it is important for any couple to make their intimate relationship a priority. As we discussed, the self is the priority because if we are not true to ourselves, we cannot be in an authentic relationship but the relationship is next in line even before the children for a married couple. The children feed from the energy of a healthy marriage and get damaged by the constant conflicts of their parents. So by putting your marriage first, you are putting your children first. Recomposed families are more complex systems and they are outside the scope of this article. It is a big temptation once we have children to put our marriage after the children, after our hobbies and sometimes even after some of our friendships. The result is often disastrous because the marriage is supposed to be the foundation of our family life but no more energy gets invested into it. You need to treat your relationship like a sanctuary if you want a happy life. The codependent and the borderline need to stop their destructive habit of enticing people outside the relationship to look like victims and instead take full responsibility for their personality disorder and their relationship.

The law of mirroring in relationships

sacred relationship mirroring

Do not fool yourself that you will jump dramatically in terms of quality of partner from one relationship to the next. Remember that your partner comes to you through the law of attraction so they are an external mirror of who you are inside. What is far more important than finding a perfect partner is to find a partner that you can grow with. If you have attachment traumas, it is then far more sensible to find an introspective partner that has done a lot of inner work, and has learned from their personal wounds. Even if you meet someone with a secure attachment style, it is likely that there will not be any chemistry unless you have a secure attachment style yourself. For this reason, my future partner is likely to be a conscious borderline. After the initial honeymoon phase of a new relationship, we usually come back to the same personal flaws that contributed to our last breakup. Intimate relationships are a personal growth accelerator so there is simply no escape to what we are supposed to work on this lifetime if we are going to share our lives with someone special. I trust in the power of attraction in terms of intimate relationships. Many people have been hurt in intimate relationships so they learned to distrust their own chemistry & attraction feelings. They would rather cut their attraction sensors and focus solely on a compatibility checklist out of fear. Our body never lies. It is all about understanding and becoming conscious of what our body is attempting to communicate to us. Attraction is the path of freedom and back to oneself. However it is critical we move into this attraction with self-awareness because of our personal shadows. If there is no chemistry, there is limited growth. Our society is addicted to the removal of pain and struggles but suffering is a fact of life that needs to be embraced instead of feared so that we can become whole again. A friend of mine has a joke about the frozen packages of processed chicken in supermarkets. He called them boneless, skinless and flavorless chicken. Do you want a boneless, skinless and flavorless relationship or do you want to be consumed by love and be transformed to the full potential of who you are?

Final words

Love and intimacy are powerful forces because they reflect the movement of God towards integration. Many of us with attachment traumas, whether we are codependents or borderlines have been damaged through relationships. We can now heal through relationships too. This is why we need each other.

Hands making heart

I was fortunate to have many experiences in my lifetime. I have traveled in many parts of the world, I have built companies, non-profit organizations, I have connected with people from many different cultures, I have networked with the rich, wealthy and famous and experienced high-flying lifestyle. Among all these experiences, not a single one ever came close in intensity and happiness than the deep and intimate connection with a beloved. This experience is available to any of us as we open ourselves to authentic love no matter what may be our background.

Love,

Vaillant

Read part I – The dark side of the co-dependent

Read part II – Understanding and loving the borderline