Posted by: Judy | July 9, 2015

Schema 8…

8. ENMESHMENT / UNDEVELOPED SELF – Excessive emotional involvement and closeness with one or more significant others (often parents), at the expense of full individuation or normal social development. Often experienced as a feeling of emptiness and floundering, having no direction, or in extreme cases questioning one’s existence. Yes. However, with five years of therapy it’s now a no. Yay!

I don’t think I would have made this change without my counselor. He was awesome. I thank God he took me on. He only did family and couple counseling, but he accept me because he was seeing my sister. I saw him every week for a while, but the last few years I saw him every three months or so. I used him as a touchstone, and yes, he knew, after I told him.

There are no words to express how it felt to be able to take an insane situation to my counselor and tell him how I handled it and ask if I’d done okay. It was such a relief to know I didn’t have to depend on my perception. I would also ask him to tell me other healthy ways I could have handled it. I had my own personal search engine geared to my needs and preferences. How cool is that?

I’ve mentioned before that my counselor had two goals for my therapy: Emotional and financial independence. He backed off on the financial when I told him everything I’d done throughout my life in an effort to be financially independent. He was satisfied that I wasn’t sitting on my hands. I was making an effort. When he moved, he was proud to state that I was emotionally independent.

I do have to be careful not to backslide, but I have healthier friendships that help me stay aware of the insanity.

So how did I work through this one?

Established boundaries.

I only put a lock on the inside of my door a few years ago, after I started counseling with my last counselor. Yes, I’m still excited about being able to lock the door.

The kitchen is a lost cause, except that I refuse to give up my scheduled time. They can violate it all they want, but they are violating it. I acknowledge it, which is me respecting me. I accept I avoid the kitchen as much as possible. I have wondered if I’m being petty. I have the top shelf in the fridge, a storage room in the basement, and cupboards in the hall. I stopped using NM’s cooking utensils, pans, years ago. Using my own things, I can’t be criticized for how I’m using them and I’m sure they’re clean. I must plan every meal ahead, with a contingency plan, in case NM decides to use the stove, oven, sink, whatever. The house isn’t mine; it’s theirs.

So, why do I keep my scheduled times? No matter how much I give, it will never be enough. I’ve made the attempt in other areas, and I was asked for more and more. It took me a long time to figure out that I could everything, and it wouldn’t be enough. I would still be labeled petty and selfish.

I might as well be petty and selfish with some clear cut boundaries, even if those boundaries are violated. At least now I know where they are and know when they are being violated. The kitchen times stay, along with the lock on the door, and all the little boundaries I’ve worked hard to establish.

What is the purpose of boundaries if they are constantly violated?

I know they’re there.

Do you understand how huge that is?

The whole game of predators, narcissists, abusers, etc, is to strip you of your boundaries. As long as I have healthy boundaries, I win.


  1. You aren’t petty for setting up boundaries and shouldn’t label yourself that way. I think the word “selfish” gets a bum wrap. I kind of like to think of it as being different than “self-serving”. There is nothing wrong with having self interest. That something my therapist used to say to me, partly because “selfish brat” was a name my mother liked to throw at me when I wasn’t bending to her will.

    • I like self interest. I have to remind myself that it’s my responsibility to take care of me. Taking care of me is not selfish. Now I can say that taking care of my personal interests is not selfish.

      • No it’s not 🙂

        The problem with narcissists is that they think everyone’s interests should be that of the narcissist first.

        • There is that, and why we are all twisted up about our own interests in our efforts to not become a narcissist. 🙄

          • “Selfish brat” was my mother’s choice nickname for me as well.

            • I’ve wonder if name calling is a double-edged sword; it cuts both people. I mean, aren’t they, in a way, being a selfish brat? Now I’m going to be thinking carefully whenever a “name” comes to mind.

  2. Go you! Indeed, Ns inch and inch to strip you of your boundaries that is why we have to be firm. 🙂

    • Amen.

  3. Side note with regard to the name-calling. It is something I’ve started to notice a lot. We call someone a ‘jerk’ or another choice word and attribute something to his/her character when they do one thing we don’t like. It is like calling someone ‘generous’ b/c they gave you a gift one time. Then it becomes the way you see them all the time. So no matter what you do after that it seems you are ‘selfish’ or ‘generous’. Definition of someone else’s character like that is, in my FOO and dysfunctional friends, the strongest control tactic I’ve seen. Except I think it has been a common way to speak even in non-dysfunctional settings.

    • I think you’re right about how it being a common way to speak. Perhaps it’s a simple way of filing people. Then again, we make judgments all day long, deciding where to focus our attention. It’s absolutely necessary. We can’t do everything that comes across our path. We have to choose. Labels make it easy. If I label them a jerk, then it’s easy to decide they aren’t worth my time. Isn’t that sort of giving them my power? (Thinking out loud.) How do I reclaim my power? Instead of thinking of them as a jerk, perhaps I need to accept I don’t like whatever it was they did… This has become really complicated… or maybe it’s becoming clearer and requires I accept responsibility for my choices, which is something N’s don’t do… Maybe I’ll take this and make it tomorrow’s post. 🙂

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