Families and Addiction

“You should have know that’s what I wanted”

Although we all dream of that perfect “other” who will anticipate our every need, those days were actually over at about the age of 6 months. That’s when people stopped checking in with us about whether we were hungry, tired, wanted to be held. After that, we had to ask for what we wanted…..first by screaming and crying, and hopefully later, by using our words. In co-dependent relationships, we are still either expecting people to read our minds, or we sabotage our own peace of mind by trying to anticipate, intuit, and meet the needs of others. Language gets horribly confusing when those we love don’t ask clearly for what they want or need, or when we are constantly trying to read between the lines for the true meaning of what is being said. Although it may seem oddly threatening to just come out and ask for what you want it does make life so much simpler.
Asking “Are you hungry”? instead of, “I’d like to get something to eat. Would you like to join me?” elicits in the co-dependent listener some mental gymnastics in order to answer that question: “Is she really hungry or does she think I’m hungry? Should I say I’m hungry so she can eat? I’m not really hungry but if I say I am and we eat now then maybe she will do what I want to do later.” Arghhhhhhh. So complicated.
So why don’t we all ask for what we want all the time? Fear. For some reason, having needs feels threatening to many of us. Growing up in an addictive system usually means there is only one person whose needs matter: the addict. Everyone else tiptoes around just trying to stay out of the line of fire. So how do we revise these deep-seated mental models? The Living Inquiries leads us to gently discover the fears, memories, and self stories that harm our relationships with others and keep us stuck in resentment and lack.

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