In this post, we will look at the Life Trap of Enmeshment. It goes well together with ones like Subjugation and Recognition-seeking, since, as a borderline chameleon, I am constantly seeking ways to not be abandoned. What better way to do that than to adopt the likes of the one I need to stay?
A brief summary based on the book, Tunne Lukkosi by Kimmo Takanen, in regards to the Life Trap of Enmeshment:
I feel as though I am so entangled with my partner, friend, or family member, that I don’t know who I am anymore. It is hard for me to differentiate between my opinion and theirs, so I typically lean towards agreeing with them. I want to know the other person’s opinion before I voice mine, so I can fit them together.
I may feel a strong sense of belonging and closeness with the one I’m entangled with, and it feels as though I can’t survive without them. I sacrifice my world to be able to fuse with another’s.
It is almost as if the other person is living through me, that I don’t even have my own life. I tend to not know what I want and need, and by sharing everything I have I lose my privacy. I am living so close to the other person, that I feel guilty and offensive, if I don’t tell the person something happening in my life.
When compensating for the Life Trap of Enmeshment, I tend to do a full turn and do the opposite of what they have been doing, even if it is against my own well-being.
My daily struggles with Enmeshment.
What’s healthy agreeing? Which opinions are mine? Which are his? Is this me or is this the other person? Who am I?
From what I’ve read and heard, this seems to be quite a common problem for us Borderlines, as we would do pretty much anything to not be abandoned. For me personally, this Life Trap has been eating away at my sense of self for pretty much all my life as far as I can recall.
As a child I was spending time in the pool, competing in swimming competitions, and practicing up to 7 times a week. That was my life. That and school. I remember I wanted to continue being a scout, as I loved nature and the games and adventures we had in the meetings, but in the end, I got told that it is getting in the way of swimming and had to drop it. I never chose swimming, it was chosen for me.
After my parents separated and my friend group at the time ditched me, things started to get worse for me. I had no companionship, I didn’t want to bother my parents, and my sister moved on with her life to another town. I remember being alone in my room, late at night, drowning myself in books, and later on, in blades.
My carefree childhood ended fast.
As I’ve said in a previous post, I started seeking out people online, it felt good to be complimented. So good that for a lonely child it became a lifeline. People liked me. It didn’t matter that it was for the wrong reasons.
Online I also found my first real relationships. Some lasted longer, some shorter. After I got cheated on by my long-time partner, I went back online and found people to fill the void left by him. I was (until I started to work on my self-respect at the age of 30) continuously wondering why I couldn’t ever be what people wanted me to be.
No matter if I liked the music they liked, got into cars (god I got to the point of hating those metal cans since they had more value than me), laughed when they laughed and agreed when they said something. My own likes and needs were hidden.
I wrote a note to my mother once: “I am sorry for not being the daughter you want me to be.”
I wonder why I did that.
Was it because I felt guilty about cutting behind closed doors? Or was it because I felt so worthless? Or because I didn’t want her to hate me after all the messed up things I had put her through by allowing myself to be on-off with my ex-boyfriend? Mother, I woke you up in the night too many times when you had to go to work in the morning, didn’t I?
For the longest time, I had nothing. A testament to this was the moment when I heard my ex-boyfriend tell me I had nothing to my name while speaking to another person. After over a decade, I had nothing to my name. I had tried to be whatever was needed of me. I gave away my privacy, my money, my identity, everything.
But in my room, my ivory tower, I had my realm.
My own private world of beautiful blood, online ‘’friends’’, dimmed lights, snacks and alcohol. I could’ve lived there forever. As long as I wouldn’t be kicked out, and I’d keep pleasing my warden, I could live there forever. In my own little realm.
Except it wasn’t my realm. It was his. Despite agreements and deals made, my one sanctuary on the planet got busted into in a show of power. He could walk everywhere he wanted, nothing was mine. At that moment I got humiliated. I was angry. And I compensated the living b-Jesus out of it.
I hate hard rock, it makes me anxious! I hate cars, the smell of metal makes me sick! I hate this house, it’s a house of shadows and delusion! I. Hate. You.
I hate you.
I’ve had meltdowns. Mild ones, turbulent ones. My only sorrow now is that I hurt my husband with them. I fight him to the end when I feel like I’m getting too close to him. I curse him, scream at him. I hurt him with things I know should be left in the dark.
I am scared to lose myself, and so I fight even when I’m safe. In my eyes, I was never safe. I couldn’t be me for the first third of my life, and now when I finally had the chance, I was terrified.
I already lost family members because of it. I lost friends because of it. I gained a husband, a wonderful, amazing man, yet I’m terrified I will lose him too if I don’t agree with him on everything. If I don’t like things he likes.
Heaven’s help me, cause this one is hard to break.
The book says that once the Life Trap of Enmeshment starts resolving, I’ll know my own needs and wants better, and will be able to bring them forth. I’d be able to do things based on who I am, rather than based on the target of my entanglement.
Like I said, being borderline, this one will be very hard for me. I am so terrified of getting left alone that I will say and do anything to avoid it. Though sometimes it flips over with the perceived rejections and threats, and I’m the first one to storm off into the distance.
Where is the line between a healthy amount of codependence and enmeshment? Is there such a thing? Leave a comment to let me know!