Friday, August 8, 2008

Our Drive to Fix the Past

People who grow up in families where their needs, wants and desires were rigidly controlled carry a great deal of baggage with them into their adult relationships. We are creatures of compulsion, and we tend to seek out the familiarity of our original family. We are also trying to work out the unresolved parts of our past as well -- trying to find the solutions that we were unable to find when we were children. Somehow, if we can make our current situation work out well, it will solve and heal some of the hurts of the past as well.

But we go about it in all the wrong ways! Our minds will pull us back to that which is familiar, but without taking an honest inventory of ourselves and our relationships, we are likely to play out the same old problems.

This is my great concern with Botkin Syndrome. I'm concerned that children that grew up in a Botkin or patriocentric home will seek refuge in marriage but will be highly likely to repeat and replay the problems of their past. Even after emerging from the system, they will have a tremendous amount of work to do.

Love is a Choice: The Definitive Book on Letting Go of Unhealthy Relationships by Hemfelt, Minirth and Meier.

From pages 108 - 109:

A woman emerging from an alcoholic family vows to leave that misery behind forever. She marries an alcoholic and may well become an alcoholic herself despite knowing from experience what alcoholism is. A man whose home life was disrupted by several divorces finds himself constantly and repeatedly “unlucky in love.” Claudia Black wrote a landmark book on the problem with the self-explanatory title “It Will Never Happen to Me!” Numerous other sociologists and social workers have recorded the constant phenomenon: adults from dysfunctional families end up with dysfunctional adult relationships, for they have become codependents.

Why? Surely the man or woman who grew up knowing first hand the misery alcoholism or other compulsive behavior causes would know what to avoid. Can’t the sufferer see all those blatant warning signs?

We at the clinic, as well as other counselors, not a sadly intriguing fact: somehow, people who are powerfully codependent literally blind themselves to the red flags other people would flee from. No, they don’t see the warning signs, because they unconsciously choose not to. Unerringly they find themselves attracted to exactly the people they swear they’ll never end up being or joining.

Excerpts from
Robert Hemfelt, Frank Minirth and Paul Meier’s
Love is a Choice:
The Definitive Book on
Letting Go of Unhealthy Relationships
Thomas Nelson, 1989