One Broken Mom

Parent-Child Enmeshment with Dr. Margaret Rutheford

February 15, 2020 Amee Quiriconi Season 2 Episode 42
One Broken Mom
Parent-Child Enmeshment with Dr. Margaret Rutheford
One Broken Mom
Parent-Child Enmeshment with Dr. Margaret Rutheford
Feb 15, 2020 Season 2 Episode 42
Amee Quiriconi

In the season finale, Ameé welcomes to the show Dr. Margaret Rutherford. She has been a psychologist in private practice for over twenty-five years. She hosts a podcast called SelfWork with Dr. Margaret Rutherford and in November of 2019, published her book Perfectly Hidden Depression: How to Break Free from the Perfectionism that Masks Your Depression.

Due to messages from many listeners as well as having a front row seat to the dynamic of enmeshment, Ameé is tackling the topic with Margaret to help raise the awareness of it for families who may not understand the differences between healthy parent-child relationships and what happens when they are too involved. 

We see a lot today not enough connection between parents and children for fear of “ruining” them, sadly especially with boys and mothers. But enmeshment is swinging the pendulum all the way to the other side.

In this episode, you will hear: 

  • Is there really a fine line between a healthy connection and enmeshment? 
  • Margaret's personal experiences with enmeshment
  • The relationship of narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder with enmeshment
  • What are the major consequences to adult children from an enmeshed relationship with a parent


Show Notes Transcript

In the season finale, Ameé welcomes to the show Dr. Margaret Rutherford. She has been a psychologist in private practice for over twenty-five years. She hosts a podcast called SelfWork with Dr. Margaret Rutherford and in November of 2019, published her book Perfectly Hidden Depression: How to Break Free from the Perfectionism that Masks Your Depression.

Due to messages from many listeners as well as having a front row seat to the dynamic of enmeshment, Ameé is tackling the topic with Margaret to help raise the awareness of it for families who may not understand the differences between healthy parent-child relationships and what happens when they are too involved. 

We see a lot today not enough connection between parents and children for fear of “ruining” them, sadly especially with boys and mothers. But enmeshment is swinging the pendulum all the way to the other side.

In this episode, you will hear: 

  • Is there really a fine line between a healthy connection and enmeshment? 
  • Margaret's personal experiences with enmeshment
  • The relationship of narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder with enmeshment
  • What are the major consequences to adult children from an enmeshed relationship with a parent


spk_0:   0:11
you're listening to one Broken Long, a podcast dedicated to raising awareness about mental health, parenting and self improvement. I'm the host. One Broken Mom is not a family show. It is intended for adults only and may contain adult language. Sometimes the topics are serious, but you can count on the episodes to be entertained. Also, one broken mom is not offering any psychiatric for medical diagnosis. Were just here giving away useful and important information. So if you're ready to hear real talk by real people so that we can all get better together, then you're in the right place. Okay, everyone, welcome back to this episode of one broken Mom I am really honored to have with me Dr Margaret Rutherford. She's been a psychologist and having her own practice for over 25 years, and she recently just published a book, Latte in the fall of 2019 called Perfectly Hidden Depression. How to break free from the perfectionism that masks your depression. I have her on the show today because I've heard from many of my listeners, and I have also been personally had a front row seat to the topic of investment from subtleties to extremes. And I've, you know, unfortunately been victimized by people who, but we're victims themselves of this dynamic and know full well of the cost of the dangers that it plays in our lives. And I I came upon Dr Rutherford Margaret's work because she had written an article about it, and we'll have a link to the article in the podcast notes here. And as we had e mailed back and forth, she had expressed that she'd had some personal experience with it. And so I'm looking forward to this. I say that a lot on all my episodes. I'm always looking for to my episodes. This one, I think, will be particularly intriguing. I like for my parents that are listening to this to really take away some good stuff about their relationships with their Children. I'm hopefully to dispel the fear of connection with our kids, but for those of you that have this dynamic at play presently in your life had to deal with in your family, I'm hoping that we could come up with some ideas and some understanding of what happens in this. This condition, I guess, for lack of a better word. So welcome to the show, Margaret.

spk_1:   2:14
Thank you. Yeah, I call it dynamic. Probably not a medical condition right now. The interesting thing I mean, is that, um, one of the problems with the dynamic again of investment is that to those living it, it's it's not. It doesn't look like a problem to them. It's probably people who in mess themselves with their Children, may have come from in mess relationships with their own parents. And it's it's what they that's what they believe is love, that sort of lack of boundary. There's where where your child begins and you end is very vague, though, and we can talk more about the specifics. But it's, you know, it's one thing when you're depressed or when you're have a panic attack or something like that. Um, we can tell something's wrong. You know, I'm not myself. This isn't right. I am struggling. And yet investment is often really, even culturally considered. Well, you and your mom are you and your dead or are so close and that's so wonderful. But there are definitely some problems within measure.

spk_0:   3:25
Oh, yeah, for sure. And you know, I think about family systems theory. You know, I've got a book that I'm working on two. That's mostly a business book. But, you know, the topic of differentiation comes up in there and and the idea of the, you know, the whole family unit nervous system, you know, of everybody's parts. And you know, a lot of people don't realize that there is a nervous system like there's a family, you know, system in there that all we are all wired to kind of interact with one another. Um, and I know that. Then there's this, this ideology that then gets passed along, which is that you don't want to have to close of a relationship with your your Children because you don't want to ruin them. You don't want a quote, air quotes spoil them. You know, there's a lot of really negative and hostile dialogue, you know, in culture today about you know, the you know, the generation, you know, they pick on the millennials because, you know, they seem like they got gold started before. Oh, you know,

spk_1:   4:21
picked on a lot. Do

spk_0:   4:23
they really? D'oh! And so there's this, you know, there's the swinging of like Well, I don't want to spoil my kids. So let's just leave them to the wolves. You know, kind of an idea. Um, and I've covered this topic as well, especially when it comes to boys. You know that you don't want to, you know you want to coddle them and you toughen him up and in all that stuff. And so I would imagine that people that are listening to this that are actually parents, you know, may feel this sense of anxiety that there's a fine line between having this healthy connection connected relationship with their Children and then slipping into the super toxic dynamic of investment. But I have to believe that it's not a fine line like it's not like you can accidentally go too far like that. There's a there's a really robust, healthy connection, and then you have to really make a huge leap to get into investment. But you're the expert. So can you help describe what those differences really do look like?

spk_1:   5:14
Well, what you just said made me think of several things, and one of them is you mentioned Family systems theory, which is about it's a psychological theory that addresses family dynamics and family communication style. And just who? What rolls? Two people playing their families. And so it's a whole way of looking at psychology. Those particular therapists usually in fact, have all the family coming. And, I mean literally the Children, the dog, the grand parents if they're living there, you know, everybody comes to the therapy session. And so and I was trying to that model, um, in in graduate school did a year of study at the Southwest Family Institute there in Dallas. And really, they're They're two poles of family systems theory, and I'm gonna mention one by Robert Beavers where, and I don't want to get too technical, but basically they're two kinds of families that are on either end of the distribution. And one of them's called us in for a little family centripetal like the force going inward. And you're gonna get in mesh men and those kinds of families that there's families that tell you things like the most severe, you know, only trust family or, you know, their families who don't allow their kids really or even support their kids doing too much outside the family or their sort of, um, if there's a lot of questioning. Well, why can't you talk to me about that? Why would you need to talk to your friends about that? The other a poll is could called a centrist, fickle family where the energy is like is going outward, right? And those families, they say, Get a job at 13. And you know my dad, not your Your dad and I can't support your past high school. Or there's so little emotional connection in the family that, actually kids have to go outside of the family for any kind of intimacy. So you've got these families where all the energy's going inward and you got the families where all the energy's going outward course healthy families are somewhere in the middle, right? So I think that's what you're talking about is how suddenly does that happen? Where, uh, you go from really having a healthy relationship with your child and where you crossed the line for one of the things then I thought about was a lot of parents suffer understandably in many ways with believing that their Children are an extension of them. And this happens especially within meshed parents. Where if Johnny wins the spelling bee. It means that you've been a good dad, that you you obviously should be proud of yourself. Or if you know, whatever accomplishment there is, or whatever failure there is a what struggle there is. You see, that is about the quality of your parenting. Now it might have something to do with the quality of your parenting, but when there's very little line between you and your child, for example, let's say your daughter is becoming a teenager and it's the most severe form. Investment can look like the mom that goes out with her teenage girl and her friends or dresses like them or doesn't allow that young woman to come into her own. I worked with a man many years ago. Now that and he was in his thirties or forties, and I his he did everything with his father, either. I mean everything, and I look at it one time in the sessions, said You're kind of married to your dad and he said, Well, I'm worried about what my dad would be like if I didn't include him. I said, That's you know, there's almost that sense of obligation when you're really in mess child that you're doing something wrong by growing up and growing away.

spk_0:   9:00
Yeah, and so is there. You know, you mentioned boundaries, and that's one of the one. You know, I've got a dozen questions here for you, but, you know, there is. We talk a lot about that on the show, so that concept will be new to anybody that's listening here. But, um, you know the idea that there's an extension that you know, the parents just can't see you, you know, in your own autonomous form. Um And so of course, we all are learning. You know, those of us that, you know, create the show and listen to the show. We're all learning about boundaries and how to recreate those boundaries. And so, um, you're just you're describing this as if there's just no distinction between, um, how you view your kids and, um and what they are askew mons, and you can't see them as an individual human than theirs. There is a maybe some work on your sense of self here because I can see that you know, some people, not everybody is of a toxic personality. I want to put that out there But sometimes if we have that dynamic and it is wired into us because of that relationship we don't like, you said View. It is may be a bad thing, because that's just the way you know. Our family, you know, was set up and stuff. So again, I don't want to freak parents out. You know about that that, um, for them to not want to pat themselves on the back because their kid to do something good because he did shouldn't some effort right to help him to get through that, Um, well,

spk_1:   10:23
let's talk a little bit about just in measurement in general. And let's sort of define. In fact, there's a great book called The Emotional Incest Syndrome that's written by Dr Pat Love. That turned me on to a lot of things. There's also older book that's a much harder for a kind of boring, in fact, of beginning. It's called the Drama of the Gifted Child. And, um, the emotional incest syndrome was sort of a popularized version of the drama of the gifted child. But basically what happens in investment is that a parent usually apparent, um, pulls a child in to the dynamic between to the dynamic where for their own self gain, meaning that they will look at the child and say things like, There's no one who makes me as happy as you do. Or, um, I've never felt more love than I have, you know, from you. Or and so that the child has given the job, so to speak, off pleasing the parent and of even being their confidante, being someone that the parent can count on. So I'm sometimes actually taking the place off the husband or wife and who really should have that role in a healthy your family. But what this sets up is that the mesh, the parent who's doing the in meshing they have adult problems they have their Children can't do anything about those adult problems If your mother or your father has low self esteem, if they struggle with anxiety or if they have an out call problem or whatever it is, a child can't solve those problems. In reality, you could be told umpteen 100 times how much your presence in their life means to them, but you're not going to. You don't have the power to fix the problem So this is what happens. You're given the job, but you always fail at the job because your parent really isn't happy. So you just keep pouring more energy into trying to make them happy or trying to make their lives better and actually feel like you're abandoning them. When you say, for example, that you, um you want to go to college far away or you're gonna join the military? Or you're gonna do something that's more about your own independence or own about you, about your own goals. And the parent can become, you know, quite agitated about that or not even supportive. And again, this may very, for example, these air, the parents and Children who talk or text. I mean, a lot of times per day and see it as normal. Um, and don't even see that some I'll have guy. We live in college to market so and I have a fair amount of college students, his patients and someone will say, Well, I hate being at the university and I said, Well, why I can't make any friends. And so I start talking to them about what kind of relationship they have with their parents were a parent in this, so I talked to my mama. Lt's time. Well, I count. How often is that? Oh, gosh. Eight or 10 times a day, we text or we leave this have a conversation and my comment to them is So what about the person walking next to you to class? Now, I know I'm older. I love texting. Don't get me wrong, but, you know, maybe you could walk into class and go, Hey, you know, I'm Margaret. Or, you know, whatever you're counting on, your parents remain your foundation, and the parent is quite willingly doing that. So, um, the dynamics are hurtful. And even that may not seem hurtful to the now even adult child who's pulled into the parental, um, need. And that could just be devastating. It also can give the message, maybe inadvertently, but it could give the message that the child needs the parent. They need their involvement. So us I was hugely affected by this, that I didn't realize that I even could live my own life, that I could make good decisions. I was so accustomed to running those decisions by my parent that once I got out in the real world, I make terrible decisions because I really had not. I am not learned about my own process for making decisions and just counted on my especially my mom way too much.

spk_0:   14:59
And, you know, I wanted you to be able to share that experience because I think it when I do see people with the right into me and again, you're the expert here. Does it tend to be expected

spk_1:   15:10
letters after my name? That way, all we

spk_0:   15:14
can talk about is our war stories. Right? But with this and mesh meant to see. And you know, I didn't use the word emotional incest. But I have heard it because it sounds really icky and gross, you know? And that

spk_1:   15:27
kind of love books,

spk_0:   15:28
right? Yeah, it does right on dso. But yet it also drives conversations away from, you know, I think it pushes people away from talking about this. And so I'm glad you brought it up because it is another word and that it kind of does stir a bad feeling in you, because sometimes that kind of what it is, it's to have to be that emotional confidante. You know, for a parent. Um, and so, you know, I'm curious about whether or not Does investment tend to occur with a mother end a child or it doesn't? Is there evidence that it's 50 50? Um, you know what? Have you seen in terms? Oh, the because

spk_1:   16:01
of gender 50 50 by gender. Yeah, right. That's a good question. Um, I have seen it with father's. Um I don't I don't know if it is as problematic as between mothers and their daughters. Basically, when you think about it, e mean Freud would love this. Boys have to separate more from their mothers early on because they aren't female. I'm not not speaking about transgender issues or sexual orientation or anything at this point, but basically, little boys start orienting themselves more a lot of, um um, to their with their fathers. And so you you already have this dynamic. However, um, certainly it's not that older boys or sons don't feel like this. Their duty to take care of your mother. Sometimes they do. But the emotional neediness, um, might be more prevalent. I would think with girls. And when you think about it, developmentally girls don't start separating from their moms until much later. I mean, psychologically separating. And so, you know, that's why it seemed Teenage girls are really difficult because they're trying to separate. And so anything there Mom does is just awful and horrible. And they hate him. So but actually an enmeshed relationships that just that kind of independence And that kind of, um, seeing themselves is different than them than their moms are. You know, it sze much delayed in dollars who have in Mr Relationships with you because with their mothers, because they don't want the conflict, you know, there's a huge avoid conflict.

spk_0:   17:55
Interesting. Yeah, you just made me think of, you know, I've heard this from some of my I've seen this. So I have a 15 year old daughter. She's gonna be 15 in a week after this interview, and, um and then my son is 17 years old, and what I've seen is with some of their friends, as they're in this stage of individual ation from their parents, I've I've watched some of the guilt the parents have laid back on these kids, you know, making comments like when you just don't like me anymore. You just don't like hanging out with me anymore. And I just And I see these poor kids and I watched this one weekend with a with one of my daughter's friends, and my heart broke because he was so tourney up. I mean, he just was eviscerated by the language from his, you know, his father, who was like because the child wanted to do what he wanted to do. He was going out with friends, you know, it's a normal thing. And but parents do have this withdrawal system, you know, our process that they go through and, um and I just, um you know it when you watch the Children trying to do that and then they get You know, this kid was crying to get back to his dad. No, Dad, I don't mean that. And I'm just like, Oh, gosh, let me just

spk_1:   19:02
Yeah, it's really hard to watch when it's that obvious. It's really hard to watch

spk_0:   19:05
for sure. Now you had said something about you know, that you had in a mess relationship with your own mother, you know? How did that? If you don't mind talking a little bit about that, You know what did that look like. And how did you move through that? And

spk_1:   19:20
out. Um well, I didn't even recognize it until gosh, I've been in there. Be a long time. Um, in fact, a therapist asked me if I ever considered if my mother was manipulative and I walked out of the session. I was so protective of her that I couldn't even hear a word like that attached to her because she did love me very well. In many ways, she did accept it just was over the top. It was overprotective. It was there was no boundary. And so I was in my thirties before I recognized that a lot of the things I was allowing my mother into in my life was really choking me. I mean, I it was just not appropriate it the things I would invite her to do because I thought she'd enjoy them. She'd enjoy living my life with Mai, basically, was my thought. And yet that that wasn't fair to me. That wasn't happening with my peers, But I couldn't see it until actually, sadly, I had to relation to marriages break up. And in both those marriages, my mother was a problem now. There were other problems. One of them was actually abusive. But I kept hearing this. You know, your relationship. Your mother's weird relationship with your mother is weird, and I finally with my relationship with my father, it's weaker. And I remember actually trying to save my second marriage. I did confront her. It was a very difficult thing for her to hear. And for me to say, Onda, we actually never talked about it again and their other There are other aspects of that. They're important. But, um, it was it was very difficult and her feelings were tremendously are just like I assumed they would be. And, um but I knew I was doing the right thing. So, um, but I felt I was a sickly kid. And so some of that was set up because my mother, my my doctor, told my mother. Now again, this might not have been really true. Maybe my mother's interpretation that she needed to go with me if I ever went out of town, for example, in a choir tour that, you know, I had these medical problems and she needed to be there to watch and so literally the first night that I ever spent away from my mother. When if I wasn't at a trusted friends house. Um, but I didn't go to camp. I didn't do any. This is what's winning with the college. Wow. And I was told by her, You know, you may not be able to do this. Yeah, you know it my damn, I'm going t o. Because I could feel the stricture. I could feel how tight those bonds were. But I have become so accustomed to them that I saw them is normal until I got older and older and older and realized Well, this is causing problems. So, um, you know, from her point of view, she had not had a good relationship with her mother. Quite the opposite of what we were talking about earlier. When this is handed down from generation to generation, she saw it as loving May with all her heart and sacrificing for me and doing going out of her way to be an attentive, loving mom. The problem was, she didn't see that. I mean, she would talk to me the other problems between herself and my dad in a very inappropriate way I probably have laughed and I became a therapist because that was my mother's

spk_0:   23:07
right? Some truth there, though, right?

spk_1:   23:10
Yeah. And in fact, I had a therapist say it's time for your mother to get around. So all those bonds were very difficult to break because I felt like I was abandoning her and doing something wrong. But I I gradually realized, and thank goodness I did for her and for myself. Well, I'm not so special. It was to be happy about it, but certainly for myself. I needed to do that.

spk_0:   23:35
Yeah, yeah. You know, I I got to tell you that when I was reading through your bio on the website there, you made a comment and it resonated with me. I think if we were looking at the two poles of the families, right, the one where it's centripetal, it's all moving inward or central, fickle. I felt on the centrifugal side, really pushed out, except, you know, for a variety of tasks that I had to attend to is the oldest daughter with younger brothers and in dealing with an emotional immature another, that was, um, you know, I would never defined her as being like a true narcissist. Definitely, that emotional maturity made it a lot about her and not about. You know, other things. And

spk_1:   24:13
that's really going to make that. It's very mature.

spk_0:   24:15
Yeah, and so, you know, and that comes from talking to amazing people like you and becoming more and more educated. But one your comments that just struck me was it says here I began writing online in 2012 and I was just narcissistic enough to believe that I might have something funny, are fresh to share And what what? What drew me to that was the fact that that's kind of the mentality that I have. Like when you get in a dynamic like this and you're swallowed or ignored, both right, it's one or the other. You feel like you have something to prove. Not everybody has that mindset that comes down to probably the DNA and the mix of the experiences in the mix of whatever it is that makes it. But, you know, I I was like, Yeah, I've made that comment myself like it takes a degree of narcissism to think that you're good enough to do a show. For example, or write a book, or you know that what you have to share with the world is better than what's already out there in some

spk_1:   25:05
way. It was very interesting. I mean, when when I told my mom I was professional singer in my twenties, and so I really I, uh I completely turned things around in about eight or nine years to become a clinical psychologist. But when I told my mom I was going to do that, I guess she thought about it for a while. She called me and said, Margaret, I think you're a little too judgmental to be a therapist. And you could hear that as soon as I was approaching the idea that maybe I could be powerful in my own right and that I could forge ahead and create a career that it was very you're scared of my mom or she wanted to dampen my enthusiasm for it. She just could not see that I was gonna do something important to me and hopefully help other people. And and actually she was talking about yourself, right? So she was far more judgmental. I'm sure I have been in my lifetime. We all do it to certain stand. But no, no, I I could say that I'm not just

spk_0:   26:13
mental well. And so you describe this relationship which, you know, was triggering for me because it sounded very, very similar to the my personal experiences with this with this dynamic and when you had originally defined, that's okay, I I deal with being triggered a lot as I do the show. So it's you know what therapy does for you is it helped you think that? But you when you described the the original definition of investment. As you know, this overt display of you make me feel, you know, I get this from you kind of language ing. I wasn't seeing that. And then when you told your story, that's what I what I had seen an experience, which was this which was this parent who felt like they needed to step in because they didn't have the close relationship with their with their own mother and needed to, ah to just, you know, take their arms around their child and be there everywhere. And so is you're talking about going on trips and I have anyone having your mom there. I'm thinking about this individual that I'm thinking about how mom was there for everything and And what happened to this person, sadly, was, um, you know, they had this love hate relationship inside of themselves on so and so. And I wanted to talk about narcissism because how this individual ended up, like, kind of evolving was because they seem to be linked together. And that's why says you're comin about narcissism, you know, you know, makes sense. But of course, when we can call herself a narcissist, we're not, Um, but the, um, they seem like that in measurement Is this complete erosion of the autonomy of the child and that when they're overwhelmed by their parents involvement in every aspect, that there's a subconscious revolt against it. Um, And so you know what I noticed in this family was that this, um, wanting to be free, but yet still heavily reliant and not knowing how to free themselves, I could see this person deal with the inner shame of being tourney buy that like being really resentful that they didn't want mom around all the time. And mom was around all the time. And if you had a conversation with her about boundaries. She got her feelings hurt. She throw the silent treatment around, and then she'd creep right back in. And you have to just sit there and go the hell like how do we You can't even address it like, you know, and the intent on the outside. Like you said on the outside, people like we have a great relationship, but it's like when you're in it. It was there, you know. It was coming over to the house whenever they felt like it. And even if you said, Listen, don't like, you know there needs to be space here validating it for whatever their reasons were. And the validation was always love. And I and I honestly believed with this with this particular parent, that truly was the motivation. But because that there was no way of seeing of having any empathy and seeing what the consequences of that was, um and I you know, I couldn't have a conversation with this person and say, Let's talk about this. Let's explore this need to be in every, you know, hands and everything you know, in life. But once I saw this and I saw this painful cycle watching it, and I saw everybody like, you know, around it. You know, I couldn't help but just understand just how, like, how tourney this was. And so you know, a go ahead, please. Yeah,

spk_1:   29:45
I think we have to be careful because investment can actually occur in people who do not have personality disorders and can recognize Oh, I thought this was appropriate for me to do. Of course I needed back. I mean, I'm not worked with many, but I have worked with a few mother daughter pairs where there is an acknowledgement on the mother's part. Oh, well, I'm really struggling with letting my son or my daughter go and, um, and the transformation in their own lives is important because they they get to look at their own lives as well. I need to have my life. I need to have something that is really meaningful and fresh for me as I watched my daughter or son leave, so that's a gift that that person could give themselves. But when you cross over into the parent is also having either narcissistic or borderline kind of dynamics or character traits. Then that's when that sort of lack of empathy and an emotional chaos can become even more pronounced in through the investment where someone with narcissistic tendencies will more see their child as someone that they need. They need a child to be there for them when they need them and when and when. You know, it's sort of like on call you're on call. Ah, borderline parent will probably dish out of much more about borderline traded traits will dish out more about how, if you want to do something without, um, you're abandoning the you're abandoning their now maybe a narcissistic parent would do that. Jason. Well, there is a you know that there's some people who, sadly qualify or fit some criteria for bones. And those people are really tragically, uh, confused. But their offspring see even more confused. I remember a a woman who actually and this wall get your attention to something. She started to see me because she had been sexually abused by her therapist. Wow. And she was quite devastated by that. She finally recognized what was going on. He lost his license, and this was a couple years after that, before she even dared to trust a therapist and she came in and we worked on those dynamics. But then I started hearing about a relationship with her mom, and sure enough, well, what had been set up in that mother daughter relationship was no Valerie's. And so when it was re enacted with the therapist, she was blind to what was going on because what had happened was he had groomed her like a lot of sexual abusers do, and she just hadn't seen it coming. And a lot of it was because of the context with her mom. Um, so I think that what this and measurement can set you up for is, you know, we all when we seek loving relationships, way define love by what's familiar. We define love by usually. You know what happened in our own families that was called love. Now sometimes, if that's truly abusive and awful looking, we don't. But we would. Then we'll try so hard to find the opposite that we can cause problems, but someone who's in mesh again many of those people like me. It took me until my early thirties to truly know what was going on, and I didn't realize that I was being attracted to the familiar. I was being attracted to men, for example, who who did not have any boundaries with me and wanted to convert money, lost control. And so that waas problematic. Um, so I do think that the what needs attention and what needs awareness is you may be thinking you're helping your child and that you want to be that involved with him. But you're you're parents. Are all parents are modeling. What is an appropriate, healthy kind of loving relationship tohave and then often that that who that sculpts a child's understanding of what they need to seek and that that could be very sad.

spk_0:   34:25
It makes me think of when you hear couples complaining or women complaining that their husband wants them to act like they're his mom. Yeah, you know, And that one. And that was part of my experience in this particular situation Was that ultimately the, you know, the relationship devolves to where there was an expectation that I would be there all the time. Could everything else on hold provide money when needed, not ask any questions, you know, But yet it was resentful and and and so it made it emotionally painful, toxic in abusive when there was no compliance to this standard that had been set by the enmeshed mother. You know, um, a man And it was It was tough. You took a deep breath inside. Totally want to hear what you have to see.

spk_1:   35:12
Oh, again, I want to stress. Maybe even some people listening are saying, But what's wrong with this? What's wrong with a parent wanting to help their child? What's wrong with of giving and being interested in caring? And, um, gosh, I wish my parents had done that for me, they said. They calm, said I'd never amount to anything. I think it's what happens more suddenly that that that's a problem. The same woman who was sexually abused my therapist told me a story about her mom that, um now she's a little older than I am. And so you know she was a child. Wait for constant way before cell phones and all that stuff, but her mother was sent her packages of clothes at her college, and her roommates and dorm mates would say, Wow, Kat, wish my mom would send me packages. But the sad thing was, and there were tears that came to her eyes. She said I would open it and they were all closed that my mother thought I would look good in clothes that I might have chosen myself. And so if I didn't wear them, I wasn't appreciating what she done for me. If I did wear them, I felt so strange. And like I was trying to put on a the persona that my mother wanted for me instead of the one that was really a And that kind of subtlety is hard for people. Sometimes too, to have because it can look like bounty can look like carrying it can look like it can really dress itself up as something far healthier than it is.

spk_0:   36:56
Yeah, I took my own deep breath, and when you said that, you know, um, you know, reflecting back on my own personal life and, you know, like I said, I had the centrifugal push. But part of that was my own energy of pushing myself out because I did have I did have these, um, this mom who tried to do that, but we were so different, and I recognized my own individuality. as you know, from from an intellectual standpoint, we weren't close together, like, you know, and things. She was deeply connected with her own parents. Like, lived in the same town to care of her mom all the time to care for their parents all the time. You know, she actually this is my own mother. Um, you can see outside, you know, separation of years and therapy, how her preference was to be in that family dynamic, playing the role of the, you know, of the little sister and taking care of the parents and all that other. And so when she would do this, I remember actually being in tears myself in high school, trying to pick out the dress I was gonna wear at my high school graduation. And I found the dress I wanted, and I put it on, and I loved it. And my mom just hated it. Wanted me to try on something that I thought was just dumping terrible looking and refused to buy me the dress I wanted because she just insisted that this other dress was like the better dress. And I left the store crying. And finally an aunt had said, Dear God, like, just get her the dress like I mean, you know, why are you like it was that emotional? And I would get the same thing. I get these packages like a sweatshirt and, like, I would never wear this whole thing. But I could see how she couldn't distinguish. He never, you know, she never saw who I really waas like. It was all just while she saw was this little version of this mini version of her reflecting back. And so I the initial it didn't happen because I just you're early on just couldn't do it. I couldn't play along with it because I felt so strongly about who I waas. Sure. Well, you know,

spk_1:   38:52
I'm also thinking about my dad's role in this, and my mom actually developed a prescription drug addiction. And when she left to go address that she had to get off the drugs many years later, Uh, my brothers and I had some pretty honest conversations with our dad, and one of the things I asked him was Dad, every time I would call, which was frequent. Hey, go Hang. Hey, Margaret, Let me go get your ball. I mean there it wasn't. Hey, how are you doing? What's going on? Are you okay? It was just it, Chris. Let me get your mom and I looked and I said, I I didn't never could I never could understand that. And he looked at me and he just got this very sad look on his face. He goes, Margaret, I knew your mother needed you. And so from his perspective, he was taking care of his wife. My sort of seeing this, seeing my role in meeting her needs where maybe he felt like he couldn't. And so, um, that hey didn't enable. Well, I guess it is from enabling it later. The older I got, the more he and I developed our own relationship, which was at my insistence, really. And we had a great relationship, but it took me. But I was living in Little Rock, Arkansas, and my family's for Southern Arkansas. And I could remember calling my dad when I was 22 23 saying, I'd like to have lunch with human. He goes, Well, let me ask that that Fanny was Rene. Let me ask that if we can comment said no Dad, I want to have lunch with you. While my mother was so upset, um, why wasn't she invited and what we're gonna talk about and this that the other? And so I told him at that lunch, you know, I want a relationship with you. And this was long before the conversation about the telephone call. So gradually we began building our own relationship, but it was very difficult to do so.

spk_0:   41:00
So this No, I can imagine. Now, what are some of the other outcomes for adults who grow up with an enmeshed parent? You know, I'm curious about whether or not co dependency becomes a danger or love addiction. Or, you know, we talked a little bit about Narcisse is And that's probably an extreme case, but imagine No, there may be some narcissistic tendencies in order because of just, you know, when you have chances to individuated you D'oh! Sometimes if the ex, you know, making you know, calm, poor choices. But, you know, they might rub somebody the wrong way. But, you know, is there Is there any common, you know, kind of outcomes that people that have dealt with in and mess relationship will kind of express out in adulthood in a personal relationships or life.

spk_1:   41:44
Sure, I think the looks important thread of all that, no matter what it might look like. Diagnostically is that your boundaries were just really screwed up. And if you don't recognize it and really work on it, So if it goes unseen and unidentified, um, then you will enter the world believing one that you're that important everybody. Oh, or that other people have the right to say what they think about your life for. You know, it's just that you don't again. I'll use a simple phrase that I use before you don't know where you begin and other people's where you end and other people begin. So you either can become needy yourself and maybe even manipulative yourself in order to set up these kinds of dynamics with people that you want them to be there for you or you or vice versa, that it's okay that you're supposed to be there all the time for them. Or you can you could struggle. So with independence and making good choices that you just kind of go from chaotic relationship chaotic relationship, and I'm not sure that I know exactly, you know, Are there three specific outcomes from investment? I just think it's probably when it's very dependent on your awareness of it and how hard you worked on it. To be able to know that you are, I am. You're establishing much clearer expectations with people of what's okay with you and what's not and they can with you. So, um, I like all adult Children. We all have to watch whether we're recreating what was created for us or whether we're trying so hard not to that we over overdo it, swing

spk_0:   43:44
the other direction. Yeah,

spk_1:   43:45
exactly, exactly. Yeah, there probably is some scholarly article out there that talks about the three basic things that happened with diminishment, but I've seen a lot of different things, So I think it's it's a bit more diverse in that

spk_0:   43:59
I would agree with that. Yeah, and I think that the big thing you struck right on it, which is the boundary violation. And again, a lot of people that have dealt with a variety of childhood adversities and childhood traumas tend to really have a lot of issues with with the boundary part of it for sure. You know, you don't have to have an enmeshed parent relationships also boundary it. Rush you, Um And so you know, that's where, you know, definitely learning that. And I and I've experienced people to that just, um, you know, have a hard time learning that how to express and hold those boundaries and not having all that shame. And I called the wobble inside. Really? Just the discomfort with that and, you know, is talking with somebody recently and talking about, you know, improvement in assertiveness. And I just looked at it was like, if you're just now working on it Oh, my God. I got something to tell you. Your life is drastically gonna change. It's gonna be amazing in a year, and they're just like when I said no. You know, life changes once you are able to understand what boundaries are.

spk_1:   44:59
Oh, yeah, I

spk_0:   44:59
love them and then be able to speak and hold them over and over and over again and get past the internal discomfort to a point of where you realize that there are good relationships out there. There are good people out there that have an understanding of that and the people that don't treat are truly people that you should keep at a distance. Said that you can keep your sense of self there. So, yeah, I don't need a diagnosis to know that you learn to say no. Yeah, totally. Um, So let's give us I wanna have some time here because not only do you know,

spk_1:   45:36
because the topic I had a little coughing

spk_0:   45:39
fit. Now I did mention this in vitro, but it is important, which is that you do have a podcast yourselves called self work. And we're so people that love podcasts are obviously listening to this show. So I know that they'd be interested in learning more about you. So would you mind talking a bit about what that podcast is foreign for? People

spk_1:   46:01
know I'd left. It's one of my favorite things that I do. Actually, it's everywhere. It's on iTunes. Spotify. It's on my heart radio. It's is where. And I started doing it a little over three years ago because I again wanted to extend the walls in my practice. I started blogging seven or eight years ago because I well, my my son had gone to college and I had tons of Phil and I also really love what I do. I'm very passionate about therapy, and I was tired living so much misinformation and ignorance about it. So I wanted to try to set forward what it might you know, what decent Hopefully even good therapeutic vice might look like. The podcast, as it is has evolved, is I don't have guests. I've had a handful of guests, but I got feedback from my listeners that they felt a Ziff. They were talking with me or had a relationship with me and then all of a sudden, someone sort of, but it in. So I said, Well, that's not gonna So it's not therapy Me. No podcast is therapy, right? But I talk about different topics on a very direct therapist. I'm I always give people things to do and goals and assignments and recommendations, and so it offers a lot of practical, pragmatic suggestions of what I call what you could do about it. You can do something about everything, but often if we focus on what we can do, we're gonna be much better. So I love doing it. I also have a listener email every day I actually answer my e mails, and I have great diversity there. So we talk about everything from anxiety to panic to eating disorders, too. Investment to depression to perfectly hidden depression. There are all kinds of things that we can discuss, and so I love doing it. And then the book, perfectly Hidden Depression, came about, uh, back in April of 2014 when I wrote a post called It Was Just Thinking about some people that I had seen over the years that we discovered they were depressed, but it took some digging on day, were very uncomfortable talking about it and even revealing it to themselves. Very uncomfortable sometimes. Didn't even know how to use the language to talk about emotional Penny and I called it the perfectly hidden, depressed person are you want? And it went viral, so I had hundreds of emails that came to me. This is may. I've never heard anybody talk about this. How'd you figure this out? Um, as I began researching and figuring out that Dr Rene Brown's work, who's of course is outstanding work is just wonderful. But even she stopped before she made a true connection between perfectionism and depression, but it is definitely out there. Perfectionism has been known to be a problematic character trait for a long time, so that's no new news. But what could be fresh news to people, and especially the middle health professionals, is that someone can be brought sitting right in front of you and have thoughts about hurting themselves on a regular basis and sit there, a smile at you and never reveal that to you unless you absolutely asked the right question. And so we all sadly and tragically probably know someone who has died by soon decide who we saw in the grocery store last week or last month and look great, or we heard great things about them. So a CZ suicide rates rised. I want to really stress this because I think it is highly likely. In fact, I hear all the time from people who know someone are even gosh traumatically a center of daughter. They said I didn't understand why they had kill themselves until I read about perfectly hidden depression because they had everything in the world going for them. Before this episode, you and I talked little bit about how even investment can lead to this kind of strategy to look perfect and strategy to put others needs in front of your own and strategies to and that just become so inherent in you that you don't even think about your own needs. So, um, you mentioned is one of those of roads to Rome about perfectly in depression, there are many, but in measurement is one of them. So I have love writing about it. The book came out about three months ago, and it's doing well. It's not a New York Times bestseller, certainly, but I'm a unknown therapist from Fail Arkansas. I don't live on the coast. I'm not within the university. So actually for what it is, and that's basically it is. People are using word of mouth to get the word out. So and I'm on podcast like Harris, which is absolutely wonderful. We'll also thank you for that.

spk_0:   50:55
Oh, for sure. And, you know, sitting here thinking about it, I would love thio. This is gonna be the last episode of season two. So you get t tail out my in my season. But I would love to actually have you back on to talk specifically about that perfection is, is a is a is a big deal and, like you have said, Yeah, I think some people think about it more or less is anxiety. Like, you know, it's just about killed. Officials included. Yeah, And so when you said that, I was like, Yeah, usually when people talk about perfectionism, they're talking about the anxiety with and not the fact that, you know, there's a there's a root of depression that's actually in there. So I think it'd be powerful. And would you know, one of the things that as a gen X person, you know, there is? Ah, there is a growing like existential crisis in our generation because we are the latchkey kids. We didn't have a lot of parental involvement, but yet we were go getters and entrepreneurs and a lot of the, you know, big movements and some of the things that our kids think they invented don't realize that Gen X invention, you know, is kind of coming home to roost. And you know, what do you do next? You know, everything seems so great and you know, when you talk about like you said, suicide is a huge topic for me to cover, especially when you think about that. The largest growing fastest group is men my age. Yes, all right, you know, and women still attempting to die by suicide to the tune of about a 1,000,000 a year in the same, you know, the same band with their it's it's usually important. So, yeah, I would be honored to be able t pick that discussion up. And

spk_1:   52:21
that is a topic I can talk for hours.

spk_0:   52:24
I believe that a lot of these topics are just like, Where's the beer, the wine or the water? And well, and so everybody, I think that is You probably heard on this episode here with Margaret, you know, she has a plain speaker. She'll get to the point. I think that if any of you are looking for a show that might resonate with you, I think that's why people listen. Thio, this, and to me is by being a very direct, straightforward and so I would encourage you to check out which she's got there and also the book. And I want to say thank you for your time. Way had a

spk_1:   52:57
little bit of ah, just so your listeners. Now, I got sick and then sick again. We have to cancel. So you've been very patient. So I'm delighted to be here with you. And gosh, I'm just about two hours from

spk_0:   53:09
I know. Yeah, Yeah. She ended up taking a trip up to Seattle, which is just real close to Snohomish in, so we're almost kind of in the same room s anyways. Well, thank you again, Margaret. I'll let you go. I know your husband is sitting quietly in the background so you guys can have your room back together. So tell him thank you as well for his patient and that it was a telling you. Think that'll be great? Okay, awesome. Thank you again. It was awesome. Thank you. Thank you for listening to one broken Mom. You confined podcast notes on my website and honey, where kony dot com and they're all provide all links. All of the resources that we mentioned on the episode. Also, if you have any questions, comments or ideas for other episodes, feel free to send me an email. And if you're interested in sponsoring show, I'd love to have you be a part of the team Finally. If you like what you hear, please share the podcast and leave a review so that others can find it. You're all here to get better together. I am the host. Meet Marconi. And, as always, I am super grateful to have using listening until next time. Have a great day.