What is enmeshment trauma? Enmeshment trauma is when there is an emotional consequence to having a want, need, desire or preference that differs from the people around you, or someone else gets to decide what you want and need and it isn't okay to disagree. If you do want or need something different then they're offering it's met with scoffing, withdrawal, judgment, condemnation or punishment of some sort. In this type of environment one of the strategies to avoid the consequence is to get very good at external referencing, which is about checking in with the wants, needs, desires and preferences of those around you before checking in, so that you insure that you only express the ones that match theirs. Another strategy is to take on a role of being a helper, peacemaker or caregiver. What this role requires is to be tuned in or responsive to the needs, wants, desires and preferences of others. And in some cases, the more effectively you can suppress yours, the more completely you can be tuned into theirs. Often you will be praised, and loved, and appreciated for your amazing capacity to help and be there for people and often the best form of safe connection will come through maintaining those roles.
At some point however, you may be met with the most feared questions of all....What do you want? What do you need? What do you desire? What are your preferences? It will often come from someone who has no idea what enmeshment trauma is, and is confused when you freeze, go completely blank, stutter, and say I don't know. To make matters worse, they may respond with something like, what's wrong with you? Why don't you know? The reason why you don't know is because it didn't actually benefit you to know in the environments you've been in! It would have been a threat, very unsafe, and made you a target for the worst to come out of those who could not provide space and allowance for different perspectives, wants, needs, desires and preferences.
So, what do you do now? The first step is asking yourself: do I desire to know what I want and need? Would I like to be able to voice my preferences? Would I like to be able to articulate what I love and desire and appreciate especially when it differs from the people around me? To those who have enmeshment trauma even the thought of this is terrifying. This energy will often show up through the nervous system and emotional body as tension, and constriction alongside this thought that something very bad is going to happen. Now is the time to breathe deeply into that energy. Breathe into that tension. Acknowledge that many very bad things did happen, or someone threatened that they would happen if you didn't stay in line with who and what they wanted or needed you to be. Tune into your body, heart, mind, higher self and ask: Is it different now? Are there people who can allow for difference? Is it okay to want, need and desire things that different than the people around me? Is it okay to release the role of helper, peacemaker and caregiver? You can still be responsive to other peoples needs, however, you now have the opportunity to include yours too. All boundaries are is the assertion of your preference. It's you knowing when you've listened enough to someone's difficulties, or helped enough with the homework, or demonstrated enough compassion, whatever 'enough' is for you.
What if now is the time when you don't have to leave yourself to love others? What would it be like if you knew that you didn't have to exclude yourself to have connection? What if you don't have to make others people's needs, wants, desires and preferences more important than your own? What if you could include yours and be responsive to theirs? What if it is not an either/or? Get curious about what it would be like if you could be there for others when it felt good to do so and you could say no when it didn't. How different would it be, if when you started feeling depleted you could acknowledge that and make another choice? Re-claiming awareness of what's true for you while being a contribution to those that you meet is the next step in unraveling enmeshment trauma. Choosing people where it is okay to think, feel and know something different then they do and have the experience of still being in relationship, or having connection, or being there with them as they're being with you is a huge step in letting yourself know that it can be different than it has been.
Truly, what if something different is possible now? And if someone does make you feel wrong for stating a need, desire or preference and subsequently begins to deliver some sort of emotional consequence, you can take a deep breath, stare squarely at them, acknowledge what's taking place, access compassion for the memories of manipulation and control that you believed was love, acknowledge where they are coming from and speak from the deepest love and highest wisdom you have access to, acknowledging in whatever words you choose that this is not what you're here for. You're here for something different. You're here for the new experience. You're here to know yourself, and love yourself, and simultaneously know and love others. And you're here to discover what you are here for, as and when you do, and you may not have the answers to any questions you are asked right now. One day you will, and as the insights, revelations and breakthroughs come, you can celebrate. And as you are now, you can celebrate. What if you could live your life as a celebration?