We Become Immature Adults From the Power Struggle in our Birth Family

17910246_2174cb7c75_z“Often, our misunderstandings about love are born in disruptive family relationships, where someone was either one-up or one-down to an extreme. There is an appropriate and necessary difference in the balance of power between parents and young children, but in the best situations, there should be no power struggles by the time those children have become adults – just deep connection, trust, and respect between people who sincerely care about each other.

In disruptive families, children are taught to remain one-up or one-down into adulthood. And this produces immature adults who either seek to dominate others (one-up) or who allow themselves to be dominated (one-down) in their relationships – one powerful and one needy, one enabling and one addicted, one decisive and one confused.

In relationships with these people, manipulation abounds. Especially when they start to feel out of control.”

Tim Clinton

Because my parents never resolved their power struggle, I was elected “it”. That way each parent could find ways I was “wrong”. Emotionally, I  was an island. I can not remember when I was elected the “tie-breaker”. But I can say, it was a thankless job.

After I was sober for 6 months, my husband, daughter, and I were transferred to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. I ended being there for five years. When I returned to visit my parents, I knew I had to get out of this hotseat of being in “control”. So one Sunday, we spent 3 hours in debate about whether to go to the Youngstown mall or the Pittsburgh mall. They were pretty equidistant so that wasn’t the issue. The issue was who woud be “right” and who would be “wrong”.

I decided to stay completely out of it. I am not much of a shopper so I could have cared less. But I used to get high on that feeling of fake power by making “the” decision. Being in recovery I was slowly learning the games I played to feel good about myself were the games that were keeping me from being free.

As I have written many times over the years, transactional analysis taught me how to learn about myself. (Using Tranactional Analysis to Discover Your Observer Mind).

Excerpt from Amazon page about Games People Play: The Basic Handbook of Transactional Analysis:

“We think we’re relating to other people–but actually we’re all playing games.”

“Forty years ago, Games People Play revolutionized our understanding of what really goes on during our most basic social interactions. More than five million copies later, Dr. Eric Berne’s classic is as astonishing–and revealing–as it was on the day it was first published. This anniversary edition features a new introduction by Dr. James R. Allen, president of the International Transactional Analysis Association, and Kurt Vonnegut’s brilliant Lifemagazine review from 1965.”

“We play games all the time–sexual games, marital games, power games with our bosses, and competitive games with our friends. Detailing status contests like “Martini” (I know a better way), to lethal couples combat like “If It Weren’t For You” and “Uproar,” to flirtation favorites like “The Stocking Game” and “Let’s You and Him Fight,” Dr. Berne exposes the secret ploys and unconscious maneuvers that rule our intimate lives.”

“Explosive when it first appeared, Games People Play is now widely recognized as the most original and influential popular psychology book of our time. It’s as powerful and eye-opening as ever.”

Photo credit.


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