I want to highlight and poke at something that Jacque said in the last DF thread:
…having spent one’s formative years surviving and protecting that embryo—and one finally Gets Out, and all of a sudden it’s “Now what?” Surviving is a fundamentally different skill-set from Thriving.
This community talks a lot about how the expectations that the children of dysfunctional families have turn out to be wrong in the outside world. Something goes wrong and there is not inevitably an immediate explosion of fury and blame. Arguments are often a tool for resolving differences, not deepening them. Instead of defensiveness and denial, wrongdoing is usually followed by apologies and restitution. Relationships generally run on joy and generosity rather than fear and obligation. Coming from a dysfunctional background, it must be like walking into a mirror universe.
(The above paragraph has been updated in bold with Lee @4’s suggestions. Thanks to her and Pvt_Prvt @2 for highlighting my over-generalizations, and I apologize to anyone whom they hurt or made feel uncomfortable.)
It’s inevitable that the skillsets of people who grew up amidst dysfunction will be similarly out of synch. The transition from the old to the new is only partly geography; the real challenge is moving out of the habits and reflexes that made it possible to survive an abusive situation. We often talk about this transformation in the negative: not doing this destructive thing, not listening to that tape. And all of that is hugely important.
But if thriving is a different thing than surviving, how does a survivor start? How does someone build a new, functional self on a shaky foundation? What are the tools, tricks and habits to acquire to not just exist in this new world, but blossom in it?
And can a person still in the old situation lay the foundations for those skills, tuck them away like linens in a hope chest for a better future?
This is part of the sequence of Dysfunctional Families discussions. We have a few special rules, specific to the needs and nature of the conversations we have here.
Previous posts (note that comments are closed on them to keep the conversation in one place):