Let’s Talk

What Is Enmeshment?

Q. Would you please address more about enmeshment and boundary issues?

A. Let’s Talk! Here’s how to “draw” enmeshment. Draw two circles side by side. Now move them even closer where the sides don’t just touch, they cross over the boundary of the other circle and create a shared space. That’s us when we become too entrenched in another person’s life.

It may sound like a good thing to be close and to care deeply for another person – but when the connection goes way outside the normal range, the relationship is not healthy emotionally.

That space can be a minimal or large area, but each enmeshed person has now lost some of his/her own individuality. In enmeshment, the problems of one person become the emotional burden for the other. Even the joys. Enmeshment is a codependency of the heart because your joy is all about and dependent on how the other person is functioning. If this person in your life is okay, you’re okay. If the individual is not okay, you are not okay.

Enmeshment is not two whole and healthy people sharing life – it’s two halves! Think about this: Which is a healthier relationship, a 50-50 relationship or a 100-100 relationship? Two emotionally whole people connecting and communicating is the goal, not two halves. It’s better math! It’s also interesting how a GOOD thing (a tight relationship) can go south. Many have shared with me the pain of enmeshment when their close relationship with someone got TOO close. I welcome your thoughts on how enmeshment has affected you.

For Deeper Reflection

Take some time in the next day or so to read Psalm 139. The plan for our lives is to be individuals, fearfully and wonderfully made.

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.
You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com

Let’s Talk

About Relationships, Boundaries, and Listening

Q. Could you please share some more about healthy relationships and boundaries?

A. Let’s Talk! Healthy friends learn to listen well with their hearts, don’t give unasked-for advice, and have wise boundaries. They are not controlling or needy. . . let’s stop there for a bit.

One of the sentences I heard long ago that I have chewed on over the years is, “Codependent friends don’t have relationships – they take hostages!”

Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the expectations of a friend? Does a friend often take over your schedule — either not mindful of your time or disregarding your needs while focused on his or her needs only? Do your friends invite dialogue or do they want you to think like they do? Do your friends share you, or do they want you all to themselves? The list goes on, but you get the drift.

Another name for codependency is relationship addict. Where there has been emotional neglect or lack of emotional nurturing, that is the natural setup for looking for comfort in relationships/people. But! It’s a trap, isn’t it?

What’s the alternative? I believe the real cure is looking to God for what mankind just can’t give. People were never meant to fill up that hole in our hearts. Relationship dependency is a counterfeit of the real deal. We’ll talk more about healthy relationships in the next post.

For Deeper Reflection

2 Peter 2:19b, “For by what a man [or woman] is overcome, by this he [or she] is enslaved.

Helen B. McIntosh has a doctorate in counseling psychology and is a national board certified professional counselor and certified in reality therapy. An educator for 19 years, Dr. McIntosh is an author, a highly demanded national speaker and inventor of the Peace Rug®, an international curriculum for conflict resolution.

You can contact me confidentially at DrHelen@braveandresilient.com