This term, enmeshment, may be a new term to some. But in psychology, it is a concept that describes family relationships “where personal boundaries are diffused, sub-systems undifferentiated, and over-concern for others leads to a loss of autonomous development. Enmeshed in parental needs, trapped in a discrepant role function, a child may lose their capacity for self-direction; their own distinctiveness, under the weight of “psychic incest”;”
Enmeshment in families is extremely common but often goes unnoticed because it is not widely discussed. But one clear sign of being enmeshed in an unhealthy way to a family member or parent is if you feel extreme guilt or shame for trying to establish a life that is separate from someone else. This guilt may be enforced as a parent or family member shows sadness, anger, dissatisfaction, or some other emotion that can then manipulate you into changing your mind about becoming independent of them. As an adult, you begin to center your activities and lifestyle around making a family member or parent happy and you steer clear of anything that causes them to become disappointed with you.
If you find that this information is familiar to you, check out these articles below for more information on family/parental enmeshment and see if it helps give you more clarity as it has for me.
I have also attached audio to explain how I set healthy boundaries with family members to maintain my sense of independence and autonomy.
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