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10 Signs of Toxic Family Enmeshment and How It May Impact You As An Adult

Signs Toxic Family Enmeshment Impact You As Adult

And it was true: if my mother wasn’t happy, everyone in the family felt it. If she was sad, we all felt sad. If she was angry, we all felt angry. I once remember witnessing how angry she was at being mistreated and feeling so angry myself that I was physically shaking and felt like I would explode. There were no clear lines, no clear boundaries, no clear sense of “me” or “mine.” Instead, the lines were vague, blurred, or non-existent. Individuality and personal sovereignty were in most cases rejected or shunned.

Later, as I entered a relationship with Mateo, I felt myself become consumed in the fires of romance. But this was not a healthy type of romance for me: it was a matter of life and death. I remember thinking, very early after leaving my fundamentalist Christian family that if Mateo were to leave me I would kill myself. I couldn’t stand the idea of not having him in my life.

Thankfully I have done a lot of inner work and soul-searching since then. I no longer see him as “completing me” but as complimenting me. Thanks to my intentional process of individuation, I now have a much stronger sense of self (although I still do struggle with taking responsibility for other people’s mess – that’s a work in progress).

Enmeshment has far-reaching and profound effects on our lives.

Related: The Narcissistic Family Tree: 12 Common Dynamics of a Dysfunctional Family

Here are 14 ways enmeshment may impact you as an adult:

1) You feel the need to rescue everyone around you.
2) You feel the need to be rescued.
3) You take responsibility for other people’s feelings, habits, and choices.
4) You can’t tell the difference between your emotions and the emotions of those around you.
5) You struggle to give yourself (or others close to you) personal space.
6) You feel like your partner “completes” you and without them, you would be nothing.
7) You get tangled up in the drama of other people’s lives easily.
8) You feel betrayed when someone close to you wants to do their own thing without you.
9) You define your worth by how useful you are to others.
10) You confuse obsession with care.
11) You don’t really know who you are (your sense of self is weak).
12) You easily lose your identity in the presence of others.
13) You don’t have many interests or hobbies outside of your family/friend/romantic relationships.
14) You might make other people responsible for your emotions (rather than taking responsibility yourself).

Stop and reflect. What is your response to the list of symptoms above? How do you feel when you read them? Take a few moments to breathe and tune into your body. Do any strong feelings emerge? If so, what are they? It’s normal to feel triggered by these symptoms if you struggle with enmeshment.

Want to know more about toxic family enmeshment? Check this video out below:

Toxic Family Enmeshment

How to Step into Your Power and Overcome Enmeshment

Here are a variety of practices you might like to explore to help strengthen your sense of self:

1. Be a detective: explore your own interests.

Finding out what you’re passionate about is an exciting path. Yes, you might feel a little confused or dazed at first, but keep persisting. Exploring interests outside of your relationships will give you more personal autonomy. More autonomy = a stronger sense of self = more personal empowerment.

Try researching hobbies online. Pay attention when anything catches your interest or when you would secretly like to do the same thing as another person. For example, I discovered my passion for alcohol ink after stumbling across a few beautiful pieces of art online. I then decided to invest in a small course and learn the basics, and later bought my own inks to experiment with

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Aletheia Luna

Aletheia Luna is an influential spiritual writer whose work has changed the lives of thousands of people worldwide. After escaping the religious sect she was raised in, Luna experienced a profound existential crisis that led to her spiritual awakening. As a spiritual counselor and professional writer, Luna's mission is to help others become conscious of their entrapment and find joy, empowerment, and liberation in any circumstance. See more of her work at lonerwolf.comView Author posts