Week 12: ARP (Trait #1 Family of Origin Dysfunction)

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Over ten posts I’m going to reveal and describe the 10 common traits in partners of Asshats/Toxic People. This week we have:

Trait #1 — A Generational Susceptibility to Toxic People

Like all forms of abuse, from the minor … unpredictability and inconsistency, to the most extreme … traumatic physical/sexual abuse … cycles of abuse are passed down generation to generation.

Those of us who come from generations of emotionally abusive or toxic people are either going to become an abuser or become susceptible to one.

And toxic/narcissistic men and women can somehow smell our doormat-ishness from a country mile away.

I come from a long line of women and men who loved toxic people. My family of origin dysfunction:

  1. My paternal great-grandmother was married to a raving alcoholic who never came home from work on weeknights, but stayed home on weekends to get blotto. He terrified his children so much they hid under the house.
  1. My paternal grandfather was a kind man who, unfortunately, had an inveterate gambling addiction. This forced my dad to start working at the age of seven. No matter how much money my dad earns, it will never be enough to make him feel safe.
  1. My maternal grandmother was married to a dyed-in-the-wool skirt-chaser who would be married a total of seven times before he took his last breath.
  1. My first stepfather, Nick, seems to be the template from which I drew my two longterm toxic relationships.

Nick spent much of his marriage to my mom lying, cheating and just generally being a moody bastard who got mad at her for being mad at him when he behaved like an Asshat.

My mother was so devastated by the end of that marriage that she could no longer take care of me and I moved in permanently with my dad at age ten.

This set me up for major — as cheesy as this sounds — abandonment issues.

Despite my ancestors’ best efforts, by the time I came of Dating Age I’d absorbed inconsistency, neglect, lying, cheating, criticism and disrespect on a cellular level.

Because these behaviors were so familiar to me, because these behaviors felt like home, it became almost impossible for me to avoid toxic men and find real love.

Sometimes, relationships that feel “familiar” and like “home” are poisonous.

If you come from generations of dysfunction you, too, may not be able to determine what behavior is acceptable.

Those of us with a lineage of dysfunction often have many of the other traits that make us susceptible to toxic people and I’ll be writing about those in coming weeks, so stay tuned.

If you like, opt-in to Shannon’s weekly newsletter and you can start at the beginning of these Asshat Recovery Program posts HERE.

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