Differentiation vs. Annihilation

Differentiation vs. Annihilation 
Second in a four part series.

According to the New Milan Dictionary:

Differentiation:  “To distinguish oneself as different from another.”

Annihilation:  “To make something go away as though it didn’t exist.”

Healthy relationships and secure connection is characterized by a freedom felt by both partners be an individual.

Secure connection means we celebrate each partner or child being entitled to live up to their uniqueness and to have their own individual flare.

If I’m securely bonded, I can tolerate and allow others to think, act and feel differently about life and love than me.

As soon as I begin to disallow difference, the extinction of my partner begins and eventually, they are annihilated.

Last week we learned that “Sadly, many family systems and marriages toxically annihilate one another on a regular basis.

Few family systems and marriages allow and celebrate other’s being different.

Whether its politics, colors on the living room walls, how the dishwasher is loaded or a desk organized, we all have a tendency to insist that others think, do, feel and say the same way that we do.”

We also learned last week that insecurity  was the cause for people being so controlling over others, whether as parents or as married partners.

We said, “There is a lack of security on the parts of both people.

For the one who must make other’s opinions and actions “go away”, their anxiety causes them to be unable to tolerate differences because they threaten their fragile inner world and cause them to be frightened in some way.

For the one whose personhood is being erased, they struggle with internal fears to speak up and be heard so that they are not invisible.
They are afraid of the wrath and ire of another’s disapproval.”

So, what is the origin of our insecurities? 

Of course, the ultimate answer is sin … “a missing of the mark”.

We all fall short (Romans 3:23; 6:23), and if we are honest with ourselves, we feel tenuous and apprehensive about life, love and relationship.

Yet, before we became adults, our parents influenced us and gave us our first “love lessons” which were the tipping point in our early lives.

We were either tipped toward security if we had A or B moms and dads or we were tipped toward insecurity if our parents got a C, D or F in the parenting department.

We’re all insecure in some way and no parent is perfect, yet some parents are more inept than others, which is directly proportionally to their own injurious childhoods.

What are the key mistakes that these early programmers make in their parenting?

It is often one of two extremes…  “enmeshment” or “unavailability”.

For some of us, our parents were both.

What is enmeshment?

It is a state of intrusion into another’s life.

Too close, in your face or no breathing room.

“See me, hear me, pay attention to me, don’t leave me, tell me everything, stay close, do what I say.”

A client recently said, “I loved my little child so much, I wanted to just kiss them and kiss them and suck them dry.”



One parent I watched on a TV show actually went to school with the child as much as she could and while every other mom sat on the bench and watched their children play on the climbing equipment at the park, she would be climbing and hovering over her child’s every step.

He couldn’t move without her ever-watchful gaze.

To her she was just being loving and caring.

In reality, she was creating a cripple.

The child in turn becomes enmeshed with the parent and becomes a caretaker of their emotions… carefully observing the moods and attitudes of the parent and doing everything possible to ease the distress of the mom or dad.

The end result is that the child never learns to develop their own coping skills or stress responses that allow for self-soothing.

Instead of being free to contemplate God, one’s own soul as well as other people, interests and education, each is insecurely gazing at the other, anxiously waiting, wondering and guessing.

The process of annihilation of the child has begun.

What happens when this child grows up and gets married?

Not too hard to figure out.

So, are you going to become a transitional generation to break the cycle?

Be encouraged!

God is a redemptive God who wishes to transform us with each obedient step that we take (Romans 12:1-2).

Love and blessings,
Milan and Kay