What results is a spiderweb-like structure that restrains everyone and keeps them enmeshed with each other. This kind of symbiotic family system fosters beliefs, values, judgements and myths that support the structure and provides an apparent united front to present to the world.
Rebellion and other attempts to become independent from the system are usually countered with shame, humiliation, physical abuse, withdrawal of love and threats of abandonment. The system is reinforced by promises of oneness and security; with pride, egotism and superficial attention or approval.
Family members often describe this enmeshment as an overwhelming experience of suffocation and loss of individual identity. There usually is no space for separateness in this kind of system.
Everything the members do is designed to help perpetuate the family system, not the individual.
The co-dependent family operates much the same as the codependent stage of relationship in which there is enmeshment of feelings, problems, thoughts, dreams and needs, except that it involves more than two people. Each person's individual psychology is present in a codependent family, but he or she is unable to identify with it or to claim it,.
When you make the decision to change yourself and your life, you are in effect deciding to leave the collective mind and be different. This process, which Carl Jung called, "individuation" is really a very natural task of separating yourself from the chaos and confusion of your family, especially from your parents.
This may see like a perfectly logical and appropriate thing to do, however your family may be unhappy with you for you are upsetting the family enmeshment and balance.
The family spiderweb is likely to collapse and this will trigger everyone's fears to try to stop you.
Fuzziness about ownership originates in infancy when the child isn't able to respond very well, so the mother, father, and siblings do the responding. This pattern of responding turns into rescuing when the child becomes old enough to be responsible. This prolonged care reinforces passivity.
You may find them using the old enforcement tools of shame, withdrawal of love etc. even more to keep you "in your place."
They definitely will not let go of you easily.
Often outside support is critical at this time, for you may indeed begin to doubt your own sanity.
Friends, therapists and group members as invaluable as allies who can help you deal with the family's parting 'shots.' People who have not built in an external support system prior to leaving find getting out much more difficult.
Breaking Free of the Codependency Trap ~ Weinhold & Weinhold