ACoAs & Boundary Distortion (Part 2)

no one cares 

because nobody cares about me

PREVIOUS: ACoAs & B. Distortion (Part 1)

 ▪︎ Genogram explained


PARENTS with distorted Bs
don’t know how to connect with their children in a fair & balanced way.  In Boundaries – Defined”, we saw they can be either intrusive or uninvolved Then children are either:

a. Being watched: Some of us grew up with an intrusive parent who needed to control everything & everyone in their environment (not just their kids). They were always on our back about something, overly critical, perfectionistic & boundary-less – sticking their nose in our business when we needed respect & some privacy. This was not a sign of loving concern!

• As a result these ACoAs continue to feel a creepy sense of having a camera over one shoulder – always judging, criticizing… assuming everyone else is also watching, watching, watching – waiting for our next ‘stupidity’ or mistake

d's mouseEXP: Sophie is 5 & it’s the first day of kindergarten. Her mother is fussing, worried that her daughter won’t behave perfectly, which will make the family look bad, & she won’t be there in person to make sure….

She gives all sorts of instructions – how to sit, what to say, what NOT to say…. Sophie is already scared & now she’s overwhelmed, so all she can do is stare. As they leave the house she hears her mother say – almost to her self: “I wish I could be a little mouse on the wall !”

• Sophie’s on her own for the first time, in a big room with other kids, all sitting in their little chairs, listening to the teacher – except for Sophie who is anxiously looking around the bottom edges of the walls, actually expecting to see a little mouse watching her from its hole, maybe with her mother’s eyes!

b. Being ignored: Other parents left us adrift – too much alone, unsupervised, unguided. Yet even as small children we were expected to know how to behave, & participate correctly in all sorts of social events, without being taught directly or setting a proper example. And they were oblivious to the burden they put on us!

One result is that externally – ACoAs we don’t have Bs with others, & internally – we haven’hiding in publict learned to set Bs with ourselves, so we do whatever the WIC feel like, no matter how unhealthy, using the unsuccessful way to get needs met (needs we’re not supposed to have!)

Another result is that many of us who were neglected, are uncomfortable in public, especially with groups. We feel ill-equipped to socialize, sure we don’t know what to say or how to act. We watch other people to see how they manage, & even though we’re great mimics, we still don’t trust ourselves to be acceptable. Extroverts will at least try but feel inadequate, & introverts don’t even bother!

EXP: Sheila was a bright, sensitive girl, living in a family that moved many times because of her father’s career. A talkative extrovert, she’d grown up mainly in the company of adults, so even tho there always were people around, she was very much alone.  She was expected to be sociable, charming, well-behaved & polite to the grown-ups, but she was deeply lonely, angry & hurt.

To cope, she found escape & solace in all kinds of books (before internet & cell phones) – in the library after school, reading while walking down the street!!, under the covers at night….
Once, when her mother wanted her full attention she commented sarcastically: “I can see it all now – you’ll be reading a book as you walk down the aisle!”

PS: Obviously, the mother’s passive-aggressive anger was showing:
a. her unconscious abandonment buttons got triggered
b. her narcissism kicked in, since she didn’t see what was “so interesting”
c. she was oblivious to her daughter’s need for comfort & a buffer when with her controlling mother
d. her lack of intellectual interest was obvious, or she would have encouraged the girl’s passion for knowledge

EXT: Boundary Distortion (Part 3)

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