BOOKs: Genograms links
TRYING TO LEAVE a dysfunctional system (cont)
• For many recovering ACoAs the process of outgrowing our childhood damage is hard enough, but often we have the added burden of dealing with reactions from family & long-time friends who don’t want us to change. We need to be prepared for being ignored, attacked, even disowned by some, when we rock to boat.
We’re dislodging the precariously constructed patchwork of these long-standing relationships. This scares everyone – our Inner Child and our family, lover & friends – so we can expect internal backlash & external complaints, anywhere from whining or guilting, to outrage, to punishment!
• In Social Psychology, researchers have used animals to study how we learn (think Pavlov’s dogs), including birds. EXP: once a pigeon had learned to peck at a lever to get a pellet of food each time, the scientists began withholding the food in stages to see what would happen (how we un-learn). The bird had to peck 2…6…10…. times to get just one pellet. As the food became scarcer the bird began to peck more & more frantically – to get its reward. Eventually, as the food was dispensed rarely & then not at all, the bird finally stopped trying
• We notice a similar pattern in symbiotic families – they can’t tolerate the loss of a member, so they too become frantic. At first they try whatever they can think of to hook us back into the fold – guilting, shaming, getting sick, attacking, begging…. BUT the most dangerous tactic is when the anxious parents say “But we loooove you! we want to hear from you, we miss you….” sometimes sent with cute cards. Anything but giving us space, especially id we’ve asked for some ‘time out’!
✶ It’s important to remember that – even though our parents may genuinely believe they feel love for us, for the most part it’s a narcissistic love! It’s all about THEM – their need to keep up the fantasy of being good parents, their fear of being alone, their sense of identity, their image in their community, their overt or covert demand to be taken care of….
If their love had been healthy, they would have treated us very differently to start with! See: ‘They did the best they could’
• These maneuvers are seductive because ACoAs are so desperate to hear that we’re wanted & loved, AND we can’t stand feeling the guilt of upsetting others, especially family. Under such pressure we often find it easier to fall back into the toxic whirlpool. If we’re in Recovery and we do succumb, even temporarily —
— afterward, maybe for days or weeks, we may end up paying for that moment of illusion by being depressed, crashing down into S-H & hopelessness, getting physically sick, feeling suicidal…. having gone bak to the hardware store for a loaf of bread, because the WIC still wants to believe it’s part of a loving family.
Eventually we start to see the truth & have to mourn the loss of our fantasy – again – the false hope that some day, somehow magically they will be healthy & kind. They rarely do & that HURTS!
• BUT if we steadfastly persist on the path to PMES Health, in most cases the family’s desperate grabbing will stop, or at least abate a great deal. Someone once said in Al-Anon (not officially): “This program will fuck up your fucked-up-ness”.
So the longer we stay in Recovery, the harder it is to tolerate those fractured ways of interacting. Because of that, when we do re-engage with anyone in the old familiar style, we can:
— observe the noxious quality of it more easily – being less in denial, & armed with new info, validation & support
— feel the pain, sadness, anger & disappointment in our whole body, of how empty, shallow & abusive the relationships really are & always have been! WITHOUT S-H!
NEXT: B Distortions- #5