ACoAs & Emotions (Part 1)

acoa Es 

& you can’t make me!

Previous: Parrott’s Emotions List

REMINDER: See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

REVIEW: The Body & Emotions & Identifying Emotions


Those DREADED Emotions (Es) !
• ACoAs definitely believe all emotions are a bad thing. When asked what’s going on with us, or how we’re feeling, ACoAs usually fail to mention Es. We’ll talk around them, over & under, but never hit the bulls-eye.  We’re terrified of them like mice are afraid of cats.  We treat our Es as if they were a wild beast inside that has to be locked away in a deep dark dungeon.

• Then we wonder why we can’t get out of bed, always feel like the outsider, feel so alone, don’t get along with others, have panic attacks….. Emotions that are ignored have sneaky ways of showing up in disguise. BUT those ways (listed throughout this blog) are the symptoms that provide vital information we can use to reverse-engineer events that distress us. Then we can make the necessary corrections

• Without enough healing, ACoAs are clearly not happy campers, having lived with depression most of life – even if we don’t show it on the outside.  It’s not surprising, since our dysfunctional families indicated in thousands of direct & indirect ways that we should never object to being hurt by them, and then not express any pain from their abused & neglected! (“Stop your whimpering. You’re such a baby. You’re just too sensitive!”). They didn’t give us much to be happy about, but they also didn’t want us to hold them accountable. So we learned: “DON’T FEEL”!healthy combo

IMP: What they never told us was that 💗 it’s not intrinsically bad to have Emotions but were simply unacceptable to them, because:
they didn’t experience love & nurturing, so could not give it to us
• they had no clue how to cope with their own problems, much less be there for us. The responsibility of parenting terrified them

• if one or more parent had chronic mental or physical illness, or who were overly dramatic themselves, there was clearly no room for our needs or feelings
• never having dealt with their wounded Es as adults, they shoved them under the carpet & demanded we do the same.
An infant’s first ‘language’ is that of intense emotions. Only after that did we learn to use words! This combination would be a constant irritant to parents who already felt too much OR didn’t want to feel at all – our emotions & needs acting like sandpaper. They had to shut us up!

• our needs as children enraged them because they wanted all the attention for themselves
• some parent & teachers delighted in hurting & humiliating us, & had no intention of giving us comfort or validation (did you catch one of them smirking when you cried?)
✶ One tender soul remembers her mother, the heartless narcissist, saying with a sneer: “I’m so glad I’m not sensitive like you & your father!”

As a result:  muted Es
• many ACoAs have a limited range of Es they are aware of, much like only being able to play 2 or 3 notes on a full piano keyboard – such as anger & disdain, fear & guilt, loneliness & desperation…. even tho there are many more available on both scales

• some have so many Es we can hardly breathe, acting them out all over the place or hiding under the covers as much as possible, always in ‘suffering mode’, which makes us wish we were like the other ones – numb

• others of us have intense Es without consciously knowing it OR being able to identify them by name – not associating certain physical sensations with actual emotions, but tending to be cranky & exhausted

NEXT: ACoAs & Emotions (Part 2)

7 thoughts on “ACoAs & Emotions (Part 1)

  1. […] So eloquently written and resonated so much for me. I DON’T WANT TO FEEL ANYTHING – & you can’t make me! Previous: Parrott’s Emotions List You know the 3 Laws of an alcoholic system, right?  “Don’t Talk, Don’t Think, Don’t Feel”  & the ‘greatest’ of them is – the last one! Those Dreaded Es! • ACoAs definitely believe emotions are a bad thing. When asked what’s going on with them, or how they’re feeling, ACoAs usually fail to mention their emotions. We’ll talk around them, over & under, … Read More […]


  2. Much of this sounds familiar. My mother is probably narcissistic mostly, and I guess heterosexual but dislikes men. So when we phone she talks about her stuff, sometimes manages to ask after me and mine, but rapidly diverts back by claiming she has got whatever much worse.


  3. That’s so painful – we are alone even when we’re with them – maybe more so. We futilely keep trying to put our ‘male plug’ into their non-existent ‘female-socket’ – like shoving it against a blank wall & bending the prongs! Not trying to be heard or seen by them is the answer, but leaves us aware of the emptiness.


  4. Yup, in my early world if you showed weakness you were the family “target” for the evening, week, even longer sometimes. It was ritual entertainment for them. God forbid you cried, my parents would cackle like hyenas at what they called “a good one” (getting you to cry) and then it would really start. As “target” anything went – they even encouraged my brother and I to attack each other verbally and physically to some degree. The only defense was to act like it didn’t bother you. No matter what. Soooo, needless to say I still have an uncomfortable relationship with my emo’s, but its getting a lot better, and I feel 🙂 like I have a pressure valve that works these days. Funny, but it was a big deal to even acknowledge my feelings for them, I’ll keep it polite here and those feelings aren’t nice ones but they are real and understandable.


  5. I sent an email to you recently regarding skype or phone therapy — you had discussed this with my wife, Kathy Gower recently, and it seemed a possibility. We live in France; tried a British therapist locally, but he was behaviourist, which is not my cup of tea. ( I was a registered psychodrama psychotherapist until retiring, with further training in psychodynamic approaches, worked in the NHS as a psych. nurse) Did you see the email?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.