PREVIOUS: ACoAs & Emotions #1
I CAN ALWAYS THINK OF WHAT TO SAY
after they walk away!
REMINDER: What they never told us was that 💗 it’s not intrinsically bad to have Emotions
WHY DO WE HATE having emotions so-o-o much?
• we expect to be made fun of, ignored or physically punished for expressing them (“I’ll give you something to cry about!”)
• we were taught that Es are unacceptable (either specific ones or all), & we want to be ‘good’, obeying family rules as a sign of loyalty & love
• some ACoAs want to stay connected to a particular parent by copying their resistance or inability to feel
• others are determined to be the exact opposite of a dramatic or emotionally out-of-control parent
• we were never taught the healthy way to identify & deal with Es when they surfaced, so we’re convinced they’ll ‘drown’ us
• MOST of ALL – we were never comforted when in pain & had no way to process our Es, so they accumulated in our unconscious, & now we’re terrified of opening ‘Pandora’s Box’
• Unfortunately our culture reinforces the ‘don’t feel’ rule by telling us that:
— Es are not ‘rational’, so they can’t be relied on to tell us anything real or useful
— it’s not sophisticated, strong or admirable to be ‘emotional’ (to cry or get too upset, no matter how terrible the situation!)
a. DELAYED Reactions
ACoAs are notoriously slow to catch how we feel emotionally – having a delayed reaction to all kinds of encounters & events, pleasurable or not. We may not realize them for a few days, weeks, even years!
We do have emotions about most things, but we:
• learned early in life to deny them
• became so numb we don’t consciously know what they are
• have such negative beliefs about actually having Es
• are afraid to feel too much, because the WIC thinks it’ll kill us (or the ‘sensitive one in the family)
• never learned how to deal with uncomfortable or unacceptable Es
b. OVER / UNDER -Reactions
ACoAs IRONY: On the one hand we’re shut down, especially on those terrifying childhood Es. On the other hand we have intense emotional reactions (a melt down, blow up, fall apart, get suicidal…), to what people say or how they act to or around us.
The 2 extremes are inextricably linked:
• the more we have to sit on ALL painful Es, the more they get backed up & then Vesuvius blows
• since we’re not allowed to actually have Es, we can’t admit to having them (too ashamed), so we can’t really feel them. Then HOW can we possibly process the pain, anger, sadness, loneliness, terror….? to get them out, sharing them, getting comfort & understanding???
We hate being told we’re being too dramatic about something others think is minor or trivial, because we think that means:
• we don’t have a right to be upset
• we caused our own problem, & so deserve to be punished, belittled, not respected
• that the hurtful person or situation is being let off the hook, so we’ll never get fairness or revenge!
NONE of those are the case. Since “If it’s hysterical, it’s historical”, whenever our Es are out of proportion to an unpleasant current event, all we need to do is admit an unhealed wound is being ‘bumped’ up against.
About Over-reacting (cont):
• Intense Es comes from the WIC, who thinks we’re still powerless to stop being controlled & abused
• Getting so upset by other people’s words & deeds means we’re still taking things personally
• It’s a clear indicator that a specific button is being pushed in us. This is useful info to cut thru denial & help with growth. The emotion is the only proof we need about the abuse
THEN – with we can use the awareness to validate the kid’s pain, as we get another glimpse into past suffering, & stop blaming ourselves for feeling loneliness & grief
NEXT: ACoAs & Es (Part 3)