PREVIOUS: Denial & acting out
SEE: “ACoAs Getting Controlled” (1 & 2)
1. ACoA SILENCE
ACoAs are more than reluctant to speak up for ourselves. We hold it in & hold it in, then eventually explode at others, OR implode – into illness, depression & isolation.
We’re equally mute with people WHO:
• are actually abusive, whether they know it & don’t care, or have no idea what effect they’re having
• we just think are hurting us by something they said or by not reading our minds (giving us what we need without us having to ask for it), but they’re really not – they’re just pushing a button in us
• are not being abusive at all, but we’re afraid of hurting their feelings, scaring them away or -god forbid- make them angry at us!
Validation – We may need sane sources to help us identify ‘who did what’ but don’t go to the Perp. They deny or confuse. Al-Anon stresses “Detach! Let go” – with love, with hate, with humor… any way possible!
You wouldn’t demand that a person blind from birth should see colors! Don’t chase abusers – for anything, especially to admit they’re wrong!
a. The “Don’t talk” rule (they = parents / community
• what’s going on in the family, don’t air dirty laundry – it’s no one else’s business (family shame = family secrets)
• what you need & want, since they can’t or don’t want to provide them
• what you think about anything – unless they agree completely
• what you feel emotionally – they don’t want to hear it, they’re already in enough pain & don’t know how to deal with it, so don’t need yours too!
• your personal opinions, values & observations – if they don’t fit in with the family line (the ‘story’ created about the tribe we all belong to).
🤐 No matter how twisted, it’s our family & we protect it at all costs. These messages prevent some ACoAs from going to 12-Step programs &/or therapy – seeing it as disloyalty.
Of course most people don’t want to ‘be in trouble’ with others, so we learn what’s appropriate to say or not say, especially in public.
But for ACoAs it’s always about FoA (fear of abandonment). Even as adults we’re afraid of unpleasant reactions from others – when they get angry at, dislike, make fun of – or worse – ignore us!
• Our co-dependence (needing others’ good-will to feel OK about ourselves) makes us do anything we can to prevent others from expressing any disapproval, which will set off our S-H. The WIC believes: “I’m so unlovable, no one really likes me & sooner or later will leave – unless I make them like me, or else I’ll die”.
MOST of how people respond has nothing to do with us – but the child’s narcissism takes everything personally, & anything that seems like an abandonment feel like punishment, rather than someone else just having their own feelings & opinions, OR acting out their damage. So we think silence is safer. SITE: From Parent-Pleasing to People-Pleasing
Another reason we’re silent is the brain-washing we received growing up. We were trained so thoroughly to ignore what we heard, saw & experienced – that we end up not seeing many things that are in front of us (”What insult?”), misreading a situation (“I’m sure they hate me”) or being unable to respond to a painful comment (“I wish I had said…..”).
• No matter how articulate some of us are when we’re comfortable, there are times we get emotional brain-freeze.
It’s so-o-o frustrating that when we’re with someone who is being inappropriate, mean, insulting…. it triggers a childhood wound & we instantly shut down with terror, the reminder of family abuse in total control.
At that moment we’ve lost our internal computer screen – it goes blank & we can’t think & talk. Yet a minute later, when we’re alone, the computer comes back on automatically & we know what we should have said! Darn, darn!
SITE: Emotional Complexity (Habituation, Inhibition, Constriction…..)
NEXT: Dealing with Abusers (Part 2)