PREVIOUS: Being visible #2
AS ADULTS (cont.)
EXP: Zoe was an only child, raised mainly by a deranged alcoholic father from the age of 5, with the ‘help’ of her grandmother (until her death) for the next 5 yrs. Joe had once been a prominent business man, who lost everything because of his severe alcohol addiction, monumental self-loathing & a hatred of women. Early on he had divorced his wife Sara as an unfit mother & bribed a judge to gain custody of Zoe (so he wouldn’t be alone!).
After that Joe never allowed her any contact with her mother. As he slipped deeper into the bottle, especially after his own mother died, they ended up on welfare, with no one to help Zoe deal with his paranoia & gradual psychosis. In addition to daily torturing her with his hatred & twisted thinking, Joe also systematically poisoned Zoe against Sara with half-true ‘horror’ stories.
He claimed Sara was stalking them & that if she ever got a hold of Zoe she would severely harm her. Actually, Sara was trying to connect with her daughter, but it turned out that she was an alcoholic too.
Joe so convinced his daughter of being in mortal danger that she spent many years trying to be as invisible as possible, wearing no makeup, bland clothes & plain draggy hair – always looking over her shoulder so she wouldn’t be kidnapped.
A few years after High School & some years into weekly therapy she began attending Al-Anon meetings, where she met another beginner & they formed an instant bond – Zoe acting out of her Child’s Child ego state (very bright but naive) & Jenny from her Child’s Parent E.S. (very protective but controlling).
In many ways Jenny was the opposite of Zoe – dramatic, tall, well dressed, outspoken, well-educated & traveled, with a more conventional family, but with a lot of early trauma from several sources.
They spent most of their time talking about their background, the ways they had been damaged, & Recovery. But their Inner Children also had a lot of fun playing – going places, being silly, running down the street giggling, being loud, funny & verbally clever.
The POINT: One day Jenny was reflecting on all the details of Zoe’s past & how she was still ‘hiding’ from her mother, as well as from herself & the world. HOWEVER, it struck her that Zoe (at 5’5”) was not doing a very good job of it since: her boyfriend of many years was 6’8” !! AND she was hanging out with the flamboyant Jenny! Clearly she was extremely visible – to all but herself!
STYLES of INVISIBILITY
ACoAs start out functioning from a False Self. We obediently hide the real one behind Toxic Roles, the most invisible being the Lost Child. The other 3 seem to be ‘out’ but are actually protecting a secret sense of weakness, vulnerability & insecurity, which we often deny even to themselves. Based on our native personality, we can fall into different categories:
a. Some are idealistic daydreamers, going along with everything & everyone – insisting that other people are OK & everyone is ‘nice’, especially when they treat us badly. We ignore their abuses & hide our anger & hurt behind a smile. We are trying to be the ‘good boy/girl’ to not make waves…..
b. …. others are shrinking violets, hiding our light ‘under a bushel’, either doing very little with our life, OR being really good at things that are not our soul’s purpose & passion. Either way keeps us from the fear losing what feels most important – no risk – no loss!
c. ….. while others are the daredevil/ superstar type, “addicted to excitement”, who fall into several categories, including: showing off (performing), making lots of money (corporate) & ‘letting it all hang out’ (reality shows), being gangsters &/or flamboyant addicts.
Being ‘seen’ in these ways come from narcissism, self-hate, lack of boundaries & need for external approval – rather than expressing an authentic Self – which is still mostly invisible.
NEXT: ACoAs being visible #4