I DON’T KNOW HOW TO PLAY –
only to be compulsive, never relaxed
PREVIOUS: ACoAs & Playing (#2)
💠 ACoA LAUNDRY LIST’s False Self related to PLAY
• One of the many sad results of having a traumatic childhood is that we were & are still deprived of the joy of relaxing thru playing & having fun. As a result of our damage we fall into several categories (lifestyles) which seem very different, but underneath each has the same problem – our WIC listening to the Negative Introject, believing the Toxic Rules:
“Life is hard / you have to suffer / you can’t play until all your work is done / no one wants to play with you anyway / if you don’t like it you have to stay / don’t be yourself / the world is a dangerous place / you always have to struggle, but never get there!…..”
a. ACoAs guess at what normal is
Here ‘Normal’ means healthy, as opposed to ‘average’. We don’t realize that playing, relaxing & having fun are a legitimate & important part of being healthy, happy & well-balanced. “All work & no play makes Jack a dull boy”.
There’s a tribe in Papua New Guinea that frowns on sex, & bans play. For years anthropologists have considered this tribe too dull to study, but finally someone did. Scholars still don’t know why the tribe developed this philosophy, but it’s certainly not one we should emulate! MORE…)
b. ACoAs have difficulty with intimate relationships
Everyone needs a certain degree of connection with other people, but the amount depends on one’s developmental stage, personality & on their current situation.
And while it’s perfectly normal & acceptable to play alone, playing with others requires a certain capacity for intimacy** to be ‘legitimate’ – since being in authentic play-mode means able to express the True Self without embarrassment or reservation.
This is not easy for ACoAs because our True Self got shrouded in shame & self-hate, making it hard for us to ‘let loose’ & let others get emotionally close to us. ACoAs are more likely to put others in double binds: “I hate you – Don’t leave me!” OR “I need you – Don’t touch me!”
**INTIMACY: (IN-TO-ME-YOU-SEE) refers to a level of closeness where you feel understood & validated. Genuine intimacy with someone requires honesty, communication, vulnerability & reciprocity.
In relating to others, it’s the ability to connect our ‘deepest nature’ with safe & appropriate others, because we know there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the Real Me, so we’re not afraid of letting it be seen
c. ACoAs take themselves very (too) seriously
While other children were busy learning to relate, compete, play & develop social skills, we were learning the tough lessons of survival. Many of us never heard our parents laughing, joking or fooling around (unless drunk!)
The air was heavy, filled with the invisible energy of suffering. Life was a hard business & the tone in our house put a damper on anyone enjoying themselves.
So if we did try to play or have fun we were guilted for wasting time OR punished for being frivolous & attacked for being ridiculous, making it stressful & terrifying.
d. ACoAs over-react to changes they can’t control
Genuine play allows us to be in the moment, not knowing the outcome, not having to win, be right or perfect, & not “forcing solutions”.
EXP: when children play, they often change the ‘rules’(which they made up in the first place) anytime they feel like it
Adult play doesn’t always have to follow pre-set rules either, sp they can be thrown out the window if it’s more fun to not use them. This is hard to allow ourself.
Children do need things to be stable & predictable in their every-day life, with clear rules & boundaries, something in very short supply in most dysfunctional homes. Chaos was the order of the day for us, so now we try to keep everything under tight control, which doesn’t fit in with playing. But PLAY is free-form.
NEXT: ACoAs & PLAY #4