QUOTES: “Combinatory play seems to be the essential feature in productive thought.” Albert Einstein
“If you want creative workers, give them enough time to play” John Cleese
ACoAs ‘NOT KNOWING’ what we like, or How to Play
1. Having a parent who was:
• a drunk – whether active, hung over or temporarily dry – they weren’t paying attention to who we were or what we liked (no mirroring)
• angry at having to be a parent at all, so we were left us too much alone, with little guidance to figure things out for ourselves – way too young
• immature & needy, who overtly or by default expected us to take care of them, so their needs & wants became our only concern
• so depressed/ sick/ scared…. making the atmosphere heavy, gloomy
• overbearing, who demanded, coerced, manipulated or shamed us into only wanting/ liking what they did, so we never learned what our tastes are
• was mentally ill (especially it was the mother), with chaos, great neglect & depression. He/she couldn’t be a role model for sane thinking – so we didn’t learn to process info correctly, have options, think for ourselves or know our feelings & preferences
• died or went away (by divorce or deliberate disappearance), & the remaining one was too overwhelmed &/or busy working to pay attention, so we didn’t get to interact enough with a adult, much less a safe one
2. Re. Siblings – IF:
• one (or more) died before we were born, it was held up as the perfect model no other child could compete with
• one was always a bully, abusive, demanding
• one was physically or mentally ill, their problems the main parental focus
• one was a parental favorite, only what they liked had value (‘golden child’)
• we had to care for younger ones, only their needs counted
3. We Were:
• blatantly discouraged from taking any time for ourselves, to relax
• belittled for not knowing how to do something correctly – the 1st time! which made us reluctant to try anything new, assuming we’re incapable of learning (too stupid) or that we’ll be punished & ridiculed
• rarely or never given the opportunity to do leisure activities as a kid
• so preoccupied with keeping the family from falling apart, that we felt guilty if we had a rest or took time to do something we enjoyed
• not allowed our emotions at all, or only certain ones we acceptable (being ‘up’ , being sullen or angry), so we had to shut down both painful feelings as well as our joy
• left alone so much which felt abandoned & depressed, not motivated to entertain ourselves – except perhaps as a form of escaping painful emotions – not an an ingredient for having fun!
• too anxiety-ridden to play – fearful, worried, confused, lost AND simply not allowed to relax & have a god time!
• no one in the family bothered to play with us, or show us the way by example, unless it was unhealthy – going out on the town while leaving us alone, drunken parties at home that ended in verbal &/or physical fights, being unfaithful, hanging out with their buddies…..
• Certain ‘leisure’ activities – that are supposed to be play or fun – were poisoned because they were forced on us – by parents, teachers, leaders, mates…
Were you forced to practice an instrument? have sex with an inappropriate person you were supposed to trust (& you hated) ? take sports lessons you weren’t suited for or not interested in?
OR did you have a limitation or disability which was made fun of in gym, on the playground, at home?
PLAY is a necessary & normal part of childhood that we were deprived of OR which became connected to some type of pain.
NEXT: ACoAs & PLAY-ing (Part 5)