PREVIOUS: Double Messages, Part 7
1. Many of us grew up drowning in Double Messages (DMs). Being raised in this kind of atmosphere we know no other way to connect with others, & use this style of communicating in all our relationships, especially the intimate ones. So if we’re serious about Personal Growth & taking responsibility for our patterns, it’s important to see how this all plays out
Childhood EXP: In many alcoholic families, where the addict (& most everyone else) is/are in total denial – if one of the kids has the nerve to complain about or object to the harmful effects of the drinking, the alcoholic (& others) will label them as THE problem, rather than the addiction, because that kid is disrupting the family’s fragile mobile (Post: B. Distortions, #1).
Then they’re forced into either being an enabler OR withdraw & eventually leave the family. Either way – everyone loses.
Adult EXP: 2 clients who both attended 12-Step meetings were going to the same psychologist – separately. At some point they started dating.
> Sarah didn’t tell the therapist right away, but instead asked his opinion about seeing someone in the Program. The reply was that it was not a great idea, especially in the first year of attendance. Sarah finally came out with the whole story but concluded: “I get it, you just don’t want me to date Chuck!”
> After a few weeks Sarah was complaining in session about all the problems with Chuck. She said in angry accusation: “So why didn’t you warn be against seeing him? Aren’t you supposed to be helping me?”
>> AND there was the DM: The therapist was bad for “preventing” and bad for “not preventing”.
However, he didn’t get caught, but pointed out the Double Bind she had created so she wouldn’t have to own her decision or deal with the stress of two WICs trying to have an adult relationship!
PS: the 2 clients did marry AND eventually divorced.
PARENTAL DM – forced on the Hero, or the Introvert / Sensitive child
THEY SAY (or imply):
A. Incompetence : Be dysfunctional, like us (so we don’t feel so alone)
• parents (& later our PP) want us to be exactly like THEM: fearful, self-hating, stuck, not risking, depressed, powerless, OR controlling, angry, limited, paranoid ….
• and they spend a lot of time putting us down, pounding into us all the things we can NOT do, & how lazy, weak, wrong, selfish & over-sensitive we are
B. Competence : Be functional, like we wish we were (so you can take care of us)
• we must make them feel safe, not feel abandoned, fix them, be their parent
• and, have to be: > competent, able to take risks, be perfect!
> have backbone, fight for them, save them from themselves
> be really smart & use all our knowledge (but only for THEM)
C. Be in Denial. You’ve heard: “I never said that! , How dare you speak to me that way?! , Stop complaining, after all I’ve sacrificed for you!…. ”
They won’t tolerate questioning or objections to how they’re treating us, insisting that we’re ungrateful, making things up, being defiant, ‘difficult’, spoiled…. (DENY, deny, deny what we’re doing to you)
➼ This DM forms the basis of our own DB – next post
OUR PAIN: They were our first role models. What kind of example did they set for us ? Kids absorb & imitate their parents, regardless. We imprint on them like ducklings! Yet all they left for us is fear & confusion.
• If they were capable of truly loving us, they would have wanted us to be happy, free & successful – for ourselves. So obviously they didn’t / couldn’t love us – not really! No matter how much we don’t want to hear that, the WIC knows!
Just because they say/said “I love you” doesn’t mean they do – except in some narcissistic way. Remember, if you had been truly loved, you could have ‘normal’ human insecurities, but NO self-hate!
HINT: *Healthy parental love is expressed in many ways, but most of all by being Nurturing. Children can only develop self-esteem if they feel truly loved by their parents. And that can only happen if parents have the capacity to be loving, kind, supportive, rational, available, sober…. not just give lip service.
NEXT: ACoAs & Self DBs, Part 8b