responsible??IT’S TOTALLY UP TO ME
to make everyone happy!

Re. book “Trauma & Recovery”


In its simplest form, Responsibility (R) is first of all : Honestly admitting, to ourself what we feel, think & have done – or – not. (T.E.A.).
It includes acknowledging both our limitations & our gifts, our ignorance & our knowledge. And if possible, always doing this without guilt, without judgment, without shame.  MOST of ALL – without self-hate.

ACoAs grew up with a great many cognitive distortions CDs , so it makes sense that we would carry them into our adult lives – as if they were the truth! One of these has to do with the issue of Responsibility (R).

FEAR of Responsibility 
For many ACoAs, R. is a dirty word, both an absolute requirement & a hated burden!  We take responsibility for others’ actions & emotions, while in many ways not being responsible for ourself, hating ourselves (S-H) for the very things that make us human.

We believe we MUST take care of others instead of ourself, or someone will die & it’ll be our fault.  We’re overwhelmed by the heavy weight of it but believe we can’t escape. We were not taught healthy R. – which is taking care of ourself – so we find convoluted ways to avoid self-care.

👼🏼 🫃🏽 CHILDHOOD ORIGINS,  creating our aversion to R (FoR)
1. “I tried to fix them so they’d be OK”
✦ To stop them from suffering & make them happier, AND
✦ To make them ‘well’ so they would stop hurting us…..
….. AND be able to take care of us, the way all children need

COMMENTS – We were forced to be responsible (R) for our unhappy, angry, crazy, drunk parents, & sometimes siblings & extended family members. Many of us had to be the ‘designated adult’ even when we were very little, because of the adults’ incompetence, selfishness & addictions. We got the RULE loud & clear “Everyone else’s needs are more important than mine”.

• We understood early on that they couldn’t cope, so we had to be R. for ourself, to not ‘bother them’, to be self-sufficient
• We felt a great burden to fix their problems, make them feel better, to give them what they wanted – even when it was presented in the form of Double Messages.
• We were R. for doing whatever they wanted, how they wanted it, yet having to figure it out alone, because they didn’t say, or changed the rules arbitrarily, endlessly confusing us

• We may have lived with one parent who was totally irresponsible & we swore to never be like that, AND/OR with an over-R. parent, which we copied. Yet, some of us may have resented the responsible one for being too controlling, & adored the careless one, for being charming.

2. “I failed to make them better & so to stop my pain
 It should never fall to a child to have to try healing their parents’ damage, in a role-reversal of being the little grownup
✦ No one can cause an adult to “heal & grow”. People can only improve their life if they’re willing to do the work required to change. In any case, it’s not something for a child to do, who needs to be cared for

COMMENTS: No matter how hard we tried we were never able to create a genuine improvement in our parents. This was devastating for us, because we needed them to be mentally sane (T), emotionally stable (E) & consistently dependable (A).
As kids we desperately wanted to stop hurting, AND get our needs met. So we made every effort to please them & minimize the damage they could do us, but nothing we did worked

Our ‘failure’ left us with 2 conflicting states: failed hope
• Hating ourselves: We concluded that something was profoundly wrong with US – we weren’t smart enough, attractive enough, perfect enough…. to have an impact on the adults

• Hating them: We did/do in fact love our parents very much – no matter how they treated us. However, years of abuse & neglect gave taken their toll, building & building our helpless rage, which we had to deny.

NEXT: Fear of Responsibility (Part 2)

3 thoughts on “ACoAs: RESPONSIBILITY (Part 1a)

  1. I stumbled upon Your blog few days ago and I must say that it is very helpful. Love Your detail and analytical way of presenting the complexity of a narcissistic abuse. It is easy to comprehend the issue. I’m a 3th child (well not yet have I recovered from the abuse ) of narcissistic mother and dysfunctional family. Recently I have acknowledged the problem in my family and every day I try to deal with the consequence. 🙂 It is getting better and better :)Thank You for great posts, they are helpful!:)


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