ACoAs ‘FEELING SORRY For’ (Part 1)

THEY NE-E-E-ED ME! How can I turn my back on them?


SITE: Meditation for compassion (“loving kindness”)

Feeling sorry for” someone may be generated by any situation we personally identify with, or simply caring about the plight of others who are less fortunate. We may or may not be able to do anything practical for the millions who suffer, but on a one-to-one basis, at the very least we can LISTEN to someone who needs a caring heart & ear, without advice or judgment

☆ Empathy : a visceral / emotional experience of another person’s emotions – an visceral mirroring, like tearing up at a friend’s intense sadness or deep loss

☆ Compassion:
  “a human emotion prompted by the pain of others. More vigorous than empathy, it gives rise to an active desire to alleviate another’s suffering. It is often, though not inevitably, the key component of altruism ….”rescuing

☆ Altruism: an action that benefits someone else without expecting repayment.
BUT – does not automatically include personal empathy or compassion, like making an anonymous donation for tax purposes

DEF : ☼ Doing good to others, regardless of self-concern, a behavior that costs the Giver while benefitting the Receiver.
☼ A traditional virtue in many cultures, & a core aspect of various religious traditions”, it’s considered the highest form of love (Agape) – putting aside our own needs to help someone else.

For this type of ‘feeling sorry for’ to be legitimate – the recipient of our concern must be truly in need of help AND not have the ability to do for themselves – at least temporarily.
This is not always easy to determine, especially is it’s someone we care about, if they’re still acting out of the victim role.
SeeRescuing” -vs- “Healthy Helping.

1-b. For OTHERS – Negative
For ACoAs, the core problem is that we feel sorry for the wrong types.
While we may have a strong caring & compassionate side, which we use for others instead of for ourselves, we misplace our sympathy by focusing it on narcissistic people (parent, spouse or lover, BFF, sometimes a boss, teacher…) who are a bottomless pit of needs.

i. WHO: Anyone who is
☛ emotionally & practically irresponsible. This can not be emphasized enough!  These are people who are unwilling to use available resources needed to help themself, hooking us into do it for them! This can be in practical ways, but most often they want to be taken care of emotionally

☛ abusive, abandoning, narcissistic (but often charming) – because they prey on our desperate need to stay attached & feel special. It allows them to “feed on” us without having to give back.

☛ who acts like they need / love / value us, but if we take care of ourself before them  by setting boundaries or disagreeing, they’ll throw us under the bus in a heartbeat!
This way of being treated is so familiar from childhood, we think it’s normal & there’re acceptable, so we suppress our angry at the betrayal!

• POTENTIAL does NOT count – when it has to do with others!  We’re attracted to selfish people because they’re familiar, & we can rescue them & feel superior.
BUT as long as they refuse to develop their latent capacities – we end up drained, feeling inadequate, disappointed & angry – just like we did as kids.

• our damaged need to feel special (counter feeling powerless)
• copy what we learned from a para-alcoholic parent (usually mom)
• don’t want to face who this (current) person really is, because then we’d have a different relationship with them, or have to leave

iii. WHAT
Their unhealthy behavior patterns TRIGGER our WIC to:
• (E) feel sorry for them (they’re manipulating this), the way we felt sorry for family members who we tried & tried to fix, but never could

• (A) act out our pre-programmed training to rescue & enable them
• resonate our WIC with theirs, feeling their pain – so we take on the Good Parent role, for them – but not toward ourselves

Instead, we need to be with people who are ALREADY in the process of taking care of themself, & therefore can be available to us without causing a lot of drama & stress.

NEXT: Feeling Sorry for – #2

7 thoughts on “ACoAs ‘FEELING SORRY For’ (Part 1)

  1. Hi, God I relate. All my friends are/were dysfunctional – I wanted to help/fix them all! Even my dear partner. What a trap this disease is – it really is a family disease….

    I attract all kinds of people but the men that home in on me want me to fix their lives, be their mother, save them! AND these are the types of men I am attracted to. Thank God for my Program and I am learning to stay away for my own wellbeing/sanity.

    I have a question for you, I will see if I can email you through your blog 🙂


  2. Hi Lisa, you can send me a message from my Face Book page or thru my website ( bottom of Page: ABOUT ME).
    Keep up the good work. The less you want to take care of them, the less attracted they’ll be! 🙂


  3. This post really hit me. I am in my 40’s and a series of events have unearthed the trauma of my early life. I realized recently – that I have succeeded in taking responsibility for so many other people, always feeling “sorry” for others (and yet so unduly harsh on myself). I am ALWAYS the “strong one” LOL.

    Thank you so much for your posts, they are appreciated.

    Happy Holidays, Kira


  4. Thank you for letting me know, Kira. It sounds like you’ve had to take on the Hero role. You have developed all the rescuing skills – so now you can use them on yourself ! Your Inner Child will certainly appreciate that.
    Be well. D


  5. Ok Donna, you really knocked one out of the park with this one! Good stuff….Particularly….

    “WHO: Anyone who is –
    ➼ • emotionally & practically irresponsible. This can not be emphasized enough! These are people who are unwilling to use available resources to help themselves, hooking us into do it for them!
    • abusive, abandoning, narcissistic (but often charming). Their type is so familiar to us – it’s what we grew up with, so we think it’s normal”.

    To me, this describes the person who in their sick way likes where they are. You later to on to mention the manipulative nature of their behavior… referring to the person we are feeling sorry for and codependent to.

    I never saw as clearly the misplacement of sympathy. Yet we can be sympathetic but instead of expressing it with pity and caretaking, express it with the offer to help them find the help they need that is independent of the sick dynamic with us.

    It would take someone with a lot of strength and courage to help the manipulative narcisist in a meaningful way, rather than play their game. And maybe the most helpful thing we can do it get away from them and let them discover their self-deception on their own and not falling on us as their crutch.

    I have to say, that I look back and see that I played many of those games as the alcoholic. And it wasn’t until pain was just shy of fatal that I woke up to what I was doing. I had to be abandoned by my family and turned over to a less-than-honourable recovery house to really wake up. This is a tough nut to crack.

    Thanks as always.




  6. Thanks Chaz.
    In the early years I occasionally went to AA when I needed a meeting late at nite. No phone or internet 35 yrs ago!
    I would just sit & listen – & I heard the men talk about how they had mistreated the women in their life, while drinking. They had all done exactly the same as my active boyfriends had to me. I wasn’t bad or crazy, as they told me – except for being with them! 🙂

    I was enlightened & greatly relieved. I had already stopped dating drunks, & then I gradually stopped trying to help people who were not ready to be helped! As I heard in Al-anon: “This program will fuck up your fucked-up-ness!”


    • It is just incredible how ensnared in these relational dynamics people get, and how common it is. Can you imagine the days before there was an awareness of all of this and no help available?




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