What to DO when CONFUSED (Part 1)

PREVIOUS : Recovery Confusion (#5c)

SITE: Confusing communicators

REVIEW – See posts: “ACoAs & Confusion” —  not due to mental or physical diseases (brain damage, Alzheimers, psychosis, depression…..)

: Any time we have trouble sorting out 2 or more conflicting / opposing : points of view, rules, options, desires, experiences, needs.
Being torn between the facts as we know them AND a resolution we can’t see or find, (being sure about the facts) because we don’t understand our environment.

Can be caused by:

• getting too much information at the same time
• learninScreen Shot 2015-07-20 at 4.54.04 PMg something new, & not knowing how yet (this or that?)
• absolutely not understanding some info, communication, instruction, expectation
• not knowing what to do because of —
– having too many desirable options, but can’t do them all
– not allowed (internally) to admit what you really want to do
– not knowing yourself well enough, & so – afraid to make the wrong choice & then have regrets

You’re confused about how you feel – emotionally. You wonder :
= “Am I angry or scared? I shouldn’t be upset about the way that clerk talked to me, like I was dumb, but I am upset about having such a strong reaction…..

= I’m feeling sad & relieved at the same time about the breakup. Am I crazy?”…..
NO – not crazy, it’s just normal human complexity. Having a variety, even simultaneous contradictory Es is common, especially when considering that each Ego State has it’s own & they often disagree

EXP: Carla came to the party on her own, & wondering who all these people were. After a while she found herself talking with 2 older out-of-town business men, obviously colleagues & obviously married. They were charming, friendly & amusing – telling funny ‘war stories’  & how they’ve helped each other at work. Carla was having a good time laughing with them, genuinely enjoying their company.

At the same time,
she felt sad inside, & checking with her inner child, “Little C” said she was sad because then the party was over she’d be going home alone & missing the fun!”

– severe Narcissists are dangerously confusing. They’ll crush any attempt you (target/victim) may make to figure out their agenda – to keep you constantly walking on eggshells, emotionally off balance & mentally confused (feeling crazy). Narcissists always need to be in control of every situation, & react accordingly to keep you in line

SECOND: those who knowingly leave out important info about themselves – that you need to know (married man, ex-con, addict….), or crucial info about a situation they’re in

OTHES Confusers – so you never know where they stand, where you stand with them, what they want….. They’re the ones who:
– talk a lot, but never say anything of substance (shallow)
– sound like they’re trying to tell you something – especially when upset – but just beat around the bush & never get to their point
– only respond in non-sequiturs that have nothing to do with what you’re saying
– lecture, pontificate…with no emotional content
(11 Posts: ‘ACoAs & Confusion‘)

Most people are sloppy in their use of words & phrases, causing much confusion. (See post “Sayings that Misrepresent“)

❎ The most common is the word -FEEL- to mean 3 different states – physical, emotional & mental .(See post “Feelings aren’t facts
• Repeating words they don’t know the actual meaning of (co-dependent, introvert – when they mean shy…. )
• Using a word that sounds like another but with totally different meaning (flamingo instead of flamenco)

• Misusing words (that’s schizophrenic, your crazy, pathological… ) when we’re angry at someone
• Vague words, usually about some emotional state, but unspecified (upset, triggered, off, out of it, acting weird, not themselves…. ).
Is the person unusually angry, sad, scared, nervous, withdrawn, unusually angry, cranky… ?

• Using this word as a pejorative, “Don’t be so emotional, women are too emotional…” by which someone means they’re angry or crying.
BUT emotions come in a wide range of colors.
Why can’t “they’re being emotional” also mean “they’re so excited, thrilled, happy-shocked….!” ??
 And yes, maybe even crying a little!

NEXT: What to do …#2

People Should Treat Me Better – But I Won’t Let Them

either way we lose ourself,
to stay loyal to the family

PREVIOUS: Healthy Give & Take (#2)

Posts : Double Messages / D.Binds


ACoAs have a terrible dilemma :
1. On the one hand we desperately want to be loved, acknowledged, seen, heard. We complain bitterly for years that we have to chase people down, do all the work in relationships, friends don’t come thru for us, we’re too isolated, hate being lonely, we can’t trust anyone….
You know what kids used to say: ”No one loves me, everyone hates me, I’m going to eat worms & die!” (Toxic Rules)

HOWEVER – because we’re not allowed to be loved, comfortable & comforted, happy, thriving… we chase those few who don’t want us at all, &/or are unavailable in some way, even if there was an initial attraction.  They let us know in a 1,000 ways they’re not really able to connect (their S-H & FoA), but we don’t want to deal with that info, even when we hear it!

✶ The real reason for chasing the ‘impossible dream’ is that these unavailables are parent substitutes.  Our family gave impossible dreamus messages that we were too much trouble (for them), not worth bothering with, in their way, messy, greedy, unruly pain in the a–es.
We couldn’t live with that. We had to figure out a way to win them over, to love us, if only we knew how to fix ourselves & them.  BUT we never succeeded

✶ So now, with the current unavailables, we’re determined: this time we’ll get them, this time we’ll win – if only we’re perfect & persistent enough. OY!  (“Perfectionism”)

2. On the other hand, we’re terrified of getting too much attention, are 
uncomfortable with compliments, don’t want to ‘put anyone out’, can’t accept being given to. We think (conscious or unconscious):
a. I don’t deserve good things. After all, my family didn’t like me & they knew me best. So, when anyone else gets to know me they’ll also be disgusted, & leave me. OR
b. If someone likes me, then they’re stupid, weak, needy (no one I’d want to be with) because they’re too dumb to know I’m not worth liking. OR

c. If they’repush away being nice – they’re conning me, being polite, people-pleasing, Then just when I start enjoying things they’ll leave or want something from me I don’t have.  Sooner or later the real them will show up & I’ll be disappointed – again. ALSO =

I don’t want to owe anyone – no one gives anything for free, everyone has an agenda….
e. If I admit I want to be liked & given to, then I’m the weak one, & that 
disgusts me. I’d rather be alone than be that vulnerable
f. People are just trying to control me by being nice, so they can get what they want, & make me do things their way…

ACoAs waffle back & forth between opposites – BUT only Negatives :
✶ either too alone or chase people interested in us or abuse us
✶ isolate for years or stay way too long with the wrong people
✶ hate ourselves for being too much or not enough
✶ act out Victim or Perpetrator Role (aggressor, abuser) ….
….. SO we keep hurting ourself & then find some addiction (not always a chemical) to dull the pain

STAYING in OLD PATTERN  – even WHEN we know better
✶ are loyal to family & it’s system (still think we need them)
✶ don’t want to disobey the Toxic Rules : they’re our connection to home AND we don’t want to be punished, AND if we obey them, the family will love / accept us

✶ MOST OF ALL : we don’t want to ‘get depressed’ ie. feel all that pain (sad, broken lovelonely, terror, hopeless, rage, powerless… ) about our parents not loving us the way we needed.
We knew the truth back then, but it was too much to bear & we didn’t have many options, so we stuffed it all down.

If we do give up our fantasies & false hope about the unavailables, & walk away – we may get flooded by that accumulated old pain! But once we know where it’s coming from, we can learn to manage it until it passes. “If it’s hysterical, it’s historical”

It takes quite a bit of Recovery (growing the UNIT) to tolerate feeling that are awful! & still be ok. With enough time & the right kind of support, we can go through it – knowing that it was not our fault that our family (& others) couldn’t take care of & love us.
Now it’s ok to let love in where it’s genuine, today & every day from now on.

NEXT: Resist talking the IC? – #1


against the NI 

to defend my WIC from the NI / PP!

PREVIOUS :  Introject (Part 3)

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

To HEAL & GROW – the
TWO major goals are :
1.  Develop a strong, clear voice of our own, that we can follow – to be comfortable & even successful, in all parts of our life
2.  Form a POSITIVE INTROJECT, developed from healthy external sources. The idea is to ‘take in’ a new way of seeing ourself that’s emotionally self-sustaining, rather than endlessly dependent on others to feel OK.

Ways to disconnect from the Negative Introject (PigP) by developing our own identity (S & I) with help:
• actively practice disobeying the Toxic RULES
• believe in our Right to have needs, opinions & dreams
• clearly identify what the PigP is telling us & then counter it
• continually work at diminishing S-H by admitting original pain
listen careful• develop strong boundaries with others, rather than walls, especially with anyone who treats us like our family
• get external acknowledgement & then continue internal validation of what we went thru as kids & still put up in the present, so that the PigP can’t fool us any more
• gradually separate the WIC’s dependence on the PigP & transfer it’s loyalty to our developing UNIT by always being the Good Parent
• have the courage to say NO to unhealthy & unsuitable people
• learn what our own healthy, intuitive, inborn voice is saying, & then listen to -and- act on that instead
• thoroughly ‘get’ that the PigP abusive & therefore harmful
• use that validation to be in touch with our pain, rage & sorrow at the original abuse, so we’re not wasting energy in denial

Distancing from the PigP
• We can tell it move aside, leave our Inner Child alone, shut up in there!…. OR
• We can try to sooth the bad voice by validating it’s pain / fear… and telling it we understand its pain, that it will not be harmed by anything positive we’re doing for ourselves, BUT never agreeing inner childwith it
• don’t respond at all – ignore it.  Talk to the WIC instead, soothing & comforting it. The better your connection with the kid, the less power the PigP will have.
The PigP will try to fight for its life, but with consistent self care, eventually it’ll get quieter & fade, even if it’s still in the far background
IF WE – tried to protect one parent from the other, because the victim one was too weak to stand up for themself; OR if one parents left, or died
Then we became the replacement punching bag, or spouse-substitute, or tried protecting them by magical thinking….

IF WE – took on a depressed parent’s suicidal feelings (even if they never acted on them directly)
Then we became suicidal, from love and a child’s magical belief inner workingsthat we could then keep them alive…

In RECOVERY – we can gradually shed as much family damage as we’re able. Once we identify what’s our damage & what’s theirs, we can say daily affirmations, do visualizations t& disagree with the bad voice.

IF we’re still attached to an old family role & reproduce it in current relationships
NOW we can give our parents back to each other. It was THEIR relationship, their marriage, their loss… SAY: “Dad / Mom, You’re not my mate. I give you back to him/her to deal with. I have my own life to live & it was never my job.”

IF we’re still attracted to physically, mentally, emotionally & spiritually dangerous people or situations unsuitable to growth
NOW we can give them back the responsibility for their own life, so we don’t have to act on their wish to escape. We don’t have to kill ourselves. PACK UP what’s theirs. Then mentally go up to each person & return it – lay the box or bag at their feet AND walk away!

It’s appropriate to ABSORB all kinds of positive feedback from outside sources – accurate, intelligent, patient, positive, realistic, supportive, validating, & spiritual.
Healthy mirroring & guidance can be FROM :
• a loving family member, if there is one
• any appropriate 12-step Program, rehab, workshops…
• a knowledgeable psychotherapist, & perhaps a group therapy
free inner child• helpful books & literature (psychological & spiritual)
• our Higher Power, spiritual or religious teachers/ leaders, if suitable
• successful well-known people, as role models & inspiration
• craneo-sacral & other knowledgeable body workers, nutritionist…
• good friends, a supportive mate, caring adult-children AND pets
• business partners, clients, acquaintances – anyone who values your abilities ….

Remember to calm your WIC when it gets overwhelmed by how much there is to sort out in Recovery. Like with any new skill – it takes knowledge, guidance, time & practice.

NEXT: Notice re. book version of blog


think or feel
I’m confused! What are you talking about?

PREVIOUS: Recovery Thoughts


This is a familiar phrase used in 12-Step Programs, but not exclusive to them. It contains an intrinsic truth and an intrinsic lie.  We have to examine both words – ‘feelings’ and ‘facts’ – to understand.

• In our language, the word feelings is used in almost every context to mean either thoughts, emotions or sensations, without distinction.
• The main problem is that most of the time people use ‘Feel’ to mean Thoughts, not emotions. This causes confusion for both speaker & listener.

• This triple usage may be a clever ploy in our culture – likely confusedunconscious – to suppress Emotions! We’re taught to live in our head & only focus on actions (“Just do it”), which we gladly embrace as a defense against facing our deepest pain.
So, along with many other sources (family, media, male culture, war, sport…) our language encourages being cut off from an essential part of ourself

b. CLARITY:  We’re not going to change the vocabulary, but we can understand the 3 uses of the word FEEL, so we can use it correctly.
i. Sensations – ‘Feel’ is actually an experience word (Physical) : I feel hungry, tired, thirsty, sexual…

ii. Emotions: If ‘feel’ is meant to indicate Emotions – then what follows can only be single words : “I feel…… sad, glad,
mad, anxious, pleased…..”.. AND we can have more than one E at the same time, even contradictory one.
“I’m happy to see you, but disappointed that Ted’s not here too.” (Posts: Use THINK, not feel)

iii. Thoughts:
 The word “Feel” should never be used to mean Thoughts / Opinions / Beliefs.  Thoughts are always a sentence, always more than one word. 
When “Feel” is misused, it usually leads with ‘that‘ or ‘like’:
•  “I feel like he wants to talk about something”
•  “It feels like you’re not supporting me”
• “I feel that we should leave soon”
• “I don’t feel that we’re communicating”
•  “I feel like going to the movies”

Stated as such, none of these are about emotions, only ideas – even though emotions are implied but not acknowledged. It’s subtle & at best unintentionally, at worst it’s manipulative & dishonest

c. INDIRECTness : Another mix-up occurs when thoughts are expressed in a round-about way. Such statements are clearly sentences, but couched in terms of feeling, which makes the speaker sound unsure of themself. They’re not actually expressing confusion, but rather insecurity by asking for permission to have a voice.

ACoAs are ‘notorious’ for talking around an important point, leaving out important info, adding too many qualifiers, justifications & apologies! This misuse comes from not being allowed to own our personal power.
We say:
• “ I hope you don’t mind if I tell you…”
instead of
  “I’d like to tell you something / I need to talk to you about___”

• “Is it alright if I___ , Will you be upset if___ , I hope you don’t mind that I…”
instead of (with a smile, perhaps) “I won’t be able to____ , I need to____ , I’d like to___ , I’m not available for___”

• “I feel like I’m doing better”  instead of “I’m doing better”
• “I feel like I can’t trust them”  instead of “I know they’re not trustworthy”

☑️ Unfortunately, for many ACoAs, being direct is not just considered impolite but actually aggressive! which it is not IF statement are made without anger.
Sadly women are more likely to be indirect as a way to not be pushy, which makes staying connected easier, but at a price. (BOOK : “He & She” by Chris Evatt)

YES, there is a time & place for careful wording, being respectful of others’ time & space, or for apologizing.
HOWEVER, the above examples of waffling have to do with ACoA shame, S-H, fear of being seen, of punishment or being cut off.

The BEST, clearest way to communicate combines emotions + thoughts in the same sentence : be clear
• “I’m scared you won’t stay with me”
• “I’m so happy that you got the promotion”
• “I feel sad that she’s ignoring me”
• “I’m afraid he may not like this gift”
• “I’m excited for you & curious about what you’re going to be doing”
• “I’m worried that you’re going there alone”
This of course implies that we know what we’re feeling (emotions) and have permissions to own & express them.
🔴 Practice verbalizing your thoughts & emotions using declarative sentences, so they come out of your mouth more easily. And repeat, daily: “I know what I know”!

NEXT: “Feelings aren’t facts”, Part 2

What Others Think of Me is None of My Business (#1)


We’re all social animals, but also need privacy

PREVIOUS: Safe & Unsafe People

REMINDER: See ACRONYM page for abbrev.


NOTE: Many people in the mental health field, spiritual practices & new-age wisdom say we shouldn’t worry about what others think of us. Yes, OK, but it’s not that simple! What they don’t tell you is that there’s 2 different aspects, the negative & the positive.

1. DAMAGE (ACoA version) – anyone with limited self-esteem / S-H, there’s always the assumption that other people don’t like us – it’s our default position & hard to let go of.  And that has 2 parts too! Doesn’t everything?  AH, Dualism!  I can’t help it – I’m a 22/4 with an 8 Destiny. I see both sides – ‘now’. 🙂 Anyway…

a. Awkward (a “drip”? —>)akward
• If we’re obnoxious, angry, childish, clingy, lazy, needy, selfish, un-groomed, or say lots of dumb things – OR just full of negativity & self-doubt, then most people will not like us!

• If we care, these problems can be worked on, if we have the courage & right kind of help to willing to deal with the pain, sadness & fear that’s at the root all our ‘shortcomings’

• If we don’t care, or the resistance is too great to get past, the external signs & internal causes never get corrected. A great loss for us as individual & to society, but each has their own path.

b. Isolators: Some ACoAs (this is not about Extroverts / Introverts)
isolate• hide out because of some physical or mental disorder
• but mostly it’s from — Fear, Lack of good Boundaries & Self-hate: wounded souls who need lots of love but aren’t allowed to let it in, even when it’s available. They blame themselves for everything that goes wrong. They ‘don’t belong’

• At the other extreme are those wounded ACoAs who are always angry,   complaining, dissatisfied & think they’re superior. They also push others away & lose out. They have S-H too, but their whole focus is outside of themselves, blaming everyone else for their troubles

c. Acceptable:  Most of us are not social misfits –
• we have an education, jobs, mates, maybe children & some outside interest. YET we think everyone is going to judge us harshly, find out we’re frauds, see  all our flaws… later if not sooner, especially if they get to know usbeing udged
• that’s straightforward Projection onto others of – how our parents treated us & now, our self-judgement

also, it’s Mind-reading (a CD). We’re sure we know what others are thinking – especially about us, & it’s always negative. That’s ACoA grandiosity.  Stay out of other people’s heads!
• Sadly, even when others like us, love, admire & laud us – we have a hard believing it, don’t trust it, get embarrassed, tell them why it’s not true. Yuck!

2. Mental HEALTH  — All humans NEED connections, but in differing amounts.
a. Normal:
Extroverts. (They are 75-80% of the population, at least in the West)
They thrive on the energy absorbed by being around a lot of activity – choices, options, people, events….. even if not interacting with them directly.
PS – these are not energy vampires). Think: a walk in the park on a great spring day alone, when intro/extroeveryone’s out,  or an evening with a bunch of friends, just ‘messing around’. Doesn’t have to be heavy or deep, although that’s good too. Just being ‘part of’ feels great

Introverts need activity too, just in much smaller doses. They’re mostly comfortable one-on-one & in small groups, for short periods. They derive their energy internally, & are overwhelmed by too much external input.

NEXT: What others think…. #2

SITE MAP of the ACoA website


“HEAL & GROW for ACoAs”
80+ pages of great info!  

Go to http://www.acoarecovery.com,
& click on SITE MAP to navigate


Pg. 81-83 • Info, Background & Testimonials

3  • Laundry list, 12 Steps for ACoAs
4  • Unhealthy Parenting
5, 6   •  Expanded characteristics
7  •  NARCISSISTS – characteristics
8  • Cognitive Distortions, w/ examples

69, 70 • “Healthy Opposites- Change Behavior to Change Your Life”

12,13 •  Intro & 5 Bargains  (from Shakespeare’s plays)

87 • as of 7/15/10 — 16 entries

84,85 • Recovery Titles

39  •  Definition, Purpose
40, 41  •  Unhealthy Bs
42-44  •  Healthy Bs  (emotional, mental, physical)

45, 46 • Definitions; Unhealthy & Healthy

55-58 • “Knowledge is Power: What Makes an ACoA” outlines

72 •  Good  & Bad Approaches
73-74 • Extensive List of Personal Values
75-76  • Types of Decision Makers
77-79  • Decision Making Criteria (1-5)

52-54 • Brief explanations of Confusing Terms

20 • Toxic Roles: Hero, Scapegoat, Lost Child, Mascot

51 • Short & longer THINGS to SAY back to abuse or stupidity !

47 • Extensive list of emotions words
48-50 • Unhealthy & Healthy expressions/ uses of ANGER

80 • Extensive list of characteristics

9, 10 • 4 common games
11 •  4 more games, Expanded

14 – 17 • ‘Parent, Adult & Child’: Voices, Purpose, Characteristicssca0219
18, 19  • Developmental Stages, Memo from Child

86 • @ Narcissists, etc.

65, 66 • Healthy rules to take care of the Inner Child

59, 60 • What it’s NOT & what it IS
61- 63  • Mental Health & Healthy Families
64  •  Benefits of Group Therapy

23,24 • Issues & Beliefs
25-27 • Intimacy – Unhealthy & Healthy
28 • Love addiction; Power Plays
32 • LOVE – 5 languages, 5 Types
33 • TRUST – Who can, why not, How To
34 • Gay & Lesbian ACoAs
35 • M vs F ways of Responding
36 • 16 Men – by Myers-Briggs Typing
37 • Givers vs Takers

67, 68 • Affirmations, Promises, Serenity Prayer

29, 30 • Self-Diagnostic Qs

31, 32 • Survivors’ Symptoms;  Recovery

21, 22 • Long & Short versions of dysfunctional childhood rules

71 • ACoAs at Work; Healthy ways to work

NEXT: What id GUILT?


Sscared fish 

I don’t know what love is, so how can I tell?

PREVIOUS: How ACoAs Abandon Others #3b

REVIEW: ACRONYM page for abbrev.

WHAT DOES this quote MEAN?
• Like so many popular ‘spiritual’ saying there’s some truth in it, but not the whole story, so we can easily get confused & also misuse it. Love & Fear are both Emotions, see. T.E.A.
Generally, it means that if we did have enough love in our life, we won’t be afraid = loved by a Higher Power, by family, by pets, by friends…  Yes, these are to be desired & cultivated.
BUT the reality for ACoAs is that we are fear-based, no matter how much recovery we may have. There are 2 separate issues re. this quote:

1. Fear is created in CHILDHOOD by genuinely being in danger!
• As kids, ACoAs lived in an atmosphere of constant trauma, subjected to fear-inducing experiences (mental, physical & emotional) practically every day of our childhood.
AND there was very little comfort or validation of our reality. On the contrary, if we told anyone or complained, they said we were over-reacting, making it up, being disloyal, AND it was our fault “What did you do?” Even if anyone believed us, they didn’t / couldn’t help, so we had to suck it up.

EXP:  A lot of our childhood was like being:
— a 5 yrs old, dropped off in the middle of a huge traffic intersection at rush hour, left there in our underwear, told to not whine & ‘JUST COPE’ !!  How cruel !

All that pain & terror got pushed down, so where did it go?  Yes, in large part, psychologically, it went into the unconscious. But physically – the chemicals generated by terror & other painful emotions got stored in our body – in our organs, our muscles, choking our aura, meridians & chakras.

2. Fear is created NOW by outer events & inner thoughts
a. Present-day reality. There are many real-world stressful events we’re faced with in life requiring a clear mind, much human help & Spiritual support. .
It’s normal to be fearful when WE:
• are overwhelmed by too many things needing our attention
• find out we’re very sick, & sometimes – don’t know the cause…
• hear / read about traumatic world events ….
• have a lot of emotional turmoil (visiting family, getting married or divorced…)
• loose something very important to us (apartment burns down…. )
• see someone we love is in danger (a child, a pet …)

BUT for ACoAs, such events can easily trigger the pain of past trauma, pushing us over the limit of our scarce reserves. So our emotional reaction will be much bigger than that of less wounded people.

b. Toxic Thinking. Fear will always be generated by harmful thoughts – our inner world of beliefs babad voicesed on negative family rules (CDs) – the harsh, scary things we tell ourselves, creating more terror on top of what we’re already carrying from our past.

Terror & S-H are behind ALL rage and ALL obsessions. WE:
• are convinced someone’s angry at us or can’t stand us, when they didn’t say hello or give us a compliment …..
• are so used to things not working out, & having anxiety as our constant companion, that we create mental drama when it’s not called for…
• believe we’re “dying of cancer” when we’re not seriously sick (especially when not feeling well but don’t know what’s wrong)
• assume others will react to us the same way we think about ourselves – badly !
• project only painful outcomes on to situations & relationships
• worry about future catastrophes & abandonments, which may never happen & which we will have no control over

Daily childhood abuse & neglect (unprocessed) accumulate in deep reservoirs of hidden pain, which most people call anxiety, because on the surface it doesn’t seem to be connected to anything obvious. HA !
As long as this backlog remains frozen, the pain:
a. drives much of our behavior, our thinking & interactions
b. causes physical & psychological ailments ….

… but in Recovery, much release work can be done, which definitely helps!  We can get to a place where we live more in a state of calm rather than upset. There will always be some residual ‘old’ fear that shows up thru the years when we’re under stress – never being completely rid of all original abandonment terror. This should not be a surprise, since there was so much of it.  We need to be extra kind to ourselves.: “Feel the fear & keep going”, but softly, softly.Screen Shot 2016-06-17 at 10.34.08 PM

“Fear is the absence of Love” is about :
— not having loving safe parents, originally
— the scary thoughts which torture us
— not searching out people who can be good to us, &
— not believing there’s any safety in the world – for us !

HOWEVER when we practice nurturing our Inner Child, connecting with the peace of a loving H.P. & with healthier people, our overall fear level diminishes, especially the unnecessary suffering we’ve been add to the ‘pile’.
➼  We can’t always control or eliminate old fear, but we can be in better charge of that we THINK & what we DO about it.

NEXT: Not Enough Love? – #1

Healthy HELPING (Part 1)


As long as I take care of myself in the process

PREVIOUS: Rescuing (#2)

REVIEW: Hero Family Role 


ACoAs:  Many of us were trained from birth to be helpers, regardless of our native personality style & interests. There’s an ironic saying in recovery circles: “ACOAs are born with an MSW (Masters in Social Work) and then get their Birth Certificate later”!

• This is most common with the child who has the Hero role, which is usually the first-born in a dysfunctional family.  They’re supposed to pick up the slack where the parents leave off – being the little adult to make the family look healthier than it really is, but at the expense of the child.

• This caretaker role becomes so deeply ingrained that it’s usually carried into all of our ADULT relationships.  It requires unceasing effort for the benefit of others, instead of caring fully for ourselves. (See ‘RESCUING – False Helping’).

✦ On the other hand, there are ACoAs who, by their very nature, are meant to be in the helping or service professions, like people born with strong Water & Air Sign influences in their astrological chart – such as Pisces, Cancer (the healers), Aquarius & Gemini (the teachers).

✦ For those of us so designed, the goal is to be of genuine help to others, as a way of expressing our Highest Self – without being motivated by the toxic patters of co-dependence, self-hate, boundary invasion, fear of abandonment & over-control.

GOAL of Heathy Helping (HH): Encourage someone to take care of themselves the best way they can, in their current circumstance
OPPOSITE of making / keeping someone dependent on you!

1. OVERVIEW  – before HELPING someone, ASK:
a. What do I know about the person I may help?
• are they responsible & self-caring?
• did they ask me directly & specifically, for something?
• will they be OK with me if I can’t do what they want?

b. What exactly do they want?
• can they truly do it for themselves?
• is the request ‘clean’ (emotionally & verbally honest)?
• how many parts to the request are there, actually?
• what are the consequences/ price TO ME?

c. Can I Comply?
• am I really able to do this? (it’s not beyond my ability, OR it’s not something impossible)
• do I WANT to do it?  If ‘Yes’ – what’s my motive?
• what does it require of me – specifically?
• will I be angry if I do it, or remorseful if I don’t?
• do I want anything in return? What are my expectations?

2. Prerequisites for H.H.
a. In ME – I need to:
• be able to keep the ‘focus on myself’ – not get enmeshed with the needs & emotions of others
• have basic self-esteem, a sense of identity that not dependent on others
relaxed• have developed real boundaries, not needing to be symbiotic
• know my individual human limitations, without judgment or self-hate

• not have to use people to feel good about myself
• KNOW what’s real, in the recovery process, about:
— emotions: each person is responsible for their own, & they can learn how to managed them
— the growth process: it’s slow & has to be experienced personally
— what Mental Health is (from ACoA website)
— what can realistically be dealt with: what’s possible or not. ACoAs tend to get the Serenity Prayer backwards!

b. In THEM
✦ I can help – if they :
• are actively doing self-care, & communicating with their inner childInner Child (personal responsibility)
• actually ask for the help they want or need
• are clear about what they need (direct & specific)

• apply to their lives what I give them & use it to grow
➼ “Give a man a fish & you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish & you feed him for a lifetime.” Chinese proverb
• IF they’re truly ‘dis-abled’ in some way (ADD, PTSD, depression, illness…)

✦ I can help – as long as they DON’T :
• blame me for for that they can’t do, for things that don’t work, or for disappointing outcomes
• expect me to be perfect, know everything, take care of them
• need to suck me dry / cling, use me as a parent substitute
• try to copy my personality, instead of forming their own

NEXT: Healthy Helping, Part 2

RESCUING – False Helping (Part 1)

I can take care of you, but not myself

REMINDER: Use ACRONYM page for abbrev.


RESCUING – In general terms, it’s any form of helping someone to not take care of themself, when they really can. It may be —
— in the form of not doing or saying something when we see others hurting themself, OR
— actively providing the means for them to continue being irresponsible (directly or indirectly) to themself, their loved ones, their job….

EXP: Lying for others / making excuses when someone shirks their responsibility, is selfish or mean / clean up after a user / cover the addict’s bills / never stand up for ourselves or object to abuse / never notice or point out lies, inconsistencies, broken promises…..

ENABLING is another term for co-dependent rescuing of others, in place of taking care of ourselves.
In Al-Anon terms, it’s our compulsion to save the addict or any other kind of unhealthy person from the consequences of their own self-harming behavior (MISUSE of money, drink / drugs, exercise, gambling, food, fun, sex, work….)

A person acting out self-destructively has little reason to change if they’re never forced to experience the outcome of their compulsion. If they don’t have to pay any price for their behavior, they’re encouraged to continue practicing their addiction.
“Helping someone be self-defeating is co-dependency – not supportive & not Loving.”

ACoAs IRONY: Enabling / Rescuing is in itself our addiction (emotional, psychological), a compulsive pattern of interacting with others. On the surface it gives us a sense of control & superiority. Underneath, the real motivation is to suppress our own abandonment anxiety.

ORIGIN: Growing up in dysfunctional families, ACoAs were not allowed to fully develop our own personality & identity, attend to our own needs, or have our own feelings – about anything. We had no choice but to focus on wounded parents & their needs, moods & demands. (see ‘Toxic rules’)

• We were expected to grow up too fast – not have normal child needs –  but only so we could relieve them of the burden of caring for us, and so we could be there for them
• Any attention to our own tastes, opinions, & way of doing things was considered selfish, stubborn, overly sensitive, stupid and bad!  (I was taught: S.P.S. – ‘Self Praise Stinks’ !!)

Result: ACoAs developed a ‘false persona’, one version of the co-dep triangle – to be The Rescuer:
a. for many of us, this is a very active role – doing, doing, doing for others OR using others to motivate our actions
b. for some ACoAs, who seem to do ‘nothing’ for others – this role is passive. It’s a way to ‘take care of’ the family by asking for very little, not trying for anything, not risking, not being a bother… obeying the Toxic Rule “Don’t Need”

➼ The unspoken hope is that if we do a good enough job of rescuing (fixing them), they will, in turn, be able to take care of us.  THIS NEVER WORKS.

DEF:  A way to seem like we’re helping others BUT with hidden motives
a. from our grandiosity
🔸 Doing for others what they CAN & SHOULD be doing for themselves
🔸 Being ‘one up’, giving the illusion of being powerful and benevolent, at the same time
🔸 Assuming others n-e-e-d us (a not-always conscious belief that they’ll fall apart or even die – without us – based on our family experience)
🔸Assuming we know better what others need / want / should have, or not
🔸 Wanting to spare someone pain – by preventing them insecurefrom having to take responsibility for the consequences of – their actions, & so preventing their growth!

b. from our inferiority
🔹 Using others to feel better about ourselves (to cover our self-hate, that feeling of worthlessness)
🔹 Trying to ‘fix’ a wounded person, so they can be there for us
🔹 Trying to have an effect on the world, since no one listened to us as kids
🔹 Wanting to use our talents, skills & abilities – but not allowed to use them for our own benefit
🔹Minding other people’s business rather than our own (not allowed to focus on ourself)

NEXT: Rescuing = False Helping  (Part 2)

Welcome to ALL

ACoAs know a lot, but often feel confused.

We have a ”committee of voices” with  conflicting points of view, often making it hard to function.   Who should we listen to:  the Inner Child, the Harsh Parent, the Healthy Adult,  our religion, our intuition ???

Here, in these blogs,  I try to make complex issues easier to think about & understand.Tell me if you agree, disagree, or if I’ve left something out!

CLARITY is a hallmark of mental health.     Keep repeating: “I KNOW WHAT I KNOW” !!