Passive Aggressives – Review for ACoAs (Part 1)

passive aggressive house YOU’LL NEVER SEE HOW ANGRY I AM –
I barely know, myself!

PREVIOUS: P-A ‘nice’ comments

SITE: Constructive, Passive & Aggressive Leadership styles

REVIEW
1.The GAME (Post: How its played)
a. Passive-Aggressive ‘disorder’ (PAPD)
A 2-handed ‘game’ (‘Games People Play’ by Eric Berne), always requiring the Passive-Aggressive (P-As) person & the Volatile (Vs) one to react.

web-MDapparently compliant behavior, with intrinsic obstructive or stubborn qualities, to cover deeply felt aggressive feelings that cannot be more directly expressed….

Wikipedia ….a personality trait marked by a pervasive pattern of negative attitudes & passive, usually disavowed resistance … expressed as learned helplessness, procrastination, stubbornness, resentment, sullenness, or deliberate/repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is (often explicitly) responsible….

DSM VI … the behavior often reflects an unexpressed hostility or resentment stemming from a frustrating interpersonal or institutional relationship on which an individual is overly dependentScreen Shot 2016-06-14 at 11.00.40 PM

The Straight Dope …people who suffer from PAPD expect disappointment, and gain a sense of control over their lives by bringing it about.

b. ACoAs: MANY of us grew up in one of 2 emotional climates :
emotionally volatile – being around loud, hyper, dramatic, raging, volatile parents / relatives – which has made some ACoAs gun-shy. We had to sit on our own anger – there was so much flying around, and we didn’t want to be like them, so we shoved our rage into a huge locked room & tried to throw away the key. So now it comes out sideways!

emotionally repressed – the other extreme found some of us in a family of uptight, buttoned down, emotionally cut-off, perhaps P-A types, who made a point of suppressing any intense emotion in their children. They may have believed it was ‘spiritually correct’, or they just didn’t want their own repressed pain to get triggered, and they didn’t have the skill/ tools to deal with ‘big feelings’ from their kids. We either copied their style or became ‘dramatic’ & over-reactive to everything.

• Both styles have deeply effected our relationship to anger & rage.
IMP: These are normal human EMOTIONS (Es), which are just forms of energy & by themselves are not dangerous or bad.Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 11.09.50 PM.png
✶✶ What to watch out for are the ACTIONS we take to express these Es! If we express them safely, we don’t hurt anyone & in fact feel lighter & can function better. If they’re expressed badly we can cause pain to others, while adding to our shame, guilt & S-H.

c. Briefly:  P-As have a huge amount of accumulated anger & rage (from childhood, as well as in adulthood), which they’re not allowed to feel, much less admit to – in order to be the ‘good’ one. They have cultivated such a facade of ‘niceness’ they have fooled themselves (but not everyone).  They may be the Hero or Lost Child from any dysfunctional family –  the Rescuers, the People-pleasers, or the Invisibles. (Toxic Roles”)

no, no

P-As compulsively resent, oppose & thwart – indirectly – what they see as demands to function at a level others expect of them. They’re convinced that they’re still not allowed to have real power for themselves, & are afraid to admit their anger at being neglected & unloved. They end up saying NO to their own needs & wants – and to anything that would be good for them.

So they live in a state of deprivation, expecting others to read their mind & provide what they won’t give themselves. P-As are rarely if ever able to state outright what they want & don’t want, or distinguish between actual bullying & appropriate requests. They just say NO to everyone, regardless.

Suppressing their anger is a form of negative self-control, & then put all the rest of their effort into trying to control other people’s emotions, so they can sneakily get them to do what the P-A wants.  In light of their self-imposed limitation, P-As are inwardly driven to push hidden handsothers toward their secret goal (to prove they can’t be pushed around, and to get back at anyone who’s hurt them OR their substitutes) – while seeming to not push at all. (re. controlling). It’s a way:
— to get their agenda across without risking consequences &/or

NEXT: P-A ACoAs – Review (Part 2)

WHY ARE YOU STUCK?

unstuck LITTLE BY LITTLE
dismantle your prison

PREVIOUS: What to do when Confused – #7

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.


WHY
we’re stuck
There may be several reasons. Here we’re concerned with the many Toxic Beliefs* we carry with us from our childhood experiences.

✶ Our fear is strong & pervasive, but the main cause for that in the present is what we are THINKING! Change that & we’re free!
NOT being able to pursue & reach our needs & desires is caused by intense inner conflict between what we consciously desire VS the family rules coming from the Introject (PP = bad parent voice), whispering or screaming at the WIC, causing in S-H

• OBEYING the Toxic Beliefs guarantees that we stay trapped, continually failing, feeling more & more hopeless, even suicidal. BUT, they’re so much a part of us, we may not even know we’re being coerced by ideas that were created for us (deliberately or not, it doesn’t matter).

To get UNSTUCK – we need to know & own these self-destructive Rules, counter them & then slowly change our actions, ie. Only follow the New Rules!

IRONICALLY, these old beliefs are very hard to give up, because:
• the Inner Child actually believes them!pain
• following them represents loyalty to our family

GIVING them up would mean:

• getting in touch with the PAIN of our damage
• seeing what we missed out on (a loving, healthy family)
• having to give up what we thought was our ‘identity’ (our False Self
& one or more Roles)
• having to become our own person (S & I), grow up emotionally, make our own choices, be responsible for ourselves & our actions  – stop waiting to be rescued.

BELOW is one FORM to use whenever you want to know what’s going on in your head – what toxic beliefs are keeping you from getting what you want in life (use it separately for each topic or issue that’s bothering or confusing you), AND another FORM to make your corrections

➼ Please DON’T just say “I don’t understand this”, or “I don’t know how to do it” & give up.  That’s mainly resistance, even if you’ve never done this particular exercise before.  Anyone who has read self-help books & done therapy will definitely be able to fill these out, given some thought, but even if you never have, you can always ask for help from someone who knows you well.  Don’t worry if your answers are similar each time you use the forms. That’s to be expected.

resistSTART by identifying a problem you want to correct OR a goal you want to achieve, but haven’t been able to, so far. Suggested ‘Issues’What‘s stopping me from:
• starting a new career?  • looking for a new job ?  • leaving a harmful relationship?  • standing up for myself?  • letting go of my damage?  • cleaning up my apartment?  • studying  my artistic passion? ….”

1. FORM A – What’s familiar: using T.E.A. (Thoughts, Emotions & Actions), to ‘hear’ the damaged part of our thinking
•  Column 1. “Emotions” can be filled in right away if you’re very upset & know what you are feeling, otherwise —

— go to Column 2, filling in as many negative thoughts as you can (one for each category is ok if that’s all you can think of). Make sure you separate out what you’re thinking about yourself VS what you’re assuming about others (projecting)

•  If you left the first column empty, now add any emotions you’ve become aware of relating to the beliefs
• Then list the ways you ACT in response to those beliefs

2. FORM B – What is possible: Reversing patterns of thoughts & behavior will modify fear & greatly improve your experiences in life.
Use the same procedure as in Form A. but change the harmful beliefs to HEALTHY, positive & hopeful ones, & then keep the list with you at all times so you can review & internalize them

• Based on that –  you can practice changing you ACTIONS, starting in small ways, whenever you can. Plan ahead how you’re gong to change an old pattern & try it out.

• In this case the Emotions column is last because you may not know how you feel until you try our new behaviors & get some positive results. Don’t be surprised if you have uncomfortable emotions (as well as pleasant ones), which come from your WIC and/or PP.  Just let them be. Comfort your kid, tell the PP (Introject) to leave your kid alone, & focus on enjoying the relief & pleasure of living well (the best revenge!).

Sample PROBLEM :
“Why can’t I make & keep friends / lovers / bosses who are healthier, compatible & supportive??”

You may need help from a therapist, friend, sponsor or healer – to IDENTIFY the NEGATIVE and POSITIVE beliefs. Don’t be ashamed to ask!


MAKE several BLANK copies of these 2 FORMS,  and try it out on one of YOUR issues

NEXT : ACoAs & PROCRASTINATION (Part 1)

ACoAs ‘FEELING SORRY For’ (Part 3)

I CARE ABOUT OTHERS IN PAIN –
but my first responsibility is to my own!

PREVIOUS: “Feeling Sorry For” #2

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

1a. For OTHERS – POSITIVE
1b. For OTHERS – Negative

2. For OURSELVES
FEELING SORRY for oneself can be healthy or unhealthy.

HARMFUL, coming from others
When we express genuine pain, we often hear cruel reactions 
from ‘authorities’, family or so-called friends (some 12-step members, religious communities, various self-help gurus / books), saying :

“Get off the pity pot , You’re JUST feeling sorry for yourself , Don’t wallow in your pain , Don’t live in the past , That was a long time ago , Are you still going on about that? ….”

These comments come from wounded people in denial about their old wounds (even some in Program) & not working to heal them. Instead, they’re clinging to & protecting their own defense mechanisms & don’t want to be reminded of their damage by our sadness.

However,
we have our own version of “feeling sorry for”, in 2 forms.
a. Negatively (self-pity) endlessly rehashing old traumas, as a way to :
• not care for ourself & stay in damaged-child modeself-pity
blame others, instead of focusing on what we can do now
• stay in the anger – which is ‘safer’ than feeling the pain underneath
• not have to grow up & ‘leave home’ (S & I) — escaping the responsibility of being in charge of our life.

b. PositivelyFirst & foremost, we need to have great compassion for ourself – for what we endured as kids, & also as adults. Feeling sad for & comforting our WIC is NOT selfishness, as we were told. Gaining the trust of our WIC is the main way to heal.

As kids, our suffering was ignored or punished & we were expected to suck it up. Even then, ‘they’ said we were being a baby, too sensitive, over-reacting, making things up, being crazy….

This left us with a tragic inability to be kind & understanding toward ourself!  We’re as unsympathetic as our family was – indeed, just as cruel in the way we talk to & treat ourselves! (Self-Hate)

SO, ‘healthy’ feeling sorry for -ourself- includes:
gain WIC's childrenclearly understand exactly what happened to us in childhood. As long as we don’t / won’t identify & acknowledge it, we’ll keep repeating it
• having others validate our experience, without blame or judgment, because we never got the right kind of mirroring growing up (a crucial aspect of our damage)

• going over & over the traumatic events of childhood in order to get to the emotional pain which they caused – to process it & get it out of our body
• crying, raging & mourning – in safe places, with safe people – so we don’t have to carry it around anymore or take it out on others

This process can take a long time, because there’s such a huge backlog of pain which can’t be accessed quickly or easily, plus our resistance to change.

EXP:  Rob was working on connecting with his Inner Child for several years.  While sharing in an ACoA 12-Step meeting, he suddenly visualized his kid sitting on the floor, hunched over – with knives sticking in him, all over. That’s what all that early verbal abuse had felt like! Rob started to cry.
compassion for WICIn that moment he saw & felt the terrible distress his kid was in but which he hadn’t been allowed to object to or express.
Now his Loving Parent self was able to feel a great rush of sorrow & compassion for his younger self.
After that he couldn’t allow himself to linger in cruel self-talk from the PigP or WIC any more.
It was a turning point in his Recovery.

• Remember : The only source of self-esteem is unconditional love. Having a strong, positive identity means treating ourself with loving kindness, patience & perseverance.
We do need to ‘feel sorry for’ our wounded part – the real-life child we were, who suffered unfairly & alone thru endless days & nights, in our home, school, church & neighborhood – without people noticing, caring or helping!

• If we – as the Loving Inner Parent to our WIC – can feel genuine sorrow for what we endured, through no fault of our own, we can begin healing those wounds.  The child part of us is waiting to be heard!

NEXT: Fear of commitment- #1

REBELLION vs Compliance (Part 1)

 YOU CAN’T MAKE ME! (OR)
I’ll do whatever you want, so you won’t leave me

PREVIOUS: Wanting Revenge #2


REBELLION

1. HEALTHY

• This is normal for the teen years, when you’re trying to figure out who you are, what you want to do ‘when you grow up’, so you’re not a carbon copy of your parents (yuck), wanting to be part of your peer group….

• In a reasonably healthy family you’re given a certain amount of leeway in this, to grow & stretch. Healthy parents are not threatened by this stage – even if it makes them uncomfortable & a little nuts. They know you’re a separate person & will find out for yourself
• It does not mean they neglect you, ignore what you’re doing or just can’t be bothered. It means they’re watching & waiting, and caring, not overly imposing themselves – but also not OK letting you get into trouble!Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 5.16.58 AM

• When you’re allowed to be different from your folks, can disagree with their politics, religion, philosophy of life, or just plain – what to wear – eventually you get to find out what you really like & don’t like, who the real you is!

• Kids with this kind of freedom eventually (usually by their 20’s) find they do in fact agree with much of what they grew up with – the values, tastes, lifestyle… even if expressed in their own personal way.
AND ways they are different from family is accepted & maybe even admired – or at least respected.

2. UNHEALTHY
However – if you’re reading this, you probably didn’t grow up in that kind of family!  As ACoAs:
a. Neglected : if we were ignored, unguided, un-nurtured – we would, of course, be left with a lot of anger, sadness, loneliness & a deep sense of hopelessness. As kids, we would Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 5.16.16 AMconclude that we didn’t matter, were invisible, had no reason to do anything for ourselves, & are incompetent anyway.

• Maybe a relative, a neighbor or teacher took an interest in us & helped some – but it’s not the same as having our parents explain things, show us by example & help us try out things. Everything from personal hygiene, cooking, house repairs, arts & recreation, social skills – to homework, relationships, spiritual practice….

Our Reaction
THEN
: We spent a lot of time alone, daydreaming, hiding out, reading, studying, maybe hanging out in the library, with a friend – but not likely.
NOW: ACoAs in this group don’t accomplish as much as they could, have trouble pursue dreams, goals, talents, interests … in spite of being just as talented, intelligent & capable as any other human being.
After all, if our parents couldn’t be bothered to teach us how to do all the things kids need to know, so how can we possibly manage anything ourself ? !

• This may not seem like rebellion – but it is.  It’s passive resistance: “If they didn’t take care of me, I’m not going to take care of me!”.  True, there’s fear, a deep sense of not knowing how, but the refusal to try comes from rage, which underpins the passivity.

Even so, some of us were told that they love us – even though they rarely or never acted like it. In stead, WE are the ones who love them – desperately, no matter how cruel & neglectful. We’re the ones who don’t want to let go!

b. Over-Coerced : At the other extreme, many of us were bullied, over-controlled, Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 5.15.41 AMmanipulated – forced to do & be whatever one or both parents (& other caretakers) wanted, with little or no regard to our individual personality.

• As kids we were considered ‘tabula raza’ – that’s Latin for blank slate. Parents of the baby boomer generation (& before) were taught that children come into this world with no identity or personality OR that they’re born bad, & it’s up to the parents to form them according the what’s ‘right’ – to write on the slate as they wished.

• Alcoholic & other narcissistic parents, who by definition had low self-esteem & fear of abandonment (FoA) themselves, could not tolerate any sign of individuality in their children, ⚡️which they stubbornly assumed to be disobedience, deliberate disrespect, even perversion!
☀️Such parents / family ruthlessly suppressed the reality that every child is born with their own specific personality type, & genetic makeup (even twins) which needs to be acknowledged & nurtured.

NEXT: Rebellion vs COMPLIANCE (Part 2)

ACoAs & Being DISAPPOINTED (Part 1)

empty promises I CAN’T TRUST ANYONE – I’ve been disappointed too often

PREVIOUS: Anxiety & T.E.A. #3

QUOTES: “Longed for him. Got him. Shit.” ― Margaret Atwood

“Disappointment is a sort of bankruptcy of a soul that expends too much in hope & expectation.” ― Eric Hoffer

DEF: The feeling of dissatisfaction that follows the failure to manifest of expectations or hopes, with the focus on the outcome, rather than the poor choices one may have caused the failure – decisions / actions that got one there

• Decision Analysis studies many different topics, including Disappointment – its causes, impact & degree to which individual decisions are motivated by a desire to avoid it.

FROM the Regret & Disappointment Scale:
“The emotion most frequently studied by decision theorists is regret, the counter-factual thoughts that create emotions – when realizing or imagining we would have had a better outcome if we’d decided differently.

Regret depends on a Choice made in the past which led to an unfulfilling action – later causing  counter-factual** thinking.
And the intensity of regret depends on – whether suitable alternatives were available (to the person at the time) but were not chosen.
**Counter-factual thinking is picturing one or more outcomes different from what actually happened. It’s when we obsessively think  ‘If only I had… What if it hadn’t….”

Psychologists & economists have been investigating the relationship between Regret & Choice since the early 1980’s. The emotion of disappointment is also based on counter-factual thinking : when we keep wishing events had turned out more to our liking.

Although regret and disappointment are different emotions, they’re both generated by comparing “What IS” reality with “What might have been”.(MORE….)

ACoAs have very intense reactions to being disappointed (D) – either with outright rage OR deep depression, depending on the strength & importance of the unfulfilled needs, and how long we were deprived of those needs.
This to be such a big issue for ACoAs, which tells us how constant & overwhelmingly abandoned in PMES ways we were as kids – first & foremost by our parents, & then by everyone else who let us down.

• We needed them to be there for us, to encourage, guide, protect, validate, mirror, love…. & they either did these things sporadically, incompetently or not at all.
Constant, endless disappointment in our caretakers (also teachers, relatives, baby sitters…) has left us with a very big wound. It’s one of many wounds – & some of us have buried it so deep, we don’t evedisapponted catn recognize it when it happens again in the present.

To be disappointed we must:
1. have a need ( + desire, wish, dream, hope….)
We may not even know we have a particular need or wish, because we were not allowed to have them, or if we did, we were told in many ways, over & over – that they were not legitimate, were selfish, were dumb….
AND must :
2. (secretly) expect that need to be met.
Since we’re still not allowed to have them, we not aware that they’re always in the background. We still have needs, just by virtue of being alive. But since they go unmet – they can never go away, like being hungry but barely eating anything if ay all – OR eating empty calories & harmful foods / chemicals…..
For many of us, the greater a specific need, the more desperate we become – waiting for someone else to do something for us we should be doing for ourselves or can learn how to
and must :
3. not get that need met : We can track deprivation of need, hopes, wishes….  by the intensity of our reactions when we don’t get something we (unconsciously) longed for, actually asked for or tried to get in some indirect way.

❥ HUMOR from Grant Sniderdisappointed

 

NEXT: ACoAs & Disappointment – Part 2

Double MESSAGES – ACoAs (Part 7a)

acoa DBs
I CAN’T BELIEVE

I’ve been so duped!

PREVIOUS: Double Messages, Part 6 

FACING OURSELVES
1. Many of us grew up drowning in Double Messages (DMs). Being raised in this kind of atmosphere this is how we connect with others, using this way of communicating in all 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 the whistle-blower child is forced into either being a co-dependent enabler, OR withdrawing & eventually leaving the family altogether. 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 waDM angry clients 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 complained 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.

REVIEW / REMINDER : Parental DM – forced on the Hero, the Introvert or the Sensitive child : 
A. Incompetence – Be dysfunctional, like us (misery loves company)
• parents (& later our PP) want us to be their carbon copy : 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
BUT ALSO:
B
. Competence : Be confusuion cornerfunctional, 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 : > perfect, strong, gutsy, able to take risks – for them
> have backbone, fight for them, save them from themselves
> be smart, capable, clever, & use all our knowledge (for THEM)
AND
C. Be in Denial (the way we are)
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….
“I never said that!  ,  How dare you speak to me that way?!  , Stop complaining, after all I’ve sacrificed for you!…. ”   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? Kids absorb & imitate their parents, regardless. We imprint on them like ducklings! Yet what 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 ourself.  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!

NOTE ** 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. And that can only happen if parents have the capacity to be loving, kind, supportive, rational, available, sober….  not just give it lip service.

NEXT: ACoAs & Self DBs, Part 8b

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


ACoAs ARE IN A DOUBLE BIND  –
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 =

d.
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

PROCESS – ACoA Version (Part 1)

process 1


WHO NEEDS PROCESS?
I’ll just jump to the end. Much faster & less hassle!

PREVIOUS: Book version cancelled

 

ACoAs HATE process!

Process is the practical HOW TO of living well
, something ACoAs barely learned, or not at all.
Our FAMILY (& other adults) :
• were not good role models (incompetent, drunk, controlling, bossy, weak, procrastinating, fearful – or just unavailable / absent)
• expected us to know what to do automatically (read their mind?)
“behave, make us proud, always look good, never mess up, learn a skill, go to college, be a good son or daughter / student / Christian…’

• wouldn’t let us help them do things (so we thought it meant we were hopelessly inept – even of we were only 6 or 10, or a teen…)
• either gave us incomplete or incorrect info, or didn’t help us figure out the process, expecting too much while getting frustrated & angry with us for not getting it right away, & ended up disgusted & abusive

✒︎ Did I mentioned? ACoAs HATE process & will do anything to avoid it, including not even notice we’re avoiding it!  We want to get THERE as fast as we can, like yesterday. We’ll see why.

SO – what is it? A series of action steps or growth stages, between where we goalsare now & where we want to be = HERE ——>/——>/——>/——> GOAL
The overall procedure is a series of –
A – Actions
Each step also has 2 major aspects –
T – (thoughts) ie. Information
E – & emotions

1. PROBLEMS : This looks simple, no? But nothing is simple for us!  (3 CHARTS…..)
a. ‘HERE’ : wherever we’re starting from. Seems obvious? Well, not always for ACoAs. We’re often either in lala land or in S-H about our current status. What’s needed is a fair assessment of our strengths, weaknesses AND outside resources/ support
So we ask: QUO VADIS? (Where are you going?)

b. ‘GOAL’: Another hitch. Because –
• many of us don’t know what we want, need, like, feel… so how can we have goals?
• we’re not allowed to think for or about ourself without interference, so we deny knowing what goals we may have
• some goals are only those we were programmed to take on
• some of us have very clear goals & strong desires – BUT are not allowed to pursue them (form the PigP),who am I
and the WIC is too terrified of failing or losing, if we tried

• other of the WIC’s goals aren’t within our capacity, not realistic or just plain unhealthy. If we focus on something that’s not feasible, naturally we’ll never achieve it, which just adds to our sense of hopelessness. (“Weak Decision Styles)
So we have to carefully think through what we’re aiming for

c. The STEPS: Next problem –
• we don’t know what the steps are – for many types of process
• we want to skip the ones we can’t handle instead of asking for help
• our family didn’t go thru process-steps, so we don’t know what stages ‘look like’
• we were expected to be little adults – so they wouldn’t have to be real adults – forced to skip the process of normal childhood developmental growth levels.  So we think that’s how it’s done:
“ACoAs get their MSW first, & their Birth Certificate later!”

Process is about ACTIONS. Each step is made up of:
 c1. Information (facts) – like how to make a resume, fill out forms, think thru a problem….. ACoAs are VERY smart, but we’re a human version of HAL, in ‘2001’.
Think: millions of data crystals fitted into the slots of our processing core – some are missing, many are there but corrupted & others are in perfhead & heartect working order BUT not linked to the recognition software! ie. – we don’t OWN all the good & accurate things we DO KNOW!

Even so, ACoAs are avid learners, book junkies, always searching, trying  to figure out how ‘normal’ people function. So this point is more manageable.  We can easily find info, especially now, on the net.

c2. Emotions – mainly FEAR (anxiety) like when we have to cold-call, interview, talk to a stranger at an event…. This is the real sticking point. We brought with us from childhood:
• OLD Emotions: so many painful experiences which never got validated or processed, so there’s a deep well of terror – which we now project on to anything that seems hard

• CURRENT Emotions from toxic beliefs : that Rolodex of negative Rules in our head which we obsessively repeat, insuring we won’t be able to take healthy actions if at all.
Negative thinking (CDs) creates high anxiety!  It’s not just the old fear that cause problems. It’s what we’re still believing right now that’s scaring us!

NEXT:  Healthy PROCESS (Part 2a)

MIND READING vs. Intuition (Part 1a)

mind-readingIS IT REAL OR…..
am I just projecting?

PREVIOUS: Healthy RISK

POSTS: Symbiosis & ACoAs
• “How ACoAs Abandon Others”

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

1. MIND-READING (M-R)
a. Meanings
This is one of the many Cognitive Distortions (CDs) that plague ACoA & alcoholic thinking :
♦︎Expect yourself to know what others are thinking, without them having to tell you, and
♦︎ Magically assume you know how someone’s feeling, or what they need or want – from you —> so you can provide it!
AND
♦︎ expect others to know what we need, feel & think, without having to tell them.

This CD is a form of symbiosis, (opposite of S & I), the WIC’s desperate desire to stay connected to others — the same way an infant needs the mother to KNOW what the baby needs & feels.
In a healthy family mindreadingthis is provided, which allows the child to form a safe internal base. Then they can outgrow the need to be intertwined & rely on themself.

ACoA impulse to Mind-Read is :
• knowing from experience that our parents did not love us unconditionally & so assume everyone else will feel the same way toward us
• being raised in an environment where the adults hardly ever talked to us, or evaded admitting what was happening, so we couldn’t know what others were thinking or feeling
AND
• growing up in a family where emotional & mental honesty was missing (lying, hypocrisy), so we had to guess at reality
• our fear of separateness – if we ‘know’ what someone is thinking then we’re permanently joined (intertwined), to stave off the bitter loneliness of the WIC
• needing to protect ourselves at all times from the ‘dangerous’ world by ‘figuring out’ what to expect – always
AND
• not taught how to gather info correctly, we make things up. We’re not allowed to ask AND assume we won’t get the truth anyway
• trying to figure out how to behave (if I “know” what you’re thinking I can adjust my actions accordingly)

🦠 Mind-reading is completely about us – not about the person or group we’re referring to. Because it’s not based in reality, it does the opposite of what it’s supposed to accomplish.
Instead of keeping us attached & safe, M-R insures staying at a distance in a fantasy fog, separating us from the rest of humanity, which reinforces our sense of alienation.  No wonder ACoAs feel like we ‘don’t belong anywhere’, even when in a room full of other ACoAs!

M-R also means WE :
♦︎ are sure someone is reacting badly to or thinking negatively about us, without any real evidence… often contrary to what the other person actually feels, says or does….
SO OUR:
✧ S-H becomes “Nobody likes me”
✧ FoA becomes “She would never spend time with me”
✧ paranoia becomes “I know they’re talking about me”
✧ fear of rejection becomes “She’ll be too busy to help me”
✧ perfectionism becomes “They all thought my _____ was awful”
✧ lack of boundaries becomes “The boss expects me to be just like her!”

angry guyMe, me, me!  M-R completely erases others, as if they didn’t have separate identities, minds of their own OR had other things to think about besides us!

EXP: Paul sits anxiously in a 12-step meeting, raising his hand but not getting called on.  He’s convinced the speaker is deliberately avoiding him – “she must not want to hear what I have to say… she doesn’t like me… she thinks she’s better than me…”, so Paul sits & fumes.

Reality: If Paul had asked the speaker about this, he would have been told: “I’m sorry, I saw your hand, but just didn’t get to you.  It’s so hard to pick – you want to include everyone, but there’s just not enough time.”

EXP: If your therapist yawns or seems distracted – you assume he / she is bored with you.
Or if you get invited to a dinner party, you’re sure they only invited you to make up the seating numbers.

Reality: You’re therapist was up all nite with a sick child or has a bad headache! AND, you were invited to dinner because the hostess likes you & knows you’ll be a great addition!

NEXT: MIND-READING vs Intuition – 1b

ACoAs & RISK – Intro

risk 

TO RISK OR NOT TO RISK –
That is the question

PREVIOUS: Unrealistic Expect.-UNDER

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

REVIEW posts on (not) TRUSTING


Basic MEANING of RISK

a. taking a chance on something, most often referring to the possibility of harm, misfortune or loss
b.
can also be about a positive outcome, resulting in pleasure, accomplishment & success
c.
OR a neutral / acceptable result – with no danger but no gain

STYLE “a” ⬆️ characteristics
PHYSICAL
• dealing with something or someone known as a source of danger
• a venture chosen without regard to possible loss or injury
• being exposed to the chance of damage or injury, not by choice

EMOTIONAL / PSYCHOLOGICAL
• a situation which causes suffering — being accused wrongly, manipulated & used, humiliated, misunderstood or shamed
• an element or course of action involving uncertain, unpredictable discomfort or distress
• the possibility that something unpleasant or unwelcome might happen beyond ones control

FOR ACoAsmany outcomes
Although the definitions indicate more than one possible outcome, only the a. meaning is considered an option for us – because of  Toxic family rules  such as: “Life is endless suffering’,  ‘You must always struggle but can never get ‘there’,  ‘Don’t expect anything good, ever”…..

In a ‘sane’ world, Risk is minimized or no longer a factor IF the outcome of a situation in known ahead of time based on experience, or is predictable based on dependable information
Then a person can take an action OR avoid a situation – with confidence. This is not wishful thinking, projecting or unrealistic expectations. It comes from realistic knowledge, using present-day Adult ego-state evaluation

• But that’s not how ACoAs operate. We persistently ignore info we do have from years of experience, only using the WIC’s distorted ‘glasses’.
We compulsively pursue unsafe actions, when we  —
✎ choose to return to dangerous situations, stay connected to harmful people…..
✎ & avoid beneficial opportunities, often refusing to take relatively safe actions.
Because of our very deep denial system we keep getting burned – then wonder why we don’t trust!

ANXIETY – ACoA issues around risk-taking are always about internal anxiety. One scared kidscharacteristics on the Laundry List is:
“We have become addicted to (negative) excitement after years of living in the midst of a traumatic & often dangerous family ‘soap opera’.”

ACoAs get things backwards. We keep trying to do the impossible & have trouble doing what is possible!
We’re not sufficiently afraid of some very dangerous ‘people, places & things’ while being overly scared of things that are not actually harmful (like having emotions)!

ALL ACoAs are fear-based**, the Inner Child’s terror of feeling out of control that we bring with us into adulthood, underscoring every aspect of our life. Anxiety is what drives all our character defects, our acting out, our addictions . It’s why the Serenity Prayer is so important for ACoAs!

** Fortunately, long-term recovery – if we’ve been doing emotion-release work – diminishes the intensity of our fear, so it’s not on the surface all the time.  But since our terror-base is very deep, it never dissipates completely.
So we should not be surprised when it occasionally grabs us in the gut – if or when some current event sets it off again. “If it’s hysterical, it’s historical”.

The difference is, or should be – that we’ve built a Loving Parent voice, with years of acting in healthier ways & using our tools, so we can soothe & comfort the WIC whenever we’re triggered (Use Book-ending)

CONTROLcontrolling
The counter-action defense against anxiety is to be controlling (as opposed to Having Self-Control).
It avoids any type of risk-taking that inherently implies unpredictability.
The greater the inner fear, the greater the need to control – in a futile attempt to keep anything or anyone from abandoning us – yet again.

This is why ACoAs try so hard to be mind-readers. If we can figure out what someone feels, thinks or needs – before they say anything – we assume we’ll be ‘prepared’ – for the worst, of course – to prevent being hurt, & stay connected by twisting ourselves into what we hope others will find acceptable.

NEXT: ACoAs & RISK – #2