Al-Anon STEP 10 – Comments (Part 1)

PREVIOUS : Use “THINK” instead of “feel” #2

SITE: Al-Anon Step 10 


AA/AL-Anon 10th Step: “Continued to take personal inventory & when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”

This Step separates into 3 distinct issues: inventory, wrongs, admitting


a. STEP 10 is a general evaluation of our activities for some brief period. The actual purpose is to help us stay present for what’s going on inside of us on a continuing basis.

It’s an antidote to our compulsion to escape the WIC’s old pain that hasn’t been cleaned out yet –  by retreating into the ‘lala land’s of FB, TV, reading, over-doing…. & various addictions. It’s a way to not slide back into denial, back into just DOing instead of BEing, back into our ACoA’s built-in forgetter state. 

b. WHEN? While it’s not stated, the assumption is that we take this step every day. In the Al-Anon book: “Paths to Recovery: Al-Anon’s Steps, Traditions and Concepts” a member writes that at first they did it once a day, then added a lunch time evaluation at work, so that anything that needed to be corrected could be done right away & then the afternoon would go more smoothly.

But each of us must find our own rhythm. The more regularly we get in the habit of checking in with ourselves, the more we can connect with our True Self, & burn off bits & pieces of our damage.

c. Continuing a personal inventory does not exclusively mean listing all the flaws, mistakes, omissions… we’ve committed that day.
Yet in the literature & in meetings the focus is mainly on character defects we identified in Step 4. Re. Step 10, one internet site says “Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them…..”

d. Simply doing it this way is lopsided. To be accurate it would be useful to make 2 – very brief – lists of both plusses & any negatives we observes in ourselves. If we’re doing this during the day, they can both be brief.

If it’s at the end of the day, we would benefit from sticking to only doing a positive inventory, as shown in the column —->. This is particularly important for ACoAs because our focus is always on what we did wrong, which keeps us stuck in narcissistic S-H. (More on ‘wrongs’ in Part 2)

And, to be ‘rigorously honest’ – we need to include all T.E.A.s (thoughts, emotions & actions) – without self-judgement – BRIEFLY. SO:
✔︎ What were my actions today?  This is what most of us focus on. This includes things like co-dependent people-pleasing or passive-aggressive reactions – which mostly hurts ourselves, but also hurts others by nor being present with them (psychological dishonesty) – some ways we abandon others.
ASK: Did I “Correct, Complain, Criticize?”

POSITIVE: Identify any & all actions, even if they’re easy, short, simple or repeated every day

✔︎ What were my emotions (Es) today? Excitement, anxiety, boredom, annoyance, anticipation, gratitude, pleasure…?

Since ACoAs have trouble identifying our Es, start by briefly listing any events of the day which might have bothered you but which you brushed aside at the time –  (someone ignored you, your ex called, you got a compliment, you forgot something…..)

Then ask yourself:  “IF I had had an E for each event, what might it have been? Sad, hurt, angry, relieved, pleased….

This inventory is particularly important if you feel drained, upset, antsy, obsessing…. at the end of the day but don’t know why.  Notice how these unrecognized Es add up & may contribute to your unease. Just because we don’t FEEL them, doesn’t mean they’re not there!

NOW: You can acknowledge some of these Es you’ve learned to suppress (denial), & can talk about them in meetings, therapy & with sponsors – to bring them into consciousness.
IMP: This will prevent having to act them out.

POSITIVE: Include a list of comfortable Es you experienced – no matter how subtle or brief. It’s important to reinforce all positives (peaceful, happy, relieved, relaxed….)

NEXT : Step 10 – #2 (re. Thoughts)

ACoAs MANIPULATING Self & Others (Part 4b)

in chargePREVIOUS: Manipulating #4a

SITE: TED talk by Dan Pink : The puzzle of motivation 

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.


Manipulation consists of 3 basic parts, a negative effort to fill-in the missing 3 positive needs of Safety, Belonging, & Mattering:
a. Scheming – To get, get out of, or have someone else do something
b. Calculating – Being dishonest, devious, conniving
c. Controlling – Wily, sly, crafty

Of course
– many ACoAs will rigorously deny using these tactics, especially a & b, especially those of us who feel powerless & depressed. But S-H, co-dependence, boundary invasion, lying, withholding….. are definite examples of them

REVIEW of Recovery Tools:
To grow, these harmful & useless patterns need to be addressed honestly (like the AA / inventoryAl-Anon 4th Step or other inventories), to keep track of how we manipulation ourselves & others.

More than likely we’ll need help identifying behaviors & attitudes, since they’re so deeply woven into the fabric of our daily lives we don’t even realize what they are. “Does a fish know it’s wet?”

Then going on to Step 5, we can begin overcoming shame & loneliness, by speaking out loud the specific ways we’ve been using this defense ‘game’. Program has a saying: “You’re only as sick as your secrets”, so sharing our 4th Step is important, if it’s done with compassion, in the right place, with safe people.

All manipulation is a way to con ourselves into believing we should not have any needs, while conning others into providing them (or we do without) – because we can’t eliminate having them! SO, in order to heal:

• In every situation – start by remembering you have one or more needs, on different PMES levels. Identify them – first on the physical level (help to pick out a present, cleaning the house, getting a job, health issues….), & then on a deeper level – the emotional need (validation, comfort, respect, support…..).

This is only do-able if we accept that all our needs are legitimate, & then practice providing them, both from ourselves & from appropriate outside sources

• Use book-ending to prove to your WIC that getting your needs met now IS possible.
As adults, our efforts are successful more often than not – as long as we “go to the food market for food rather than the hardware store!”take astionc

• Be willing to sit with uncomfortable Emotions your WIC feels, when you:
— ask for help AND get it!
— try on a new behavior
— take better care of yourself
— stop an old pattern …..

• Build self-esteem – changing S-H messages into compassion, patience & self-kindness. If you KNOW you’re a worthwhile person, then you KNOW you have a right to your needs

• Make a daily effort to go to the right PPT for help to get your needs met legitimately – in non-exploitative ways

• Accept – graciously – that sometimes people can’t provide what you ask for – either at that specific time for their own reason – or not at all, because they don’t have it to give.
This is not a reflection on your worth or how they feel about you. Nor does it automatically make them bad or selfish. Either wait until they’re available, or go find another resource.

FROM “I want everyone else to do what I want” all needs
TO “Others have the right to do things their own way”

FROM “Everyone is or should be just like me”
TO “I can see that others have their own identity separate from mine, who deserve as much respect & care as I want for myself”

FROM “Everyone else is only a source for provide my needs”
TO “I admit that others don’t owe me what I didn’t get from my family”

FROM “Everyone else is the solution to my problems”
TO “I’m responsible for finding answers & solving my problems”

FROM “Everything is THEIR fault”
TO “I’m responsible for my own actions”

FROM “I always have to be right, about everything”
TO “I can only know what’s right for me at this very moment, & it’s OK to be wrong, or not know something

FROM “I have to have my way, or else (I’ll die or I’ll kill you!)”
TO “I take care of myself, so I’m rarely desperate”

FROM “I’ll do anything to keep others from being angry at me (experienced as abandonment = separation, aloneness & death)

TO “Other people have a right to their emotions, including anger. I’m not a helpless child anymore. I have experiences & options – to take care of myself – even IF the other person temporarily withdraws, or is permanently gone.”

Manipulation is NOT a successful way to survive & feel safe.

NEXT: Goals to Meet NEEDS #1

What to DO when CONFUSED (Part 5)

it’s OK to ask for help

PREVIOUS: ACoAs & Confusion (#4)



4. OPTIONS (cont)
THE “LAW”: Being trapped as kids in endlessly dire situations without any possible ‘out’ left ACoAs with the Toxic Rule: “If you don’t like it you have to stay”. Controlling parents also taught us: “It’s MY way or the highway”  & “Who do you think you are?”.  Not only were we not allowed to leave bad situations, but we shouldn’t think for ourselves or disobey the ruling demigods – lest we be destroyed!

• That is how the WIC actually experienced our parent(s): as ‘gods’, and so disobedience = our death. If that seems extreme, imagine the terror in a small child trying to defy the angry, abusive authoriparents as godty.

OR, remember the intensity of your anxiety, as an adult, when you’ve said NO to a parent or mate, or tied something totally our of your comfort zone. Haven’t yet?  As long as we still hold these crippling beliefs we have little or no wiggle room, making it hard >to >impossible to take effective actions

EXP: Shona’s father had given her a few of his extra tools to use in her first apartment after college. 20 yrs later she was still struggling to making do with them for every repair job, no matter how unsuited they were for a particular task!

Eventually Shona realized this was a metaphor for the way she lived the rest of her life, & decided to work on expanding her sense of possibilities – starting at the most practical, undramatic level. Occasionally she’ll stop in a hardware store & just LOOK at the huge variety of items – each made for a specific operation!
Imagine making life easier by having the right tool!

APPLY this to all areas of life – & start by finding out what’s available – what are your options in a given situation. While there are realistic limits to our capacities & to what we can afford, they’re NOT nearly as narrow as we believe.  Of course with Amazon, eBay, Google…. – just about anything can be delivered!😀 Anyway – in T.E.A. terms, Emotions also come in a wide range, many ways to Think about something & a variety of ways to DO things.

The latter can certainly apply to small daily choices like what to wear or eat —> all the way to big ones like where to live, which job & relationship to pick or stay in…. One teacher repeats month after month: “Don’t be negative, just be open!” – a new rule to live by.

a. Venn Diagram Inventory
PURPOSE: to get an overview of where you stand on any aspect of your life right now
You can make the chart into a collage, use the computer or just free-hand it on a large sheet of paper

The biggest circle (Spirituality) is the background to our whole life.

EACH person’s Diagram will look different.
If you’re ambitious or curious, you can make one for where you were 10 or 20 yrs ago, as a comparison.

• Think about all the areas of your life, & decide their relevant importance to you at present. Change or add any not listed.
Draw / cut the size circle for each topic as it relates to their current importance

• Play with the positions of circles…. change them around until the chart feels right. Place them close to, overlapping or far away from each other, depending on how they connect in real life

• Label circles, & draw lines to form pie wedges in each one.
— You decide how many lines (slices) based on how many problems & victories for each – you’ll probably have to guess-timate
IMP: each slice represents an issue related to the circle’s topic

a. Fill in a slice for any aspect of that topic you’re confident you have a good handle on(never perfectly)
No longer use drugs & alcohol

b. Zig-zag or cross hatch slices that are aspects you’re still working on but making progress. The degree of progress in one may be different than in another slice. Make zig-zag density accordingly
EXP: Get to places on time more often

AND THEN: Most likely there will always be one or more empty slices – representing:
c. Grey– things about a topic you know need correcting / a change but are not ready / willing to tackle

d. Blank– problems / challenges about that topic you simply don’t know you need to work on – yet

NEXT: What to do…. #6

Gifted Children – Types (Part 1)

our child & help her/him blossom

 Multiple Intellig. #3e

SITEs: “Characteristics & Behaviors of the Gifted (excellent)

12 Lessons about GIFTED KIDS from MATILDA

BOOK: “The Drama of the Gifted Child”~ Alice Miller (Comments)

Parents know that their children are different from each other – but not all are aware of it consciously. We can tell this by how differently they treat each child – because of birth order, gender, inborn characteristics, & the Type most like each parent.

In reasonably functional homes parents notice & respond appropriately of the variations in their children’s personalities. While trying to be fair & balances, they form their relationships & type of guidance based on what’s best suited to each child’s style.

Unhealthy: Damaged parents don’t even try to be fair or balanced with their various children. Instead they ONLY use those existing differences in the service of the family dis-ease & their own sick personal needs – especially the very smart & perceptive children, who are either:

. scapegoated in order to dis-empower them because their sensitivity & intelligence is a threat to maintaining the abusive structure, & so are systematically destroyed, OR
b. their strength & cleverness is used to take care of everyone else, while the child’s needs are neglected & negated. OR both.

ACoAs: Even though we are in fact quite smart – to have figured out how to survive so much chaos & cruelty – we don’t know who we are inside. So it’s not surprising that we seem oblivious to fundamental differences in the personalities of people we meet or live with. We act as if they are all the same – but more specifically – the same as us (symbiosis).

This is the crux of our emotional & psychological blindness: Our WIC narcissistically wants everyone to be a carbon copy of ourselves, as if that would validate us & give us permission to be ourselves. It’s the only way it thinks it can be safe.

▶︎ Studying the various Styles of children & adults allows us to distinguish ourselves from others, & be better able to interact with them based on who they are.

RECOVERY: But first we need to find our who we truly are (via our inventories, plus mirroring & validation from others) to get comfortable with ourselves, so that it’s OK to see who other people are, without it threatening us. Another irony – the more we can do that the safer we actually feel!

: As listed in many other posts – there are a number of ways to find out who we are, such as: Al-anon, Dream Interpretation, Enneagram, Journaling,  Myers-Briggs Inventory, MMPI, Multiple Intelligences,  Personality tests, Prayer & Meditation, Psychotherapy, Numerology & Astrology, 2-handed Inner Child dialogues, Trauma Release body work…..

For ACoAs – all these tools are needed in various combinations in oder to form a rounded picture of our Inner Self, since we are complex beings and because our upbringing gave us a very distorted view of ourselves.

Re. very bright children – the next 2 posts list the categories drawn from many year of observation by George Betts & Maureen Neihart (Davidson Institute for Talent Development), based on Howard Gadner’s 1983 proposed Multiple Intelligences.

Re. this List (Part 2 & 3) : As with other kinds of descriptions, a child may be a combination of 2 or more, & their Type will develop with time as they grow. Healthy parents will want to stay aware of their gifted child’s progress, to keep up with changes needed to give practical help & emotional support.

NOTE: Some Gifted Children have hidden learning disabilities that often go undiscovered, fearing ridicule & the ignorance of others. Their cleverness allows G&Ts to compensate for problems in their early years. Untreated, eventually it becomes harder & harder for them to excel, which can lead to behavior problems, depression & giving up.

NEXT: Gifted Children (Part 2)

“ACTIONS – Healthy OPPOSITES” (Part 2)

 why isn’t it working?

PREVIOUS: Healthy Opposites #1


“REVERSING self-defeating Behavior IMPROVES our Life” (cont)

ACoAs have a tendency to:
do everything based on B & W thinking (‘always, never, no one, all’…)
• be afraid to do anything that’s against the Toxic Family Rules
• only do what we think others want us to, or what others expect of us

behave in much the same way that our dysfunctional parents did
• use the same type of actions in every situation (no nuance, no variations, no risks, no innovations or what actually works …)

• not learn from our mistakes, just repeat bad patterns & then complain
• blame others for our mistakes, emotional distress or lack of action
• react from a wounded, anxious or angry emotional place (the co-dependent triangle = victim / perpetrator / rescuer)

Here the focus is on the way to choose what category of actions to take. It’s not a guide to what we should do, but rather correcting what seems to us a quite logical – yet misguided – way to solve our problems, which has been to:
➡️ periodically reverse our usual way of handling things – but only knowing how to choose its Unhealthy Opposite!

B. UNHEALTHY Opposites
• From the very beginning of life we’ve been trying to figure out how to survive, fix our family & get our needs met – mostly with corrupted info (G-I / G-O = “garbage in – garbage out”).

ACoAs are very smart, creative & determined – even though we don’t realize or own it. As kids all out talents went into a valiant effort to save our parents & siblings – maybe even friends.
Now we find other dysfunctional people to ‘rescue’ – desperate to make them well enough to be there for us!

EXP: The 4yr old trying to help her drunk father up the stairs that he’s passed out on, the teenager hopelessly trying to convince her mother to go to Al-anon or leave dad, OR as adults – trying to get a heavily addicted lover /spouse sober, or to keep them from killing themselves – whealthy oppositesith little or no success.

• As unrecovered adults we stumble around without mental or emotional clarity – in spite of our high intelligence, because of convoluted & warped info we were fed in childhood.
The ACoA Laundry List says: “We guess at what normal is”, so we obsessively watch normals to figure out what to do (how do they talk, how do they eat sushi, what makes them happy, how do they make friends?…).

Even so, we can only copy them but so far, because we’re still in the grip of our childhood / family templates – used as the foundation for new actions.  It doesn’t work. This is to be expected – it’s how every brain is programmed from birth.
So we always end up in the same old place, defeated & hopeless, thinking that it’s: a) somehow all our fault, & that b) the universe is against us!
Either way, it hurts!
EXP: Afraid to be in social situation because we don’t know how to make small talk, convinced we’ll be boring or sound stupid…..

• And how do we use all our native cleverness & determinatioakwardn for ourselves?
There are many convoluted ways UNhealth can manifest itself. From that mess we choose a set of patterns that most suits our specific personality & our background. We keep trying them out in complex variations & with lots of different people. (Chart in Part 4)

When we get too frustrated by not getting what we need or want, we unconsciously pick through the mental rolodex of distorted options that were forced on us, looking for a better way to handle things, hoping another ‘opposite’  way of behaving will solve our problems.

So we try obvious reversals, BUT all our action-choices are taken from the ‘disease’ end of the spectrum. From a. to b. & back again! (in above chart)
EXP: “I always say the wrong thing, so now I’m not going to talk at all! OR
// My last 3 girlfriends were nightmares, so I’ll never trust another woman….”

NEXT: Healthy opposites #3

ACoAs – ANXIETY & T.E.A. (Part 2)

about my painful emotions?

PREVIOUS: T.E..A. & Anxiety (#1)

SITEs: Anxiety Fingerprint (Tool 3)
Consciousness & Emotions & the brain

BOOK: Freedom From Body Memory : Awaken the Courage to Let Go of the Past….. “a person can accumulate years, even a lifetime of stress in their body from past experiences….”

1. T.E.A defined (Part 1)

2. ANXIETY (cont)
⚑ UNDER: For those of us who try to skate past our anxiety, when something sets it off – we’re deeply shocked, overwhelmed, can’t cope, think we’re losing our mind…… And if we unexpectedly get too flooded, without a healthy way to resolve it, it can trigger an anxiety attack, which is very scary & physically painful

ACoAs will do almost anything to avoid feeling emotions – especially fear.
‘Coping’ styles (escapes):coping styles
• keep so busy you can’t feel it (or much of anything else)
• withdraw, isolate from people, refuse help or comfort
• find other ways to escape (internet, tv, sleeping……)
• stay angry so you don’t feel scared
• blame everyone / everything else

⚑ OVER: And then there are those of us who are drowning in anxiety – for days, months, years or as far back as we can remember – our constant daily companion. We don’t know what to do about it, don’t know the source & have never learned how Reactions:
• obsess over that you did wrong when upset or disappointed
• search for answers out of yourself to fix your problems
• use various types of addictions to numb any unpleasant Es
• dump on anyone who’ll listen : compulsively go on & on about situations & people in your life that upsets you, without any self-awareness of internal causes, or attempts to make appropriate external changes where possible.

Whether anxiety (physically & emotionally painful) has been a life-long black cloud always overhead effecting everything you do, OR an occasional unexpected ‘visitor’, seemingly out of nowhere – 2 important questions come to mind:
Where is it coming from? // What can I do about it?
If you’ve asked yourself these Qs, you may have just shrugged ”I don’t know”.

a. Not everyone is self-reflective. Most people go thru life ignoring or using the list above as defense mechanism to sidestep emotional pain. They’re just baffled & stay that way.

b. Some see a connection between an event (action) & anxiety, but don’t know what it is, & attribute it to something that shows our imperfection :
√ making a mistake, forgetting something, being late, saying the wrong thing, losing something valuable (even temporarily), making  a fool of ourselves, failing at some effort…..

more often it’s something or someone outside of ourselves hat makes us anxious :
√ waiting for an important phone call, being called into the boss’s office, a break up, anticipating an attack or punishment, the death of a family member, someone important turning against us, being verbally attacked or accused wrongly, caught in a character defect …..

c. Emotionally oriented ACoAs feel the anxiety intensely, but will only ‘hear’ obsessive thoughts – “spinning” – & assume it’s a way to explain the emotional distress, after the fact. (Suggestion: Enneagram 2, 4, 6 types, & anyone with a lot Water signs in their Astro natal chart – Scorpio, Cancer & Pisces)

Sensitive /emotional ACoAs may assume that a stressful situation is what generates anxiety, CAUSING the spinning (obsessive thoughts) – as a way of explaining the emotional upset to ourselves.

We may use this kind of endless ruminating:
• to beat ourselves up, taking on all the blame for a situation
• to identify how bad/ weak/ inadequate… we’re convinced we truly are & in what way
• to figure out how to fix it, but from a narcissistic perspective (“It’s all about me!”), via people-pleasing, groveling, hiding out, being belligerent…. depending on our personal defensive style.

HOWEVER – the reality of our internal process is the reverse : our harmful THINKING CAUSES our anxiety!

NEXT: T.E.A. & Anxiety (Part 3)


'acceptance' stampACCEPTANCE – BAH!
I don’t like it, so I’ll ignore it

PREVIOUS: Healthy Give & Take

QUOTE: “Most men would rather deny a hard truth than face it.”
G.R.R. Martin, Game of Thrones

😁 Calvin: “Now what state do you live in?”
Hobbes: Denial.” ― Bill Watterson 

1. The ‘PROBLEM’
ACCEPTANCE is the middle ‘A’
 of Al-Anon’s 3 As (2. Awareness — 3. Action).  Correctly understanding & using this concept will make our life much clearer & saner.
For ACoAs this pesky A2 is the most misunderstood & the one many ACoAs HATE!  We don’t even want to acknowledge it’s something we need to deal with, because of thinking that “I can’t accept anything I don’t like or is too painful”, which is a CD – cognitive distortion

DEF : A2 does NOT mean –
• liking or not liking something! – a MAJOR misconception
• staying a victim, accepting our lot in life, being resigned
• giving up, not trying, not looking for a way up & out
• putting up with ‘crap’ from people, including our Introject’s bad voice
• sitting around waiting for things to happen or for someone to rescue us

Parts 2 & 3 will explain what it IS. Sadly, as in other areas of life, ACoAs will turn almost anything against themself, even good things. But first let’s see how we do use the 3 As, in the service of our dis-ease, a shorthand for all of our toxic thinking.
Negative MEANING of the 3 As
To put Acceptance in context, the unside downalcoholic / narcissistic family message given children is —
You are Bad, We are Good, the World is Bad”.
And the WIC understands this triple threat to mean:
Neg. A-1 = “I’m so bad, no one will ever love me”, &
Neg. A-2 = “I try to ignore it, but believe it absolutely”
Neg. A-3 = so – “I must be perfect, (or dead!), to make up for it” 

These 3 became the foundation of our world view – being stuck with this awful protocol without any possibility of escape. Negatives EXPANDED :
A1 = Awareness re. US – the deep-seated belief of the WIC that we’re unworthy, not entitled, beyond redemption! (S-H)

A2 = Acceptance re. THEM – that our family was right about everything, which we absorbed from their overt / covert brain-washing. Guess whose opinions we still hold on to!? We believed them because :
• all humans are intensely loyal to their upbringing – it’s our most basic connection to others
• it’s the way our brain got programmed – every experience created the neural pathways which formed our understanding of life (“How we Learn“)
• AND ‘they’ constantly made it clear that we were un-acceptable. Some parents even used God, spirituality & religion to convince us of their beliefs!

As a result we were trained to accepted all sorts of terrible things as normal & inevitable for the rest of our life, in obedience to our family & community’s lessons

A3 = Action re. the WORLD – everything & everyone who’s not part of our distorted & insulated dangerous worldfamily mobile is considered dangerous, unhelpful, unwelcoming, indifferent…. since our family (& community) forced on us their narrow, alcoholic, bigoted view of the world. Our actions reflects this.

Unhealed ACoAs deal with the ‘A3‘ BY:
Defiance of all authority & systems, which have become substitutes for our parents.
We can hate outside forces instead of admitting our rage at the family.
AND since the world is SO-O-O dangerous – we’re NOT going to give in or let them get us! OR —
Compliance – we have to give in, keep our head down, hide in the shadows, so no one will get us!

NEXT: Acceptance & ACoAs (#2)

ACoAs: Our TIME-LINE Inventory


my life all laid out so clearly

PREVIOUS: Family Inventory – General

See ACRONYM Page for abbrev.


Family Inventory charts are next. If you want to start with a Personal Inventory (or have already done one, try c.), here are a few options:

Al-anon “ 12 STEP Workbook ” (as an adult) and12 Steps of Adult Children” (about you & family in childhood)

These 2 books can be done together – one Step at a time – of course! & share each one with a sponsor or therapist. You may need some suggestions on how to answer the various ones, since it’s hard to see oneself. Do not rush, but do it.

If you just want to do a character Self-Evaluation, you can do:
a. the 4th Step of the 12 Step Program: “Made a fearless moral inventory of ourselves”. Most newcomers just write everything they think is wrong with them (personality defects) & all the wrong things they’ve done (bad actions). Actually it’s supposed to include our strengths, skills & gifts, but ACoAs rarely think to do that.
• This can be done with an outline such as the AA version at “
• or done ‘freehand’, as things come to you. Then later you can categorize them for clarity.

b. AL-ANON‘sThe Blueprint for Progress” booklet & online

c.  The TIME LINE Inventory (DMT 1986)
This chart may seem sketchy, but can be quite powerful. Because it’s so visual & simple it’s hard to miss the obvious – trauma & repetitions of trauma. You may:
•  find yourself reluctant to start , OR you may fill in some & then drop it. This is most likely because it’s painful & you’re shying away from facing the pain – doing it alone can be hard
•  If you do continue, be sure you have a good support system in place ahead of time when you need encouragement if the emotions that surface come up too strongly. Don’t give up!
•   Tape together as many sheets of paper as needed (20-30…)
•   OR use a roll of sturdy white paper
•   OR a loose leaf notebook with unlined paper
❇️ Doing this online is not as effective, since you can’t see it all at one time. Plus – the physical act of writing is good for stimulating the brain

Draw a horizontal line about 2/3 of the way down, all the way across. At far left put the year of your birth & then mark off every 2 or 3 years with the date and your age, all the way to the present. Leave more space between later 2/3-yr. periods than early ones

Above the horizontal line add slanted lines as they fit your life experiences & briefly write on each one a major event: illness, moves, school, graduations, special events, travel, hospitalizations, awards, relationships, work, physical abuse…. It’s OK if you don’t know the exact date or yr, especially from your early life. Put in everything you can think of, even if dates are approximate. ASK the Inner Child for memories (or reliable relatives)
(USE PENCIL to make changes or corrections)

Below the line write in any event that happened to another person close to you which had an impact on your life: birth of siblings, divorces, illness, deaths, their loss of jobs….

Start anywhere in your lifetime, filling in the things you remember most easily, & then go back & fill in earlier events as you think of them. Ask siblings, aunts…. or anyone who knew you then, who can give you some history you forgot or difind the patterndn’t know. Do the best you can.

👀 When you’ve filled in as much as you can (you can add things at any time) you’re going to be looking for :
•   the recurring pattern of your early experiences
•   how you’ve copied them as an adult
•   what had the most impact on you
•   what did you just realize for the first time now
•   what are you clearer about, that you sort of knew, but hadn’t solidified

IMP: Take your time. Allow yourself to feel all your emotions – sadness, anger, frustration, loss…. Bookend this exercise with someone your trust, & review it with a therapist, sponsor or sibling, if possible.

NEXT: OUR Education Inventory – #1

ACoAs dealing with ABUSERS (Part 1)


to tell!

PREVIOUS:  Denial & acting out

SITE: 15 Secret Signs You’re Actually Really Insecure

SEE: ACoAs Getting Controlled (1 & 2)


ACoAs are more than reluctant to speak up for ourselves. We hold it in & hold it in, then eventually explode at others, OR implode – into illness, depression & isolation.
We’re equally mute with people WHO:
• are actually abusive, whether they know it & don’t care, or have no idea what effect they’re having
• we just think are hurting us by something they said or by not reading our minds (giving us what we need without us having to ask for it), but they’re really not – they’re just pushing a button in us
• are not being abusive at all, but we’re afraid of hurting their feelings, scaring them away or -god forbid- make them angry at us!

Validation – We may need sane sources to help us identify ‘who did what’ but don’t go to the Perp. They deny or confuse. Al-Anon stresses “Detach! Let go” – with love, with hate, with humor… any way possible!
You wouldn’t demand that a person blind from birth should see colors! Don’t chase abusers – for anything, especially to admit they’re wrong!don't talk

a. The “DON’T TALK” rule   (they = parents / community), ABOUT WHAT :
• is actually going on in the family, don’t air dirty laundry – it’s no one else’s business
(family shame = family secrets)
• you need & want, since they can’t or don’t want to provide them
• you feel emotionally – they don’t want to hear it, they’re already in enough pain & don’t know how to deal with it, so don’t need yours too!
• your personal opinions, values & observations are – if they don’t fit in with the ‘party line’ (the ‘story’ created about the tribe we all belong to).

🤐 No matter how twisted, it’s our family & we protect it at all costs. These messages prevent some ACoAs from going to 12-Step programs &/or therapy – seeing it as disloyalty.

b. Co-dependence
Of course most people don’t want to ‘be in trouble’ with others, so we learn what’s appropriate to say or not say, especially in public.
But for ACoAs it’s always about FoA (fear of abandonment). Even as adults we’re afraid of unpleasant reactions from others – when they get angry at, dislike, make fun of – or worse – ignore us!

• Our co-dependence (needing others’ good-will to feel OK about ourself) drives us do anything we can to prevent anyone from expressing even slight disapproval, which will set off our S-H.
The WIC believes: “I’m so unlovable, no one really wants me & sooner or later will leave. Unless I can con them into accepting or at least  tolerating me – I’ll die”. So we think lying or silence is safer.

REALITY: MOST of how people respond to us has nothing to do with who we are – but the child’s narcissism takes everything personally.
In the present, anything that seems like an abandonment feels like punishment,
✎ ✐ rather than others just having their own feelings & opinions, OR are acting out their damage.
SITEFrom Parent-Pleasing to People-Pleasing 

c. Controlled
Another reason we’re silent is the brain-washing we received growing up. We were trained so thoroughly to ignore what we heard, saw & experienced – that we end up not seeing many things that are in front of us (”What insult?”), misreading a situation (“I’m sure they hate me”) or being unable to respond to a painful comment (“I wish I had said…..”).
POST: “ACoAs over-controlling ourself”

EXP:  No matter how articulate some of us are when we’re comfortable, there are times we get emotional brain-freeze.
It’s so-o-o frustrating that when we’re with someone who is being inappropriate, mean, insulting….  it triggers a childhood wound & we instantly shut down with terror, the reminder of family abuse being in total control.
At that moment we’ve lost our internal computer screen – it goes blank & we can’t think, much less talk. Yet as soon as we’re alone, the computer comes back on automatically & we know what we should have said! Darn, darn!

SITE: Emotional Complexity (Habituation, Inhibition, Constriction….) 

NEXT: Dealing with Abusers (Part 2)

INDIRECT Abusers (Part 1)

the rest of the time!

PREVIOUS: Direct abusers

Dr Irene’s great Verbal Abuse & Recovery site

See ACRONYM Page for abbrev.


COVERT ABUSE  (CA) – Emotional, Mental & Spiritual
• Emotional abuse is one of the most under-reported stressors in the US today. Blatant emotional cruelty may be noticed by others, & definitely felt by the Victim (V) – even if they ignore or excuse it.
For the indirect type is consistently administered in small doses, which the abuser uses so it’ll be easily overlooked, as it gets woven into the fabric of the relationship.
In China this is a form of torture called Lingchi =”Death by a thousand cuts“.

Typically, the V. will say : “It’s not all bad, You don’t know him the way I do. I know she loves me. When something goes wrong it’s really my fault. He didn’t meant it. She’s just under a lot of pressure. I don’t want to miss out on the good things we have together. He needs me. It’s only because she’s in pain” ….

• Sneaky Perpetrators (P) are also full of S-H & FoA, but they hide it better than Vs.  They also think they’re unique, so different from others that they don’t have to follow the same rules as everyone else. Yet they actually have a lot in common with all other Ps, sharing similar thinking & behavior patterns.

While they may never lift a finger to physically injure anyone, the psychological damage they do to others, with it’s long-term scars, are much harder to heal.
Victims are threatened & terrorized emotionally when they try to object to how they’re being treated. A major result is that they don’t believe they have a right to identify themselves as Vs, or to admit their mate, adult-child, friend, relative, boss….is actually abusive.

• TO outsiders, emotional abusers (E.A.s) don’t stand out – they usually present themselves as decent, successful, calm. They have a talent for creating an image for the public that contradicts how they are behind closed doors. They use public venues to have an adoring audience & as an outlet for their ‘better’ qualities (at work, church, politics….) —covert abusers
— but will take out their emotional sickness on those who are closest, most vulnerable & most dependent on them. In general, Ps needs a safe place to let their dirty hair down where no one will judge them, hold them accountable, object or leave!
TO their families, they’re often childish, controlling, self-absorbed, hypercritical, compulsive, & mean-spirited. What’s so confusing is that this type of abuser is actually BOTH. But the abusive side always wins out in private.

• Covert Abusers are passive-aggressive, which means they show their anger (aggression) sideways (passively) by withholding information, deliberately stalling, being stubborn, sulking, and/or not trying their best. They ignore reasonable requests to put in a reasonable amount of effort into their closest relationships. They pick partners who are push-overs with low self-esteem, who find it easy to make excuses for the other person’s terrible behavior.

EXP: Ps will make you choose an action that affects you both (dinner, movie, trip….) & then blame you because they didn’t like it or it didn’t work out. They also may deny that you asked them for their opinion or input in the first place, accusing you of being controlling. You get set up! Altering another’s reality is abuse.

FORMS of Cover Abuse
Brainwash: using systematic & often forcible pressure, they coerce someone into adopting radically different beliefs from their own
Crazy-making: to throw someone mentally or emotionally off-balance, making them easier to control (not trust their own thoughts)
Divert / Evade : change undesirable topic to something irrelevant, illogical or crazy

Gaslight: psychological manipulate someone into questioning their own sanity (not trust their own memory or observations )
Groomingprepare or train someone to become submissive for a particular purpose or activity, by first being overly-attentive

Guilt-tripping : shift blame, act sincere then retaliate with silence, word twisting & circular conversations
Playing the Victim : act like they’ve being injured by any request for communication or appropriate responsibility  (MORE…)

NEXT: INDIRECT Abusers (Part 2)