OH, NO! DON’T BE UPSET!
I can’t stand it when you’re
in any kind of pain
PREVIOUS: Abandon Others (#1b)
See ACRONYM page for abbrev.
5. REPRESSING Others’ Emotions (Es)
ACoAs are often guilty of mistreating others in the same ways they were by family & other authority figures. To the degree we are still repressing our own Es, we try to suppress the Es of others. Many of us can’t tolerate anyone being in emotional pain or going thru a hard time, especially if we care about them.
(ACoA website Site Map, pg. 24-26)
a. Assuming – sure we know how someone is feeling, emotionally – without asking, OR not believing what they tell us they’re experiencing, & then insist we know better (what nerve!)
EXP: At a wedding celebration, Sam saw cousin Annie sitting alone, arms crossed, withdrawn, & assumed she was angry. Not bothering to check what she was really feeling, he started lecturing her about her unsociability, how inappropriate her attitude was, & that she was bringing everyone down … when actually she was deeply sad, feeling lonely & missing her ex!
EXP: When I cried intensely at my father’s memorial service, a relative accusingly told me I was being ‘fragile’ – as if weeping made me weak & therefore unacceptable (I know they were punished for crying, as a child). Actually, I always feel clearer & stronger after letting out some pain – it’s a strength, not a weakness!
Deciding we ‘absolutely know’ someone’s angry at us, or jealous of us, or upset with us in some other way – of course, without checking – and then obsess about it, gossip to others, worry, prepare a defense or rebuttal, avoid them OR confront / attack them…
• our assumption may only be a projection of our own S-H & FoA
• OR, we did pick up some emotional vibe from them (ACoAs always have their antennae up for trouble or rejection) but what the other person was really feeling was not what we thought!
EXP: As a therapist, during a sessions, if I strongly express an opinion about certain topics (that inner-abuse coming from the Introject or self-hate is NOT OK ), or if I’m not smiling or being light-hearted – it is often misunderstood by a client as me being angry – at them. NOT! I’m just strongly indicating how serious something is.
Ironically, some ACoAs can’t tolerating anyone else doing well. They try to stop others (mates, children friends) from feeling good, because “misery loves company”!
EITHER: they create dysfunctional situations for others, to keep the chaos & misery going we’ve been conditioned to feel as ‘normal’
OR: be consistently enraged & abusive or withholding & silent, whenever someone expresses enjoyment, happiness, excitement, peacefulness…to make them feel bad (again) – to be like us
b. Arguing – acting out a pattern of anger & fights with someone
close (mate, child, friend, loved parent…) when it’s time to separate,
even for a few days.
• First – fighting, saying cruel or stupid things
• then later doubling the abandonment by denying being upset, or underplaying it all — thereby negating the pain we caused & the other person’s real experience.
This is done to keep us from feeling our own abandonment pain, which would make us feel vulnerable. Being angry –
• gives us a sense of power & makes the ‘bad feelings’ an easier way to leave, BUT
• it’s dishonest & disrespectful to ourselves & the other person
REMINDER – even tho’ we can’t technically abandon another adult, the term is always used here to express ‘not being there’ for others emotionally
c. Negating – directly discounting someone’s E. experience:
— “You don’t really feel that way”// “Don’t feel like that”
— “Don’t say that” // “That’s no way to talk”
— “That’s not a nice thing to say”….
EXP: When telling a religious friend at a conference about the ongoing pain from her childhood trauma, Jen was told: “You shouldn’t feel that way!”.
Fortunately Jen had been in Al-Anon long enough to respond: “Well, I don’t ‘should’ on myself!”, then smiled & walked away.
NEXT: ACoAs Abandoning others (#2b)