ACoAs – Fear of Commitment (Part 3)

but no one seems to want me!


SITE: Commitment Phobics – playing out a dysfunctional family role

Some REASONS for FoC

a. FoA /  b. F of leaving family / c. F of being trapped

d. F. of responsibility
as kidsTo the WIC, C. meant we had to be responsible for everyone & everything, & no one taking care of us. We were forced to be responsible (R) for our unhappy angry, crazy, drunk parents, & sometimes our siblings. Many of us had to be the ‘designated adult’ even when we were very little, because of their incompetence, selfishness & addictions. We got the RULE loud & clear “Everyone else’s needs are more important than mine”.

e. F. of losing control – OPPOSITE of being ‘in control’, of ourself & our life, which eliminates being able to fully commit. To the WIC, C. to anything means many ‘unbearable’ things: accepting how things really are, giving up absolute autonomy or getting our way / ‘allowing’ others to be different from us / having to move on…. lose control
We violently resist the middle “A” (Acceptance) or any suggestions to “let go – with love, let go – let God, let go – with sadness, disappointment, anger…” – any way we can, but LET GO.

We believe that WE have to be constantly alert to preventing others from having power over us, and stop the ‘craziness’ of addicts & narcissists from engulf us, which many of us kept trying to do in our home – unsuccessfully. And some of us still do, no matter how futile or unnecessary!

ACoAs project our S-H & paranoia out on the whole world, perpetuating our deep fear & mistrust. As adults, being controlling is a substitute for having real boundaries – mental & emotional walls the WIC thinks will protect us from actual or imagined dangers.

• If we were raised in great emotional & physical chaos, many of us will spend all our energy as adults trying to keep people-places-things (PPT) in our tight grip. The assumption is that if we don’t, everything will spin out of control, even if the present day circumstances are actually much more manageable.

• If we were raised in an uptight, controlling environment – we’ll either rebel & want no limits at all, or follow the family pattern & be uptight, rigid & overly-fussy. In any case, which ever style we choose will be the result of birth order & our Toxic Family Role (Hero //  Placater), but will also have a great deal to do with our native personality.

Needing to control everything & everyone in our environment is both a way to prevent in controlothers from getting too close (intimate), as well as trying to keep them attached to us.
Overtly: Telling everyone what they should be doing, feeling & thinking – that it’s our way or the highway.

Being pushy, aggressive, ‘difficult’, demanding…. It’s presumptuous & insulting – the controller’s assumption is that they’re the only one who knows how to do things, knows what’s best, what’s RIGHT, & how things should be done!
See Posts: “Controlling & Abandonment” //  “ACoAs – Getting controlled

Covertly: Many ACoAs are sure they’re not controlling, because they don’t recognize how they do it, since it’s indirect & sneaky – by omissions, withholding & people-pleasing.
Some ways:
– BY consistently denying oneself (needs emotions, opinions…) in favor of another. It’s a way to manipulate how someone behaves & how they feel about us, or prevent them from leaving (abandoning us).
– BY withholding – affection, communication, decisions, preferences….
– BY always being a victim, sickly or incompetent, so others have to take care of us or clean up our messes
– BY rescuing, people-pleasing…., to change someone or something into what we want, so we won’t have to leave & start over

NEXT: FoC, Part 4

RESPONDING to Controllers (Part 1)

resist control
unless I let them

PREVIOUS: Being controlled – #5

POSTS Relationship FORMS 1 & 2’

See Acronym PAGE for abbrev.


• As adults, even when we’re with a Controlling person, we always have at least some control of our own over what happens to us, whether we use that option or not.  As Glenda the Good Witch says in The Wizard of Oz “You always had the power!” If we must stay with a C., we have to protect ourselves, otherwise all we can do is capitulate

: As soon as Jody met sexy Sam at a party, she could tell he was a C – just like her mom. Even so, they started dating & eventually he moved in.  His charm compensated, but Jody still needed to deal with his habit of assuming she was exactly like him (narcissistic control).
She went along when it didn’t matter, but stood her ground when it did. At the beginning of the relationship, to shift the focus from any specific topic of contention – to the bigger picture – she started calling him ‘Martha’ whenever he acted like her mom! It took him a while to catch on, but eventually he got the point & backed off (but most C. won’t!)

Re. THEM – Cs are also wounded people who don’t have a right to their needs, but choose to manipulate others into providing for them, & to feel cared for. Pay attention & evaluate which type you’re dealing with:

• Some are not consciously aware of being a C, & will be confused or surprised if it’s pointed out. They have no idea what they are doing ‘wrong’, but also don’t want to know, so they won’t change easily

• Others are aware of trying to deceive or control, but will vigorously deny it because they don’t want to be caught (it’s socially shameful), OR they just don’t want to be responsible for their actions or old pain.
So they’re less likely to change at all, because they’d have to deal with their damage

• A few are willing to consider the issue when ‘confronted’ & will work to change it
• And some of us are already in the processes of letting go of being controlling!


DECIDE: When responding to a C, consider what outcome you want:
❈ for revenge, to punish, retaliate, humiliate….OR
❈ to inform, vent, set a boundary, for self-protection, fairness….
✶ If you want to be as psychologically clean as humanly possible (NO "I" statementperfectionism!) then practice making neutral or I’ statements:

“I don’t respond well to being bossed around , That’s not helpful! ,  It sounds like you’re trying to get me to_________ Is that right? , I’d rather__________ , When you ___________ I feel _________  , That doesn’t work for me / not how I feel about it / not what I need…”

EXPECT: resistance in the form of excuses, protests, denials, blaming …. especially from the hard cases.  You can let them know you understand their feelings & wishes, but that you hold the right to have yours, even if that upsets them, makes them angry, attack you or leave in a huff!
• No matter what their reaction, you decide what you’re going to agree to – or not, based on your needs, not theirs!

REMEMBER: When someone insists on accusing you wrongly (a big button for ACoAs) or just refuses to ‘get it’ – only state your truth as clearly as you can. You may have to repeat your position, but DO NOT:
try to make them understand where you’re coming from
—  keep explaining why your point is valid, and
— NEVER justify yourself – ever!  To stay & argue with someone like that makes a fool of yourself!

• The more relentless someone’s controlling behavior, the more narcissistic the person is. In that case you cannot win, because they can’t & won’t see you as being separate from them, with your own personality.
If you have the option, you either limit contact (Read : 60 Healthy responses tp narcs“) , OR walk away, no matter how much it hurts, even if it means letting them think they won.
😰 To do anything else is to humiliate yourself!

NEXT: Responding to Controllers (Part 2)

‘Controlling’ & Abandonment (Part 1)

baby controling 

so now I force it out of others!


 Acronym PAGE for abbrev.

ABANDONMENT (A.) as SOURCE of Control Issues
• To understand being controlled or acting controlling, we have to know the underpinnings, which come from our original abandonment experiences.  In common usage, a person is said to be A. when someone physically leaves us – moving away, a break-up, divorce, long or repeated hospitalizations, death…..

However, based on ACoA experience we know this definition is too limited. When we observe little kids – ours or others’ – we notice how very needy they are.  This is perfectly normal, in spite of what we ACoAs were told growing up = that we were too much, too selfish, a bother, too sensitive, dramatic …. We got the clear message that at best we were being tolerated!

• A broader & more accurate definition of Abandonment (A.) is: “Not getting enough of our normal needs met in childhood”.  This includes all needs on each of the 4 levels of PMES – Physical, Mental, Emotional & Spiritual. We can also say that A. includes not being loved unconditionally, with the resulting loss of genuine connection to parents so crucial to a child’s sense of well-being & safety.sad/scared

• Picture all children as having 100 different needs in each of the PMES categories (total 400 – an arbitrary number, as an example). Then consider the reality that in a severely dysfunctional family each kid only gets a small percentage of those needs met – just enough to survive. Of course some of us got more, while others didn’t even get that much & have died too young as a result!

Depending on birth order, gender & personality,  different siblings received differing amounts in each category. Certain children are favored because their ‘native’ style is similar to the parent, or rejected by the narcissists because the child was not like them!
But over all, let’s say that most of us were only provided with 30 – 40% of our normal human needs – when we were the most fragile & in need of great care.

EXP: A pathological narcissist “mentally-oriented” father who incested each of his children in varying degrees, (4 boys & 1 girl) was slightly less abusive towards the one child who was also “mentally-oriented”.  This son is the only sibling who was able to forge a decent life for himself (as a doctor), but not without emotional scars. The others became addicts, severe under-achievers &/or criminals.

• With no validation & nowhere to process the emotional pain, it all goes underground & slowly eats away at us. Toxic Beliefs then get ingrained.
This distorted thinking combined with a great backlog of unmet needs – as adults – has left us with an overwhelming desperation to be ‘fed’ by someone, anyone – along with the deep hopelessness of it ever happening. Pretending we don’t have needs, or suppressing our awareness of them does not make them go away.

SHADOW : To survive & not ‘go crazy”, many of those ignored shadow sidechildhood requirements get pushed into our ‘shadow’ – made up of every part of ourselves we were taught were so awful – we have to deny their very existence.

In Jungian psychology the shadow aspect is a part of the unconscious mind consisting of repressed weaknesses, instincts & shortcomings…. “Everyone carries a shadow, & the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker & denser it is.
It may be (in part) one’s link to more primitive animal instincts, which are superseded during early childhood by the conscious mind” (Jung-Myers Model + A Case Study & chart)

➼ Unfortunately for us, ACoAs not only relegate our ‘unpleasant’ aspects (such as the ‘7 Deadly Sins’) to Shadow, but also many of our good qualities – anything that was not allowed in our family!

We become so terrified of these aspects & activities, that we use a wide variety of defenses & addictions to keep them hidden.  But the more we suppress legitimate needs the more anxiety builds. Sooner or later they leak out or erupt in distorted ways, like being clingy, invisible, manipulative, irresponsible, vague, needy….. AND/ OR controlling, mean, demanding, domineering, promiscuous, pushy…
Sad IRONY: The more we suppress – the needier (& meaner) we get!

NEXT: Controlling & A. (Part 2)