to make everyone happy!

Re. book “Trauma & Recovery”


In its simplest form, Responsibility (R) is: honestly admitting, to ourselves, first of all, what we feel, think & have done – or – not. (T.E.A.).  It includes acknowledging both our limitations & our gifts, our ignorance & our knowledge. And if possible, always doing this without judgment, without shame, without guilt.  MOST of ALL – without self-hate.

ACoAs grew up with a great many cognitive distortions CDs , so it makes sense that we would carry them into our adult lives – as if they were the truth! One of these has to do with the issue of Responsibility (R).

FEAR of Responsibility 
For many ACoAs, R. is a dirty word, both an absolute requirement & a hated burden!  We take responsibility for others’ actions & emotions, while in many ways not being responsible for ourselves, hating ourselves (S-H) for the very things that make us human.

We believe we MUST take care of others instead of ourselves, or someone will die & it’ll be our fault, yet are overwhelmed with the weight of it we believe we can’t escape.
So we try many convoluted ways to avoid any healthy form

ORIGIN in childhood, forming our aversion to R (FoR)
1. “I tried to fix them so they’d be OK”
a. To stop them from suffering & make them happier, AND
b. To make them ‘well’ so they would stop hurting us…..
….. SO they’d be able to take care of us, the way all children need

COMMENTS – We were forced to be responsible (R) for our unhappy, angry, crazy, drunk parents, & sometimes siblings & extended family members. 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”.

• We understood early on that they couldn’t cope, so we had to be R. for ourselves, to not ‘bother them’, to be self-sufficient
• We felt a great burden to fix their problems, make them feel better, to give them what they wanted – even when it was presented in the form of Double Messages.
• We were R. for doing whatever they wanted, how they wanted it, yet having to figure it out alone, because they didn’t say, or changed the rules arbitrarily, endlessly confusing us

• We may have lived with one parent who was totally irresponsible & we swore to never be like that, AND/OR with an over-R. parent, which we copied. Yet, some of us may have resented the R. one for being too controlling, & adored the careless one, for being charming.

2. “I failed to make them better & so to stop my pain
REALITY: a. It should never fall to a child to have to try to heal their parents’ damage, in a role-reversal of being the little grownup
b. No one can cause an adult to “heal & grow”. People can only improve their life if they’re willing to do the work required to change. In any case, it’s not something for a child to do, who needs to be cared for

COMMENTS: No matter how hard we tried we were never able to make a genuine improvement in our parents. This was devastating for us, because we needed them to be mentally sane (T), emotionally stable (E) & consistently dependable (A).
As kids we desperately wanted to stop hurting, AND get our needs met. So we made every effort to please them & minimize the damage they could do us, but nothing worked

Our ‘failure’ left us with 2 conflicting states:
• Hating ourselves: We concluded that something was profoundly wrong with US – we weren’t smart enough, attractive enough, perfect enough…. to have an impact on the adults
failed hope
• Hating them: We did/do in fact love our parents very much – no matter how they treated us. However, years of abuse & neglect took their toll, building & building our helpless rage, which we had to deny

NEXT: Fear of Responsibility (Part 2)


'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 

ACCEPTANCE is the middle ‘A’
 of Al-Anon’s 3 As (Awareness — Action).  Correctly understanding & using this tool 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 thinking that “I can’t accept anything I don’t like or is too painful”, which is a CD – cognitive distortion

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 ‘bad voice’
• sitting around waiting for things to happen or someone to rescue us

Part 2 & 3 will explain what it IS. However, as in other areas, ACoAs will turn almost anything against themselves, even good things. In this case we do use the 3 As, but only in the service of our dis-ease, a shorthand for all of our toxic thinking.

Negative MEANING
The unside downalcoholic / narcissistic message “You’re Bad, We’re Good, the World is Bad” can 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”
We’re assume we’re stuck with this awful protocol that we can’t escape :
A1 = re. US – the deep-seated belief of the WIC that we’re unworthy, not entitled, beyond redemption! (S-H)

A2 = re. THEM – that our family was right about everything 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
• AND ‘they’ constantly made it clear that we were un-acceptable. Some parents even used God, spirituality & religion to convince us of their beliefs!

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

Unhealed ACoAs deal with ‘A3‘ BY:
Defiance of all authority & systems, which have become substitutes for our parents. We can hate them 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!

✶✶ IRONY: these are the very messages we have accepted! – accept all sorts of terrible things as normal & inevitable for the rest of our lives, in obedience to our family & community’s lessons, which is why we always want to skip the middle A.
🏵 The fact that our suffering was endless & hopeless back then does not have to apply now.

NEXT: Acceptance & ACoAs (#2)

SYMBIOSIS & ACoAs (Part 1)

mother/infantAM I ME, AM I YOU & ARE YOU ME?
I hate myself, but I also want you to be exactly like me!

PREVIOUS: Autonomy & Attachment (#3b)

REVIEW: Ego States – CHILD



• As infants, all humans are born with a built-in biological & psychological set of tendencies, which interact with & responds to their specific environment in their own unique way – but without a formed personality

The child’s first connection is to the mother (usually), not aware of a difference between itself & its caretaker. This one-ness is normal & appropriate. It allows the child to feel safe & protected while gradually becoming acquainted with itself & the big world it has come in to

• Regardless of the type of family, nature & nurture (how we’re treated) combine to form what we think of as our SELF.  If born into a reasonably healthy one, the child is allowed & encouraged to develop the pre-set template they came into the world with

This creates a sense of external & then internal safety. Having permission to be oneself gradually makes it possible to function in the world as an individual who is comfortable in their skin & with other people

mother rejectingIN CHILDHOOD
a. BROKEN Symbiosis – BUT, if the mother is not available or unable to connect with the infant to nurture it from a deep place of love, the symbiotic bond is never formed or is too soon broken, before the child can tolerate it

This can be:
— because of’ illness or death, spousal abuse, external trauma such as an accident, natural disasters, war…..
OR most commonly
— personality defects like narcissism, anxiety, depression, rage at having to be a caretaker, not wanting to be tied down…..

This creates intense & long-lasting terror in the baby, with the message that there’s something fundamentally wrong with them. Such children spend the rest of their life trying to forge that missing link with someone – anyone – to stop that terrible, relentless anxiety, SO
• they’ll find another wounded soul they can attach to & live together in isolation  – OR
• keep being attracted to emotionally unavailable people, reproducing the very abandonment they so fear (trying to symbiose with the ‘distant’ mother)

b. UNBROKEN Symbiosis – at the other extreme – some mothers without that bond providedheli-mom in their own infancy, will try to get it from their child – creating a captive who can never leave them!
This mother will make every effort to negate the child’s individuality in favor of her own needs & wants, to make that little person her clone, & will punish any disagreement or separation

If there’s no one else available or strong enough to interfere with this suffocating attachment (father, sibling or other…) the child never has the freedom to develop it’s own identity, but stays dependent on the mother (& family or substitutes) for it’s very existence throughout life.

This child grows up to (some or all):
• never leave home     • not have any rightsoctopus mom
• be depressed, isolated, suicidal
• have weak boundaries
• be unable to have healthy, autonomous relationships
• be terrified of abandonment in any form
• be unable to support themself
• not trust their judgment
• not have their own opinions about things
• have only symbiotic relationships with domineering people….
If the child does get away, then as an A-CoA, they’ll be terrified of any close involvement with others. The fear of being engulfed again is so unbearable that it’s expressed as fear of commitment.
Even when they are in some form of relationship, it will be with extreme emotional detachment, a need for total control, endless sexual conquests, come here – go away interactions, irresponsibility…. or just walking away & never looking back!

➼ Both types are ripe for addictions, to fill that big emotional hole inside – but it never works
INFO: Symbiosis can be understood through the ego state model. In a symbiotic relationship, both people use only some of their ego states to relate to each other, which they combine, functioning as if they only had one set of ego states between them. They getting stuck in rigid roles, resulting in less flexibility.

NEXT: Symbiosis (#2)

WHAT is SHAME? (Part 1)

I was born bad & I’ll always be bad

PREVIOUS: What is Guilt?


While guilt is mainly about negative actions,
SHAME is about our IDENTITY – about who we are, fundamentally.

🔹 It tells us that our very essence is bad, unlovable, unacceptable – to be eliminated. It makes us:
• want to hide, isolate, not talk, try to be invisible
• want to be dead! The pain of shame is so great & the conviction that we’re un-redeemable is so deep (not worth saving), that it eliminates Hope. Why bother even trying!
• OR we overcompensate – by acting superior, controlling, out-doing, knowing ‘everything’, never showing ‘weakness’ (grandiosity), shaming others…..

SHAME is connected to our NEEDs, rather than actions – specifically – each need we had as a child which was neglected, punished & made fun of.
Consider how many needs children have, & how many of them were met with abuse or not at all – you can imagine how huge our shame quotient is !!

BTW, most of us focus on the need for love, & while it is crucial, the need for safety is even more basic! We can’t begin to take in love, even when it’s available, if we’re terrified.

a. Being Ashamed – Children admire, even idealize their parents when they’re quite small. They need to do this to feel safe – to know they can rely on those people to be competent & available to them. It helps to compensate for the child’s extreme dependence & vulnerability.
✶ In reasonably healthy families, children gradually come to understand that their parents are human, fallible, imperfect – BUT still basically trustworthy & decent role models.

● But in dysfunctional families, one or more the adults act out their damage:
addictions, bitterness, constant criticism, cruelty, emotional withdrawal, depression, leaving & then never staying in touch, mental illness, neglect, not providing necessities, not staying groomed, not earning a living, putting each other & the kids in danger, verbal physical &/or sexual abuse ….

All of these & more, make children feel ashamed of their family (the chaos, the craziness, the cruelty) – & by extension themselves, as members of that group.
A sense of pride in themselves & their parents is eroded & shattered. This is devastating. That feeling is then carried, like a canker sore in our spirit, into adulthood.

b. Being Shamed – Children in damaged families are:
▪︎ teased & made fun of for many thing  (anger disguised with toxic humor)
▪︎ yelled at, attacked, harangued – often for nothing specific or obvious
▪︎ expected to know or do the impossible
▪︎ punished, yelled at, hit, humiliated – in public
▪︎ insulted about ones gender, looks, tastes, interests..
▪︎ pushed to do things when too young & then punished for ‘failing’
▪︎ treated unfairly, abused & then punished for crying, being upset or getting angry at the mistreatment

These & many other ways of shaming have been called soul murder. It represents parents’ lack of love & respect for themselves & so for their children, who stand in for their own Inner Child. Their dysfunctions negate / abuse the needs that all children have.
EXP: be paid attention to & heard, treated with respect, feel safe & loved, grow & learn at their own pace, find out who they are as individuals, know they can depend on their caretakers, look up to their parents, to LIVE, prosper & succeed….

EACH of these NEEDS became SHAMEFUL !
We conclude that if the adults hated these needs, then they’re bad (& us for still having them). So they must be suppressed, better yet – eliminated, no matter how deep & persistent they may be.

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 6.28.55 PMEXP: After hearing the 4th Step in Al-Anon (“Made a searching & fearless moral inventory of ourselves’), one member suddenly realized: ☁︎ his #1 toxic rule was: “I should be dead !”
☁︎ most shamed need was for love. “ I thought that was my greatest character defect!
After all, the constant message was that I wasn’t lovable  – so I must be a fool to keep wanting it – which I do, desperately!”

In Recovery he learned that this & all his needs were legitimate, universal & his RIGHT, & so he was able to reject the need to die, & start loving himself.
(The 12-Steps – comments & videos)

NEXT: Shame (Part 2)