responsible??IT’S TOTALLY UP TO ME
to make everyone happy!

Re. book “Trauma & Recovery”


In its simplest form, Responsibility (R) is first of all : Honestly admitting, to ourself 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 guilt, without judgment, without shame.  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 ourself, hating ourselves (S-H) for the very things that make us human.

We believe we MUST take care of others instead of ourself, or someone will die & it’ll be our fault.  We’re overwhelmed by the heavy weight of it but believe we can’t escape. We were not taught healthy R. – which is taking care of ourself – so we find convoluted ways to avoid self-care.

👼🏼 🫃🏽 CHILDHOOD ORIGINS,  creating our aversion to R (FoR)
1. “I tried to fix them so they’d be OK”
✦ To stop them from suffering & make them happier, AND
✦ To make them ‘well’ so they would stop hurting us…..
….. AND 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 the adults’ 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 ourself, 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 responsible one for being too controlling, & adored the careless one, for being charming.

2. “I failed to make them better & so to stop my pain
 It should never fall to a child to have to try healing their parents’ damage, in a role-reversal of being the little grownup
✦ 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 create 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 we did worked

Our ‘failure’ left us with 2 conflicting states: failed hope
• 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

• Hating them: We did/do in fact love our parents very much – no matter how they treated us. However, years of abuse & neglect gave taken 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 

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)

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 it. 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 end up alone, never forming any intimate bond – OR
• 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 – the mother who didn’t get that bond in her own infancy, will try to get it now from her heli-momchild – 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 rights
• be depressed, isolated, suicidal
octopus mom• 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 own judgment
• not have their own opinions about things
• have 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 the strayers & the leavers 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 identity between them. They get 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!
• 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 adults act out their damage ⬅️ 
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:
▪︎ expected to know or do the impossible
▪︎ insulted about ones gender, looks, tastes, interests….
▪︎ punished, yelled at, hit, humiliated – in public
▪︎ pushed to do things when too young & then punished for ‘failing’
▪︎ teased & made fun of for many things  (anger disguised with toxic humor)
▪︎ treated unfairly, abused & then punished for crying, being upset or getting angry at the mistreatment
▪︎ yelled at, attacked, harangued – often for nothing specific or obvious

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 of NEEDS : be paid attention to & heard, feel safe & loved, find out who they are as individuals, grow & learn at their own pace, know they can depend on their caretakers, look up to their parents, treated with respect, to LIVE, prosper & succeed….

Many or all 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 Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 6.28.55 PM– eliminated, no matter how deep & persistent they may be.

EXP: 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 he wasn’t lovable – so he must be a fool to keep wanting it – which he does, 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, & could start loving himself.
(The 12-Steps – comments & videos)

NEXT: Shame (Part 2)