ACoAs & CONFUSION – as Adults (Part 3d)


PREVIOUS: ACoAs & Confusion (#3c)


ADULT Confusion (cont)
1. Confusing OURSELF 
2. Confusing OTHERS

3. OTHERS confusing US (cont)
a. IGNORE Emotions

b. INCOMPLETE responses: Others can confuse us when trying to give us info, often in the guise of help – which is only useful if it’s what we need at the time, & in a form we can use.

– using School Levels as a metaphor
You ask someone for help or info at level 1 or 2,school levels because that’s as far as you’ve gotten about a subject / project / lesson…., but the response is given at level 3 or above.
You won’t be able to use what’s offered, & be confused or fail – if you try to apply it before you’re ready.

Anyone who responds that way is NOT actually paying attention or asking you for some context (“Where are you in your process?”). More than likely they’re in a narcissistic / co-dependent fog & just offer whatever they know, have done, or would like themselves, without considering you at all.

Horizontal confusion
Someone will try to provide what they think is a perfectly logical answer, but is actually incomplete. It’s because they’ve left out a crucial piece of info somewhere along the line (X) which they assumed you knew, but of course you do not. You know something’s missing, so you ask for clarification.

It’s so aggravating when the person says: “Well, what do you want to know?” Since you can’t possibly know that missing piece, you can only say you’re confused. If you insist they explain more thoroughly, AND they can’t or won’t – both of you will get very frustrated, & possibly quite testy!

c. OTHER ways
How we can confuse others is the same as what they can do to us (Part 3c).
Motto: “If I can’t convince you, at least I can confuse you!”

Re. THEMWe get confused when someone:
• asks for something small & then when you do it, you find out there’s more to the ‘thing’ they want (a quick ride home turns into several stops to pick up a fiend, their dry-cleaning, cigarettes….)
• injects a comment that has nothing to do with the current topic

• claims slaughing atomething is a proven fact simply because it’s a popular belief
• doesn’t ask you for enough info when assigned a task or project, & then procrastinates or makes a mess of it

• never gets to the point, only talking around a topic
• makes everything into a joke
• smiles or laughs when talking about something personally painful (childhood abuse, a death, an insult…)

• talks really fast & doesn’t take a breath, but doesn’t say anything meaningful
• tends to exaggerate, even lie, so you can never tell what’s really true
• they claim to be or do something they can never live up to
• use complex words or long explanations to express something simple

Re. US – We can get confused when someone:
• accuses you of something you didn’t do or say
• ‘comes on to you’ but has no intention of following thru (a tease)
• does the opposite of a direct request you made
• doesn’t pick up on cues you give about who you are or how you feel, so treats you as if you’re someone else (in their head)

• expects you to read their mind (know what they want)
• ignores or insults you to your face, but praises you to others (parents)
• ignores what you’re saying, leaving you wondering if you were heard
• is symbiotic, assuming you are the same as them

• is usually ‘there for you’ in some situations, but definitely not in others
• only says what they think you want to hear
• reacts to your Adult or happy IC ego states from their PP or WIC   —> (Cartoon )
• reacts negatively to a positive or neutral statement

• repeats what you say – but in reverse (I hate holidays / Oh, you love holidays / Paint my room any color BUT brown / & then they paint the room brown )
• pretends to understand what you’re saying but doesn’t, letting you go on thinking they’re ‘connecting’
• says they’ll do something (“I’ll call you later”) but rarely or never does

• says “You know what I mean” without enough context
• twists your words / intentions against you
• uses emotions to manipulate (creating guilt, fear…)
• uses their authority to manipulate you into going against your principles or best interest ……

NOTE: Many of these can easily lead to frustration & anger! That’s normal. Remember – if you’re on the receiving end – it’s not you that’s off!

NEXT: Confusion (Part 4a)

ACoAs & CONFUSION as Kids (Part 2f)

but always seem to get it wrong!

PREVIOUS: Confusion (#2e)

SITEThe Value of Constructive Criticism

QUOTEs: “I pretty much stay in a constant state of confusion just because of the expression it leaves on my face.” ~ Johnny Depp
“If I looked confused, it’s because I’m thinking.”~ Samuel Goldwyn

Childhood CONFUSION : OTHER sources (cont)
3. Communication DISTORTIONS (cont)
c. Events NEVER discussed
d. Inappropriate information

e. Subtext – implied meanings we all get, but can’t always put into words. And it’s never kind or helpful!   EXP of subtext: “Even Johnny got an A on that test” – could mean: Johnny isn’t very bright // the test was that easy

AND for ACoAs – Painful stab-in-the-heart comments from parent to child:
• “You know dear, it’s better to have brains than looks”, means you’re not a pretty girl, so be happy you can rely on being smart (just trying to be helpful!)
• “I never expected you to understand”, means I actually expect you to read my mind son, but you’re stupid, or too selfish to bother considering me

• “See, she got one”. Perfectionistic mother is so constantly focused on daughter’s appearance, it makes the girl complain that she’ll never get a guy because she doesn’t think she’s pretty.
One day the 2 are out walking, & across the street mom spots an unattractive woman arm-in-arm with a plain-looking man – & points this out.
?? Does she really think she’s being ‘encouraging’ ?? while reinforcing daughter is ugly!

• Secretary – boss says she “needs xerox copies of certain papers – immediately”, no delay. Along with all the boss’s demands is the implied threat of punishment or dismissal – keeping employees frightened & compliant. As usual, the ACoAs worker rushes to obey, but finds those papers still lying around 2 days later! Crazy making.

• ‘You can do anything you want”. Sounds good, as if you’re given the freedom to pursue your own course in life. BUT in a dysfunctional family, children understand the subtext – even if they can’t describe it. Focus is on DO-ing rather than BE-ing.
Actually MEANS:
– parents can’t be bothered / don’t take the time & effort…. to find out what exactly you dreams of, or are inherently good at
– it leaves you with too many options, with no boundaries, and no guidance or explanation of process (HOW TO get to a goal)
– you’re only allowed to choose what the family approves of, so can’t make a mistake. Wrong one may cause a lot of anger or flat-out rejection
– no support, encouragement or admiration for the choice actually made

⬆ MOST important: whatever you choose to do in life has to make THEM look & feel good about themselves. It’s their narcissism – you’re not considered a separate person, only an extension of them.
RESULT: The ACoA either rebels – you do things to piss them off
OR you do whatever they told you to, no matter how unsuitable – & that you hate
OR drift & never quite decide.
Even more confusing is one of the Toxic Rules: “You have to always struggle, but can never get there.”

f. Silence as punishment : When a parent passive-aggressively (P-A) stodouble messagesps talking to their child, it severs the vital connection between them, always devastating to the child.
The angry adult may get temporary narcissistic satisfaction hiding behind their wall of disdain (“I’m more powerful, so I can shut you out”),
but ultimately P-A behavior is even more destructive than overt aggression. Virtually all interactions with a P-A person end up confusing & destructive (see post: Anger Categories #10)

g. Double Messages cause confusion because :
• we were punished if we didn’t know how to —> shop for our dinner, care for the pets, fix the washing machine, get all As in school….  AND
• we were punished (or made fun / teased) if we —> did things better than the adults such as playing board games, getting awards in school, making our clothes or balsa models, making friends….. (see posts: DMs, 1-9 & DB, 1-10)

NEXT: ACoAs & Confusion (Part 3a)