Inventories – In the Beginning (Part 3)

birth tree 

how much my infancy shaped me!

PREVIOUS: Inventories – In the Beginning-#2

See ACRONYM Page for abbrev.



Wounded mother
All children are vulnerable to the feelings & expressions of their first caretakers, and will be severely affected by a Wounded Mother. Even if she tries to hide it, every day the infant absorbs her fears, worries, anger, overwhelm – as well as joys, interests, attitudes & reactions she may feel.
For many ACoAs, she was one or more of the following:
Presenting: — generally anxious, especially of parenting responsibility, often alone
— self-hating, overwhelmed, with severe abandonment issues
– demanding, ruthless, controlling
— drunk, self-absorbed & narcissistic
bad moms— distant, emotionally cold, perfectionistic
— passive, flaky, irresponsible
rageful, verbally, physical & emotionally abusive
— un-nurturing, unsympathetic, judgmental, cruel
Unhealthy Expectations:
use child to make up for her own lack of love
— demand child be perfect, self-sufficient & NOT need much

Developing Child: At birth, the nerve cells in a child’s brain are not fully developed, growing & expanding continuously until about age 25.
The brain grows in complexity & therefore ‘intelligence’ according to how much stimulation it receives, such as a colorful & interesting environment, talked to, read & sung to, and any kind of beneficial movement – touched, held, massaged, played with…

• Because babies imprint (like ducklings) onto caretakers via emotions & the 5 senses, all helpful and hurtful events stay with us forever, some even after much ‘work’, but in modified form
For ACoAs, the wounding experiences need to be inventoried & slowly detached from as much as possible, but it’s not fair or realistic to expect them to all disappear, if only we “did it right”!brain2

PS: We know now that we never have to stop learning & growing – that brain plasticity is possible even into old age, if a person practices new & difficult tasks. In childhood it’s called Developmental Plasticity, which depends more on the effect of the environment

Early impressions – Infants don’t have verbal language, only emotional & physical signals for communication. They’re highly impressionable – hungrily absorbing all the sights, sounds & touch they’re exposed to.
Each child also has its own maximum threshold for how much activity it needs or can tolerate. Dysfunctional homes force on us too little or too much

a. Not enough stimulus (of the right kind), so that some areas of the brain don’t form certain necessary pathways, leaving it deficient in whatever type of reasoning or understanding that were affected. This can cause the child to be sluggish in body & mind, always anxious, &/or lacking** fundamental info that will be needed later on to live a ‘normal’ life as an adult.
(**Some antidepressants, as well as Recovery activities, can build missing areas of the brain which were deprived in childhood)

• Being neglected is as deadly as being over-controlled – such as left alone too much, neglectnot nurtured, attended to, guided & included, OR allowed to do whatever the child want. We never get to learn boundaries, options & discipline.

It’s not unusual for ACoAs to have chunks of basic life-know-how actually missing (lack of software), to the point of not having a clue about things other people take for granted – common sense, quick responses to crazy situations, the right things to say when confronted, making small talk….

** This is different from info we do have but are not allowed to acknowledge and use. And neither of these states implies being stupid (faulty hardware), but only suppressed & can be reclaimed, or missing & can be filled in.
REMINDEchild in orphanageR:
NO under-functioning ACoA is lazy or stupid, just TERRIFIED.
Some causes creating this debilitating fear :
• isolated, neglected & abused
• not being nurtured, taken care of & validated
• not provided with healthy role models to copy
• being given incorrect & insufficient information about how to function well in the world
PICTURE: “This child was left unattended for a whole day at a Chinese state orphanage. The makeshift play chair was more like a prison.” ~  Paul Myhill

NEXT: Inventory  – Beginning #4


 all I can do is hide!

PREVIOUS: Shame – Part 1

SEE Acronym page for abbrev.

: Emotional NEEDS….


A core ACoA toxic rule is : “DON’T HAVE NEEDS!”

We feel shame when:

▪︎ anyone gets too close, emotionally
▪︎ we allow ourselves feelings of love for someone
▪︎ anyone shows us kindness, respect, caring
▪︎ do something a little foolish in publicScreen Shot 2016-06-11 at 6.10.11 PM
▪︎ we try something new, & don’t get it right the first time
▪︎ if don’t try to do something, whether we can or not
▪︎ we find out our expectations of someone are not realistic
▪︎ we don’t know something which seems common knowledge
▪︎ we want to be paid attention to, but get smacked down or ignored….

ANY NEED that was ignored, abused or made fun of in the past :
⚡️ is now completely suppressed, so we’re not even aware of it, OR
⚡️ we’ll try to get it met in VERY DYSFUNCTIONAL ways (obeying old rules, so it can be refused or punished, have bad consequences),  OR
⚡️  we wait endlessly for someone else to notice the needs – as long as we DO NOT ask for it, OR
⚡️ we manipulate dysfunctional others into providing it for us
⚡️ we can’t receive anything good without having to ‘pay’ for it somehow, even when it is given freely & without strings !
⚡️ we mistreat, abuse or leave anyone who treats us with respect & kindness
⚡️ we prevent anyone from knowing that we have needs, suffering in silence

This a deep & long process, requiring much help from H.P. along with kind & knowledgeable people.  We can:
✶ start by identifying all NEEDS, common to all human beings
✶ continually give ourselves permission to HAVE these needs
✶ list which ones were not allowed, in order of intensity
✶ list actions to DO, to meet those needs
✶ identify actions & non-actions that prevent meeting them correctly
✶ identify people, places & things who can help with this
✶ patiently, slowly RISK changing old patterns
✶ allow for emotional discomfort, internal backlash, being confused, scared, angry, hearing discouraging comments, regressing to old ways, frustrating delays…..

✶ NEVER STOP improving:
• never, never deny having needs, whether you can get them met – or notLive Long & Prosper
• try out new actions to see what works or doesn’t
• observe the results of the healthier actions, & compare to old outcomes
• validate & reinforce any improvements & positive results
• replace in appropriate people
• read helpful material, attend suitable recovery programs or groups
• participate in any spiritual practice which fits

Unhealthy Shame ‘holds hands‘ with grandiosity, which makes us totally believe they can do way more than is humanly possible, or that they’re capable of / have the skill to do. It’s therefore a defense against deep feelings of powerlessness, carried over from childhood

Healthy shame is the reverse – the antidote – to grandiosity, John Bradshaw often points out. (“Healing the SHAME that Binds You”),  It represent acknowledgement & acceptance that we have realistic LIMITS / boundaries, because of:
— being human, & therefore can’t be perfect
— not being appropriately nurtured & cared for, in childhood
— our genetic inheritance, providing pre-conditions & tendencies for physical, mental & emotional capacities (pluses & minuses)
— our socio-economic, religious & educational background / environment
— our native personality, reacting to & molded by all our early experiences

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 5.56.29 PMPositive: To have self-esteem, children need to be:
• patiently taught how to do things
• admired & applauded for the things they do well
• respectfully corrected for errors or lapses
• treated with patience for the things they cannot do, especially if it’s  because they’re too young, yet, but will be able to eventually –  or because they have a disability.
Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 3.38.36 PM

Embracing realistic limitations does not mean that we can’t heal & achieve!
It does mean that we spend the ‘first half’ – or so – of our life repeating all the bad stuff we learned, & then spend the rest of it fixing the damage that was originally done to us.  It’s not fair – but it can be done!  THEREFORE: PATIENCE, PATIENCE, PATIENCE !!

NEXT: “They did the best they could” #1