Inventories – In the Beginning (Part 3)

  birth treeI NEVER REALIZED
how much my infancy shaped me!

PREVIOUS: Inventories – In the Beginning-#2

See ACRONYM Page for abbrev.


2. NURTURE  (cont)

a. 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 : –– demanding, ruthless, controlling
— self-hating, overwhelmed, with severe abandonment issues
— drunk, self-absorbed & narcissistic
— generally anxious, especially of parenting responsibility, often having to do it alone
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

b. 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. This includes a colorful & interesting environment, being talked, 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’, 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

🔹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 being 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, child in orphanageor missing & can be filled in. REMINDER :
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 – #1

POST: Emotional NEEDS….

SEE Acronym page for abbrev.


ACoAs’ core toxic rule : “DON’T HAVE NEEDS!”
We feel shame WHEN:

▪︎ anyone gets too close, emotionally
▪︎ anyone shows us kindness, respect, caring
▪︎ we do something a little foolish in publicScreen Shot 2016-06-11 at 6.10.11 PM
▪︎ we allow ourselves to have feelings of love for someone
▪︎ we don’t know something which seems common knowledge
▪︎ we don’t try to do something, whether we can or not
▪︎ we find out our expectations of someone are not realistic
▪︎ we try something new, & don’t get it right the first time
▪︎ 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
⚡️ we’re vaguely aware, so keep trying to get it met, but only in VERY DYSFUNCTIONAL ways (obeying old rules, so it can be refused, punished, or have bad consequences),
⚡️ we wait endlessly for someone else to notice the needs – as long as we DO NOT ask for it
⚡️ 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’s given freely & without strings !
⚡️ we mistreat, abuse or leave anyone who consistently treats us with respect & kindness
⚡️ we prevent anyone from knowing that we have needs, as we suffer in silence

This a deep & long process, requiring much help from H.P. along with kind & knowledgeable humans.
We can:
✶ start by identifying all NEEDS, common to all human beings
✶ allow for emotional discomfort, be angry, confused, scared, face frustrating delays, have internal backlash, hear discouraging comments, regress to old ways…..
✶ continually give ourselves permission to HAVE these needs
✶ identify actions & non-actions that prevent meeting them correctly
Live Long & Prosper✶ identify people, places & things who can help with this
✶ list actions to DO, to meet those needs

✶ list which ones were not allowed, in order of intensity
✶ patiently, slowly RISK changing old patterns

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

Unhealthy Shame ‘holds hands‘ with grandiosity, which makes us totally believe we can do way more than is humanly possible, or that we’re capable of / have the skill to do it. 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 : “Healing the SHAME that Binds You”).
It allows us to acknowledge & accept that we have realistic LIMITS & capacity, because of:
— being human, & therefore can’t be perfect
— not having been appropriately nurtured & cared for, in childhood
— our genetic inheritance, providing pre-conditions & tendencies for physical, mental & emotional capacities (pluses & minuses)
— our native personality, reacting to & molded by all our early experiences
— our socio-economic, religious & educational background / environment
Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 5.56.29 PMPositive – To have self-esteem, children need to be:
• admired & applauded for the things they do well
• patiently taught how to do things
• respectfully corrected for errors or lapses
• treated with patience for the things they cannot do, especially when it’s because they’re too young yet, but will be able to eventually –  or because they have a learning 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