Co-Dep EXTERNAL Negatives – in US

would get me liked. Not! 

PREVIOUS: Co-dep External damage (#1)

SITE: Childhood Trauma Recovery ARCHIVE
Co-dep in Children

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

The HIGH COST of being ‘too nice’ (cont.)


• You have unrealistic expectations of others
Since you think of yourself as well-meaning, you may automatically assume that others have the same good intentions. When they don’t reciprocate’, you think it’s about you, that they’re being mean or taking you for granted. Not meeting your (unspoken) expectations feels too disappointing, easily leading to anger & resentment.  BUT it’s either your —
— faulty thinking: that everyone is just like you (symbiosis), when they may just be taking care of their own needs – instead of yours, and/or
faulty choices: sticking mainly to self-centered & abusive people who have no intention of reciprocating

EXP: ACoAs have our own version of Hansel & Gretel – You’re in the forest of daily life & run into the child-eating-ogre (‘perpetrator‘). Your WIC takes over, glued to the spot, looking up innocently, with big eyes & think: “You wouldn’t eat me, would you madam/ mister monster?” – instead of getting away as fast as possible, the way healthy people do!

You come off as tone-deafdo not tell to smile
Over-friendly people may mean well, but it can certainly be annoying, insensitive, even rude – rubbing others the wrong way  – because it’s a form of not listening.
EXP: A woman undergoing very painful medical treatments needed physical therapy. The young male receptionist in that office was a california-cheery type (but not in CA), who always beamed “It’s so good to see you!! How are you today?!!”
Walking slowly with a cane, the patient was obviously weak & in great discomfort. She was not amused by the greeting, much less uplifted. Even if his style was genuine, it truly lacked empathy, & was his need to project sunshine even tho’ it didn’t suit the situation. Being quietly gentle or even neutrally polite would have been much more soothing.

According to the School of Life, the too-nice are guilty of 3 major errors:
1. Believing you have to agree with everyone – making you a liar
2. Handing out empty compliments – making people think you’re fake
3. Being remorselessly upbeat – suggesting you can’t ‘read’ situations correctly, if at all – because you don’t have emotional intelligence (EQ)
These make it unsafe for others to reveal their truest selves when around us.

• You attract needy people
Just like ‘takers’ are your catnip, you are catnip to those even more desperate than you! Over-dramatic, clingy, controlling /demanding, whiny adult victim types will find you & try to drain you dry. They expect you to be mommy/daddy, therapist, nurse-maid, char, “butcher/ baker/candlestick maker”. And they’re manipulative, playing on your need to be needed, skilled at guilt-tripping if you don’t be-or-do what they want.
• You attract aggressive, demeaning treatment
Being over-friendly invites bullying from arrogant personality types, who instinctively recognize the “Kick-me” sign on your back that you don’t realize is there. They smell weakness – your insecurity, fear of loss & lack of boundaries – which energizes their sadistic need to vent their rage on others, rage toward their own weak family members who severely abandoned & disappointed them

•  You get stuck in this role
Once everyone gets used to your pattern of ‘selflessness’, it’s not only harder for you to change, but many people you know will strongly object if you do start having clear opinions & setting boundaries. It would mean they’d have to make changes too, which humans tend to resist

• You can’t do your job well
Especially as a boss, if you’re too easy & agreeable, you:
— won’t get rid of people hurting your company
— won’t stop workers, suppliers & customers from taking advantage
— can’t make company beneficial changes because it might ‘hurt’ someone
— can’t do great things that require forging your own way
(Stop being ‘nice’ at work)

• You can hurt others
Being too available for too long is so wearing that it leaves you with no time & energy for yourself or friends. If you’re dealing with needy people, whatever you give will never be enough. Without setting & holding to firm limits, & with no reciprocation or appreciation, you will eventually get fed up. Then you explode or cut them off cold turkey. This leaves the clingers confused & hurt, ‘loosing all faith in humanity’. But they just put their faith in someone who has their own ulterior motives & almost as weak boundaries as themselves.

NEXT: External negatives – in us #2

Co-Dep INTERNAL Negatives (Part 1)

& no one will help me!

PREVIOUS: Co-dep angry-nice (#2a)

BOOK: “The Book of No:
250 Ways to Say It – & Mean It, & Stop People-Pleasing Forever”
Susan Newman, PhD (book review)

 High COST of angry-niceness
✔︎ Abandoned – as an adult.
To totally depend on others (especially on narcissists) to be ‘seen’ & for a sense of worth – will always leave you disappointed & even more alone. Yes, we need other people to help, encourage & validate. But self-esteem is an inside job, a combination of taking care of our WIC, growing the UNIT & relying on a Higher Power to heal our wounds.

✔︎ Addicted – Constantly depriving ourselves of needs, wants, dreams, goals…. makes the hole-in-our-soul** bigger & bigger. But since nature abhors a vacuum, we try to satisfy the longing for comfort & security with any addiction that fits our personality type. And it’s often a witch’s brew, engaging in several all at once or sequentially. If we’re constantly over-giving, we may escape by over-spending, over-eating, over-working…..

✔︎ Beleaguered (surrounded by troubles), yours & everyone else, until you just want to scream, but that’s too unacceptable, so you swallow the anger & collapse inward. Always saying “I’m sorry”- for things that are not your fault OR beyond your control, tying to placate
the monsters inside & out

✔︎ Burnt out – run yourself into the ground, a workhorse – or should we say ‘work like a dog’!?
– try to do more than everyone else
– never ask for help (including spouse & kids)
–  have outrageous expectations of yourself (perfectionism)

✔︎ Confused – “I don’t know how to____, I can’t seem to ____ // Why don’t I get any better? Why am I not appreciated? What am doing wrong? Should I have ____? Why don’t I ever get picked for ____? // I’m not sure who to listen to, who to believe. Isn’t my family right? What if my husband /wife is right about me?”…..


✔︎ Desperate – your frantic efforts to get your needs met in round-about ways always end up in disappointment & disaster. Sadly, no matter how much effort you put in & how determined you are, just like you can’t fix others, they can never fix you. Even so, you keep PMES starving, but refuse to feed yourself. You just get more & more desperate, often to the point of being suicidal

✔︎ Distrustful – if others do actually like you, it doesn’t count because:
– you don’t believe you’re worthwhile
– you don’t trust your own judgement as to who is sincere & who isn’t
– you idealize others, BUT are secretly sure no one is safe
– you know you’re not being emotionally honest, so assume they only like your fake front
– you don’t realize others can see your good qualities, even tho’ you can’t

✔︎ False Self – that you had to develop as child – continues to get reinforced & dominates our life.  Only focusing on your outsides, waiting to be rescued / taken care of guarantees disappointment, wastes decades of your life. You miss out on drive & spontaneity, ignoring opportunities to be creative, to use your natural gifts & to accept all aspects of yourself

✔︎ Frustrated – from never getting control over others to make them be what you want, & do what you need – so you can feel safe. From trying so hard to get it right but never ‘figuring it out’. From longing for the love you don’t think you deserve or have a right to. From living in the fantasy of how thing would be, if only……

✔︎ Gilt-ridden – any time you’re less than chipper, any time you have an angry thought about someone, any time you just can’t do something you think you should or what someone else wants, any time you take a minute out for yourself, anytime someone’s angry at you, any time you’re not perfect……

✔︎ Obsessive – endlessly ‘chewing the cud’, going ’round & ’round about:
– something you did or didn’t do, that you’re sure is going to make others turn away from you in anger or disgust – OR
– about what someone said that hurt, or what they didn’t do that you wanted….. wasting time & energy trying to figure out why?
SO you can fix it & not be abandoned!

NEXT:Internal Negatives #2

Co-Dep Angry-Nice UNDERPINNINGS (Part 1)

love-buyingscreen-shot-2017-02-24-at-12-13-36-pmTHEY WON’T LIKE ME
unless I try a lot harder

PREVIOUS: Co-dep #1

SITEQs @ Co-dep
False beliefs @ being angry

Co-dependence UNDERPINNINGS (all at the same time!)
• Hero – of your own story, but not really. Your sense of importance & value is totally dependent on what you can do for others, whether they want it or not, and on how others react to you. If they respond positively, you can breathe. If they don’t – even once – you feel like the rug’s been pulled out. So you have to keep running from the monster (the Introject), to make sure you always do the right thing – for others – but never for yourself

• Jelly – inside. A quivering mass of terror & self-flagellation, always waiting for the other shoe to drop! The least little thing that goes wrong – you blame yourself – whether others hurt your feelings, or heaven-forbid you don’t know something, or make even a tiny mistake – all reasons to condemn yourself

• Mind-reader – sure you know what everyone else is thinking  –MINd]D READING about you. Your shame & S-H ‘knows’ it’s never anything good, so you never bother to actually find out by asking, lest your suspicions prove to be true

• Martyr – taking on the burdens of everyone else, carrying their suffering for them, assuming they are weak & you’re so much stronger

• Secret Superman/ Wonder-woman – able to leap tall buildings with your determination to march on alone in spite of all your hardships, proving your ability to save others, while never needing any help yourself

• Antennae – that constantly swivel back & forth towards everyone else, overly attuned to your assessment/assumption of other people’s emotions & needs – whether accurate or not. Your focus is for external approval, rather than internal self-fulfillment. Left to your own devices, you feel lost, purposeless, even empty

• Brakes – like on a car – but only the emergency one, keeping you locked in place, stuck in the mud of your pain, so you can’t take care of yourself. You think if you stand perfectly still you’ll be safe, but all you’re doing is trading real freedom & enjoyment for fake-protectioncrazy committee

• A Committee – a dangerous ’round’ table in your head of warring factions – each with an opposing point of view, vying for the upper hand – AND all negative. They’re so loud, you can’t find your own voice, & they drive you crazy, because you’re trying to make sense of craziness!

• Distortions – of thinking (CDs) that warp the way you see & interpret the world – thru the haze of Toxic Rules, FoA & S-H. This includes a skewed idea of Higher Power/God. ACoAs automatically assume that “God is an Alcoholic Parent”. We either:
— hate the whole ‘spirituality’ issues because God didn’t rescue us from very real childhood trauma, or
— try to earn love & acceptance by good works (people-please HP) or
— we assume the ‘universe’ is against us, no matter what we do, just like it was at home


ACoAs: DIS-comfort & Comfort (Part 1)

to ignore my discomfort!


SITE:  Fill-In Qs – Identify your stressors

Do What’s Comfortable” is one of the many helpful & profound phrases in Al-Anon. This is a useful suggestion, especially as ACoAs tend to live in perpetual dis-comfort (in the “wreckage of the future or in the misery of the past), subjecting ourselves to almost constant physical anxiety & the endless rumination of self-defeating ‘mantras’ (S-H), sometimes called ‘spinning’.

HOWEVER, we are so used to being uncomfortable that we barely notice, thinking it’s ‘normal’, AND believe we have no other option. So this phrase is incomplete, since ACoAs stick to what we know – no matter how bad – & avoid better/healthier/safer things – so we can cling to the connection to our abusive family (refuse to S & I), and so we don’t have to risk being disappointed – yet again!

stress curve

SOME stress in our life is not only inevitable, but also needed in order to gently push us to take actions & grow. As the bell curve shows, there’s the calm state, which is good, & the ‘beneficial’ Eustress, to keep up us alert, motivated & on our toes. But ACoAs typically live in the far right – in various intensities of distress. Too much stress tends to paralyze. While there are plenty of external situations in life which can be aggravating, & many things we are truly powerless over, this post focuses mainly on how we experience & categorize Comfort & Discomfort, negative & positive .

Originally, our harmful life patterns were learned grown up, which we had little or no control over. Now we keep them going :
— because they’re deeply ingrained // to obey family rules
— to avoid deeper painful realizations, anxiety & accumulated terror
— from the belief that we don’t know any better or can’t possibly change.
Still hanging on to them actually comes from the mistaken belief that the way we’ve always thought, felt & acted (T.E.A.) is our actual personality, & therefore no changes can be expected or even attempted. This belief persists even in ‘recovery’ !!

IN REALITY – all ongoing negative behaviors (character defects) are expressions of our False Self, developed in childhood in response to the abuse & neglect of our family & other environmental dysfunctions (baby sitters, neighborhood, school, ‘church’….). Therefore, the main goal of Recovery is to shed as much of this made-up persona as possible, in order to uncover, own & live in the REAL Self we were born into before the damage.

NOTE: Many of the items on the list below also fall into the more severe category of reprogram brainNegative Discomfort in Part 2, (like self-injury, bad relationships, lack of self-care….),
Also, it may seem counter-intuitive that these damaging patterns would be considered comfortable. READ/ review posts “Negative benefits of.…)” & info about how we learns, in posts “CDs — Info & the brainto understand why. What we experienced from birth on is what makes the most sense to our ‘computer’,  which will fight tooth & nail to keep from having to change – as if we’re asking it to destroy itself!

Changing our programming will create great anxiety – at first. So for some time in our efforts to grow it will genuinely feel more comfortable (a great relief) to go back to doing things the old way – no matter how ‘sick’. Unfortunately. But with persistent repetitions of new thinking & actions, that terror will lessen a great anxiety

IRONY: Identifying these dysfunctions as ‘comfortable’, just because they feel ‘natural’, doesn’t mean they promote happiness & calm. While some ACoAs are in such deep denial that these patterns may seem like minor disturbances – from being numb to their long-term consequences – they in fact create endless stress, anxiety, shame, self-hate, frustration, physical & mental illness… all of us, whether acknowledged or not.

NEXT: Negative Discomfort – #2


what to ask for!



REVIEW Intro in Part 1 

7. “Be careful what you ask for – you may get it”
❤️ YES – said as a warning
if you’re superstitious, self-destructive, have a habit of choosing badly….

GROWTH : There’s a different YES – not as a negative – but can be stressful at first. This is when we determine to make a positive change in our life, & perhaps ask HP for help – to be released from a bad relationship & find a good one, be provided with a new job/career, to live in a bigger, safer, more suitable location …..

And then it comes our way, not magically but because we did the foot-work and were in the right place at the right time.
BUT – if we’re not fully prepared to receive these blessings, we can feel uncomfortable, scared, unworthy….
That’s OK. If we ride it out & get validation from the right people, eventually we’ll be able to relax into it.

💜 NO – As ACoAs, we don’t want to be so ‘careful’ that we don’t ask, since many of us have a poverty/deprivation approach to life. It’s imperative we give ourselves permission to ask for what we NEED, first & foremost. This requires knowing who we are + knowing what our human rights are + being able to deal with the risk of not getting.

Also it requires that we never go to people who have already proven – a hundred times over – that they’re not capable or willing.
THEN we can begin, slowly, to ask for bigger & better things, healthy things, fun things….. and when we get them – take them in, be happy, be grateful. Enjoy!

8. “A good beginning makes a good ending”
💜 NO –
in most instances for ACoAs before Recovery. If we start by marrying an alcoholic &/or other addict, it’s for-sure going to cause years, even decades of great pain. It’s not uncommon for these to end with a bang.
OR – if we enthusiastically start an unsuitable job, try to do too many things at once, idealize a new partner, be great caretaker….. it’s likely to end in disappointment, frustration, exhaustion & rage

OR – if we start a good thing, such as exercising, a diet, an advanced degree, a recovery book, a 12-Step program or therapy…. all with the best of intentions, but it goes against our Toxic Rules, it’ll peeter out with a whimper. (“Anxiety & T.E.A.” ).

❤️ YES – if we pick the right kind of job/careers, or healthy & suited-to-us friends, mates, therapist, doctors….. then it’s likely that a good beginning would predict at least a neutral if not a good ending – when appropriate or necessary.

9. “Forgive yourself
❤️YES for harmful things you did as a result of your damage
💜 NO for being damaged in the first place!
POST: “Outgrowing Co-Dependent Niceness #6a

10. “Everything that has happened to me is OK because it’s made me the person I am today”.
There are a couple of ways this is wrong. Yes the things that happened in childhood naturally molded us, & for some people that was beneficial.

BUT for ACoAs, saying that what happened to us was OK – is cruel. Was it OK that you were beaten all the time? That you had to take care of everyone but not yourself? That you were mind-f–ed, punished for having emotions? That you were molested, raped, neglected, starved???? 💜NO!
If some or all of these were part of your early years, then all they accomplished was to form a False Self, which we mistakenly believe is who we are. (Our Wounded Inner Child

All the horrifying things that happened to us made us who are today – all right!  – into frightened, self-hating, over-working, ego-less wrecks.
But anyone in FoO Recovery knows that our healing work is to strip away the layers of defenses (self-destructive messages) to get to the person we actually are inside & would have been a long time ago – without the abuse!! (POST: “They did the best they could”)

NEXT: Sayings #4

Double MESSAGES – Senders / Receivers (Part 2)

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 12.03.59 PM
what ever I want!               


SITE: Double Bind Theory: Still crazy-making
after all these years”

SENDERS (Ss) are adults with some type of ‘power status’ in a relationship, the one-up position, assumed or legitimate, FROM:
• Parent to child
• Boss to worker
• Male to female
• Teacher to student
• Dominant to subordinate lover / spouse / friend
• Mother-in-Law to son’s wife
• Cop to perp, Politician to The People….

While most Ss are not conscious of what they’re doing, there are some who deliberately use this tactic to capture others : savvy business people, clever criminals, some religions, & those trained in high-powered sales, advertising, the military, media & government.
Confronting these Ss is either impossible or dangerous, so it’s best to avoid them when we can.

✦ Double Messages (DM) are a favorite way abusers control their victims (Receivers – Rs). Yet Senders False Selfrarely know they’re being ruled by a false self. Nor would they admit that they’re desperately lonely, even when not alone, yet terrified of genuine intimacy, & prone to creating drama wherever they are

• The much-used defense against their anxiety & vulnerability is to have as much power & control as possible, a life-long struggle for dominance – which can only provide a false sense of security.

• The S’s armor is the absolute conviction that all their actions are ‘for the good of others’ – so they’re never in the wrong! To maintain this self-created illusion they rely on blaming & shaming others.
This deflects any responsibility for their emotions or actions, making it clear that everyone else is ‘bad’ – except them, of course. Their private logic says that -naturally- anyone who opposes them is ‘against what is good’, & thus ‘deserves whatever they get’, justifying the S’s cruelty.

In this destructive Game (see Part 3) the Receiver is anyone who gets caught – DM ReceiverSenders can only get away with the psychological/ emotional mess they try to create if someone is vulnerable to this type of communication.

Being the Dominant One in every situation is definitely in the S’s mind, although the intended ‘target’ does not usually agree, which including those who may not be able to overtly stand up to the S, such as workers who need to keep their job.

IMP: In any social interaction, whoever reacts less has more power, explained in detail in “The Givers & the Takers”.
Reacting is an expression of investment or compliance – which humans only do with people & things we value. Rs are by definition reactors, so are automatically in the one-down position, always wanting to ‘please’, even if the other person is a complete stranger.

This is obvious with co-dependent ACoAs who have been conditioned to be afraid of displeasing anyone, consciously or not.
One can understand giving in to a loved one, but what kind of investment would an ACoA have in a stranger?
Well, the WIC is terrified of abandonment & needs everyone to accept & approve of it, no matter who it is, or whatever the personal cost. Although not everyone we deal with will take advantage, this fear automatically makes us fair game for manipulators.

So no matter how smart, educated, creative, thoughtful Rs are, by reacting they fall into the S’s frame by slanting the communication, who is then in control (Framing in DBs, Part 2)

EXP: At a pick-up place a guy wants to get lucky, so he approaches a pretty girl: “You know what? I have an instinct about you – a part of you is very sweet & innocent, and a part is a real pain-in-the-ass trouble maker. I bet I’m going to bring out the devil in you!” She not only shyly agrees to both versions, but is flattered & titillated, which = being seduced.

Because the girl reacts (positively) to the frame he has set up, the guy now has the power, therefore the higher value, therefore he ‘wins’.  Boy 1 – Double-Binded Girl 0!

♥ About ACoAs: DMs, Part 7a & b

NEXT: DMs, #3

Separation & Individuation (Part 1)

family tree TO STAY ATTACHED OR NOT – how can I be truly safe?

PREVIOUS: Symbiosis #3

POSTs: Autonomy & Attachment

SITE: Object constancy (vs object permanence)

BOOK re. S & I:‘‘The UNFOLDING SELF”  by Mara Sidoli

As children we are all dependent on the ‘kindness of  strangers’ (parents / caretakers). This makes us vulnerable to their personal, social & religious training, so children are either nurtured & loved OR abused & neglected.  Even those of us who had an outwardly ok family may have experienced abandonment in ways that others can’t see from the outside

As adults, IF we were originally victimized at home, we have the illusion that staying dependent will get us taken care of, making up for the past. However, the tradeoff is to give up adult rights – to have our own opinions, make our own choices, follow our own destiny

French aristocrat, writer, poet & pioneering aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupery said, “I know but freedom of mindone freedom and that is the freedom of the mind.”  We can say that the root of independence lies in our ability to think freely, since to a large extent, our thoughts determine our actions & experiences.

• Some expressions of independence are : being competent, having our own unique voice, acting autonomously in the world – while still being able to consider the differing ideas & feelings of others. It allows us to stay connected without being symbiotic.

Object Constancy: To develop healthy independence a person would have needed a genuine connection with dependable, competent & emotionally available caretakers, starting with a psychologically healthy mother.
🌺 That would result in the ability to remember that people or objects are consistent, trustworthy & reliable, especially when out of the person’s immediate field of vision

THE GOAL of all therapy & other types of Recovery is Separation & Individuation (S & I), the struggle to become an adult**. This can only be done by clearly identifying & expressing the person we were born to be, as part of our genetic & social heritage, yet not a carbon copy of anyone else. Children from healthy families are allowed this process while growing up, so they don’t have to go thru the stress of this particular type of ‘letting go’.

**Many ACoAs balk at the suggestion that we have to grow up (become an adult), because —
✓ the WIC doesn’t want to give up being in charge. This ego state has allowed us to survive thus far – but with great limitations. Having to rely on ourselves way too early gave the WIC the only sense of power it has ever known & won’t relinquish it easily

✓ we equate being an adult with being like our drunk & narcissistic parents – either mean, weak or crazy.  They were acting out of their Bad Parent & WIC, but never from a Loving Parent / Healthy Adult state.
Of course we don’t want to be like them – BUT we are, in the way the False Self was formed, using the Toxic Rules & Toxic Roles.
So we can’t look to them for a model of adulthood!

The False Self (FS) is made up of two or more sub-selves that develop from S & Ichildhood damage – as the only way to survive we had ay the time. These well-meaning but wounded, comfort-seeking persona usurped leadership from our naturally talented True Self (TS).

It’s not just the mask we present to the world, it’s what we now assume IS us, the only Self we’ve ever known.
As the FS aspects formed, they disabled or stunted our TS, preventing our wise brain/body’s ability to make instinctively natural, holistic mental decisions & action-choices, so what we truly think, perceive, feel & how we act – are distorted or hidden.

• These sub-selves (FS) have tried valiantly to manage under extremely difficult conditions, & we can appreciate their efforts that allowed us to survive.  However, they no longer serve our adult needs, so we can’t afford to let them continue ruling our life.
In our ‘language’, it means not letting the WIC be in charge anymore, by growing the UNIT.
(⬆️ CHART modified from “Break the Cycle”)

NEXT: S & I (#2)

RECOVERY – What IT IS & IS NOT (Part 2)

Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 9.30.12 AMLEARNING HOW TO BUILD A LIFE
on the experience of those who know


SITE: “25 Things you do as an Adult when you’ve experienced Childhood Emotional Abuse
(like the Laundry List)

❖…eliminating ALL pain from our life
❧…a combination of gains & losses, fulfillment & disappointment, joy & pain – part of being human, not superhuman.  Only addicts – of any kind – want ‘no pain’ & think that’s an appropriate goal

IS NOT…❖…trying to get from our family all the things we never got as kids, nor assume we can have a ‘great’ relationship with them – if only we were well enough

IS…❧…accepting there’s no ‘if only’ about our family & our childhood (SORRY!)
• It was their damage that prevented them from being all we needed.  It was never because of who we are/ were! Yes, it was done to us, at us, with us – but it wano more blames never ABOUT us  ie. our essence
and, unless family members have been growing too, or changing enough, we may take more radical steps

We can choose how to deal with them – by :
a. having rare or no contact, to protect ourself from abuse & mind games
b. no contact for a long time, until we are more healed, so our buttons (which they installed) get much smaller :)! Then re-connect & see….

limited contact, to see who they really are, for clarification & validation of how they treated us – which will diminish our self-hate, & allow us to gain some emotional distance from the family drama
d. regular contact, spaced out AND only as friendly Adults.  Don’t expect them to be parental if they can’t. Interact superficially or only in ways that suites everyone. Don’t push for the impossible!

➼ Others will often disappoint, which can make us sad & angry. That’s normal. It just doesn’t have to devastate. NOW it’s truly up to us to become Kind Parent & Wise Adult for ourselves, with the help of therapy, H.P., Program & other support systems.

IS NOT...❖…saying we have forgiven our family, as if it were an intellectual decision, made once & forever, hoping that will wipe out all of the damage they inflicted, & all of our pain

IS…❧…knowing that forgiveness is a gift from H.P. – a ‘letting go’ – as a result of our willingness to do Recovery work to clean out old emotional wounds.
Forgiveness is the end product of that work, rather than a prerequisite for growth, as many tell us. Forgiveness isn’t genuine without healing our rage & sorrow. (9 posts = 4 types)

PROOF : when we try to ‘will’ forgiveness & think it’s all behind us – eventually some life-event will stir up that unresolved pain & bite us in the butt. Besides, some abuses are un-forgivable! But we still have to let go of being a victim of our own rage by feeling the sadness that’s underneath (“Forgiveness Is an Inside Job“)

IS NOT…❖…getting over our rage, so we don’t have to feel it any more OR not having any more terror, worry, sadness… if/when we get ‘really healthy’Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 9.38.11 AM

IS... ❧…knowing & accepting that we’ll always have some vestiges of the old pain, fear, rage, shame & abandonment hurt, BUT that those Es doesn’t have to control us
…. being willing to separate internally, from the bad voice & externally, from harmful people. It’s absolutely necessary to get away from damaging situations & negative thoughts. After all, if you kept scraping away at a sore on your skin, it wouldn’t heal, would it?

• At first this ‘letting go’ can bring up fear & depression, but with time, it will allow us to heal old wounds, making us less fearful & angry.
We can find & use new ways to deal with those painful Es – by: learning to accept & comfort ourselves & letting them out in safe places & ways. Then we’ll experience pleasant, joyful emotions as well.

NEXT: RECOVERY – IS & is NOT (#3) 

ACoAs : OVER-Controlling Ourselves (Part 1)

bad voice
doesn’t want me to outgrow it

PREVIOUS: Self-Care around Controllers #3

SEE:  Toxic Family Roles

❖ S-C = self-control


Normal / Healthy: since children are not born with boundaries it’s a parent’s job to help them learn self-control (S-C), which is about setting limits for oneself & with others, but forming then is a long process. S-C is closely linked to:
• how children feels about themselves, which comes from guidance, stability & unconditional love
• being taught how to deal with everyday frustrations & practicing those skills by making their own age-appropriate choices & decisions

To DEVELOP healthy S-C people need 2 mental ABILITIES :
a. To estimate time, in order to make reasonable decisions, based on immediate as well as future outcomes.
❖ Young children cannot do this because they live completely ‘in the present’, so it’s not rational to expect them to have the same S-C as older kids & adults (post: ACoAs & TIME)

b. To direct one’s attention away from a current event. This is needed in order to have the time to evaluate situations, make better choices & weigh possible consequences.
Since young children’s attention can be easily distracted, they aren’t able to -stop – to consider alternatives or potential outcomes, so it’s inappropriate to demand it of them

• Children do best when guidance & boundary setting are given with consistent, age-appropriate expectations & realistic consequences, AND without constant punishment or power-conflicts with parents.
Children do need the security of knowing the rules & limits of behavior – otherwise they feel uncared for & at a loss. The healthy goal for parents is to guide & nurture them so they feel supported & valued, rather than judged or rejected

Alcoholic PARENTING extremes
In most cases, ACoAs had to be totally obedient to survive & later to fit in – first with parents, then in school, a religious community & then work. (Posts: Parenting styles & Results)

OVER: Many of us were given too many rules, assumed to be ‘little adults’, demanded that we be competent & self-sufficient way beyond our years.
We were bullied & manipulated into being compliant on pain of suffering & death. There was no fairness, or any leeway for our individuality. We submitted – or else.

This created great anxiety, knowing we couldn’t fulfill their spoken & implied expectations, but desperately trying to please.
✏︎ For some of us the rules kept changing, arbitrarily.
✏︎ For others they were rigid & unrealistic.
✏︎ For all of us, no matter what we did, it was never good enough!
Eventually we either rebelled or caved.

UNDER: Others of us received little or no guidance – left too much on our own, so that we basically raised ourselves, which also created great anxiety. It left us:
• without knowing how to pay attention to other people
• with no respect for, willingness or need to obey legitimate authority
• with no sense of boundaries, limits, discipline or self-trust
• not knowing what is expected of us or how to function in the world.

This may seem heavenly – to a teen, but a neglectchild without rules or expectations not only is being severely neglected – but will likely suffer from lack of motivation & direction for years to come!

EITHER WAY – we were deprived of the opportunity to learn healthy self-control – which requires a SELF to implement!
Since having a Self was not allowed much mess encouraged, the only thing we could do was to over-control ourselves. We had to hide our true emotions, needs, as well as our intelligence, competence & talents – except as those gifts were needed to take care of sick, abusive, depressed & crazy parents &/or siblings – but never for ourselves!

▶︎ Since over-controlled adults are generally responsible & reserved, they don’t get much attention, suffering loneliness & chronic depression in silence, which may include anorexia, or being obsessive-compulsive.
An an evidence-based therapy Radically Open Dialectical Behavior Therapy (RO DBT), was developed to help “over-controllers” activate the brain’s neurological systems which help regulate smoother ways of interacting with others. SKILLS include:
social spontaneity, taking it easy, make true friendships, correcting rigid thinking & minimizing perfectionism. (MORE….)

NEXT: O-C Ourselves – Part 2