RECOVERY – What it IS & IS NOT (Part 1)

in with the new
Dismantling the old patterns

PREVIOUS: Self-esteem IS

SITEBenefits of a Gratitude List


IS NOT…❖…expecting to get unconditional love and perfect sanity from any human. It’s unrealistic, but the Wounded Inner Child demands it anyway. Now – when we don’t get it, we accuse others of abandoning us!

IS…❧…understanding that in adult relationships –  each person has their own needs.  Since our parents couldn’t give us unconditional love, when it would have been ‘normal’, we can only look for it now from ourselves, our pets & our Higher Power.  As we interact with healthier people we will receive more appropriate companionship – be mirrored, understood, respected, considered, loved…but never perfectly!

IS NOT…❖…being free of emotions (Es) that were unacceptable in our family, controlling our Es or trying to have ‘appropriate’ Es. Those are signs of damaged thinking – (CDs) – NOT the same as being in control of our behavior!

IS…❧…accepting all emotions as legitimate. Humans are built with the capacity AND the need to feel. Es are the natural indicators of our reaction to any experience – to let us know whether something is good or bad for us. Re.T.E.A. —
Actions may, or may not, be good, & can be corrected, over time
• Unhealthy Thoughts can be reframed & replaced, when harmful or incorrect
Es just are. They can go from very joyful <–to–> very painful, but are never good or bad! We need to have access to a wide range of Es, with many shades. It gives us a sense of vibrancy & allows us to connect with others.

Only seeing everything in B & W = tv, paintings, walls, clothes….. can become quite boring. Suppressing or narrowing down Es (to 1 or 2, like rage or fear) will make us one-dimensional, possibly cold, hard, distant & ultimately limited.
The intensity & depth of our emotional reservoir of old childhood pain is so great that it will never be completely empty.  Accept this & learn how to manage Es rather than trying to spiritualize them away!
(review “Feelings Aren’t Facts” posts) (MORE re. hand-emotions)

IS NOT…❖…trying to permanently ‘fix’ our childhood damage, eliminating all character defects, doing is easily it & quickly.  Any effort to fix ourselves means we think we’re bad, that our badness is our own fault, SO we’re responsible for doing anything we can to eradicate it. (BTW, this is one of the reasons why many ACoAs are suicidal & want to be dead)

IS…❧…accepting that alcoholism & co-dependence have left deep scars & emotional hangovers. (Good / bad parenting @ ACoA site). These will take our life-time to gradually heal. Being human means we’ll never be perfect – but Recovery IS truly possible!  Many have proven it.

Humility (not humiliation) is acknowledging our human limitations, with a consistent willingness to evaluate ourselves with compassion, in honesty & reality, modifying our thoughts & action when needed so we can reach our own goals

IS NOT…❖…being ‘serene’ all the time.
• To always be pleasant, kind, honest, thoughtful…is a disguise for a wide range of emotions we don’t find acceptable (anger, envy, greed….)
• To still be the good boy / girl, in the present, is the symbiotic need for our family’s approval, rather than becoming our own person
• Forever trying to be ‘so good’ is a negation of our legitimate rage & pain of childhood abandonment

IS...❧…gaining genuine serenity, based on a solid emotional, mental & spiritual foundation – from the inside.  This creates the unshakable knowledge that we are ok even when we’re in pain, under pressure, not understood or supported.
We can have upheaval, express intense pain / anger… and still be at peace, deep down.  Serenity is the by-product of knowing & accepting ourselves in the moment, trusting our gut, having a great support system & a loving H. P.


ACoAs: Healthy RULES & Lessons (Part 3)

  new life“AND NOW, PRESENTING…. –
a new life, a better life !!”


SITE: Healthy Family Rules



As mentioned in the last post, these statements are to help the Healthy Adult & Loving Parent parts of our psyche know better ways to take care of our Inner Children. Each statement can be used as an inventory:
a. Resistance:
• why do I NOT want to include them in my life?
• what do I think will happen if I follow these idea?
• what do I need to give up in order to incorporate them?
b. Willingness:many Qs
• what do I need to have / do, before I can use these positive rules ?
• how can I implement these concepts into my life?
• who can I ask for help with them?
• who do I know who already lives them?
c. Results:
• what happens when I act on these statements?
• how is it different from what I assumed or projected?
• what do I need to do, to increase these principle in my life?
OF COURSE – If you can add questions to this list – please do.

NEXT: Safe & Unsafe People



ACoAs & Emotions (Part 1)

acoa Es 

& you can’t make me!

Previous: Parrott’s Emotions List

REMINDER: See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

REVIEW: The Body & Emotions & Identifying Emotions


Those DREADED Emotions (Es) !
• ACoAs definitely believe all emotions are a bad thing. When asked what’s going on with us, or how we’re feeling, ACoAs usually fail to mention Es. We’ll talk around them, over & under, but never hit the bulls-eye.  We’re terrified of them like mice are afraid of cats.  We treat our Es as if they were a wild beast inside that has to be locked away in a deep dark dungeon.

• Then we wonder why we can’t get out of bed, always feel like the outsider, feel so alone, don’t get along with others, have panic attacks….. Emotions that are ignored have sneaky ways of showing up in disguise. BUT those ways (listed throughout this blog) are the symptoms that provide vital information we can use to reverse-engineer events that distress us. Then we can make the necessary corrections

• Without enough healing, ACoAs are clearly not happy campers, having lived with depression most of life – even if we don’t show it on the outside.  It’s not surprising, since our dysfunctional families indicated in thousands of direct & indirect ways that we should never object to being hurt by them, and then not express any pain from their abused & neglected! (“Stop your whimpering. You’re such a baby. You’re just too sensitive!”). They didn’t give us much to be happy about, but they also didn’t want us to hold them accountable. So we learned: “DON’T FEEL”!healthy combo

IMP: What they never told us was that 💗 it’s not intrinsically bad to have Emotions but were simply unacceptable to them, because:
they didn’t experience love & nurturing, so could not give it to us
• they had no clue how to cope with their own problems, much less be there for us. The responsibility of parenting terrified them

• if one or more parent had chronic mental or physical illness, or who were overly dramatic themselves, there was clearly no room for our needs or feelings
• never having dealt with their wounded Es as adults, they shoved them under the carpet & demanded we do the same.
An infant’s first ‘language’ is that of intense emotions. Only after that did we learn to use words! This combination would be a constant irritant to parents who already felt too much OR didn’t want to feel at all – our emotions & needs acting like sandpaper. They had to shut us up!

• our needs as children enraged them because they wanted all the attention for themselves
• some parent & teachers delighted in hurting & humiliating us, & had no intention of giving us comfort or validation (did you catch one of them smirking when you cried?)
✶ One tender soul remembers her mother, the heartless narcissist, saying with a sneer: “I’m so glad I’m not sensitive like you & your father!”

As a result:  muted Es
• many ACoAs have a limited range of Es they are aware of, much like only being able to play 2 or 3 notes on a full piano keyboard – such as anger & disdain, fear & guilt, loneliness & desperation…. even tho there are many more available on both scales

• some have so many Es we can hardly breathe, acting them out all over the place or hiding under the covers as much as possible, always in ‘suffering mode’, which makes us wish we were like the other ones – numb

• others of us have intense Es without consciously knowing it OR being able to identify them by name – not associating certain physical sensations with actual emotions, but tending to be cranky & exhausted

NEXT: ACoAs & Emotions (Part 2)

NEGATIVE BENEFITS of Old Patterns (Part 2)


I think you’re just messing with me!

PREVIOUS: Negative Benefits (Part 1)



Examples of
How NEGATIVE BENEFITs (N.B.) keep us from healing
a. NOT have to GROW UP, be responsible
PATTERN: Many ACoAs stay isolated, severely under-earning, unloved, unproductive, living in dirty, immaturecluttered environments, joy-less, suicidal…
OR focus all their attention on taking care of others, so they can look ok, the good guy/gal – but are also depressed, full of shame, self-hate & hidden anger

N.B. … STAY SICK rather than develop S & I, which is letting go of the symbiotic attachment to their cruel upbringing & becoming their True Self

b. NOT have to face OLD PAIN (life & death)
PATTERN: A woman was forced to take care of her filthy, violent, mentally ill mother from age 10, when her father abandoned them. At age 45 she finally put her mother in a home & promptly developed Scleroderma as a guilt/ stress reaction. Eventually she became bed-ridden, with excruciating migraines, barely able to make logical sense – although she had been an intelligent & talented artist.
She spent her last 25 yrs isolated, depressed, with almost no practical self-care, filled with shame about every aspect of her life.
Occasionally she was in contact with her father who had remarried another cruel woman. When he died at age 96 – the daughter went into a rapid decline & died alone, in less than a year…

N.B.rather than emotionally re-experience & process the horrors of being an only child of a passive, depressed father & violent, psychotic mother (left the infant with souring baby bottles & soiled diapers…..)
Therapy helped diminish her self-hate, but she was never able to go deep enough to heal the rage, sorrow & loneliness held in her body

c. NOT have to feel LONELINESS Screen Shot 2015-08-13 at 8.11.37 AM
PATTERN: Many ACoAs over-work, care-take, self-medicate with sex / social media / addictions, hanging on to bad relationships no matter how harmful….. One woman stayed with her very abusive husband for 35 yrs, until he died. Instead of creating a life for herself (at 62) – she too died – 8 months later!

N.B.rather than face the emotional & practical stresses of being alone, having to feel the emptiness of loss and old abandonment, & having to care for herself, deal with finances……

d. NOT have to TAKE CARE of oneself
PATTERN: A competent, creative woman in her 50‘s developed chronic pain from an auto-immune illness.  on strike
Q. put to her: “Are you willing to give this pain up?”  Inner Child answered ‘NO’ – because = being disabled was ‘getting taken care of, legitimately’.  She was tired of doing it all on her own – carrying the burden of the Hero Role. Her Kid wasn’t allowed to be nurtured, but this way she could get practical help, be felt sorry for, lauded for soldiering on….

N.B.rather than having to continue taking care of herself, which she’d been doing her whole life as an only child of a cruel narcissistic mother & distant, depressed father

PATTERN 1: A beautiful, bright young woman in the big city was put under an unbearable family demand to continue rescuing her “poor, suffering mother & sisters” (who had always treated her cruelly) – by regularly sending them all her earnings.  Feeling obligated but very resentful, she made sure to only work at menial jobs she hated (under-earning) & live on as little as possible – so she could ‘honestly’ say she didn’t have any $$ to send!

N.B. … rather than say “I’m sorry, but I can’t take care of you any don't disobeymore, I have to live my own life!”, then face her guilt & their scorn (abandonment) – which had already happened, of course!

PATTERN 2:  In his culture, a Native American man was taught that to be an active artist, one must drink.  No alcohol – no creativity! No argument! He always wanted to write plays & get them published, but got deep into alcoholism. Before it could kill him, he got sober.  5 yrs later he still hadn’t ‘picked up a pen’. He was stuck, & miserable.

N.B.rather than go against (separate from) a national culture, not just his family – but the whole tribe!  Talk about abandonment!

NEXT: Negative Benefits (Part 3)

WHAT is GUILT? (Part 1)

Man with tamI PLEAD GUILTY !
Since everything is about ME (isn’t it?)- it must be me, I’m always wrong


SITEs:  How to deal with Guilt Trippers
3 Types of Guilt & How to Let Them Go

NOTE: See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

POINT 1. Guilt (G) is a normal EMOTION, but not a primary one like fear, joy, sadness, love….
Since it helps preserve social bonds, a moderate amount of guilt is adaptive. Too much is crippling, repeatedly telling lies trains the brain to ignore feeling bad about it, & not having any remorse is psychopathic.
ACoA focus on guilt explained in Part 2

POINT 2. Guilt is the emotion mainly related to ACTIONS or NON-actions, but also to ‘unacceptable’ thoughts & wishes

POINT 3. General USES of guilt are for:
 exerting influence – G is used by some people in close relationships to control another’s behavior (MORE….)
— the one with less power can get their way by guilting the one with more
EXP: “If you loved me, you wouldn’t do that / would do that for me”
— The one with more power can shame & punish the one with less
EXP: “I guess you mean I shouldn’t have been a mother” when told of old hurts

b. spreading out emotional stress – negative & positive sides of a ‘bad’ situation – acknowledging you’ve messed up, AND showing you care about that person or event
EXP: “If you (person A) feel guilty over not taking out the garbage, chances are your spouse (person B)–who wanted it taken out–will feel better knowing that. In this way, emotional equity is restored, because bad feelings in A are restored to B, who caused them,” (psychologist Roy F. Baumeister, CWRU of OH) Abstract Article

c. maintaining relationships – G depends on inter-personal context, a two-person experience, which can help make people pay attention to others
EXP: feeling bad about not keeping a promise, not spending enough time with loved ones, not responding to texts….
Given how uncomfortable guilt can feel, it can provide a strong motive to apologize, correct or make up for a wrong, & be more responsibly in future- BUT only if the mis-behavior is legitimate

‘Normal’ TYPES of G – in relation to actions, cause by:
. something you did — wrong : that harmed another person, that violated your own ethical or moral code, or something you swore you’d never do again. In these cases, there’s no doubt it happened

b. something you didn’t do, but want to — thinking a lot about an action that’s against your own principles, or is dishonest, unfaithful, or illegal.

This kind of G can be confusing, with conscience poking a finger at you.
Since you didn’t actually commit the act (yet), & no one know what you’re thinking – you’re still on moral high ground. But obsessing about wanting to do something you know is wrong (for yourself or toward others) can make you very uncomfortable

c. something you think you did — A lot of present-day unhappiness comes from our own irrational thoughts about situations we’re in. Some people will be wracked with G if they’re convinced they did something wrong, even if there’s no objective evidence of that.

EXP: The magical belief you can jinx people by just wishing them ill, without acting on it. If something bad actually happens to them later, you’ll secretly think it was because you were that powerful!  At some level you ‘know’ that’s illogical, but it’s hard to give up the belief altogether

d. that you didn’t do enough to help someone — who you know is having a hard time or is sick, but you don’t call to check on them or help in some practical way.
OR – you’re already doing too much for someone, & you take a break or just stop, because you’re burned out (compassion fatigue). Continuing to act out of guilt will only drain you further & end up making you a less effective helper

e. that you’re doing better than someone else. It can be:
— adult children doing much better in life than their alcoholic / narcissistic family, or poorly-adapted immigrant parents, such as going to college, making more money….. even if they say they want their children to succeed

— the only person left in the family after some natural (fire) or social (war) disaster, often will feel survivor guilt, even though the event was totally out of their control. This can have Spiritual implications – they were meant to survive for a reason. 😢

NEXT: What is Guilt (#2)