ACoAs being ‘RIGHT’ (Part 1)

no one will pay attention!

PREVIOUS: Psychopath Red flags #3

 Why is it so important to be right?  

QUOTE: “Everything that is in agreement with our personal desires seems true. Everything that is not puts us in a rage.”~ Andre Maurois

What does ‘being right’ (BR) mean?
a. OK : Generally refers to having accurate information, knowing the right way to do something, or being sure of who we are, what we want, how we feel… It can be about:
Assertiveness: being accurately sure about a subject or a person (“I know what I know”) & not afraid to stand by it
Justice: fighting for what is just & right, especially in the face of opposition, but not for personal gain or to feed one’s ego
b. NOT OK : Trying to force others to see our point of view & see the world exactly the way we do. It can be from:
Narcissism: needing others to agree with us (“I’m right & you’re not”), in order to preserve the False Persona we’ve carefully crafted to cover up feeling insecure & vulnerable 
Symbiosis: the need/demand that others are just like us (“agree with me”) in order to not feel alone & abandoned
🚫 BOTH are being out of touch with one’s True Self

SO – it’s important to know when it’s legitimate to be right or not
Al-Anon tells us to ask ourselves “Do I want to be right or do I want to be happy?” It’s a choice between getting our way (at any cost) OR having peaceful encounters with others.
This Q. is addressed to those of us who are co-dependents & addicts, since it would be a rare issue for healthy people. We can also say that Right and Happy are really not opposite ends of a spectrum. Instead it’s about the right/freedom of others to have their own point of view, AND being OK/safe with their right/freedom.

● The Q. comes up when we are having a disagreement with someone & feel an internal pressure (from the PP or the WIC) to get them to do something our way, to understand our point or to agree with our opinion – in order to feel connected. This can only happen if we still have a great deal of unresolved abandonment fear. Remembering the co-dep Triangle (Rescuer-Victim-Persecutor), even victims can become bullies when terrified & desperate to not feel but off.

● It’s a tricky Q. for us to answer because:
— some of us go along with whatever others say just to ‘keep the peace’ but really it’s to not have the other person be angry or leave us
— some of us never agree with anyone for fear of being swallowed up & disappear (used as a false boundary)
— other can manage disagreements in some situations (casual friends, co-workers….) but not in others – when we are attached to a person or position (lover, job…) our WIC desperately feels it needs.

The Brain Is Hooked on Being Right
In situations of high stress, fear or distrust – like being wrong, ignored or laughed at – our brain chemistry (cortisol….) makes ‘decisions’ about how best to protect itself. We default to 1 of 4 responses:
appease –‘make nice’ by simply agreeing
flight – revert to or hide behind group consensus
freeze – mentally disengage, or shut up
fight – keep arguing the point, which is the hardest on relationships, & unfortunately the most common

Fighting is partly due to other neuro-chemicals. When we argue & win, our brain floods with adrenaline & dopamine, making us feel good, dominant, even invincible. It’s understandable that we’d want to repeat those feelings. So the next time we’re in a tense situation, we fight again, & over time will get addicted to being ‘right’.
BUT if we are getting high from being one-up, then the other person / group is one-down & therefore diminished.

NEXT: Being Right (Part 2)

ACoAs – Fear of Commitment (Part 1)

chasing the alcoholic I REALLY WANT TO,
but I just can’t get myself to do it!

PREVIOUS: Fear of Commitment – general (#2)

QUOTE: ‘The worst thing isn’t fear of commitment – the worst thing is being with the wrong person because of fear of loneliness”. ~ ANON

– the basis for this fear (FoC) is the fear of intimacy, ie. “in-to-me-see”.
• In general, INTIMACY is the mental & emotional closeness between 2 people which allows each to know the other person behind their defenses or socially acceptable mask. Sexual intimacy may or may not include this.

a. But initially, it’s the intimacy between a child & it’s mother. From the very beginning of mother-childlife, each child is totally dependent on its primary caretaker(s), & therefore totally vulnerable to their plusses & minuses.
If the mother (or substitute) is an active addict, controlling, cruel or crazy, depressed, ill, distracted, insensitive, manipulative, raging, scared, (usually some combination) —

— then the child will be in an intimacy double bind:
☼ on the one hand, desperately needing the adult(s) to love it, protect it & take care of all its needs
☼ on the other, emotionally & intuitively aware that the connection with that person is totally unsafe & therefore terrifying.

🟩 The child is trapped in this most intimate of all relationships which is truly dangerous to its well-being, but inescapable. Being raised with unreliability & chaos inevitably creates a lack of trust, which then becomes the model for all future relationships, creating a deep terror of intimacy.

b. In most cases we witnessed one or both of our parents:
— be unable to make a commitment – to each other, to their children, to work, to personal growth…. OR
— be committed to work instead of relationships (us), to their spouse not their children, to their addiction & nothing else!……
…… so we didn’t have a role-model for the emotional & spiritual requirements needed for consistent reliability

• Sometimes a child has another parent, older sibling or other relative who is more available & attentive than the primary. But if they are part of the same family, they too will have narcissistic damage & be limited in how much emotional safety & love they can provide. Often this ‘better’ person will either leave, die or turn on the child at some point – multiplying the abandonment pain.

All roads lead to Rome” was a familiar statement to the ancient Romans, & still is to all roadsmodern-day History students. The ACoAs version is: “All roads lead to Abandonment!”. This fear is the bottom line for us, governing all our responses to the world. So much so that we can even feel abandoned by the end of a book or movie we intensely connected to!

• Whenever we obsess, beat ourselves up, feel distrustful or hopeless, are terrified something bad will happen to us – we are tapping into old abandonment pain (E). Given how much abuse & neglect we experienced as children, it makes sense that the WIC would believe (T) that Ab. is the only possible outcome for us. SO – why bother committing to anything, if we’re always going to mess it up or have it taken away??

2. RE-ENACTING  (F=fear)
➼ Making a commitment to something or someone means showing up regularly, being self-motivated, taking risks, not knowing everything, asking for help along the way, having rights…. all the things we’re not allowed!

• The ACoA’s WIC has a whole trunk-full of reasons for FoC, even when we don’t have words for it or are aware of the WHY. As adults, this fear is perpetuated by Self-Hate & weak or confusionmissing Boundaries. We can apply the following issues to PPT (people-places-things), even tho the focus here is mainly on relationships.

It shows up as:
– Confusion (I don’t know what I want, who I am)
– Indecisiveness (should I or shouldn’t I?)
– Perfectionism (I have to know it all & do it right – the first time!)
Procrastination (maybe later, but secretly – maybe never)

NEXT: FoC – Part 2

ACoAs: OVER-Trusting (Part 3)

everything’s just fine?

PREVIOUS: Over-trusting (Part 1)

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

POST: “People should treat me better, BUT I won’t let them
🔷 We trust TOO EASILY when we…. 
(Part 2)

a. FoA (fear of abandonment)
b. Self-hate

c. Co-dependence — a form of “Delayed Stress Syndrome” or PTSD
• we use people as substitute parents instead of being our own, so we can’t afford to notice flaws or limitations in them, no matter how glaring
• we don’t have the right to object to other people’s b.s., so naturally we would never think of calling them on it

• we depend copdepon the opinions & values of others too much, convinced they know things we don’t, so EVEN when we have knowledge or intuition about a person or situation – we ignore it, especially if someone else disagrees
• we don’t want to, god-forbid, hurt anyone’s feeling by ‘suspecting’ them of being less than trustworthy – as they blatantly or subtly do us in!

EXP: Social conformity: As adult, if we need to be part of a group where trust is expected / demanded – by a parent, teacher, boss, gang leader…..- no matter how irrational, unfair, evil, illegal…., we have to go along, otherwise we’d be severely punished, labeled coward &/or ostracized
Despair: Being in a hopeless situation we can’t get out of (like a child in an alcoholic home) – then trusting whoever’s in charge is the lesser of 2 evils, as a way to survive

d. Illusions
Constant disappointment in our family makes us long for everyone else  we can depend on, to make up for it, so we put people on a pedestal:
• If our parent was mentally ill, we idealize anyone who sounds ‘normal’ & functional – even tho they may be selfish or controllingidealize sickness
• If our parent was violent, we idealize anyone who seems calm, even tho they may be emotionally numb & unavailable

• If our parent was verbally cruel, we idealize people who are ‘nice’, even tho they may be a people-pleaser & therefore not totally genuine
• If our parent was absent, we idealize people who ‘want us’, even though they may just be using us to take care of them …..

e. Confusion
• Our family didn’t model appropriate behavior, seeing everything in B & W – drama, extremes, deprivation…. so we evaluate the world using the same lens.
We have trouble distinguishing nuances of good vs bad behavior & don’t consider proportion. Instead of looking for relationships made of 70 – 80% positives with only 20 – 30% negatives (which is reasonable), we settle for the crumbs of only 10 – 30% positives – if that – & ignore a huge pile of crap!

• When people hurt & disappoint us, especially someone we love & / or admire, we sweep it awaytend to push away whatever we feel & think – sweep it under the carpet & say nothing. Instead, we hold in our anger & get depressed.

They may or may not be in the wrong, & we may or may not be overreacting – even when they are off-center. The important point is that we need to process any rage & CDs we may have, then talk to the person about the situation, but only from our Healthy Adult.  If done correctly, we will feel much relief, whether they hear us or not!

• And sometimes we have friends, family members, co-workers & acquaintances who are basically OK, on our side, or at least neutral – BUT who we secretly accuse of being unsafe because:
◇ they’re not 100% perfect in their interactions with us – OR
◇ their positive regard for us is too much to take in, so we dismiss it
◇ they do admire us, at a distance, but are not actually friends, so we don’t trust they can see & appreciate us …..since they’re not ‘taking care’ of us

REMINDER:  As long as we’re being run by the Wounded Inner Child, we find it very hard to separate people who are permanently unsafe from those who are only unsafe some of the time, from those who are genuinely trustworthy.

NEXT: ACoAs – UNDER Trusting (Part 1)

MIND-READING vs Intuition (Part 1b)


I know I’m right

PREVIOUS: Mind-Reading  (Part 1a)


a . Meanings

CONTINUING this kind of M-R keeps us:
• Internally – attached to our dangerous family // anxious & needing to isolate
Externally – suspicious of everyone’s motives // missing out on all the good people & opportunities that present themselves

Reality: Instead of making up someone with our mind-reading ‘talent’= our fantasy, we need to stay awake for who is healthy & who isn’t.
Once we clearly see an un-recovered person’s toxic pattern – from having many painful encounters with them –  it’s time to stop giving them the ‘benefit of the doubt’!

EXP of NOT mind-reading:
I taught my 12-week ACoA course “Knowledge is Power” over 10 years. Reaction from students varied widely in every class.   Some listened intently, taking notes & asking questions.  Others seem disinterested – they fidgeted, yawned, fell asleep, got mad, or stopped coming.

Regarding the latter group – IF I had been prone to mind-reading, I would have assumed the ‘disinterested’ people indicated the ‘truth’ – that I was a boring speaker, gave complicated or worthless info & generally wasted their time – the LIEs thatScreen Shot 2015-08-30 at 11.33.21 PM the bad voice whispers!

➼ However, I know I’m a good teacher, that my material is important & useful, & have been told by many students that the course greatly improved their lives.

I also know that some people were very tired (especially being an evening class), some had ADD & so usually have trouble sitting still for 2-3 hours, but most of all –  the class material brought up a lot of difficult awarenesses & intense pain, so that some people just wanted to opt out.
Actually – their seeming lack of interest was ALSO a validation of my work! So there – PP! See – Little One??

b. A Variation
Another way mind-reading can show up is projecting our wishes, needs & tastes onto others.  It’s not a strict interpretation of the definition, but is the same aspect of the child’s narcissism – ‘I am you & you are me.’  It’s still based on OUR personality, not on who the other person is.

INSTEAD OF nurturing us, our family:
• over-controlled us               •  expected us to be little adults
• demanded we be perfect and without needs – so they wouldn’t have to deal with us
• didn’t guide us, so we had to fend of ourselves, without much training!
worried childThis background formed another version of the familiar ACoA Dilemma :
✓ As kids – we had to take care of ourself – not always in material ways, but definitely emotional & often mental, which gave us the message we weren’t worthy of being taken care of – SO
✓ As Adults – we believe we should not / cannot care for ourselves, copying their lack of care, which became lack of permission to focus on ourself

i. Their CONTROL – WIC projects that everyone is like our parents, who were totally wrapped up in their own worries & addictions. They expected us to figure out what they needed & then provide it. This was either said or implied, but we got the message.
☁︎ So we assume everyone else also wants / needs us to do that

• And we were punished for not getting it right!  Either directly, by them berating or hitting us, or just by continuing to be drunk, crazy, mean, depressed….
This left us with a deep well of anxiety – fearful that we’ll always “get it wrong” but not knowing what to do or how to be to please them

ii. Our CONTROL – now we’re the ones being controlling – trying to make everyone & everything around us SAFE so we can feel less terrified, by making sure they have all their needs met – by us. The assumption is that everyone is as weak, needy, incompetent, scared, sick…… as our parents were

The WIC is convinced that when we fix whoever we’re with, they will :  protect us, never leave us,  take care of us, love us …. if only we work hard enough to get it right. Unfortunately, as long as we let our Adapted Child pick relationships, they’re going to be unhealthy, just like our family!

NEXT: Mind-reading #1c

ACoAs Acting Controlling (Part 1)

comtrolling manEVERYONE HAS TO BE THE WAY I WANT – so I won’t feel so vulnerable!

PREVIOUS: Back-Lash for O-C – #2

POSTs: How ACoAs Abandon Others” #1

 (vs. Controlling – see Healthy Helping’ posts)

The opposite of being controlling is to be of genuine help – with 2 main REQUIREMENTS:
a. Be clear about what the other person needs and that they actually want your help
b. You have the real ability to provide that need, and that you genuinely want to

CONTROLLING (C) behavior is cause by the disowned, un-felt emotion of FEAR (FoA)!
No matter how optimistic & hard-working, all ACoAs are fear-based, from growing up in constant terror as kids. Because our fear was never acknowledged, comforted or talked about – it accumulated, & now sits like a poisonous fog over layers of our experiences & determination.
🩸That’s not ‘being negative’ – it’s important to tell the truth. Then can we change it!

☆ Like most things in life, controlling comes in varying degrees of intensity
• Some Cs are so tightly wound that it’s ‘their way or the highway’ & they’ll punish or ignore anyone who doesn’t fall in line with “the program” 
• Others are only C. when under a great deal of stress, especially if too many things go wrong at the same time

• Some are C. mainly when they’re with a certain category of people (children, a spouse….), so others don’t know what they’re really like in private  
☛  Even with Recovery, many ACoAs & addicts continue their C. patterns until they do FoO & Inner Child healing arms length

ACoA IRONY :  Acting Controlling is one of many ways to keep others at emotional arm’s length,  preventing people from being able to connect with us, while at the same time guaranteeing we’ll keep feeling abandoned ! It’s used as a defensive wall instead of developing real boundaries, which are flexible.

NOTE: Just because someone has a forceful personality doesn’t make them controlling. They can have strong opinions about everything, even insist they’re right, but not impose them on others.  
TEST : Do they allow you to be yourself? OR do they unduly influence your behavior (make demands, have unrealistic expectations, intimidate)?
Stay awake for the difference, in yourself & in others!

GENERALLY, Being Controlling IS :
Re US: • often copied from a C. parent
• a form of unhealthy pride – an unwillingness to back down & admit when we’re wrong, need help, don’t know everything….
• a sneaky, dishonest way to get taken care of
• driven by the WIC or internalized PP voices
• focused mainly on manipulating the outside world, instead of healing inner wounds
pride• fueled by deep anxiety – specifically FoA (fear of abandonment)
• never being satisfied, always critical – our attention is on what we don’t have rather than what is possible and what is actually available to us
• trying to ‘force solutions’ – because we assume otherwise we won’t get our needs met
• trying to get noticed, be respected, seen, valued, appreciated… the wrong ways
• used to avoid feeling helpless, powerless, vulnerable, needy

Re. THEM – it means we :
• don’t trust others – TO take care of themselves, be competent, dependable, honest ….  
• are disrespectful of other people’s autonomy, their right to learn from their own mistakes, have their own life path, their superioitytastes & moral values……
• are saying that someone owes you – because of what you’ve done for them, OR for because of your position, what you’ve accomplished, your position…..

👺 Compulsive pattern : We keep trying to get people to be or do what we want, disregarding who they are, so we won’t have to feel abandoned, while picking the very people or situations that guarantee we will, because they’re just like our family.
“Where there is control there is no love, only fear”

P.M.E.S. WAYS to control / manipulate others
Physically : use intimidating or guilt-making body language (a fist, a pout), threaten harm or actively hurt someone
Mentally (negative communication): name-call, be critical & discouraging, use guilt, create unfair obligations …..
Emotionally : pull on someone’s heart stings (cry) or be volatile (rage) – to get our way or to punish
OR – use Emotional Blackmail –  threaten abandonment if someone doesn’t do what you want
Spiritually : Anything which diminishes the human spirit. Includes false prophets & cult leaders, doomsday literature…. promoting false visions, such as ‘the end of the world will be on X date’….

NEXT: ACoAs Acting Controlling, Part 2