PARENTS BLAMING US (Part 1) 

being blamed 

WHY IS IT ALWAYS MY FAULT?
No matter what I do, it’s wrong!

PREVIOUS: Rebellion vs Compliance #2

SEE posts : What is Guilt?
What is Shame?
• ACoAs’ Need for Revenge


INTRO

There is a lot of talk in the ‘spiritual’ community about forgiveness, ie – that we should not be blamers.
Not blaming ourselves (S-H) or others (attacks) is a good rule for us in the present – now that we’re adults. And that’s a discussion for another post.

However, those same teachers & preachers never talk about what was done to us as kids – that among many other types of harm, our parents unfairly, inappropriately blamed us for all kinds of things – and what that did to our tender & vulnerable developing sense of identity!

This post is about what happened TO US as children. A hallmark of alcoholic (& other emotionally unhealthy) families is the mistreatment of their children in all 4 of life’s aspects: Spiritual, Emotional, Mental, Physical (PMES).

😿 Parents blaming their children for ANYTHING is ABUSIVE. Blaming us is the same as holding us responsible for their deficiencies & unhappiness.
Remember – abuse is not just physical, in all its forms.

It encompasses all the ways people harm others – especially their children – by injuring another’s rights, self-esteem, mental clarity, sense of safety, emotional equilibrium & boundaries. So Blame fits into 3 categories – S, M & E.

👥 A variation on Blame is a constant negative COMPARISON with a dead or living sibling, another relative, a famous person….
“Why can’t you be more like ____”

1. IN OUR CHILDHOOD
Damaged parents blamed you for things which :
a. were NOT your fault
• difficulties because of a learning disability, like dyslexia or ADD
• the illness or death of a parent; a parent being left by a lover or spouse…

b. was a projection
of what the parents were guilty of being (fearful, irresponsible, lazy, feeling unlovable, risk-averse….)

c. you were not doing
what you were accused of
• being a ‘whore’ when you were too young to have had sex at all OR
• of seducing a parent’s lover/ spouse, when that adult was actually sexually abusing the child
• of using drugs when you never did – at least not at the point…)
Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 5.07.37 AM
d. you couldn’t do, especially without any instruction, & then accused of being stupid
• when you legitimately couldn’t know something (fixing a car or other machinery, shopping by themselves, ‘getting
• a hard school subject
• expected to know how to fix a parent’s personal, sexual & financial problems or forced to take care of a drunk or crazy parent, alone…
e. were actually no one’s fault such as • an act of God
• being born with a physical or mental limitation
•  getting severely ill or having an accident…

f.
 something one of your siblings or other child did, but we were held responsible for, especially if you were the Hero or Scapegoat (start a fight; steal or break something; get into trouble at school…)

g. your parents were jealous of, because they couldn’t do something you could (a natural skill or gift) & so they made that ability a bad thing

h. was mostly not true
• always lying (“Kids always lie so we can’t believe anything they say”)
Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 5.06.44 AM• always being stubborn, selfish, too sensitive, difficult, disobedient, stupid….

➼ This last category are a group of normal childhood characteristics which:
√ sick parent cannot tolerate because of their own issues
√ occur sometimes as a defense in the child because of family abuse & neglect…
√ happens occasionally because kids are human ie. imperfect.
Those behaviors & attitudes then get demonized – which make them both a ‘sin’ and more likely to continue, while we try to be perfect. We CAN’T WIN in a sick environment.

NEXT: ACoAs’ need for revenge

Double BINDS – Options (Part 5a)

wash the brain 

I NEED TO SCRUB MY BRAIN
until I’m free of this poison

PREVIOUS: DB – Frames (Part 4b)

SITE: 4 Double-Binds psychiatrists use on mental patients

 

OPTIONS in dealing with DBs
Once you – the R – have gotten caught in a Double Bind (DB) you’re going to have to accept that ‘getting away’ may be painful & slow, especially if the S is important to you & you’re afraid of loosing them.

Remember, people who use DBs need to control others & are NOT safe, most likely a severe narcissist, & therefore not truly loving. That’s an illusion they create & you buy into.
Feeling angry, frustrated & ‘crazy’ – about yourself & toward someone else – are your HINTS that they’re pulling a fast one on you, whether deliberate to not. It might be necessary to move out of their range, which is not easy, but it’s also not the only option.

• Getting relief from a DB situation comes from recognizing & addressing the Conditions which are required to produce it (see “How It Works”= DMs #3 and DBs, #2). But FIRST – know that you have to ‘chose your poison’ & that there will be some repercussions for the side of the DB you reject.

You will need the ego-strength (self-esteem) to bear whatever reaction you’ll get from the Sender you’ve known a long time, which can include raging, insults, threats, silence, shaming…. Since Ss are control freaks, they’re more likely to hang on & keep trying to keep you hooked rather than dump you. If you stick to not playing along, they’ll either adjust, withdraw or separate  / leave

1. DO LESS: At first, if the pattern of interaction with a special person is so deeply ingrained & your connection to this S is like your childhood & probably symbiotic – you’re likely to be too mentally confused (T) & emotionally scared (E) to make radical changes (A).

The best thing is to DO LESS of whatever they’ve trained you to do/be, & see what happens. Naturally it will be uncomfortable – not just because of their reaction, but from your own feelings of guilt & fear of abandonment. Remember that guilt is the E. that comes from breaking a rule or law.

EXP: No matter how much effort Anna puts into cleaning & prepping for Mother-in-Law’s visits, the older woman will always find some kind of fault!
IMPLIED MESSAGES: “I disapprove of you when you haven’t cleaned your house ‘perfectly’” (you’re such pig) and “I disapprove of you when you think you’ve cleaned everything thoroughly (I can always find something you missed)

So, finally Anna decides to only do the most needed cleaning & storage, & let the chips fall where they may. (Maybe – give mom something ‘legit’ to criticize?)

2. INTERMEDIATE option
– If you’re young enough to not care what your parents say,
– OR know yourself well enough to have sense of what works for you, you can alternate between the ‘options’ presented in the D.Messages, with the understanding & acceptance that you’re going to get flack either way, BUT YOU’RE OK

EXP a : SO – between “I disapprove of you for not socializing (dating)” and “I disapprove of your choice of boyfriends when you finally do”
– YOU can choose BOTH – when you want to go out & with whom, & when you’d rather stay in to read (or secretly text with friends)

EXP b : MASH’s Klinger tried to get out of the war on medical grounds, SO –
X: he pretended to be crazy – BUT was told that –
Y: only crazy people would want to be at war
Result – he was never allowed to be discharged for medical reasons.
NOTE: This is a DM – the word “crazy” being used on two different logic levels. However, Klinger did not fall into the trap. In an impossible situation he chose the ‘crazy’ that suited him & went merrily on his way.

NEXT: DBs – Facing ourselves (#5)

‘TRYING TO LEAVE YOU’ Stages (Part 2)

cutting strings

I GUESS THIS IS GOODBYE 😦How could this happen to me!?)

PREVIOUS: Intro, Differentiating, Limiting, Stagnating (#1)

 

ACTS OF DISTANCING ▼  (cont)

3. STAGNATING
Normal: They’re still together, but with a feeling of being stuck & not knowing how to make it better or how to get out. There’s not enough meaning or nourishment to keep it alive, but being in a long-term or committed relationship makes it harder to consider leaving. They feel disconnected & depressed/ but stay together to avoid the pain of separation
• Some kind of talk is needed but if either hints at starting an unpleasant conversation, they’ll find a way of preventing it so they don’t have to invest any feelings

• They have little to say to each other, are bored with the same old stories, don’t want any stagnatingconfrontation, & won’t talk about the relationship because it feels pointless

“Do you want to watch that program?” >> “No, but you go ahead” , “I don’t want to hear that again” >> “I know, you’re not interested in what I have to say!”

• One or both may be experiencing personal problems & possibly blame the other, rather than facing their own issues. But when people are no longer getting their needs met from their partner, they shut down the lines of communication & turn elsewhere

• People can start punishing each other for their own disappointment & loneliness: Well, she/he hasn’t helped me in a long time, so I’m not doing this for her/him”
– may be the kind of thinking behind further withdrawal.
💔

2.  AVOIDING

Normal: The 2 people have been in a committed relationship, but no longer see themselves in the dyad. They’ve withdrawn their emotions & are ‘spending‘ them elsewhere. Deep emotional distance is an indicator that the union is no longer salvageable. Each person knows in their mind  & heart they’ve detached, & need to protect themselves

• They reorganize their lives to avoid being together & may even verbalize it: “I don’t want to talk to ____”.
It can also show up by sleeping in separate beds or rooms, & one or both looking for a new place to live

• People not living together will avoid calls, emails & texts.
“Leave me a message & I’ll get back to you” , “I’m really busy, so I’m sure you’ll understand if we don’t get together this week”

Usually there’s less fighting, but what’s left may be sniping, sarcasm, put-downs. Otherwise, communication is only about practical necessities, if at all
💔

1. TERMINATING (Final)
Normal: This stage can be done rather quickly or be dragged out for years.
• It is the actual physical leaving of the relationship with a little or a lot of psychological finality. If both parties can accept this, it makes it much easier to move on.

I can’t do this any more. This is the end for me.” >> “Yeah, sure, whatever separationyou say.”

• When one partner has come to their ending point, it’s important & respectful (be ‘clean‘) to actually tell the other person.  This is more likely with a longer-term connection.  Often with less developed ties, one person just stops taking calls, emails…..

• Verbal messages are used to prepare for the end by only using ‘I’ or ‘me’ statements, & meant to create finality & permanent distance “This relationship isn’t working for me anymore” , “Please don’t call me again” .

• It’s not uncommon for one or both people to have another relationship, job, even a new city… waiting in the wings, even if the new ‘love’ is temporary, to get them thru the transition.
✶ Leaving may actually be a benefit to both, even if it hurts. They may need it to continue their career, their personal growth or to start a more suitable lifestyle.
♥               ♥                ♥

NEXT: “Trying to Leave you” (Part 2) – Clingers

ACoAs: OVER-Controlling Ourselves (Part 4)

sileced

I LET THE PP BEAT ME UP –
to keep my in line

PREVIOUS: Emotional Over-Control #2

SITEs:  Self-Control (Wikipedia)
▪︎ Over-Controlled Primary Aggressor

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

AS ADULTS (cont)
• ACoAs
were not raised on the ‘Handbook of how to be a Healthy, Happy Human Being’, which left our Child-part being impulsive, anxiety-ridden, only able see itself & the world thru distorted alcoholic / narcissistic lenses. Then, one way to deal with our trauma is to do what they wanted – to die!

Being Over-Controlled is NOT related to being Introvert or Extrovert, which are inborn, but rather about ignoring qualities (intuitive, intelligent, perceptive, outspoken…) we all share – that were unacceptable in our family. It would have made our lives even more miserable if we hadn’t suppressed them – although some of us couldn’t hide them well enough to escape being attacked

Unhealthy BELIEFS of Over-Controllers:  
• Everyone is out to rape me emotionally
• If I lose control, there will be no sanity in my house (or on the job)
• No one’s ever going to get under my skin again, & I’ll never let myself be hurt again

• No matter what happens to me, I’ll never cry or need anything again
• Don’t trust anyone with your feelings, thoughts or dreams
• Getting angry or losing your cool is unsafe, so avoid conflict at all costs

• It’s important to keep control over your feelings so you don’t go insane
• Never let others know how their behavior or actions effect you
• There’s only one way to survive a crazy environment – to climb into your shell, & stay there!
► Do you hear the voices of the Toxic ROLES?)

HOW we Over-Control ourselves
a. DEFENSES – Rigidly held defense mechanisms are used to hide from emotions we’re afraid to experience, but the ‘protection’ ends up running our lives:
Addictions – as a way to numb out the cruel PP voice & to ignore our WIC the same way our parents did, but only adds to our suffering

Counter-Phobia – being attracted to things that are scary while not fully aware of the fear. Dangerous relationships & activities are seen as fun, in reaction to how deeply terrified we really are.  We’ve stuffed all the fear into the unconscious, but it needs an outlet, so we rush towards unhealthy ‘excitement’.  This can include torturing ourselves with ‘what if’ thoughts & endless obsessions of S-H & FoA

Fear of Engulfment, which was originally caused by being over-controlled as a kid. Not having developed inner boundaries, we put up a wall against intimacy to keep everyone at a distance, while longing for connection. The wall gets activated whenever anyone wants something from us, even if it’s what we would like to do & would make us happyguilty of??

Guilt (review post What is guilt?’) – an emotion that controls us to:
— ensure we obey our family’s Negative Rules
— keep from learning healthy rules & using them to improve our lives
— prevent us from developing our True Self, as that would take us away from the toxic family system

Over-activity, controlling how much & what kinds of emotions we allow ourselves to have by staying so busy that we don’t have to feel anything ’real’, using it to cover up S-H & powerlessness

Paralysis, stopping ourselves from saying & doing things that would be good for us, because of fear of punishment, fear of abandonment & fear of visibility….. those good things that would help us grow, stop others from hurting us, enhance our self-esteem & move us toward our dreams

Vagueness – staying in ‘lala land’ so we don’t have to face any reality info we don’t want to deal with, starting with how badly we’ve been treated & that we now have to care for ourselves. We don’t notice how much we spend, how others treat us, how we feel, how we treat others….

NEXT: O-C Ourselves – Part 4

‘ALONE’ – an ACoA POEM

NOT ALONE, BUT LONELY!
No one acknowledged the suffering. They said it was just being ‘difficult’!

PREVIOUS: Emotional Needs & Innate Resources

 

DMT: I’m not a poet but wanted to include this one I wrote in 1975, as it reflects the emotions & sense of futility of a young person – a suffering GoA (grandchild of alcoholics), long before recovery, who was always searching for answers & healing. Eventually I found the validation, guidance & comfort that brought Recovery!

ALONE

Forgive me! I cried.
At every turn I wished I’d died
at birth, as near I did.
Strange thoughts drove through my child’s mind:
I closed my eyes & saw infinity!
Why am I here? What is my kind?
Am I insane?

Forgive me! I seem weak,
and yet I cannot help but speak
to everyone I meet
in marketplaces & on streets –
thus twice did strangers catch me up
and carry me away – well nearly.
Then caution dogged my every step,
but never ‘dearly’.

Forgive me! I Whispered.
Had I really erred so much?
Why all that poison guilt?
Was I an empty vessel to be filled
as my masters thought & willed?
Too much to know, no one to help!
Fear to anger on my lips had grown.
Be still! I moaned.

Hear me!
I then began
to scream the pain without a plan –
blindly striking all.
No one to guide, no one to help
in clearing paths & scaling walls.
Silent or blazing, to lose or to win,
the heart, without knowing, fought to be twin
to a worthier mind.

NEXT: Excellent Inner-Child MOVIE

IDENTIFYING Emotions (Part 2)


EENY MEENY MINIE MOE –

catch a feeling by it’s show!

Part 1: Plutchik’s Emotion Wheel

SEE post
: Getting to our Emotions – OVER

 

This chart, by W. G. Parrott, is another way of grouping emotions – a general guide you can agree with in whole, in part or not at all. The more Es you can identify in yourself & others, the better. One reason I’ve added it is that it includes the Es of Shame & Guilt, which Plutchik does not.

“They Did the BEST They Could” (Part 1)

they did the best... 

YES, I WAS HURT BY MY FAMILY,
but they were hurting too, poor things!

PREVIOUS: Results of abuse – #2

REMINDER: See ACRONYM Page for abbrev.

 

1. GENERAL
This is a commonly used phrase – in & out of Program – mainly in the service of the speaker’s denial!
You may at first think this post is harsh or unfair, BUT please remember that everything our parents were  – WE internalized into our Negative Introject.
As long as we deny how harmful their actions were toward us – we will continue doing the same to ourselves, mistreat others AND let others mistreat us in many of the same ways! ( Self-hate’).

How is this phrase usually meant? That that no matter how cruelly, crazily…. our family may everything's OK ??have continually acted, to each other & us, even to this day – it was the ‘best’ they could manage.
It implies that they :
• used all possible resources to cope
• could NOT have done any better
• meant well, even if they didn’t show it
• really tried, in spite of falling short
• didn’t have any other options ….

In most of our families NONE of these are true – OR if true in part, it was a very small part – not enough to help us as kids!

2. DENIAL
a. THEM: This phrase is usually said by adults, about their parents – but only by people who had painful childhoods! You won’t hear a happy, well-adjusted person needing to even think this, much less say it!

The BEST they could? If our parents were verbally cold, controlling, cruel & insensitive, narcissistic, neglectful, not comforting, drunk, demanding, abusive, addicts, raging….  That was the BEST they could DO? Really?

NO. The most we could say is that they:
did what was done to them. Yes, but most never bothered to change. One mother, when confronted, kept saying – “But there weren’t any books about this stuff when you were little”! Except the daughter knew mom never bothered with anything deep, ever. She only read ‘Readers Digest” & watched soap operas! AND, there were some books, & people she could have asked to help. But she ‘was never wrong’!
did what any addict would (not just alcohol, but also food, shopping, raging, gambling, exercise, TV, sports, religion….) – everything possible to not deal with their responsibilities & emotions

chose the ‘easiest way out’,  just didn’t care enough to bother, or were self-righteous about their parenting style (“Spare the rod, spoil the child”) – anything to not take to look at themselves & the effect they had on their children & others

refused to get whatever help that was available to them at the time (AA & NO to helpAl-Anon have been around for over 50 yrs, psychologists even longer).  One mother admitted she wouldn’t be caught dead going to a therapist. Another was begged repeatedly by her daughter to go to Al-anon, but always blatantly refused

were neglectful – some of us had a parent with a genuine mental illness – but others in the family denied the problem & did little or nothing to seek out solutions that were possible at the time, if not for the sick adult, then at least for us kids
EXP: More than one CoA was left alone for years to deal with a drunk, suicidal or psychotic parent

b. US: On the surface, when ACoAs say this phrase we mean the ‘General’ qualities listed above (from denial).  Under that, we’re really saying that we :
• can’t afford, emotionally & mentally, to admit how badly we were treated
• still believe we caused or deserved the terrible things they did / didn’t do
• “understand” why they acted that way, intellectually – so we don’t have to FEEL the hurt, sadness, frustration, rage, disappointment….

—–> And here’s the kicker:  we’re saying that – since “they did the best they could” – we can’t possibly be angry at them! Saying that we forgive them is actually our way of exonerating them. – not holding them accountable.

OK, so what’s wrong with that? Yes, it is the ultimate goal of mental health to let go of our anger, detach with love – or indifference, to forgive, outgrow our need for them… BUT…… (cont. in #2)

NEXT: “They did the best they could” (Part 2)

WHAT is SHAME? (Part 1)


THE BAD SEED
I was born bad & I’ll always be bad

PREVIOUS: What is Guilt?

 

While guilt is mainly about negative actions,
SHAME is about our IDENTITY – about who we are, fundamentally.

🔹 It tells us that our very essence is bad, unlovable, unacceptable – to be eliminated. It makes us:
• want to hide, isolate, not talk, try to be invisible
• want to be dead! The pain of shame is so great & the conviction that we’re un-redeemable is so deep (not worth saving), that it eliminates Hope. Why bother even trying!
• OR we overcompensate – by acting superior, controlling, out-doing, knowing ‘everything’, never showing ‘weakness’ (grandiosity), shaming others…..

SHAME is connected to our NEEDs, rather than actions – specifically – each need we had as a child which was neglected, punished & made fun of.
Consider how many needs children have, & how many of them were met with abuse or not at all – you can imagine how huge our shame quotient is !!

BTW, most of us focus on the need for love, & while it is crucial, the need for safety is even more basic! We can’t begin to take in love, even when it’s available, if we’re terrified.

IN CHILDHOOD:
a. Being Ashamed – Children admire, even idealize their parents when they’re quite small. They need to do this to feel safe – to know they can rely on those people to be competent & available to them. It helps to compensate for the child’s extreme dependence & vulnerability.
✶ In reasonably healthy families, children gradually come to understand that their parents are human, fallible, imperfect – BUT still basically trustworthy & decent role models.

● But in dysfunctional families, one or more the adults act out their damage:
addictions, bitterness, constant criticism, cruelty, emotional withdrawal, depression, leaving & then never staying in touch, mental illness, neglect, not providing necessities, not staying groomed, not earning a living, putting each other & the kids in danger, verbal physical &/or sexual abuse ….

All of these & more, make children feel ashamed of their family (the chaos, the craziness, the cruelty) – & by extension themselves, as members of that group.
A sense of pride in themselves & their parents is eroded & shattered. This is devastating. That feeling is then carried, like a canker sore in our spirit, into adulthood.

b. Being Shamed – Children in damaged families are:
▪︎ teased & made fun of for many thing  (anger disguised with toxic humor)
▪︎ yelled at, attacked, harangued – often for nothing specific or obvious
▪︎ expected to know or do the impossible
▪︎ punished, yelled at, hit, humiliated – in public
▪︎ insulted about ones gender, looks, tastes, interests..
▪︎ pushed to do things when too young & then punished for ‘failing’
▪︎ treated unfairly, abused & then punished for crying, being upset or getting angry at the mistreatment

These & many other ways of shaming have been called soul murder. It represents parents’ lack of love & respect for themselves & so for their children, who stand in for their own Inner Child. Their dysfunctions negate / abuse the needs that all children have.
EXP: be paid attention to & heard, treated with respect, feel safe & loved, grow & learn at their own pace, find out who they are as individuals, know they can depend on their caretakers, look up to their parents, to LIVE, prosper & succeed….

EACH of these NEEDS became SHAMEFUL !
We conclude that if the adults hated these needs, then they’re bad (& us for still having them). So they must be suppressed, better yet – eliminated, no matter how deep & persistent they may be.

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 6.28.55 PMEXP: After hearing the 4th Step in Al-Anon (“Made a searching & fearless moral inventory of ourselves’), one member suddenly realized: ☁︎ his #1 toxic rule was: “I should be dead !”
☁︎ most shamed need was for love. “ I thought that was my greatest character defect!
After all, the constant message was that I wasn’t lovable  – so I must be a fool to keep wanting it – which I do, desperately!”

In Recovery he learned that this & all his needs were legitimate, universal & his RIGHT, & so he was able to reject the need to die, & start loving himself.
(The 12-Steps – comments & videos)

NEXT: Shame (Part 2)