dismantle your prison

PREVIOUS: What to do when Confused – #4

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

we’re stuck
There may be several reasons why ACoAs are stuck. Here we’re concerned with the many Toxic Beliefs* we carry with us from our childhood experiences.

✶ Our fear is strong & pervasive, but the main cause for that in the present is what we are THINKING! Change that & we’re free!
NOT being able to pursue & reach our needs & desires is caused by intense inner conflict between what we consciously desire VS the family rules coming from the Introject (PP = bad parent voice), whispering or screaming at the WIC, causing in S-H

• OBEYING the Toxic Beliefs guarantees that we stay trapped, continually failing, feeling more & more hopeless, even suicidal. BUT, they’re so much a part of us, we may not even know we’re being coerced by ideas that were created for us (deliberately or not, it doesn’t matter).

To get UNSTUCK – we need to know & own these self-destructive Rules, counter them & then slowly change our actions, ie. Only follow the New Rules!

IRONICALLY, these old beliefs are very hard to give up, because:
• the Inner Child actually believes them!pain
• following them represents loyalty to our family

GIVING them up would mean:

• getting in touch with the PAIN of our damage
• seeing what we missed out on (a loving, healthy family)
• having to give up what we thought was our ‘identity’ (our False Self
& one or more Roles)
• having to become our own person (S & I), grow up emotionally, make our own choices, be responsible for ourselves & our actions  – stop waiting to be rescued.

BELOW is one FORM to use whenever you want to know what’s going on in your head – what toxic beliefs are keeping you from getting what you want in life (use it separately for each topic or issue that’s bothering or confusing you), AND another FORM to make your corrections

➼ Please DON’T just say “I don’t understand this”, or “I don’t know how to do it” & give up.  That’s mainly resistance, even if you’ve never done this particular exercise before.  Anyone who has read self-help books & done therapy will definitely be able to fill these out, given some thought, but even if you never have, you can always ask for help from someone who knows you well.  Don’t worry if your answers are similar each time you use the forms. That’s to be expected.

resistSTART by identifying a problem you want to correct OR a goal you want to achieve, but haven’t been able to, so far. Suggested ‘Issues’What‘s stopping me from:
• starting a new career?  • looking for a new job ?  • leaving a harmful relationship?  • standing up for myself?  • letting go of my damage?  • cleaning up my apartment?  • studying  my artistic passion? ….”

1. FORM A – What’s familiar: using T.E.A. (Thoughts, Emotions & Actions), to ‘hear’ the damaged part of our thinking
•  Column 1. “Emotions” can be filled in right away if you’re very upset & know what you are feeling, otherwise —

— go to Column 2, filling in as many negative thoughts as you can (one for each category is ok if that’s all you can think of). Make sure you separate out what you’re thinking about yourself VS what you’re assuming about others (projecting)

•  If you left the first column empty, now add any emotions you’ve become aware of relating to the beliefs
• Then list the ways you ACT in response to those beliefs

2. FORM B – What is possible: Reversing patterns of thoughts & behavior will modify fear & greatly improve your experiences in life.
Use the same procedure as in Form A. but change the harmful beliefs to HEALTHY, positive & hopeful ones, & then keep the list with you at all times so you can review & internalize them

• Based on that –  you can practice changing you ACTIONS, starting in small ways, whenever you can. Plan ahead how you’re gong to change an old pattern & try it out.

• In this case the Emotions column is last because you may not know how you feel until you try our new behaviors & get some positive results. Don’t be surprised if you have uncomfortable emotions (as well as pleasant ones), which come from your WIC and/or PP.  Just let them be. Comfort your kid, tell the PP (Introject) to leave your kid alone, & focus on enjoying the relief & pleasure of living well (the best revenge!).

Sample PROBLEM :
“Why can’t I make & keep friends / lovers / bosses who are healthier, compatible & supportive??”

You may need help from a therapist, friend, sponsor or healer – to IDENTIFY the NEGATIVE and POSITIVE beliefs. Don’t be ashamed to ask!

MAKE several BLANK copies of these 2 FORMS,  and try it out on one of YOUR issues

REBELLION vs Compliance (Part 1)

I’ll do whatever you want, so you won’t leave me

PREVIOUS: ACoAs Wanting Revenge #2



• This is normal for the teen years, when you’re trying to figure out who you are, what you want to do ‘when you grow’ up, that you’re not a carbon copy of your parents (yuck), wanting to be part of your peer group….

• In a reasonably healthy family you’re given a certain amount of leeway in this, to grow & stretch. Healthy parents are not threatened by this stage – even if it makes them uncomfortable & a little nuts. They know you’re a separate person & will find out for yourself
• It does not mean they neglect you, ignore what you’re doing or just can’t be bothered. It means they’re watching & waiting, and caring, but not overly imposing themselves
Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 5.16.58 AM

• When you’re allowed to be different from your folks, can disagree with their politics, religion, philosophy of life, or just plain – what to wear – eventually you get to find out what you really like & don’t like, who the real you is!

• Kids with this kind of freedom eventually (usually by their 20’s) find they do in fact agree with much of what they grew up with – the values, tastes, lifestyle… even if expressed in their own personal way.  AND ways they are different from family is accepted & maybe even admired – or at least respected.

However – if you’re reading this, you probably didn’t grow up in that kind of family!  As ACoAs:
a. Neglected : if we were ignored, unguided, un-nurtured – we would, of course, be left with a lot of anger, sadness, loneliness & a deep sense of hopelessness. As kids, we would Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 5.16.16 AMconclude that we didn’t matter, were invisible, had no reason to do anything for ourselves & are incompetent anyway.

• Maybe a relative, a neighbor or teacher took an interest in us & helped some – but it’s not the same as having our parents explain thing, show us by example & help us try out things. Everything from personal hygiene, cooking, house repairs, arts & recreation, social skills – to homework, relationships, spiritual practice….

Our Reaction
: We spent a lot of time alone, daydreaming, hiding out, reading, studying, maybe hanging out in the library, with a friend – but not likely.
NOW: ACoAs in this group don’t accomplish as much as they could, rarely pursue dreams, goals, talents, interests … in spite of being just as talented, intelligent & capable as any other human being.  After all, if our parents couldn’t be bothered to teach us how to do all the things kids need to know, so how can we possibly manage anything ourselves!?

• This may not seem like rebellion – but it is.  It’s passive resistance: “If they didn’t take care of me, I’m not going to take care of me!”.  True, there’s fear, a deep sense of not knowing how, but the refusal to try comes from rage, which underpins passivity.

Even so, some of us were told that they love us – even though they rarely or never acted like it. In stead, WE are the ones who love them – desperately, no matter how cruel & neglectful. We’re the ones who don’t want to let go!

b. Over-Coerced : At the other extreme, many of us were bullied, over-controlled, Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 5.15.41 AMmanipulated – forced to do & be whatever one or both parents (& other caretakers) wanted, with little or no regard to our individual personality.

• As kids we were considered ‘tabula raza’ – that’s Latin for blank slate. Parents of the baby boomer generation (& before) were taught that children come into this world with no identity or personality & it’s up to the parents to form them according the what’s ‘right’ – to write on the blank slate as they wished.

• Alcoholic & other narcissistic parents, who by definition had low self-esteem & fear of abandonment (FoA) themselves, could not tolerate any sign of individuality in their children, ⚡️which was stubbornly assumed to be disobedience, deliberate disrespect & even perversion!
☀️Such parents / family ruthlessly suppressed the reality that every child is born with their own specific personality type, & genetic makeup (even twins) – which needs to be nurtured.

NEXT: Rebellion vs COMPLIANCE (Part 2)

BOUNDARIES – Healthy Source (Part 2)

mom-child bond 

& I don‘t have to do anything!

PREVIOUS: Bs – Healthy Source (Part 1)

REMINDER: See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

While going through the Developmental Process, children look to their parents to be the source of all PMES provisions:
• Parents are experienced as ‘gods’ = all-powerful, all-knowing, all-providing, & baby has direct access, without having to earn it

• Small children have strong & erratic emotions. When the mother is not emotionally fragile – their adoration, clinging, neediness, tantrums, withdrawals, rages…. will not injure or topple ‘god’ – ie. Love is NOT conditional on the child’s behavior or reactions towards the parent. When her love is unfailing, the universe is safe!

John Bradshaw often stated: Before the age of 7 children ‘deify their parents, & after 7 they parentalize their Deity’. This means that how we experience a Higher Power is a reflection of how well or how badly our parents treated us! But this is not who God is, since He has no weakness. A truism from ACA meetings is that “God is NOT an alcoholic parent”!

• Without their own boundaries, infants need the mother’s affection & attention to not be ambivalent, because babies have to deal with:
External stressors:
Too much input coming at them from many sources, which thebaby stressy can’t process by themselves. Mother needs to arrange their world to minimize over-stimulation, while also providing the right amount (touch, music, talking…). Her ability to limit internal & external excitement for baby is a substitute for its lack of defenses, until it can mature to form it’s own

Internal stressors:
Physical needs: hunger, wetness, gas / need for safety & comfort…. for caregiver to protect from discomfort & pain = holding, burping, changing, feeding, attention, affection….

Emotional reactions: extreme, all B & W, without grays – rage, terror, intense frustration, as well as over-excitement, joy, pleasure…. Need for mother to tame & channel emotional buildups before they explode, by breaking into the child’s ‘trance’ of intensity, whether too high or too low.
Also to limit & protect child from their own behaviors (pounding their head or first, throwing a tantrum, manically running around, screaming with excitement….)safe connection

Mother needs to have good Bs, so she can:
• be emotionally available & responsive to baby, AND provide a one-way affection bond, allowing the child the freedom to develop in a protected environment, without having to take care of the adult
• give baby reliable non-verbal communications & appropriate interactions, to establish the child’s ability to trust others
• clearly give the message that having needs & getting them met is normal, acceptable & will not harm her in any way
REMEMBER – It’s not possible to have sound boundaries without the right to having needs

In a HEALTHY family, children learn that:
• parents’ emotions are consistent & separate from those of the child
• parents do not compete with their children for anything: not for attention, affection, information, skills, friends, support, validation….
• kids are allowed a wide range of emotions without punishment
• extremes of emotions do not usually indicate ‘reality’ (danger)
• managing all emotions is taught, directly & by example
• a distinction is clearly made between real trauma & small problems

CHART: Healthy Attachment & Separation
Birth: mother & child are ONE – normal symbiosis
Early years: parents are a stable, consistent source of comfort and knowledge. Children’s emotional life is intense & extreme, fluctuating a great deal.
As they grow, they need the opportunity to move away from under the parental wing for self-expression & then back again, knowing they’ll be welcomed without S & Ijudgment AND without hurting their parent’s feelings or ego for being a separate entity!
The child can make mistakes, be emotionally dramatic, learn about their capacities & limits, knowing there’s a safe base to return to.

Adolescence: a time for more distinct separation & individuation. Some rebellion is necessary, & separation is achieved by forming outside attachments, including limited sexual interplay
Adulthood: a clear sense of self.  Parents are never peers, only other adults whom we value & love but do not n-e-e-d!

Next: ACoAs & Boundaries (#1)