ACoAs: RESPONSIBILITY (Part 3a)

World-on-ShouldersOWNING MY T.E.A.s:
even if my buttons get pushed,
I’m responsible for my reactions

PREVIOUS
: Being responsible #3

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

 

AS ADULTS – GROWTH

As a guide to personal growth, the 12 Steps of AA are all about taking personal responsibility. They include:
Step 4: Made a searching & fearless moral inventory of ourselves
Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves & to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
Step 9: Made direct amends to such people (we had harmed) whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory, & when we were wrong, promptly admitted it

NOTE: However, it’s very common for addicts & co-dependents to not understand or to misuse the 12 Steps, especially in early Recovery.

🟩 Comment on Step 4 (re. ourselves)
ACoAs find it very difficult, sometimes even for years in Recovery, to sit quietly & write this out. We:
• don’t know what character defect are – they’re so much a part of the fabric of our life, & which ones we’re actually guilty of. “Does a fish know it’s wet?”
• we have so much S-H & shame that it’s too painful to admit anything, even though we think we’re guilty even when we’re not
*️⃣ we don’t realize that an inventory includes personal gifts, skills, talents….

🟩 Comments on Step 5 (re. hiding from everyone)
• Because of the WIC’s shame, it’s painful to share our defects with others. We’re so used to being chastised or made fun of, that doing this Step feels emotionally dangerous
• So many of us have a distorted view of ‘God as we understand Him/Her’, because as John rejct helpBradshaw reminds us:
“Before the age of 7 we deify our parents. After that we parentalize our deity.”

⛔ So if we make our Higher Power in the image of our abusive, neglectful parents, we can not avail ourselves of spiritual Source as safe help & comfort

• If we look up at the sky & only see our dangerous, neglectful mother’s or father’s face, it obscures the Loving Being who is waiting to connect with us & heal our fear & sorrow

Our WIC needs to be given a corrected view of HP. This comes first by developing the Loving Parent toward ourselves that we never had – our responsibility to learn with appropriate guidance – & then we can have a more accurate vision of who the HP really is

🟩 Comment on Step 9 (re. TMI: Over-disclosing)
Making amends is a very important part of relieving guilt & shame – when done in the right way, in the right environment – “You’re only as sick as your secrets”.
HOWEVER, ACoAs with weak boundaries & driven by the WIC’s anxiety, will either not ‘admit’ anything, or admit willy-nilly.

😳 A vital & much neglected part is at the end of this Step: ‘’…except when to do so…”  Sometimes telling an aggrieved person what we’ve done or said is not a responsible action, & will only do everyone harm.

EXP
: A wounded ACoA loves his wife & kids, & doesn’t want to lose them, but is nevertheless unfaithful (incest-survivor).  He’s filled with guilt, & tries to stop, but doesn’t. He wants to tell his wife, but knows if he does, she’ll leave.
a. Unhealthy reasons to tell her would be:
• temporarily relieve anxiety about ‘being bad’, so he doesn’t have to deal with his emotional painscreen-shot-2015-08-14-at-7-58-16-am
• have a fantasy hope that she’ll forgive & let him stay (so he can then ‘get away with it’ AND be absolved)

• the need to be punished, no matter the consequences to everyone (he doesn’t really deserve to be part of a loving family)
• a wish for his wife to be his watch-dog (use her as the controlling mother) – because he doesn’t really want to stop acting out, but may do so to be the ‘good boy’, or maybe keep acting out as a form of rebellion

b. Healthy (obvious): Stop all forms of cheating & work on his damage

NEXT: Fear of responsibility (Part 5)

ACoAs: Early Trust Betrayal (Part 1)

angry father WHO CAN I DEPEND ON?
for sure NOT my family!

PREVIOUS: Adult Play #2

QUOTE: “To be betrayed, the person must first experience trust in the betrayer….. Betrayal is probably the most devastating loss a person can experience.”


😥 BETRAYAL TRAUMA 😲
This is when the people or institutions you depend on for survival significantly violate your trust or well-being
EXP: physical, emotional, or sexual abuse perpetrated by a caregiver
Q: Does the victim need to be conscious of the betrayal to call it “betrayal trauma”?
ANS: “No.” Being mistreated is by definition betrayal, whether the child recognizes it explicitly or not.
While conscious awareness of it may be suppressed at the time of trauma & for as long as the victim is dependent on the perpetrator, strong feelings of betrayal will eventually surface.

✍️ THEORY
Traumatic events differ in degree of fear & betrayal, depending on context & characteristics of an event.
EXP : People with a history of childhood sexual abuse – which result in PTSD & dissociative symptoms – much more often reported feeling betrayed than feeling great fear.  Many other studies have found that betrayal is a psychologically toxic dimension of events.

😴  BETRAYAL BLINDNESS 😵
“Betrayal blindness is the un-awareness, not-knowing, & forgetting about painful experiences, & may extend to betrayals not traditionally considered “traumas,” such as gossip, inequities in the workplace & society….
• Victims, perpetrators & witnesses may have betrayal blindness to preserve relationships, institutions or social systems they depend on…..

In Childhood
• Children automatically trust their parents (caregivers) – they don’t have a choice. But that trust can be destroyed early & easily if their family & community is unreliable, non-nurturing & dangerous. The earlier the trust-betrayal, the more long-term damage is done, since small children can’t understand & process such disappointment

• Kids don’t want the instability & cruelty of their home to be true, so they can’t afford to consciously admit their suffering is being caused by the unloving adults they depend on. If they did it, would make life even more unbearable, so they do whatever they can to deny painful experiences (blame themselves, fit into roles, people-please, rescue…..)

• Years of emotional pain & abusive treatment lead children to make definite & lasting negative decisions about themself & the whole world, based on very real events. These twisted conclusions & assumptions form self-hate, cynicism, bitterness & hopelessness.

That pain is then mirrored & added to by rigid unhealthy ‘laws’ of other dysfunctional groups such as school, church, neighborhood, the combination becoming the basis for all future interactions.  Toxic beliefs get ‘written in stone’ , very hard to change as long as they stay out of awareness

♻️ Besides internal reasons for ‘not-knowing’, there may be external reasons for not-knowing & silence. Common demands for silence come from a perpetrator & others (family & society’s flying monkeys), to the point of never having the ‘event’ mentioned – much less acknowledged. More….)

Experiences that have never been shared with anyone else may create a 
different internal structure than shared experiences”
BTW: Al-anon slogan “You’re only as sick as you secrets”

disappointed

🙇🏻‍♂️ BETRAYAL ways
a. Programing : We were taught to not trust our own observations, opinions, emotions & conclusions.
We were:
• told “you don’t feel that way /  that’s not how it is / I don’t know why you think that / Oh, nothing (is going on)” ….. OR

• not given important information about what was really happening in the family, leaving us with an uncomfortable feeling of insecurity, wondering what’s wrong, making up scenarios & blaming ourselves

• expected to go along with the program, no matter how harmful to our mental & emotional health, did not fit our native personality, nor how little it allowed us to explore options & possibilities in the world, or find out what our true purpose is

EXP: “The Judds” was a reality show on the OWN tv channel (2011).
Mother Naomi slowly spilled all the ugly family secrets she’s been protecting for the past 60 yrs – murder, incest, suicide, neglect…. Daughter Wynona finally has an understanding of the problems between the two, & came to have compassion for & a new trust in her mother.

NEXT : Trust Betrayal, Part 2

RECOVERY Thoughts for ACoAs

lion & lamb
MAKE FRIENDS WITH YOUR INNER JUDGE
– just don’t obey it!

PREVIOUS: My Rights Qs (25-48)

SITE: 5 Major Benefits of Recovery


This is a open-ended review
– which can be used as a set of goals to work toward & to see our progress. Add your own to each category.

♥ Be absolutely sure that you:
• are damaged, not defective. Damage can be healed, & you’re OK
• can be of service to others without being co-dependent
• can say & believe – “I Know what I Know, & I can’t know everything”
• have a right to be alive, and be exactly who & what you are
• have a right to & can achieve a measure of healing & happiness

♥ Be Accepting of:
• all your emotions, no matter how unpleasant or socially unpopular
• other people’s differences. You don’t need them to be carbon copies
• your childhood damage, without constantly repeating it
• the time it takes to work on your issues
OF
• your own reactions to what others do & say to us
• your Inner Sadist (I.S.). The more they hurt us as kids, the angrier we are. If we make friends with the I.S. we don’t have to act it out on anyone
• other people’s kindness, compliments, validation
• our humanity, with it’s beauty & it’s imperfections

outer child♥ Be Aware :
• of your talents, gift, accumulated knowledge & experience
• of the options you have in most situations
• of your effect on others, positive or negative
• of how other people can trigger your old pain (the buttons)
AND
• that you’re not your own Higher Power
• that God is not an alcoholic parent
• that your emotions cannot harm others – only your words & actions
• that others’ reactions to you are about them & are their responsibility

♥ Be healed enough to:
• be able to take care of yourself, reasonably well
• hear what other people are actually telling you about themselves
• not try to fix others, no matter how much pain or trouble they’re in
• no longer be sexually attracted to emotionally or physically inappropriate or dangerous people (rage-aholics, alcoholics, gamblers drug addicts, & other narcissists)
TO:
• stay at a respectful distance from ‘nice people’ who are passive-aggressive, needy, or so shut down that you can’t connect with them
• act appropriately in most social situations – neither from perfectionism nor from rebellion, not from co-dependence nor from terror
• not have to obey your Toxic Rules
• to listen to good advice, but ultimately follow your gut & experience

♥ Be willing to:
• be as emotionally honest with others as you’re capable of, without hurting yourself or them (live in your truth)
• be the Good Parent & Healthy Adult, taking care of the Healthy kid
• express all your talents (skilled or imperfectly)
• follow your dreams, no matter who objects
• keep looking for answers to your difficulties. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help before you collapse!
• listen to the needs, thoughts & emotions of the WIC
• never give up, no matter how hard things are, but it’s good to take breaks
• not let the WIC run your live, nor let the kid do self-harming things

MAJOR RECOVERY TRUTH: A sure sign of mental health & emotional maturity is to know in your very bones that:
Most things being done to us or around us have NOTHING to do with US!
Being convinced that it does – comes from the PP or WIC.

self-love treeTo repeat: Most the time, “It’s not about us = ie – our True Self”!
That includes all the stuff our parents did to us, at us, on us, around us, BUT not about who we are fundamentally!
Even when people react to something we did or said, their behavior is their responsibility. As a reminder, see post on ‘Personal Responsibility’.

NEXT: “Feelings aren’t facts” #1

ACoAs: OVER-Controlling Ourselves (Part 4)

sileced

I LET THE PP BEAT ME UP – to keep me 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 for “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. So, one way to deal with our trauma is to do what they seemed to want – for us to die! Some ACoAs try literal suicide, but most do it by PMES forms of starving.

Being Over-Controlled is NOT related to being Introvert or Extrovert, which are inborn, but rather about ignoring qualities we all share to varying degrees (intuition, intelligence, being perceptive, artistic…) – which 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 or ignored.

Unhealthy BELIEFS of Over-Controllers:
• Everyone is out to rape me mentally & emotionally
• I have to keep control of my feelings so I don’t go crazy
• If I lose control, there will be no sanity in my home (or on the job)
• Losing my cool is unsafe, so I avoid conflict at all costs
• No matter what happens to me, I’ll never cry or need anything again
• No one’s ever going to get under my skin or hurt me again
• Don’t trust anyone with your feelings, thoughts or dream
• Never let others know how their behavior or actions effect you
• Never show your anger so you won’t get abandoned
• There’s only one way to survive a crazy world – climb into your shell, & stay there!
► Do you hear the voice 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 the cruel PP voice & to ignore our WIC the same way our parents did, but actually adds to our suffering.

Counter-Phobia – being attracted to things that are scary while not fully aware of the accumulated terror underneath. Dangerous relationships & activities are seen as fun, which keeps the adrenalin pumping. We’ve stuffed the anxiety into the unconscious, but it needs an outlet, so we rush towards unhealthy ‘excitement’. If we stopped running we’d have to feel all that fear

Fear of Engulfment, feeling suffocated & over-controlled by someone else’s need & demands. Not allowed originally to develop our own inner boundaries, we end up erecting a very thick wall against intimacy so that we won’t get swallowed p again. It keeps everyone at a distance, while longing for connection. The wall gets activated whenever anyone wants genuine intimacy with us, even if it’s what we say we want

Guilt (review post What is guilt?’) – an emotion that controls us to:
— ensure we never disobey our family’s Negative Rules
— keep from learning healthy rules so we could improve our lives
— prevent us from developing our True Self via S & I, which would unhook us from the family dysfunction

Over-activity, such as workaholism, controls how much & what kinds of emotions we allow ourselves to experience = staying so busy that we don’t have to feel anything ’real’, & using it to cover up S-H & as sense of powerlessness

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

Vagueness / dissociating – staying in ‘la la land’ so we don’t have to face any reality we don’t want to deal with, starting with how badly we’ve been treated by family / school / religion / mates / work….& that we’re responsible now for having to care for ourselves.
So – we don’t notice how much we spend / eat / drink… how others treat us, how we feel, what we need, how we treat others….

NEXT: O-C Ourselves – Part 4

Loneliness in RECOVERY (Part 2)

separation I’M NOT  LONELY AS OFTEN
now that I have myself!

PREVIOUS: Recovery Loneliness (#1)

SITE: Stop being Lonely in Recovery

The middle A : ACCEPTANCE  (PART 3)
Recovery (Rec) Loneliness is part of the process, so it’s normal & to be expected
(cont.):

4. Accept temporary Rec. loneliness of……
….. re-evaluating all our relationships. At first we just become aware of the problem, slowly we consider leaving the most blatantly inappropriate / abusive people, then eventually catch the more subtle ways people are harmful, unavailable or just plain unsuitable for us, no matter how good they look ‘on paper’leaving

….. realizing that actual ‘leaving’ comes in stages too. Some people just drift away, some we have to have a talk with, some will not accept the loss & pursue us.
And then there are the relationships we’ll keep falling back into – even when we know they’re not healthy for us, because the WIC is not ready to let go of them, so we’re conflicted. When the kid is sick & tired of being sick & tired (being on the same page as the UNIT) – we move on, with little or no regret!

5. Accept temporary Rec. loneliness of……
….. an increasing Awareness (the first A):
• of anyone one who is not ‘all there‘, We may live them & they may not be a bad person BUT they’re shut down, distracted, narcissistic, not available – fir us. We are truly alone with such people & we don’t like that anymore! (YEAH!)
• that we get confused when someone tries to ‘help’ us, yet we still feel angry, alone, lonely, misunderstood.
Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 7.57.56 PM— Sometimes this is because the WIC is still not allowed to be helped by anyone, BUT more often
– we’re legitimately picking up that the solicitousness to help is tainted, because they’re controlling, narcissistic, people-pleasing or a rescuer.
We come to realize that it’s being offered for their benefit not ours. That leaves us alone – again!

• that in early Recovery we tend to idealize NEW support people or groups who are genuinely helpful, kind & gentle. This is the WIC experiencing them as the Good Parent, rather than just healthier peers. As long as we idealize anyone – we will be let down & disappointed when they don’t / can’t live up to our fantasies.

✶✶ However, for those of us with parents still alive – a very important & powerful Recovery experience is when we finally ‘get it’ that being with our unhealed family IS being mentally & emotionally alone – no matter how well behaved they may be with us in the present.
It’s not just our imagination or some flaw in us. It’s that they haven’t done the ‘work’ & are still shut down, still ‘active’, still self-centered…. so our connection is superficial. We want more, but they’re simply not available.dumping everone

a. Too fast – re letting go
When we first truly see of how unhealthy / harmful many of our long-term relationships are, some of us will want to get rid of everyone right away, & may start dumping our whole phone book.

If the phone list is very recent, that may be appropriate. But it doesn’t make sense to compulsively throw the baby out with the bath water.  Ending all old relationships at once – if at all – will be too jarring, leaving us bereft of any connections before we can replace them with more loving ones.

b. Too slowly : At the other extreme are those of us who procrastinate, taking too long to separate, especially those long-term relationships that were once important to us. We’re afraid of —
— being disloyal (even tho they are not worthy of it)
— hurting their feelings (even tho they rarely considered ours)
— losing some fun, good things about them
— the loss of our illusions about how badly they treat us, even tho we’ve always really known there was something wrong, but couldn’t admit it. It’s scary to realize how off our thinking has been.

NEXT: Recovery Loneliness – Part 3