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

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

 


BETRAYAL TRAUMA
Betrayal trauma occurs when the people or institutions on which you depends for survival significantly violate ours trust or well-being
EXP: Childhood physical, emotional, or sexual abuse perpetrated by a
caregiver  (More….)
Q: Does the victim need to be conscious of the betrayal in order 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 angularly in degree of fear & betrayal, depending on context & characteristics of an event.
EXP : self-reported betrayal predicted PTSD & dissociative symptoms way more than self-reported fear of people with history of childhood sexual abuse. Many other studies have found that betrayal is a psychologically toxic dimension of events.

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 betrayal of trust, the more long-term damage is done – small children are not able to understand & process such disappointments

• 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…..)

• At the same time, of years of emotional pain & abusive treatment lead children to make definite & lasting negative decisions about themselves & the whole world based on very real events. These are twisted conclusions & assumptions which 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 our awarenessdisappointed

BETRAYAL ways
a. Our caretakers were disappointing, undependable, untrustworthy, even sadistic – understandably leaving us feeling unsafe, terrified & frustrated beyond words!
We were subjected to:
• all forms of neglect, lies, sexual abuse, physical / mental / emotions torture, mind-f–ing, constant unavailability, never telling us what to expect in new & scary situations, taking us to places not suitable to young emotions or the capacity to process….

AND never underestimate the effect of inconsistency on a child, whether from broken promises, constant moving, conflicting messages, drunkenness, rotating caretakers, parents’ new mates,  or just plain carelessness

EXP: A 5 yr old boy is standing at the edge of the pool, hesitating to make the leap. The father, already in the pool says: ”Jump in & I’ll catch you”. The little boy, needing the reassurance, jumps towards his dad – who smirks & steps back, not catching his son!

EXP: Equally devastating is the controlling, insensitive mother. One evening after being put to bed a young daughter hears the laughter of company downstairs & wanders into the living room to see what the fun is about.

The mother in a rage awaiting for unishmentt being embarrassed by her child’s desire for attention (in he PJs) drags her off to bed, promising to punish her – later. But in the busyness of being a hostess, she forgets her threat.

While the adults go on partying the terrified child curls up in a ball for agonizing hours in anticipations of a beating – which never comes.
That may seem like a good thing – but her little nervous system is being overloaded by prolonged terror, with no outlet & no one to comfort. The threat of is torture enough, while the mother is unaware of the long-term harm she’s done. That & other such events become anticipatory anxiety.

NEXT : Part 2

RECOVERY Thoughts for ACoAs

lion & lamb 

MAKE FRIENDS WITH YOUR INNER SADIST
– 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  goals to work toward & to our see progress. Add your own to each category.

♥ Be healed enough to:
• be able to take care of ourselves, reasonably well
• be able to hear what other people are actually telling us 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 we can’t connect with them
• act appropriately in most social situations – neither from perfectionism nor from rebellion, not from co-dependence or from terror
• not have to obey our Toxic Rules
• to listen to good advice, but ultimately follow our gut

♥ Be willing to:
• listen to the needs, thoughts & emotions of the I.C.
• not let the IC run our lives; not let the kid do self-harming things
• be the Good Parent & Healthy Adult, taking care of the kid
• never give up, no matter how hard things are, but it’s good to take breaks
• keep looking for answers to our difficulties. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help before we collapse!
• be as emotionally honest with others as we’re capable of, without hurting ourselves or them (live in our truth)
• express all our talents  (skilled or imperfectly)
• follow our dreams, no matter who objects

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

♥ Be Accepting of:
• all our emotions, no matter how unpleasant or socially unpopular
• other people’s differences; we don’t need them to be carbon copies
• our childhood damage, without constantly repeating it
• the time it takes to work on our issues
OF:
• our own reactions to what others do & say to us
• our Inner Sadist (IS).  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

♥ Be absolutely sure that we:
• have a right to be alive, and be exactly who & what we are
• “Know what we Know”
• have a right to and can achieve a measure of healing & happiness
• can be of service to others without being co-dependent
• are damaged, not defective. Damage can be healed, & we are OK

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

To repeat: Most the time, “It’s not about us = ie – our True Self”!  That includes all the stuff our parents did to us.  Done 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. For the balance to this, 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 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

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

 


This type of Rec. Loneliness is healthy & to be expected
(cont.):

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

….. realizing 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 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 – we move on – with little or no regret!

5. Accept temporary Rec. loneliness of……
….. an increasing awareness:
• when someone is not ‘all there‘ – shut down, distracted, narcissistic, not available. We are truly alone with such people & we don’t like it anymore! Screen Shot 2015-07-12 at 7.57.56 PM
• that we get confused when someone tries to ‘help’ us, yet still feel angry, alone, misunderstood.
— 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 offered 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 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 nice they may be to 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: When we first truly see of how sick 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 can be too jarring – leaving us bereft of any connections before we can replace them with more loving ones.

b. Very 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’re not worthy of it) & afraid of feeling the loss of our illusions about them, since we always really did know there was something wrong, but couldn’t admit it.

NEXT: Recovery Loneliness – Part 3