not trapped
there’s a way to protect myself

Fear of Responsibility (#1)

POST: Toxic Family Rules

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

With all the frustration & lack of ‘success’ as children to fix our family, we unconsciously assume that if we failed at that, we’ll inevitably fail at everything else – so why bother.
Since they didn’t take responsibility for their emotions & actions, we didn’t learn how to either, & we don’t know there is a clear line between what’s our job in life & what isn’t.

SELF-CARE (Part 2b) : Any activity we do deliberately to provide our mental, emotional & physical health needs. Good selfcare is key to reduced anxiety & improved mood

a. Re. OTHERS:
Because we were treated badly by our family, we often treat others the same way (How ACoAs Abandon Othersposts):
• by not considering others’ rights, boundaries & emotions, being so focused on our pain & trying to protect ourselves
• by our narcissism, idealizing, constant criticism, being controlling…..
THIS INCLUDES how we treat both our external children & other adults

According to the WIC, we still have no one we can depend on for our needs, AND we’re responsible for everyone & slaveeverything around us. We say we don’t want to have such a great burden, YET we reject being with people or groups who would be supportive, allow us to relax & focus on ourselves

This leaves us completely overwhelmed & exhausted. So on the assumption that we still have to carry the weight of any association (personal or professional), we’re too scared to fully commit.

• To take healthy, ‘adult’ responsibility for our choices & relationships, we would need to become familiar with & embrace our True Self, via S & I, which is the goal of all therapy & Recovery.
However, ACoAs greatest addiction is to our family of origin, making it very hard to let go of our symbiotic attachment to them.

This results in a great resistance to taking center stage in our life, while playing the satellite (or slave) to someone or something else.
The irony is that at the same time – we think everything others do or say is about us, taking everything personally – which is not the ADULT ego state being responsible for ourselves, but rather the narcissistic stance of the WIC

• While we consciously insist we never want to be anything like ‘them’, unconsciously we copy them in many different ways, having absorbed the PP, ie. negative introject. Because the WIC is by nature narcissistic, it can’t distinguish itself from our narcissistic parents. SO:
√ If they didn’t take responsibility for themselves, we won’t either
√ If they never connected with their True Self, we won’t either
√ If they treated us badly, we’ll do the same to ourselves…..

• Even when ACoAs truly want to be connected to Self or others in a meaningful way, our terror of being trapped in the position of caretaker leads to having a back-door mentality – always looking for an out: finding fault, being resentful, feeling inferior or superior, getting bored….

And above all – picking people who are emotionally unavailabldistancee & not suited to our personality, but familiar because of our family structure. Keeping ourselves at emotional arm’s-length in all our interactions is the only way we think we can protect ourselves, since we don’t have actual boundaries

The WIC says: “I can’t afford to commit myself to anything serious – especially if it’s really important to me – because then I’ll be stuck having to handle everything (perfectly) myself. I don’t know how, & I resent being in that position – so I won’t.

Besides, since I always fail at getting my needs :
√ it’ll be too painful to try & fail again (lose out on what I really want)
v I’ll have to re-live all the ways I failed my family when I was a kid, adding to my S-H.

NEXT: Fear of Responsibility (Part 2b)


 Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 6.53.22 PM

they’re not who I thought they were!

PREVIOUS: How ACoAs abandon others (3b)

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

• sets up the idealized person or event to fail, because no one / no situation can fulfill our unrealistic expectations to be perfect, to make up for all our losses, to be all the things our WIC never got at home & which are still missing in our life.
• This guarantees that we’ll be disappointed, sooner or later.
Basically we’re asking them to rescue us. It’s a way of using others. We ask too much of a person or situation, which nothing can possibly live up to, even if it’s healthy!

This topic is about how we diminish others.  All ACoAs in this category are very angry, some express it by being passive-aggressive, by perpetual crankiness, or by endless whining. 
When we feel let down by our fantasy of a person – (boss, teacher, lover, friend…), or situation (marriage, job, home, party, holiday…), we flip to the opposite extreme.
This defense
often kicks in with someone/ thing new, but not exclusively. It’s about wanting to be taken care of instead of taking care of ourselves – while not having to ask!

HARSH reactions to over-valuing (idealizing ⬆️) as a ‘life-style’ – finding fault (F.F.) with every situation we don’t like, all the time.
a. Endless complaining (F.F.) can be a sure sign of narcissism (N), & comes from our needy WIC or PP, since we manage to make everything about us – somehow. Keep in mind that all wounded people have some N. in varying degrees, so do not use it for more S-H. Instead. Work on healing it

Constant complaining is part of the Victim Role, taking everything personally, assuming anything we don’t like is the ‘universe’ being against US. We ignore that there are many other reasons for things being as they are, so we discount other possibilities.

We’re always judging the ‘other’ as bad, because:
• everyone & everything always lets us down, causes us trouble, is never there for us the way we want – so f-them!
• it doesn’t fit some rigid notions of correctness from our PP, even though the original parents never lived up to those standards
• we see everyone as exactly like our family, so they must be equally bad, which scares the WIC
EXP: “I can’t stand that / it’s not good enough” means I know better, can do better….
• “They’re so stupid” means I’m superior to all you little people, and if I were doing it / running things, I would handle it much better….
• “How can they do that to me, no one ever listens to me….” means they’re not doing the job I want them to – of being the good parent

b. Projecting our S-H onto the ‘world’. If I hate myself, I’m sure everyone else does too – or will, if I give them a chance! Just like a liar or thief believes everyone else is a liar or thief, even if it’s just in their heart. So ‘I’ll hate all of you first, that way I don’t care if you hate me – I won’t get hurt anymore!’  Better to keep everyone at arm’s length than to be vulnerable.

: everything we think & feel is ONLY from our point of view (we assume no one else’s is valid) – other people’s needs don’t count, we don’t consider their limitation & don’t really want them to have boundaries, so we can be symbiotic.Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 5.39.42 PM.png

At the same time, because we’re emotionally starving, our focus is completely outside of ourselves, dependent on ‘people, places & things’ (PPT) as the source of our nourishment & for our sense of identity. They are objects, not beings. If they don’t act the way we want, we feel justified in raging at them.

(POST: People should treat me better, but I won’t let them”).

NEXT: ACoAs abandoning others #4b


Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 6.37.49 PMOH, NO! DON’T BE UPSET!
I can’t stand it when you’re
in any kind of pain

PREVIOUS: Abandon Others (#1b)

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

5. REPRESSING Others’ Emotions (Es)

ACoAs are often guilty of mistreating others in the same ways they were by family & other authority figures. To the degree we are still repressing our own Es, we try to suppress the Es of others. Many of us can’t tolerate anyone being in emotional pain or going thru a hard time, especially if we care about them.
(ACoA website Site Map, pg. 24-26)

a. Assuming – sure we know how someone is feeling, emotionally – without asking, OR not believing what they tell us they’re experiencing, & then insist we know better (what nerve!)
EXP: At a wedding celebration, Sam saw cousin Annie sitting alone, arms crossed, withdrawn, & assumed she was angry. Not bothering to check what she was really feeling, he started lecturing her about her unsociability, how inappropriate her attitude was, & that she was 
bringing everyone down … when actually she was deeply sad, feeling lonely & missing her ex!

When I cried intensely at my father’s memorial service, a relative accusingly told me I was being ‘fragile’ – as if weeping made me weak & therefore unacceptable (I know they were punished for crying, as a child).  Actually, I always feel clearer & stronger after letting out some pain – it’s a strength, not a weakness!screen-shot-2016-06-11-at-6-46-58-pm

A variation: 
Deciding we ‘absolutely know’ someone’s angry at us, or jealous of us,  or upset with us in some other way – of course, without checking – and then obsess about it, gossip to others, worry, prepare a defense or rebuttal, avoid them OR confront / attack them…
BUT, actually

• our assumption may only be a projection of our own S-H & FoA
• OR, we did pick up some emotional vibe from them (ACoAs always have their antennae up for trouble or rejection) but what the other person was really feeling was not what we thought!

: As a therapist, during a sessions, if I strongly express an opinion about certain topics (that inner-abuse coming from the Introject or self-hate is NOT OK ), or if I’m not smiling or being light-hearted – it is often misunderstood by a client as me being angry – at them. NOT! I’m just strongly indicating how serious something is.

Another variation:
Ironically, some ACoAs can’t tolerating anyone else doing well. They try to stop others (mates, children friends) from feeling good, because “misery loves company”!
EITHER: they create dysfunctional situations for others, to keep the chaos & misery going we’ve been conditioned to feel as ‘normal’
OR: be consistently enraged & abusive or withholding & silent, whenever someone expresses enjoyment, happiness, excitement, peacefulness…to make them feel bad (again) – to be like us

b. Arguing – acting out a pattern of anger & fights with someone 
arguing, fightingclose (mate, child,  friend, loved parent…) when it’s time to separate,
 even for a few days.
• First – fighting, saying cruel or stupid things
• then later doubling the abandonment by denying being upset, or underplaying it all — thereby negating the pain we caused & the other person’s real experience.

This is done to keep us from feeling our own abandonment pain, which would make us feel vulnerable.  Being angry –
• gives us a sense of power & makes the ‘bad feelings’ an easier way 
to leave, BUT
• it’s dishonest & disrespectful to ourselves & the other person
REMINDER – even tho’ we can’t technically abandon another adult, the term is always used here to express ‘not being there’ for others emotionally

c. Negating – directly discounting someone’s E. experience:
— “You don’t really feel that way”// “Don’t feel like that” negating
— “Don’t say that” // “That’s no way to talk”
— “That’s not a nice thing to say”….
EXP: When telling a religious friend at a conference about the ongoing pain from her childhood trauma, Jen was told: “You shouldn’t feel that way!”.
Fortunately Jen had been in Al-Anon long enough to respond: “Well, I don’t ‘should’ on myself!”, then smiled & walked away.

NEXT: ACoAs Abandoning others (#2b)


 mean teacher

(since I never would!)

PREVIOUS: Abandonment Pain Now #3

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

1. Symbiosing, 2. Controlling, 3. Ignoring, 4. Copying, 5. Repressing other’s Emotions, 6. Idealizing, 7. Undervaluing

ACoAs are usually focused on how much we got abandoned, without realizing we’re just as prone to do that to others.
Not surprising, since everyone copies what they learned in childhood. We treat ourselves & others the way we were treated & the way we saw adults treat each other.
➼ Each style derives from a combination of :
• The original role models (parent, siblings & other relatives, teachers…..
• Our own native personality, forming the type of defenses we choose.
BTW – even tho’ we can’t technically abandon another adult, the term is being used here to express ‘not being there’ for someone else

CAUSE : Many ACoAs raised by controlling narcissists were trapped in the state of ‘one-ness’ with one or both parents. We may have felt safe & loved at first, but slowly were engulfed by the needs & demands of unhealthy adults.
As we grew & began developing our own personality, we were slapped down, cut off or rejected outright.
The only option we had was to stay enmeshed, without the chance of developing ourselves fully.

RESULT: As adults we look for anyone we can mesh with, to prevent a terrifying sense of aloneness & abandonment carried over from childhood. Trying to connect with others this way is actually a form of abandoning them, because we’re not connecting with them for who THEY are, only for what our needy WIC wants them to be – for us. (“Symbiosis“)

• Putting severe limits on what someone can & cannot do when they’re with us (what they wear, where they sit, how they talk, what emotions are OK…)
• Constantly telling someone how they should live their life or how they should be doing something (whether they asked or not)

NOTE: This is not the same as asserting appropriate boundaries regarding what works for you or what you don’t want to be around
• ALL controlling behavior represents our disowned fear accumulated from childhood on into the present
• Trying to micro-manage everything & everyone around us so we don’t have to feel hiding the messvulnerable, as in our unsafe & chaotic family, & later in bad jobs or bad relationships

• A defense mechanism designed to make us feel powerful & the world be more predictable, by hiding our inner mess, trying to make everything exactly the way we want – SAFE.
As long as we refuse to or can’t deal with the underlying cause of this compulsion (& being controlling IS compulsive, fueled by intense anxiety) we won’t be able to stop

Regardless of the underlying reasons, this pattern is:
arrogant. We’re convinced we know better than everyone else, about everything,  AND have the right to make others do / be what we want
disrespectful to others!  We’re implying, consciously or not, that we don’t care about the effect our controlling has on the other person – we trample on their needs &/or wishes, because only our needs matter!
If we did care, we’d think twice about continuing.
insulting. We believe they are too incompetent, weak & stupid to make their own choices or figure things out for themselves

✶ Of course, trying to be in control of others instead of ourselves – never works. Not only does it not alleviate our underlying terror, but makes others withdraw or be resentful & angry at us – so us feel even more unsafe & alone

HEALTHY Separation & IndividuationScreen Shot 2016-06-11 at 6.34.14 PM 
• Acknowledge that each person has their own way of doing things & the right to make their own mistakes. We are NOT their Higher Power!

• ASK, ASK, ASK: what someone wants, what they need, how they feel, what works for them, what their taste is….
We do not have to supply any of it IF we can’t, don’t want to or it’s not appropriate. Just keep in mind that others are separate from us, & that’s not bad – their differences do not negate who we are!
• Be willing to deal with our own damage, our accumulated pain & toxic patterns

NEXT: ACoAs Abandoning others (#1b)