Fear of Commitment – ACoAs (Part 1)

chasing the alcoholic I REALLY WANT TO,
but I just can’t get myself to do it!

PREVIOUS: Fear of Commitment – general (#2)

QUOTE: ‘The worst thing isn’t fear of commitment – the worst thing is being with the wrong person because of fear of loneliness”. ~ ANON

 

1. ORIGIN – the basis for this fear (FoC) is the fear of intimacy, ie. “in-to-me-see”.
• In general, INTIMACY is the mental & emotional closeness between 2 people which allows each to know the other person behind their defenses or socially acceptable mask. Sexual intimacy may or may not include this.

a. But initially, it’s the intimacy between a child & it’s mother. From the very beginning of mother-childlife, each child is totally dependent on its primary caretaker(s), & therefore totally vulnerable to their plusses & minuses.
If the mother (or substitute) is an active addict, controlling, cruel or crazy, depressed, ill, distracted, insensitive, manipulative, raging, scared, (usually some combination) – the child will be in an intimacy double bind:
— on the one hand, desperately needing the adult(s) to love it, protect it & take care of all its needs
— on the other, emotionally & intuitively aware that the connection with that person is totally unsafe & therefore terrifying.

The child is trapped in this most intimate of all relationships which is truly dangerous to its well-being, but inescapable. Being raised with unreliability & chaos inevitably creates a lack of trust, which then becomes the model for all future relationships, creating a deep terror of intimacy.

b. In most cases we witnessed one or both of our parents:
— be unable to make a commitment – to each other, to their children, to work, to personal growth…. OR
— be committed to work instead of relationships (us), to their spouse not their children, to their addiction & nothing else!……
…… so we didn’t have a role-model for the emotional & spiritual requirements needed for consistent reliability

• Sometimes a child has another parent, older sibling or other relative who is more available & attentive than the primary. But if they are part of the same family, they too will have narcissistic damage & be limited in how much emotional safety & love they can provide. Often this ‘better’ person will either leave, die or turn on the child at some point – multiplying the abandonment pain.

All roads lead to Rome” was a familiar statement to the ancient Romans, & still is to all roadsmodern-day History students. The ACoAs version is: “All roads lead to Abandonment!”. This fear is the bottom line for us, governing all our responses to the world. So much so that we can even feel abandoned by the end of a book or movie we intensely connected to!

• Whenever we obsess, beat ourselves up, feel distrustful or hopeless, are terrified something bad will happen to us – we are tapping into old abandonment pain (E). Given how much abuse & neglect we experienced as children, it makes sense that the WIC would believe (T) that Ab. is the only possible outcome for us. SO – why bother committing to anything, if we’re always going to mess it up or have it taken away??

2. RE-ENACTING  (F=fear)
➼ Making a commitment to something or someone means showing up regularly, being self-motivated, taking risks, not knowing everything, asking for help along the way, having rights…. all the things we’re not allowed!

• The ACoA’s WIC has a whole trunk-full of reasons for FoC, even when we don’t have words for it or are aware of the WHY. As adults, this fear is perpetuated by Self-Hate & weak or confusionmissing Boundaries. We can apply the following issues to PPT (people-places-things), even tho the focus here is mainly on relationships.

It shows up as:
– Confusion (I don’t know what I want, who I am)
– Indecisiveness (should I or shouldn’t I?)
– Perfectionism (I have to know it all & do it right – the first time!)
Procrastination (maybe later, but secretly – maybe never)

NEXT: FoC – Part 2

Anger MYTHS – False (Part 2)

anger creature -2
IT’S VERY IMPORTANT

to deal with anger as it comes up

PREVIOUS: Anger Myths – F (#1)

SITE: “Why we shout in anger” – a Hindu teaching

 

ANGER
⚡️is an uncontrollable force of nature, & so can’t be reigned in
False: Many people believe that once they’re angry they can’t influence it (“I can’t control my anger – it’s just who I am”) & therefore have to let it ‘run its course’. Not so. While we don’t always have control of an external situation, no one can make us FEEL or BEHAVE in a certain way. Anyone can learn to be in charge of their reaction – via the Healthy Adult. It’s a skill set, like shooting a basketball or learning a new language. Practice, practice, practice!

⚡️is something that happens to us
False: Anger, as well as all other emotions, are our biochemical responses to events & then may or may not be expressed as actions. Sometimes it feels like a physical ‘event’ that’s out of our control – because it’s erupting from the unconscious, like a lightning strike. However, it is in fact something coming from us, rather than happening to us – triggered by our thoughts – inside (about ourselves) or from outside re. PPT (about others)

⚡️is only a problem when expressed (at all)
False: Only about 10% of people act out their anger inappropriately, & they are the visible ones – the squeaky wheels who get everyone’s attention.
Almost everyone else either suppresses it (“I don’t want to talk about it!”) or represses it altogether (“I’m not angry – really!”). Both groups need anger management classes just as much as the ‘ragers’.

ANGER
⚡️always leads to aggression / some form of violence
False: It may seem to be true if we were raised with one or more rage-aholics, & if we then also have chosen to stay with ragers as adults.
BUT healthy people have learned productive ways of processing & channeling their anger, so it never leads to being self-destructive or abusive to others.

Of course, chemicals (alcohol/ drugs/ some medicines, even food allergies…) can generate anger & set off a compulsion to be nasty, either because the cognitive brain isn’t in charge OR if we haven’t learned to recognize the symptoms of rage or how to handle them

⚡️increases as we get older
False: It’s the other way around – as people age, they report fewer difficult/ painful / intense emotions, & greater emotional control. People – like wine & cheese – do tend to improve with age. Research shows that the angriest people are 14 yrs old boys! EXCEPTION : We’ve all seen or heard of crabby / nasty old men & women, but they’re always been that way

⚡️ is not a ‘problem‘ for someone IF we don’t sound / look angry
False: Anyone who does not understand & appreciate the potential value of anger may have a problem. There are ways to tell if someone has hidden anger/rage, even when they don’t admit to it – by holding themselves stiffly, always being fearful, being overly nice, being paranoid, jealous, deny angercontrolling…. (see posts: “Passive-aggressive anger” // Secretly angry ‘nice people’)

ANGER
⚡️is best dealt with by stuffing it 

False: Some of us think that learning to control our anger means having to hold it in. WRONG. We need to learn how to recognize when we’re angry, & learn how best to express it. Healthy people don’t stock-pile emotions the way we had to as kids.  (Post: “Low-level anger“)

⚡️ is only a ‘problem’ for certain types
False:
All types of people experience anger – truck drivers, college professors, physicians, housewives, grandmothers, lawyers, policemen, career criminals, poor people, millionaires, children, the elderly, people of various colors, nationalities, and religions….. Anger is a universal emotion!

⚡️ is all about getting even
False: Getting-even-anger can be about revenge/payback, about wanting fairness, or childish tit-for-tat. But there are many other reasons for our anger, such as letting off steam over accumulated frustrations, asserting authority or independence, to deny feeling vulnerable – used to cover up fear we may not even admit to. However, the main one is to protect ourselves from abuse. (Post: “Retaliatory anger“)

NEXT: Anger MYTHS T & F (Part 1)

ACoAs & PLAYING (Part 1)

having fun 1 

HAVE FUN?
What’s that?

PREVIOUS: Inner Child Speaks, #2

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.


QUOTES:

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”   Plato
“A little nonsense now and then is cherished by the wisest men.”  Roald Dahl (writer of children’s books)
“Play is the royal road to childhood happiness and adult brilliance.” Joseph Chiltern Pearce  (author of child development books)

DEFINITION
Play with a capital P is a process, not a specific thing, which lights up our brain, benefiting us in PMES ways (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual). Being a ‘whole’ person means balancing between being serious & having fun, but ACoAs tend to live in one extreme or the other – being over-responsible or under-responsible.

In general, it’s any activity someone voluntarily chooses to do (or for ACoAs to not do) because it’s fun, relaxing & enjoyable. It can include being creative, & sometimes even competitive – but without the need to win – otherwise it stops being Play.  Debbie Mandel, Stress Management expert suggests that F-U-N = Feeling Uninhibited Naturally. And a formula for ‘balance’ is: Concentrated Energy + Relaxation = Healthy living.

overwhelmed• One of the many sad results of having a traumatic childhood is that we were & are still deprived of the joy of relaxing thru playing & having fun. As a result of our damage we fall into several categories (lifestyles) which seem very different but underneath each has the same problem – our WIC listening to the Negative Introject, believing the Toxic Rules:
    

“Life is hard / you have to suffer / you can’t play until all your work is done / no one wants to play with you anyway / if you don’t like it you have to stay / don’t be yourself / the world is a dangerous place / you always have to struggle, but never get there!…..”

REACTION to growing up in a dysfunctional environment:
a. Many of us turned out to be compulsive, over-responsible worker bees, doing something we hate or are bored with, trudging thru life trying to be perfect, but never quite making it. No time for play, unless we consider participating in addictions as a way to relax. Obviously not real fun.

b. Some of us decided early on to give up & not really try at all. Hide & be safe, don’t rock the boat, don’t stick your neck out. No fun here.
c. And then there are those of us who are openly rebellious – the flamboyant addicts, promiscuous, belligerent, running wild, never finishing our education, never sticking to anything long enough to become accomplished, terrified of being trapped, controlled, of even committing to a book – much less a good job or relationship….

• To the rest of the world this third group may seem to be having a lot of fun. They do whatever they want, get away with ‘murder’ & play all the time. NOT SO. Sometimes even this type of ACoA may think so while in the middle of it, but it wears thin over the years, since the internal foundation is built with inferior material – not ours but what was given to us by our family & community. It’s cracked & crumbling. This is not fun.

BTW, If you identify with either the a. b or c. group, & are reading this, presumably you’re in the process of healing your wounds & working to outgrow the category. You deserve a lot of respect & encouragement!

encouragementHowever, some of you may say – “I’m an ACoA & don’t fit into a. b. or c. I have a decent life I’ve carved out for myself – family, career, some accomplishments, some travel…. & I know how to have fun & play.”

Response: “GOOD! You’ve used your own native skill & drive to achieve these things, & have a lot to show for it. BUT – how’s your anxiety level? Are you free of addictions, perfectionism & S-H? Are you content & relaxed? Or do you over-do for others & under-feel – for yourself?”

NEXT: ACoAs & Play (Part 2)

‘GETTING TO KNOW YOU’ Stages (Part 3)


I’M INTERESTED

what he’s saying

PREVIOUS: Part 2 – Experiment


♥ ACTS OF AFFILIATION ♥
(cont) indicated by Types of Communication 

3. INTENSIFYING (Exploratory)
a. Normal: ‘Partners’ start opening up, sharing deeper personal info, taking more risks.  Much more emotionally intense &/or passionate stage, using intimate language

“I love you” <> “Me too” ✥  “I think you’re the best” <> “ I’m glad we found each other”  ✥   “It’s great to be with someone with the same tastes” <> “Yeah, we have a lot in common. Makes me feel at home”

• Begin to use ‘we’, develop favorite palaces, nicknames, share / swap possessions, understand non-verbal cues, give gifts, idealize each other, even finding their flaws endearing.  People can be so excited with each other at this stage, they’ll spend hours talking – time passes quickly. There’s a feeling of exhilaration, & depending on the type of relationship, a strong sexual pull

This is the pivotal stage. Depending on whether or not both feel a chemistry (comfort, mutual value & excitement), and if the revealed info, attitudes & activities are sufficiently shared – people either continue to #4 & #5, or fall apart.

The connection at this point may be intense but short-lived, which is a shock to some who mistakenly assumed it would last because of the surface siminfatuationilarities & the emotional / sexual intensity.

➼  In some cases, there’s an intermediate stage called “Revising Communications” – when the euphoria has worn off.
The partners are able to review the strengths & weaknesses of the relationship from a more rational place, to see if they want to go on to the next phase. If they do, they begin working thru any problems or obstacles to further intimacy

b. ACoAs: we usually rush into this stage soon after meeting! Spoken or not, the communications is something like:
“Hi, my name is Sara, let’s be together forever!” <> “”OK, I’ll keep my eyes closed, as long as you make me feel good!”

✶✶✶ WARNING: ACoAs often misinterpret the ‘euphoria’ of this stage to mean there’s real intimacy happening! Spending every day for a week deeply immersed with a new friend or lover can end abruptly when they disappear on us!
Whatever their reason – they got scared, they feel suffocated… we feel conned, betrayed, angry… & are left with an acute sense of longing!

REALITY: We went too deep too soon, & now we’re alone – again!
• TYPICAL ACoA reaction: beside feeling rage, we obsessively ruminate on what we did wrong (S-H) without knowing what the real issues are! We either withdraw into a depressed ball or use all our energy to chase after them. We want the pain to stop & get back the HIGH. heart illusion

REALITY: WE got it wrong. Yes, the other person is also responsible for their part, but we can only deal with ourselves.  This is supposed to be stage 3, NOT instant love! It was not intimacy.

• HINT: if a ‘relationship’ develops too close, too fast – it’s likely NOT going to be healthy or real, but coming from both WICs!  ACoAs are addicted to fantasy & magic, as powerful as any chemical narcotic.
We have to work at going slowly or we’ll keep getting abandoned.

NEXT: Part 4 (Ingratiating)

‘GETTING TO KNOW YOU’ Stages (Part 2)

 GOING DEEPER!
Now we’re together forever – I think

 PREVIOUS: #1 Initiating

♥  ACTS OF AFFILIATION ♥ indicated by types of Communication

2. EXPERIMENTING (Potential)
a. Normal: Time for small talk, presenting our public face. The focus is on light, humorous, informative conversation:
“ Did you like Thai food?” <> “I don’t know – never tried it” . “I went to France this summer” <> “Really! I’ve always wanted to go there! Tell me about it”

• There is mutual attraction & also a desire to reduce uncertainly about one another. Telling more about oneself implies an increase in trust, & we expect others to do the same – so that neither will feel too vulnerable

• People use (secret) tests to check how attentive the other person is by how they respond to what we say (laugh at our jokes, respect our boundaries…).  Each has certain expectations of the other, which must be met for our interest to continue : being upbeat, neatly dressed, polite, interesting ….

b. ACoAs: People give us info about themselves all the time – by thchit chateir presentation, their actions & of course words — their tastes, interests, like & dislikes… and we need to PAY ATTENTION!
Yes, it takes months of regular contact to get a realistic picture of the other person, but we can glean a great deal from each conversation right from the beginning.

So after every encounter, always ASK:
“What did I learn about them? How did I feel when I was with them, & afterward? Are they moving too fast? How do they handle situations & other people?”
✶ How much are they truly reciprocating, or am I the only one sharing – OR only them?

If so – we can take that as a warning sign. They’re either too scared or too self-centered. If we proceed, we have to accept the consequences.
➼ This constant evaluation is crucial for us to do at each stage, because ACoAs have such strong training & defenses against seeing others accurately.  If the WIC likes someone AND they feel familiar (in some way like our family), WE may :

i.  be in ‘Lala Land’ = don’t want to know they may not be an appropriate fit, especially if we feel a very strong pull – so we idealize them, convinced they’re ‘the one’, or a BFF…  Actually, at this stage it’s just too early to know for sure

ii. get “the ICKs” (scroll down) = If we’re not quite comfortable with them, but they’re not blatantly abusive, we need time to find out if it’s becauselearn more
— the WIC &/or PP is acting up – with self-hate, lack of trust, old buttons triggered, our FoA, weak boundaries…
OR
— the person is actually icky in some way – their damage is showing & we’re picking it up, but can’t verbalize it yet
OR
— they’re genuinely NOT suited to our True Self, no matter how smart, competent, nice, or how much they may like us.
SO – we wait & LISTEN, hopefully with a clear, fair & open mind

IMPORTANT – Going slowly will allow us to:
• see how much like our family they are or aren’t (requires knowing ourself well, & paying attention to every interaction with the other person)
• find out if they are genuinely compatible with our Real Self
AND
• observe if they can truly see us for who we are, value, admire & respect us – realistically, not just for what we can give them
• how well or badly they handle our damage/ defects
AND
• what their character defects are, & how it will impact us over time
• see if the205108791ir positives outweigh the negatives (which everyone has), so that being with them will add value to our life
AND
• how capable & willing are they to take responsibility for their own life, so we don’t have to rescue or clean up after them
ALSO, if they have a spiritual life, is it internalized? does it show in the way they live? or is it just another band-aid or diversion from unresolved deeper issues

NOTE: When someone has too many negatives – no matter how much we like or love them – they’re unsafe to be with! Take stock & be honest with yourself. Get a trusted 2nd & 3rd opinion!  If we ACoAs are willing to take these stages a little at a time & ‘stay awake; with many of our relationships – we’ll save ourself a lot of heartache!

NEXT: Part 3 – Intensifying, Integrating

Emotional NEEDS & Innate RESOURCES

SEE, I KNEW IT!
and they said I was tooo sensitive!

PREVIOUS: Purpose of Es – Motivation

REMINDER: Use Acronyms Page for   abbrevs.

THIS post comes directly from The MindFields College Blog & is being reproduced in it’s entirety because it fits so well into the current ‘Emotions’ series & speaks for itself.

“We are all born with fundamental physical & emotional needs which have to be met in order to promote good mental health – as well as the innate resources to help us fulfill them, known as human ‘givens’.
Life is never perfect, but as long as our basic needs are being provided for & our resources are being used well, we don’t suffer mental health problems. However, if just one of these needs is unmet, or our resources are being misused, it can negatively affect our total being!

A. Essential Emotional Needs
human needs🔅 Attention (to give & receive it) – a form of nutrition
🔅 Autonomy & Control – the free will to make responsible choices
🔅 Competence & Achievement
🔅 Emotionally Connected to others
🔅 Friendship & Intimacy – knowing that at least one other person accepts us totally for who we are, “warts ‘n’ all”
🔅 Meaning & Purpose – being stretched in what we do & think
🔅 Part of a wider community
🔅 Privacy – opportunity to reflect & consolidate experience
🔅 Security – a place to feel safe, & environment to develop fully in
🔅 Status within social groupings

B. Innate Resources (human ‘givens’) to meet Emotional needs:
• The ability to develop complex long-term memory, helping to add to our innate knowledge. & accumulate new information
• The ability to build rapport, empathize & connect with others
• The ability to ‘know’ – to understand the world unconsciously through metaphorical pattern-observing brainmatching
To HAVE :
• A conscious, rational mind that can check out emotions, to question, analyze & plan
• An observing self – that part of us that can step back, be more objective & aware of itself as a unique center of ‘presence’, apart from intellect, emotion & conditioning

• A dreaming brain that preserves the integrity of our genetic inheritance every night by metaphorically defusing expectations held in the autonomic arousal system not acted out the previous day.
Imagination, so we can focus our attention away from emotions, use language, & problem-solve more creatively & objectively

✶ To see how many of your emotional needs are being met, take the Emotional Needs Audit.

NEXT: “ALONE” – ACoA poem