Al-Anon STEP 10 – Comments (Part 1)

PREVIOUS : Use “THINK” instead of “feel” #2

SITE: Al-Anon Step 10 

• MORNING MEDITATION READING = Today I will…..


AA/AL-Anon 10th Step: “Continued to take personal inventory & when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”

This Step separates into 3 distinct issues: inventory, wrongs, admitting

1. DOING a REGULAR (daily?) INVENTORY

a. STEP 10 is a general evaluation of our activities for some brief period. The actual purpose is to help us stay present for what’s going on inside of us on a continuing basis.

It’s an antidote to our compulsion to escape the WIC’s old pain that hasn’t been cleaned out yet –  by retreating into the ‘lala land’s of FB, TV, reading, over-doing…. & various addictions. It’s a way to not slide back into denial, back into just DOing instead of BEing, back into our ACoA’s built-in forgetter state. 

b. WHEN? While it’s not stated, the assumption is that we take this step every day. In the Al-Anon book: “Paths to Recovery: Al-Anon’s Steps, Traditions and Concepts” a member writes that at first they did it once a day, then added a lunch time evaluation at work, so that anything that needed to be corrected could be done right away & then the afternoon would go more smoothly.

But each of us must find our own rhythm. The more regularly we get in the habit of checking in with ourselves, the more we can connect with our True Self, & burn off bits & pieces of our damage.

c. Continuing a personal inventory does not exclusively mean listing all the flaws, mistakes, omissions… we’ve committed that day.
Yet in the literature & in meetings the focus is mainly on character defects we identified in Step 4. Re. Step 10, one internet site says “Continue to watch for selfishness, dishonesty, resentment, and fear. When these crop up, we ask God at once to remove them…..”

d. Simply doing it this way is lopsided. To be accurate it would be useful to make 2 – very brief – lists of both plusses & any negatives we observes in ourselves. If we’re doing this during the day, they can both be brief.

If it’s at the end of the day, we would benefit from sticking to only doing a positive inventory, as shown in the column —->. This is particularly important for ACoAs because our focus is always on what we did wrong, which keeps us stuck in narcissistic S-H. (More on ‘wrongs’ in Part 2)

And, to be ‘rigorously honest’ – we need to include all T.E.A.s (thoughts, emotions & actions) – without self-judgement – BRIEFLY. SO:
✔︎ What were my actions today?  This is what most of us focus on. This includes things like co-dependent people-pleasing or passive-aggressive reactions – which mostly hurts ourselves, but also hurts others by nor being present with them (psychological dishonesty) – some ways we abandon others.
ASK: Did I “Correct, Complain, Criticize?”

POSITIVE: Identify any & all actions, even if they’re easy, short, simple or repeated every day

✔︎ What were my emotions (Es) today? Excitement, anxiety, boredom, annoyance, anticipation, gratitude, pleasure…?

Since ACoAs have trouble identifying our Es, start by briefly listing any events of the day which might have bothered you but which you brushed aside at the time –  (someone ignored you, your ex called, you got a compliment, you forgot something…..)

Then ask yourself:  “IF I had had an E for each event, what might it have been? Sad, hurt, angry, relieved, pleased….

This inventory is particularly important if you feel drained, upset, antsy, obsessing…. at the end of the day but don’t know why.  Notice how these unrecognized Es add up & may contribute to your unease. Just because we don’t FEEL them, doesn’t mean they’re not there!

NOW: You can acknowledge some of these Es you’ve learned to suppress (denial), & can talk about them in meetings, therapy & with sponsors – to bring them into consciousness.
IMP: This will prevent having to act them out.

POSITIVE: Include a list of comfortable Es you experienced – no matter how subtle or brief. It’s important to reinforce all positives (peaceful, happy, relieved, relaxed….)

NEXT : Step 10 – #2 (re. Thoughts)

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)

Negative INTROJECT (Part 3)

bad voice 2 

SHUT UP IN THERE!
I don’t know how to get rid of you

PREVIOUS: Introject, Bad Voice (Part 1)

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

 

 

EGO STATES
A Healthy Self would include the Natural Child as our essence, & a relatively un-wounded Adapted Child, composed of the positive values, mores & beliefs of its specific society. Eventually well-adjusted people also form a Healthy Adult & Loving Patent ‘UNIT learned from a family with self-esteem, generosity, competence, humor, social ease & love.

However, OUR:
• ADULT may or may not be functional – some of us put all our energy into being ‘competent’ while others barely get by, waiting for someone else to be the Good Parent for us.
PP (the ‘IT’) holds all of the dysfunctional familys accumulated minuses, along with some plusses, & secretly runs our lifeCHILD e.s.

Adapted Child holds all of our damage, from trying to Do or Be whatever we thought would finally get our parents’ approval & acceptance – but never did
EXP: If you liked & were good at sports AND they (only) approved of you for that, you’d put all your energy into being the best at sports – not just to express yourself, but to wring a drop of acceptance from them. Anything else, like needs & emotions, were sacrificed

• Natural Child is mostly hidden, yet peeps out in spite of the PP
EXP: being good in school, winning awards, love of music, reading, sports, being quiet vs, being boisterous…. AND even our choice of addictions reflect our natural personality. Why do some people choose sex over a food addiction, pot over alcohol, addictive relationships rather than chemicals….?

What ALL ACoAs are MISSING:
• The Loving Parent, because we didn’t have any role models for that, OR if we did have one person in our childhood that treated us better than others, it couldn’t make up for the avalanche of bad parenting from everyone else

PRISONERS of the Negative Introject (PP)
Until we do FoO work, too much of our persona is the result of the harmful way our family trained us. Unfortunately, this False Self is what we consider our identity. We say “I’m just born that way , It’s my personality…” when talking about our character defects. We don’t see hay they’re expressions of S-H, since we aren’t allowed to acknowledge our inherent gifts & talents

• Without S & I, (separation PP's prisoner& individuation) we’re ‘one’ with the had voice – constantly placating & obeying it, without knowing that’s what we’re doing. After all, “Does a fish know it’s wet?”
As kids we were afraid of them – of displeasing them, of their temper & craziness, of being punished, which was usually unfairly & over the top
• And we’re still afraid of them, if they’re alive, OR if they’re only in the form of our Introject. Even if they’re gone – it doesn’t diminish the power of their imprinting.

IRONY:
As adults, in spite of our rage & frustration at their unavailability & abusiveness, we’re afraid to let go of the PP. Altho the voice is always torturing us, the WIC is so used to the connection it doesn’t know any other way to ‘get taken care of’. This holds true until we take on the responsibility of parenting ourselves.

This desperate attachment is based on:
— our longing for them, & not wanting to give up the illusion that someday they’ll come thru for us
— not having a solid identity of our own. As long as our S-H is strong we continue to perfectionistbelieve no one else will want us, so better to stay “with the devil we know”

If we believe we can’t leave the PP or get rid of it, we spend a lot of our energy trying to silence it with addictions, while at the same time making inhuman efforts to get it to stop hurting us, to see reason, to understand… rather than getting away by disobeying its Toxic Rules!

NEXT: Negative Introject (Part 4)

Inventories – In the Beginning (Part 2)

Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 8.54.15 PM 

THE BAD THEY SAID ABOUT ME
– was NOT at all true!

PREVIOUS: Fam. Inventory – Purpose (#2)

 

 

NATURE
At birth we bring with us our inherited genetic makeup. This includes :
• PHYSICAL : mental & physical health (ADD, a strong immune system, depression, longevity….), brain & intelligence type
• PERSONALITY : our tastes & interests, talents, national characteristics, learning preferences, & emotional temperament

Because inherited components are multi-generational, even if our parents didn’t drink or use drugs but other relatives or grand & great-grandparents did, we will be subject to a variety of potential problems. Health problems, neglect (ignoring illness or injuries…) and direct forms of abuse (beatings)  – lead to loneliness, isolation & sometimes hospitalizations.health issues

It’s common for children from alcoholic families to have severe health problems = from our lineage, improper physical care, with mental & emotional stress.
There can be dental deficiencies, auto-immune sensitivity & deficits, predisposition for chemical dependency, asthma, anxiety & depression, overweight…. malformed or misaligned parts (cleft palate, club foot, scoliosis)….

++ We also inherited strengths which often showed up very early in our life – artistic or athletic abilities, a joyful nature, determination, intuitive insights, a desire to help, love of animals, of reading, of talking, of learning….
For some of us these natural desires never went away but we devalued them, while others of us had to deny or suppress them in order to survive. Inventories can help claim or reclaim those wonderful parts that were invalidated, made fun of or ignored

NURTURE
We use the term loosely! But generally, studies have shown that the brain develops its patterns from the combination of all childhood experiences. Isn’t that obvious?
In terms of life-long survival, the purpose of good-enough nurturing is so we wouldn’t have to think about how to do every-day tasks, or how to respond to emergencies.

When programming is healthy, it frees people to participate smoothly in society, be creative & help others. They respond to their environment from equal parts instinct & upbringing.  (‘CDs: Info & the Brain’)

• For ACoAs, the irony & terrible unfairness is that the very mechanism humans have been given to make life kid-alcoholiceasier has been severely contaminated. So, our responses are mainly based in trauma & chaos, with not enough input from our natural instincts & inborn intelligence

Our family, & sometimes whole communities, dumped all their mental / emotional garbage into us, leaving us with the harrowing task of sorting out & cleaning up their mess – for the rest of our lives.❗️No child should have to carry the wounds our elders refused to deal with – yet that’s what we have to face & fix!

• This generated nuclear radiation-level emotions – mountains of fear, rage & deep hopelessness – which we had to deny, take out on ourselves & then on others. It’s made us feel unsafe internally with just about everyone, & externally unsafe for others to be around

Given our damage, it makes sense that now, when we’re under stress, we automatically revert to learned beliefs & Es, sometimes even with years of therapy & Program. In spite of all our ‘information’ about how neglected & abused we were, most ACoAs are stubbornly convinced we ‘choose’ to be bad, sick, angry, crazy & out of control…..

•  And why not? Beside our own narcissism (“Everything’s about me”), accused wronglywe heard these distortions & lies often enough. When we can’t get our life going or function like ‘other people’, we believe we’re lazy, incompetent, will never amount to much & will always fail!

• Some ACoAs start out with harder, rockier psychological soil than others (intense resistance to admitting being wounded) – making it tough but not impossible for Recovery to take root. But aside from severe physical / mental disabilities, NO under-functioning ACoA is lazy or stupid, just TERRIFIED. And this is only true as long as the WIC is allowed to stay in charge of our thinking – in place of the healthy Adult & Parent – which adds to our emotional distress.

However, as we develop the UNIT, we can put temporary regressions into perspective, knowing that “If it’s hysterical, it’s historical” & therefore we don’t have to fall into that deep pit of S-H & despair we’re all so familiar with

NEXT: Inventories – In the Beginning (Part 3)

ACoA : TOXIC Family RULES

Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 12.10.53 PM 

THEY DESIGNED MY STRAIGHT JACKET –
I’m gonna need some help getting it off!

PREVIOUS: Healthy Helping (Part 2)

SITE: Dysfunctional Family (Wikipedia)

 


RULES:
No matter what kind of family environment we came from, all ACoAs have gathered a litany of TOXIC RULES, which we follow ‘religiously’, even well into recovery – but hopefully less so with growth!

The BE and DON’T lists are the short forms, & just mirror opposites. Below is the more expanded one.  This is by no means complete. Each of us can have variations or additions. If you think of any, <Please let me know> & I’d be happy to add them.

INVENTORY: How do we know what our rules are?
a. Overview
✶ Ask yourself, & then siblings, mate, friends, therapist … for suggestions
✶ Do a Life Inventory, in 3-5 yr increments, listing all the major events 12065669231219144528Anonymous_work_in_progress.svg.medyou can remember – things that were important, relationships, when you started & stopped things, schools, moves, births, deaths …. choices made, opportunities we didn’t take…..
✶ Don’t go into detail. Just list things in one sentence each
✶ Pick out recurring themes, patterns, avoidances…
✶ Ask: which rules might these patterns represent?

b. Detailed
• Take one of these words of phrases, & write as much about it as you can.
Where did you learn this? Who in your family exemplifies it?
How do you act it out in your life?
How do your friends, lovers, bosses… express it?
• Take it slowly.  Spread this exercise out over months & years, if needed. Maybe just write a little & go back to it when you have more info about yourself & your history
GOAL:

• See the toxic family rules you’ve been following – so clearly – that you won’t be fooled any longer into thinking they’re legitimate!
• Slowly disobey them by changing your behavior patterns, an action at a time, a day at a time
• Pick out Healthy Rules that fit you, & mindfully, deliberately, use at least one every day

✶✶ Breaking family rules can create a lot of anxiety, as the Negative Introject will try to guilt us into returning to the fold – like good sheep – so the work needs to be a slow, gentle process, with lots of support (Al-Anon as one of many resources)

If you read many other posts on this blog, you’ll see references to Toxic Rules over & over, which it’ll give you a context for thinking about them & working with them (see post “Why Are You Stuck?“) .

NEXT: the HEALTHY Rules (Part 1)






WHAT JUST HAPPENED – Intro (Part 1)

confused monkey

 

I THINK I GOT BLINDSIDED –
but I don’t know how or why!

PREVIOUS: ACoAs & Listening (#3)


See
ACRONYM page for abbrev.

 

 


In the AFTERMATH of a difficult / painful / scary experience (A)
Whenever ACoAs have a run-in with another person, our most common T.E.A. reactions afterward are:
(T) MENTAL – confused about what happened, how we got in that situation, what we should have said or done, wish we’d said, about what they actually ‘did’ to us….
(E) EMOTIONAL – ‘freaked’ out, but maybe not clear just what we’re actually feeling, not sure if we should be upset or what’s really bothering us, not wanting to be so aggravated or anxious, not feeling like oneself….

✶ If we’re upset AND don’t understand what happened, we automatically slide into:
(T) blaming ourselves, feeling guilty for our reaction, feeling weak & stupid for not handling it better…  (this is S-H, to mask our feeling of abandonment, which we’re not conscious of)
(A) ACTIONS – ‘dealing’ with it by hiding from the other person, ranting to everyone about the event, being overly solicitous (people-pleasing), stop functioning at all…. OR call / text the other person & blow them up, which usually adds to our S-H, guilt & shame.

Start CLARIFYING
• Talk oven the painful event with a trusted person.
• We can also do a lot of work on our own, & feel good about that. It will help to eventually be more ‘present’ in the moment, to help us feel less like a victim, less scared, vulnerable…
• To that end, it’s useful to identify which ego state we were in when things ‘went wrong’.
• We can also ask ourselves what we observed or already know about the other person (but ignored).

SO:  ‘who’ – inside each participant – was in charge at thPAC interationse time of the incident?
our Wounded Inner Child was in the foreground, or their WIC was
our Pig Parent (Negative Introject) was acting up, or theirs was

🔹 It’s usually some combination:
– our IC reacting to their PP
– our IC provoking their IC
– their IC bringing out our PP
– their PP stomping on us – leaving our IC mute… (follow the arrows ➡️)

NOTE: It’s a good bet that neither person’s Healthy Adult was available & functioning, or it would have turned out differently. (See ‘EGO STATES’ posts)

HEALTHY PEOPLE (HPs) evaluate themselves & monitor their interactions, and when confronted with an objection or complaint, a question about their behavior &/or hurt feelings they :
• catch it when their side of the street is not as ‘clean’ as it could be. They’re more likely to acknowledge it & make a correction or give an apology
• are able to hear the other person out, evaluate their part in it & make whatever adjustments are possible, especially if the other person misunderstood or misread an interchange
• won’t accept blame when it’s not warranted

In PART 4 there are a series of 30 Qs to ask yourself, to encourage clarity.
This set oinventoryf posts is mainly about our Thoughts (Ts) & Emotions (Es). For suggestions re. Actions (As), review post: “What to DO when confused” & “Noticing Painful Events.”

The inventory can offer a way to break thru both our ignorance of what we’re  thinking & feeling (Ts & Es), as well as putting a dent in our blindness about others, especially non-recovering people we’ve been dealing with for a long time.
Since everyone tells us about themselves all the time, it is up to us to pay attention to what we experience & admit “I KNOW WHAT I KNOW”

NEXT: “What just happened” (#2)