TRAITS of Abusers – General

how sick they really are!

PREVIOUS: Traits of Victims #3

Article: LIST of Characteristics

General, for ALL Perpetrators ARE:
• deeply insecure, so are extremely jealous
inconsistent – can do well at work & in many social situations, but sulky or cruel in private with unpredictable mood swings
terrible communicators – especially about Es (rather talk with their fists), think in B & W, use distorted logic (CDs)
very touchy – easily insulted, take everything personally
• have poor impulse control: use addictions, go into rages, hurt children & animals, batter their spouse, are unfaithful
• need to control everything, because of Fear of Abandonment (FoA)
• take no personal responsibility – always blame everyone in the whole world – for their troubles. Perps don’t care about the effect of their actions on the V. since no one else really counts but themselves (narcissism).

CHARACTERISTICS – rather than behaviors (<—- See posts “DIRECT Abusers “):
 PHYSICAL = • are an active addict
• can use chronic physical illness or disability to manipulate everyone or just one significant other
• may be mentally ill, have some type of mental or emotional disorder
• often have a history of family violence – between the adults, & adults to children, sometimes between siblings

MENTAL – They :
• are loyal to their Toxic family Rules and Roles, needing to convince others of their CDs (cognitive distortions)
• believe in rigid gender roles, to keep everyone ‘in their place’
• blame others for their problems so they don’t have to be responsible for their actions, or their underlying but unconscious feeling of vulnerability
They :
• have tightly protected defense mechanisms, self-deception is well-developed
• are in denial about their own wounds/ & the effect they have on others
• have unrealistic expectations of self, others & what relationships are supposed to provide. The Perp puts a burden on others to fulfill needs they didn’t get from their family, instead of healing themselves

Psychological disturbances :  shitting out LOVE
co-dependent, borderline, bipolar, co-dependent, depressive, narcissistic✶ (see below),paranoid….
Love addiction – They :
• are extreme jealous
• can be calm, charming & convincing – in public
• get involved too quickly, become ‘instantly’ symbiotic
• see mate as a symbol of a parent or other authority figure, especially when the P. is angry, rather than as a person in their own right
• very good at deceiving others, may have many other relationships, all are superficial.
(⬆️IMAGE: They take in your love & eject it as pollution)

Self-Hate (hidden from most people) – They :
• are full of anxiety, guilt & shame
• are hypersensitive to the slightest disrespect or insult, even when it’s not intended or there is none• blame others for their emotions, deny need for help or growth
They :
• eitheabusers S-Hr need others to keep self-image from collapsing, or they isolate
• refuse to be responsibility for their actions, (incest, drunkenness, violence…) even in the face of severe consequences
• push away true intimacy (there’s never enough to fill their emotional emptiness) & can’t believe anyone can be there for them, love them….

✳️ Narcissism is not self-esteem – at all – but a condition that is  a distorted sense of power, & includes:
• constantly looking for & demanding attention
• getting very angry & feeing deeply ashamed when criticized, or if any personal imperfections are pointed out
unpredictable• grandiosity, overestimating their importance, talents & achievements

• inability to put themselves in someone else’s shoes (empathize)• manipulating others, especially partners – with blame, guilt, distorted ‘logic’, bribes,  threats…. to control.
• mental obsessions & compulsions (actions) to hide real or imagined flaws  (Estimated that 85% of narcissists are male)

• can use ‘religion’ / spiritual teachings as a way to beat up & control others, especially children
• don’t have a clear moral compass, so are too easily swayed by their own greed, revenge, fear, cowardice…. & easy for the P. to lie, cheat, steal … even if it’s just a little, & secretly… ORfake spiritual
• may not have a strong -or any- Spiritual belief & practice TO :
♝ cope with & heal deep-seated trauma
♝ fall back on in hard times
♝ trust that they’re taken care of & safe
♝ know that all is well & that there’s enough love to go around!
• may not have genuine concern for the suffering of others (rather than people-pleasing or grand-standing). Any ‘generosity’ is self-serving – to seem important, feel needed, look good, cover S-H, be lauded….

NEXT: Types of Perpetrators #2a

ACoAs & SELF-ESTEEM – what it IS NOT

Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 9.55.51 AM
Not me-e-e, girl

PREVIOUS: Recovery – IS & is NOT (#2)

SITE: Want more self-esteem? (links)

REMINDER: See ACRONYM page for abbrev.


IN IT’S SIMPLEST FORM, the opposite of self-hate is self-esteem. Since our Western culture is based a great deal on outer appearance, most people think that if you look & sound good, you must:
• have come from a nice, happy family background
• be happy, healthy & have good self-esteem (S.E.)

ACoAs believe that in spades, but neither one is proof that we’re ok. We assume that anyone who has OR seems to have personal qualities & a life style that we don’t (a variety of relationships, making $$, an education, travel…) – must have a positive sense of identity. Actually, there’s a big difference between true self-esteem & the facade of it.
☛ Various defense mechanisms can mimic it, especially narcissism.

Self Esteem is NOT….
1. …. acting entitled, superior, arrogant, pushy
superior• anyone who acts this way is covering up feeling scared & insecure, even though they may not be consciously aware of it.  Acting entitled is narcissistic – they believe only they have rights!

2. …. always being right – having all the answers, needing to prove what we know
• ‘know-it-alls’ use their info as a battering ram or as a shield – either way it comes from insecurity. It’s a defense – they have to keep the facade of being better than they feel inside.  It’s also a way to keep emotions at bay – focusing on facts rather than emotions

3.. based solely on activities or accomplishments
• there are people who are famous, rich, powerful – but we know from their bios that many are active addicts, spouse abusers & sometimes murderers, have relationships full of drama or can’t commit at all

4. …. being ‘cool’ – repressing emotions, being in control, not needing others, being mysterious, above it all
attitude 2• it is actually being cut off from most or all their emotions, numb, hard, angry – keeping them disconnected from others. AND scared underneath : fear of failure, of abandonment, of being trapped & suffocated emotionally….


5. …. being perfect – the ‘good’ one, the Hero, Ms or Mr Popular
• while there is social acceptability in this persona, it is usually based in the co-dependent need to be approved of, to be mirrored by th
e admiration of others, rather than having a clear internal sense of self. Without this constant reinforcement, the person is depressed & at sea.

6. …. being powerful – lording it over others, being controlling
• the need to use personal or social power to make others submissive or compliant is both narcissistic & cruel – whether done by a CEO or a mother. All forms of controlling is based in fear, which the person is usually not aware of, or knows but is not willing to acknowledge

7. …. being a super-helper – rescuer, martyr, people-pleaser
super doer• being ‘wonderful’ to everyone, long-suffering, over-tolerant, over-doing… comes from LOW S.E. & FoA. Without Recovery, sooner or later, they may have some type of physical collapse &/or live with chronic depression

8. …. being superhuman – highly accomplished, chasing the impossible, being the best of the

• achieving big things may or may not benefit humanity. What’s important here is MOTIVATION. If the desire to compulsion to succeed is compulsive, then it’s driven by anxiety, not S.E. – from fear of failure, fear of being found out as a fraud, fear of poverty, fear of being powerless, fear of being controlled….

 9. …. doing whatever we want – needing instant ‘grat’, having transient relationships, running away, ignoring others
• this is immaturity, run by the WIC – by fear, weak boundaries, narcissism, irresponsibility

10. …. having lots of relationships, but superficially, with people who are:
• needy & insecure or narcissistic, are users, have the same social interests, like being paid attention to or rescued, want to be around fame & power…
NOTE : having ‘friends’ by itself does not automatically imply S.E. It depends on the quality, depth & mental health of the relationships

Part 2: What Self-Esteem IS

ACoAs Being Controlled (Part 4)

door mat
why am I still being walked on?

PREVIOUS: Being Controlled (#3)

READING: Dealing with Manipulative people – from “In Sheep’s Clothing”

🎯 WHO / WHAT we LET Control us
Controlling patterns are the same as Emotional Abuse.  All but one of the following groups can influence us positively OR negatively. It’s up to us to know what suits us best & stick to it!

INNER DAMAGE – everything this blog covers. Also “Bitchlifestyle” blog : Who Controls You, Your Bitch or Your Brat?
The more we try to please everyone, we become:
• MORE angry, disorganized, exhausted, frantic, overwhelmed, unhappy
• LESS focused, rested, peaceful, satisfied, pleasant to be with
AND the fewer people we actually do please!

Letting ourselves be controlled is giving our power away. Yet we think it will actually:
• GAIN us acceptance, love, continual attention, protection
• PREVENT being ignored, made fun of, punished or left. Unfortunately, it’s an illusion!

 THIS LIST is about how negative relationships can controls us :
CHILDREN – expressing our love for / attachment to them can go too far, being afraid to set boundaries or they won’t love us, or not teach them discipline so they won’t angry

ENEMIESA) people who hate us for their own reasons. We didn’t cause it, but we can end up expending way too much time, energy & money trying to win them over or placating them, instead of leaving them alone, praying for them or being neutral
B) those we hate – & that hatred eats us up year after year – wasting time trying to get even, obsessing about telling them off (but never doing it), or actually putting nasty plans into motion

JOBs/ Bosses – expectation, demands … especially the ones we think have to be fulfilled but actually are unreasonable. After all, aren’t we used to doing the impossible ? – or at least trying like crazy

NEMESES – (people we’re jealous of or in competition with) – we can do many foolish or self-defeating things to stay ahead of them or keep them from winning over us, whether the ‘prize’ is important to us or not. We become obsessed, over-work, cheat, connive, worry… just to shore up our weak ego

PARENTS – wanting their love & approval at any expense, we often twist ourselves into distorted versions of our True Self – & still never please them or get what we need from them (see Part 3)

PARTNERS – our fantasy beliefs about what a good relationship or marriage is supposed to be (especially that women have to be the ‘giver’) makes us into servants or slaves

PEERS / FRIENDS – trying to keep up with or out-do them, keep their approval, get their admiration, be in the ‘IN’ group, use them to____ ….

HEROES – because we don’t know the real person, they’re usually one-dimensional, yet we put them on pedestals – so they’re not fully human. We think we could / should be like them, but it’s not automatically true that if they can do or be something, we can too.

• And even if we follow their lead in some way, we may not be able to do it right away, or it may be a lot harder that we thought, or we may not have the same talent or resources…. which can leave us discouraged & self-hating.
We have to be realistic, without giving up, working toward goals that fit who we are!

• We may find positive qualities to emulate, but only with careful assessment & background research. THEY must be people:
— who are actively living the qualities you admire and fir your values, not just talking a good game
— you are genuinely similar to (not just matching damages). Just because someone else can do or be something does not mean you can or should want to!

NO GUARANTEE:  Being psychologically healthy does not prevent damaged people from trying to hurt us. We know that good people in the public eye are sometimes vilified, even killed!
Self-esteem + correct info are our best protection – recognizing the people who are very unwell & removing ourselves from them.

NEXT: Being Controlled (Part 3)

ACoAs Being Controlled (Part 1)


just so you won’t leave me!

PREVIOUS: “Controlling” & Abandonment (#2)

SITE: Recognizing…..Control” – extensive list of tactics used by Controllers

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.


BEING controlled by others
People who are easily controlled don’t know there’s a difference between –
a. Natural, appropriate authority. Being IN control is using our power in a positive way – of oneself, or being a good leader. The person in control is the main decision-maker, in charge of communication & makes things happen. People choose to listen & follow appropriate authority because they want to learn, connect &/or be taken care of —
— vs.
b. Un-natural, abusive control (mental/emotional coercion). Controllers (Cs) misuse power – they force us to obey them, against our will. They have no regard for our rights, needs or individuality. They use their position to suppress our identity so only their’s is visible. Their main weapon is negative anger, aimed at making us afraid, so we’ll be more compliant

ACoAs ‘letting” ourselves BE controlled
• Most ACoAs were negatively controlled as kids, & without Recovery we continue playing out the victim role we were originally forced into. As adults, allowing others to control us copies our earliest experiences. It keeps us symbiotically attached to the ‘source’ of our wounds & therefore emotionally immature, AND ‘protects’ us from having to face our own fear of intimacy (“ACoAs & Boundaries, Part 1 & 2”)
First: We have to be around someone who is a controller – who belittles, embarrasses us in front of others, treats us like a child, tells us what to do or how to be….who is manipulative & intimidating, however subtly.

Second: We have to be available.  While dealing with such a person is unpleasant for anyone, for ACoAs it’s emotionally debilitating – but also emotionally addictive!  We fall into a black hole, regressed to an old familiar space of being a powerless child with no options. We’re trapped & become mute! We’ve been programmed to instantly surrender – we have no rights or identity of our own. And then we stay, & make excuses for the controller!

T.E.A. (thoughts, emotions, actions)
Many teachers & groups teach us that we choose to “feel” the way we do, an obvious judgment. Of course the word feel is being used to mean thoughts rather than emotions, which is confusing & harmful, as it leads to believing we should ‘control’ our Es! (see “Feelings Aren’t Facts”, & Using THINK, instead of Feel“)

This is not fair or realistic. No one chooses their Es, only what we Think & how we Act! And even those are pre-programmed by family. Yes, sometimes changing Ts & As can shift our Es, but not always, especially not when the pain we’re feeling is old & therefore cumulative. That takes time to vent & process out of the body.

• Being controlled is the outward proof of Toxic Family Rules internalized from childhood. And when we consider those beliefs (a sub-category of Thinking) we find them very hard to change indeed. As adults — 
— allowing ourselves to be controlled in not a conscious choice! It’s a knee jerk reaction to specific people or events that are carbon copies of our family experience.
— it’s a clear indication that capitulating to the will of another means our WIC is in charge

🩸To ‘accuse’ us of choosing to be manipulated (Action) or be miserable (Emotions)…. only adds to our S-H,
& is in fact a subtle form of abuse & abandonment.

YES – we are responsible for changing our training – learning new ways of thinking & acting to take back the power we give away.
BUT we can only do this if WE:
— understand what’s actually going on inside
— have compassion for ourselves (we didn’t cause the wounding)
— remember that changing deeply-etched brain patterns takes time
— learn what our needs are & use them to practice having boundaries
— ask for help whenever we need it, especially when regressed (child ego-state of being a victim, lost child, scapegoat…)
— develop & continually strengthen the Loving Parent voice

NEXT: ACoAs Getting Controlled (Part 2)


love hurts
why does love always hurt me?

PREVIOUS: ACoAs & Bs (#1)

2. ACoAs & Boundaries (Bs)  

c. Some Results of not having healthy Bs
i.  FAILURE: No matter how badly we were treated or how angry we were about it, like all children – we were/are deeply attached to our parents & didn’t / don’t want to injure them.
They indicated that their unhappiness was our fault (Parents Blaming Us‘) – so we turned ourselves inside out in a desperate attempt to protect them – but it never worked.

Realistically, we could never satisfy them, because what they objected to was:
— normal behavior for a child, with our many developmental needs & limitations
— a reaction to us from their unhealed damage (buttons) which never had anything to do with us

EXP: One young mother would snap at her 8-year-old whenever Katie came home from school excited by a newly learned piece of info: “Mom, mom, did you know that ________?”
The wounded ACoA parent would say with great annoyance: “Of course I know that!” instead of being proud of her daughter. What the mother ‘heard’ was that her own intelligence was being questioned, which came from being constantly put down by her mother!

ii. RISK: We developed a fear of taking any kind of risk, because it wasn’t safe to be ourselves at home where it should have been. How could we expect it to be safe anywhere else in the world, with strangers?

This unconsciously created a fear of ‘leaving home‘ (S & I), so even if we physically move far away, we’re internally loyal to the very system that crippled us, by staying attached to their toxic rules!
We isolate or stay & stay in harmful situations & with unavailable or abusive people, don’t follow our dreams, or if we try – we stop short of reaching our goals….

iii. INTENSITY: Given the message that we were “too much” for them, our child’s grandiosity made us conclude that we were ‘negatively powerful. The conclusion was that IF we were so detrimental to our family, we would naturally hurt everyone else in the world too – especially with our rage – making us afraid to let anyone get too close to us as adults.

✶ALSO, it left many of us with the deep-seated belief that it would be better if we were dead – it would spare our family the suffering we seemed to be causing then but couldn’t change!

People-pleasing / Rescuing
Trying to be here for others but having weak or missing Bs :
To US — we get used by others
— overwhelmed by their damage
— get burned out & exhausted
B-less ACoA— eventually get enraged & attack
— bitter & disappointed with ‘love’

— they get bored with us, or never let go
— criticize us for not being perfect
— take as much as they can
— unaware of our needs & hurt
— blame us for their weaknesses

d. No Boundaries – No Choices
Un-recovered ACoAs, even those of us who see ourselves as strong, smart, adventurous…. act like victims because we don’t internal permission to choose who we connect with & who we leave behind, from a deep sense of powerlessness!

Without Bs we fall into the co-dependent trap, because:
• we’re so afraid of having to face our abandonment pain, AND our S-H says no one can possibly love us . What a double bind!

So when someone ‘wants’ us – our WIC is so relieved – that we accept them, even though they may be totally inappropriate, self-centered & just using us as their narcissistic supply.
Often some deep part of us knows they’re unsuitable, it won’t work out & we may not even really like them! BUT —

• we convince ourselves to stay, because they have some qualities we find appealing, maybe similar to ourself – even though it’s not nearly enough to offset the enormity of their dysfunction (addictions, depression, self-hate, immaturity, narcissism, controlling, cruelty…)

• we’re afraid to reject anyone, worry about hurting their feelings, identify with their pain… instead of honoring ourselves (we identify too much with their WIC, while ignoring our own!)
• we focus on fulfilling their needs, wants and demands, so they won’t get upset & shut us out – while most of ours go unmet.

NEXT: ACoAs & Bs (#3)


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I need you but you’re too close – I can’t breathe

Bs – Healthy Source ( #2)

REMINDER: See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

1. Normal Development – Stable Core (previous 2 posts)

2. ACoAs
Unfortunately, growing up – ACoAs did not originally have that all-important stable core to rely on, so weren’t able to form our own, because of:
• being overstimulated by chaos, emotional volatility & conflict
• being over-controlled, expected to be perfect, judged harshly
• not having role models for self-esteem & appropriate Bs
• not being loved & supported unconditionally

a. Wounded Adults
• Many un-recovered PARENTS are symbiotically enmeshed with their children, to cover their own FoA – ie. both the adults & the kids have similar immature mental drama & temperamental intensity, so they overlap each other, which is emotionally abandoning & terrifying for the children

• These parents function from their WIC’s ego state, so have:
— weak or no Adult & missing Loving Parent aspects
— weak or rigid boundaries, overlapping child’s feelings, as if the child were only an extension of themselves
— a narrow range of emotions available, w/ few nuances
— their focus was on their addictions, bad relationships, financial worries, depression, mental illness, relatives, sickness ….
— often changed the rules arbitrarily or made them unreachable, so no matter how hard we tried to obey, it was inevitably going to be wrong – & then we got attacked & punished! We could ‘never win’.
As kids, this kept us off-balance so we wouldn’t become independent (& eventually be ‘separate’), which requires being sure of oneself.

Al-Anon visual: the alcoholic has their arms around the bottle & the co-dependent has their arms around the alcoholic!
In these households, children are just pawns to be used & burdens to be neglected, ( Games Alcoholics Play’)

b. Limiting our Emotionsnegate Es
• In an alcoholic, narcissistic family, one or both parents limit or repress the type of emotional responses allowed the children, who are expected to act like adults, both mentally & emotionally, long before maturation.
ACoAs were blamed for not behaving ‘right’,  even thought we were not experienced yet in social etiquette or subtleties, didn’t have enough motor co-ordination, weren’t old enough to actually act like adults!….

EXP: Beth was a pretty little girl who grew up in church. On one occasion her mother was at the dais addressing a Ladies Group. Beth was left all alone in the front pew & expected to sit for 2 hours like a perfectly groomed doll. But she was a normal 4-year-old – bored, lonely & fidgeting. Her mother was annoyed at her child’s ‘misbehavior’, confident it would make her look bad.

She gave Beth ‘the look‘, who immediately froze – terrified – knowing the dire consequences of displeasing her mother, but quick obedience saved her this time.
For years afterward her mother proudly liked to tell how the group afterward complemented heron having such a well-behaved child. Sadly – neither the mother or anyone else ever had a clue of the intense terror that was generated that day!

• We learned very early that our emotions & behavior had global impact – they effected the ‘gods’ badly. Our parents let us know blackmailin various ways that we harmed them just by being ourselves (kids). EXP: A mother repeated remarked : “You’ll be the death of me yet!”

• Many ACoAs experienced being emotionally blackmailed controlled using fear, obligation or guiltOur parents’ narcissism & lack of boundaries made it easy for them to:
— treat us the same way they had been – the ‘kick the dog syndrome’, ie. passing on their rage at their parents’ neglect & abuse
— project their self-hate onto us – they couldn’t face that they were considered ‘bad’ children’ so they made us bad instead – to preserve their fragile self-image

EXPs: “If you loved me…. I made that just for you…. If you don’t do your chores, dad will get really mad at me….
BOOKs: “Emotional Blackmail”  & “Toxic Parents“~ Susan Forward

NEXT: ACoAs & Bs (Part 2)


 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)

SELF-HATE & ACoAs (Part 1)

so I have to be perfect to make up for it

T.E.A. = Thoughts, Emotions, Actions

REMINDER: See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

FoA = fear of abandonment

SELF-HATE (S-H) is the #1 deterrent to growth for all ACoAs.
It undermines our ability to function well, to have self-esteem & to be happy. Some people call it being ‘hard on yourself”, but it’s much more than that.  It’s so pervasive in the inner world of many ACoAs, that we don’t even know we have it & if confronted, vehemently deny it.
BUT the symptoms are all there, starting with a persistent nagging anxiety.

✶ In Childhood : being thoroughly convinced that everything bad that happen to us as kids was our fault, that we caused our own pain!
✶ In Adulthood : continuing from the past, we believe in our very cells that anytime we feel hurt, suffer a loss, get ignored, can’t get something we want, have something taken away, have to wait for something … that it’s because we are bad, don’t deserve, did something wrong , failed to do something, don’t have a right to it – anyway

ALL self-hate is a LIE
✶  it’s a defense mechanism to deny he original abandonment – by out family & culture. This a crucial point:
✦ S-H tries to cover-up all our abandonment pain
• It’s actually a form of narcissism (ours) – making everything about US, when it rarely is.  We make other people’s bad behavior our fault & our responsibility
• It’s an attempt at feeling in control, to cover our intense sense of powerlessness & vulnerability

• S-H can be expressed in all 3 T.E.A. categories:
Ts: “I caused their accident, since I asked them to come visit me”
Es: “I feel bad & really scared they won’t like me since I said ‘No’”
As: Staying with abusive people, not taking care of ourselves, not pursuing our dreams, not speaking up….

One of the characteristics on the ACoA Laundry List is being Over-Responsible, a symptom of FoA & S-H. What make S-H different from taking healthy, balanced Responsibility?
HEALTHY R. acknowledges the reality of having our T.E.A.s – or not. It straightforwardly owns up what IS, which can sound like: “Yes, I did that” (A), or ‘No, I can’t handle this” (A), or “No, I don’t agree with that”(T) , or “Yes, I love this” (E)….

S-H, on the other hand says : “I_______, & therefore I’m BAD”
• Ironically, it prevents us from admitting to any normal, human imperfections, from shame & for fear of abandonment, OR
•  it can make us ‘confess’ to wrongdoing, even when we are in fact blameless.

In either case, what’s underneath is an unspoken Toxic Lie tacked on to legitimate responsibility, categorically stating that:
✒︎ “I did / didn’t do_______ which proves I’m unlovable & worthless”, no matter what the topic or truth is.

This add-on is implied, but at the core of our self-image. ACoAs will take any opportunity to beat themselves up, even about good things!
All S-H comes from our wounded child (WIC) staying loyal to our wounded parents.
EXPs of S-H:
“Yes, I did forget to sent the letter out today, so therefore I’m irresponsible”
“No, I don’t how how to do that, therefore I’m incompetent”
“Yes, I went to the show without inviting you, so therefore I’m selfish”
“No, I haven’t ‘grown’ perfectly or as fast as I should, so therefore I’m unfixable”
“Yes, I talked a lot at the meeting, so I’m a limelight hog”
“No, I don’t agree with that, therefore I’m stupid” …..

This is NOT what ‘taking responsibility’ means.
Posts: ACoAs’ Fear of R // Healthy R

Basically, adult Responsibility (R) is:
★ honestly admitting to ourselves what we feel, think & have done -or- not. (T.E.A.), without judgment, shame or guilt.  MOST of ALL – without mental torture.

✒︎ Healthy R. includes regularly acknowledging both our limitations & our gifts, our ignorance & our knowledge. (POST: “The 10th Step“)

This def. applies to us now, as adults.
We are not / were NOT responsible for who our parents are or what they did!
SITE: “Great Responsibility Quotes for Kids” & the WIC



From being raised by alcoholics,
ACoAs & other narcissist!


50 Qs: A Self-evaluating List for Adult-Children of alcoholics, abusers, abandoners….
Answer: Y = yes, N = no, S = some, D = don’t know

DO YOU…?….
___find that you seek out tension or crisis, & then complain about it
___become anxious around angry people or authority figures
___defend or excuse people when they abuse you, implying you deserve it
___get locked into a course of action without seeing alternatives or outcomes
___react to people & situations, instead of choosing your responses
___worry that your emotions may overpower or hurt you, or others
___tend to lie or exaggerate, when it would be just as easy to tell the truth
___find the needs & wants of others more important than your own
___prevent yourself from experiencing the joy of your successes
___frequently anticipate that situations or life won’t work out for you
___isolate yourself when problems arise, or when you ‘feel bad’hiding
___find yourself in one or more survival ‘roles’ (hero, lost child…)
___mistrust your feelings, thought, perceptions
___tend to see issues in life as B & W, right or wrong
___have a fear of abandonment, especially when criticized
___strongly criticize yourself when not being perfect
___defend or excuse people when they abuse you, implying you deserve it
___get locked into a course of action without seeing alternatives or outcomes
___react to people & situations, instead of choosing your responses
___have trouble relaxing, playing, having fun
___had trouble with close, intimate relationships
___feel responsible for the feelings & actions of others, & try to fix them
___stay in relationships even tho’ you’re being constantly hurt, neglected, lied to, manipulated, hit… not getting any of your needs met
___fight with your family members over a parent’s drinking
___your parents make promises to you & then not keep them
___lose sleep at night due to a parent’s drinking
___take on some of the jobs or responsibilities belonging to your parents
___ever get sick, or worry a lot because of their drinking
___ever do anything to prevent your parent’s drinking
___always believe that no one knew your parents were drunks, when you were growing up
___able to recognize situation that you have no control over
___super responsible or super irresponsible
___unable to work thru crisis & conflict, or do you aggravate it
___seeing a pattern in your relationships similar to your family of origin
___unable to enjoy your successes & accomplishments
___afraid others may ‘find out’ you’re not good, or that you’re a fraud
___afraid of your emotions, & afraid to express them   get help
___unable to complement yourself
___ashamed of or feel guilty for being who you are
___afraid of going crazy, or becoming a bag lady or bum
___uncomfortable with your life when it’s going smoothly
___unable to ask for help, or do so apologetically
___constantly seeking approval from others
___uncomfortable with being liked, admired, approved of
___always mentally looking over your shoulder to see if you’ll be punished
___out of control with: food, chemicals, work, sex, spending, exercising…
___been blaming everyone else for your life’s problems
___staunchly defended your parents’ ‘innocence’ in hurting you as a kid
___had trouble following thru on projects, or never finishing
___tried to hide the fact that your parents drank a lot, beat you or others in the family, incested you or your siblings
___concerned about your mate, children, friends’…use of chemicals
___developed fantasy beliefs about how loved ones may treat you some day
___considered what ‘normal’ is, & believe you’re not
___found yourself sabotaging your success & then feeling ‘more alive’
___been loyal to others (parents, siblings, lovers, children, friends, employers) – even tho’ your loyalty was undeserved, unjustified, un-returned
___been fired more than once & never really understood why
___* learned to have dialogues with your ‘inner child’, & consistently take care of yourself in loving ways ?
♥                            ♥                            ♥
IF you’re even taking this test, it’s likely you come from a damaged, angry, abusive, traumatic, neglected, unhappy backgroundanswers
TOTALS:   ____Yes   ____ No   ____ Some  ____ Don’t Know
IF you answered YES to:
✶ 10-20, you’re either not an ACoA, in denial or in long-term recovery
✶ 20-30, you’re a co-dependent, even if there was no alcoholism in the family
✶ 30 or more, you’re definitely an ACoA (adult-child of alcoholics and other narcissists), which includes mentally ill &/or narcissistic family members

• If you said NO to Qs in the ‘DID YOU…’ section, but still scored high, there may be alcoholism/ drug addiction in some other part of your family, even if you didn’t experience it directly
• You may also be an active addict, yourself – alcohol/ drugs, food, money, sex, relationships…

Look thru this blog (2010 – 2016) and go to Heal & Grow SITE MAP – for info covering issues in this questionnaire at:

• If you are not yet in Recovery from your childhood trauma & present day difficulties, you can seek out 12-step Programs. THEY’RE BASICALLY FREE, & are available on the internet & by phone, for anyone not able to get to these meeting in person.  See pg 55 or some of the 12-step groups.

• Also, there are many recovery books, site, blogs & of course therapy, with someone very familiar with ACoA / addiction issues.
✶  If you are in Recovery, keep up the good fight. It pays off! I know because I’ve been at it for 35 yrs, & it works.

NEXT: Variations of the L.L.