ACoAs: DIS-comfort & Comfort (Part 1)

minor discomfortI’M DEFINITELY DETERMINED
to ignore my discomfort!

PREVIOUS: 

SITE:  Fill-In Qs – Identify your stressors


OVERVIEW
Do What’s Comfortable” is one of the many helpful & profound phrases in Al-Anon. This is a useful suggestion, especially as ACoAs tend to live in perpetual dis-comfort (in the “wreckage of the future or in the misery of the past), subjecting ourselves to almost constant physical anxiety & the endless rumination of self-defeating ‘mantras’ (S-H), sometimes called ‘spinning’.

HOWEVER, we are so used to being uncomfortable that we barely notice, thinking it’s ‘normal’, AND believe we have no other option. So this phrase is incomplete, since ACoAs stick to what we know – no matter how bad – & avoid better/healthier/safer things – so we can cling to the connection to our abusive family (refuse to S & I), and so we don’t have to risk being disappointed – yet again!

stress curve

SOME stress in our life is not only inevitable, but also needed in order to gently push us to take actions & grow. As the bell curve shows, there’s the calm state, which is good, & the ‘beneficial’ Eustress, to keep up us alert, motivated & on our toes. But ACoAs typically live in the far right – in various intensities of distress. Too much stress tends to paralyze. While there are plenty of external situations in life which can be aggravating, & many things we are truly powerless over, this post focuses mainly on how we experience & categorize Comfort & Discomfort, negative & positive .

Originally, our harmful life patterns were learned grown up, which we had little or no control over. Now we keep them going :
— because they’re deeply ingrained // to obey family rules
— to avoid deeper painful realizations, anxiety & accumulated terror
— from the belief that we don’t know any better or can’t possibly change.
Still hanging on to them actually comes from the mistaken belief that the way we’ve always thought, felt & acted (T.E.A.) is our actual personality, & therefore no changes can be expected or even attempted. This belief persists even in ‘recovery’ !!

IN REALITY – all ongoing negative behaviors (character defects) are expressions of our False Self, developed in childhood in response to the abuse & neglect of our family & other environmental dysfunctions (baby sitters, neighborhood, school, ‘church’….). Therefore, the main goal of Recovery is to shed as much of this made-up persona as possible, in order to uncover, own & live in the REAL Self we were born into before the damage.

NOTE: Many of the items on the list below also fall into the more severe category of reprogram brainNegative Discomfort in Part 2, (like self-injury, bad relationships, lack of self-care….),
Also, it may seem counter-intuitive that these damaging patterns would be considered comfortable. READ/ review posts “Negative benefits of.…)” & info about how we learns, in posts “CDs — Info & the brainto understand why. What we experienced from birth on is what makes the most sense to our ‘computer’,  which will fight tooth & nail to keep from having to change – as if we’re asking it to destroy itself!

Changing our programming will create great anxiety – at first. So for some time in our efforts to grow it will genuinely feel more comfortable (a great relief) to go back to doing things the old way – no matter how ‘sick’. Unfortunately. But with persistent repetitions of new thinking & actions, that terror will lessen a great deal.social anxiety

IRONY: Identifying these dysfunctions as ‘comfortable’, just because they feel ‘natural’, doesn’t mean they promote happiness & calm. While some ACoAs are in such deep denial that these patterns may seem like minor disturbances – from being numb to their long-term consequences – they in fact create endless stress, anxiety, shame, self-hate, frustration, physical & mental illness…..in all of us, whether acknowledged or not.

NEXT: Negative Discomfort – #2

ACoAs & Emotions (Part 1)

acoa Es 

I DON’T WANT TO FEEL ANYTHING –
& you can’t make me!

Previous: Parrott’s Emotions List

REMINDER: See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

REVIEW: The Body & Emotions & Identifying Emotions

 

Those DREADED Emotions (Es) !
• ACoAs definitely believe all emotions are a bad thing. When asked what’s going on with us, or how we’re feeling, ACoAs usually fail to mention Es. We’ll talk around them, over & under, but never hit the bulls-eye.  We’re terrified of them like mice are afraid of cats.  We treat our Es as if they were a wild beast inside that has to be locked away in a deep dark dungeon.

• Then we wonder why we can’t get out of bed, always feel like the outsider, feel so alone, don’t get along with others, have panic attacks….. Emotions that are ignored have sneaky ways of showing up in disguise. BUT those ways (listed throughout this blog) are the symptoms that provide vital information we can use to reverse-engineer events that distress us. Then we can make the necessary corrections

• Without enough healing, ACoAs are clearly not happy campers, having lived with depression most of life – even if we don’t show it on the outside.  It’s not surprising, since our dysfunctional families indicated in thousands of direct & indirect ways that we should never object to being hurt by them, and then not express any pain from their abused & neglected! (“Stop your whimpering. You’re such a baby. You’re just too sensitive!”). They didn’t give us much to be happy about, but they also didn’t want us to hold them accountable. So we learned: “DON’T FEEL”!healthy combo

IMP: What they never told us was that 💗 it’s not intrinsically bad to have Emotions but were simply unacceptable to them, because:
they didn’t experience love & nurturing, so could not give it to us
• they had no clue how to cope with their own problems, much less be there for us. The responsibility of parenting terrified them

• if one or more parent had chronic mental or physical illness, or who were overly dramatic themselves, there was clearly no room for our needs or feelings
• never having dealt with their wounded Es as adults, they shoved them under the carpet & demanded we do the same.
An infant’s first ‘language’ is that of intense emotions. Only after that did we learn to use words! This combination would be a constant irritant to parents who already felt too much OR didn’t want to feel at all – our emotions & needs acting like sandpaper. They had to shut us up!

• our needs as children enraged them because they wanted all the attention for themselves
• some parent & teachers delighted in hurting & humiliating us, & had no intention of giving us comfort or validation (did you catch one of them smirking when you cried?)
✶ One tender soul remembers her mother, the heartless narcissist, saying with a sneer: “I’m so glad I’m not sensitive like you & your father!”

As a result:  muted Es
• many ACoAs have a limited range of Es they are aware of, much like only being able to play 2 or 3 notes on a full piano keyboard – such as anger & disdain, fear & guilt, loneliness & desperation…. even tho there are many more available on both scales

• some have so many Es we can hardly breathe, acting them out all over the place or hiding under the covers as much as possible, always in ‘suffering mode’, which makes us wish we were like the other ones – numb

• others of us have intense Es without consciously knowing it OR being able to identify them by name – not associating certain physical sensations with actual emotions, but tending to be cranky & exhausted

NEXT: ACoAs & Emotions (Part 2)