ACoAs: PATTERNS of Mistrust (Part 1)

protect heart
– even if it keeps me from being loved!I

PREVIOUS: UNDER-Trusting (Part 3)


We are not to blame for being deeply mistrustful of everyone.
But we also need to be clear about how we perpetuate the patterns created by our trauma so we can stop beating ourselves up, feeling ashamed, & limiting our options. (CDs: INFO & the Brain)
Instead we can try out new internal beliefs & external actions.

• We have experienced many, many betrayals by the important people in our lives – whether family, friends, spouse, school, church or government. Some or all of these betrayals are so extreme we may never be able to forgive, regardless of what the ‘gurus’ tell us. This is not to deny the benefits of forgiveness – just that if we are not able to do it (yet) but believe we should, ‘or else’, we unfairly add to our self-hate & sense of failure.

PATTERNS* of Mistrust
* All of these are being generated by the WIC in an attempt to protect ourselves from further harm, but are totally unsuccessful, since they prevent us from getting the closeness & love we so desperately need – AND have a right to. And all are forms of control based on trying to stave off more PMES abandonment.

a. FAKE MEWIC pretending
We clearly got the message that who & what we were as a child was unacceptable to our parents. So as adults, when interacting with others, the WIC in dress-up tries to ‘improve’ our personality by twisting in unnatural avatars – into something we think some present-day person or group is going to want or find acceptable

• We spend a lot of time trying to figure out “how I should feel”, “what I should wear”, “what I’m going to say”…… & never get it quite right, because it’s artificial. Of course, if we’re being run by our WIC, we don’t know who we are or how to relate from a place of empowerment, so it’s very hard to be healthy and safe at the same time

Some of us decide at the beginning of a relationship (potential friend or lover) what kind it’s going to be, without having enough information about the other person or giving it enough time to develop organically.
We may think: “THIS ONE IS :peopel labels
• just going to be a friendship
• just for sex
• isn’t going to last
• just casual
• permanent  / ‘the one’
• the one I can’t live without
• I’ll hate forever”……

Again, we’re trying to control the outcome & be prepared for the inevitable abandonment we expect.  Preconceived notions may –
• actually create a self-fulfilling prophecy of loss because we prevented it from growing into something positive
• shock us with unexpected results, if we have illusions about it
• severely disappoint all unrealistic expectations
• occasionally surprise us by turning into something better than hoped for

Because we were so often hurt as a child, we conclude that for the rest of our lives everyone** will inevitably do us harm, sooner or later.  So we assume the worst of anyone we meet, men & women, although some of us may be more afraid of one gender than another, depending on which parent was more paranoidconsistently damaging or crueler.

• We actually scan our environment for the potential danger we’re sure is there & – of course – we find it.
• We ALSO ignore all the neutral or positive people & things around us, so we can maintain our ‘story’ that “The whole world is dangerous”, in order to validate our childhood trauma

** This is our reaction even with people who have consistently proven to treat us well, making it hard to benefit from anyone who can be there for us – in healthy ways

d. OVER-TRUSTING (recent post)
Everyone tells us about themselves, subtly or not, yet we ignore all the unhealthy things we hear & experience in people we ‘need’, staying too long at the party & getting trampled. Then wonder why we can’t trust!

NEXT: Patterns of Mistrust (Part 2)

ACoA CONCLUSIONS re. Painful Events (Part 2a)


– & I hate everyone!


5 POSTS: Emotional abuse

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

 THINKING (cont)
💦 It’s ALL ME (victim)

🔩 IT’S ALL THEM – Perpetrators
THEY are crazy, mean, unfair, stupid, stupid, stupid!

NOTE : Parts 1 a-b & 2 a-c are about what ACoAs THINK, when having a painful run-in with someone. Depending on the type of Ts (thoughts / beliefs / assumptions / judgements), how we behave tells us which specific but disowned emotions are triggered – anger, paranoia, fear or counter-phobia (between green & pink)

🔻 Being a “Perpetrator” is not always about committing a crime, domestic abuse or sexual assault. It can show up as being a “negative downer, passive-aggressive , withholding ….”, & often comes in the form of “blaming-the victim”, as many of othinling re eventsur parents did – which is emotionally assaultive

When telling our parents about being mistreated in the neighborhood, at school, a boyfriend, a boss…. we heard : “So, what did you do?” Their cruelty enraged us, but set the model for becoming a blamer as well

The Co-dependent Triangle – Victim. Perpetrator. Rescuer,
(stay away, or push away or connect by placating)

Every ACoA can switch between them at a moment’s notice – depending on the person or situation, but some live in one role more than the others

🔩 IT’S ALL THEM  crazy, mean, unfair, stupid, stupid, stupid!
⚙️Our Core emotion is ANGER

In the ‘CONCLUSIONS’ category, the opposite reactions to Victim is expressed by the overtly rageful ACoAs. These attack anything & anyone we think have hurt us, whether real or not, because we can’t bear to take any responsibility for our T.E.A.s!

We passionately believe all our troubles are always other people’s fault – no matter how minor or unimportant the situation – & not just occasionally, as everyone sometimes feels, but as a life-pattern
Carl is having a bad week. His computer isn’t working right & he can’t figure it out.  He gets an unexpected bill in the mail, & there’s no hot water.  He makes it to an interview for a gig but the club owner never shows, & to top it off, someone cuts him off on the way home.

He’s in a rage! He storms around, yelling at anyone who gets in his way. He’s so upset that he drives too fast & almost gets in an accident! “That @%!! incompetent  Â؈ÒÏ! I can’t believe the stupidity! They shouldn’t be allowed to live”…!

•Yes, S— happens – often out of our control, although not every day! But Ragers can’t bear to ever feel powerless, so we use the defense of Blaming all our pain on others. It does not mean we should be blaming ourselves.

This approach to life is just as narcissistic as the Victims’ – “Everything is about me” – just from opposite poles. Both types are convinced we’re the butt of a cosmic joke, the universe is the cause of our suffering, dedicated to preventing us from being happy or getting our most fundamental needs met – to be loved & feel safe.

While the overtly fearful ACoAs believe they have caused every tragedy, the obviously angry ones feel victimized & totally blameless. They step on other people’s feelings & barely notice. They complain, complain, complain – not an a whiney way, but with criticism, cynicism, judgement, & sarcasm.

Their general attitude is:
• Nothing is my fault or responsibility
• Nothing matters but MY needs, opinions & feelings
• Everything & everyone is doing / not doing – something – TO me.
• Everyone (but me) is weak & stupid!
• Every delay, disappointment, flaw, mistake… from others, is disrespectful & a personal affront

EXPs: • You’re always — . You never —-
• Everyone’s so ignorant – I can’t have a decent conversation
• This place is too small. I just can’t stand it
• Look at that ugly dress. How can she show her face?
• What a lousy movie & waste of my time
• This food is awful – send it back! & the waiters are so lazy
• Look at that stupid driver. Get off the road!
• That’s HOW much? That’s outrageous
• Going there was a waste of my money ….

NEXT: CONCLUSIONS – Paranoia (2b)


Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 5.24.34 PM 

life is full of pain

PREVIOUS: What just happened – 30 Qs



1. EVENT – the Stimulus (Green Oval)
Growing up with emotional & physical stress, we became hyper-alert to our environment, developing big antennae to catch even a whiff of dangerdoor slam

Early sources:  Being awake late, even on school nights, waiting anxiously to hear what state dad was in coming home – how did the car sound, how hard was the front door slammed, how heavy were the footsteps, which room was he going into…?

Was there going to be a fight – yelling, hitting – or worse, a ‘visit’ to your bed…?  trying to sleep with one foot on the floor, hating mornings, knowing you’d be a mess at school the next day, as usual being constantly worried…..

This constant pressure has left many of us with only 2 options:
⚠️ Vagueness: the ACoAs who seem to be so out-to-lunch that you wouldn’t think they are actually over-attentive. It’s why they need to be flaky, because internally they’re under overwhelming tension, but it’s split off from their own awareness –  (dissociation)
♨️ Hyper-vigilance: other ACoAs are noticeably anxious, worried, controlling, touchy, always looking around, easily taking offense (sitting with their back to any available wall!) – waiting to be attacked by others
🌀 Some of the paranoia comes from having a BadParent camera over one shoulder, constantly judging everything we say, do, think & feel

We’re still so focused on the possibility of being abused &/or abandoned – again – that we either isolate too much, are belligerent & difficult, or super people-pleaCause & Effectsers.
So every Event that upsets, hurts, disappoints & scares us becomes a cause for emotional drama

Approaches to EVENTS
CO-DEPENDENCE: disturbing situations are a challenge for the Rescuer to throw all their energy into fixing – the other person or event
COUNTER-PHOBIA: at the other extreme, we look for the most dangerous, drama-filled events to get involved with, ignoring/ denying / swallowing the pain it causes us

ISOLATION / Victim: having been hurt by so many people & events, we starve ourselves of potential benefits in the world, instead of ‘healing & dealing’

 the assumption is that the ‘universe’ (everyone & everything) is deliberately targeting us, to cause our suffering. We ignore all the good things in our life, OR explain them away as an accident, a fake / scam or “they’re just being polite”
/ Victim:  we feel blamed for everything that goes wrong, which we agree with. It causes great anxiety & constant anger, but we don’t try to correct it

EXP of ‘Events’ = YOU are :
• having lunch with a group of casual friends & new acquaintances.  Everyone seems easily engaged in conversation with their neighbors, & almost no-one has talked to you the whole time
•  walking down the hall at work, & yet again Georgia doesn’t acknowledge you
• trying to cross a busy street & just then a cab turns the corner, almost hitting you
• going for an interview & do your best, but you’re not called back
• a new members of a long-standing group, out for coffee with them after a meeting. On the way, they all pair up, talking to each other, but no one walks with you – you’re all alone at the back of the ‘line’

➼ Any of these may create a painful reaction in us. Our observation of the occurrence is accurate – they really did happen.  However – they triggering familiar cognitive distortions, which make the event more disturbing. That’s where we go off the rails.

‘EVENTS’ can be:
a. Neutral / mild: everyday situations that are not really bad, like – someone in the subway bumping into you, not getting that text you’re waiting for, a delivery being late….
b. Mild / bothersome: occasional annoyances that may or may not be aimed at you, like a rude salesman, your boss angry at you, getting a ticket, your child having trouble with a neighbor……
c. Severe: really painful encounters, like – a parent ignoring you or being cruel, a big fight with a BFF or spouse, your child getting arrested because of drugs….

• Each category will test our ‘mental health quotient’ – how realistic or distorted our thinking is, which will then govern how we act.

NEXT: Noticing painful events (Part 2)