People Should Treat Me Better – But I Won’t Let Them

either way we lose ourself,
to stay loyal to the family

PREVIOUS: Healthy Give & Take (#2)

Posts : Double Messages / D.Binds


ACoAs have a terrible dilemma :
1. On the one hand we desperately want to be loved, acknowledged, seen, heard. We complain bitterly for years that we have to chase people down, do all the work in relationships, friends don’t come thru for us, we’re too isolated, hate being lonely, we can’t trust anyone….
You know what kids used to say: ”No one loves me, everyone hates me, I’m going to eat worms & die!” (Toxic Rules)

HOWEVER – because we’re not allowed to be loved, comfortable & comforted, happy, thriving… we chase those few who don’t want us at all, &/or are unavailable in some way, even if there was an initial attraction.  They let us know in a 1,000 ways they’re not really able to connect (their S-H & FoA), but we don’t want to deal with that info, even when we hear it!

✶ The real reason for chasing the ‘impossible dream’ is that these unavailables are parent substitutes.  Our family gave impossible dreamus messages that we were too much trouble (for them), not worth bothering with, in their way, messy, greedy, unruly pain in the a–es.
We couldn’t live with that. We had to figure out a way to win them over, to love us, if only we knew how to fix ourselves & them.  BUT we never succeeded

✶ So now, with the current unavailables, we’re determined: this time we’ll get them, this time we’ll win – if only we’re perfect & persistent enough. OY!  (“Perfectionism”)

2. On the other hand, we’re terrified of getting too much attention, are 
uncomfortable with compliments, don’t want to ‘put anyone out’, can’t accept being given to. We think (conscious or unconscious):
a. I don’t deserve good things. After all, my family didn’t like me & they knew me best. So, when anyone else gets to know me they’ll also be disgusted, & leave me. OR
b. If someone likes me, then they’re stupid, weak, needy (no one I’d want to be with) because they’re too dumb to know I’m not worth liking. OR

c. If they’repush away being nice – they’re conning me, being polite, people-pleasing, Then just when I start enjoying things they’ll leave or want something from me I don’t have.  Sooner or later the real them will show up & I’ll be disappointed – again. ALSO =

I don’t want to owe anyone – no one gives anything for free, everyone has an agenda….
e. If I admit I want to be liked & given to, then I’m the weak one, & that 
disgusts me. I’d rather be alone than be that vulnerable
f. People are just trying to control me by being nice, so they can get what they want, & make me do things their way…

ACoAs waffle back & forth between opposites – BUT only Negatives :
✶ either too alone or chase people interested in us or abuse us
✶ isolate for years or stay way too long with the wrong people
✶ hate ourselves for being too much or not enough
✶ act out Victim or Perpetrator Role (aggressor, abuser) ….
….. SO we keep hurting ourself & then find some addiction (not always a chemical) to dull the pain

STAYING in OLD PATTERN  – even WHEN we know better
✶ are loyal to family & it’s system (still think we need them)
✶ don’t want to disobey the Toxic Rules : they’re our connection to home AND we don’t want to be punished, AND if we obey them, the family will love / accept us

✶ MOST OF ALL : we don’t want to ‘get depressed’ ie. feel all that pain (sad, broken lovelonely, terror, hopeless, rage, powerless… ) about our parents not loving us the way we needed.
We knew the truth back then, but it was too much to bear & we didn’t have many options, so we stuffed it all down.

If we do give up our fantasies & false hope about the unavailables, & walk away – we may get flooded by that accumulated old pain! But once we know where it’s coming from, we can learn to manage it until it passes. “If it’s hysterical, it’s historical”

It takes quite a bit of Recovery (growing the UNIT) to tolerate feeling that are awful! & still be ok. With enough time & the right kind of support, we can go through it – knowing that it was not our fault that our family (& others) couldn’t take care of & love us.
Now it’s ok to let love in where it’s genuine, today & every day from now on.

NEXT: Resist talking the IC? – #1

Relationship FORM A. (Part 1)


I’m always dealing with some c—-p!

Healthy Adult / Loving Parent – #3

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.


ACoAs did not have good role models for communicate clearly, directly & honestly.
• We became afraid & ashamed to say what we really mean, how we feel emotionally & what we want or need. So it takes courage TO:
— practice listening to what we’re thinking (usually negative), & writing down our inner mental reactions to every aspect of our life
— have the courage to recognize, admit & verbalize our emotions – not just a few, like anxiety or annoyance, but the whole range
— hear the difference between thoughts (always sentences) & emotions (always one word for each)

IF I WERE TO LET YOU  (As)  ___________________________
I WOULD FEEL (Es) _________________________________
& I’M AFRAID of THAT, BECAUSE I BELIEVE (Ts) ____________
SO I PREVENT YOU FROM (A)_____________________________
BY (As & words (Ts) ____________________________________
even thought I’ll still end up angry & resentful (Es),  that’s
LESS SCARY than having to experience or:
a. FEEL (Es) _______________________________________
b. & DEAL WITH my (As & Ts) _____________________________

1. WHO
• You’ll need to know about T.E.A. ( thoughts, emotions, actions), to fill it in accurately. This is NOT about blame!Screen Shot 2016-06-18 at 4.10.17 AM
• For it to be most helpful, both people need be able & willing to be emotionally & mentally honest – which is not always possible

• IF YOU are dealing with someone who is shut down, hostile, defensive &/or uninterested – you may still choose to show them the filled-out form, but be clear that you will NOT get what you want

2. WHAT: This is a standard form for 2 people in any kind of personal relationship – friends, lovers, mates, siblings… A starting point, only!
It’s specifically about a possible/ probable future action of the person you’re dealing with – and your reaction to that possibility
• It does not offer a correction or shift in perspective, or a Recovery way of responding. That has to be added by you
• Part 1 & 2 give examples of how to use it.  Keep several blank copies handy, for when one of you is bugged about something

EXP 1:
IF I WERE TO LET YOU – go to the party without me
I WOULD FEEL – lost & alone
I’M AFRAID OF THAT, BECAUSE I BELIEVE – you’ll find someone else who’ll be more interesting & attractive to you
BY – making you feel guilty / starting a fight / whining / getting sick ….
EVEN THO’ I END UP FEELING guilty & selfish, that would be LESS SCARY than having to FEEL – unwanted
& DEAL WITH –  the possibility of loosing you, which feels unbearable

3. THEN: Once you’ve filled it out, you will want the other person to read & respond. However, that may not always happen. If you’re with someone who is unwilling to cooperate, that’s a clear signal for you to evaluate the relationship.

However, if the other person has read it, wait patiently for the response. It may not be a new problem between you.
Re. this EXP, DO THEY? :
✐ try to placate you by people-pleasing
✐ respond thoughtfully, kindly, without being defensive
✐ insult, belittle, yell, justify, or divert attention from the issue
✐ decide to stay home so you won’t be mad at them? …..

WAYS to COPE, no matter the outcome
Re. YOU:
• Take a moment for yourself –  Give the WIC a hug & say: “You’ll be OK, I’m here, you’re never alone.”
• Consider if your assumptions are valid or not.  Are you ‘awful-izing’, or basing it on experience & intuition?  If it’s only your WIC reacting again, take time to deal with it lovingly
• If you need help, call someone else (appropriate) to share your distress with, rather than creating drama. Go to a Al-Anon ACA or SLA Meeting. Read some comforting or spiritual material to help with the FoA. Go to a movie or to a friend’s place.

• If you can, admit your FoA to the other person (fear of abandonment) & simply state that you will feel sad & alone if they go without you. They may not be able or willing to take you along, no matter how you feel. That’s their right.

• If you are invited – but NOT out of co-dependence or guilt, then go & enjoy. If not, make an alternate plan, for something you’ll like, on your own or with friends. Always have plan B

• IF you know you’re not just being jealous, & your concern is based on ;
✐ past experience or things the other person has said (threaten to leave, insensitive to your feelings…)
✐ you’ve had a nagging feeling or the ‘icK’ factor about them for a while, but you’ve been in denial….

…. then your FoA (that they’ll find someone else) may be realistic. Consider this minor event as a signal that something deeper is wrong – they may not BE safe or suitable for you, at all! You could start looking around – yourself.
Remember: “I know what I know”!

NEXT: Form A. (Part 2) Another example

‘GETTING TO KNOW YOU’ Stages (Part 1)

I never want to let go!

‘The Relationship CONTINUUM– 8 stages

Communication Indicators of ATTACHMENT
 This series of posts deal with verbal & psychological markers of progressive attachment or dissolution, ie. moving toward or away from intimacy.  It covers all types of one-to-one relationships (friends, lovers, co-workers, additions to family…)
Each Cycle consists of INFO which is: 1. received 2. absorbed & contemplated  3. understood   4. replied to

• There are several theories about how people grow together over time, including ‘peeling the onion’ of each others’ personalities the more time we spend with them
• The NORMAL section for each level is based on the work of Mark Knapp & Anita Vangelisti (2000), from the Communication field
• For Section A there’s an additional term, in parenthesis, from the Inter-Personal Psychology field

ACTS of AFFILIATION ♥ indicated by types of Communication

1. INITIATING (Non-existent – beginning)1st level
a. Normal : With people we’re vaguely aware of – communications will be rote formulae:
“How are you?” <> “Fine, & you?” , “What’s with this weather?” <> “Too much!”

Hallmark: interest & curiosity.  If we notice someone we want to know more about – we use polite, socially appropriate statements to show interest:
“Hi my name’s George. Is this your first time here?” , “Would you like to dance?
– waiting to see how the other responds.  If it’s positive, we have time to form additional first impressions & evaluate each other.

Initial interest is governed by:
Self-concept, which includes sexual orientation, socio-economic class, race… (we rarely move toward someone too far ‘out of our league’)
Proximity, in person –  where we work, shop, live, go to school or church, MeetUps, meetings, dances… or in cyberspace, using social media, dating sites, forums, chat rooms ….
Similarity – studies show people tend to form connections with others of similar attractiveness, interest, intelligence values….

b. ACoAs –  Although some of us find it hard to initiate conversation with strangers because of fear, many ACoAs have learned to open a dialogue in similar ways, but as usual bring our own twist to it.

❄️ In any group setting, we unconsciously scan the room & without even realizing it, will be pulled to the ONE person who is the most damaged, usually angry, narcissistic, the least likely to be nice to or interested in us – another ACoA & probably an addict of some sort. We may not even have heard their voice – but we KNOW! & can’t wait to ‘make friends’ !

This is more likely to happen with Extroverts. The Introverts will also focus on that one unavailable, but at the other end of the room.

🏋🏼‍♂️ ACoAs also claim to hate the dreaded “Small Talk” in any social setting.  But that’s what this stage is all about! You’re sure you don’t know how?
Actually, our refusal to even try is:
• about our self-hate, disguised as Social Phobia (everyone is judging me!)
• and we’re bursting with complains & internal drama, so we despise chit-chat as a waste of time — too much like our shallow, drunk, distant family, who never expressed a deep thought in their life!

We want depth! Translation: just let me talk about all my aggravations & worries! & don’t bother me with trivia.
We don’t realize it’s mainly our narcissism (“see me”), which includes the belief that symbiosis is the only way to connect (be like me / stay with me), which we both long for & are terrified of.

✶✶ In early recovery one young woman decided her temporary rule was: “If I like him, he’s bad for me!” As she grew, her ‘picker’ got a lot better.

NEXT: Stages – Part 2 Experimenting, Intensifying

SITE MAP of the ACoA website


“HEAL & GROW for ACoAs”
80+ pages of great info!  

Go to,
& click on SITE MAP to navigate


Pg. 81-83 • Info, Background & Testimonials

3  • Laundry list, 12 Steps for ACoAs
4  • Unhealthy Parenting
5, 6   •  Expanded characteristics
7  •  NARCISSISTS – characteristics
8  • Cognitive Distortions, w/ examples

69, 70 • “Healthy Opposites- Change Behavior to Change Your Life”

12,13 •  Intro & 5 Bargains  (from Shakespeare’s plays)

87 • as of 7/15/10 — 16 entries

84,85 • Recovery Titles

39  •  Definition, Purpose
40, 41  •  Unhealthy Bs
42-44  •  Healthy Bs  (emotional, mental, physical)

45, 46 • Definitions; Unhealthy & Healthy

55-58 • “Knowledge is Power: What Makes an ACoA” outlines

72 •  Good  & Bad Approaches
73-74 • Extensive List of Personal Values
75-76  • Types of Decision Makers
77-79  • Decision Making Criteria (1-5)

52-54 • Brief explanations of Confusing Terms

20 • Toxic Roles: Hero, Scapegoat, Lost Child, Mascot

51 • Short & longer THINGS to SAY back to abuse or stupidity !

47 • Extensive list of emotions words
48-50 • Unhealthy & Healthy expressions/ uses of ANGER

80 • Extensive list of characteristics

9, 10 • 4 common games
11 •  4 more games, Expanded

14 – 17 • ‘Parent, Adult & Child’: Voices, Purpose, Characteristicssca0219
18, 19  • Developmental Stages, Memo from Child

86 • @ Narcissists, etc.

65, 66 • Healthy rules to take care of the Inner Child

59, 60 • What it’s NOT & what it IS
61- 63  • Mental Health & Healthy Families
64  •  Benefits of Group Therapy

23,24 • Issues & Beliefs
25-27 • Intimacy – Unhealthy & Healthy
28 • Love addiction; Power Plays
32 • LOVE – 5 languages, 5 Types
33 • TRUST – Who can, why not, How To
34 • Gay & Lesbian ACoAs
35 • M vs F ways of Responding
36 • 16 Men – by Myers-Briggs Typing
37 • Givers vs Takers

67, 68 • Affirmations, Promises, Serenity Prayer

29, 30 • Self-Diagnostic Qs

31, 32 • Survivors’ Symptoms;  Recovery

21, 22 • Long & Short versions of dysfunctional childhood rules

71 • ACoAs at Work; Healthy ways to work

NEXT: What id GUILT?


 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)

Healthy HELPING (Part 1)


As long as I take care of myself in the process

PREVIOUS: Rescuing (#2)

REVIEW: Hero Family Role 


ACoAs:  Many of us were trained from birth to be helpers, regardless of our native personality style & interests. There’s an ironic saying in recovery circles: “ACOAs are born with an MSW (Masters in Social Work) and then get their Birth Certificate later”!

• This is most common with the child who has the Hero role, which is usually the first-born in a dysfunctional family.  They’re supposed to pick up the slack where the parents leave off – being the little adult to make the family look healthier than it really is, but at the expense of the child.

• This caretaker role becomes so deeply ingrained that it’s usually carried into all of our ADULT relationships.  It requires unceasing effort for the benefit of others, instead of caring fully for ourselves. (See ‘RESCUING – False Helping’).

✦ On the other hand, there are ACoAs who, by their very nature, are meant to be in the helping or service professions, like people born with strong Water & Air Sign influences in their astrological chart – such as Pisces, Cancer (the healers), Aquarius & Gemini (the teachers).

✦ For those of us so designed, the goal is to be of genuine help to others, as a way of expressing our Highest Self – without being motivated by the toxic patters of co-dependence, self-hate, boundary invasion, fear of abandonment & over-control.

GOAL of Heathy Helping (HH): Encourage someone to take care of themselves the best way they can, in their current circumstance
OPPOSITE of making / keeping someone dependent on you!

1. OVERVIEW  – before HELPING someone, ASK:
a. What do I know about the person I may help?
• are they responsible & self-caring?
• did they ask me directly & specifically, for something?
• will they be OK with me if I can’t do what they want?

b. What exactly do they want?
• can they truly do it for themselves?
• is the request ‘clean’ (emotionally & verbally honest)?
• how many parts to the request are there, actually?
• what are the consequences/ price TO ME?

c. Can I Comply?
• am I really able to do this? (it’s not beyond my ability, OR it’s not something impossible)
• do I WANT to do it?  If ‘Yes’ – what’s my motive?
• what does it require of me – specifically?
• will I be angry if I do it, or remorseful if I don’t?
• do I want anything in return? What are my expectations?

2. Prerequisites for H.H.
a. In ME – I need to:
• be able to keep the ‘focus on myself’ – not get enmeshed with the needs & emotions of others
• have basic self-esteem, a sense of identity that not dependent on others
relaxed• have developed real boundaries, not needing to be symbiotic
• know my individual human limitations, without judgment or self-hate

• not have to use people to feel good about myself
• KNOW what’s real, in the recovery process, about:
— emotions: each person is responsible for their own, & they can learn how to managed them
— the growth process: it’s slow & has to be experienced personally
— what Mental Health is (from ACoA website)
— what can realistically be dealt with: what’s possible or not. ACoAs tend to get the Serenity Prayer backwards!

b. In THEM
✦ I can help – if they :
• are actively doing self-care, & communicating with their inner childInner Child (personal responsibility)
• actually ask for the help they want or need
• are clear about what they need (direct & specific)

• apply to their lives what I give them & use it to grow
➼ “Give a man a fish & you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish & you feed him for a lifetime.” Chinese proverb
• IF they’re truly ‘dis-abled’ in some way (ADD, PTSD, depression, illness…)

✦ I can help – as long as they DON’T :
• blame me for for that they can’t do, for things that don’t work, or for disappointing outcomes
• expect me to be perfect, know everything, take care of them
• need to suck me dry / cling, use me as a parent substitute
• try to copy my personality, instead of forming their own

NEXT: Healthy Helping, Part 2