ACoAs – Set GOALS to MEET NEEDS (Part 1b)

lots of ideas 

PREVIOUS: Getting needs met (1a)

SITE:Understanding Self-Sabotage


1. GOALS (cont.)

Needs – review ACoAs Manipulating Self & Others – #1
In order for us to get our needs met we must first identify what those are, have internal permission to pursue them, & then search out & use as many resources as are available to us to take care of ourselves. We can not wait for or depend on others to meet our needs – others are only supposed to be support & company on our life’s journey – not substitute parents!

While we may not always know what we want to do “when we grow up”, taking any positive action can get our engine started – especially if the activities are things we have been interested in since childhood but never pursued. Taking a class or joining a ‘topics’ group (such as in MeetUp) may lead us to new ideas, possibilities & friends or mentors. Setting goals is a fundamental part of getting our needs met, first the cognitive component (idea), managing our anxiety (emotions), & then taking the necessary actions. (T.E.A.)

Most ACoAs either :no needs for WIC
— have great difficulty making decisions – we aren’t allowed to know or admit what we really need & want, can’t afford to risk making a mistake lest we get punished, & we want to avoid being disappointed yet again
— OR make them impulsively, without considering the results – the possible consequences to ourselves or others – also based on childhood brain-washing.

• So many of our childhood needs were not met – correctly – which left us with the clear message that we’re not supposed to want or need anything for ourselves! Even if we did get some Physical ones (roof, food, clothes, schooling….) – which was a plus & allowed us to survive – the good things were undermined by all the neglect & abuse in the other PMES categories, especially Emotional. And for many of us even the P category was contaminated by beatings, incest, lack of basic provisions….

• This damaging background has created a great dilemma for us, a double bind that keeps many of us stuck:
a. we’re not allowed to have needs, especially emotional ones, BUT
b. we still have them ALL – can’t get rid of them no matter how hard we try to ignore & suppress them!
EXP: As mentioned in another post, a newcomer to Al-Anon figured out in a 4th-Step meeting that her belief was: “My biggest character defect is my need for love!” WHY? because she grew up feeling unloved, yet still desperately longed for it. Wasn’t it foolish to want something she was sure she had no right to & would never get?  (See “Unrealistic Expectations”)

what goals?• To have deliberate, conscious goals is not easy for many ACoAs – even for those of us who’ve achieved some success in career, yet subtly recreate the family patterns in both work & personal life.

Our experience in childhood was of endless ‘sameness’ – the same drinking, the same unfairness, the same neglect, the same loneliness, the same terror…..
Ironically, most ACoAs are best at what we like to do the least!

As Adults we’re still trapped in the hopelessness of ever being able to reach our TRUE goals, whatever they may be. For many of us, the idea of possibilities was not part of the mental vocabulary in our family:
— we didn’t have the option of using our imagination for ourselves, except maybe as a way to escape the pain we were constantly in, AND
— we used our creativity to figure out ways to keep our parents, siblings, mates, children… from total self-destruction

This makes it imperative to remember “I know what I know”, since we have our own native wisdom! The Healthy Child has always known a great many things which never got acknowledged or have been too painful to remember. So now the Good Parent can listen to our still small voice, & help redirect the decision process to get the best results. See RIGHTS & Self-esteem

Robert Sharma’s 5 Steps for Goal Setting
1. Celebrate: write down – in detail – things you’ve done in the past year you can appreciate yourself for. What are your big as well as small achievements?

2. Education // 3. Clarification  // 4. Graduation // 5. Visualization

NEXT: Goals to meet needs  (1c)

ACoAs & Being DISAPPOINTED (Part 1)

empty promises I CAN’T TRUST ANYONE
I’ve been disappointed too often

PREVIOUS: Anxiety & T.E.A. #3

Overcoming Disappointment
• “
How to Cope with Disappointment

QUOTES: “Longed for him. Got him. Shit.” ― Margaret Atwood

“Disappointment is a sort of bankruptcy of a soul that expends too much in hope & expectation.” ― Eric Hoffer

DEF: The feeling of dissatisfaction that follows the failure of expectations or hopes to manifest, with the focus on the outcome, rather than the poor choices one may have made that got one there (regret)

• Decision Analysis studies many different topics, including Disappointment – its causes, impact & degree to which individual decisions are motivated by a desire to avoid it.

FROM the Regret & Disappointment Scale: “The emotion most frequently studied by decision theorists is regret, the counter-factual thoughts that create our emotions – when realizing or imagining we would have had a better outcome if we’d decided differently.

Regret depends on choice or behavior-focused counter-factual** thoughts, its intensity varying in relation to the availability of counter-factual alternatives.”
**Counterfactual thinking is what we say about a past that didn’t happen the way we wished: ‘If only I had… What if it hadn’t….”

Psychologists & economists have been investigating the relationship between regret & choice since the early 1980’s…… The emotion of disappointment is also based on counter-factual thinking: We feel disappointment when we find ourselves wishing that events had turned out better for us.

Although regret and disappointment are different emotions, they’re both generated by comparing “What is” with “What might have been”.(MORE….)

ACoAs have very intense reactions to being disappointed (D) – either outright rage OR deep depression, depending on the strength & importance of the need.
This to be such a big issue for ACoAs, which tells us how constant & overwhelming our disappointments were as kids – first & foremost in our parents, & then in everyone else who let us down.

• We needed them to be there for us, encourage, guide, protect, validate, mirror, love…. & they either did these things sporadically, incompetently or not at all.
Constant, endless disappointment in our caretakers (also teachers, relatives, baby sitters…) has left us with a very big wound. It’s one of many wounds – & some of us have buried it so deep, we don’t evedisapponted catn recognize it when it happens again in the present.

To be disappointed one must:
1. have a need (desire, wish, dream, hope….)
We may not even know we have a particular need or wish, because we were not allowed to have them, or if we did we were told in many ways, over & over – that they were not legitimate, were selfish, were dumb….

2. expect that need to be met. Since we’re not allowed to have them, we become unaware that they’re always in the background. Because they’re never met – they never go away! We still have them, just by virtue of being alive.
For many of us, the greater a specific need, the more desperate we become – often because we’re waiting for someone else to do something for us we should be doing for ourselves or can learn how to.

3. not get that need met : We can track the need by the intensity of our reactions when we don’t get something we (unconsciously) hoped for, asked for or demanded.

EXPECTATIONS (Review posts – Over and Under)
No matter which form it takes, expecting others to fill our empty heart & mind, instead of being pro-active, means:Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 10.13.44 PM
• the WIC is still running our life, waiting to find the ‘right’ parent – magically – so we don’t have to care for ourselves
• we’re functioning from our narcissism – always coming from the point of view that “Everything is about me!”.
This assumption was not true about the abuse we grew up with, & it’s not true about what people do to us & around us – now.
We know this because when WE change, in Recovery, those same behaviors in others seem to bother us a great deal less!
ARTICLE: “Managing Negative Expectations” w/ chart

❥ HUMOR from Grant Snider


NEXT: ACoAs & Disappointment – Part 2

Anger – TRIGGERS (Part 1)


that can set me off!

Negative Uses (#2)




Trigger + our point of view about it + our temperament = anger (but not always or for everyone)
Our Anger reaction to PPT is usually a combination of internal & external factors. Sometimes external events that bother us are actually positive or neutral, but because of internal damage (WIC & PP) we automatically get angry.  EXP – for ACoAs:
√ being accused WRONGLY enrages us
√ being accused RIGHTLY terrifies us (& then we get angry & defensive)

• While there are legitimate reasons for reacting, under the anger are ‘sensitive’ emotions we may not want to admit to, such as loneliness, need, loss, abandonment pain, fear, sadness….. making us feel too vulnerable.
Everyone has triggers, based on our personality & childhood experiences. Anyone interested in personal growth will need to identify our specific buttons, to better manage verbal & physical responses. (Iceberg)

1. INTERNAL Triggers
⛈Emotionally, the Big-3 inevitable triggers – are:
HURT – our feelings, our integrity, an important loss, an insult to anyone / anything we love…..
• SCARED – Physical or emotional danger
EXP: Man on bike with little son on the back almost gets side-swiped by a bus, making him yell & hit the bus with his fist
FRUSTRATED – whenever someone /thing blocks us from reaching a goal (big or small), especially if it’s over a long time

⭐️ Our own PERSONALITY – as mentioned elsewhere, genetics plays a part in our temperament. Some are more easily revved up when something goes wrong for them. (Enneagram 8s, certain astrological combinations…..)

🌈 EXPECTATIONS – too High or unrealistic (re. others)
Expectations held as demands usually create low-frustration threshold, leading to inappropriate anger-expressions, such as:
√ a tendency to lecture people on how they ‘should’ / ‘should not’ behave
√ a deeply rooted belief that our circumstances & people ‘have to / need to’ be exactly as we want (MORE….)

🌁 DISTORTIONS – cognitive  (CDs) & Toxic Beliefs S-H
such as : awfulizing, blaming, discomfort-intolerance, mind-reading, filtering, perfectionism….. at best will lead to disappointment & frustration, at worst to Self-Hate & rage.
False beliefs cause anxiety, & sometimes aggression, in an effort to ward off perceived threats to our well-being OR self-image

CDs cause us to misinterpret facts, events, or other people’s actions as threats to achieving our goals, or as attacks on our dignity, rules or property. This ends in wrong conclusions, leading to self-defeating reactions (DRAWING)

⚡️IMPULSIVENESS (poor emotional control)
While some of us are naturally more ‘sensitive’ than others, impulsive reactions can usually be traced back to our WIC, filled with anxiety from past trauma. The more anxiety, the more likely it gets expressed as bursts of anger.
Some only let it out around people we’re close too, others only toward strangers. But the fact that it’s an instantaneous over-reaction tells us the Amygdala is in charge, not the Cortex. That’s why it’s considered psychologically immature.

🔥ANGER CYCLE – unhealthy responses to events which hurt, frustrate of scare us :
1. Trigger – a  loss, words, actions or anything that will set off anger
2. Internal Reaction – pain, letting us know that something’s ‘wrong’

3. Intensification –  a chemical flush released in the brain, with heart rate & breathing dramatically increased.
This gives people a reason to justify how they’re feeling, but most of the time anger is from our distorted thinking.

4. External Barrier Break – Some obvious signs of anger can be clearly seen by others, such as crying, angry gestures, shouting….
5. Explosive Peak – a verbally &/or physically violent expression of anger. Dangerous to others, but also to ourself – by saying or doing things we may not really mean but will get ourself in trouble

6. Exhaustion & Withdrawal – when the anger / rage had died down or dissipated, & there may be self-judgment
7. Final Stage
a. Remorse & Apology – realizing their over-reaction, some people when seeing their error will apologize for an outburst –
b. Intense Justification – others (especially narcissists) will not admit they’ve done/said anything wrong, & find a ‘good’ reason for their behavior, including blaming others for causing their upset

REPEAT the above pattern – Whether one is a chronic or occasional rager, without Pattern Correction, this cycle will continue. (From DAMBREAKER)
(⬆️ Anger Cycle chart from extensive ClinMed article)

NEXT: Anger triggers (Part 2)

ACoAs UNDER-Trusting (Part 1)

one eye open 

you never know where danger lurks!

PREVIOUS: OVER-Trusting (Part 2)

REVIEW post: ‘What is Shame


= Suspicion, SO lack of trust rests in ourselves,
by not using our intuition, observation, experience….  which causes a general sense of unease toward someone or something, but without proof (yet) —
• when you have no reason to think someone will do the wrong thing, but you don’t have a reason to trust them either
• OR: a person or situation seem questionable, if you intuition is picking up a hint from their words, action or manner
• OR: there’s actually no reason to be suspicious, so your mistrust is not deserved

DISTRUST = Certainty, SO the lack of trust rests in ‘them
• when you have good reason to not trust someone based on your experiences with them, usually more than once
• are given reliable information about someone or something which lets you know they’re not safe / trustworthy

AS ADULTS (cont.) – UNDER-Trusting
The way we think & react emotionally to how others behave – not paranoideven necessarily toward us – has a direct impact on our lack of trust (our Ts – CDs and Es – FoA).  It’s usually based on a combination of all our unhappy past adult relationships, but mainly those with our parents .

This can easily lead to a subtle, underlying paranoia that colors everything. What’s necessary for mental health & peace of mind is to see & understand who people are individually & not lump them together as all bad or unsafe.

REALITY: We incorrectly ‘mistrust’ some people who —
•  are simply not interested in us – nothing personal – we’re just not a good fit, or they’re caught up in their own little world
•  really are insensitive, mean or otherwise unavailable, which hurts
•  are just taking care of themselves instead of focusing on us – at the moment, so it feels like they’re turning their back, because we’re expecting them to be the good Inner Parent as our comforter & companion

Without a Healthy Adult ego-state the WIC we can’t tell the difference between these 3 groups – so when disappointed, we regress into that old ‘slough of despair” (Pilgrim’s Progress), where “all is cloudy, hopeless & no one is ‘good’!”

a. Abandonment (too many PMES losses)cling /rejected
In spite of the fact that we were raised by untrustworthy people & we still long to be taken care of, as adults WE —
— continue to cling to people, places & situations (PPT) which do not have to the inherent capacity to provide even our most basic human needs, much less compensate for all we missed out on in childhood.

The combined of old & new deprivation adds up, which can be deadly to us & to those around us. The less we’re treated with respect —> the more abandoned we feel —-> the more wounded we get —-> the more demanding the WIC becomes —> getting angrier & angrier.

When this core button is pushed we may use familiar character defects:
• withdraw, sulk, withhold          • be paranoid & accusatory
• get controlling & micromanage     • be clingy & desperatefreaked out

AND when our anxiety reaches a level of hysteria. we can’t stop ourselves from making a painful situation worse, setting others up to fight with or withdraw from us, increasing our sense of loss & mistrust.
Then we say “I knew it all along – no one is there for me!” even tho in some cases we contributed to it

b. Self-Hate – As a result of original abandonment, WE:
Internally: • don’t know who we are, fundamentally
• can’t identify most our needs (even the basic, normal human ones) much less havwrongEllie the right to get them met
• are convinced we don’t deserve to be treated well, so don’t notice or reject anyone who is actually capable of being kind
• don’t trust our own knowledge, experience & observations

Externally: • we stay too long with unhealthy people
• don’t trust that anyone will ever be able or willing to help us
THEN – we say “I hate everyone, no one likes me, I don’t belong anywhere”….

NEXT: Under-Trusting (Part 2)

Unrealistic Expectations – UNDER


I can really ask for what I need AND get it?

PREVIOUS: Unrealistic Expectations – OVER #2

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

IRONY (see last 2 posts)
There are many things ACoAs do not expect WHICH WE SHOULD!  In reality…
… we all need images (dreams, goals) of that is possible for us, which are supposed to be formed in childhood, by watching our family accomplish their goals, & thru school, friends, books, TV…
… without those images (possibilities) – we don’t have something ‘concrete’ to work towards, using process.  Goals have to start with a mental picture of what we want to accomplish or receive, in order for us to pursue them.

But for ACoAs – Some have dreams, but they’re not allowed
We know what we’d like to do, when we “grow up” – but are just too scared to go for it.  What IF : I’m not good enough, I fall flat on my face, I don’t have the talent, I can’t follow thru, or mess it up some other way… AND the PP is saying “Who do you think you are, anyway?

OR, we don’t think we have any dreams

We’re so beaten down by the traumas of childhood we don’t even dare picture what we might try for. We can’t go after anything that would be important to us – we just drift & do whatever we fall into. We can’t imagine having our dreams come true.

➼ ACoAs UNDER-EXPECT basic human rights, which were denied us as kids. NOW we can look for appropriate treatment from everyone. We know that not everyone is capable, so it’s important to “Stick with the winners”!  We need to keep away from, or severely limit, our contact with people who are too damaged to treat us with at least a minimum of courtesy. Not everyone will like or love us. That’s normal. But we can gravitate towards those who will!

So, we have a RIGHT to EXPECTbe safe
a. The right to BE here
• to heal from our childhood damage
• to get the help we need in any situation
• to have as full a life as possible
• to be safe in the world & to be comfortable in our skin
• to have our own dreams, to follow them & be successful
• to get to know ourselves, thoroughly & like who we are

b. The right to be WHO we are
• to be happy, feel pleasure, be drama-freehave fun
• to express our creativity, in whatever form
• to have a safe, loving Higher Power
• to have a full support system, for healing and for fun
• to be part of a community of our peers
• to be acknowledged for our innate abilities, our learned skills & our actual achievements

We have a RIGHT to EXPECT –

2. FROM OTHER PEOPLE, that they:comforting
a. treat us with respect  (not use us!)
• able to listen to us, be present, be thoughtful
• are ok with all our emotions (crying, anger, joy…)
• take us seriously – not make fun of us, dismiss us in any way
• tell the truth (not lie), be forthcoming
• talk to us as adults, at the very least with civility

b. have (some) mental health
• sobriety: chemical, mental & emotional (but not perfect)
• not be physically & menchurch-familytally abusive
• have their own money, living space, career/ work they like…
• capable of intimacy, honesty, enjoyment
• have a spiritual belief (if it’s important to us)
• know how to act in public, be sociable (not withdrawn)
• have decent boundaries, know how to communicate

c. have the capacity to love (already)be accepted
• be supportive, encouraging, helpful
see the real us, value who we are
• able to commit to us, but not be symbiotic
• be loyal, sexually faithful
• admire us without being jealous
• want the best for us, even if they don’t agree or understand

These are only SOME of the things we SHOULD EXPECT!

REMINDER: In order to believe this & go for it, ACoAs need to imperfectly have:  • greatly reduced self-hate  • developed a rapport with our wounded AND healthy child aspects  •  decent boundaries • a good support system • major detachment from the bad parent voice in our head!

NEXT: ACoAs & RISK – Intro #1

Unrealistic Expectations – OVER (Part 2)


you don’t know what I need?

PREVIOUS: Unrealistic Expectations (Part 1)

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

REVIEW post: “Symbiosis & ACoAs


What ACoAs SHOULD NOT expect…. (cont)
A. ….of OURSELVES (cont.)
(1. Unrealistic Recovery beliefs – Part 1)

2. Staying Attached : WE WANT to stay connected to even the most abusive family members & believe it’s our fault when that never seems to work out in our favor
• many ACoAs still have the illusion that if only we are perfect, ‘good’, successful, smart, care-taking of them…. enough – our addicted, self-centered, self-hating, severely damaged parents or substitutes (spouse, boss, adult-child….) will finally accept & love us just the way we are – so we never have to let go & grow up (love ourselves)barren tree

• even the smartest of us may harbor a secret hope that one day our parents &/or siblings will ‘get well / ‘see the light’… for themselves. We want them to get better, because we know they’re suffering, BUT we also want it for them so we can stay connected

• some of us have a parent who does eventually enter AA, & may become less abusive in some ways – but unless they also do at least some FoO work, their narcissism still shows, so they’re not going to be the parent we always wanted

• we’re so desperate to get their approval we refuse to see how incapable of love many of them really are – especially if they throw us a crumb once in a while.  Walking away or pulling back from such people entails “Crumb withdrawal”!
• when they hurt us yet again, we either suck it up & use our own addictions to numb the pain OR we turn it completely on ourselves & become depressed, non-functioning & suicidal – for some time after any encounter with them

B. ….of OTHERS
1. Be Rescued: WE WANT too much from others, which is the WIC’s demand that somebody make up for what we didn’t get from our parents. Yes, demand. We know this because of the hurt & rage that comes up when we don’t get the care & attention we so desperate long for – but rarely verbalize. The bigger the disappointment, the greater the helpless rage
• This seems obvious with Compliers, by hooking up with Rescuer ACoAs, who will do way too much for the ‘poor helpless victims’, so we don’t have to ASK

• It’s less obvious with Isolators, who don’t seem to need much, if anything. They have the same longing, if not more so, but are even more afraid & filled with shame to let anyone see how weak & needy they are. So they keep ‘starving’.
And waiting – for a miracle – which they think they don’t deserve anyway, & don’t really believe will ever come. But they still wait – instead of getting some of what they need for themselves

• Even harder to see is that Rescuers also want to be rescued. They’re not allowed to be given to either, but under all their care-taking is the intense demand they secretly have of the rescuee: “Pay me back for all the hard work I’ve put into you…make me feel appreciated, capable, loved, needed, smart, valued  … and most of all – get well so you can take care of ME!”

2. Symbiosis: WE WANT / expect others to treat us the way we would treat them (a symbiotic wish) – as if everyone is our identical twin. ACoAs will often say things like:
• “But, I would never do that to them!”
• “I don’t understand how she could have said that?!”
• “They can’t really be that dumb/ mean / selfish/ careless…”
• “I don’t understand how she could not like that!”symbiosis

• So what? They are not us! It should be obvious, but clearly it isn’t: that they have separate bodies, separate experiences, separate minds, separate tastes … so why do we still expect them to be like us?!
• When we think that way we’re reacting the same way our parents treated us – as extensions of themselves, rather than as separate beings. That’s our narcissism.

NEXT: Unrealistic – OVER #3

Unrealistic Expectations – OVER (Part 1)


After all, reality bites, doesn’t it?

PREVIOUS: THEIR Attitudes – #5

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.


POINT 1: Basically – ACoAs concluded that we can’t be anything, can’t have anything, can’t get anywhere! From years of suffering, a deep part of us gave up early in life: “What’s the use, I should be dead anyway”.

➼ A reminder about Abuse & Abandonment (A/A)
• Coming from THEM: A/A may or may not have been deliberate but was very real – not imagined, & the effects last a lifetime.  We got all sorts of abused – things that no child should ever have to endure!

• For US to deal with: Because A/A happened on all 4 PMES levels – Physical, Emotional, Mental, Spiritual, & not just about someone going away, we have to work on healing each one, from going to the bathroom to our relationship with a H.P.

POINT 2: As a result –  ACoAs want everything done for us – equally true for the Hero as for the Lost Child.
Experiencing so much hurt & loss as kids – we want it to be made up to us, one way or another. To compensate, we hang on to the magical thinking of a child, having ‘great expectations’ of life & people, which is not just wishful thinking but a raging need, including the absolute conviction / expectation / assumption – about how of a date, event, relationship, meeting… should turn out – or we’ll die!

• On the surface we say: “I don’t know how, I’m not allowed, it’s too hard …” but the real, real truth – deeply buried – is that we don’t want to take care of ourselves.  If our family didn’t do it for us, then we’re not going to do it for ourselves now! (But we will do it for others). So there! We’ve suffered enough so we’re understandably resentful & petulant. We want ours!

What ACoAs SHOULD NOT expect….
While having wildly unrealistic expectations (U.E.) of others, we can start by seeing how off center ours are for ourselves:
• Being the victim – that because we were abused as children, we don’t have to be responsible for ourselves or forge a life of our own

Our narcissism – that we have the power to always make things go our way, AND that who others victimare or what they want doesn’t really count – if it gets in the way of our needs!
Most ACoAs, especially Rescuers, would never admit this, at least not out loud

• “Fairness” – that if we make enough of an effort (perfect), we’ll definitely & automatically get a payoff!
• Instant gratification – that when we have to wait for anything – we’re confused. After all, we did our part. And if the wait is too long, we despair, assuming it means NO, never

1. Unrealistic Recovery beliefs:
a. WE WANT to be ‘better’ fast – as in NOW. Some want it to be magic – recovery without having to do the hard work

. We WANT magic: if we just work hard enough, we’ll overcome all damage – as if we were never wounded at all!  When that never seems to happen, or Recovery is soooo slow – we become discouraged & worse – defeated, then give up.
• Reality : some damage can heal completely, some things will be a lot less troubling & some things may never go away – but we can manage them, with self-compassion!

c. WE WANT to well enough so that :
• our character defects will vanish (I’ll never be angry again / I’ll never date that kind of person again / I’ll never feel that bad again”…..
• we’ll never again be hurt or effected by other people’s insensitivity & abuses, especially from our family – at all, ever again!

🎹 However – Health is a combination:
• Some unhealthy things which others do will bother us less, especially if we have a lot less self-hate & much better boundaries
• BUT many abuses or abandonments we were numb to or ignorant of before – will absolutely no longer be acceptable. Bad behavior & bad energy will become so uncomfortable to be around that we won’t tolerate it

NEXT: Unrealistic Expectations – OVER (Part 2

What is EMOTIONAL Abuse? (Part 3)

what’s really going on!

PREVIOUS: What is E. A.? (#2)

SEE ACRONYM Page for abbrev.


TYPES of EMOTIONAL ABUSE (E.A.) (cont.)  (P. = Perpetrator  /   V. = Victim)

EMOTIONALLY HARMFUL Statements we may have heard growing up:
• ‘SPS’ (self-praise stinks)  • Now I’ve seen everything! (you’re weird)
• Wake up & die right!    •  You’re just like your mother / father – yuck!
• You’ve always been too sensitive, too dramatic, too much

• After all I have done for you!    • Prove that you love me
• You think you’re so smart, but you’re not   • What’s wrong with you is _____
• You’re too smart for your own britches…..  • Shut up, you brat!

• Don’t tell anyone about _____ (sexual or physical abuse)   • You asked for it!
• You’re just a big baby!   • You’ll never amount to anything
• What would you know about that?    •  Who do you think you are?

• If you don’t like it, you can leave    • Do as I say, not as I do   • Look ashamed!stop crying
• I’m going to leave you at the orphanage
• I’m doing — for your own good   • That’s your problem
• What makes you an authority on that?

• Stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about
• You’re such a disappointment… I don’t know where I went wrong
• What yours is mine & what’s mine is nobody’s business!

• Yes, dad’s the head of the house, but I’m the neck that turns the head!
• Yes I heard about your marriage. How did you get such a nice girl/guy?

ALSO, tell outright lies about us, and shameful or embarrassing stories about us & repeated to anyone & everyone

** Def : deliberately trying to hurt someone, at any level (PMES). The receiver of the aggression may not be the actual target, like kicking the dog when you’re mad at your boss. NOT assertiveness, which is standing up for ones rights without intent to harm.

Naturally, this list is only a fraction of what people are capable of – a guide to help us think about what we may still be putting up with, without realizing.

a. Direct & obvious. Perps usually have an angry, attacking attitude
• use one-up parent-to-child communications, infantilizing you
• make you one-down to them by judging & invalidating you, undermining the equality & autonomy essential to healthy adult relationships
• use name-calling, accusations, blaming, threatening, & ordering around

b. Indirect – 
• are often disguised as “helping”- BUT are actually critical, ‘fixing you’, giving unsolicited advise, analyzing you, questioning your tastes & decisions
•  use the implied judgmental tone of “I know best” – to belittle, control, or demean, rather than support your growth & development

c. Threaten
• to leave, any time they don’t like something – but doesn’t go
• to take the kids, the car, the house…  • to stop paying for important necessities
• to hit or do other harm, but don’t follow thruScreen Shot 2015-07-15 at 2.51.42 PM• to commit suicide (& it will be your fault), but never do

d. Verbal assaults – they

• berate, belittle, criticize, name call
• scream, threaten you physically
• constantly blame, use sarcasm & humiliation
• blow your flaws out of proportion, harping on them
• make fun of you, any time, & in front of others
e. Dominating

• railroad discussions, talk over you, won’t give you room to respond…. so you don’t have time to identify what’s wrong with what they’re saying or doing
• if they’re verbally clever, they’ll make their point seem perfectly logical even tho they’re twisting everything in their favor, using CDs

DIRECT – they
• want to control your every action, to have their own way – and will resort to threats & verbal attacks to get it
• smash, throw, deface or cut up personal or household itemsscared
• give away or throw your things out without discussion or permission

f. Emotional Blackmail – they
• play on your fear, guilt, compassion, values, weaknesses or other “hot buttons” to get what they want
• threaten to end the relationship, totally reject or abandon you, ignore or use other fear tactics to control you, unless you give in
• draw you in by being nice, then unpredictably say something cruel, or pushe you away, disgusted

NEXT: Direct Abusers

ACoA CONCLUSIONS re. Painful Events (Part 1a)

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I can’t get anything right

PREVIOUSNoticing Painful Events  (Part 2)

REVIEW posts : “What just happened

REMINDER: See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

1. EVENTS – the Stimulus

Here is another use of T.E.A. (Thought, Emotions & Actions ). The middle circle (in pink) is about how we mentally (Ts) assess or try to explain any event that’s upsetting.
🙄 A common reaction is to ‘be in our head“, endlessly obsessing, without ever understanding the situation (T) or resolving it appropriately (A).
REMEMBER – “crazy” is mental (what we think / believe), not emotional

Most ACoAs grow up convinced we’re crazy!  We say we feel crazy, or that we’re going crazy, or we afraid of being crazy.
Well, most ACoAs are NOT, but we came to believe it because – while our emotions & observations told us that a lot was seriously wrong with family, school, church….
the grown-ups kept telling us our opinions were way off base, & anyway we were the problemCause & Effect

Reminder: ‘Painful events’ may be situations that :
a. are accidental, because people are just busy or preoccupied
b. we run into in the course of everyday living (rudeness, ignorance, delays…)
c. are genuinely insulting, shaming or otherwise abusive

We can instantly react (As), out of our conscious control  = yelling, sulking, blaming….. or just spend all our time worrying.
If we pay attention, those reactions will give us an idea of what we’re actually thinking.
HINT – that the painful event is :
💦ONLY /all about ME, & we’re the Victim (V), creating FEAR , OR
🔩ONLY /all about the OTHER person, as Perpetrator (P), creating our ANGER

💦 IT’S ALL ME – It’s my fault, I’m bad, dumb, weak, lazy….
• Whenever ACoAs experience a painful event or loss we try to make sense of it. The WIC always thinks they’re the source or cause – that we should have been able to prevent it.
The Adult in us may know this is not true. Others are also not in control of every outcome, but they are responsible for their beliefs, decisions & actions (not us), whether they acknowledge it or not

EXP:  It’s sad to think of JFK Jr. – his very bad decision to fly with a broken leg, without a co-pilot or auto-pilot, in predicted bad weather – ended in disaster. Accident? Yes, but his unwise choices contributed.

• ALL ACoAs start out from this premise (Self-Hate) & then layer it over with a variety of defenses. When something doesn’t work out, or someone hurts us / ignores us / leaves us…. we try to analyze what we did wrong & how we can fix it. We obsess for days, sometimes years about a painful situation, always from self-blame.

➼ Unhealed ACoAs have a wide streak of narcissism – mainly in the form of: EVERYTHING IS ABOUT ME!  but you may be saying “What, it’s not??”
It’s our default position, & continues as long as the WIC is in charge of our life.

EXP:  Extrovert Maria is in a night-school computer class with 6 other adults, 5 men & one other woman. Maria glances at her several times, hoping to connect, but the woman blatantly ignores her. Maria’s not just disappointed, she’s hurt. There’s a pain in her gut: “Nobody likes me!”

EXP:  Felicia was in great distress. She’d invited her family to visit her at college, so they drove down to see her. On their way another car plowed into them, causing a huge accident & her brother was killed. That was enough of a heart breaker – but her CD added to it. She kept saying: ”If only I hadn’t asked them to visit, he’d still be alive!” – tortured by thinking she has that kind of power

REALITY: There are times when we have made a wrong choice, but self-abuse does not help us learn from the error or improve our options in the future. S-H is a lie & therefore SELF-DEFEATING. It’s based on a false sense of power, but it’s still false.

Once the UNIT kicks in, that perspective greatly diminishes. There’s a big difference between believing we’re responsible for everything (grandiosity) vs being appropriately responsible for our T.E.A.s



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they’re not who I thought they were!

PREVIOUS: How ACoAs abandon others (3b)

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

• sets up the idealized person or event to fail, because no one / no situation can fulfill our unrealistic expectations to be perfect, to make up for all our losses, to be all the things our WIC never got at home & which are still missing in our life.
• This guarantees that we’ll be disappointed, sooner or later.
Basically we’re asking them to rescue us. It’s a way of using others. We ask too much of a person or situation, which nothing can possibly live up to, even if it’s healthy!

This topic is about how we diminish others.  All ACoAs in this category are very angry, some express it by being passive-aggressive, by perpetual crankiness, or by endless whining. 
When we feel let down by our fantasy of a person – (boss, teacher, lover, friend…), or situation (marriage, job, home, party, holiday…), we flip to the opposite extreme.
This defense
often kicks in with someone/ thing new, but not exclusively. It’s about wanting to be taken care of instead of taking care of ourselves – while not having to ask!

HARSH reactions to over-valuing (idealizing ⬆️) as a ‘life-style’ – finding fault (F.F.) with every situation we don’t like, all the time.
a. Endless complaining (F.F.) can be a sure sign of narcissism (N), & comes from our needy WIC or PP, since we manage to make everything about us – somehow. Keep in mind that all wounded people have some N. in varying degrees, so do not use it for more S-H. Instead. Work on healing it

Constant complaining is part of the Victim Role, taking everything personally, assuming anything we don’t like is the ‘universe’ being against US. We ignore that there are many other reasons for things being as they are, so we discount other possibilities.

We’re always judging the ‘other’ as bad, because:
• everyone & everything always lets us down, causes us trouble, is never there for us the way we want – so f-them!
• it doesn’t fit some rigid notions of correctness from our PP, even though the original parents never lived up to those standards
• we see everyone as exactly like our family, so they must be equally bad, which scares the WIC
EXP: “I can’t stand that / it’s not good enough” means I know better, can do better….
• “They’re so stupid” means I’m superior to all you little people, and if I were doing it / running things, I would handle it much better….
• “How can they do that to me, no one ever listens to me….” means they’re not doing the job I want them to – of being the good parent

b. Projecting our S-H onto the ‘world’. If I hate myself, I’m sure everyone else does too – or will, if I give them a chance! Just like a liar or thief believes everyone else is a liar or thief, even if it’s just in their heart. So ‘I’ll hate all of you first, that way I don’t care if you hate me – I won’t get hurt anymore!’  Better to keep everyone at arm’s length than to be vulnerable.

: everything we think & feel is ONLY from our point of view (we assume no one else’s is valid) – other people’s needs don’t count, we don’t consider their limitation & don’t really want them to have boundaries, so we can be symbiotic.Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 5.39.42 PM.png

At the same time, because we’re emotionally starving, our focus is completely outside of ourselves, dependent on ‘people, places & things’ (PPT) as the source of our nourishment & for our sense of identity. They are objects, not beings. If they don’t act the way we want, we feel justified in raging at them.

(POST: People should treat me better, but I won’t let them”).

NEXT: ACoAs abandoning others #4b