Previous: Symbiosis & ACoAs
WHAT IS IT?
In it’s simplest form: honestly admitting, to ourselves, first of all, what we feel, think & have done – or – not. (T.E.A. – pg 54 from SiteMap). And if possible, acknowledge these without judgment, without shame, without guilt. MOST of ALL – without self-hate.
a. To ourselves – ACoAs are well-known for NOT:
• taking care of ourselves – body, living space, appearance
• acknowledging the damage done to us, & getting the right help
• standing up for our rights, proving for our own needs
• using our inborn talents & not contributing our best to society
• general ‘anorexia’– under-earning, bad relationships, isolation…
b. To others – ACoAs abandon others:
• by not considering their rights and emotions, from being so focused on our pain & trying to protect ourselves
• by our narcissism, idealizing, constant criticism, being controlling, etc. (See 3 posts on: “How ACoAs Abandon Others”
In Recovery Programs, people use the 12 Steps of AA as a guide to personal growth, in part by taking responsibility:
Step 4: Made a searching & fearless moral inventory of ourselves
Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves & to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
Step 9: Made direct amends to such people (we had harmed) whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory, & when we were wrong,
a. Toward Others:
ACoAs were trained from birth to only focus on others instead of ourselves. We never learned to ‘keep the focus on yourself” which is another way to say – be responsible for our own T-thoughts, E-emotions & A-actions.
So we spend all our time, talents & effort on:
• ‘fixing/taking care of other people’s needs, wants, demands & troubles
• trying to figure out what others want us to be, how we can please them, why they don’t like us & how to fix that…
For the ‘full monty’ on this, see the posts on ‘Rescuing’, and ‘Healthy Helping’
b. About Us: Over-disclosure
✶ Comment on Step 9: A much neglected part is at the end: ‘’…except when to do so…” Sometimes telling an aggrieved person what we’ve done or said is not a responsible action & will only do everyone harm.
EXP: A husband loves his wife & kids, & doesn’t want to lose them, but is nevertheless unfaithful. He’s filled with guilt, & tries to stop, but doesn’t; he wants to tell his wife, but knows for sure that if he does, she’ll leave.
i. Some unhealthy reasons to tell her would be:
• to stop his immediate anxiety about ‘being bad’, so he doesn’t have to deal with his emotional pain
• a fantasy hope that she’ll forgive & let him stay (so he can then ‘get away with it’ AND be absolved)
• a need to be punished, no matter the consequences to everyone (he doesn’t really deserve to be part of a loving family)
• a wish for his wife to be his watch dog (use her as the controlling mother) – because he doesn’t really want to stop acting out, but may do so to be the ‘good boy’, or, maybe keep acting out as a form of rebellion
ii. Some responsible things for him to do:
• identify childhood issues & self-hate, which motivate the cheating
• deal with this in therapy & with the support of a Recovery Program be genuinely willing to correct his ways (disloyalty is a character defect)
• be able to handle his emotional distress in a more appropriate way (not dump it at his wife’s feet so she could make him feel better – NOT.)
✶ Comment on Step 10: This is often misused by ACoAs in the service of perpetuating our self-hate — seeing everything we do as wrong (sorry, sorry, sorry!), which is NOT what it says. Rather: “…and, when we were wrong…” which is not all of the time.
ACoAs think that telling everyone they meet ALL their flaws, trauma & problems, in great detail, is being honest & responsible. NOT.
That compulsion is actually:
• SELF-HATE, which says: I’m so bad, worthless, unlovable & a fuck up
that I can never do anything right AND I have to let everyone know that I know, so they don’t think I have an arrogant bone in my body
• LACK of BOUNDARIES – not having any sense of appropriateness as to who, what, where and how to tell about our damage. One woman used to say all in one breath: ”Hi, I’m Mary, I was raped!”
• FEAR OF ABANDONMENT – ACoAs default position is that: “ I will be abandoned sooner or later, without fail – so why not get it over with before I get too attached to someone. I’ll tell them about all my flaws so they won’t be shocked & disgusted and leave me later, when they
NEXT: Responsibility – Health (Part 2)