I HAVE TO BE IN LA-LA LAND
to suppress the pain
Previous: INDIRECT Abuse
REMINDER: See ACRONYM Page for abbrev.
NOTE: Most people are capable of emotional abuse (E.A.) because most people have experienced E.A. as children. Sooner or later, they treat others the way their family treated them. They act out✶ their parents, just as they act out their wounded child. Even though we too are guilty of many of these negative patterns, the focus here is on breaking out of our denial, to make us aware, as much as possible, of how & when others act badly toward us, which ACoAs have a habit of ignoring, mis-identifying or not noticing, because it’s so familiar.
✶ ACTING OUT:
a. Any compulsive behavior you don’t consciously choose but can’t seem to stop yourself from doing, or compulsively not doing….
b. …. which expresses intense emotions you’re not actually feeling at the time, but that are rumbling under the surface
• This term is usually assumed to mean overt actions, against oneself or towards others – getting drunk, starting a fight, being late for work, being promiscuous … but it just as often includes the lack of specific actions that would be good for you (like walking out on a bad date) or legitimate actions you planned on (making a call, going to a job interview), i.e. genuinely forgetting to doing something.
EXP: You’ve made an appointment with a new therapist & consciously -you’re looking forward to it. The time is on your calendar & you remind yourself of it the day before. Then you go thru the whole day without showing up for the appointment – without any awareness if it – until late that night as you’re falling asleep. “Oh No! I forgot all about it, & I really meant to go!”
• This kind of complete spacing out is short-term, but uses the same psychic mechanism as Denial, where the lack of awareness is long-term. In this exp. the ‘forgetting’ represents the WIC’s un-felt but intense FEAR of being vulnerable with a new authority/ parent figure who may or may not be safe.
✶ ✶ So in the future, when we’ve done something (or not) that seems baffling, inappropriate, even out of character, we have a little formula for figuring out why: Dig a bit into yourself to identify what emotions were hiding out of sight but desperately needed to be expressed – somehow!
BEING IN DENIAL
Denial allows us to look for & stay with abusers, is potentially life threatening, & definitely damages us psychologically!
a. As with many other psych terms ‘Denial’ is typically mis-used, in many settings, to mean: Deliberately ignoring something we know but don’t want to deal with. This is not Denial.
When people say “I just won’t think about it. I’ve put it out of my mind… ” they’re referring to ‘suppression’, which is a conscious decision. Of course, if what we’re trying to push down was traumatic, the emotional pain caused by the event will fester in its dark corner, & eventually comes out in some others form – as hidden or direct rage at others, &/or being self-destructive.
b. Actual psychological ‘Denial’ is NOT deliberate – it’s the “failure to acknowledge an unacceptable truth or emotion by not allowing it into consciousness, used as a defense mechanism”. In other words, the true meaning of Denial is that we don’t know we don’t know (something)! – either about ourselves or about someone else, even tho it may perfectly obvious to others. This ‘skill’ come from years of training in childhood, from Toxic Family Rules & our own need for emotional survival. Usually it takes a lot of work to bring up long-buried information & pain to awareness, but once in a while some life event can cause a chunk of it to shake loose & shoot to the surface like an erupting volcano, overwhelming us with panic.
• One way to counter Denial and Suppression is to carefully pay attention to what we see & hear. People tell us about themselves all the time, which we would pick up on, if only we acknowledged it. Repeatedly ignoring what’s in front of us is wounding to our sanity & our soul! But once we become aware of abusive patterns we’ll notice them everywhere – in songs, movies, our family & friends, at work…. The opposite of Denial is ‘Being in the now’, also called ‘Mindfulness’, making it easier TO:
– notice of what we’re feeling, needing, wanting, responding to, every day… AND
– keep us awake to who others are, how they act, what they’re saying…. & how we feel when we’re with them
• True – we need to be taught what to listen for watch & listening for, so having the correct information is imperative. But many times – when it’s too late & we’ve already crawled out on a limb & then fallen off, we say: “I should have known. I had a sneaking suspicion, but I just couldn’t believe it. I noticed a few things, but I thought I was just over-reacting. I didn’t think it wasn’t such a big deal. Other parts of them are so wonderful. I don’t want to be alone. I was too afraid to say anything. I didn’t want to admit it….”
✶ To stop choosing abusive people & situation OR to be able to get out of them much faster, we need both – accurate & sufficient info about harmful traits in others AND to be mentally & emotionally awake to all of our feelings – especially around certain people.
NEXT: VICTIMS – or NOT?