IT’S TOTALLY UP TO ME
to make everyone happy!
Anger characteristics #10
REMINDER: See ACRONYM page for abbrev.
WHAT IS IT?
In it’s simplest form: Responsibility is about honestly admitting, to ourselves first, what we feel, think & have done – or – not on all 4 PMES levels. To be legitimate (healthy), taking responsibility (R) acknowledges our reality, without judgment, without shame, without guilt. MOST of ALL – without self-hate. This includes our flaws & our gifts. “I cannot tell a lie – I chopped down the apple tree”. George Washington. (See T.E.A. – Thoughts, Emotions, Actions )
ORIGIN in childhood, of our aversion to TRUE responsibility
1. “I tied to fix them so they’d be OK”
GOALs: — To stop parents from suffering & make them happier, AND
— To make them ‘well’ so they would stop hurting us, and take care of us – the way all children need
2. “I failed to make them better so my pain would stop”
REASON our efforts failed:
— No child should be put in the position of having to try healing their parents’ wounds
— No one can help another person to improve themselves & their life it they can’t or are stubbornly unwilling to do the ‘work’ required to change – much less ‘fix’ them
3. “I’ll always fail at everything I do, so I won’t try anymore”
DISTORTION: — It’s natural for children to assume they have power over their circumstances which they in fact do not have. This is normal childhood narcissism.
— Our family, & often other adults, were unable or unwilling to take the burden of responsibility off of the children’s shoulders. Indeed, in many cases they actually dumped that weight on us, adding to our sense of obligation
Re. #1 – TRIED: We were forced to be responsible (R) for our unhappy angry, crazy, drunk parents, & sometimes our siblings. Many of us had to be the ‘designated adult’ even when we were very little, because of their incompetence, selfishness & addictions. We got the RULE loud & clear “Everyone else’s needs are more important than mine”.
— We understood early on that they couldn’t cope, so we had to be R. or ourselves, to not ‘bother them’, to be self-sufficient
— We felt a great burden to fix their problems, make them feel better, to give them what they wanted – even when it was presented in the form of Double Messages.
— We were R. for doing whatever they wanted, how they wanted it, yet having to figure it out by ourselves
— We saw how irresponsible one of them was, & swore to never be like that, OR grew up with an over-R. parent, which we copied
Re. #2 – FAILED: No matter how hard we tried we never were able to make a genuine improvement in our parents. This was devastating to us, because we needed them to be mentally sane (T), & emotionally stable (E) & consistently dependable (A).
As kids we desperately wanted to stop hurting, AND get our needs met. So we made every effort to please them & minimize the damage they could do us, but nothing worked.
Our failure left us with 2 conflicting states:
— Hating ourselves: We concluded that something was profoundly wrong with US – we weren’t smart enough, attractive enough, perfect enough
— Hating them: We did/do if fact love our parents very much – no matter how they treated us. However, years of abuse & neglect took their toll, building & building our helpless rage, which we had to deny (Read “So the Witch Won’t Eat Me: Fantasy and the Child’s Fear of Infanticide” Dorothy Block)
Re. #3 – HOPELESS: Children who were ineffective in stopping the abuse & improving their lot at home assumed it was because of a lack in themselves. If they failed as such a basic goal – of getting their needs met inside the family – then there is no way they would be able to positive influence anyone outside of the family. This is one of the many CD (cognitive distortions) common to children from dysfunctional families. They had no way of knowing know that:
— they were given an impossible task, from the very beginning, which they took on because they had no choice
— that the reason they were ineffective is exclusively because of the persistent unhealed damage in their parents, not because of any lack in themselves
NOTE: In some cases the alcoholic parent joined AA, & stopped the overt part of the dis-ease. Even so, rarely did they clean out their underlying damage (via Al-Anon & FoO work) so that their unhealed childhood wounds continued to infect the family system. And usually the non-drinking parent did not receive needed treatment either.
NEXT: Being Responsible (Part 2)