OH, NO! DON’T BE UPSET!
I can’t stand it when you’re
in any kind of pain
PREVIOUS: How ACoAs abandon others (#1)
REMINDER: See ACRONYM page for abbrev.
3. REPRESSING Others’ Emotions (Es)
ACoAs are often guilty of mistreating others, in the same ways they were treated by family & other authority figures. (ACoAs website Site Map, pg. 24-26) To the degree we are still repressing our Es, we try to suppress the Es of others. Many of us can’t tolerate anyone in emotional pain or going thru a hard time, especially if we care about them. Expressed BY:
a. Assuming – being sure we know how someone is feeling, emotionally – without asking, OR not believing what they tell us they’re experiencing & then insisting that we know better (what nerve!)
EXP: At a wedding celebration, Sam saw cousin Annie sitting alone, arms crossed, withdrawn, & assumed she was angry. Not bothering to check what she was really feeling, he started lecturing her about her unsociability, how inappropriate her attitude was, & that she was bringing everyone down … when actually she was deeply sad, feeling lonely & missing her ex!
EXP: When I cried intensely at my father’s funeral service, a relative accusingly told me I was ‘fragile’ – as if that made me weak & therefore unacceptable (I know they were punished for crying, as a child). Actually, I always feel clearer & stronger after letting out some pain – it’s a strength, not a weakness!
OR, a variation:
Deciding we ‘absolutely know’ someone is angry at us, or jealous of us, or upset with us in some other way – of course, without checking – and then obsess about it, gossip to others, worry, prepare a defense or rebuttal, avoiding them OR confronting / attacking them…
• our assumption may only be a projection of our own S-H & FoA
• OR, we did pick up some vibe from them (ACoAs always have their antennae out for trouble or rejection) but what the other person was really feeling was not what we thought!
EXP: In a therapy sessions, if I express strong convictions about certain topics (like abuse coming from the introject or from self-hate), or if I’m not smiling or being light-hearted – it is often misunderstood by a client as my being angry – at them. NOT! I’m just indicating how serious something is.
OR, another variation:
• not being able to tolerate anyone who is happy & doing well, so we’ll –
EITHER: create dysfunctional situations for others, to keep the chaos & misery going that we’re condition to feel as ‘normal’
OR: get consistently enraged & abusive or withholding & silent, whenever they express enjoyment, happiness, excitement, peacefulness…to make them feel bad (again) – to be like us
b. Arguing – acting out a pattern of anger & fights with someone
close (mate, child, friend, loved parent…) when it’s time to separate,
even for a few days.
• First: fighting, saying cruel or stupid things & then doubling the abandonment
• by later denying or underplaying it all — thereby negating the pain we caused & the other person’s real experience.
This is to keep us from feeling our own abandonment pain, which hurts and would make us feel vulnerable. Being angry –
• gives us a sense of power & makes the ‘bad feelings’ an easier way to leave BUT
• it’s dishonest & disrespectful to ourselves & the other person BTW – even tho’ we can’t technically abandon another adult, the term is always used here to express the emotional experience of ‘not being there’ for others.
c. Negating – directly discounting someone’s E. experience:
— “You don’t really feel that way”// “Don’t feel like that”
— “Don’t say that” // “That’s no way talk”
— “That’s not a nice thing to say”….
EXP: When telling a religious friend at a conference about the ongoing pain from her childhood trauma, Jen was told: “You shouldn’t feel that way!”.
Fortunately Jen had been in Al-Anon long enough to respond: “Well, I don’t ‘should’ on myself!”, smiled & walked away.
NEXT: How we Abandon others (#2b)