HOW CAN A BENEFIT BE NEGATIVE?
I think you’re just messing with me!
PREVIOUS: Negative Benefits (Part 1)
REMINDER: See ACRONYM page for abbrev.
NOTE: While the focus of this topic is how our patterns hurt us – since they generate painful emotions (Es) & cause practical problems (As) – let us not forget that our Toxic Beliefs (Ts) also show up every time we interact (As) with others, hurting them as well . Continuing to protect the Negative Benefits of our defense mechanisms has an impact on every aspect of our life.
Examples: The following are some patterns of self-harm, which provide the NEGATIVE BENEFIT of not having to face & feel the truth about our upbringing:
a. to NOT have to GROW UP, be responsible
PATTERN: Many ACoAs stay isolated, severely under-earning, unloved, unproductive, living in dirty, cluttered environments, joy-less, suicidal… OR focus all their attention on taking care of others, so they can look ok, grown up & the good guy/gal, but are also depressed, full of shame, self-hate & hidden anger (see ACoAs website pg. 48)
N.B. … Rather than develop S & I and dealing with childhood trauma – which would create great anxiety, feels overwhelming & beyond our capacity or skill
b. to NOT have to face OLD PAIN (life & death)
PATTERN: A woman was forced to take care of her filthy, violent, mentally ill mother from age 10 – on. At age 45 she finally put her mother in a home & promptly developed Scleroderma as a guilt/ stress reaction. She became bed ridden, with excruciating migraines, barely able to make sense logically – although she was very intelligent & a talented artist. She spent most of her last 25 yrs isolated, depressed, in lala, almost no practical self-care, no way to express her intelligence & need for social interactions, filled with shame about every aspect of her life. She was occasionally in contact with her father who had remarried another cruel woman. When he died at age 96 – the daughter went into a rapid decline & died alone, in less than a year…
N.B. … Rather than emotionally re-experience & process the horrors of being an only child of a cruel, crazy, extremely neglectful mother & a passive, depressed father (mother left infant with souring baby bottles & soiled diapers…). Therapy helped diminish her self-hate, but she was never able to go deep enough to heal the rage, sorrow & loneliness she was holding in her body
c. to not have to feel LONELINESS / being alone
PATTERN: Many ACoAs over-work, care-taking, self-medicating with sex, social media, work…. stay in bad, even dangerous relationships, no matter how abusive. One woman stayed with her very abusive husband for 35 yrs, until he died. Instead of creating a life for herself (at 62) – she too died – 8 months later!
N.B. … Rather than face all the emotional & practical stresses of being alone, having to feel the emptiness, the old abandonment, & have to care for self & perhaps children, going to work …
d. to NOT have to TAKE CARE of oneself (wanting to BE taken care of)
PATTERN: A woman in her 50‘s developed chronic pain from an auto-immune illness.
Q. put to her: “Are you willing to give this pain up?” Inner Child answered ‘NO’ – because — being disabled was getting her taken care of, ‘legitimately’. She was tired of doing it all on her own – carrying the burden of the Hero Role. Kid wasn’t allowed to be nurtured, but this way, she could get practical help, be felt sorry for, lauded for soldiering on…
N.B. … Rather than having to continue taking care of herself, which she had to do her whole life as an only child of a cruel narcissistic mother & distant, depressed father
e. to NOT have to DISOBEY toxic FAMILY RULES
PATTERN 1: A beautiful, bright young woman, in the big city, was put under an unbearable family demand to continue rescuing her “poor, suffering mother & sisters” who had always treated her cruelly – by regularly sending them all her earning. So, she made sure to only work at menial jobs & to live on as little as possible (under-earning) which she hated, so she could ‘honestly’ say she didn’t have any $$ to send them!
N.B. … Rather than say “I’m sorry, but I can’t take care of you any more, I have to live my own life!” & then have to face her guilt & their scorn & abandonment – which had already happened, of course!
PATTERN 2: A Native American man was raised in a culture which taught that to be an active artist, one must drink. No alcohol – no creativity! No argument! He always wanted to write plays & get them published, but got deep into alcoholism. Before it could kill him, he got sober. 5 yrs later he still hadn’t ‘picked up a pen’. He was stuck, & miserable
N.B. … Rather than go against (separate from) a national culture, not just his family – but the whole tribe! Talk about abandonment!
NEXT: Negative Benefits (Part 3)