I’M GONNA HIDE –
no, I’m gonna fix ‘em, or I could convince them…
PREVIOUS: Negative ReACTions to Events – intro
See post : “Fear is the Absence of Love”
3. ACTIONS (cont)
a. FEARFUL Reactions to painful events
What makes us so scared? No matter what our style of reaction is, most of our fear is housed in the WIC ego state, which was accumulated in childhood & which has not yet been cleaned out. So when we encounter an ‘event’ that touches that deep well of pain, we regress to our younger self – & react the way we did as kids
• Be Mute – this is probably the most common for ACoAs. When we’re scared, the thinking part of the brain (frontal cortex) shuts down, temporarily. When the perceived danger is passed, the ‘computer’ lights up again. That’s why we only think of what to say AFTER the event – when it may be too late to respond. Whenever it is possible, it’s perfectly ok to go back to that person later to ask what they meant, or to stand up for ourselves – but we rarely do. We just obsess about what we should have said & hate ourselves for being ‘weak’.
• Withdraw – we’re so hurt by some person or situation that all we can do is pull away – permanently – instead of speaking up for ourselves. It may have been caused by a company, a teacher, a friend…. This would be ok if the decision came from the Adult part of us – as a self-caring decision to stay away from bad places/ people. But for many ACoAs, the WIC is in charge of our decision, only focused on not getting re-wounded by putting up a wall!
• Isolate – this is more than just withdrawing from a particular person or place. It’s about hiding out like a wounded creature to lick it’s wounds. We’ve been abused for so long – first at home & then by spending too much time with the wrong people – that damaged ACoAs aren’t as self-repairing as many animals. If we have weak boundaries, a lot of S-H, cognitive distortion & depression — we stay in our cave & never want to come out. If we do, & then someone steps on our toes – again – we scuttle back in & hide for another decade!
• Justify / Over-explain – our second favorite reaction to someone attacking giving us a hard time OR catches us in a mistake, is trying to justify ourselves – which no one wants to hear! The situation causes so much S-H or anxiety that the WIC part has to convince the other person that we’re not so bad, that they got it all wrong, that we couldn’t help it, what we really meant was…. So we over-explain, making a fool of ourselves! This is NOT the same as our Adult part being assertive by correcting a misunderstanding or stopping an abuse.
• People-Please – many ACoAs are profoundly co-dependent. We depend on how others perceive us to give us an identity. So if someone is distant, self-centered or angry – we think it means something bad about us! We’ll do anything to win them over. If they seem to like us we’ll do anything to keep them from changing their mind!
EXP: Jose had a habit of being verbally abusive whenever he felt hurt. Skyia finally broke up with him after he threatened to beat her up for going to school in another state & leaving him behind. Then he kept calling & texting, alternately begging her to come back or blaming her for making him so depressed that he landed in the hospital! She hated the disgusting names he was calling her, but at the same time felt so guilty for doing what she needed to, that she sent him $1,000!
✶ Many ACoAs have some form of anxiety disorder (intense undifferentiated fear), as a result of natural sensitivity PLUS being survivors of incest, physical abuse, emotional torture & neglect…. which combine to make it hard for us to cope under pressure and around people who are impatient &/or demanding. SO – we need to be extra gentle with ourselves but never give up!
NEXT: Negative ReACTions (Anger)