I CAN ALWAYS THINK OF WHAT TO SAY
after they walk away!
PREVIOUS : ACoAs & Emotions (Part 1)
The 3 Laws of an alcoholic family system: “Don’t Talk, Don’t Think, Don’t Feel” & the ‘greatest’ of them is – the last one!
WHY DO WE HATE having emotions sooo much?:
• we expect to be made fun of, ignored or physically punished for expressing them (“I’ll give you something to cry about!”)
• we were taught that Es are unacceptable (either specific ones or all) and we want to be ‘good’, obeying family rules as a sign of loyalty & love
• some ACoAs want to stay connected to a particular parent by copying their resistance or inability to feel
• others are determined to be the exact opposite of a dramatic or emotionally out-of-control parent
• we were never taught the healthy way to identify & deal with our Es when they surfaced, so we’re convinced they’re ‘drown’ us
• MOST of ALL – we were never comforted when in pain & had no way to process our Es, so they accumulated in our unconscious, & now we’re terrified of opening ‘Pandora’s Box’
ACoAs are notoriously slow to catch how we feel emotionally – having a delayed reaction to all kinds of encounters & events, pleasurable or not. We may not realize them for a few days, weeks, even years!
We do have feelings about everything, but we:
• learned early in life to deny having our Es
• have become so numb we don’t consciously know what our Es are
• have such negative beliefs about actually having Es
• are afraid to feel too much, because the WIC thinks it will kill us
• never learned how to deal with uncomfortable or unacceptable Es
ACoAs IRONY: On the one hand we are shut down, especially regarding childhood Es, on the other hand we have intense emotional reactions (have a melt down, blow up, fall apart, get suicidal…) usually to what people say or how they act towards or around us. The 2 extremes are inextricably linked:
• The more we have to sit on ALL painful Es, the more they get backed up & then Vesuvius blows
• since we’re not allowed to actually have Es, we can’t admit to having them (too ashamed), so we can’t really feel them. Then HOW can we possibly process the pain, anger, sadness, loneliness, terror….? to get them out, sharing them, getting comfort & understanding???
REMINDER: Without the option of experiencing & expressing Es – we either shut down most or all of them, or at the other extreme, frequently over-react. And boy do we hate being told the latter, because we think it means:
• we’re being told we don’t have a right to be upset
• that we caused our own problem, & so deserve to be punished, belittled, not respected
• that the hurtful person or situation is being let off the hook, so we’ll never get fairness or revenge
NONE of those are the case. Since “If it’s hysterical, it’s historical”, whenever our Es are out of proportion to an unpleasant current event, all we need to do is acknowledge that an unhealed wound is being ‘bumped’ up against. AND getting so upset by other people’s words & deeds means we’re still taking things personally! This is obviously:
• coming from the WIC, who thinks we’re still powerless to stop being controlled & abused
• a clear indicator of the particular button that’s being pushed in us, which is useful info to cut thru denial & help with growth. THEN – with we can use the awareness to validate the kid’s pain as we get another glimpse into our past suffering, & stop blaming ourselves for our loneliness & grief
EXP: You’re in the middle of working on a project & someone keeps trying to control how you’re doing it. You get angrier & angrier*, since you interpret their ‘directions’ as proof that you’re not doing it right & therefore aren’t good enough – not just your work but as a person!
✶ If you get that this anger is simply S-H, & your kid desperately needs a hug & a mental course correction, then you have the opportunity to work on modifying the CD of Perfectionism, which is very corrosive! Much of the anger will dissipate even if the other person is still being a big pain!
• Instead of just raging at the other person (in your head) & wanting to smash their face in, ask: “What does this angry reaction tell me about myself?” It may be that you still believe you’re so unworthy just as you are that you have to be perfect, to compensate, BUT because you can’t be, you resent being exposed as a failure, which means you’ll never be loved!
• Yes, we are responsible for our behavior & the attitude we bring
to our life. But we also need to remember that HOW people treat us is ALWAYS telling us about them. When it’s insensitive or mean it’s coming their inner PP &/or WIC (very few have a L.P. even when they have a functioning H.A.) In any case, their reactions to us tell us about their inner world, not our outer behavior. We are not the cause of their reaction, so we don’t have to take responsibility for or try to fix it, whether we are acting out of a sane or damaged place.
NEXT: ACoAs & Es (Part 3)