I NEVER GOT WHAT I NEEDED –
so now I force it out of others!
PREVIOUS: Satir’s COMPUTER Role
BOOK: Confessions of an Abandoned Child ~ Curtrina Pharr
REMINDER: Go to Acronym PAGE for abbrev.
ABANDONMENT (A.) as SOURCE of Control Issues
• To understand getting controlled or acting controlling, we have to know the underpinnings. Both are caused by our original abandonment experiences. In common usage, a person is said to be A. when someone physically leaves us – moving away, a break-up, divorce, long or repeated hospitalizations, death…..
However, based on ACoA experience we know this definition is too limited. When we observe little kids – ours or others – we notice how very needy they are. This is perfectly normal, in spite of what we ACoAs were told growing up = that we were too much, too selfish, a bother, too sensitive, dramatic …. We got the clear message that at best we were being tolerated!
• A broader & more accurate definition of Abandonment is: “Not getting enough of our needs met in childhood”. This includes all needs on each of the 4 levels of PMES – Physical, Mental, Emotional & Spiritual. We can also say that A. is not being loved unconditionally, with the resulting loss of genuine connection so crucial to a child’s sense of well-being & safety.
• Picture all children as having 100 different needs in each of the PMES categories (total 400 – an arbitrary number, as an example). Then consider the reality that in a severely dysfunctional family each kid only gets a small percentage of those needs met – just enough to survive. Of course some of us got more, while others didn’t even get that much & have died too young as a result! Depending on birth order, gender & astro-sign*, different siblings received differing amounts in each category. But over all, let’s say that we were only provided with 30 – 40% of our normal human needs – when we were the most fragile & in need of great care.
*Whether we believe in the value/legitimacy of astrological signs – or not – children are very often favored because their ‘native personality’ is similar to the parent, or rejected by the narcissists because the child was not like them! This will clearly show up in astro-charts.
Exp: A Gemini father who incested each of his children (total of 5 boys & girls) was slightly less abusive towards the one child who was also a Gemini. This son is the only sibling who was able to forge a decent life for himself (becoming a doctor), but not without emotional scars. All the others became addicts, severe under-achievers &/or criminals.
• Every need that consistently goes unmet – is ignored, or worse yet, punished – creates intense fear and shame in children. Total dependence on their caretakers make them very vulnerable, so too much deprivation will feel life-threatening, & in some cases is! The longer the lack continues throughout childhood, the more the terror & helplessness grow. With no validation & nowhere to process the emotional pain, it all goes underground & slowly eats away at us. Toxic Beliefs then get ingrained : “I’m not allowed to want anything and I’ll never get what I need – ever!”, “Don’t FEEL!” and “Being close is dangerous”!
• When we combine these Toxic Beliefs with a great backlog of unmet needs we’re left with an overwhelming desperation to be ‘fed’ by someone, anyone – along with the deep hopelessness of it ever happening. Pretending we don’t have needs or suppressing our awareness of them does not make them go away. So we push them into our ‘shadow’*, which is made up of all those parts we believe to be so awful that we have to deny their very existence. Only filling needs will diminish them, like eating stops the feeling of physical hunger, but in both cases the needs come back & have to be regularly replenished.
SHADOW* – In Jungian psychology the shadow aspect is a part of the unconscious mind consisting of repressed weaknesses, instincts & shortcomings…. “Everyone carries a shadow,” Jung wrote, “and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is. It may be (in part) one’s link to more primitive animal instincts, which are superseded during early childhood by the conscious mind” (Jung-Myers Model + A Case Study & chart)
*Combining our Toxic Beliefs with a great backlog of unmet needs has left us with an overwhelming desperation to be ‘fed’ by someone, anyone – along with the deep hopelessness of it ever happening. Pretending we don’t have needs, or suppressing our awareness of them does not make them go away. So they get pushed into our ‘shadow’, made up of all those parts we believe to be too awful to admit to. Only filling needs diminishes them, like eating stops the feeling of physical hunger – but in both cases, the needs come back & have to be regularly replenished. Ignoring them just weakens us.
➼ Unfortunately for us, ACoAs not only relegate our ‘unpleasant’ aspects (such as the ‘7 Deadly Sins’) to the shadow side BUT also many of our good qualities – parts of ourselves that were not allowed in our family! We become terrified of these aspects & actively do anything to keep them at bay, using a wide variety of defenses & addictions. The more we suppress those legitimate needs the more anxiety builds up. Sooner or later they leak out or erupt in distorted ways, like being clingy, invisible, manipulative, irresponsible, vague, needy….. AND/ OR
controlling, mean, demanding, domineering, promiscuous, pushy…
IRONY: The more we deny our legitimate needs and natural qualities – the needier (& meaner) we get!
NEXT: Controlling & A. (Part 2)