‘Controlling’ & Abandonment (Part 3)

whisper control 

she didn’t even look at me today

PREVIOUS: Controlling & Abandonment (#2)

REVIEW posts: “Noticing Painful Events

SITE: Over-controlling Parents Irritate Adult Children

Our PARENTS still control our thought & emotions now if we:
• are afraid to express our true E. & opinions around them
• get tense even thinking about being around them. Want to reduce contact with them or sever it all together – but feel guilty & afraid
• FEEL: intimidated or belittled by how they treat us
— confused by their mixed messages & double binds
— feel disloyal when we act or feel differently than what they want
— easily annoyed or impatient with them without knowing why
• find it hard to be emotionally separate from them (feel their Es for them, care too much, assume you know what they need…)
• spend time or talk to them more from obligation than choice

RESULTS of being over-controlled as a child, we:
• expect everyone to hurt, judge or take advantage of us
• feel chronically empty or numb inside, easily bored, restless
• frantically try to avoid real or imagined abandonment – by clinging, people-pleasing, being invisible….
• are intimidated by or feel enraged at controlling people
• experience temporary dissociation (splitting), disconnecting from self

Mentally / Socially
• feel like we’re always under scrutiny – even when alone
scrutinized• are a perfectionist, driven, rarely satisfied – especially with ourselves
• keep ourselves isolated from shame & so ‘no one can hurt or leave’ us
• lose ourselves in relationships by only considering others’ needs
• over- & then under-value people we get too close to
• find it hard to relax, laugh or be spontaneous

Emotionally / Spiritually
• mood swings not caused by bipolar disease
• inappropriate & intense anger; difficulty controlling temper
• trouble asserting ourselves or feeling proud of our accomplishments
• trouble finding a spiritual belief, or one that feels right

Mentally / Behaviorally
• chronic obsessive thoughts, going ‘round & ‘round without solutions
• confused or distorted self-image: “Who am I really?” , “What do I really look like?” (feel ugly, fat, too thin too short….)
• harsh “inner critics” that torture you, especially after a loss
• impulsivity – can’t control your choices & reactions
• paranoid thinking – as a regular way of experiencing others
• compulsive self-damaging behaviors in 2 or more areas of life, such as an eating disorder, addictions, fights, under-achieving….
• recurring suicidal thoughts or actions

Present-day CAUSES of ‘Abandonment’* PAIN 
• Abusive mate, adult-child, boss, friend, elderly parent
• Loss of a real or imagined beloved person, animal, thing or place
• Unkind or threatening communications (in any form)
• Unfair or abusive political & social laws, policies, rules
• Inaccurate, harsh, judgmental & prejudicial religious beliefs & leaders….
✶ Technically, adults cannot be abandoned, unless they’re physically or mentally incapacitated, so the term mainly applies to children.

BLAMING: In the present ACoAs often accuse other adults of abandoning us, when we feel hurt by some interaction or loss.  What we’re actually experiencing is our WIC’s OLD A. pain, which is still held in our mind & body. It is usually out of proportion to what’s actually happening now. Naturally there are real-life situations that make us sad, frustrated, angry… but unless an event is extreme, such as the death of a close loved one, a life-threatening attack or illness, a fire… most of the situations we encounter that push our A. button don’t warrant the intensity of our reaction.  “If it’s hysterical, it’s historical”.

When others A. us: if someone we very much want to be with doesn’t call or write right back – we can get very angry at them for not responding, immediately. We feel as devastated as if they had threatened to take away our livelihood or our home, which are NOT equivalent to being ignored or put off. Yet we get just as scared & blame ourselves, & then try to control them to stop our pain.

When we Abandon others: We also have great FoA when we aren’t perfect. Talking too much, asking questions, expressing strong emotions with someone – or standing up for ourselves! – is NOT equivalent to attacking them, yet ACoAs can feel the same intense anxiety & self-hate as if we had!  So we try to control ourselves (not the same as being in control of ourselves) to stave off being abused &/or left.

EXP: A breakup or other loss can leave an ACoA feeling self-hate, depression, despair, even being suicidal.  While breakups are almost always emotionally stressful, healthy people don’t fall into such a deep hole when it happens to them.  ACoAs not only take the loss personally – “I’m not good enough to be loved”, “I’ll never be loved like that again” …. but the current situation taps into that acid-filled well, so we experience 2 different levels at the same time: the intensity of our WIC’s accumulated old hurts & the recent real or projected loss. The combination can be devastating.

NEXT: ACoAs Getting Controlled (Part 1)


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