ACoAs: Deserving vs. Rights (Part 1)

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to get the love I want


SEE posts: Self-Hate & ACoAs” and
People should treat me better, but….”

SITE: Tips for restructuring life in recovery


DEFINITION of ‘Deserving’ *
— To be given something / to have earned as a right / be entitled to / worthy of – something good or bad, based on one’s actions
— OR: receiving a benefit because of the qualities one already has, something one has a right to by birth, or are qualified for
* It always carries a sense of balance or justice.

1. The PROBLEM of NOT deserving
a. Family
In dysfunctional families ‘deserving’ ONLY refers to earning & our family did not feel worthy, rigidly held in place by low self-esteem (S-H), depression, a deprivation mentality & lack of love.
b. ‘Spiritual’
Many religions teach us to feel ashamed, guilty & unworthy. Rigid non-Bible teachings instill guilt & control by fear, and anyone from a fundamentalist faith was taught that because we were born in sin “we are not worthy” of God’s love, period.  We are bad, bad, bad! This dogma is used as a way to control & discipline children, & keep the ‘faithful’ in line.

✶ What is being left out of this teaching is the KEY to the
salvationmessage: that God has given the world many gifts, first & foremost salvation from eternal separation from Him in the afterlife, in spite of our imperfections. We did not and cannot EARN grace or any of life’s benefits & beauty – they are simply here for us to enjoy & partake of! The meaning of ‘grace’ is unmerited favor! You may be interested in reading all the lyrics to “Amazing Grace”,  a universally beloved song even by the non-religious (“A Bridge to Life & Bible verses)

— Some of us no longer consciously agree with the concept of original sin, BUT, whatever our personal belief is now – as long as we live our lives from the assumption that we don’t deserve good things, we’re agreeing with an introjected bad voice that still has us trapped in a culture which has perverted the complete & accurate meaning of the spiritual teaching
— Some of us were not raised in any specific faith, so our sense of unworthiness would have developed mainly from unhappy & cruel interactions with parents & community. 


ACoAs often say we feel UNdeserving of all kinds of things:
• we were taught by our religion & our family that asking for what we want & need is ‘selfish, sinful, arrogant, childish’…..
• we were discouraged from improving ourselves beyond what our parents are or have accomplished, as if it would somehow diminish them (show them up). Actually, healthy parents (& some immigrants) want the opposite – for their kids to do better than themselves & be the very best they are capable of!

• other people (sometimes even our siblings) were clearly allowed to have good things – but not us, especially if we were scapegoated in our family
• many of us don’t even deserve to be alive, which we concluded —
— indirectly by being constantly put down & criticized
— directly from the messages about how they felt:  “You’ll be the death of me yet”, “Why did I have to have a kid like you”, “I never wanted kids anyway”, “You’re killing your mother/ father” , “You ruined my life”….

• be ourselves, have clear & strong opinions
• feel safe, respect as a person & for our opinion
• have all of our emotions, without judgement
• be competent, functional, clever, visible
• have & maintain our boundaries, say ‘no!’
• be talented, funny, creative, imaginative, intuitive
• be center stage, shine, get attention, admiration, recognition, complements

• make mistakes, not know or be good at everything,
• not like everything & even hate some thingsJagel_Action-Reaction
• have fun, relaxation, vacations, ‘veg time’
• take care of our needs, be self motivating
• object to all forms of mistreatment
• not rescue or people-please
• be healthy, clear thinking, emotionally sane, sober
• maintain our boundaries, say ‘no!’….

Since these are things which no child can earn (the adults either are capable or not capable of providing, which has nothing to do with the child) it means we were given love conditionally, if at all : “do what we want, be what we want – then you’re ok, then you’ll deserve our love & attention”. But no matter how hard we tired to please our parents, we could never deserve – what is every child’s birthright – just for being here!  This left us in a double bind & ultimately hopeless.

NEXT: ‘Deserving’ (cont) vs. Having Rights (Part 2)


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