PREVIOUS: ACoAs Being VISIBLE (#1)
STAYING Invisible – In the present we have many options never available to us as kids – such as searching out people who are relatively ‘sane’ & already capable of seeing & hearing us. However, as long as the WIC is still running our emotional & mental life, it is the Ego State in charge of the picking process, so we will continue to choose friends, mates, even jobs, whose damage or incompatibility with us make us feel unsafe. This reinforces the WIC’s conviction that we should stay invisible, not just because of the unhealthy people we surround ourselves with, but because of the WIC unconscious connection to the Negative Introject (IT), which is our actual source of threat.
To our WIC, the only possible result of any kind of visibility (of our True Self) is to be in danger, convinced we’ll be subjected again – by everyone else in the world – to the same kinds of abuse we experienced growing up. So we continue to hide behind our glass walls*. In the present the WIC is convinced that “If I go for what I want:
• I’ll probably fail (I’m not prepared, I don’t know enough…)
• even if I by some miracle manage, it will be taken away
• no one will want me or what I have to offer
• no one will pay me for what I do
• I’ll be made fun of, judged, criticized
people will be jealous of me, & then attack / try to stop me”…..
*Glass walls: While we are trying to hide behind our creative facades, we do NOT really go completely unnoticed. Depending on how we function in the world, other people see various aspects of us – both our good qualities & our damage.
Background – Zoe was an only child, raised mainly by a deranged alcoholic father from the age of 5, with the ‘help’ of her grandmother (until her death) for the next 5 yrs. Joe had once been a prominent business man, who had a severe alcohol addiction, monumental self-loathing & a hatred of women. He had divorced his wife Sara as an unfit mother & bribed the judge to gain custody of Zoe.
After that Joe never allowed her any contact with her mother. As he slipped deeper into the bottle, especially after his mother own died, they ended up on welfare, with no one to help Zoe deal with his paranoia & gradual psychosis. In addition to daily torturing her with his hatred & twisted thinking, Joe also systematically poisoned Zoe against Sara with half-true ‘horror’ stories. He claimed Sara was stalking them & that if she ever got a hold of Zoe she would severely harm her.
Joe so convinced his daughter of being in mortal danger that she spent many years trying to be as invisible as possible, wearing no makeup, bland clothes & plain draggy hair – always looking over her shoulder so she wouldn’t be kidnapped.
A few years after High School & some years into weekly therapy she began attending Al-Anon meetings, where she met another beginner & they formed an instant bond – Zoe acting out of her Child’s Child ego state (very bright but naive) & Jenny from her Child’s Parent E.S. (very protective but controlling). In many ways Jenny was the opposite of Zoe – dramatic, tall, well dressed, outspoken, well-educated & traveled, with a more conventional family.
They spent most of their time talking about their background, the ways they had been damaged & Recovery. But their Inner Children also had a lot of fun playing – going places, being silly, running down the street giggling, being loud, funny & verbally clever.
The POINT: One day Jenny was reflecting on all the details of Zoe’s past & how she was still ‘hiding’ from her mother, but also from herself & the world. HOWEVER, it struck her that Zoe (at 5’5”) was not doing a very good job of it since: her boyfriend of many years was 6’8” AND she was hanging out with the flamboyant Jenny! Clearly she was extremely visible – to all but herself!
STYLES of INVISIBILITY – ACoAs start out functioning from a False Self. We obediently hide our True Self behind our Toxic Roles, the most invisible being the Lost Child, while the other 3 seem ‘out there’ but are actually protecting a secret sense of weakness, vulnerability & insecurity, which we often deny even to themselves. Based on our native personality, we can fall into different categories:
a. Some are idealistic daydreamers, going along with everything & everyone – insisting that other people are OK & everyone is ‘nice’, especially when they treat us badly. We ignore their abuses & hide our anger & hurt behind a smile. We are trying to be the ‘good boy/girl’ to not make waves.
b. others are shrinking violets, hiding our light ‘under a bushel’, either doing very little with our life, OR being really good at things that are NOT our soul’s purpose & passion. Either way keeps us from the fear loosing what is closest to our heart (no risk – no loss)!
c. while others are the daredevil/ superstar type, “addicted to excitement”, who fall into several categories, including: showing off (performing), making lots of money (corporate) & ‘letting it all hang out’ (reality shows), being /gangsters &/or flamboyant addicts. Being ‘seen’ in these ways come from narcissism, self-hate, lack of boundaries & need for external approval – rather than expressing an authentic self.
• What all ACoAs* are really presenting to the world is our ‘defensive persona’, our outer shell – from the ego state of the PP or their WIC, & in some cases a clever but unhealthy Adult. While many of us are terrified of even that much exposure, those of us who tend towards the blatant are nevertheless suppressing or perverting the healthy Natural Child, trying to show the world (our parents) we deserve to be valued (“look at me AND I hate you all”), as a compensation for being unloved & abused as kids.
*This is not to diminish the accomplishments of many determined & talented people who have worked hard to achieve one or more goals. NOT all successful people are functioning exclusively from damage – it depends on how authentic they are in their personal life. In PMES terms, most people function out of their (P) Physical & (M) Mental aspects, but are usually not (E) Emotionally or (S) Spiritually mature.
NEXT: ACoAs being Visible (Part 3)