PREVIOUS: Personal Responsibility-#1
See ACRONYM page for abbrev.
DEF: INVENTORY – To evaluate & make an itemized report of abilities, assets, or resources. To take stock of one’s life and accomplishments.
1. IN 12-Step TERMS:
a. Doing our 4th Step – to write out as many of our qualities as we can – both positive (gifts) & negative (defects), as well as a list of all our actions throughout life (identify our Being and our Doing)
b. Taking someone else’s inventory – a big no-no, & for good reason, when understood correctly, is an unhealthy defense mechanism. This can mean recounting someone’s faults to all who will listen, or using a sharp tongue to tell someone off who we’re angry at. NOT doing this is a valid rule: in general for everyone, & specifically – geared toward addicts & codependents, because:
• we copy our parents habit of always finding fault with everyone & everything else, instead of owning our own thought & emotions (likes & dislikes….)
• of the compulsion to blame others for all our woes, instead of taking responsibility for our part in any situation (but not in the form of S-H)
• the character defect of using any upset as an excuse to gossip
• our fearful avoidance of dealing clearly & honestly with anyone we’re currently having a problem with, using the Adult ego state
• the fear-driven habit of avoiding very hard decisions, making small or major changes, leaving toxic people, standing up for ourselves …..
2. HOWEVER, there are some legitimate exceptions to this rule:
a. Re. Safe People: To identify the healthy characteristics we find in positive role models, which we then can look for in everyone we associate with, so we can ‘Go where it’s warm’ – toward people who are reasonable (T), kind (E) & functional (A).
b. Re. Unsafe People: Ironically, in spite of being terribly judgmental, most ACoAs have thick blinders on regarding who other people actually are. We tend to shy away from the healthy ones, & busily taking our own Negative Inventory, deny the character defects & emotional damage of the unhealthy ones. That way we can be angry at someone for not giving us what we need, just like our parents, but stay with them so we don’t have to notice of the many ways they abandon us, & then face having to leave them behind. As we know, people tell us about themselves all the time – their pluses & minuses – which we could see if only we were paying attention & had the right kind of info.
• Sadly, as kids we were brainwashed to deny much or all of our experiences & perceptions, so it’s particularly necessary to do this type of inventory for all ACoAs who:
— are genuinely ignorant of, or in deep denial about, the harmful effects on us of addicts & other damaging people we spend time with (family, lovers, bosses, friends…)
— are surrounded by unhealthy communities (family, religious, social, work….) where everyone is continually bombarding us with a distorted reality about us, themselves & the ‘right way’ to do things
— are by nature so idealistic that we only want to see the good in others, as a defense against the dangers of life, to our great detriment
— know there’s something wrong with certain people & situations in our life, but are not allowed to believe our intuition & knowledge.
• Being trapped in these unhealthy emotional/mental states (as listed in 2b.) keeps us choosing or being chosen by people who are abusive or unavailable, and then staying with them because we compulsively blame ourselves for any pain they cause by their damage – ie. we always fall back into Self-Hate (S-H) to explain away someone else’s bad behavior (“It’s my fault / I should have / If only I had”… ), no matter how obvious it may be to others that we are allowing ourselves to be victimized.
It’s useful to remember that all S-H is a defense mechanism. Its purpose is to ‘protect’ us from being fully aware of our childhood traumas & other abandoning experiences, but all it really does is add more pain to the original pile, as we believe we caused our suffering.
● Of course it’s very important to do our own personal inventories (next post), but without a clear picture of our early life, much of what we end up writing is steeped in S-H & hopelessness. Therefore it’s imperative to first have an accurate understanding of all the relevant people we grew up with, because we absorbed their words, actions & emotions into ourselves. This absorption became our Introject. Every person has one, but not everyone’s Introject is a PP (pig parent / accusatory voice) – only those of us who come from damaging families. Without enough healing (deep FoO work), this Harsh Voice is the only one the WIC takes as absolute gospel, & is the cruel guide we use to identify who we are, even tho’ it is not our original voice AND is a complete liar!
• Proverbs 22:6 says: “Train up a child in the way he should go, & even when he is old he will not depart from it”.
Unfortunately, those of us from unhealthy backgrounds have absorbed a distorted, self-defeating programming – most obvious in our CDs, which includes S-H. This brain wiring is so strong that it takes effort & repetition to change – mainly because it is kept locked in place by a great deal of emotional pain, which needs to be cleaned out. Most people don’t have the guts & patience to revisit & process old emotions, even if that refusal causes havoc to themselves and others.
• But for those of us with the willingness & proper support – we greatly benefit form carefully identifying what originally happened to us & around us. It allows us to understand – & accept – that our childhood suffering was caused by the damage already present in our caretakers, and therefore could not have possibly been our responsibility, nor our fault!
It bears repeating: This awareness (The 3 C’s: “I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it, I can’t cure it” – problems in OTHERS) will gradually lessen our need for S-H, as we stop denying the width & breadth of our own original abandonment in all 4 layers of PMES. This becomes a great victory over our dis-ease!
NEXT: Family Inventory – Purpose