LOOKING AT OUR DAMAGE –
ignorance is NOT bliss
PREVIOUS: Family Inventory (Part 1)
See ACRONYM page for abbrev.
QUOTE re. the need for S & I
“It is not possible to live too long amid infantile surroundings, or in the bosom of the family, without endangering one’s psychic health. Life calls us forth to independence, and anyone who does not heed this call because of childish laziness or timidity is threatened with neurosis.” Carl Jung
• All of our struggles to heal & flourish are contingent on outgrowing the toxic family training (via S & I), but before we can do it thoroughly we have to be clear what that training entails. We have to know what city we’re traveling from before we can book a ticket, yet ACoAs have a built-in denial system that makes it hard to know what state we’re in much less what city! We need a map & some guide books to our destination. Inventories help.
• Psychologists, Sociologists & Spiritual teachers tell us how important it to know ‘where we come from’, what our cultural & spiritual history is & how all of humanity is ONE.
Yet ACoAs have a painful sense of not belonging anywhere – no matter what environment we’re in. This is because our parents’ narcissism✶ made it very difficult to feel wanted & loved without judgement or impossible demands. It left us feeling like outsiders. And we figure that if they didn’t take care of us properly & want us – exactly the way we were – then why would anyone else?
✶ Reminder re. Narcissism (N.) – the key to their M.O. is that Ns are totally and only focused internally on themselves. Everything in the whole world is about them & no one else. No matter how much they seem to be talking to you, doing for you, even saying they love you…. they ONLY do what they want, and ignore anything about you that does not fit with their view of themselves & the way they believe the world works. If they do something for you it’s because it suit them, not because it’s good for you! You do not exist as a separate individual. You are only to be used, ignored or punished for not being what they want. DON’T be fooled!
— The degree of N. will vary, & all wounded people have some N. patterns, but only a portion are severe enough to be NPDs (Narcissistic Personality Disorder), which often applies to one or both our parents, as well as other relatives or caretakers. Ns can be charming & ‘up’ as long as they get what they want. They can be angry & dangerous when they don’t.
— Alcoholic & other N. parents often tend to treat outside adults (& sometimes others’ children) more ‘kindly’ than their own spouse & kids. It’s important to many dysfunctional people to keep the craziness under wraps. They can be much better behaved in the community & with strangers than with their own family – so they can feel important & look like the good one. This is crazy-making for a child & makes it hard for us, even now, to really get how truly bad it was, but also why outsiders think we’re making it all up or exaggerating – if we do complain.
◊ However, the benefit of observing this dichotomy is that it clearly tells us those particular parents DID know what they were doing, while being convinced they were always right & justified – so we can not afford to keep believing the lie that ‘they did the best they could’!
• Doing a written outline of each family member (& any other relevant adults that had a strong effect on us) is essential to know our inherited traits & acknowledge the negative patterns we have been compulsively repeating, since we are inevitable products of our genetic heritage & social experiences. It’s one way to get a handle on why our life hasn’t turned out as well as we think it ‘should’ have, or originally imagined.
* This is NOT a form of blame or a club to punish – only a tool for clarity. We are not carelessly criticizing them or demanding they be perfect or ideal. We know everyone has at the very least limitation, if not flaws.
— And it in no way eliminates our responsibility now to clean up the mess they created in us. Rather, it’s a way for many of us to wake up, see ourselves clearly by breaking thru denial, so we can permanently improve our lives.
• The more we know about our background the more we’ll know about ourselves – who we were originally born to be & the ways we were denied access to that precious Self. This gives us an outline for what can be valued from our youth, what needs to be revised or be eliminated.
• This self-awareness also gives us a realistic way to understand other people – those who are safe & good to stick around – vs – those who are not, in general because they’re just too damaged, & specifically for ourselves, because they simply don’t fit with our True Self. After all, we can’t move away from the unsafe one until we can clearly, objectively see that they ARE unsafe! Then we can choose who to get involved with, who to leave or keep at arm’s length.
• Many ACoAs believe that consciously making these kinds of choices is cruel, selfish & abandoning of others, BUT it is not. It is only our co-dependence that tell us this lie. Healthy people make these kinds of choices every day, because it represents :
– having realistic & appropriate boundaries
– knowing what their needs & tastes are
– having a strong set of values they live by
– believing in their human rights, & allowed to act accordingly
Healthy people know they’re not compatible with everyone, & they know it’s OK to not like some people, just as not everyone will like them. Choosing to distance themselves or stay away is not a judgement on the other, but rather an acknowledgement of REALITY, & a loving way to take care of themselves.
TO REVIEW: Being clear about what happened to us as kids and how many of those events wounded us – is the basic key to eliminating Self-Hate, a fundamental requirement for Mental & Emotional Health!
NEXT: Inventories – In the Beginning (Part 1)