ACoAs – NOT allowed to RECEIVE (Part 1)


I don’t need anything!

PREVIOUS: Bad Decision Styles – #3

REVIEW: Abandonment Pain Now

WHY ACoAs can NOT take in anything positive
Mis-information: There are still people in our culture who insist (from ignorance, denial or control) that: “The past is over & done with & has nothing to do with now – let it go & get on with your life”!
Unfortunately those of us who experienced abuse & trauma as kids have a toxic programming deep in our bones (our thoughts, emotions & spirit). So, if we were conditioned to be unworthy of receiving, we can’t properly nourish ourselves or let others help us. To ‘let go’, we need the right info! To heal takes courage & time.


THIS CHART (& the expanded version) is the exact opposite of Maslow’s hierarchy of Needs. Instead of going from most basic to highest, this tragically common life cycle of wounded people without Recovery causes distress & tragedy :
• A damaging childhood leads….
➺ to Social, mental & emotional impairment, which leads ….
➺ to Developing health-risk behaviors, which can lead….
➺ to Disease, disability & social problems, which may end  in ➺ Early death

• While many wounded people manage to carve out a life without emotional healing, they can only manage by using rigid defense mechanisms to hold their world together (narcissism, bullying, rescuing, controlling, illness, isolation, addictions, cutting off all emotions…). If they ever do begin a Recovery process, all the pain hidden under these defenses surfaces, & causes an avalanche of anxiety, confusion & rage.

• In A.A. the general wisdom, based on over 50 years experience, is that it takes a newly sober alcoholic the first 5 yrs in the Program just to get their brains out of hock. Then they can start developing a life!

Some ACoA ASSUMPTIONS about Receiving
1. ABOUT US (our assumptions)
Co-Dependence – because of the ACoA rule ‘Other people needs are always more important than mine’, we have to keep on giving to everyone else, without ever considering our own requirements & desiresScreen Shot 2015-09-07 at 6.36.54 PM
Failure – “ACoAs are human doing, rather than human beings”.  The focus was always on what we did wrong – on actions, not personal value. And since we never seemed to do anything well, right or good enough – we haven’t ‘earned’ being treated well, receiving respect & consideration, much less love
Loyalty – staying connected to the family system as adults – to not feel rejected, abandoned, alone (even tho that’s exactly what they did to us!) – we unconsciously decided that it’s NOT ok to have more /better connections than with our family, in any category. That way we can all continue suffering together (“Misery loves company”)

Payback – If we DO take anything, we automatically feel obligated to that person or group. While reciprocity is a normal human expectation, ACoAs believe what we have to give back is our time, money, total attention…. our very life blood! No wonder we’re reluctant!
Punishment – to try for more of anything could easily get us deliberately ignored, a slap, a disgusted look, being humiliated in public or an abusive tirade. Some of us had to ask over & over for anything, even basics, before they reluctantly gave in
Scarcity – based on real experiences, we concluded that the universe has very limited resources, so to get anything for ourselves automatically diminishes someone else – usually a parent or sibling.

Selfishness – to ask for more is not just futile, it’s presumptuous & arrogant. Many of us were taught that wanting for yourself is a sin.
Self-Hate – it’s not hard to see then why we gathered that we aren’t worthy of beinsufferingg given to! Not only because we’re bad, unlovable, selfish,  greedy – “Children should be seen & not heard” – but that we haven’t ‘earned’ it, in some mysterious way! “ACoAs are human doing, rather than human beings”
Suffering is the rule of the (alcoholic) universe: ”Life is hard!” and “You’re always supposed to struggle, but never ‘get there’”. So – don’t bother trying

One of many ACoAs Double Binds:
a. We don’t want to take care of others, hate having to give & give, especially to angry & selfish people. We’re trapped in a debilitating conflict: If we disobey the Rules, we feel terrible guilt, but if we give in, we hate ourselves & the people we ‘help’. Tortured either way.

b. BUT – we’ve been brainwashed to believe we have no other choice but to provide whatever someone asks for. We obey the family rules – it’s the only way we can be tolerated.
• ACoAs handle the expectations, demands or whines of others BY:
— Most commonly: a knee-jerk reaction to comply – before we can take a breath we’re fixing, doing, comforting – giving, giving, giving!
— For some of us:  the only option is to be almost totally withholding – as the only way to not get sucked in.
✶ Either way, it leaves NO room for us to RECEIVE!

NEXT: Can’t Receive – Re. Others (Part 2)


2 thoughts on “ACoAs – NOT allowed to RECEIVE (Part 1)

  1. Hello, me again. Lots resonating there. Making me feel very sad and also so relieved to have had the therapy and training for this to no longer be such a problem for me.
    I do still have issues around hunger (and no real memories of neglect around food, just some old family stories that confirm my suspicions).
    I have all of my needs met now, and moved out of the pathological symbiosis with my mother and my family of origin many years ago.
    Sharing and hoping this brings help and support to others.


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