ACCEPTANCE – BAH!
I don’t like it, so I’ll ignore it
PREVIOUS: Healthy Give & Take
See ACRONYM page for abbrev.
ACCEPTANCE is the middle ‘A’ of Al-Anon’s 3 As (Awareness — Action). Understanding & using this tool positively will make our life much clearer & saner.
But for ACoAs this pesky A2 is the most misunderstood and the one many ACoAs HATE! ACoAs do not even want to acknowledge it as something we should deal with, because we say: “I can’t accept anything I don’t like or is too painful”, which is a CD – (cognitive distortion).
The actual meaning of A2 is NOT about:
• liking or not liking something! – a MAJOR misconception
• staying a victim, accepting our lot in life, being resigned
• giving up, not trying, not looking for a way up & out
• putting up with ‘crap’ from people, including our Introject ‘bad voice’
• sitting around waiting for things to happen or someone to rescue us
Part 2 will explain what it IS. However, we as we’ve seen in other areas, ACoAs will turn almost anything against themselves, even good things. In this case we do use the 3 As, but only in the service of our dis-ease, a shorthand for all of our toxic thinking.
The Negative message “You’re Bad, We’re Good, the World is Bad” can be read as:
Neg. A-1 = Awareness – “I’m so bad, no one will ever love me”
Neg. A-2 = Acceptance – “I believe it absolutely, but try to ignore it”
Neg. A-3 = Action – “I must be perfect, (or dead!), to make up for it”
PROBLEM – We’re stuck with this awful protocol we think we can’t get out of :
A1 = re. US – the deep-seated belief (of the WIC) that we’re unworthy, not entitled, beyond redemption! (S-H)
A2 = re. THEM – that our family was right about everything as a result of their overt and covert brain-washing. Guess whose options we have now! We believed them because:
• all humans are intensely loyal to their upbringing – it’s our most basic connection to others
• it’s the way our brain got programmed – every experience created the neural pathways which formed our understanding of life
• AND they constantly made it clear that we were un-acceptable. Some parents even used God, spirituality & religion to prove it to us!
A3 = re. the WORLD – everything & everyone outside our out-of-balance & insulated family mobile is considered dangerous, unhelpful, unwelcoming, indifferent…. Our family (& community) forced on us their narrow, alcoholic, bigoted view of the world, based on their experiences.
Unrecovered ACoAs deal with ‘A3‘ in one of 2 ways:
• Defiance of all authority & systems, which have become substitutes for our parents. We can hate them instead of admitting our rage at the family. AND since the world is SO-O-O dangerous – we’re NOT going to give in or let them GET US!
• Compliance – we have to give in, keep our head down, hide in the shadows, so no one will GET US!
✶✶ IRONY: these are the very messages we have accepted!
The fact that our suffering was endless & hopeless back then does not have to apply any more. Yet we still ACCEPT all sorts of terrible things as normal & inevitable for the rest of our lives, in obedience to our family & community’s teachings. However, we can only maintain this obedience by being in denial – hiding the cruel messages from our awareness. That is why we always want to skip over the middle A.
We (self-destructively) ACCEPT that we deserve / or must endure:
— verbal abuse, disrespect, being controlled
— being treated like a dumb kid (we were never dumb, even as kids!)
— over-looked, unappreciated, ignored
— we must let others use, manipulate & torture us
— we can’t have a positive impact on our world
— never find love & validation, since our parents didn’t love us (narcissists attach but don’t really love)
— we’re ‘weak’ & don’t know how to take care of ourselves
— we have to deny / destroy ourselves in order for others to be OK
— we can only stay with people who are unavailable, distant, cruel & selfish …..
READ story of Hansel & Grethel.
These Toxic Rules are so deeply ingrained that even when we begin to have useful, valid new info about ourselves & the people in our life (A1), we still skip over A2, automatically going to A3. Whenever we have any new Awareness we immediately ask: “What can I / should I DO about it?”. We compulsively SKIP the middle ‘A’ because:
• we think it’ll make us safer
• our whole culture focuses on Action (just DO it!)
• our culture does not value process, ONLY immediate gratification
• we’ve been waiting so long for something better to come along, we don’t want it to take time. The WIC is convinced that if we are told to wait, it means it’ll never happen/ never get our needs met
• our dysfunctional family made their approval conditional – based on our actions. If you act bad, you’re bad, if you act good, we ‘love’ you. YUCK. Healthy love is unconditional!
We think we have no choice, trapped in a double bind:
• on the one hand – we hate the rules we grew up with
• on the other hand – we’re not allowed to disobey them, ever.
So, since OUR version of acceptance is so painful & debilitating, we keep trying to ignore it altogether, as if we could control the truth away!
NEXT: Acceptance & ACoAs (Part 2) – Healthy A