PREVIOUS: ACoAs & Playing (#1)
QUOTES: “Combinatory play seems to be the essential feature in productive thought.” Albert Einstein
“If you want creative workers, give them enough time to play” John Cleese
a. The purpose and spirit of Play does not include any practical, concrete outcome. It’s not supposed to generate something you can ‘show for it’. It’s a state of being rather than doing.
b. However, we can have a hobby that we really love – something creative or a sport, which does includes making or winning something. We may or may not be good at it. The value is not mainly the end product, but the process, which is supposed to be pleasurable & satisfying – suited to our True Self & feeding a part of our soul.
c. Also, many of us have heard or read about people who say they love their work so much it feels more like playing. In this case there is a tangible product and a financial benefit as well, but the point they’re making is that it makes them happy! They feel blessed because they get to do it all the time instead of relegating it to their spare time – or not having time for it at all.
MORE from the Laundry List of ACoA:
ACoAs feel they’re different and somewhat isolated from other people. This prevents many of us from making the effort to reach out to others, search for appropriate venues that can provide relaxation or for opportunities to play & have fun, whether recreational or educational.
ACoAs take themselves very (too) seriously. While other children were busy learning to relate, compete, play and develop social skills, we were learning the tough lessons of survival. Many of us never heard our parents laughing, joking or fooling around. The air was heavy, filled with the invisible energy of suffering. Life was a hard business & the tone in our house put a damper on anyone enjoying themselves. So if we did try to play or have fun we were guilted for wasting time, punished for being frivolous & attacked for being ridiculous, making it stressful & terrifying.
ACoAs have an inability to relax, let go and have fun. As much as we take pride in being the ‘good one’, we are at war with ourselves. We may frown on others whom we label as silly, childish or lazy, but are deeply envious of them for having a freedom we don’t allow ourselves. Regarding down-time, each child was effected by & reacted to the family’s dysfunction in their own way, but it also lent a particular intensity to the ROLES we had to take on:
a. The HERO had to be ‘on’ all the time, being the serious adult right from the beginning of life. Their burden was to keep the family from falling apart, so there was no time to play.“Stiff upper lip & get on with it!”
b. For the SCAPEGOAT, ‘fun’ (for them) was hurting & humiliating (us) – in the guise of teasing -“we’re just kidding around”- verbal insults & sparing used to belittle each other, and pranks or games where the Scapegoat was the ‘butt of the joke’. These indirect forms were how our parent, siblings & perhaps other relatives got away with cruel ways of expressing dissatisfaction with & rage about their lives, without having to own it.
If our reaction as kids was to cry, we were abused even more, being told we were “too sensitive, shouldn’t take things so seriously, You’re such a baby”…. which left us feeling ashamed, deeply wounded & stunned into silence – with no comeback. Some of us took on this unhealthy style of banter (as a distorted sense of camaraderie & affection) or we became sullen & humorless, afraid to end up like them!
c. The LOST CHILD, often an Introvert by nature, stayed in the background, withdrawn into daydreaming, reading, escaping, hiding.
d. Even MASCOTs, being cute & funny to keep everyone’s spirits up, couldn’t penetrate the silence or violence with their natural sunshine – the misery was so thick & constant. The mascot’s playfulness came from pain rather than joy, & so was often tinged with sarcasm & meanness.
Eventually each of us got worn down. Trying to have fun was just not fun. The spontaneous child within became mute – BUT never dead!
ACoAs are impulsive. Impulsiveness (opposite of spontaneity) is when we do things we seem to have no control over, & can’t seem to stop even if we ‘want’ to. It comes from the WIC’s intense anxiety caused by
— a constant push to get our huge backlog of unfulfilled needs met – in the only way the child knows how, without boundaries or guidance
— but short circuited by toxic unconscious beliefs – that we aren’t allowed to have needs because they’re tooooo much (for our parents to manage!)
• This impulsivity includes any type of ‘recreation’ that ultimately harms us in PMES ways, which we can’t stop or don’t want to, yet don’t know why. It’s looking for immediate rather than deferred gratification: “I want it NOW!” because to the WIC any delay absolutely, unequivocally means “NO, you can’t have it & never will!”
Suggested Affirmation: “Delay is OK”. If we’re brave enough to ask for something we want, most of the time things do turn out well enough.
IRONY: Without Recovery, we’re in our own double bind – desperately trying to get some of our needs met, but can’t because we must obey Family Rules (‘Don’t need anything’). Of course some of us don’t even bother trying to provide for ourselves. But for those of us who do, we stay locked in familiar old patterns that guarantee being disappointed, which insures our obedience to the family. It doesn’t dawns on us that there are actual, real alternative possibilities, & we ignore the fact that doing things ‘the old way’ usually ends in some kind of mess (for us & for others), which we then have to waste time cleaning up – or just walking away from without taking responsibility or improving anything.
NEXT: ACoAs & Playing (Part 3)