IT’S TOTALLY UP TO ME
to make everyone happy!
Anger characteristics #10
WHAT IS IT?
In it’s simplest form, Responsibility (R) is: honestly admitting, to ourselves, first of all, what we feel, think & have done – or – not. (T.E.A.). It includes acknowledging both our limitations & our gifts, our ignorance & our knowledge. And if possible, always doing this without judgment, without shame, without guilt. MOST of ALL – without self-hate.
ACoAs grew up with a great many cognitive distortions CDs , so it makes sense that we would carry them into our adult lives – as if they were the truth! One of these has to do with the issue of Responsibility (R). SO they’d
• For us R. is a dirty word, both an absolute requirement & a hated burden! We take responsibility for others’ actions & emotions, while in many ways not being responsible for ourselves, hating ourselves (S-H) for the very things that make us human. We believe we MUST take care of others instead of ourselves, or someone will die & it’ll be our fault, yet overwhelmed with the weight of responsibility we feel we can’t escape. So we try many convoluted ways to avoid any form of healthy R.
ORIGIN in childhood, forming our aversion to TRUE responsibility
1. “I tried to fix them so they’d be OK”
a. To stop them from suffering & make them happier, AND
b. To make them ‘well’ so they would stop hurting us…..
….. SO they’d be able to take care of us, the way all children need
COMMENTS – We were forced to be responsible (R) for our unhappy, angry, crazy, drunk parents, & sometimes siblings & extended family members. Many of us had to be the ‘designated adult’ even when we were very little, because of their incompetence, selfishness & addictions. We got the RULE loud & clear “Everyone else’s needs are more important than mine”.
– We understood early on that they couldn’t cope, so we had to be R. for ourselves, to not ‘bother them’, to be self-sufficient
– We felt a great burden to fix their problems, make them feel better, to give them what they wanted – even when it was presented in the form of Double Messages.
– We were R. for doing whatever they wanted, how they wanted it, yet having to figure it out alone, because they didn’t say, or changed the rules arbitrarily, endlessly confusing us
– We may have lived with one parent who was totally irresponsible & we swore to never be like that, AND/OR with an over-R. parent, which we copied. Yet, some of us may have resented the R. one for being too controlling, & adored the careless one, for being charming.
2. “I failed to make them better & so to stop my pain”
REALITY: a. It should never fall to a child to have to try to heal their parents’ damage, in a role-reversal of being the little grownup
b. No one can cause an adult to “heal & grow”. People can only improve their life if they’re willing to do the work required to change. In any case, it’s not something for a child to do, who needs to be cared for
COMMENTS: No matter how hard we tried we were never able to make a genuine improvement in our parents. This was devastating for us, because we needed them to be mentally sane (T), & emotionally stable (E) & consistently dependable (A).
As kids we desperately wanted to stop hurting, AND get our needs met. So we made every effort to please them & minimize the damage they could do us, but nothing worked
Our ‘failure’ left us with 2 conflicting states:
— Hating ourselves: We concluded that something was profoundly wrong with US – we weren’t smart enough, attractive enough, perfect enough…. to have an impact on the adults
— Hating them: We did/do in fact love our parents very much – no matter how they treated us. However, years of abuse & neglect took their toll, building & building our helpless rage, which we had to deny (BOOK: “So the Witch Won’t Eat Me: Fantasy and the Child’s Fear of Infanticide” Dorothy Block)
NEXT: Fear of Responsibility (Part 2)