not trapped 

there’s a way to protect myself

PREVIOUS: Fear of Responsibility (#1)

POST: Toxic Family Rules


SO — with all the frustration & lack of ‘success’ as children to fix our family, we assume that if we failed at that we’ll inevitably fail at everything else – so why bother. Since they didn’t take responsibility for their emotions & actions we didn’t learn how to either, & we don’t know there’s clear line between what’s our job in life & what isn’t.

a. Re. US – we do NOT:
• take care of ourselves – body, living space, appearance…self-neglect
• acknowledge the damage done to us, & get the right help
• stand up for our rights, provide for our own needs
• use our inborn talents & don’t contribute our best to society
• prosper, perpetuating general ‘anorexia’ — under-earning, bad relationships, isolation….

• Most ACoAs do not show obvious outward signs of this underlying problem, but all of us suffer from it to some degree, even in Recovery. We:
— didn’t learn self-care from our family, having been neglected & mistreated, thus given the message that we didn’t deserve any better, and
— this left us with a lack of information as to what self-care is, so that we don’t actually think in terms of what we need

• At the extreme, there are some of us whose self-neglect is more visible. Gibbons (2006) defined self-neglect as: “The inability (intentional or not) to maintain a socially & culturally accepted standard of self-care, with the potential for serious consequences to the health and well-being of the self-neglecters, perhaps even to their community.” (Wikipedia) (MORE….)

Some symptoms of self-neglect include hoarding items & pets, feelings of isolation, living in an unclean environment, poor personal hygiene, neglecting household maintenance, unwillingness to take medication, unkempt personal appearance, eccentric behaviors……(ACoAs may only have 1 or 2 of these & still ‘seem normal’ on the outside, but the damage is there).

b. Re. OTHERS:
At the same time we often treat others badly (How ACoAs Abandon Others5 posts):
• by not considering others’ rights, boundaries & emotions, being so focused on our pain & trying to protect ourselves
• by our narcissism, idealizing, constant criticism, being controlling…
THIS INCLUDES how we treat both our children and other adults

According to the WIC, we still have no one we can depend on for our needs, AND we’re responsible for everyone & slaveeverything around us. We say we don’t want to have such a great burden, YET we reject being with people or groups who would allow us to relax, focus on ourselves & also be supported. This leaves us completely overwhelmed & exhausted.
So with the assumption that we have to carry the weight of any association (personal or professional), we are too scared to be fully committed.

● To take healthy, ‘adult’ responsibility for our choices & relationships, we would need to become familiar with and embrace our True Self, via S & I, which is the goal of all therapy & Recovery. However, ACoAs greatest addiction is to our family of origin, making it very hard to let go of our symbiotic attachment to them. This result is a great resistance to taking center stage in our life, instead – playing the satellite (or slave) to someone or something else.
The irony is that at the same time – we think everything others do or say is about us, taking everything personally – which is not the ADULT ego state being responsible for ourselves, but rather the narcissistic stance of the WIC.

• While we consciously insist we never want to be anything like ‘them’, unconsciously we copy  them in every way possible, having absorbed the PP, ie. negative introject. Because the WIC is by nature narcissistic, it can’t distinguish itself from our narcissistic parents. SO:
— If they didn’t take responsibility for themselves, we won’t either.
— If they never connected with their True Self, we won’t either
— If they treated us badly, we’ll do the same to ourselves…..

• Even when ACoAs truly want to be connected in a meaningful way, our terror of being trapped in the position of caretaker leads us to have a back-door mentality – always looking for an out: finding fault, being resentful, feeling inferior or superior, getting bored…. & above all – picking people who are emotionally unavailable & not suited to our personality, but familiar because of our family structure. Keeping ourselves at emotional arm’s-length in all our interactions is the only way we think we can protect ourselves, since w don’t have actual boundaries

distanceThe WIC says: “I can’t afford to commit myself to anything serious – especially if it’s really important to me – because then I’ll be stuck having to handle everything (perfectly) myself. I don’t know how & I resent being in that position – so I won’t. Besides, since I always fail at getting my needs met:
— it’ll be too painful to try & fail again (lose out on what I really want)
— I’ll have to re-live all the ways I failed my family as a kid, kicking up more of my S-H

NEXT: Fear of Responsibility (Part 3)


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