OWNING MY T.E.A.s:
even if my buttons get pushed,
I’m responsible for my reactions
PREVIOUS : Being responsible #3
REMINDER: See ACRONYM page for abbrev.
AS ADULTS – Over-responsibility re. US (cont.)
As a guide to personal growth, the 12 Steps of AA are all about taking personal responsibility. They include:
Step 4: Made a searching & fearless moral inventory of ourselves
Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves & to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs
Step 9: Made direct amends to such people (we had harmed) whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others
Step 10: Continued to take personal inventory, & when we were wrong, promptly admitted it
NOTE: However, it’s very common for addicts & co-dependents to not understand or to misuse the 12 Steps, especially in early Recovery.
Comment on Step 4 (re. ourselves)
ACoAs find it very difficult, sometimes for many years in Recovery, to sit down & write this out. We:
— don’t know what character defect are – they’re so much a part of the fabric of our life, & which ones we’re actually guilty of. “Does a fish know it’s wet?”
— we have so much S-H & shame that it’s too painful to admit anything, even tho we think we’re guilty even when we’re not
— we don’t realize that an inventory includes personal gifts, skills, talents….
Comments on Step 5 (re. hiding from everyone)
— Because of the WIC’s shame, it’s painful to share our defects with others. We’re so used to being chastised or made fun of, that doing this Step feel emotionally dangerous
— So many of us have a distorted view of ‘God as we understand Him/Her’, because as John Bradshaw reminds us: “Before the age of 7 we deify our parents. After that we parentalize our deity.” So if we make our Higher Power in the image of our abusive, neglectful parents, we can not avail ourselves of the Deity as a safe source of help & comfort.
● If we look up at the sky & only see our unsafe mother’s or father’s face, then it is obscuring the Loving Being who is waiting to connect with us & heal our fear & sorrow. Our WIC needs to be given a corrected view of HP. This comes first by developing the Loving Parent toward ourselves that we never had – which is our responsibility – & then will become a more accurate vision of who the HP really is.
Comment on Step 9 (re. TMI: Over-disclosing)
Making amends is a very important part of relieving guilt & shame – when done in the right way, in the right environment. A saying in Program is “You’re only as sick as your secrets”. HOWEVER, ACoAs with weak boundaries & being driven by the WIC’s anxiety will either not ‘admit’ or admit willy-nilly.
—> A vital & much neglected part is at the end of this Step: ‘’…except when to do so…” Sometimes telling an aggrieved person what we’ve done or said is not a responsible action & will only do everyone harm.
EXP: A man loves his wife & kids, & doesn’t want to lose them, but is nevertheless unfaithful (ACoA incest-survivor). He’s filled with guilt, & tries to stop, but doesn’t; he wants to tell his wife, but knows if he does, she’ll leave.
a. Some unhealthy reasons to tell her would be:
• push away anxiety about ‘being bad’, so he doesn’t have to deal with his emotional pain
• have a fantasy hope that she’ll forgive & let him stay (so he can then ‘get away with it’ AND be absolved)
• the need to be punished, no matter the consequences to everyone (he doesn’t really deserve to be part of a loving family)
• a wish for his wife to be his watch-dog (use her as the controlling mother) – because he doesn’t really want to stop acting out, but may do so to be the ‘good boy’, or maybe keep acting out as a form of rebellion
b. Some responsible things for him to do:
• identify childhood issues & self-hate, which motivate the cheating
• deal with this in therapy & with the support of 12-Step Programs
• be genuinely willing to correct his ways (disloyalty is a character defect)
• be able to handle his emotional distress in more appropriate ways, not dump it at his wife’s feet so she could make him feel better.
✶ Comment on Step 10
This is often misused by ACoAs in the service of perpetuating our self-hate — seeing everything we do as wrong (sorry, sorry, sorry!), which is NOT what it says. Rather: “…and, when we were wrong…” which is not all of the time. Many ACoAs think that telling everyone they meet about ALL their flaws, trauma & problems, in great detail, is being honest & responsible. NOT.
This compulsion is actually:
• SELF-HATE, which says: I’m so bad, worthless, unlovable & a fuck up
that I can never do anything right AND I have to let everyone know that I know, so they don’t think I have an arrogant bone in my body
• LACK of BOUNDARIES – not having any sense of appropriateness as to who, what, where and how to tell about our damage. One woman used to say all in one breath: ”Hi, I’m Mary, I was raped!”
• FEAR OF ABANDONMENT – ACoAs default position is that: “I will be abandoned sooner or later, without fail, anyway – so why not get it over with before I get too attached to someone. I’ll tell them about all my flaws so they won’t be shocked & disgusted when they finally figure it out, and then leave me when I’m already involved, which will be inevitable (says S-H & PP).
NEXT: Fear of responsibility (Part 5)