Psychological DISORDERS (Part 1)


I’M NOT CRAZY –
just a little ‘off’!

PREVIOUS: Communication (#1)

POSTs: Principles of Character 1 & 2

SITEs: STARLING: online educational videos, community support, and evidence based tools – to help improve mental health

 

PERSONALITY: A pattern of relatively permanent traits & unique characteristics that give both consistency & individuality to a person’s behavior.
TRAITS contribute to individual differences in behavior, consistently over time, & across a variety of situations.
CHARACTERISTICS are unique qualities of a person that include temperament, physique & intelligence.

SOCIAL INTERACTIONS are based on a person’s level of healthy character or disorder, & can be looked at from 3 points of view:
• Inward-facing perspective – the Self judging itself (self-concept)
• Outward-facing perspective – the Self judging other people
• Inner-outer: Introject judgments about the Self, but from the perspective of others

BEFORE looking at the various degrees of psychological disorders, we need a look at what mental health is – to use as a comparison.

O.C.E.A.N. traits:
Openness to experience, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, & Neuroticism
These BIG FIVE are dimensions of character (CHART) which represent the most important qualities shaping our social interactions. Extensive research shows these qualities have biological origins & are remarkably universal. One study that looked at people from more than 50 different countries found that these 5 traits accurately described personality from Germany to China. (Descriptions). Traits are rated on a scale from most to least. (People at the extremes)

ACoA reminder: Most of us think that our usual way of being is our actual personality (who we were born as) because it’s how we’ve been since childhood. However – anyone growing up in a very damaging environment forms a False Self as protection, in response to their environment. It’s the FS, a combination of the PP & the WIC, which houses the different disorders. With a lot of FoO work, most can be improved if not totally healed, but not all wounded people are willing to go thru the process needed to Recover.

HEALTHY – According to Otto Kernberg, someone is mentally healthy if they have a well-organized personality, which functions reasonably well because their reality testing is mostly intact. Such people have an integrated sense of Self, with an accurate Self-to-Other concept, allowing them to hold opposite feelings about any person (& themselves) – at the same time – without changing their realistic opinion of them. Everyone is experienced as a consistent ‘whole’, even tho they have both positive & negative qualities. NOTE: This does not mean they like everyone!

Thomas Fuchs (U. of Heidelberg) states: “Narrative Identity* implies a continuity of the personal past, present & future – essentially based on the capacity of a person to integrate contradictory aspects & tendencies into a coherent, overarching sense & view of themselves.”
*Narrative Identity = forming an identity by combining life experiences into an internalized, evolving story of the Self that provides them with a sense of unity & purpose in life.

UNHEALTHY –  However, people with a fragmented sense of Self cannot easily do this.  (This is not about multiple personality or schizophrenic dissociation).

Instead, their minds store separate split-off images of others as being either all bad or all good at any given moment, rather than as a single cohesive personality who has many different aspects.
So they don’t understand that their own experience of someone has changed – depending on the circumstance of their interactions, but actually believe the person has somehow changed. This prevents them from holding a consistent sense of Self & others across time & situations.(Object Relations Theory)
EXP: If you smile & are friendly to me, you are a totally good person – in that moment – who I like & feel safe with. If at some other time you hurt my feelings or ignore me, you are then a totally bad person – in that moment – & so I absolutely don’t feel safe with you.

😟 As a way of coping, the brain compartmentalizes traumatic experiences to keep us from feeling too much pain (physical &/or emotional) – creating dissociation. It can show up as a detachment or spacing out. A part of our attention is missing, so we don’t recognize what we’re thinking or need, & often don’t notice or hear things in our surroundings, or right in front of us all the time. But fundamentally – what’s missing is a connection to some or all our emotions.
SITE: Help for Organizing your mind

NEXT: Personality Disorders (Part 2)

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COMMUNICATION Categories (Part 6)


NOBODY SEEMS
to be listening to me!

PREVIOUS: Comm categories #2 

QUOTE: “A man’s character may be learned from the adjectives which he habitually uses in conversation.”
Mark Twain

 

CATEGORIZING Communication (Comm) cont.

7. Re. WAYS to ENGAGE in comm
Level 1: Messages into the Ether
Snail mail, email & texting have some things in common. They’re sent out, & a response can sometimes take days or weeks. Since they’re not conversational (back & forth) there can be a high level of misunderstanding, possibly leading to hurt feelings, even fights.

Level 2: Back & forth Messaging
It’s conversational, but still done remotely (IM, text….). Such exchanges are more casual & direct, so confusion is less likely, since one or both can catch distortions or misses with each reply.
However, its bite-size style means it’s not well-suited to discussing complex issues.

Level 3: A Verbal Dialogue
Here participants get to express their opinions directly, plus adding a whole layer of implied info via Para-language. These can hint at excitement, pleasure, peacefulness OR annoyance, frustration, stress…. that are harder to detect in writing. A drawback is that they often require scheduling, but sometimes things need to be cleared up quickly via phone.

Level 4: In-Person Spontaneous Discussion
When something important comes up unexpectedly, we might decide to seek out the others person for a conversation. Spontaneous discussions can be  effective for problem-solving, getting an immediate need met or making a plan. Benefits come from adding a new level of mutual understanding & co-operation. But it doesn’t always work – discomfort with spontaneity, lack of privacy, the other person being too busy or not in the mood…. can get in the way.

Level 5: In-Person Scheduled Discussion
What makes this level special is the mutual agreement to set aside time.
Planning does not have to make the meeting Formal, but gives both parties time to think about the topic. Successful & dynamic interactions come from combining self-awareness, non-verbal intelligence & privacy, to ensure comfort & trust. (From )

VALUE: Observing admired leaders, we can see that good comm. judgment is very important to their success.
For example, knowing what
can be done at Level 2, versus what must be done Level 5 – & doing it – is a sign of sound leadership instinct, as well as knowing what to expect in personal relationships.

8. Re. PMES Categories
SOCIAL
: Talking about anything of mutual interest – news, sports, weather…. It’s superficial but truly useful, allowing us to function among strangers without burdening them with TMI about our life.  It also helps determine whether someone is neutral, a potential friend or enemy

MENTAL: Talking about facts, helpful tips, ideas, non-controversial beliefs, plans & strategies, as in professional conversations. Unfortunately, some people go out of their way to be the ‘best’ at it, so that no one is smarter, wittier or more knowledgeable, & they never have to be wrong.

The distance between the first two levels is relatively short. Polite conversation can turn into a mentally stimulating one very quickly & then collapse back into small talk or none at all – without discomfort. Except for conversations with a controlling know-it-all, these two levels are safe.

EMOTIONAL: Here talk is about aspirations, fears, wants, needs & joys. Sometimes eyes well up, lips quiver, & the voice chokes. Other times those same eyes light up, heart pounds & words flow with joy, or fail from awe.

• The distance between #1 & 2 AND #3 is rather wide, because #3 requires intimacy, transparency, trust & vulnerability. Most of us are afraid of being wrong or looking foolish, & absolutely terrified of rejection.
Participating at this level opens us to possible rejection, hurt & being scarred. Over-all, this level is easier for women to navigate, partly expressing emotions is more socially acceptable, & because a portion of women’s Corpus Callosum is thicker than men’s, perhaps allowing more access across the hemispheres emotions to be verbalized  (MORE….)

SPIRITUAL. This is the hardest to identify & describe, not only because our culture is so secular, but because few people are willing to drop down into the level of faith – for themselves – much less to speak of it to others.
It melts away push-pull, give-take win-lose, me-you. There are no distortions from emotional mental or social games, allowing for the highest level of resonance, creating an energetic embrace that sustains & heals.

‼️ Understanding all these forms of comm allows us to identify & then choose which is most appropriate for any given situation.
It can be too easy to go down the path of least resistance, but that can get us into trouble, so it’s important to be more thoughtful about how & when we communicate.
It’s better to do it the right way – focusing on our goals & using whichever level will help us get there.

NEXT: Comm. Levels #3

Passive Aggressives – Review for ACoAs (Part 3)

not Pass-Agg 

WHAT A CONCEPT:
Honest doesn’t mean hostile. 
Pleasant doesn’t mean passive!

PREVIOUS: Passive-Aggressive ACoAs (Part 2)

SITEs:” Emotionally Volatile People
• “Difficult People & how to Handle Them

 

REVIEW (cont.)
3. CAUSEs of the game
ACoAs – from our family, school, religion…. we were NOT allowed :
• to be angry, to the point of not even knowing we are!
• to know what we wanted, how we felt, what we preferred (being too much of an individual got smashed – so it left us confused)
• to ask for anything (don’t bother them)
• taught to never put ourselves first
AND
• always had to always be perfect (no mistakes) – so better not choose anything
• no matter what we did, we were punished, so we couldn’t win
• safer to not be too visible (in a dangerous family, & later in abusive relationships)
taking any risk was discouraged, made fun of, punished (so now we can’t risk ‘failing’& being disappointed)

4. EFFECTs of the game
a. Negative BenefitsWE DON’T:
• have to figure out who we are, what we want & need
• have to disobey any of the toxic family rules
• have to admit we’re angry, even raging, underneath
• have to stand up to the ‘control freaks
• have to make a mistake & deal then with the consequences
• AND we get to blame others when something goes wrong
• & maintain the illusion of being nurtured (taken care of by others)

b. Negative Consequences:
• we are dis-empowered, loose self-esteem, stay a victim, are infantilized, stay mute, don’t risk anything
• always feel scared of losing people (FoA), of being disapproved
• increases our Self-Hate & Loneliness

• never get what we really want, unless by accident or by luck
• lose out on many opportunities to grow, to be heard, to have fun
• always feel scared of losing people, of being disapproved of
• make other people mad at us, a lot! for forcing them to carry all the responsibility & then getting blamed

4. HEALTHY
a. General: We need to identify
• all the ways we were hurt as kids, including the specific messages we got & still obey, like ‘don’t feel’ , ‘don’t talk’ (Toxic Rules)
• prevent the Wounded Inner Child from running our life BY growing a Healthy Adult & Loving Parent  who then can make executive decisions about how to own & express our needs
book-end with the IC, to outgrow living in the past. If done consistently, it will teach the IC the difference between what’s possible & real in the present, vs the way it was in our dysfunctional family

b. For Passive-Aggressives – we need to:
own our resenpassiveagrro3tments, anger, rage, bitterness, which are hidden
• learn safe ways of discharging our rage & healthy ways of expressing it to others, when it’s needed
• practice saying what we need, want, like, prefer – to find out that nothing bad happens to us or others
• stop looking for other people to be in charge of our lives, tell us what to do, make our decisions & choices
• keep a safe distance from anyone who is easily provoked to anger

Practice making ‘I statements’ every day, silently to yourself, so that it becomes easier & easier to say out loud:  “I want… I need… I don’t like… I’d rather…  that’s not for me… ” UNTIL it’s second nature!

c. For Volatiles – we need to:
• find out what’s under the rage: the reality of child abuse & neglect we lived thru, and the pain it created
• accept that the rage is legitimate, but our actions are not always healthyScreen Shot 2016-06-17 at 10.24.27 PM.png
• work on getting our rage out in safe, appropriate places (therapy groups, 12-step programs, doing rage-work at home, drawing, writing…)

own our Inner Sadist: make friends with it, but don’t ever let it act out
• learn calming techniques (bio-feedback, meditation, prayer, visualizations…)
• become safe enough to feel what’s underneath – grief, sadness, loneliness, hurt, sorrow, vulnerability
• keep a distance from P-As, who try to pull us in by their surface charm & ‘interest’ in us

Practice comforting & mentally holding the IC, so he/she doesn’t feel so alone with all it’s pain.  Give ourselves permission to cry – it is not a weakness – no matter what our family taught us!  Crying clears out toxins & releases pent-up emotional stress. It’s very necessary!

Realistically, while P-As can definitely work on having permission to express anger & rage, it’s usually up to the V. to STOP the game, stop reacting to / expecting (anything) from the P-A. Maybe even have to leave!

NEXT: Qs – Are you P-A?

Passive Aggressives – Review for ACoAs (Part 2)

P-A person

I’M NOT ALLOWED TO BE ANGRY
– but you are (lucky you)!

PREVIOUS: Passive-Aggressive ACoAs (#1)

SITE:When your Defenses lead you into trouble

REMINDER: See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

 

REVIEW (cont)

2. WHO plays the game (Chart – slide #7)
a. P-As always look for & often find another person who is overtly angry / volatile* (V.) to play the game with – no fun being stuck with all that UN-expressed rage alone! (See: Inter-personal games, Eric Berne).  As adults, they desperately need to maintain their illusions of being perfect, in the faint hope of getting or keeping their parents’ approval, being taught that strong emotions are considered dirty, messy, dangerous – even murderous! This pattern of being P-A is another unhealthy way of copin4 stylesg with intense FoA – fear of abandonment

b. ✶ Volatiles need P-As (or their part, or the game wouldn’t work):
• it gives them an excuse for letting out some of their rage ‘legitimately’
• it’s much safer than aiming the rage at the real target – their family
• the rage makes them feel powerful, to cover vulnerability & emptiness
• Vs are used to being disappointed, too, and are equally unconsciously addicted to finding people they can act out their childhood ‘story’ with.  And P-As do continually disappoint! It’s their trade-mark, & it can be used to identify them.

Sooner or later, usually later, it is inevitable that Vs will get angry, raging, even nasty at P-As – out of legitimate, intense, longstanding frustration!
Of course: Vs have to stick around for this! They’re part of the game.

DIRTY POOL – P-As unconsciously, sometimes knowingly, always use ‘available’ Volatiles as their own personal pressure valve – as if getting the V. to explode with rage would relieve their own pent-up hostility. When Vs get angry, P-As get very self-righteous. They feel victimized & cry: “I haven’t DONE anything!  Why are you attacking me?”

SO THEY GET TO:
• accuse Vs of being controlling, even though they set the V. up:
— to take care of them emotionally & practically
— to vent their anger/rage for them
— to make all the decisions in the relationship!

• make Vs the crazy or bad one (instead of themselves), of being abusive & unfair, of reacting to ‘nothing’. That way the Vs can be ‘the monster’ for pouring out that vile stuff (anger) which P-As are terrified in themselves.
Then they can continue to feel superior & ‘clean’, keeping their ‘good boy / good girl’ status. After all, P-As can point to being easy-going, never raising their voice, or letting out that ‘nasty‘ anger – right?

BUT that’s exactly the point – they don’t DO many things that are their responsibility, as well as not expressing their needs / wants.

When P-As make other people responsible for all the decisions they should be making Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 11.41.09 PMdo themselves, (even if they like the ones being made for them), they are neglecting to ‘show up’, hold up their end, be an equal partner or peer – ie. an adult.  P-As passively, stubbornly – yes angrily – demand to be taken care of! but never say what they actually want or need, because they don’t have permission

• THEN, if/when something goes wrong – when they don’t like the choices the V. made for them, or are disappointed with the outcome – they can blame the other person & continue to play the victim role

• AND P-As can say to the other person: “YOU’RE always making the decisions! YOU’RE so controlling!” (& unspoken: “I hate you”). Wow! How dishonest.
✶ BUT if the V. stops playing the game, the P-A may finally tip their hand – if only briefly – showing the true rage behind their mask

EXP: Mark (P-A) & Sandy (V.) meet at a classical concert & become art-loving, theater-going friends. Mark regularly says self-deprecating things that are clever & funny, & Sandy obliges by laughing.
After a few months Sandy becomes increasingly uncomfortable with her complicity in Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 12.04.49 AMMark’s self-hate. The next time he makes a crack about himself – she doesn’t laugh & is quiet.  He gets annoyed & indirectly insults her for not responding ‘correctly’.

Later he buys her a B/day gift which deeply offends her artistic & Christian values – an ugly-made Indian goddess statue – knowing her religious background! She can’t imagine his intention – but is outraged. She instantly blows up at him & gives the gift back. Naturally he’s hurt & angry – but doesn’t show it. Instead he mails her a scathing note – making her the ‘bad one’.  End of friendship! Sandy feels ashamed for blowing up but also relieved.

NEXT: Passive-Aggressive ACoAs, (Part 3)

Passive Aggressives – Review for ACoAs (Part 1)

passive aggressive house YOU’LL NEVER SEE HOW ANGRY I AM –
I barely know, myself!

PREVIOUS: P-A ‘nice’ comments

SITE: Constructive, Passive & Aggressive Leadership styles

REVIEW
1.The GAME (Post: How its played)
a. Passive-Aggressive ‘disorder’ (PAPD)
A 2-handed ‘game’ (‘Games People Play’ by Eric Berne), always requiring the Passive-Aggressive (P-As) person & the Volatile (Vs) one to react.

web-MDapparently compliant behavior, with intrinsic obstructive or stubborn qualities, to cover deeply felt aggressive feelings that cannot be more directly expressed….

Wikipedia ….a personality trait marked by a pervasive pattern of negative attitudes & passive, usually disavowed resistance … expressed as learned helplessness, procrastination, stubbornness, resentment, sullenness, or deliberate/repeated failure to accomplish requested tasks for which one is (often explicitly) responsible….

DSM VI … the behavior often reflects an unexpressed hostility or resentment stemming from a frustrating interpersonal or institutional relationship on which an individual is overly dependentScreen Shot 2016-06-14 at 11.00.40 PM

The Straight Dope …people who suffer from PAPD expect disappointment, and gain a sense of control over their lives by bringing it about.

b. ACoAs: MANY of us grew up in one of 2 emotional climates :
emotionally volatile – being around loud, hyper, dramatic, raging, volatile parents / relatives – which has made some ACoAs gun-shy. We had to sit on our own anger – there was so much flying around, and we didn’t want to be like them, so we shoved our rage into a huge locked room & tried to throw away the key. So now it comes out sideways!

emotionally repressed – the other extreme found some of us in a family of uptight, buttoned down, emotionally cut-off, perhaps P-A types, who made a point of suppressing any intense emotion in their children. They may have believed it was ‘spiritually correct’, or they just didn’t want their own repressed pain to get triggered, and they didn’t have the skill/ tools to deal with ‘big feelings’ from their kids. We either copied their style or became ‘dramatic’ & over-reactive to everything.

• Both styles have deeply effected our relationship to anger & rage.
IMP: These are normal human EMOTIONS (Es), which are just forms of energy & by themselves are not dangerous or bad.Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 11.09.50 PM.png
✶✶ What to watch out for are the ACTIONS we take to express these Es! If we express them safely, we don’t hurt anyone & in fact feel lighter & can function better. If they’re expressed badly we can cause pain to others, while adding to our shame, guilt & S-H.

c. Briefly:  P-As have a huge amount of accumulated anger & rage (from childhood, as well as in adulthood), which they’re not allowed to feel, much less admit to – in order to be the ‘good’ one. They have cultivated such a facade of ‘niceness’ they have fooled themselves (but not everyone).  They may be the Hero or Lost Child from any dysfunctional family –  the Rescuers, the People-pleasers, or the Invisibles. (Toxic Roles”)

no, no

P-As compulsively resent, oppose & thwart – indirectly – what they see as demands to function at a level others expect of them. They’re convinced that they’re still not allowed to have real power for themselves, & are afraid to admit their anger at being neglected & unloved. They end up saying NO to their own needs & wants – and to anything that would be good for them.

So they live in a state of deprivation, expecting others to read their mind & provide what they won’t give themselves. P-As are rarely if ever able to state outright what they want & don’t want, or distinguish between actual bullying & appropriate requests. They just say NO to everyone, regardless.

Suppressing their anger is a form of negative self-control, & then put all the rest of their effort into trying to control other people’s emotions, so they can sneakily get them to do what the P-A wants.  In light of their self-imposed limitation, P-As are inwardly driven to push hidden handsothers toward their secret goal (to prove they can’t be pushed around, and to get back at anyone who’s hurt them OR their substitutes) – while seeming to not push at all. (re. controlling). It’s a way:
— to get their agenda across without risking consequences &/or

NEXT: P-A ACoAs – Review (Part 2)

Passive-Aggressive ‘Nice’ COMMENTS

screen-shot-2017-02-18-at-8-13-46-amI HAVE LOTS OF WAYS
of being covertly angry 

PREVIOUS: P-A #1

SITE27 Most Passive-Aggressive Things That Ever Happened

** Southern P-A forms of “Bless your heart!” (humorous but true)

P-A Commuter Types – (London)

 Some things Passive-Aggressives SAY:
Using their cherished bag-of-tricks to combat insecurity, especially if they feel pushed outside their comfort zone, P-As silently hope for attention & approval, trying to prevent loss of connection by avoiding confrontation.

The following statements are meant to express disappointment, hurt & hostility, but are coded in the form of underhanded innuendos instead of respectful honesty. Totally confusing most people, this style insures that P-As do not get their needs met!
When P-As give those little looks, roll their eyes, or throw out subtly nasty comments, most won’t catch on that they’re being messed with, but it may feel like being on an emotional roller coaster.

It can leave someone wondering:
“Did I hear right? / / Did they mean to be mean? / / If I react, will they make a joke or tell me I’m too sensitive?……”,
which is what the P-A wants – for others to always be off-balance.

NOTE: Emotionally healthy people are self-reflective, so not only do they have decent self-esteem, but also are not afraid to own their ‘stuff’.  So they tend not to point fingers at others, keeping the focus on themselves, are not ashamed of their emotions, & can communicate in direct ways using ‘I’ statements.
EXP: “I’m not going to be able to be able to help you with that.”// This is who I am, please accept me as is….”

BUT dyed-in-the-wool P-As have none of those characteristics. Almost all of the following statements are ‘you’ types of comments (some implied), and none of the “I” statements admit honest wishes & needs or take personal responsibility

This list includes things can be said/written between family members, between friends, between mates, at school & at work.

I’m not mad – this is a lie if their over-all pattern is being P-A
Fine. Whatever – sulking, they want you to stop bugging them
Sure, I’d be happy to – they don’t want to & have no intention of doing it
I’m coming! – foot-dragging so they don’t have to do something you want
I didn’t know you meant now – means I won’t let you control when I do what you want, which I don’t want to do anyway

• You asking for too much / just want everything to be perfect – they don’t want to do what you asked but can’t get away with putting it off, so they do it badly or half-assed, then are defensive when you rightly object to a sloppy execution
If you really want to – means I don’t really want to, but won’t say so
You decide / whatever you want – (as a pattern) never taking responsibility for what they want & them criticized your choices
Don’t bother! – means I really want you to do _____, & angry that you won’t
• We’re all watching your progress and hoping the best for you – we don’t have a lot of hope or confidence in you

• Oh my dear, you’re looking so much better today – boy have you been looking like something the cat dragged in lately
• This is far too complicated for you to understand – dumb, dumb, dumb
• It’s nice that you’ve found a friend – finally. You’re not very desirable
• How is your therapy progressing? – you’re such a mess, I don’t think even this will help // You don’t seem to be getting any better
Aren’t we pretty today? – Who do you think you are? / / Is that what you’re going to wear? // What you’re wearing is ugly

If you insist! – means I don’t want you to, but won’t ask you to stop
It’s fine if you’re late, again – feel disrespected but they think it’s too petty to object directly (don’t have a right to be considered)
No worries – short for Screw You
I thought you knew/ are in the loop – they had no intention of including you

Thanks in advance – you’re expected to do something they want, without your input or consent
• I was curious about / surprised / confused by… is disguised criticism
I h0pe it’s worth it – they’re worried about a choice or decision
you’re making & don’t want you to do it, and hope you fail

• You’ve done so well for someone with your limitations /with what you had to work with – means the P-A is patting you on the head, but is actually very displeased & disappointed in you, & blames you
So… (by itself) – another form of Screw you, or what’s your point?
— If in a sentence: So….When are we going? / have you called them back yet?….. – the P-A is clearly agitated, worried…. but won’t admit it

I was only joking – sarcasm meant to stab at you. It’s not funny
• I didn’t mean anything by it – means ‘pretend you didn’t get it’
• Don’t take it so personally – means it was a very personal barb
Why are you getting so upset? – means “Ha, I got you!”
I didn’t do anything (wrong) – complete denial of their abuse or neglect
You’re too sensitive – P-As don’t want you to object to their hostility
You’re so intense / too emotional – P-As are hiding their own anger & pain, so don’t want your emotions to stir up their suppressed ones
You’re imagining things – means that if you’re ‘crazy’, they’re home free

NEXT: P-A ACoAs (Part 1)

OUTGROWING Co-Dep Niceness (Part 5a)

I DON’T KNOW
if I’ll ever be able to

PREVIOUS: Outgrowing P-P #3

SITEs: PMES forms of Self-Care 
• 30 day challenge, to make changes


RECOVERY from “Too Nice Syndrome” (TSN) cont.

Tool 5a. FORGIVING OTHERS
DEF:
a. To LET GO of our anger  (Es= the emotion), and our resentments (Ts= the angry thoughts /obsessions) toward anyone whose offenses, flaws or mistakes have seriously injured us   (See “Letting go means….“), and
b.  To GIVE UP the desire to punish, seek revenge or exact payment

ACoAs
The mental health, Recovery & religious communities keep telling us we must forgive others in order to move on, insisting it must happen before healing can occur. This may be true for some people, but doesn’t really work for most ACoAs.
Forgiveness is important, but it’s not that easy to extend it to all the damaging & crazy mates, friends, bosses…. we’ve collected along the way, & especially not toward the adults who tortured & neglected us as kids.
There are things done to us that are – or seem to be – unforgivable.

▶︎ For ACoA angry-nice people forgiveness IS about ‘letting go’ – but not first. Instead, it is the outcome of the process of gradually releasing layers of old pain, combined with developing the UNIT, so that we don’t need all those ‘unavailables’ anymore.

This takes a lot of time & effort, & maybe forgiving our abusers will never be complete because of the amount & intensity of trauma we suffered, but we are worth the effort to try, & that effort ends up benefiting every part of our life.

Not getting our rage out (& the tears underneath) is what keeps us stuck in obsession, which we’ve covered over with denial & then express as P-P angry-niceness. It will continue to plague us as long as we’re still desperate for their (unavailable) love & acceptance. Our WIC wants the Perpetrators to admit what they did, to genuinely feel sorry & to apologize. This rarely happens, so don’t hold your breath! Our anger is appropriate, but it must finally be vented safely so we don’t have to keep carrying its corrosive effect. (“How to forgive” – even if they never apologize!)

ACoAs live in one extreme or the other about almost everything.
As adult we are responsible for our Ts, Es & As, but as angry ‘nice people’ (P-P) we are afraid to admit our emotions & opinions, instead taking on the burden of other people’s feelings, especially if we love or need them, & especially if they’re acting needy or aloof. This comes from a set of opposites, a double message that becomes our bind :
— the WIC’s narcissistic desire to symbiose (be the same as me), AND
— the compulsion to escape from being ourselves (from S-H)

So, as long as we’re being run by the wounded child,
— we either refuse to even consider letting go (forgiving), or
— we’re too easy on everyone who hurt us.
Taking the High Road is more likely a way of staying in denial than it is of being emotionally free.

► Forgiving requires some mental & emotional distance from our wounds, by:
— having done enough venting of our old pain in safe ways
— having had our childhood experiences validated by people who understand
— having gotten enough correct info so our thinking is clearer
— having good enough boundaries so we can take care of ourselves
— having developed a healthy Adult to be more in charge of our choices

A VISUAL : We can think of our many painful memories as a series of pictures in a large gallery in our head – each one with an art lamp over it, the cord plugged into the wall at the baseboard. For us – the light is all the emotions attached to each memory, plugged into our nervous system.
A little at a time, by crying, raging, talking them thru & being validated –  in safe places – the plug can get pulled out of the wall. We’ll still be able to see the images, but they will be in shadow because much of the pain will be gone. THAT is letting go. That is the forgiveness that benefits us.

NEXT: Recovery – Forgiving ourselves (#5b)