OUTGROWING Co-Dep Niceness (Part 5a)

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.

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

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)

‘Controlling’ & Abandonment (Part 3)

whisper control 

she didn’t even look at me today

PREVIOUS: Controlling & Abandonment (#2)

REVIEW posts: “Noticing Painful Events

SITE: Over-controlling Parents Irritate Adult Children

Our PARENTS still control our thought & emotions now if we:
• are afraid to express our true E. & opinions around them
• get tense even thinking about being around them. Want to reduce contact with them or sever it all together – but feel guilty & afraid
• FEEL: intimidated or belittled by how they treat us
— confused by their mixed messages & double binds
— feel disloyal when we act or feel differently than what they want
— easily annoyed or impatient with them without knowing why
• find it hard to be emotionally separate from them (feel their Es for them, care too much, assume you know what they need…)
• spend time or talk to them more from obligation than choice

RESULTS of being over-controlled as a child, we:
• expect everyone to hurt, judge or take advantage of us
• feel chronically empty or numb inside, easily bored, restless
• frantically try to avoid real or imagined abandonment – by clinging, people-pleasing, being invisible….
• are intimidated by or feel enraged at controlling people
• experience temporary dissociation (splitting), disconnecting from self

Mentally / Socially
• feel like we’re always under scrutiny – even when alone
scrutinized• are a perfectionist, driven, rarely satisfied – especially with ourselves
• keep ourselves isolated from shame & so ‘no one can hurt or leave’ us
• lose ourselves in relationships by only considering others’ needs
• over- & then under-value people we get too close to
• find it hard to relax, laugh or be spontaneous

Emotionally / Spiritually
• mood swings not caused by bipolar disease
• inappropriate & intense anger; difficulty controlling temper
• trouble asserting ourselves or feeling proud of our accomplishments
• trouble finding a spiritual belief, or one that feels right

Mentally / Behaviorally
• chronic obsessive thoughts, going ‘round & ‘round without solutions
• confused or distorted self-image: “Who am I really?” , “What do I really look like?” (feel ugly, fat, too thin too short….)
• harsh “inner critics” that torture you, especially after a loss
• impulsivity – can’t control your choices & reactions
• paranoid thinking – as a regular way of experiencing others
• compulsive self-damaging behaviors in 2 or more areas of life, such as an eating disorder, addictions, fights, under-achieving….
• recurring suicidal thoughts or actions

Present-day CAUSES of ‘Abandonment’* PAIN 
• Abusive mate, adult-child, boss, friend, elderly parent
• Loss of a real or imagined beloved person, animal, thing or place
• Unkind or threatening communications (in any form)
• Unfair or abusive political & social laws, policies, rules
• Inaccurate, harsh, judgmental & prejudicial religious beliefs & leaders….
✶ Technically, adults cannot be abandoned, unless they’re physically or mentally incapacitated, so the term mainly applies to children.

BLAMING: In the present ACoAs often accuse other adults of abandoning us, when we feel hurt by some interaction or loss.  What we’re actually experiencing is our WIC’s OLD A. pain, which is still held in our mind & body. It is usually out of proportion to what’s actually happening now. Naturally there are real-life situations that make us sad, frustrated, angry… but unless an event is extreme, such as the death of a close loved one, a life-threatening attack or illness, a fire… most of the situations we encounter that push our A. button don’t warrant the intensity of our reaction.  “If it’s hysterical, it’s historical”.

When others A. us: if someone we very much want to be with doesn’t call or write right back – we can get very angry at them for not responding, immediately. We feel as devastated as if they had threatened to take away our livelihood or our home, which are NOT equivalent to being ignored or put off. Yet we get just as scared & blame ourselves, & then try to control them to stop our pain.

When we Abandon others: We also have great FoA when we aren’t perfect. Talking too much, asking questions, expressing strong emotions with someone – or standing up for ourselves! – is NOT equivalent to attacking them, yet ACoAs can feel the same intense anxiety & self-hate as if we had!  So we try to control ourselves (not the same as being in control of ourselves) to stave off being abused &/or left.

EXP: A breakup or other loss can leave an ACoA feeling self-hate, depression, despair, even being suicidal.  While breakups are almost always emotionally stressful, healthy people don’t fall into such a deep hole when it happens to them.  ACoAs not only take the loss personally – “I’m not good enough to be loved”, “I’ll never be loved like that again” …. but the current situation taps into that acid-filled well, so we experience 2 different levels at the same time: the intensity of our WIC’s accumulated old hurts & the recent real or projected loss. The combination can be devastating.

NEXT: ACoAs Getting Controlled (Part 1)


From being raised by alcoholics,
ACoAs & other narcissist!


50 Qs: A Self-evaluating List for Adult-Children of alcoholics, abusers, abandoners….
Answer: Y = yes, N = no, S = some, D = don’t know

DO YOU…?….
___find that you seek out tension or crisis, & then complain about it
___become anxious around angry people or authority figures
___defend or excuse people when they abuse you, implying you deserve it
___get locked into a course of action without seeing alternatives or outcomes
___react to people & situations, instead of choosing your responses
___worry that your emotions may overpower or hurt you, or others
___tend to lie or exaggerate, when it would be just as easy to tell the truth
___find the needs & wants of others more important than your own
___prevent yourself from experiencing the joy of your successes
___frequently anticipate that situations or life won’t work out for you
___isolate yourself when problems arise, or when you ‘feel bad’hiding
___find yourself in one or more survival ‘roles’ (hero, lost child…)
___mistrust your feelings, thought, perceptions
___tend to see issues in life as B & W, right or wrong
___have a fear of abandonment, especially when criticized
___strongly criticize yourself when not being perfect
___defend or excuse people when they abuse you, implying you deserve it
___get locked into a course of action without seeing alternatives or outcomes
___react to people & situations, instead of choosing your responses
___have trouble relaxing, playing, having fun
___had trouble with close, intimate relationships
___feel responsible for the feelings & actions of others, & try to fix them
___stay in relationships even tho’ you’re being constantly hurt, neglected, lied to, manipulated, hit… not getting any of your needs met
___fight with your family members over a parent’s drinking
___your parents make promises to you & then not keep them
___lose sleep at night due to a parent’s drinking
___take on some of the jobs or responsibilities belonging to your parents
___ever get sick, or worry a lot because of their drinking
___ever do anything to prevent your parent’s drinking
___always believe that no one knew your parents were drunks, when you were growing up
___able to recognize situation that you have no control over
___super responsible or super irresponsible
___unable to work thru crisis & conflict, or do you aggravate it
___seeing a pattern in your relationships similar to your family of origin
___unable to enjoy your successes & accomplishments
___afraid others may ‘find out’ you’re not good, or that you’re a fraud
___afraid of your emotions, & afraid to express them   get help
___unable to complement yourself
___ashamed of or feel guilty for being who you are
___afraid of going crazy, or becoming a bag lady or bum
___uncomfortable with your life when it’s going smoothly
___unable to ask for help, or do so apologetically
___constantly seeking approval from others
___uncomfortable with being liked, admired, approved of
___always mentally looking over your shoulder to see if you’ll be punished
___out of control with: food, chemicals, work, sex, spending, exercising…
___been blaming everyone else for your life’s problems
___staunchly defended your parents’ ‘innocence’ in hurting you as a kid
___had trouble following thru on projects, or never finishing
___tried to hide the fact that your parents drank a lot, beat you or others in the family, incested you or your siblings
___concerned about your mate, children, friends’…use of chemicals
___developed fantasy beliefs about how loved ones may treat you some day
___considered what ‘normal’ is, & believe you’re not
___found yourself sabotaging your success & then feeling ‘more alive’
___been loyal to others (parents, siblings, lovers, children, friends, employers) – even tho’ your loyalty was undeserved, unjustified, un-returned
___been fired more than once & never really understood why
___* learned to have dialogues with your ‘inner child’, & consistently take care of yourself in loving ways ?
♥                            ♥                            ♥
IF you’re even taking this test, it’s likely you come from a damaged, angry, abusive, traumatic, neglected, unhappy backgroundanswers
TOTALS:   ____Yes   ____ No   ____ Some  ____ Don’t Know
IF you answered YES to:
✶ 10-20, you’re either not an ACoA, in denial or in long-term recovery
✶ 20-30, you’re a co-dependent, even if there was no alcoholism in the family
✶ 30 or more, you’re definitely an ACoA (adult-child of alcoholics and other narcissists), which includes mentally ill &/or narcissistic family members

• If you said NO to Qs in the ‘DID YOU…’ section, but still scored high, there may be alcoholism/ drug addiction in some other part of your family, even if you didn’t experience it directly
• You may also be an active addict, yourself – alcohol/ drugs, food, money, sex, relationships…

Look thru this blog (2010 – 2016) and go to Heal & Grow SITE MAP – for info covering issues in this questionnaire at: http://www.acoarecovery.com

• If you are not yet in Recovery from your childhood trauma & present day difficulties, you can seek out 12-step Programs. THEY’RE BASICALLY FREE, & are available on the internet & by phone, for anyone not able to get to these meeting in person.  See pg 55 or some of the 12-step groups.

• Also, there are many recovery books, site, blogs & of course therapy, with someone very familiar with ACoA / addiction issues.
✶  If you are in Recovery, keep up the good fight. It pays off! I know because I’ve been at it for 35 yrs, & it works.

NEXT: Variations of the L.L.