ACoAs & LISTENING (Part 2)

  Screen Shot 2016-06-19 at 5.12.58 AM

if I don’t DO something to help!

PREVIOUS: ACoAs & Listening (#1)

•“Rescuing – False Helping

proverb: “If Speaking is Silver, then LISTENING is GOLD”

1. (E) When someone wants you to listen to them AND….. (cont.)
• If their emotional state sounds ‘crazy, irrational, ‘out of proportion’ to the situation, remember: “If it’s Hysterical, it’s Historical”. Their WIC is in the foreground. But it’s not your job to parent them & you’re not their therapist. Trying to make them feel better can be heard as denying their experience!

CAVEAT:  If you’re listening to someone who is deep into the emotion of self-hate, there’s very little you can do to make a difference in that moment.

DO NOT try to talk Screen Shot 2016-06-19 at 4.39.39 AMsomeone out of Self-Hate. It’s futile. Their WIC has completely regressed into a familiar childhood state & locked in for the time being. Because S-H is about denying the pain of abandonment while trying to have a little control over their sense of powerlessness & futility – they’re not going to come out of it right away.

– You could say: “Wow,_____, I hear that you’re really beating yourself up mercilessly. Why is that?”
– You can also ask: What’s happened recently that hurt you or disappointed you so much?” If you think they’ll understand, you can gently suggest they’re feeling some deep abandonment
– If appropriate, you could add your own reaction: “Your self-hate is really painful for me to hear. It’s like watching some I care about cut themselves or shoot heroin!” Yes, that’s how devastating S-H is!

2. (A) When someone wants you to listen to them AND you insist on offering a way for them to solve their problem (actions), you actually have failed them, strange as it may seem, because…
…when you do for them what they can AND need to do for themselves, you contribute to their sense of inadequacy & fear of taking appropriate risks. And they can do things for themselves. They’re not helpless. Maybe discouraged & faltering, but not helpless.

• ACoAs would rather do for others that themselves. It’s our training and a great distraction from taking care of ourselves, which we don’t want to do.Screen Shot 2016-06-19 at 5.18.42 AM

• IRONY: we use a great deal of intelligence, creativity, money, time – even wisdom – on someone else, BUT genuinely believe we don’t know how to handle our own problems! How is that possible, when we just used all those skills for others?

• REALITY: We use up a lot of our energy trying to save someone else, while silently expecting, even demanding, that someone else do the same for us! WE too want to be taken care of, even tho we too have the ability to care for ourselves.

• Rule #1, again – zip the lip!
• Often people just need a non-judgmental sounding board – to hear themselves think.  By running it past a good listener, they can hear the problem for what it is, maybe even find their own answersScreen Shot 2016-06-19 at 5.14.43 AM

• You can ASK if they need practical suggestions, but only give it IF….
…. they say yes & they seem willing to do for themselves (not just trying to be taken care of, or need to be oppositional)
…. you actually know, maybe from experience, what you’re talking about
• You need to CHECK what they….
…. want to do, in the near future
…. have already done, but for some reason didn’t work or didn’t help!

NEXT: ACoAs & Listening (Part 3)


Double MESSAGES – ACoAs (Part 8b)

acoa DBs

If I let go, I’ll be all alone! Wa-a-a-a

PREVIOUS: ACoAs & DM (#8a)



1. DM from Family

2. How WE D.Bind ourselves, as a result
Once we have a working knowledge of this ‘game’ we can take a serious look at the D. Messages we give ourselves & how the repercussions permeate our whole life.

• We rarely realize what we’re ‘saying’ to ourselves, or that it comes from the WIC (R = receiver) via the PP (S = sender).  EXP:
Belief A – I’m good when I flirt (sexy, desirable, successful…) – AND
Belief B – I’m bad when I flirt (slutty, superficial, manipulative…)
If I DO flirt I’m inundated with Self-hate (ACoAs’ main form of self-punishment, courtesy of the PP).  Flirting expresses my natural sexuality, but I can’t enjoy being seen as sexual because it shows that I’m ‘dirty’.
If I DON’T flirt, I may: > ‘put off’ potentially positive relationships
> miss out on -safe- attention, compliments, sex… (my right to have)
> be considered frigid, unfriendly, a snob…. (even tho’ I’m just scared!)flirt or not
> miss opportunities to get legitimate favors, help & considerations by being charming….

• Another way we trap ourselves & frustrate others is being stuck in the ‘Complain-Help offered-Reject-Complain’ syndrome.
— We go on & on about a problem to anyone who will listen, implying that we need help. (Of course we would never ask for it outright!) BUT
— When people offer possible solutions, we reject them all & continue complaining!
WHY: The suggestions may not fit our specific need, but most often – we are addicted to being unhappy (the victim), don’t feel worthy of being helped, or think there is no solution – for us.
Eric Berne calls it the Why don’t you – Yes, But….” psychological Game
ALSO – See post: People should treat me better, but I won’t let them

BUT the most common Double Bind we put OURSELVES in
is the familiar 3-part hamster-wheel-thinking, often by those of us in some form of ‘growth’ process:
A: I’m stuck & in a lot of pain. I’m trying really hard to recover from my childhood, which I -sort of- know wasn’t so great. I read books, go to Meetings & therapy, Couple’s Counseling, seek out alternative & spiritual healing …..AND/BUT,

B. No matter how hard I try I’ll never get any better. I’m always going to mess up, & get abandonacoa DB wheeled. I’ll never get the relationship I want, I don’t know how to love, I wouldn’t know a healthy person if they bit me!…..
It’s my fault because I’m just too slow, too dense, too stubborn, too damaged.
C. I can’t notice or object or escape my self-imposed trap!!

Can you hear the D.Message, creating the D.Bind? 
• Position A. implies that you’ve been wounded AND can heal from it. You believe it’s actually possible to Recover because you did not start out defective – you were damaged by your early environment, so you’re willing to do the work at healing – as unfair as that is!.
At the same time:
• Position B. blatantly asserts that your ‘f—ed-up-ness’ was not caused by anyone other than yourself. Didn’t your family love you, mean well & do the best they could? It was you who were born defective & therefore it’s hopeless to improve or outgrow your flaws & weaknesses. It’s just the way it is – everything is your own fault & it’s never going to change. You cause your own misery, but it’s what you deserve, so “why bother”.

You can’t have it both ways! Either you’re wounded & can heal, or you’re defective & therefore intrinsically, irrevocably worthless.
a. If you were truly defective you’d be un-repairable. So why would you even try to work on yourself? Why go into Recovery? It would be futile – a waste of time & money
b. However –  If you are in fact wounded – by your upbringing AND not your fault! – then you can slowly outgrow / repair the damage. repairing
BUT to do that you must give up the belief that there’s something fundamentally wrong with your personality. It cannot be both A & B! With this conflict UNresolved, is it any wonder why we’re stuck?

BTW – some ACoAs try to cover up this dilemma by always being angry, distant & blaming everyone else for their problems, but the original DM  (Form #3) is always running in the background, like a computer virus.

NEXT: DMs – Results (Part 9)

Double MESSAGES – Mind Games (Part 5)

confused turtle 

but I can’t figure out what’s wrong


REVIEW posts: ‘Emotional abuse’ ,
‘Toxic family Rules’

SPEAKING OF GAMES (in Part 4), this post is a slight digression from the topic of DMs & DBs, but is so striking that it’s worth including. The following examples may or may not be a part of some DBs, but they’re cruel games, the same way DBs are. This is by no means complete, so add your own family’s dysfunctional games as you become aware of them.

DEF of GAMES, from Eric Berne’s “Games People Play“:
“A pre-set, structured series of social transactions, superficially plausible but with (selfish or destructive) hidden motives, leading to a well-defined predictable outcome.” Games are usually dysfunctional, subconscious programs created by the Little Professor ego state (& scroll down), to gather ‘strokes’ not allowed directly – ways to feed the Self emotionally. As far as the WIC is concerned, even negative strokes are better than none at all.
NOTE: Some games are for fun & generally harmless, like a flirting ritual used to cajole someone into bed – as long as both people understand the rules & agree to the outcome.

HARMFUL mind GAMES – from an article by Brenda Nelson, 2008.
These are abusive emotional TRICKS played by parents on their children, and on each other! They insure not being able to form strong family bonds, generating lack of trust in the children, who will NOT look back on them fondly.

When You’re Older / Maybe for Your Birthday / Wait ‘til Christmas

This game starts any time a child asks for something (a doll, a bike, a trip, a car…. ) which the parent has no intention of providing. While sometimes asking a child to wait is legitimate, most often it’s just a cowardly & dishonest way for a parent to avoid saying ‘NO’broken promises outright. What unhealthy adults don’t realize is that a child will always hear these phrases as a promise (“Yes, but later”). What’s really going on is that the parent hopes the child will forget, but of course they don’t – they’re just wait. What they also never forget is the broken promise, but which is in fact being lied to and conned.

If You’re Not Good, Santa Won’t Bring You Any Gifts

It’s both a bribe & a threat – a terrible way to get a child to behave. It makes being loved (the gifts) conditional on the child’s actions, rather than being loved unconditionally. An easy game to play for the month of December.

Your Mother / Father Said
When parent A tells parent B to get the child to do something, and then B lets themselves be the messenger: “Your mother said you have to clean your room  pronto / Your father wants you to mow the lawn, right now……”. This is chickening out by both adults, a triangulation (A should have told the child him/herself) and B making A seem like a bully so B can be the ‘nice’ one

Go Ask Your Mom / If Your Dad Says it’s Okay
When a child asks one parent if they can do something, or if they can have something, and that parent refers them to the other parent. They’re putting the burden of responsibility so they don’t have to be the “bad guy” or say the wrong thing. They leave it up to the other adult to either please the child, or disappoint it. It’s a mean game both to the child & to the other adult.

What Would Your Father / Mother Say?
This game is both —shaming
— a way to shame the child: ”What would he/she think of you if they know what you just did/said?” (“he/she won’t love you any more”), AND
— again, pitting one parent against the other, A using B as a threat, making them the bully & judge, so A can seem like the ‘good’ one, while shifting responsibility on the other adult

Just Wait Until Your Father Gets Home
This game is gender-specific, making the male parent the ‘more dangerous’ one. This distinction is not universal, just more common. It unfairly, unnecessarily makes the child afraid of one parent, who is being used as a threat.  If A is home when a problem comes up they should deal with it themselves, immediately. Making the child wait for the other parent to deal out discipline or punishment is both unfair to parent B and a torture for the child.

Why Can’t You be More Like Your Sister (cousin, movie star….)?
This one is down right evil – negatively comparing one child to someone else. Rather than involving the other parent, it adds fuel to the horrors of sibling or peer rivalry.    It can involve 2 girls, 2 boys in the same family, one child & a cousin or other relative, or the child vs. an idealized religious or media figure (“What would Jesus do?”, or why can’t you be more like Cindy Crawford, Hannah Montana…? )
— It can be made into a competition (he’s getting good grades / she doesn’t give me any trouble…)
— OR a comparison (She’s so quiet, elegant, obedient, respectful….).
• Pitting one child against anyone else clearly says to the ‘bad’ child that they’re unacceptable & therefore unlovable.  Either way the child loses – developing self-hate, as well as resenting / hating the other child or person

If You Don’t Look After the Pet, We’ll Get Rid of It
more games
This is a very destructive game. Not only does it hurt the child, but it ultimately hurts the pet. Children cannot be asked to accept a lifetime commitment, and many pets will not be taken in by others when they’re no longer little & cute, so they’re often euthanized. Children should NEVER be told they are 100% responsible for pet care. If parents can’t handle the responsibility they should not get one.
• This game definitely destroys a child’s sense of trust, safety & innocence. It can also harm their understanding of responsibility, & even their ability to maintain a relationship later in life. After all – their own parent showed them that all life, all commitments, are disposable!

NEXT:  Styles of DMs, Part 6

Ego States – PARENT (Part 1)

good paretn 

I can take care of myself well

PREVIOUS: Ego States – CHILD -#5

POSTS:  The Introject (PP)

Reminder: Ego states are normal internal parts of ourselves and are supposed to work together for our benefit – as aspects of our True Self. Before considering how they apply to our interactions with others, it’s important to understand – AND apply – how they’re meant to interact on our own behalf.

PARENT Ego State (PES) ‘Extero-psyche’
PAST: This E.S. is our Introject (positive or toxic) – an internal picture of how we saw our real parents & other important care-givers when we were growing up. Children pick up just as much subliminal info about the people around us as what’s visible. But since all children think they’re the center of the universe, they assume everything the adults do & say is about them, which leads to a limited understanding & sometimes distorted perspective of them. This combination becomes the blueprint for the way to think of ourselves & how function in the world. In healthy families this template will have less discrepancy with reality, but for ACoAs what we absorbed was not only OUR immature thinking BUT also their WIC & PP!

PRESENT: The experiences, emotions & instruction we got from family were taken in wholesale, without consciously considering whether we really agree with any of it or if it suited us.  The PES is now our ingrained voice of authority, combining our native personality with our conditioning. It’s made up of a huge number of hidden and obvious mental recordings.  We are in Parent mode when we evaluate things, make generalized statements about the world, look after ourselves or others. This is OK as long as we have a Good Parent voice, & the Adult stays in charge (See Contamination’)family4

● If our family was loving & reasonably healthy then our Inner Parent is a positive one, having taken in useful & accurate rules and regulations, realistic knowledge about the world, how to be appropriately nurturing & helpful…. but even for such people a portion of those parental messages will be out of date & need to changed or modified because:
— we’re no longer children, so some of those rules no longer apply
— in many cases society has moved on (the role of women, fear of technology…), making some of the early info useless or limiting

● , that part of us is mainly the toxic Parent (PP), with B & W, distorted and cruel beliefs that torture us & hold us back. Interestingly, many ACoAs have a version of a Loving Parent, which we only use for others – in the form of care-taking, rescuing, people-pleasing AND sometimes being of genuine help (teacher, nurse, leader, parent….) – BUT don’t apply that benevolence to ourselves.
Our harmful internalized messages have to be identified & replaced:
— they were severely damaging, leaving us with the conclusion “I’m so unworthy, no one will ever love me”
— they don’t apply to positive relationships with healthier people, so we can’t use them to guide us in interactions with others

Ego State POSITIONSe.s. Positions
Berne suggested the 3 ego states may correspond to parts of the brain, and that 2nd & 3rd order states contain hereditary material.

1st Order
– Basic T.A. model
● Parent, driven by beliefs, via things we were taught – acquired rather than inborn
● Adult, driven by thoughts, via what we’ve learned ourselves – called the neo-psyche (neo-cortex)
● Child, driven by emotions, via what we feel & intuit – called the archeo-psyche, vaguely connected to the reptilian brain (MORE...)

2nd Order
– Ideally this is a complete & well-adjusted ADULT with all 3 aspects working to benefit each other as a unit:
P2 (Parent E.A. as part of the whole) is focused on self-nurturing, as well as the care & protection of children.
● A2 (Adult E.S. of the whole) is mature, wise, makes good decisions, interacts with the other 2 parts & generally acts on behalf of oneself whenever practical functions / decisions / actions are needed.
● C2 (Child E.S. of the whole) is the ideally well-adjusted, un-wounded creative force of ones life. It’s made up of: P1 – the Adapted Child, A1 – called the Little Professor (always asking “WHY?”) & C2 the Natural Child.

3rd Order – Focus is on the Adapted Child with it’s accumulated trauma (see posts re. Child E.S.).

PURPOSE: The survival of the Species
For US: In general – the PES allows us to function AUTOMATICALLY, so we can respond to many aspects of our life without having to think about ‘How or What’ (how to behave in different situation, how to ride a bike or dress ourselves, what we believe, what comes next, what’s right….). This saves time & effort, freeing up the Adult part to make decisions ‘in the now’.
ALSO – it’s the way we treat ourselves, both in inner dialogue & actions. The Inner Parent is either loving or abusive. Because it’s how we parent ourselves, we need to identify it’s toxic content, & then work to correct them.
• P1 in this chart indicates the stage when the ‘early parent’ (C’s P) is formed – from birth to about age fivegood mom

For OTHERS: Functions as PARENT to the next generation (our own children, & anyone else in genuine need), by combining family experience with our native personality and what we’ve taught ourselves
The ideal parent is “all-about-the-child”, nurturing and protecting them.
• P2: The grown-up Parent ego state is formed between ages 5 to around 20, with continued input from authority of caretaker figures. After that, any time P2 gets triggered, people tend to reacts just like their original role models. But since each of us also brings our own personality, and for some – our Recovery – to how we express P2, it’s possible to act much better than our dysfunctional training!

NEXT: PARENT E.S. (Part 2)

EGO STATES – Basics (Part 1)

inner child 

& I feel best when they get along!


REVIEW: S & I – Healthy Individuation

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.


In the 1970s the concept of the Inner Child & co-dependence became popular.  In the ‘80s & ‘90s John Bradshaw did an excellent series of TV specials focusing on ACoAs & the IC.  Carl Jung is credited with the concept of the “Divine Child”, but the term broke into the mainstream mainly with the book “Your Inner Child of the Past” (1963) by Hugh Missildine, MD. Modern IC work is an outgrowth of ‘Ego Psychology’, ‘Family Systems Therapy’ & T.A.*

*T.A.= Transactional Analysis : This chart is from Eric Berne’s GAMES PEOPLE PLAY, in ESs-Basic part 1it’s simplest form & is the basis for all modern Inner Child work.  For Berne, an ego state is ‘A system of feelings accompanied by related set of behavior patterns.’

The human mind is made up of a “Family of the Self” within a single personality. How well these internal parts get along among themselves – in order for the individual to function effectively – can vary greatly from person to person. These ‘family members’ (E.S.) are neural pathways in the brain forged by chemical connections as a result of thinking, feeling or doing (T.E.A.) the same thing over & over, year after year.
When we’re grown-ups, our E.S. are meant to be ‘built in’ resources we can call on as needed, but for ACoAs aspects of the basic states can be distorted (WIC), deficient (poorly functioning Adult), even missing (Loving Parent) due to our upbringing.

• They are called ‘ego states’ because whichever one we’re in, we think of it as ‘me’, our All-About-Me-owsense of identity (ego = Self).  We’re all born with the makings of 3 basic internal states (P.A.C.) – points of view, inner voices, attitudes – & we know this because kids have the same 3 parts, but in child form.
Of course we start out just with the Child state, & look to our family’s Adult & Parent parts to take care of us. We also need them to teach us how to function in those 2 modes, so how well our eventual A & P turn out depends on the emotional/mental health of our caretakers.

Ego States (Parent / Adult / Child) are made up of our experiences & activities grouped into clusters which can vary in size & importance, & include many memories, postures, feelings, beliefs…. that were learned at an earlier age. Each state is consistent within itself, ego stateshaving its own Thoughts, Emotions & Actions.

They become our habitual way of responding to ourselves & the world, the clusters being bound together by some with a point of view or common ‘truth’, either healthy or not – depending on upbringing.

EXP: The unhealthy (P) may be organized around the belief the “I have to rid the world of all wrong-doing”, & the wounded (C) may base it’s sense of identity on “I have to be perfect to be loved”, while the focus for a healthy (A) may be “I express my talent & training in my work” ….

• E.S. are conscious parts of our psyche which we can shift in & out of – one minute acting like a kid, the next handling a problem, in Adult mode…. They are visible & available to awareness, making it possible to notice, value, work with & modify aspects of them, if they want to. Even so, most people are not aware of which state they’re expressing at any given moment, although others often can, just by watching or listening to someone: “Boy, is he being a brat!” (C) / “You’re not the boss of me!” (P) / “Yes, the suggestion you made is very practical.”(A).

BACKGROUND: According to Dan Siegel, a state of mind (E.S.) can become ingrained when a positive OR negative event is experienced repeatedly, or when a traumatic event is overwhelming. In general, ingrained states of mind become parts of the Self, some by reacting to other people & some by internalizing them:
— Normal Differentiation – which eventually allows for S & I: children slowly separates out their own identity from that of other family members – having different opinions and values  art_class_4while still being able to stay emotionally connected to them. They learn to discriminate between things they like & don’t like, as well as entire patterns appropriate for dealing with parents, teachers, and playmates

— Introjection of significant others – children unconsciously accumulate groups of beliefs, emotions & behaviors from their caretakers that are acceptable or not to their True Self. If acceptable, the behaviors get included into their sense of identity (“this is me”), but if they’re not acceptable (qualities of abusive / neglectful parents) then the behavior ‘clusters’ become Inner Objects (“not me”) they have to ‘handle’ or manage by developing defenses

NEXT: Ego States – basics (Part 2)

Negative INTROJECT (Part 2)

those voices  

Is it the Pig Parent or the damaged kid?

PREVIOUS: Negative Introject  (Part 1)

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.


HOW CAN WE TELL when the ‘NI’ is talking?
a. The ‘YOU’ form – when talking to ourselves in a negative, harsh way. THAT is the bad parent voice: “You should have know better…”, “See, everyone thinks you’re stupid”, “You could have done better than that!” ….
In this form, our original caretakers still have to keep us terrified, dependent, dis-empowered – or they’ll loose their grip & fade away. If that were to happen they wouldn’t get their needs met (thru us), since they never wanted to do that for themselves. That’s what they need us for!   OR we may only hear:

b. The ‘I’ form – which is the Inner Child (WIC) expressing its S-H in response to & fully believing the Negative Introject, who is off stage – but definitely not absent – spewing it’s poison from the wings.
In this case we can only hear the NI by implication, as puppet master. whenever we self-talk in the same judgmental, impatient way as they did to us. Now it’s in the first person, the IC mimicking the bad parent: “I’m such a looser’,  “I never do anything right”,  “I don’t know how to do things”, “No one could ever love me”…..

This version is much sneakier:
THEM: By being far in the background it cannot be held accountable. The NI gets to stay off the hot seat, harder to catch as the source of the abuse, which the Introject will never admit to anyway, even when confronted!denial

US: We collude (unconsciously) in keeping it hidden from ourselves because we can’t bear to admit how dangerous our ‘loved ones’ were. Now that they’re ‘inside’ us we don’t know how to get rid of them. SOME UNHEALTHY attempts at shutting the PP voice up:
• heavy drinking & drug use, & all other addictions (sex, food, spending, exercise, internet….)
• overworking, endless schooling, career we hate…
• suicide attempts or suicidal behavior (dangerous people & activities)

BTW – each of us refers to our personal ‘NI’ by a name & image which suits its character & our imagination: The  ‘Bat’ we hit ourselves with; the ‘Bats’ – the parent’s who only call at night when they’re drunk; the vampire; the Gorn – from Star Trek; the monster; Mom, or Dad; the Shadow….  Eric Berne, in Games People Play, calls it “The Pig Parent”.  What’s yours?

PURPOSE of the ‘NI’
a. The WIC hangs on to the bad voice with a fanatic devotion because it’s the only parent it has ever known. It’s afraid to let go because  – as one ACoA’s Inner Child screamed in a therapy session – “What will I do without them?”. As we replace the bad voice by consistently, lovingly parenting ourselves, the WIC will let go, but not quickly or easily!

b. The NI uses it’s convoluted, sadistic power to pour gas on the flame of life’s stresses TO:
• validate its beliefs (T) & actions (A), so it never has to take responsibility or be held accountable, & therefore never risk change!
• to keep us symbiotically attached by feeding our S-H. If we’re convinced the abuse was our fault, we’ll never expel it & then it won’t have to face its own abandonment wounds

POWER of the ‘NI’introjecting
i. Technically – it is wired into our brain in very deep pathways, by virtue of repetition & emotional bonds (the limbic system & the frontal cortex).  Each groove forms the easiest way for electrical energy to travel
(strongest chemical trace) so it becomes out default reaction.  AA-ers say “Alcoholics dig their own ruts, & then decorate them – making them so comfortable they never want to move out!”

ii. Psychologically
From the I.C.
• all children are completely loyal to their parents & their zeitgeist. ACoAs can’t afford to know how toxic they were for us. We love & need them, even when we hate them. So we protect them – at our own peril!
• Those original adults taught us to be afraid of the world AND that we are unlovable. So even now we don’t dare ‘leave home’. Our connection to them is painful, but we believe the world is even worse. We’re convinced no one else will want us &/or they’ll trample us. So we stay connected to ‘NI’ rather than risk the ‘horror’ of the outside. (See: Acceptance, #1)

From the NI – Internalized voices have a life of their own (ego states)ego states
• The NI is composed of all the painful emotions they never dealt with – their self-hate, fear, rage, shame, guilt, loneliness, hopelessness…
• AND their destructive thoughts, rigid beliefs, irrational opinions  (their ‘stinking thinking’)  & occasionally something useful, positive, knowledgeable… which we heard over & over

NEXT: Negative Introject (Part 3)


the rest of the time!

PREVIOUS: Direct abusers

RESOURCE: Dr Irene’s great Abuse & Recovery site

REMINDER: See ACRONYM Page for abbrev.

(CA) – Emotional, Mental & Spiritual
• Emotional abuse is one of the most under-reported types in the US today. Blatant emotional cruelty may be noticed & definitely felt by a Victim (V) – even if they ignore or excuse it – but daily or periodic abuse in smaller doses can too easily be overlooked, as it gets woven into the fabric of the relationship. Typically the V. will say : “It’s not all bad, You don’t know him the way I do. I know she loves me. When something goes wrong it’s really my fault. He didn’t meant it. She’s just under a lot of pressure. I don’t want to miss out on the good things we have together. He needs me. It’s only because she’s in pain” ….

• Sneaky Perpetrators (P) are also full of S-H & FoA, but they hide it better.  They too think they’re unique, so different from others that they don’t have to follow the same rules as everyone else. Yet they actually have a lot in common with all other Ps, sharing similar thinking & action patterns.  While they may never lift a finger to physically injure anyone, the psychological damage they do to others, with it’s long-term scars, are much harder to heal.  Victims are threatened & terrorized emotionally when they try to object to how they’re being treated. A result is that they don’t believe they have a right to identify themselves as victims, or that their mate, adult-child, boss….is actually abusive.

• TO outsiders, emotional abusers (E.A.s) don’t stand out – they usually present covert abusersthemselves as decent, successful, calm. They have a  talent for creating an image for the public eye that contradicts what happens behind closed doors. They use public venues to have an adoring audience & as an outlet for their ‘better’ qualities (work, church, politics….),
but will take out their emotional sickness on those who are closest, most vulnerable & most dependent on them. Ps needs a safe place to let their dirty hair down where no one will judge them, hold them accountable, object or leave!
TO their families, they’re often controlling, self-absorbed, hypercritical, compulsive, childish and mean-spirited. What’s so confusing is that this type of abuser is actually BOTH. But the abusive side always wins out in private.

• CAs are passive-aggressive, which means they show their anger (aggression) sideways (passively) by withholding information, deliberately stalling, being stubborn, sulking, and/or not trying their best. They ignore reasonable requests to put in a reasonable amount of effort into their closest relationships. They pick partners who are push-overs, with low self-esteem, who find it easy to make excuses for the other person’s terrible behavior.
EXP: Ps will make you choose an action that affects you both (dinner, movie, trip….) & then blame you because they didn’t like it or it didn’t work out. They also may deny that you asked them for their opinion or input in the first place, accusing you of being controlling. You get set up!

Abusers & Therapy
a. There are some covert abusers who seek out therapy because they’re in very real pain, and will even go for years & years, but aren’t willing to dig into their unconscious (their Shadow) in order to clean out their pain & correct their CDs. These narcissists, borderlines, paranoids…. are trying to get relief by ‘using’ the therapist as their nurturing parent rather than learning how to parent themselves. Unhealthy counselors will fall into the trap & become enablers, while the healthier ones will challenge the client to grow, which is never well-received!

b. However, most deeply entrenched abusers (hard cases who have too much to lose) won’t go to therapy because the problem is with other people, never them.  If pressed, their reasons for not going may be:  lack of time or money, they are handling things themselves, they don’t believe in airing dirty laundry, they tried before & it never helped, it’s all psycho-babble & B.S. anyway….

c. If they do go for some kind of help, it doesn’t last & there’s no actual improvement. Maybe they’ve been told by their adult-children, friends, a spouse….. that they’re abusive & need help. Maybe they’re forced to go in lieu of losing their job or serving time. In any abuser in, their real motives are:
• to get the mate or child to return to their clutches
• to save face, their job, or prevent some other loss
• to get better at their all-consuming passion – psychological warfare – by using their newly learned therapeutic info & tools, but in a distorted form
• so they can demand credit for ‘trying’, but will inevitably blame the V. when nothing changes – meaning that the V. isn’t behaving as the P wants.

SO, it’s completely unrealistic for us to believe that the P. is going to counseling to face their underlying damage, the same way you can’t trust a married boyfriend who keeps promising to leave his spouse.
The game “LHIT – Look how hard I’ve tried” from GAMES PEOPLE PLAY, by Eric Berne, lays out the pattern & can be applied to many different situations – gov’t leaders, poker players, office workers, spouses… The person acts like they’re making an effort but really aren’t. (MORE….)

BOTH Direct & Indirect abusers harm mates, children, friends & co-workers, but NEVER because of anything the Victims are or have done! Their mistreatment is all on their own shoulders.  Therefore, no effort on the V’s part to stop the abuse will work. As with others addicts, the P must be willing to face & own their actions & deeper motives – & get outside help. Al-Anon teaches the 3 Cs for Vs: “I didn’t Cause it, I can’t Control it, I can’t Cure it.”

Given enough time, many victims get to the point where they reach a tipping point, perhaps ‘suddenly’ waking up to their rights, understanding & finally believing the abuse is not deserved, OR simply not wanting to tolerate the humiliation & pain anymore. They’ve had it, & decide to get out & get help for themselves. escape abuse
• The faster we can come to this conclusion, the less wounding we have to heal. SO listen to that still small voice whispering in the background, to your gut & all the comments from others about your situation. YOU can change your life.  If the abuser can not tolerate the changes in you (likely), then plan your escape!

NEXT: Deliberate abuse or not?