Co-Dependent Anger-Niceness (Part 3)


If I can carry them, I’ll be loved

PREVIOUS: Secretly angry-nice #1

SITEArticle 1 // Article 2


True Kindness is a positive trait, coming from an inner place of abundance – the person having enough of their needs & wants met from their healthy family, themselves & in the world. It allows them to be reasonably happy with themselves & their life, without being complacent. As a result, they can be thoughtful & generous toward others, without desperately needing or expecting a return.

This satisfaction then translates into relating positively toward others, AND carries them thru hard times – showers or storms  – which happen to us all.  Being a genuinely kind person is never a liability when it’s an outgrowth of our personal nice neighborsstrength, emotional stability & human understanding.    (Boundaries posts).

True Kindness is all the opposites of co-dependence. It’s being true to our own needs & values, expressing this to others so they know where they stand with us.
Sometimes healthy kindness is uncomfortable. Sometimes it means saying ‘No to someone’s request or demand, because it’s not good for us, or not good for them – like not giving money to an active addict, or not spending the night with a stranger….

NOTE:  Our True Self may indeed be helpful, caring & kind. And for wounded people who want to scrub off the False Self layer, with enough Recovery we who are ‘natural helpers’ can find a balance between legitimate giving & appropriate self-care.
Other personality Types can finally uncover & admit that it’s not really their style at all – they need more privacy & solitude to fulfill healthy goals & natural talents.
ARTICLE:”For Everyone who has been called ‘Too Nice’.” Re. Positive niceness!!

Co-dependent Fake Niceness
Most people occasionally need to hide their anger behind the face of politeness –  especially when it’s the only way to protect oneself.  This is normal.
Here we’re focusing on suppressed-anger-niceness as a way of life. It’s a defense mechanisms, one of many ways our damage shows up, used to disguise our unhealed wounds of the past. Childhood abandonment always leaves us with a great deal of anger, which ‘nice’ people turn in on themselves. Lacking genuine self-esteem, we latch on to others so we can manipulate them into providing our many unmet needs, instead of working to develop these for ourselves.

Co-Dep is an outgrowth of self-hate, which tells us that we caused our own pain, from birth – on. And according to this distorted thinking, if wehappy-man caused it then we surely can cure it, which is the WIC’s sense of false power, who is convinced that we can control how we are treated – by being extra good – no, perfect!   (opposite of Al-anon’s 3 Cs)
But all we end up doing is twisting ourselves into whatever pretzel we think others want, and trying to fix people who are the least likely to change – the narcissists & addicts around us who are too self-absorbed to even see us, much less care. Neither effort ever works!

In reality we could not possibly have caused any of our early suffering, since the damaged adults who raised us were already fully formed before we arrived! It’s not fair that we have to clean up the mess they left us with, but we do have the power to heal much of it, if we want a better life. Yet many people are unwilling to shed deep-seated defenses as it would mean dealing with the original wounds that caused their need for them.

Without a strong inner core of self-esteem, clear thinking & good boundaries, the reason for the way we interact with others is not ‘clean’. At the very least, the surface agreeableness of our angry-niceness is a pretense. At the extreme, being overly-sweet, overly-solicitous, overly-helpful hides our anger even more deeply. All types are (almost) never angry – on the outside!

Actually, our carefully controlled actions are basically self-serving, because we’re only being ‘so good’ as a way of conning others into taking care of us – emotionally, psychologically – & often in all 4 PMES way. Whether or not we’re aware of our compulsive patterns is not relevant here. (See Part 1 re. Selfishness).too helpful

If you’re still actively Secretly-Angry, you want to be seen as a kind person, in spite of how you feel inside, because society considers that a virtue. And being desperate for positive strokes, you assume that’s what is always required & expected of you. But you’re still living in emotional deprivation, so no amount of people-pleasing will fill the void.

Then, the more you do for others, especially if there’s no acknowledgement or appreciation – the angrier you get. But ‘nice’ people aren’t supposed to get angry – so the feeling transforms into resentments.

NEXT: Co-Dep defined #2


ACoAs ‘FEELING SORRY For’ (Healthy)

but my first responsibility is to my own!

PREVIOUS: “Feeling Sorry For” – Unhealthy

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

2. For Others – POSITIVE:
“Feeling sorry for” someone can be considered a positive quality if it’s an aspect of: (from Wikipedia)
A. Compassion: a human emotion prompted by the pain of others. More vigorous than empathy… giving rise to an active desire to alleviate another’s suffering. It is often, though not inevitably, the key component in what manifests in the social context as altruism …compassion

B. Altruism: a selfless concern for the welfare of others…. tending to do good to others, regardless of self…. a behavior that costs the doer and benefits others.  It is a traditional virtue in many cultures, and a core aspect of various religious traditions.

• ‘Feeling sorry for’ may be generated by any situation we personally identify with, or simply having a compassionate heart for the plight of others who are less fortunate. It is considered the highest form of love (Agape) – where we put our own needs aside to help someone else
• We may or may not be able to do anything practical for the millions who suffer, but on a one-to-one basis, at the very least we can LISTEN to someone who needs a caring heart & ear, without judgment or advice

➼ For this type of ‘feeling sorry for’ to be legitimate – the recipient of our concern must be truly in need of help & not have the ability to do for themselves – at least temporarily. This is not always easy to determine, especially is it’s someone we care about, who is acting out of the victim role. SeeRescuing” -vs- “Healthy Helping.

From some 12-step programs, religious communities, family & friends, & various self-help gurus / books  –  we often hear these admonitions even when we’re expressing genuine pain: “Get off the pity pot” , “You’re JUST feeling sorry for yourself” , “Don’t wallow in your pain” , “Don’t live in the past” , “That was a long time ago” , “Are you still going on about that?” ….

These comments tell us they’re coming from someone not working to heal their old wounds (even in Program), but instead are clinging to & protecting their victim-hood. However, there are 2 different aspects to consider about focusing on the past:
a. Negatively – when ACoAs keep rehashing old traumas, only as a way to:
• not take care of ourselves – stay in the victim WIC modeself-pity
• blame others, instead of focusing on what we can do now
• stay in the anger – which is ‘safer’ than feeling the pain underneath
• not have to grow up & ‘leave home’ (S & I) — then we are escaping the responsibility of being in charge of our life.

b. Positively – when we are beginning to understand the scope of the abuse & neglect we endured growing up – not getting sympathy, empathy, comforting… when we were in any kind of pain, especially emotional. Our suffering was ignored or punished & we were expected to suck it up. ‘They’ said we were being a baby, too sensitive, over-reacting, making things up, being crazy…. This has left us with a tragic inability to be kind & understanding toward ourselves!  We are as unsympathetic as our family was – indeed, just as cruel in the way we talk to & treat ourselves! (Self-Hate)
First & foremost, we need to have great compassion for ourselves – for  what we endured as kids, & also as adults. Feeling sorry for & comforting our WIC is NOT selfishness, as we were told. Gaining the trust of our WIC is the only way forward. We need to:
• be able to gain WIC's childrenclearly understand exactly what happened to us in childhood. As long as we can’t identify & acknowledge it, we’ll keep repeating it
• have others validate our experience, without blame or judgment, because we never got the right kind of mirroring growing up (a crucial aspect of our damage)
• go over & over the traumatic events of childhood in order to get to the emotional pain which they caused – to be able to process it & get it out of our body
• cry & rage & mourn – in safe places, with safe people – so we don’t have to carry it around anymore or take it out on others
➼ These can take a long time, because there’s a huge backlog of pain which we can’t access quickly or easily – & our resistance to change.

Bobby had been working on connecting with his Inner Child for several years.  While sharing in an ACoA 12-Step meeting, he suddenly visualized his kid sitting on the floor, hunched over – with knives sticking in him, all over. So that’s what all that early verbal abuse had felt like! Bobby started to cry.  In that moment he saw & felt the terrible distress his kid was in but which he compassion for WICwasn’t allowed to object to or express. As his Loving Parent self, he was able to feel a great rush of sorrow & compassion for his younger self. After that he couldn’t be harsh with the kid any more (negative voice coming from either the WIC or the PP).  It was a turning point in his recovery.

• Remember: The only source of self-esteem is unconditional love. Having a strong, healthy identity means being able to treat ourselves with loving kindness, patience & perseverance. We do need to ‘feel sorry for’ our wounded part – the real-life child we were, who suffered unfairly & alone thru endless days & nights, in our home, school, church & neighborhood – without people noticing, caring or helping!
• If we – as the Loving Inner Parent to our WIC – can feel genuine sorrow for what we lived thru, thru no fault of our own, we can begin healing those wounds.  The child part of us is waiting to be heard!

NEXT: Fear of commitment- #1


Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 6.37.49 PM 

I can’t stand it when you’re
in any kind of pain

PREVIOUS: How ACoAs abandon others (#1)

REMINDER: See ACRONYM page for abbrev.


3. REPRESSING Others’ Emotions (Es)
ACoAs are often guilty of mistreating others, in the same ways they were treated by family & other authority figures. (ACoAs website Site Map, pg. 24-26) To the degree we are still repressing our Es, we try to suppress the Es of others. Many of us can’t tolerate anyone in emotional pain or going thru a hard time, especially if we care about them. Expressed BY:

Expressed BY:
a. Assuming – being sure we know how someone is feeling, emotionally – without asking, OR not believing what they tell us they’re experiencing & then insisting that we know better (what nerve!)
EXP: At a wedding celebration, Sam saw cousin Annie sitting alone, arms crossed, withdrawn, & assumed she was angry. Not bothering to check what she was really feeling, he started lecturing her about her unsociability, how inappropriate her attitude was, & that she was
bringing everyone down … when actually she was deeply sad, feeling lonely & missing her ex!
EXP: When I cried intensely at my father’s funeral service, a relative accusingly told me I was ‘fragile’ – as if that made me weak & therefore unacceptable (I know they were punished for crying, as a child).  Actually, I always feel clearer & stronger after letting out some pain – it’s a strength, not a weakness!screen-shot-2016-06-11-at-6-46-58-pm

OR, a variation: 
Deciding we ‘absolutely know’ someone is angry at us, or jealous of us,  or upset with us in some other way – of course, without checking – and then obsess about it, gossip to others, worry, prepare a defense or rebuttal, avoiding them OR confronting / attacking them…
BUT, actually

• our assumption may only be a projection of our own S-H & FoA
• OR, we did pick up some vibe from them (ACoAs always have their  antennae out for trouble or rejection) but what the other person was really feeling was not what we thought!
EXP: In a therapy sessions, if I express strong convictions about certain topics (like abuse coming from the introject or from self-hate), or if I’m not smiling or being light-hearted – it is often misunderstood by a client as my being angry – at them. NOT! I’m just indicating how serious something is.

OR, another variation:

• not being able to tolerate anyone who is happy & doing well, so we’ll –
EITHER: create dysfunctional situations for others, to keep the chaos & misery going that we’re condition to feel as ‘normal’
OR: get consistently enraged & abusive or withholding & silent, whenever they express enjoyment, happiness, excitement, peacefulness…to make them feel bad (again) – to be like us

b. Arguing – acting out a pattern of anger & fights with someone 
close (mate, child,  friend, loved parent…) when it’s time to separate,
even for a few days.
arguing, fighting • First: fighting, saying cruel or stupid things & then doubling the abandonment
• by later denying or underplaying it all — thereby negating the pain we caused & the other person’s real experience.

This is to keep us from feeling our own abandonment pain, which hurts and would make us feel vulnerable.  Being angry –
• gives us a sense of power & makes the ‘bad feelings’ an easier way
to leave BUT
• it’s dishonest & disrespectful to ourselves & the other person
BTW – even tho’ we can’t technically abandon another adult, the term is always used here to express the emotional experience of ‘not being there’ for others.

c. Negating – directly discounting someone’s E. experience:
— “You don’t really feel that way”// “Don’t feel like that” negating
— “Don’t say that” // “That’s no way talk”
— “That’s not a nice thing to say”….
EXP: When telling a religious friend at a conference about the ongoing pain from her childhood trauma, Jen was told: “You shouldn’t feel that way!”.
Fortunately Jen had been in Al-Anon long enough to respond: “Well,  I don’t ‘should’ on myself!”, smiled & walked away.

NEXT: How we Abandon others (#2b)

Healthy HELPING (Part 2)


when we both benefit

PREVIOUS: Healthy Helping (HH) (#1)

REMINDER: See Acronym Page for abbrev.

Just because we were trained to be rescuers by our family does not mean we can’t be of service.

3. WHEN – you can help IF:
• you don’t have to keep your antennae up all the time – to check for what’s wrong, walk on egg shells, worry about being accused wrongly…
• it’s short term, because they’re growing, learning, changing
• you only have to do ‘so much’ & then back off & let them handle things
• don’t take any action when being guilted or shamed by someone
• not to boost your self-esteem or sense of identitycup overflows

• you’re cup is full enough that you’re not draining yourself dry
• don’t secretly ne-e-e-ed a return for your efforts – it is appropriate to get paid, get thanked, have some reciprocity
• they genuinely can’t do something for themselves, but it’s temporary
• you can do it without being resentful or hurt yourself in some  way
• you’re NOT trying to do the impossible (force-fix someone’s damage)

4. HOW you can Help
• by setting limits with self & others
• speaking the emotional or intellectual truth.  Some won’t want to hear it & will go away, but others will value it & grow
• don’t assume – ASK Qs – re. their problem: What do you need from me? What have you already done?  What are you planning to do?…
• give EMOTIONAL support, instead of solutions (head, actions)NEIGHBORS-TALKING

• be clear about what you can & cannot do OR will & will not do
• wait to see if they CAN do something on their own OR if there’s someone else who can / will help them
• help someone think a problem thru – THEIR way
• don’t jump in, don’t assume you know what’s needed

Sometimes, DOing NOTHING is the best or only option.  ALSO, it’s:
• OK to do someone a favor, sometimes  – even if they can do it themselves, if it’s on your way, not a burden, something you like to do
• OK to help someone get thru emotionally hard times – death of loved one, work trauma, health problems….
….AS LONG AS the HELP-EE (you are the help-er) is respectful of your time & efforts, appropriately appreciative (but not overly),  & is not an emotionally bottomless pit

5. RESULTS of H.H.
a. In Us – if we
• feel satisfied, pleased, ‘full’, comfortable, relaxedSserene
• feel good about ourselves, but don’t need it for our identity
• are not depleted or resentful
• feel more connected to others, & the world
• don’t have to ‘hide’ any more from needy ‘pests’

b. In Them — if they’re OK (reasonably healthy)
• they grow & improve, no matter how slowly
• are empowered & gain self-esteem
• don’t resent or blame you
• are appreciative but not fawning
• become more independent, & inter-dependent
• get real nurturing from your help

HOWEVER,  if they’re still too damaged, then it’s likely they’ll be resentful, attack you, accuse you of not caring, bad mouth you to others, accuse you of abandoning them & of being SELFISH….
….specifically because you’re NOT rescuing them!

6. DON’T DO anything to help, IF:
a. THEY need too much from you, more than you can give or more than is appropriate to ask, & no matter how much you do offer, it will never be right or enough!
• they make you feel unsafe, because they’re a taker, user, abuse, bully….

b. YOU are needy/ in need, at the moment OR Overextended
• you’re going to do it out of guilt or from too great an obligation
• you just do not want to OR it is truly, deeply is not right for you to do. Do not JUSTIFY your ‘NO’ – it’s a complete sentence!

➼ TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF FIRST, & always pay attention to what your GUT is telling you!

NEXT: Wounded Child #1

Healthy HELPING (Part 1)


As long as I take care of myself in the process

PREVIOUS: Rescuing (#2)

REVIEW: Hero Family Role 


ACoAs:  Many of us were trained from birth to be helpers, regardless of our native personality style & interests. There’s an ironic saying in recovery circles: “ACOAs are born with an MSW (Masters in Social Work) and then get their Birth Certificate later”!

• This is most common with child with the Hero role, which is usually the first-born in a dysfunctional family.  They’re supposed to pick up the slack where the parents leave off – being the little adult to make the family look healthier than it really is, but at the expense of the child.
• This caretaker role becomes so deeply ingrained that it is usually carried into all of our ADULT relationships.  It requires unceasing effort on behalf of others, instead of caring fully for ourselves. (See ‘RESCUING – False Helping’).

✦ On the other hand, there are ACoAs who, by their very nature, are meant to be in the helping or service professions, like people born with strong Water & Air Sign influences in their astrological chart – esp. Pisces, Cancer (healers), Aquarius & Gemini (teachers).
✦ For those of us so designed, the ideal is to be of genuine help to others, as a way to express our Highest Self – without resorting to the toxic patters of co-dependence, self-hate, boundary invasion, fear of abandonment & over-control.

1. OVERVIEW  –  before HELPING someone, ASK:
a. What do I know about the person I may help?
• are they responsible & self-caring?
• did they ask me directly & specifically, for something?Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 10.46.59 PM.png
• will they be OK with you, if you can’t do what they want?

b. What exactly do they want?
• can they truly do it for themselves?
• is the request ‘clean’ (emotionally & verbally honest)?
• how many parts to the request are there, actually?
• what are the consequences/ price TO ME?

c. Can I Comply?
• am I really able to do this? (not beyond my ability OR not being asked to do the impossible?)
• do I WANT to do it?  If ‘Yes’ – what’s my motive?
• what does it require of me – specifically?
• will I be angry If I do it, or remorseful if I don’t?
• do I want anything in return? What are my expectations?

2. Prerequisites – for H.H.
a. In Us
• have good self-esteem, solid sense of identity not dependent on others
• already developed strong boundaries, not needing to be symbiotic
• don’t need to use people to feel good about oneselfrelaxed
• able to keep the ‘focus on oneself’ – not be enmeshed with the needs & emotions of others
• know our individual human limitations, without judgment or self-hate
• knowing what’s real, in the recovery process, about:
— emotions: each person is responsible for their own, & can be managed
— the growth process: it’s slow & has to be experienced personally
— what Mental Health is (from ACoA website)
— what can be dealt with: what’s possible or not possible  = ACoAs tend to get The Serenity Prayer backwards!

b. In Them
If they ARE:
• actively taking care of themselves (personal responsibility) and being inner childresponsible for their Inner child
• actually ask for the help they want or need
• be clear about what they need (be direct & specific)
• truly ‘dis-abled’ in some way (ADD, PTSD, depression, illness…)
• able to use what you give then – apply it to their lives & use it to grow
➼ “Give a man a fish & you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish & you feed  him for a lifetime.” Chinese proverb

As long as they DON’T :
• need to suck you dry / cling, use you as a parent substitute
• try to copy your personality, instead of forming their own
• expect you to be perfect, know everything, take care of them
blame you for things that don’t work, that they can’t do, for disappointing outcomes

NEXT: Healthy Helping, Part 2