Fear of Commitment – ACoAs (Part 1)

chasing the alcoholic I REALLY WANT TO,
but I just can’t get myself to do it!

PREVIOUS: Fear of Commitment – general (#2)

QUOTE: ‘The worst thing isn’t fear of commitment – the worst thing is being with the wrong person because of fear of loneliness”. ~ ANON

1. ORIGIN – the basis for this fear (FoC) is the fear of intimacy, ie. “in-to-me-see”.
• In general, INTIMACY is the mental & emotional closeness between 2 people which allows each to know the other person behind their defenses or socially acceptable mask. Sexual intimacy may or may not include this.

a. But initially, it’s the intimacy between a child & it’s mother. From the very beginning of mother-childlife, each child is totally dependent on its primary caretaker(s), & therefore totally vulnerable to their plusses & minuses.
If the mother (or substitute) is an active addict, controlling, cruel or crazy, depressed, ill, distracted, insensitive, manipulative, raging, scared, (usually some combination) – the child will be in an intimacy double bind:
— on the one hand, desperately needing the adult(s) to love it, protect it & take care of all its needs
— on the other, emotionally & intuitively aware that the connection with that person is totally unsafe & therefore terrifying.

The child is trapped in this most intimate of all relationships which is truly dangerous to its well-being, but inescapable. Being raised with unreliability & chaos inevitably creates a lack of trust, which then becomes the model for all future relationships, creating a deep terror of intimacy.

b. In most cases we witnessed one or both of our parents:
— be unable to make a commitment – to each other, to their children, to work, to personal growth…. OR
— be committed to work instead of relationships (us), to their spouse not their children, to their addiction & nothing else!……
…… so we didn’t have a role-model for the emotional & spiritual requirements needed for consistent reliability

• Sometimes a child has another parent, older sibling or other relative who is more available & attentive than the primary. But if they are part of the same family, they too will have narcissistic damage & be limited in how much emotional safety & love they can provide. Often this ‘better’ person will either leave, die or turn on the child at some point – multiplying the abandonment pain.

All roads lead to Rome” was a familiar statement to the ancient Romans, & still is to all roadsmodern-day History students. The ACoAs version is: “All roads lead to Abandonment!”. This fear is the bottom line for us, governing all our responses to the world. So much so that we can even feel abandoned by the end of a book or movie we intensely connected to!

• Whenever we obsess, beat ourselves up, feel distrustful or hopeless, are terrified something bad will happen to us – we are tapping into old abandonment pain (E). Given how much abuse & neglect we experienced as children, it makes sense that the WIC would believe (T) that Ab. is the only possible outcome for us. SO – why bother committing to anything, if we’re always going to mess it up or have it taken away??

2. RE-ENACTING  (F=fear)
➼ Making a commitment to something or someone means showing up regularly, being self-motivated, taking risks, not knowing everything, asking for help along the way, having rights…. all the things we’re not allowed!

• The ACoA’s WIC has a whole trunk-full of reasons for FoC, even when we don’t have words for it or are aware of the WHY. As adults, this fear is perpetuated by Self-Hate & weak or confusionmissing Boundaries. We can apply the following issues to PPT (people-places-things), even tho the focus here is mainly on relationships.

It shows up as:
– Confusion (I don’t know what I want, who I am)
– Indecisiveness (should I or shouldn’t I?)
– Perfectionism (I have to know it all & do it right – the first time!)
Procrastination (maybe later, but secretly – maybe never)

NEXT: FoC – Part 2


Anger MYTHS – T or F (Part 2)

anger creature -2

to deal with anger as it comes up

PREVIOUS: Anger Myths, #1

SITE: “Why we shout in anger” – a Hindu teaching

QUOTE: “Anger is never without a reason, but seldom a good one.” ~ Ben Franklin

is an uncontrollable force of nature, & so can’t be reigned in
F: Many people believe that once they’re angry they can’t influence it (“I can’t control my anger – it’s just who I am”) & therefore have to let it ‘run its course’. Not so. While we don’t always have control of an external situation, no one can make us FEEL or BEHAVE in a certain way. Anyone can learn to be in charge of their emotions – via the Healthy Adult. It’s a set of skills, just like shooting a basketball or learning a new language. Practice, practice, practice!

builds up until we ‘lose it’
F: Known as “the hydraulic theory” of anger, it says that anger builds up like water behind a dam, & will flood the valley if not released – with the assumption that we can’t stop ourselves from spilling it out on anyone who gets in our way.

T: However, if ignored, denied & suppressed, anger or rage will go underground & build up tremendous force. All painful/uncomfortable emotions need to be processed – on a regular anger explosionbasis. This is best done when our anger is only bucket sized, or even truck-load sized – rather than Pacific Ocean size, which is when we have panic attacks or attack others.
Even with old anger/rage, regular use of physical release techniques, deep breathing & meditation, relaxation exercises, visualization, pounding, IC scribbling…. can be very effective in venting the energy generated by our fury, so we don’t have to unleash it on others.

is only a problem when it’s expressed (at all)
F: As few as 10% of people act out their anger inappropriately, & they are the visible ones – the squeaky wheels who get everyone’s attention.
Almost everyone else either suppress it (“I don’t want to talk about it!”) or repress it altogether (“I’m not angry – really!”), who need anger management just as much as the ‘ragers’.

always leads to aggression / some form of violence
F: It may seem to be true if we were raised with one or more rage-aholics, & if we then also have chosen to stay with ragers as adults. BUT healthy people have learned productive ways of processing & channeling their anger, so it never leads to being self-destructive or abusive.
Of course, chemicals (alcohol/ drugs/ some medicines, even food allergies…) can generate anger & set off a compulsion to be nasty if we haven’t learned to recognize the symptoms & how to handle them

ANGER:deny anger
is not a ‘problem‘ for someone IF we don’t sound / look angry
F: Anyone who does not understand & appreciate the potential value of anger may have a problem. There are ways to tell if someone has hidden anger/rage, even when they don’t admit to it – by holding themselves stiffly, always being fearful, being overly nice, being paranoid, jealous, controlling…. (Post: Categories # 7 “Passive-aggressive anger”)

is best dealt with by stuffing it 
F: Some of us think that learning to control our anger means having to hold it in. Once we’re able to recognize when we are angry, we can learn how bet to express it. Healthy people don’t stock-pile emotions the way we had to as kids.  (Post: Categories #7 “Low-level anger”)

has to be ‘held in’ if we’re going to control our anger
F: First of all – what one needs to ‘control’ is behavior & thoughts – not the emotion (T.E.A.). The purpose of Anger Management training is not to make us sit on our anger, but to provide successful ways of dealing with it – which includes changing our abusive self-talk! First we have to learn to recognize when we’re angry (T), & then have permission to feel it (E) without hurting ourselves or others. Then we can change our behavior (A)
angry man(Post: Categories #7 “Passive anger”)

is stronger in men than women
F: Based on surveys, both genders have the same capacity & frequency (about once or twice a week), but men report more intense anger, & are more likely to act on it. Girls/women tend to hold onto angry feelings longer. So the only real difference is how each express this emotion, which is based mainly on socially conditioning.

and love just don’t mix
F: They are 2 sides of the same coin. We usually don’t have strong emotional reactions to PPT we don’t care much or at all about. The more we love someone or something the more easily we can be disappointed, annoyed, frustrated, aggravated… by it/them, because we need them more & want more from them. This can trigger anger when they push our buttons

will destroy a relationship if expressed to someone we love
T: It can do severe harm if —
— the way anger/rage is ‘vented’ is abusive, especially if it’s repeated over time
— OR the loved one is intensely narcissistic & won’t tolerate any form of ‘disapproval’,
— OR is so co-dependent, insecure & fearful that they’ll take our anger as a sign of personal rejection rather than a statement of our feelings

F: because Anger – not aggression – is a way to have boundaries in a close relationship, and healthy-or-unhealthy-clip-art-no-textis a sign of genuine intimacy (in-to-me-U-see), rather than hiding parts of ourself out of fear of abandonment. When we know we’re angry about something our loved one did or didn’t do, and choose to express it in healthy ways, it can actually increase mutual understanding & help enrich the relationship    (MORE….)

NEXT: Anger MYTHS (Part 3)

ACoAs & PLAYING (Part 1)

having fun 1 

What’s that?

PREVIOUS: Inner Child Speaks, #2

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”   Plato
“A little nonsense now and then is cherished by the wisest men.”  Roald Dahl (writer of children’s books)
“Play is the royal road to childhood happiness and adult brilliance.” Joseph Chiltern Pearce  (author of child development books)

Play with a capital P is a process, not a specific thing, which lights up our brain, benefiting us in PMES ways (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual). Being a ‘whole’ person means balancing between being serious & having fun, but ACoAs tend to live in one extreme or the other – being over-responsible or under-responsible.

In general, it’s any activity someone voluntarily chooses to do (or for ACoAs to not do) because it’s fun, relaxing & enjoyable. It can include being creative, & sometimes even competitive – but without the need to win – otherwise it stops being Play.  Debbie Mandel, Stress Management expert suggests that F-U-N = Feeling Uninhibited Naturally. And a formula for ‘balance’ is: Concentrated Energy + Relaxation = Healthy living.

• One of the many sad results of having a traumatic childhood is that we were & are still deprived of the joy of relaxing thru playing & having fun. As a result of our damage we fall into several categories (lifestyles) which seem very different but underneath eaoverwhelmedch has the same problem – our WIC listening to the Negative Introject, believing the Toxic Rules:
 “Life is hard / you have to suffer / you can’t play until all your work is done / no one wants to play with you anyway / if you don’t like it you have to stay / don’t be yourself / the world is a dangerous place / you always have to struggle, but never get there!…..”

REACTION to growing up in a dysfunctional environment:
a. Many of us turned out to be compulsive, over-responsible worker bees, doing something we hate or are bored with, trudging thru life trying to be perfect, but never quite making it. No time for play, unless we consider participating in addictions as a way to relax. Obviously not real fun.

b. Some of us decided early on to give up & not really try at all. Hide & be safe, don’t rock the boat, don’t stick your neck out. No fun here.
c. And then there are those of us who are openly rebellious – the flamboyant addicts, promiscuous, belligerent, running wild, never finishing our education, never sticking to anything long enough to become accomplished, terrified of being trapped, controlled, of even committing to a book – much less a good job or relationship….

• To the rest of the world this third group may seem to be having a lot of fun. They do whatever they want, get away with ‘murder’ & play all the time. NOT SO. Sometimes even this type of ACoA may think so while in the middle of it, but it wears thin over the years, since the internal foundation is built with inferior material – not ours but what was given to us by our family & community. It’s cracked & crumbling. This is not fun.encouragement

BTW, If you identify with either the a. b or c. group, & are reading this, presumably you’re in the process of healing your wounds & working to outgrow the category. You deserve a lot of respect & encouragement!

However, some of you may say – “I’m an ACoA & don’t fit into a. b. or c. I have a decent life I’ve carved out for myself – family, career, some accomplishments, some travel…. & I know how to have fun & play.”
Response: “GOOD! You’ve used your own native skill & drive to achieve these things, & have a lot to show for it. BUT – how’s your anxiety level? Are you free of addictions, perfectionism & S-H? Are you content & relaxed? Or do you over-do for others & under-feel – for yourself?”

LAUNDRY LIST of ACoA False Self characteristics related to this topic:
ACoAs guess at what normal is. Here ‘Normal’ means healthy, as opposed to ‘average’. We don’t realize that playing, relaxing & having fun are a legitimate & important part of being healthy, happy & well-balanced. “All work & no play makes Jack a dull boy”. There is even a tribe in Papua New Guinea that frowns on sex and bans play. Anthropologists have been trying to study them for years with no success until recently – because they considered this tribe too dull! (MORE…) Scholars don’t know why the tribe developed this philosophy, but it’s not one we should emulate!

ACoAs over-react to changes they can’t control.
Genuine play allows us to be in the moment, not knowing the outcome, not having to be right or perfect and not “forcing solutions”. For exp, when children play they often change the out of control‘rules’ (which they made up in the first place) anytime they feel like it. Adult play doesn’t always have to follow pre-set rules either, & they can be thrown out the window if it’s more fun to not use them. This is hard to allow ourselves. Children need things to be stable & predictable in their every-day life, with clear rules & boundaries, something in very short supply in most dysfunctional homes. Chaos was the order of the day for us, so now we try to keep everything under tight control, which doesn’t fit in with playing.

ACoAs have difficulty with intimate relationships.
Everyone needs a certain amount of connection with other people, but the amount depends on one’s developmental stage, personality & on what’s going on in one’s life at the moment. And while it’s perfectly normal & acceptable to play alone, playing with others requires a certain capacity for intimacy* to be ‘successful’ – since being in authentic play-mode means being able to express the True Self without shame or reservation. This is not easy because our True Self got shrouded in shame & self-hate, making it hard for us to ‘let loose’ & to let others get emotionally close to us.  ACoAs are more likely to put others in double binds: “I hate you – Don’t leave me!” OR “I need you – Don’t touch me!”

*INTIMACY: (IN-TO-ME-YOU-SEE) “Relating to or indicative of one’s deepest nature / marked by informality & familiarity; something deeply personal, private, or secret”. In relation to others, it’s the ability to connect your ‘deepest nature’ with safe & appropriate others, because you know there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the Real You, so you’re not afraid of letting it be seen.

NEXT: ACoAs & Play (Part 2)

‘GETTING TO KNOW YOU’ Stages (Part 3)

getting to know you

the one person who understands me

PREVIOUS: Experimenting, Intensifying

♥ ACTS OF AFFILIATION ♥ (cont) Types of Communication

4. INTEGRATING  (Short-term)
a. Normal: This is when 2 people become a couple or close friends, emphasizing to themselves & others how similar they are. They depend on each other for confirmation & acceptance of self-concepts. Verbal statements change to indicate exclusivity & separation from others.
• They feel unique, taking on each others thinking, style & mannerisms. The ‘we’ increase to ‘us’, with shared Intimacy Trophies (the key, leaving clothes & toiletries, favorite CDs…) For some dyads, it’s the stage when sexual activity may begin, & a deepening of self-disclosure.

“…it feels like we’re one person!” <> “Yeah, we’re soul-mates!”  •  “I feel so much a part of you” <> “I know, like we have the same mind!”
Friends from both sides are brought together & if they’re couplea couple, they’re treated as a unit, receiving one invitation, one gift, one email account…..
• While they may seem to fuse together, it should not mean losing one’s individuality! This is crucial for a healthy relationship
• It’s also possible for people to love each other, be friends, partners or a romantic couple – for a while, but not make it permanent. They can remain friends & benefit from the time they spent together

b. ACoAs: For those of us who get to this stage –
Re. Staying
• some of us are able to maintain friends & lovers, but often with extreme ups & downs, huge fights, occasional separations….
• because ACoAs have so many unrealistic expectations of relationships, we may become disillusioned & depressed, spending a lot of time being critical, suspicious, feeling unloved & generally dissatisfied, while not focusing on the benefits we get from being with this person
• OR, because of denial, we are willing to just go along endlessly, putting up with & participate in unhealthy patterns with our partner, rather than outgrowing them

Re. Leaving
• we may still think it will last forever.  If it doesn’t continue, we are deeply shocked & devastated. We are rarely prepared for yet another loss, not willing to notice the signs, not willing to let gochained together
• by this time we may feel so enmeshed & trapped that we can’t get out even if we feel we want to (like not being able to leave our family, psychologically)

• we may be quietly or openly desperate to leave, but won’t because of
— our co-dependence, not wanting to hurt the other person, especially if they beg us not leave (altho they may secretly want out too)
— our FoA, believing that the misery of staying isn’t really so bad, compared to the unbearable pain of separation

• if we’re determined to break up, but can’t do it directly, we may:
— start an affair with someone, so we don’t have to go thru an ‘alone time’, then anxiously wait to get caught
— create such a ruckus in the relationship – fighting, verbal attacks, withdrawal, the silent treatment, getting 3rd parties involved… so that our partner will do the breaking up for us, secretly being the winner, but acting like the victim!

5. BONDING  (Long-term)
a. Normal:  The formalizing of the connection by a public ritual (a contract) whether by an engagement, a ‘moving-in-together’ party, a marriage., signing a lease, going into business together…..
“I think you’re wonderful.  I can see myself growing old with you.”  <> “Me too. Let’s move in together. We can talk marriage later”  •  “We’re in this together for the long haul” <> “I really want this to work!”

• The written or verbal contract is a framework for how the 2 want & should proceed. In most cases this stage indicates a desire, need or willing to gain social & institutional support — so couple can rely on law, policy or precedent, when necessary
• By this time the 2 people enjoy each others’ company, feel a deeper trust, comfortability, committedunderstanding & appreciation. Age is not a factor. It implies a genuine commitment to a common future & thus makes it harder to walk away from.
On the other hand, this level sometimes changes the nature of the relationship & can cause it to disintegrate, especially if long-term spoken or unspoken expectations are not met.

• Key points to maintaining a relationship from this stage onward, include sharing power equally, emphasizing positive and constructive communication patterns, and making frequent connections with one another. Successful long-term relationships also use ongoing ‘Navigation Communication’ to prevent problems, repair breaches, deal with the ups & downs of life & manage unpleasant surprises. People are willing to adjust, accommodate & compromise (not a dirty word) in order to maintain their unity

• INTIMACY includes a private world of rules & rituals, shared understanding & meanings, synchronous patterns of actions, similar ways of interpreting their world & agreeing on what makes their relationship work.

b. ACoAs: many have long-term, formalized bonding, but even when there are good reasons to stay together, the relationships is often built on shaky foundations:
• reciprocal damage, where 2 wounded people fit each others WIC ‘needs’ – one pays the child, the other partner the mother or father role; one is controlling, the other passive; one is always angry, the other always fearful…

• even if only one person does healing work on themselves, they may be able to keep the dyad together, because of things they value in the relationship AND because they’re not so reactive or wounded by the other person’s damage.  Also as they change, the old ‘games’ won’t work & the dynamic interactions will shift – often for the betterpersonal development
ideally, both people are willing to do Recovery work.  This may or may not save the relationship, but will of course greatly improve the  individual’s life.  If there’s enough commonality between the partners (when the damage is lessened), the relationship can be re-built on a healthier foundation & grow into something precious!

NEXT: “Trying to Leave You”

‘GETTING TO KNOW YOU’ Stages (Part 2)


Now we’re together forever – I think

 PREVIOUS: Initiating, Experimenting

♥  ACTS OF AFFILIATION ♥, indicated by types of Communication

Going slowly will allow us to:
• see how much like our family they are or are not (we have to know ourselves well & pay attention to our interactions with the other person)
• find out if the other person is genuinely compatible with our Real Self
• what their character defects are, & how it will impact us over time
• how well or badly they handle our damage/ defects

• if their positives outweigh the negatives (which everyone has) so that being with them makes our life better
• observe if they can truly see us for who we are, value, admire & respect us – realistically, not just for what we can give them
• how capable & willing are they to take responsibility for their own life, so we don’t have to rescue or clean up after them
✶ if they have a spiritual life, is it internalized? does it show in the way they live?) or is it just another band-aid or diversion from unresolved deeper issues205108791

NOTE: When someone has too many negatives – no matter how much you like or love them – they’re unsafe to be with! Take stock & be honest with yourself. Get a trusted 2nd & 3rd opinion!  If we ACoAs were willing or able to take these stages a little at a time & ‘stay awake’, which can take more time than we’d like,  we would save ourselves a lot of heartache!

3. INTENSIFYING (Exploratory)
a. Normal: ‘Partners’ start opening up, sharing deeper personal info, taking more risks.  Much more emotionally intense &/or passionate stage, using intimate language “I love you” <> “Me too” ✥  “I think you’re the best” <> “ I’m glad we found each other”  ✥   “It’s great to be with someone with the same tastes” <> “Yeah, we have a lot in common. Makes me feel at home”

• Begin to use ‘we’, develop favorite palaces, nicknames, share / swap possessions, understand non-verbal cues, give gifts, idealize each other, even finding their flaws endearing.  Many people are so excited with each other at this stage, they can spend hours talking – time passes quickly. There’s a feeling of exhilaration, & depending on the type of relationship, a strong sexual pull

• This is the pivotal stage. Depending on whether or not both feel a chemistry (comfort, mutual value &infatuation excitement), and if the revealed info, attitudes & activities are sufficiently shared – people either continue to #4 & #5, or fall apart.  The connection at this point may be intense but short-lived, which is a shock to some who mistakenly assumed it would last because of the surface similarities & the emotional / sexual intensity.

➼  In some cases, there’s an intermediate stage called “Revising Communications”  when the euphoria wears off & the partners are able to review the strengths & weaknesses of the relationship from a more rational place, to see if they want to go on to the next phase. If they do, they begin working thru any problems or obstacles to further intimacy

b. ACoAs: we usually rush into this stage soon after meeting! Spoken or not, the communications is something like: “Hi, my name is Sara, let’s be together forever!” <> “”OK, I’ll keep my eyes closed, as long as you make me feel good!”
✶✶✶ WARNING: ACoAs often misinterpret the ‘euphoria’ of this stage to mean there’s real intimacy happening! Spending every day for a week deeply immersed with a new friend or lover can end abruptly when they disappear on us! What ever their reason – they got scared, they feel suffocated… we feel conned, betrayed, angry… & are left with an acute sense of longing!

REALITY: We went too deep too soon, & now we’re alone – again!
• TYPICAL ACoA reaction: beside feeling rage, we obsessively ruminate on what we did wrong (S-H) without knowing what the real issues are! We either withdraw into a depressed ball or use all our energy to chase after them. We want the pain to stop & get back the HIGH. heart illusion

REALITY: WE got it wrong. Yes, the other person is also responsible for their part, but we can only deal with ourselves.  This was supposed to be stage 3, NOT instant love! It was not intimacy.
• HINT: if a ‘relationship’ develops too close, too fast – it’s likely NOT going to be healthy or real, but coming from the WIC!  ACoAs are addicted to fantasy, as powerful as any chemical narcotic.  We have to learn to go slowly or we’ll keep getting abandoned.

NEXT: Part 3 – Integrating, Bonding

Emotional NEEDS & Innate RESOURCES

and they said I was tooo sensitive!

PREVIOUS: Purpose of Es – Motivation

REMINDER: Use Acronyms Page for   abbrevs.

THIS post comes directly from The MindFields College Blog & is being reproduced in it’s entirety because it fits so well into the current ‘Emotions’ series & speaks for itself.

“We are all born with fundamental physical & emotional needs which have to be met in order to promote good mental health – as well as the innate resources to help us fulfill them, known as human ‘givens’.
Life is never perfect, but as long as our basic needs are being provided for & our resources are being used well, we don’t suffer mental health problems. However, if just one of these needs is unmet, or our resources are being misused, it can negatively affect our total being!

A. Essential Emotional Needs
1) Security – a safe territory & an environment to develop fully in
2) Attention (to give and receive it) – a form of nutrition
3) Sense of autonomy & control – free will to make responsible choices
4) Being emotionally connected to othershuman needs
5) Feeling part of a wider community
6) Friendship, intimacy – to know that at least one other person accepts us totally for who we are, “warts ‘n’ all”
7) Privacy — opportunity to reflect & consolidate experience
8 ) Sense of status within social groupings
9) Sense of competence & achievement
10) Having meaning & purpose – which comes from being stretched in what we do and think

B. Innate Resources (human ‘givens’) to meet our emotional needs:
• The ability to develop complex long-term memory, which enables us to add to our innate knowledge & accumulate new information
• The ability to build rapport, empathize & connect with others
Imagination, so we can focus our attention away from our emotions, use language, and problem-solve more creatively & objectively
• A conscious, rational mind that can check out emotions, question, analyze & plan
• The ability to ‘know’ — that is, understand the world unconsciously through metaphorical pattern observing brainmatching
• An observing self — that part of us that can step back, be more objective and be aware of itself as a unique center of awareness, apart from intellect, emotion & conditioning
• A dreaming brain that preserves the integrity of our genetic inheritance every night by metaphorically defusing expectations held in the autonomic arousal system because they were not acted out the previous day.

✶ To see how many of your emotional needs are being met, take the Emotional Needs Audit.

NEXT: “ALONE” – ACoA poem