Co-Dep EXTERNAL Negatives – in US

would get me liked. Not! 

PREVIOUS: Co-dep External damage (#1)

SITE: Childhood Trauma Recovery ARCHIVE
Co-dep in Children

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

The HIGH COST of being ‘too nice’ (cont.)


• You have unrealistic expectations of others
Since you think of yourself as well-meaning, you may automatically assume that others have the same good intentions. When they don’t reciprocate’, you think it’s about you, that they’re being mean or taking you for granted. Not meeting your (unspoken) expectations feels too disappointing, easily leading to anger & resentment.  BUT it’s either your —
— faulty thinking: that everyone is just like you (symbiosis), when they may just be taking care of their own needs – instead of yours, and/or
faulty choices: sticking mainly to self-centered & abusive people who have no intention of reciprocating

EXP: ACoAs have our own version of Hansel & Gretel – You’re in the forest of daily life & run into the child-eating-ogre (‘perpetrator‘). Your WIC takes over, glued to the spot, looking up innocently, with big eyes & think: “You wouldn’t eat me, would you madam/ mister monster?” – instead of getting away as fast as possible, the way healthy people do!

You come off as tone-deafdo not tell to smile
Over-friendly people may mean well, but it can certainly be annoying, insensitive, even rude – rubbing others the wrong way  – because it’s a form of not listening.
EXP: A woman undergoing very painful medical treatments needed physical therapy. The young male receptionist in that office was a california-cheery type (but not in CA), who always beamed “It’s so good to see you!! How are you today?!!”
Walking slowly with a cane, the patient was obviously weak & in great discomfort. She was not amused by the greeting, much less uplifted. Even if his style was genuine, it truly lacked empathy, & was his need to project sunshine even tho’ it didn’t suit the situation. Being quietly gentle or even neutrally polite would have been much more soothing.

According to the School of Life, the too-nice are guilty of 3 major errors:
1. Believing you have to agree with everyone – making you a liar
2. Handing out empty compliments – making people think you’re fake
3. Being remorselessly upbeat – suggesting you can’t ‘read’ situations correctly, if at all – because you don’t have emotional intelligence (EQ)
These make it unsafe for others to reveal their truest selves when around us.

• You attract needy people
Just like ‘takers’ are your catnip, you are catnip to those even more desperate than you! Over-dramatic, clingy, controlling /demanding, whiny adult victim types will find you & try to drain you dry. They expect you to be mommy/daddy, therapist, nurse-maid, char, “butcher/ baker/candlestick maker”. And they’re manipulative, playing on your need to be needed, skilled at guilt-tripping if you don’t be-or-do what they want.
• You attract aggressive, demeaning treatment
Being over-friendly invites bullying from arrogant personality types, who instinctively recognize the “Kick-me” sign on your back that you don’t realize is there. They smell weakness – your insecurity, fear of loss & lack of boundaries – which energizes their sadistic need to vent their rage on others, rage toward their own weak family members who severely abandoned & disappointed them

•  You get stuck in this role
Once everyone gets used to your pattern of ‘selflessness’, it’s not only harder for you to change, but many people you know will strongly object if you do start having clear opinions & setting boundaries. It would mean they’d have to make changes too, which humans tend to resist

• You can’t do your job well
Especially as a boss, if you’re too easy & agreeable, you:
— won’t get rid of people hurting your company
— won’t stop workers, suppliers & customers from taking advantage
— can’t make company beneficial changes because it might ‘hurt’ someone
— can’t do great things that require forging your own way
(Stop being ‘nice’ at work)

• You can hurt others
Being too available for too long is so wearing that it leaves you with no time & energy for yourself or friends. If you’re dealing with needy people, whatever you give will never be enough. Without setting & holding to firm limits, & with no reciprocation or appreciation, you will eventually get fed up. Then you explode or cut them off cold turkey. This leaves the clingers confused & hurt, ‘loosing all faith in humanity’. But they just put their faith in someone who has their own ulterior motives & almost as weak boundaries as themselves.

NEXT: External negatives – in us #2

ACoAs being SCAPEGOATED (Part 4)

blame the victim 

that their attacks are not about me!

PREVIOUS: ACoAs being Scapegoated (Part 3)

SITE: Narcissistic Scapegoating

QUOTE: “Most of the time, victims sense that their attacker is a threat but ignore this inner knowing.” from The Gift of Fear ~ Gavin De Becker, Criminologist

SCAPEGOATING is a way of acting without integrity – a perpetrator slandering another person in order to take the focus off of themselves. It would probably not occur if it weren’t experienced as advantageous:
— A self-protective process, shielding the ‘doer’ from unbearable internal conflicts, projected outward
— The whole group raises their status against the targeted minority or individual
— The group’s behavior, no matter how egregious, is made legitimate by rationalization (“Of course we are full of defects, but we do not act like him/them”). Human Rights Awareness, Paola Marziani black sheep

In the home, it’s a long-standing pattern of the whole family – verbally, emotionally &/or physically abusing one child. Most members, if not all, seem to accept it as the normal
way to treat the victim, & look the other way when the Sc is bullied or otherwise mistreated & made the ‘black sheep’.

HOW has your family Scapegoated (Sc) YOU?
This list applies to what happened in childhood, but may still be ongoing, no matter how old you are. You were the Sc IF YOU were/are —
● picked on by either parent to be the ‘bad one’ who then looked for things to make you wrong – most of the time untrue

put in the role of family outcast, treated with disdain or disgust by family – & then by yourself
● blamed for others’ actions, & held responsible for family problems, conflicts or challenges, which had nothing to do with you

● attacked for telling the truth (‘blowing the whistle’) about abusive, hurtful & inappropriate family dynamics
● never believed when telling the truth about things that actually happened to you or around you, even if you had proof

● blamed for &/or punished for what a sibling did, or for the very same things the other kids were allowed to get awaynot believed with
● accused unjustly, your actions & motives exaggerated or lied about

● told or shown that your accomplishments were unimportant, ugly, worthless, useless, bad
● ignored or rejected by anyone who was/is easily influenced by your torturers (in & out of the family), & perhaps still are
● physically abused (slapped, beaten, kicked, thrown against walls….) whether you did something ‘wrong’ , but even when not
● repeatedly accused of behavior only the scapegoater is doing.
EXP: Parent regularly yells at you, then accuses you of being abusive / You’re being genuinely thoughtful & caring, but told “all you care about is yourself” / You’re the mentally healthiest family member, but accused of being sick, bad, selfish….. ADD your own experiences to this list

Bill Taylor, of Stressed Health Professionals & Families says:
“ One of the most destructive patterns is the scapegoating of a physically or sexually abused child, especially when the mis-treatment is unknown to others except the victim & perpetrator.
Such a victim will often misbehave or be completely withdrawn, take out their anger on others,  develop depression or other signs of emotional distress, as a way of handling the anxiety about the abuse. They are then punished for acting out, the family not seeing that their attacks & shouldn"t hurt to be ak idbeatings create extreme stress & add to the bad behavior. Most people can’t imagine the daily hell the child or teen suffers from a combination of abuse and scapegoating.” (MORE….)

NOTE: These characteristics apply to many ACoAs, especially in families where all the kids we abused & neglected in various ways.
However, the focus here is on the one out of a number of children who is tortured, while the others are treated a great deal better – at least on the surface. (MORE…..)
— 7 year old Nixmary Brown was the only one chosen for parental abuse & neglect while her 5 siblings were relatively well-treated.
— In 1995, 6-year-old Elisa Izquierdo was starved and beaten by her mother while her 5 siblings were left unscathed
— In 1996, Nadine Lockwood was starved to death while her 8 siblings were treated fairly well

Everyone in a scapegoating family is harmed by this pattern, even those not directly picked on. Just living every day in that kind of sadistic environment eats away at one’s soul – especially vulnerable, developing personalities. SO – if you were not ‘it’ in your childhood, it doesn’t mean you got away emotionally, psychologically & spiritually undamaged.

NEXT: ACoAs being Scapegoated (Part 5)


I can’t imagine ever getting off the ground!

PREVIOUS: Anger T & F, #2

SITE:Humiliation” (Wikipedia)

QUOTE: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

DEF: Being in a state of disgrace, a loss of prestige &/or self-respect
NOTE: Humiliation is not the same as humilityThe opposite of Humiliation is Appreciation

HUMILIATION originally comes from external sources – which then get internalized as part of the PP voice. For ACoAs it comes first & foremost from our family, & then often from school, church, neighborhood…. It’s ‘being shamed’ rather than feeling ashamed.

A lesser injury may cause us to “take offense” at something, which is cognitive, intellectual – about what or how we think. Humiliation is more demeaning & hurtful – visceral, existential – about who we are fundamentally.  In the present, usually ‘victims’ disagrees with the humiliation laid on them – don’t like it, know they don’t deserve it, the treatment is seen as unjust….but can’t always stop it from happening.

1.EXTERNAL Sources
Humiliation involves an event or ongoing situation that indicates unequal power in a relationship, where we are in a one-down position & unjustly diminished. Often the painful experience(s) is/are vividly remembered for a long time & can lead to anxiety, especially if the exposure was prolonged. It victim/perprequires:
1. a Perpetrator who is exercising negative power, possible in many different settings

2. a Victim who is truly powerless (child, minority, the poor….) or is re-enacting a long-held victim role, & so is vulnerable to being humiliated
3. one or more Witnesses to -or- observers of the event(s), such as family members, neighbors, teachers, the general public, peers, officials…. who usually do not object or help, sometimes even egging the perpetrator(s) on, as in bullying

➼ The following list was compiled by Leland R. Beaumont at Emotional Competency” & can be applied to children as well as adults. Add your own.

PHYSICAL / SEXUAL (most visible)
Being : • boundary invaded, trespassed on, privacy violated
• denied basic social amenities or needs
• forced to do or say something distasteful & self-shaming
• injured, assaulted (hit, spit on…), attacked
• isolated or physically abandoned
• molested, incested, raped
• often beaten, slapped, kicked, punched
• the loser in a dominance contest / cheated on
• exploited, suppressed, violated
Having :
• abilities diminished as a result of being disabled or immobilized
• basic personal freedoms lost (mobility, access, autonomy)elder abuse
• competence / confidence damaged – from being tricked, trapped, mislead, opposed, sabotaged, let down
• goals & plans constantly thwarted, over a long time
• resources diminished from being defrauded, robbed, cheated, evicted
• safety or security reduced by intimidation or threat
• to see / watch a loved ones sexually assaulted
• to watch a love interest flirt with another, causing intense jealousy

• blamed for things that have nothing to do with you
• blatantly rejected, treated unfairly, forced to back down
• betrayed, cheated, lied to, defrauded, suckered, duped
• denied basic personal & emotional needs
• deprived of privileges, rights or human dignity
• dependent (not by choice), especially on weaker people
• forced to swallow one’s pride
• laughed at, mocked, teased, ridiculed, given a dirty look
• lowered in ones own or another’s estimation, made to feel powerlessmade fun of
• made to look stupid or foolish
• manipulated, dominated, controlled, forced to submit
• taken for granted, use to fill a need in others
• denigrated for ones values & beliefs, made fun of
• snubbed, put down, disgraced, shamed (not the same as feeling ashamed)
• treated as an equal by someone of a lower-status
• treated like an object (it) or animal, rather than a person

• always held them at arm’s length (mate, child, ‘friend’)
• deliberately overlook or ignored
• falsely accused, or subject to slander, gossip, insinuations
• given the silent treatment, or treated as invisible
• made to wait for someone unnecessarily, habituallymental abuse
• threatened with abuse, including verbal (name calling…), physical, sexual, psychological

• acknowledgement or recognition withheld
• having to agree with someone’s opinion or beliefs when they contradict your own
• the attention you get be a manipulation (how, when…)
• to apologize unfairly, when not guilty of anything
• your experience or information dismissed, discounted, silenced

• forced to defer to others who are less honorable, intelligent or less qualified
• poor, unemployed, foreclosed, homeless
• reduced in rank, responsibility, role, title, positional, power, authority
• publicly disrespected, downgraded, defeated, slighted
• shamed by bad investments, debt, bankruptcyignored
• subjected to punishment, social powerlessness, imprisonment
• shamed for heritage, race, gender, appearance, character
• the victim of a practical joke, prank, or confidence scheme

NOTE: Not all recipients of these experiences are innocent. While many people are true victims – some ‘earn’ one or more of these mistreatments by acting out, being abusive, disrespectful…. or by unconsciously setting themselves up – to be taught a lesson, be punished or get pay-back.
This is not too say that humiliation is a healthy way to treat anyone – but is often the way people retaliate on a perpetrator, or copy their original tormentor by inflict on others injuries previously done to them.

NEXT: Humiliation (Part 2)

What is EMOTIONAL Abuse? (Part 1)

after being with that person!

PREVIOUS: Grandiosity vs Normal

See series of posts on Emotions

NOTE: How others treat us is about them (their damage or health).
AND  –  How we react to others is about us (our wounds or Recovery!)
“Emotional abuse is underneath all other types – the most damaging aspect of physical, sexual, mental, etc. abuse is the trauma to our hearts and souls, from being betrayed by the people that we love and trust.”
“Emotional abuse is a devastating, debilitating heart and soul mutilation. The deepest lasting wound with any abuse is the emotional wound.”
From Co-dependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls, by Robert Burney    (MORE….)

• E.A. is also sometimes referred to as Psychological or Mental Abuse, divided into Verbal Aggression, Dominant and Jealous Behaviors – by the “Conflict Tactics Scale”. The US Justice Dept. considers it anything that causes fear by intimidation. Health Canada identifies it as being motivated by urges for “power and dyscontrol✶”.  Unlike sexual or physical mistreatment, which can cause lasting trauma pulling hairwith only one event, E.A. comes from repeated exposure.  It can show up in many guises, obvious or subtle, a form of violence experienced in any relationship that is just as damaging as physical assaults, if not more so – because it goes to the core of who we are as human beings. (Wikipedia)
✶Dyscontrol : “An uncommon disorder that begins in early childhood, characterized by repeated acts of violent aggressive behavior in an otherwise normal person, which is markedly out of proportion to the events that provoked it”

Noticing E.A.
E.A. can be very difficult to identify because:
a. very often there are no outward signs of it, such as physical scars or broken bones. It ‘only’ breaks our spirit! It includes the use of coercion, threats, insults, neglect…. to control the other, who loses (or never gains) self-esteem & freedom to grow.   Victims of E.A. blame themselves for the mistreatment & their S-H makes them cling to perpetrators, staying because they believe they have nowhere else to go & no one else will want them

b. it’s so common in our culture that we don’t consider it a problem. Alice Miller’s “For Your Own Good” (1980) describes this issue.  And her “Banished Knowledge” is about how we’re taught from early on to ignore being treated badly (T.) & how it feels (E.).  People who are emotionally hurtful are everywhere & are usually oblivious to the effect they have. This includes people who:
• only talk & think about themselves (no room for us)emotional abuse
• don’t consider our personality when interacting to us (only their own)
• try to make us take care of them, make us feel guilty, be needy…..
• try to fix us with action-ideas, when we’re only needing empathy
• tell us what to do, how to think, how to feel
• tease us using things they know we’re sensitive about
• make a judgmental or belittling comment to us in front of others

ALSO, when someone is the butt of such treatment the people around them often validate pubic humiliation & thoughtless or cruel remarks by laughing, as if the comment was clever & amusing, or even cheering the perpetrator on – as long as it’s not being done to them! This applies to siblings, school mates, co-workers, club members… When we are the target – we feel terribly alone, hurt & angry.

Our Emotional Reactions
✶ The most important thing to remember is that ALL categories of abuse cause emotional damage. We need  to notice how those actions or words make us feel emotionally – as in NOT happy!
UNDER – No matter how much we know about our issues, without doing deeper FoO work many ACoAs have a hard time even recognizing familiar abuses as they’re happening, much less feeling an emotional sting. Because we’re still numb to old pain & unloving toward ourselves, it’s very hard to connect our depression & S-H with being exposed to E.A.
• It’s as if we were wearing that huge white medical collar that vets sometimes put on dogs/cats – we can see over the top, but not the knife in someone’s hand as they stick it in our gut – especially if they’re smiling! We may feel some pain, but don’t understand that it’s truly coming from outside of ourselves. As trained victims, we always assume that if we’re hurting it a sure sign there’s something wrong with us. NOT SO!

OVER – When we do over-react emotionally to a person or event, the tricky part is being able to over-reactseparate what just happened in the present from the accumulated suffering of past abuse. Often it IS a combination of the two, in layers – like when someone only ‘stepped on your toe’, but it feels like the foot has been cut off & we’re left bleeding, because of all the times our family did the same thing to us. Whenever we have an intense reaction we know “If it’s hysterical, it’s historical”. We can validate our fear, outrage, sadness…. while still staying in the present moment & seeing reality. SO –

We Need To:
• double check if something was actually an abusive situation – or are we reading into it (projection) because it’s so similar to what was repeatedly done to us when we were kids.
— We can ask ourselves : Did this call for such an intense reaction? Do I feel like I’m being stomped on, discarded like garbage or my life being threatened – when all someone did was not phone or write me back – immediately / looked at me ‘funny’ / didn’t say hello /  told me what to do…..
— ‘Checking’ includes asking someone we trust for an evaluation of the event, or going back to the original person & asking what they meant by ___, or why they did ____. Whether they tell us the truth or not, many times their answer will be surprising – it’s not what we thought they meant, because it had nothing to do with us. It’s important to ask.
As Well As:
• be able to identify unpleasant or inappropriate words & actions that we are subjected to, not ignoring work abusethe event or how we feel. For some ACoAs this may take outside validation, including comparing lists of ‘My Rights’ with those of Abusive Behaviors.

✶ All Over & Under-reactions come from either our WIC or PP. Appropriate ones come from our UNIT.
Learning to tell the difference between actual abuse & our projections or paranoia comes from internalizing the healing of Recovery work, accumulated information about present-day reality & validation of our feelings & experiences, via meetings, reading, healers & therapists.

NEXT: Emotional Abuse (Part 2)

Considering Abuse


but it must be my fault!

PREVIOUS: Principles of    Character

SITE: re. Categories of abuse

NOTE: This series will have many lists of abusive behaviors, in many categories, & from different perspectives, so there will be a lot of over-lap in headings and examples. This is deliberate. As kids we HAD to ignore, trivialize or forget what was done to us, & then act out those self-destructive patterns in our everyday lives.
We must identify exactly what happened before we can change it, & repetition is useful in breaking thru our denial. Also, reading or hearing something in different wording & context can more easily get past our defenses. The main (but not exclusive) focus of these posts is on Emotional Abuse.

ABUSE :  It can happen just once with someone, or when we’re subjected to a bully for a short while. But usually it’s a long-term pattern of behavior by a severely damaged,  cruel, angry &/or mentally ill person who uses their position (as parent, boss, teacher, mate, older sibling or friend, community leader…. ) to intimidate others who have less personal or social power,
OR to take advantage of those who by nature or training are more accommodating & compliant.
While most people act unkindly, even cruelly on occasion, when provoked or under great stress, what we are looking at here is ongoing attitudes & actions that tear us down, body & soul. Even when they seem intermittent, over time they wear at us !

• In general, Abuse is any communication or behavior designed to control & enslave others – to keep them ‘in their place’, to keep them from leaving, to punish them for not being who or what the comtrolling oneperpetrator expects, or to make them into what he/she wants! It is done by continual fear, humiliation, intimidation, guilt, coercion & manipulation. Abuse is any form of intrusion into another’s psyche.
It will include verbal, physical, sexual and/or emotional attacks, financial, intellectual or spiritual tactics, ranging from mild to lethal. To not respect privacy, to be brutally honest with a sadistic sense of humor, be consistently tactless, to expect too much, to denigrate, to ignore…. causes pain.

• Most people automatically assume ‘abuse’ only refers to physical harm – yelling, hitting, beating, broken bones …. so will firmly state: “I was never abused growing up”. However, because human beings are made up of 4 interlocking categories (PMES = Physical, Mental, Emotional, Spiritual) we can be wounded OR encouraged in many ways at each level.
Therefore ACoAs can honestly say that we were severely & regularly abused by our damaged parents (& other authority figures) , especially in our emotions (Es). Since honest emotions are NOT widely recognized, valued or encouraged in our society AND in dysfunctional families, we ended up ignoring or minimizing them in ourselves, as well as in others, especially if we didn’t get physically or sexually attacked as kids.

• Most of us never felt loved. Regardless of what our parents said, or how they felt about us in their own minds & hearts – their distorted way of treating us was not an expression of healthy Love. So to compensate, we look for that everywhere we go, & from everyone we deal with. This makes us vulnerable to a subtle form of abuse – being ‘over-loved’, needed & depended on too much, OR being over-protective & infantilized. These are actually ways to treat us as an extension of themselves, as an object rather than a separate being, or a means of their personal gratification. It’s never about what the ‘beloved’ really needs or wants.

The most successful perps are “stealth abusers”, being indirect & sneaky, so one have to actually live with them to see & experience it.  Being consistently selfish, controlling & mean is an immature reaction to earlier painful life experiences when the abuser was totally helpless. They use it now as a defense against their own S-H, rage & shame.  It’s about trying to finally feel powerful, assert their hidden abuseidentity, create safety & predictability, to be master of everything in their environment – to never feel vulnerable again or have to face their original wounds.
It’s irrelevant whether perps are being deliberately abusive or just unconsciously acting out their damage. The effect on others (us) is the same! This of course also applies to how we treat others.

While the majority of physical & sexual abuse is perpetrated against women & children, men in both hetero- & homo- sexual partnerships are also emotionally & physically battered. And now we are beginning to hear more about peer bullying and elder abuse.   Studies show that women with any kind of major disability are at greater risk, as are unemployed men in a household where the woman works.
Victims can be of any age or gender & from any socio-economic level. While standards are different in various cultures, it occurs in virtually all countries. Because it is often learned at an early age, being abused (learned helplessness) is passed from generation to generation like a family disease, called the inter-generational cycle.

Victim’s reaction to abuse
Very confused – Do I have a right to say, or even think, that what’s happening is really Abuse? I doubt it. After all, sometimes the other person is nice to me and fun to be with, says they can’t live without me, or tells me they’re sorry. And the abuse isn’t always obvious, other people like him/her, so I may just be making it all up!  Is how I feel (self-doubting, drained, fearful, angry, frustrated, hopeless …) about what the other person is doing, or am I just over-reacting?

NEXT: Victims or not?

Roles & Co-dependence

invisible bars 

have me trapped in the mirror!

PREVIOUS: Toxic Family Roles #4

BOOK: Is it Love or is it Addiction? ~ Brenda Schaeffer

Co-dependence (Co-dep)
is a family-systems syndrome developed in reaction to the stress of addiction or other”shameful secrets”
• A pathological way to live “through the expectations of others
• An addiction to being in a supportive role in any relationship
• Keeps the co-dep✶ one-up (better than) & the addict one-down
✶ BUT, at the same time – the co-dep feels like a Victim, makes the addict into the Perpetrator & then feels resentful (Co-dep triangle).  Co-deps look strong but feel helpless, act controlling but are actually being controlled by their compulsion to save someone else

a. We focus all our attention on the needs, feelings & problems of another person – instead of ourselves – including the ones we think they have, in order to make that person love us AND never leave us.  So we feel guilty when we don’t tend to their wishes, needs or demands!

b. The False Self  (FS)
✶ we developed in our dysfunctional home makes us believe we need someone & false vs real selfsomething outside of ourselves to be complete, to feel safe, to have any worth at all, even to give us permission to exist!
✶ Basing life on a False Self robs us of our dignity & individuality! It is what the Adapted Child ego state becomes when we are not properly nurtured in childhood, & which ends up running our life until we do FoO work in Recovery   (CHART)

• The concept of the FS was developed in the 60s by Donald Winnicott, who specialized in Object-Relations psychology. The FS is motivated by a basic need to survive, starting in infancy – an unconscious choice to change our behavior, repress our emotions & push aside our own needs – to fit in with others who cannot accept us as we really are. It comes out of a desperate attempt to control a person or situation that is actually out of our control

• It includes 5 levels, the most extreme case being when the True Self is completely hidden, while the FS appears authentic to the person & everyone else, & may be successful in the world but fails in intimate relationships
➼ In contrast, the True Self is the core of we who are, unshaped by upbringing or society, the person we were born as & still exists inside us

Symptoms of Co-dep: Avoiding emotions, being controlling, care-taking, denial, distrust, guilt, hyper vigilance, intimacy problems, perfectionism, physical illness from stress.  • Basic Rules:co-dep
— It’s not OK to feel, to have problems, to have fun, to be separate
— If anyone acts bad, irresponsible or crazy – it’s my fault
—  I’m not good enough just as I am
Qs to see how co-dependent you are or are not:
— Who am I?   — What do I want?     — What are my needs?
—  What makes me happy?    angry?    sad?

Roles & Co-dependence
Toxic Family Roles (TFR) inevitably foster co-dep  (“How do the Roles play out in Codependency”). They’re a way of organizing & expressing it, taken on to make sense of’ & cope with the family (work, church, national…) dysfunction, as well as enabling the addict (bully, narcissist, sadist….) to continue their toxic life-style.  Co-dep is reinforced by well-known cognitive distortions (CDs) :
Minimize: acknowledge that there may be a problem, but make light of it
Project: blame the problem on others & often pick out a child to be the Scapegoat, to bear the family’s shame & ‘badness’
Intellectualize: explain the problem away – assuming that by offering a convenient excuse or explanation the problem will be resolved
Deny: demand that oneself & everyone else believe there is no problem.

Co-dependency uses overt & covert rules which close each member off from outside world, BY:co-dep
• discouraging healthy communication of issues & feelings among themselves, & everyone else
• destroying their ability to trust themselves or others in intimate relationships
• freezing into unnatural roles, making interaction with others stiff & limited
• teaching each person to completely focus on someone else’s desires or problems, so they gradually lose the ability to know their own Es, wants & needs
• preventing children from growing & developing their fundamental identity, gradually ‘becoming’ the Role forced on them by the disease

Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse notes that the longer people play a role, the more rigidly fixed they becomes in it. Eventually, family members “become addicted to their role, seeing it as essential to their survival and playing it out with the same compulsion, delusion & denial as the Dependent plays his or her role as drinker / addict” . From Another Chance: Hope & Health for the Alcoholic Family.

• In addictive & other dysfunctional homes, the ‘problem person’, most often a parent, doesn’t pull their weight (fulfill their appropriate family role) so:
— others have to take on a lot of work & effort to make up for it
— the rest of the family feels compelled to take care of the ‘sick’ one, both out of love & in order to fix them so that the whole unit will work better, WHICH leaves everyone depleted & defeated!

• Because the damaged / damaging person is so focused on their own activities & inner drama, they can’t be love begthere for anyone else, for sure not emotionally & spiritually, sometimes mentally & physically as well. This triggers a great need, especially in the children, to do everything they can to win or earn the love & attention they’re not getting & desperately need. That compulsion turns into co-dependence, which keeps us trapped –  trying to get love from people who are not available AND not knowing to look for those who are already capable.
✶✶ The saying “My loving you is none of your business!” means we can’t make someone love us & we can’t stop them from loving us!

• Co-dependency can show up as occupational instability, as well as produce secondary addictive & compulsive behaviors
• the TFRs we grew up with drive every aspect of our life, being replicated at work, school, family & in all social interactions (employee, student, spouse, parent, friend). Understanding the components of each childhood role give us all the clues needed to identify adult acing-out & make it possible to slowly outgrow, even if no one else in the family has made any changes!

NEXT: The HERO role

ACoA CONCLUSIONS re. Painful Events (Part 2a)

hating / fear 

– & I hate everyone!

PREVIOUS: Part 1a & b: ‘It’s All ME‘


b. IT’S ALL THEM – (Perpetrator)
THEY are crazy, mean, unfair, stupid, stupid, stupid!

The core emotion is ANGER
Perpetrators:  the alternate style of ‘CONCLUSIONS’  is expressed by the overtly rageful ACoAs who can’t bear to take any responsibility for our T.E.A.s! We genuinely believe all our troubles are other people’s fault – no matter how small or unimportant the situation – & not just occasionally, as everyone feels sometimes, but as our life-pattern! Perpetratorthinling re eventss attack anything & anyone we think has hurt us, whether real or not.
Carl is having a bad week. His computer isn’t working right & he can’t figure it out.  He gets an unexpected bill in the mail & there’s no hot water.  He goes out to interview for a gig & the club owner never shows, & to top it off, someone cuts him off on the road. He’s in a rage! He storms around, yelling at anyone who gets in his way. He’s so upset that he drives too fast & almost gets in an accident! “That @%!! incompetent  Â؈ÒÏ! I can’t believe the stupidity! They shouldn’t be allowed to live”…

• These ACoAs use the defense of blaming all our pain on others. This in not to say we should be blaming ourselves, like ACoAs in the previous post. This approach to life is as narcissistic as the victim’s.  The belief is the same – “Everything is about me” – but from opposite poles.
Both types are convinced they are the butt of a cosmic joke: that the universe is the cause of their suffering, dedicated to preventing them from being happy or getting their most fundamental needs met – to be loved & feel safe.

• But while the overtly fearful ACoAs believe they have caused this tragedy, the obviously angry ones feel victimized & totally blameless.  The perpetrators’ general attitude is: Nothing is my fault or responsibility! Nothing matters but MY needs, opinions & feelings! Everything & everyone is doing / not doing – something – TO me. Everyone (but me) is stupid! So, every delay, disappointment, flaw, mistake… from others, is considered disrespectful & a personal affront. So they step on others & barely notice.

A negative approach (T) to painful EVENTS
PARANOIA: many ACoAs have at least some tendency to be paranoid (although most not clinically).  Just like we have a PP camera over our shoulder, always judging ourselves, we also constantly scan the world for danger (mostly unconscious), assuming that everyone is a potential monster – ie. everyone will definitely abandon / harm us sooner or later!  We apply this rule even to situations that are neutral or NOT about US. True paranoids (PPD) do see danger where there is none at all.  But most ACoAs with a touch of it can still correctly identify real events – it’s just that our CONCLUSIONS are likely to be off (CDs) – but not always.

• Paranoia, even in relatively mild form, comes from legitimately feeling endangered much of the time growing up. drunk angerThat’s not being crazy, because unfortunately most of the danger did come from our own family!  It has left us constantly terrified, but we don’t want to admit how deeply vulnerable we feel. If our family wasn’t safe, how much less so are strangers?  With such a background & our symbiotic attachment to our parents, we project that original danger onto the whole world, regardless of present reality

✶✶ The awful irony is that while we believe we’re trying to sidestep all those hidden land mines in our world, paranoia actually draws us mainly to those people, places & things which we either experience as harmful, or that actually are! OR we project danger onto safe or irrelevant ones. We are then reproducing – and adding to – the original abandonment we so desperately want to avoid!
•We (unconsciously) reject genuinely neutral or beneficial people & opportunities! Yes – deliberately, because we are not only repeating what is familiar, we’re also looking to validate the ‘rightness’ of our family, so we don’t have to face the pain of who they really were

Paranoid twisted thinking about anything POSITIVE says :Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 1.44.53 AM
• it was just a fluke, an accident, a coincidence
• people don’t really mean the nice thing they say – they’re being polite
• she/he is only saying that because she/he wants something
• it can’t possibly last, so why bother trying it out
• it’ll be taken away, anyway & then I’ll feel even worse than before
• good things don’t even register: “What compliment? I didn’t notice” …

CDs cancel out the very things in our environment we’ve always longed for and that would nurture & heal us, if we took them in!  Some CDs used: ‘Awful-izing’, ‘Maximizing’, ‘Unrealistic Comparisons’, ‘Mind Reading’, ‘Jumping to Conclusions’…

NEXT: ACoA CONCLUSIONS re. Events (2b)