so I have to be perfect to make up for it

Self-Hate is the #1 deterrent to growth for all ACoAs. It undermines our ability to function well, to have self-esteem & to be happy. Some people call it being ‘hard on yourself”, but it’s much more than that. It’s so pervasive in the inner world of many ACoAs, that we don’t even know we have it & if confronted, vehemently deny it. BUT the symptoms are all there, starting with a persistent nagging anxiety.
✶ In Childhood: being thoroughly convinced that everything bad that happen to us as kids was our fault, that we caused our own pain!
✶ In Adulthood: continuing from the past, we believe in our very cells that anytime we feel hurt, suffer a loss, get ignored, can’t get something we want, have something taken away, have to wait for something ... that it’s because we are bad, don’t deserve, did something wrong , failed to do something, don’t have a right to it - anyway ...

• ALL self-hate is a LIE
✶ it’s a defense mechanism to deny our feelings of abandonment. This a crucial point: S-H is a cover-up for all our abandonment pain.
• it’s a form of narcissism - making everything about US, when it rarely is. We make other people’s bad behavior our responsibility
• it’s an attempt at feeling powerful, to cover our intense sense of powerlessness & vulnerability
• S-H can be expressed in all 3 categories of T.E.A. As Thoughts : “I caused their accident, because I asked them to come see me”, as Emotions : “I feel bad”, “I’m really scared they won’t like me because I spoke up”, & as Actions: staying with abusive people, not taking care of ourselves, not pursuing our dreams, not speaking up....
One of the characteristics on the ACoA Laundry List (pgs 3-6) is being Over-Responsible, a symptom of FoA & S-H. What make S-H different from taking healthy, balanced Responsibility? (See post on ‘Responsibility’)
R: To be Responsible means to acknowledge the reality of having our T. E & As - or not. It’s straightforwardly owning up, which by itself would sound like: “Yes, I did that” (A), or ‘No, I can’t handle this” (A), or “No, I don’t agree with that”(T) , or “Yes, I love this” (E), etc.
• on one hand, can prevent us from admitting to any flaws, for fear of abandonment & because of feeling shame
• on the other hand, it can make us confess to wrongdoing even when we are blameless.

➼ In either case, what is underneath is an unspoken Toxic Lie (pg 22) which is tacked on to legitimate responsibility:
“I did / didn’t....and THEREFORE I’m Bad!”, no matter what the issue.  
ACOAs will take any opportunity to beat themselves up, even about good things! Examples:
“Yes, I did forget to sent the letter out today, & therefore I’m bad”
“No, I can’t do that for you, so therefore I’m bad”
“Yes, I went to the show without asking you, so therefore I’m bad”
“No, I haven’t ‘grown’ perfectly or as fast as I should & therefore I’m bad”... etc. This is NOT what ‘taking responsibility’ means. 

a. In Childhood:
i. Being abused, abandoned, mistreated, neglected by our parents & other caretakers: ACoAs clearly got the message that we were unacceptable, stupid, weak, selfish, ungrateful, unlovable, ugly, lazy, a pain in the a@@, good for nothing .....
• INDIRECTLY, by all the ways they did not patiently, lovingly nurture & take care of us, guide, listen, mirror, be good role models...
• DIRECTLY, by saying things like : “You’ll be the death of me yet” “Why did I have to have a kid like you?”, “No one’s ever going to love you”, “You’ll never amount to anything” “Kids always lie”....
✶ To any small child, parents are experienced as all-powerful gods. Gods are supposed to take care of us & only punish for good cause or to teach lessons, SO when we’re continually hurt by these gods we concluded that we somehow deserved it!

ii. OUR OWN child-centered point of view: all kids think the whole world revolves around them & have the universal power to make everything happen - good, bad or indifferent. Therefore, when bad things happen at home we caused it, even if we couldn’t figure out how or why. EXPL:
✶✶ A very intelligent young woman lawyer was in ACoA group therapy. She knew she has a lot of hidden rage at her repressive parents, who lived in another state. She admitted she was terrified to express those feelings out loud in the group - because it would kill them - even tho’ they could not actually hear her, being so far away. Her I.C. truly believed that her strong emotions would harm her parents - at a distance.

b. In the Present
Our Surface Reasons for S-H:
a. I.C.’s CONVICTION - we keep telling ourselves we’re never good enough or worthy of getting our needs met. We believe we’re powerless to change that, & being powerless feels much worse to ACoAs than being ‘bad’ - so ‘bad’ we are. If we’re powerless we can’t prevent people from leaving us & if they do, we’ll die! Can you hear the kid screaming?
b. Negative INTROJECT telling us we’re wrong, stupid, evil...
• we hate that part of us which is like our parents - being just as judgmental, making the same mistakes as them, picking the same kind of mates, sounding like them... We swear we’ll never be like them, yet
can’t help but be a carbon copy - it’s our genetic heritage, as well as our experience of them
• we keep hearing the ‘bad voice’ (Negative Introject) pounding away at us, & we just want to kill it off (one reason for ACoAs being suicidal) but at the same time believe that voice completely. We don’t know how to get rid of it without killing ourselves, yet we protect it with every fiber. What a bind!

Continued in Part 2

Q: What are some of the ways you show your self-hate?
✶ ✶ ✶ ✶

Author's Bio: 

is a psychotherapist in private practice for 24 yrs in New York City,
specializing in ACoA RECOVERY (adult-children of alcoholics & other narcissists).
She has appeared on radio, television & at New Life Expo, created & presented ACoA / Al-Anon intensive weekend workshops & ran an ACoA therapy group for 6 years.
She was an instructor at the NY OPEN CENTER  for 9 yrs, presenting her 12-week interactive lecture course “KNOWLEDGE Is POWER: 
What makes an ACoA”

She works with individuals & couples/partners, in person and by phone & Skype. FREE Intro Session, to see if there is compatibility.
For Testimonials, go to www.acoarecovery.com ("About Me")