I’m going to eat worms & die!

Part 1: Essence, Source - Past & Present

• protect our ideal of having good, loving, safe parents
• protect us from feeling our old abandonment pain
• keep from risking change (fear we’ll die if we S & I)
• keep us attached to the family (stave off deep loneliness)
• prevent us from dealing with ‘ugly emotions’ like our rage, envy, longing, hopelessness...
• protects us from Growing up, taking care of ourselves (we want to be taken care of! no matter what the cost is)

The above reasons are all part of the answer, but the MAIN one is that: It gives us a FALSE SENSE of POWER! How?
a. every child is self-centered, which is normal. They think everything is about them - whatever happens in or around them has to do with them.
b. if they are in continual fear & suffering because of weak, ineffectual, harsh, demanding, neglectful, abusive... parents, they thoroughly believe they caused & deserve the bad treatment
c. the child’s logic is: I’m in pain & I somehow caused it. Therefore I CAN stop them from hurting me, if I can just figure out how!
d. the child then spend the rest of its life (until recovery) trying different ways to FIX whatever the problem seems to be - in 2 ways:
-- SELF - re-invent itself (must be the origin of this) by trying on different ‘personae‘ -- be the perfect kid, the trouble maker, the helper, get good grades, be invisible / don’t have any needs, be funny...
-- THEM - try to make the parents see reason, get sober, get help, leave the marriage, be taken care of (by the child), cover up for them, fix their ‘craziness’, cater to their every whim....
✶ BUT NOTHING WORKS! They don’t change, don’t listen, don’t stop!
Even if some of our parents got sober, it’s not because of anything the kids did, AND they rarely are willing to get the psychological help they need to be a better parent - this is called being a “Dry Drunk”.
✶✶ The RESULT for the child is an intense feeling of FAILURE!
This is the reason, now, that so many ACoAs believe that we’re FRAUDS - that people will eventually FIND OUT. Find out what?
✶✶ The ANSWER is rarely in an ACoAs’ consciousness: That since we couldn’t make our parents get well & be there for us - we are incapable of succeeding at anything! This is true of even the most outwardly successful ACoAs, without recovery.
SO, we keep trying, always asking: What’s wrong with ME?

ACoAs pile on more self-hate by the way we act, think & feel towards ourselves, & how we let others treat us.
By: • trying to be perfect, & hating ourselves for not being able to
• talking to ourselves in ‘shoulds’ (I should go to school right away, although I ‘m not really up to it now)
• sabotage opportunities & prevent ourselves from going after what we want in life
• black & white thinking, all or nothing, do or die (when one of these extremes doesn’t work out, we hate ourselves more)
• ‘yelling’ at ourselves - calling ourselves stupid, crazy, weak...
• trying to ‘one up’ others - to cover feeling ‘less than’
• not following thru... with plans, promises, goals
• denying our anger at others, swallowing it & getting depressed
• not standing up for ourselves - our rights, our tastes, our needs...
• let others use us, take advantage, continually cross our boundaries
• choosing & then staying with people who continually hurt us, don’t understand or can’t listen, can’t mirror us, who use us, manipulate....
• trying to do the impossible (change others, instead of ourselves)
• regularly getting into verbal (&/or physical) fights, to punish & isolate
• humiliating ourselves by: telling all our faults, over-disclosing, trying desperately to convince someone (who doesn’t care) that we’re not as bad/wrong stupid as they think
• being obnoxious, continual boasting, telling people off, arrogance, acting superior... (it keep us disconnected from others)
• continuing addictions; poor grooming habits; not care for our health
• lie, manipulate, cheat, mistrust everyone OR trust everyone, indiscriminately (copy our sick parents or play out the Scapegoat role)
• all other self-destructive behaviors (even little ones, because they eat away at us!)
• we’re afraid to know our ‘true self’ - which we are sure is awful - & cannot accept our natural tendencies (being sensitive, artistic, emotional, intelligent, talented in some are, talkative, having a strong personality...)
• not allowed to have dreams, wishes & hopes, & so can’t pursue them
• being suicidal, depressed, paranoid, hopeless
• stay victims - believe we deserve whatever abuse or neglect we receive, any time any place
• perfectionistic - expect too much of ourselves: we’re bad if we don’t have the American dream, higher education, lots of money, the right job / car / house / spouse ....
• not allowed to have boundaries (who do you think you are?)
• we stay in a constant state of neediness, vulnerability, fear of being hurt or left alone,
• keeps us in a rage (overt or hidden) because we still want things we think we can’t have or get
• in a rage that no one is willing to take care of us, fix, us, magically make it all better
• keeps us ‘anorexic’: under-earning, little or not affection, sex, love, attention, connections...
• prevents us from being relaxed, having fun, being light
• we take everything personally!!! The wrong look, being ignored, a selfish remark... from others can send us into a tailspin
• can’t let people get too close to us - S-H prevents genuine intimacy
• allows others to abuse us without being stopped or called to account...

a. INFO: S-H is a false belief & painful emotion - it is NOT who we are. We were not born hating ourselves. We had to learn it!
THEREFORE - it does not have to be permanent. We can outgrow it.
b. Awareness - of what exactly S-H is & what it’s for. Suggested reading, highly recommended: “Compassion & Self-Hate”, by Theo Rubin
• that all our ‘failures’ & character defects are the result of our S-H (see post “Negative Benefits of Self-destructive Patterns”)
• the origin of S-H: it’s the direct, inevitable result of the myriad ways we were abandoned as kids on all 4 levels: P.M.E.S.
✶ 3 Cs of Al-Anon: I didn’t Cause it, I can’t Control it, I can’t Cure it!
c. Acceptance - of all our emotions, even S-H: Don’t hate yourself for hating yourself! We just don’t have to act on them (Es) all the time
• need to ‘sit with feelings’, go into them, don’t try to suppress them - they will pass
• we learned ‘stinking thinking‘ from our family, but we can be free of it
• expect some backlash (from ourselves & others) when we start changing our toxic thinking & the way we respond to people
• that we’re responsible for our own emotions & how we deal with them
• that WE were NOT the cause of our early suffering. We simple did not have the power to make pour parents mistreat us!
• being loved cannot be earned. The other person must already have the ability to love! We can not create that ability in another.
d. Action - Change the thoughts / messages we’ve been believing. Make new statements & repeat them every day. (See post “Why are you stuck?” - & use the chart).
• Change how we behave - not let ourselves be bullied, disrespected, not considered (it’s OUR job to say how we want to be treated)
• STOP trying to fix / change other people. It’s arrogant & futile
• Actively work at correcting our understanding of life & others - not everyone is safe, nor is everyone dangerous
• Choose winners: kind, balanced, functional people to associate with (they don’t have to be ‘flawless’ or without damage. They mainly have to be willing to take responsibility for their own Ts, Es & As)
➼ Repeat to yourself every day: “No matter what I do - I don’t deserve abuse for it!”

Q: How do you maintain your S-H? What have you changed, so far?
✶ ✶ ✶ ✶

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 ("About Me")