I know I don’t deserve you, but I’m desperate

✶ Un-healed ACoAs have only 2 speeds about most things: Too Much or Too Little, black or white, very high or very low. ‘Gray’ is NOT even thought of, or is seen as a cop-out!

✶ Mental Health is about many things, one of which is BALANCE. Living in a healthy middle ground is not only a foreign concept to ACoAs, but IF experienced, even briefly, is considered BORING & undesirable!

✶ ACoAs are either over- or under-sensitive to all sorts of situations, & make little distinctions between important & unimportant issues in life : being ignored, someone not being available, not getting the information we need, death of a loved one, other people’s damage, a missed phone call, not being able to find something at home, being late, breaking up, losing a job... all seem to have equal value. Either being numb to it or being overly dramatic!

✶ Take Abandonment (A), for one.
1. OVER-aware : some ACoAs are hyper-attuned to the slightest slight :( , even when it’s completely unintentional or accidental
• for all ACoAs, our default position is that we will always be abandoned, sooner or later - it’s just a matter of time
• as hyper-aware ACoAs, we may deliberately make ourselves un-available OR un-likable, so we won’t become attached & then have to re-experience being disappointed
• OR we desperately cling to people (even if it doesn’t show) & we watch them like hawks for any hint of disapproval, anger, lack of attention... which might signal imminent abandonment
• we look for (A) everywhere, real or imagined. There is an element of paranoia, which is always based on genuine childhood danger & trauma

Expl: CiCi was walking downtown, & across the street she saw her friend Joey who didn’t even acknowledge her. The ‘sensitive soul’ became enraged, obsesses about the slight for a few days & eventually fired off a nasty note, breaking up the friendship! (Sensitive souls can be very harsh when hurt!)
It turns out that Joey was so preoccupied in his own head he never saw CiCi, but she didn’t bother checking it out - just assumed that it was deliberate.  Looking at her scathing email, Joey knew this was not the first time she had over-reacted. He decided it wasn’t worth arguing about it or justifying himself, anymore. If she couldn’t communicate more reasonably - then so be it.
Healthy: a responsible reaction from her would have been: “I saw you on the street today & you didn’t say hi. What’s up?”

2. UNDER-aware : at the other extreme are the ACoAs who are mostly inured (numbed out) to the many ways some people are unkind, unfair & insensitive to us. We ignore being ‘dissed’:
• from being so used to (A) from childhood that we don’t even feel it
• not knowing about the concept of (A), so can’t verbalize it, even if we did notice a twinge in our gut
• notice it but pretend it’s not happening, because it would be too painful AND we’d have to stand up to them or leave
• notice it, BUT blame ourselves, assume that we deserve it, don’t have a right to ask for more... (our Self-hate)
• make excuses for the other person’s bad behavior, the way we had to excuse our family; no one at home took responsibility for their abuse & neglect, so now we don’t hold anyone else accountable, either
• don’t want to say anything, because we don’t know the difference between confrontation & assertion, & we don’t want to hurt their feelings or start a fight

➼ Many ACoAs have a disconnect between their head & their gut, between thinking & feeling. Whether an under- or over- sensitive type, we all DO register the hurt of being discounted, disrespected, neglected or attacked. However, emotionally disconnected ACoAs are:
• either - totally unaware someone has ‘stepped on our toes’
• OR - it’s as if we’re wearing a defensive invisible collar - LIKE the big plastic medical kind, used on animals so they can’t scratch their ears. We can see over the top, but NOTHING below the collar.

SO, someone can stick a verbal knife in our gut, but with a  smile. We can only see the 'nice' face, but not the dangerous hand (the mean words).  We notice the pain BUT because we can’t see anything below the collar, we think there’s something wrong with us. After all, everyone else is ok & we’re the crazy ones, right?

PART 2: Definition, Explanation, Recovery
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Go to article "ACRONYMS" for meaning of all abbreviations
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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")