Either way we lose ourselves, to stay loyal to the family

If you’d like to know about double binds, go to pg. 10 of
ACoAs have a terrible dilemma:
1. On the one hand we desperately want to be loved, acknowledged, seen, heard. We complain bitterly for years that we have to chase people down, do all the work in relationships, friends don’t come thru for us, we’re too isolated, hate being lonely, we can’t trust anyone...
You know what kids used to say: ”No one loves me, everyone hates me, I’m going to eat worms & die!” See 'Toxic Rules', page

Because we’re not allowed to be loved, comfortable and comforted, happy, thriving... we chase after those few who don’t want us at all, &/or are unavailable in some way, even if there was an initial attraction.  They let us know in a 1000 ways they’re not really able to connect (because of their self-hate & fear of intimacy) - but we don’t want to deal with that info, even when we hear it!

✶ The real reason for chasing the ‘impossible dream’ is that these unavailables are parent substitutes.  Our parents gave us the message we were too much trouble, not worth bothering with, in their way, messy, greedy, unruly pain in the a--es.  We couldn’t live with that. We had to figure out a way to win them over, to love us, if only we knew how to fix ourselves & them.  BUT we never did.
✶ So now, with the current unavailables - we think: “this time we’ll get them, this time we’ll win - if only we’re perfect & persistent enough”. OY! See: “Perfectionism” (pg. 22 of 

2. On the other hand, we’re terrified of getting too much attention, are 
uncomfortable with compliments, don’t want to ‘put anyone out’, can’t accept being given to. We think (conscious or unconscious):
a. I don’t deserve good things. After all, my family wasn’t that nice to me& they knew me best. So, when anyone gets to know me they’ll be disgusted & leave.
b. If someone likes me they’re stupid, weak, needy (no one I’d want to be with) because they’re too dumb to know I’m not worth liking
c. OR they’re conning me, being polite, people-pleasing - & then just when I start enjoying things they’ll leave or want something I don’t have.  Sooner or later the real them will show up & I’ll be disappointed - again

d. I don’t want to owe anyone - no one gives anything for free, everyone has an agenda...
e. If I admit I want to be liked & given to, then I’m the weak one & that 
disgusts me. I’d rather be alone than be that vulnerable
f. People are just trying to control me by being nice, so they can get what
they want, & make me do things their way... 
See “Healthy Opposites”, pgs. 69-70.

ACoAs will jump back & forth between opposites - BUT only Negative ones --
✶ either be too alone or chase people who aren’t interested / abuse them
✶ isolate for years or stay way too long with the wrong people
✶ keep hurting themselves & then find some addiction (not always a chemical) to dull the pain
✶ hate themselves for being too much or for not being enough
✶ act out Victim Role or act out Perpetrator role (aggressor, abuser) ....

REASON WE STAY IN THE OLD PATTERN (even when we know better)
✶ Loyalty to the family & it’s system (still think we need them)
✶ Don’t want to disobey the Toxic rules : they represent our connection to home AND we don’t want to be punished. AND if we obey them,we’re convinced the family will finally love / accept us
✶ MOST OF ALL : we don’t want to ‘get depressed’ ie. feel all that pain (sad, lonely, terror, hopeless, rage, powerless... ) of our parents not loving us the way we needed. We knew the truth back then but it was too much to bear & we didn’t have many options, so we stuffed it down. 

SO, NOW : If we give up our fantasies & illusions about the unavailables  - and walk away - we’ll get flooded by that accumulated pain!  If we know what it is we’ll be able to manage it better.
“If it’s hysterical, it’s historical”

It takes quite a bit of recovery (growing a Loving Inner Parent) to be able to tolerate feeling that awful hurt! & still be ok. With enough time & the right kind of support, we can go through it KNOWING that it was NOT our fault that our family (& others) couldn’t love us, & that now it’s
OK to LET LOVE IN, today & every day from now on.
✶ ✶ ✶ ✶

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")