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Does anyone go to ACA here?

Discussion in 'Family, Friends and Relationships' started by Endlessagony, Feb 28, 2018.

  1. Endlessagony

    Endlessagony Seeker

    I'm going to go to a meeting tomorrow, not quite sure what to expect. I've been going to AA/NA for several years so the steps are familiar to me. They are only working to an extent though, this constant fear of abandonment and trauma from the end of my relationship are not leaving me alone. I think it's time to admit that I'm powerless over my relationships and myself. I've been living most of my life seeking approval and validation, doing anything to avoid being abandoned or rejected. When it ultimately happens (or even just the perceived rejection) I'm emotionally in ruins. I can see that this intense anxiety and fear is me reliving the painful memories from my childhood. When it happens I get lost in that feeling and create future predictions that this will always happen, adding further to the anxiety to the point of total despair.

    I harbored deep resentment and anger towards my parents for a long time, I thought I had come to terms with my childhood but the same behaviors are still there. It seems I've just been in denial and transferred that resentment and anger towards myself instead. When I look honestly at it I start to understand that I have major difficulties liking myself, so much that I'm really quite unsure about my place in the world. When I think of who I am there is mostly a blurry and distorted image. It's not that I can't recognize my strengths and weaknesses but I can't feel them at the core. It's more of a mind made image, what I think I am but inside I'm still unsure.

    I was bullied a lot in school the first 6 years and for a long time I thought that was the big issue. Looking back now I have gotten over that pretty well, the real problem was the lack of security at home and the constant verbal abuse. I was already suicidal when I was 10 years old, I can still remember the pain vividly. It was a day when the whole class had participated in mockery of me. Walking home I could feel just complete emptiness. Normally home would be a safe haven to run to, for me it was hell. Knowing that I would just be ignored or berated for being a pathetic little crybaby I just wanted it to end. There's was a dangerous crossroad on the path home, I stopped in the middle of the intersection and closed my eyes. I was ready to die. As I stood there a moment I started to get afraid so I moved on home. What waited me at home? Exactly what I had feared, me crying helplessly and my parents yelling at me.

    This really cements how the atmosphere was at home. It was never safe, I was always reminded how worthless I am, how I am the cause of all the dysfunction in the family, how I'm a piece of shit. Many years later as an adult even though I hadn't lived a home for a long time. I was staying there temporarily when my mom tried to commit suicide, I got a call from my dad saying "I hope you're happy now". It was my fault too.

    There's plenty more that happened, a lot of it I don't remember anymore.
  2. Dawn

    Dawn Well-Known Member

    I am very sorry that u didn't get a reply sooner. I am also sorry u were blamed for so much as I know how that is. I was the scapegoat and experienced physical and sexual and verbal and emotional abuse. I will say that verbal and emotional abuse is worse than physical by FAR. Sexual abuse is hell that I won't go into here. But I am sorry u had to endure all of that. I was blessed and started living in other homes at 12 years old. It helped a lot. Sounds like u were the scapegoat too and I know how bad it is when u don't feel safe at home.

    I know what it is like to be told and made to feel like a piece of shit. It doesn't go away ever. I also turned it all onto myself. I haven't been to those meetings. Sorry I can't be of more help. Hopefully, u will get more replies when I reset this because I found u on page 6. Apologies again. Best wishes to u.
    Lara_C and Kira like this.
  3. Kira

    Kira SF Gelfling Staff Alumni SF Supporter

    I've never been to one of those meetings but I wanted you to know that you aren't alone in how you feel. My childhood was similar to yours and @Dawn 's. I'm sure there's way too many of us here that can relate.

    Our minds become programed to believe we are the things we are told we are as children. We believe we somehow "deserve" to be punished for no reason. It's what we grew up with and it unfortunately becomes engrained in us.

    I'm 42 and have nothing to do with my family. It was the only way for me to heal and move forward. However, I kept letting my mother back in only to be hurt over and over again. It's because, like you said, we are looking for that acceptance and approval that we NEVER received as a child. Once I realized that I was never going to get it no matter what I did, I cut all ties with my mother (she was the last one I had limited contact with).

    I can relate so much to the way you talk about how you view yourself. I believe it's a work in progress for all of us. I've started to not worry what people think or what I "think" they possibly may be thinking about me. It's difficult, I know but you don't have to prove your worth to anyone. Try to start accepting yourself. Again, hard I know but you are worth it.

    It will take time to reprogram our brains but I believe we can do it. We just have to be kind to ourselves. Take care :) ox
    Dawn and Lara_C like this.
  4. Lara_C

    Lara_C SF Supporter

    Your parents obviously had serious emotional problems which prevented you from growing up into a happy and emotionally secure adult. Many victims of neglect and abuse take the blame on themselves, believing they have some innate flaw which made them unloveable and caused the neglect/abuse. This deep feeling of unworthiness is the reason you have, as you say, spent most of your life seeking validation and approval and why you live in fear of rejection and abandonment. As we've been discussing, the only remedy is to realise that the flaw was never in you at all, but in those whose duty it was to love you and protect you from harm. I'm wondering if it would help if you shared your experience with other victims of neglect/abuse in childhood?
    Dawn and Kira like this.
  5. Lara_C

    Lara_C SF Supporter

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  6. Kira

    Kira SF Gelfling Staff Alumni SF Supporter

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  7. Lara_C

    Lara_C SF Supporter

    You might also like to check out the research of psychologist Kristin Neff on the healing power of self compassion. It actually changes the structure of our brains because "neurons that fire together, wire together". To quote the author of that article:

    "....we now know some of the neurobiological correlates of feeling unlovable and how shame gets stuck in our neural circuitry. Moreover, and most crucially of all, due to our brains’ capacity to grow new neurons and new synaptic connections, we can proactively repair (and re-pair) old memories with new experiences of self-empathy and self-compassion"
    Basically, we learn how to apply the feeling of compassion and kindness to ourselves by pairing it with every painful memory which surfaces and keep on practicing this until it becomes habitual, extinguishing the old responses of fear, anger, despair etc which undermine us.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2018
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  8. Barnabas17

    Barnabas17 Active Member

    Like others here, I'm feeling such compassion for what you had to suffer in your youth. Our parents (I have to believe) gave what they received...mostly from being passed down, one generation to the next. Oftentimes we won't even get an apology. My family passed down a line of domestic abuse. My grandma, my mom, me and my sisters all dated physical abusers. What a crappy thing to have happen to us. We are all broken in one way or another. I discovered the best advice, (ASIDE from support groups and professional counseling) was the TRUTH about who we are to replace the lies that others have labeled us with. The hurtful words of others can sting and tie us to our past but we have to let loose of those lies and take hold of what is actually true! I used to feel so unimportant and uneducated...like no one noticed me or listened to me. I carried insecurities about myself all the way into my adult life. It wasn't until a few years back that someone shared Psalm 139 with me and I still read it over and over again. Although I found my birth dad later in life and forgave my mom for abandoning me at 16, I still need to be reminded that I was not a mistake and that GOD had a reason to create me. I hope you explore the resources that others have shared here and also read that Psalm when you get time. YOU are VALUED and WORTHY! Your life matters! <3
    Dawn and Lara_C like this.
  9. I read the article, and honestly, it seems to me that this person is more so trying to advertise her book and her "Compassion Cure" program, or whatever it's called, rather than provide readers with accurate information. And I say this because she talks about the research on self-compassion, but not how to actually practice it (although I'm pretty sure I already have a good idea that it will probably be positive affirmations of some sort, which usually don't do a whole lot for people). Kirsten Neff may have researched self-compassion in 2003, but that was 2003. In 2003, Borderline Personality Disorder, which is what many peoples' fear of abandonment stems from, was considered to be extremely difficult to treat, which is no longer the case today. There has been a lot more research over the years that has been more successful than simply telling yourself, "I don't deserve to be abused", "I'm not a bad person", etc. Those are nice and all, but they rarely work and they're outdated in the field of psychology nowadays.
  10. Lara_C

    Lara_C SF Supporter

    The article was published in Psychology Today in 2015, and Kristin Neff has a current website with information on recent research and how to practice self compassion. http://self-compassion.org/category/exercises/#guided-meditations

    There's more to it than positive affirmations - you have to work on generating the feeling rather than just repeating stuff in your mind.

    I'm not a big believer in labelling people with personality disorders, and BPD in particular has been heavily criticised as a concept, especially when applied to abuse victims.
  11. Lara_C

    Lara_C SF Supporter

    Abuse is usually passed down the generations, but we have the power within us to break the cycle. What's the use in blaming our parents, and their parents, and their parents etc,etc, ad infinitum. At some point, we have to let go the pain of the past for our own sake and the sake of future generations.
    Yes. Truth is what frees us.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2018
  12. Yeah, I saw that it was published in 2015. I was referring to the part of the article that said Kirsten Neff began researching self-compassion in 2003.

    I also agree with you about not being a big believer in labels. I used to put too much weight on them, but now I see that that doesn't really matter in the end. Regardless of what you want to call it, it still needs treatment. I only referred to BPD because it is the politically correct term for the symptoms certain people have.

    I don't, however, think that self-compassion can simply be generated. This type of psychology, like I said, is outdated. There are numerous books that have come out in 2016-2017 that describe new and better approaches to dealing with abandonment than the old school positive psychology methods.
  13. Lara_C

    Lara_C SF Supporter

    The feeling of compassion we have for others can certainly be accessed and increased, and we can learn to use it to heal our own hurt. I think this is a timeless truth which predates modern psychology!
  14. Okay. How?
  15. Lara_C

    Lara_C SF Supporter

    My premise here is that unconditional love casts out fear and pain, and the more we can open to it, the less pain and fear we feel. I take it you have experienced compassion (unconditional love) for the suffering of another person?

    The only way to test the theory is to practice it - if it doesn't work for you, then you've lost nothing, but I think it's worth trying either by learning the methods outlined by Neff, or some other technique.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2018
  16. I don't see compassion and unconditional love as the same thing at all. And love doesn't cast out fear and pain either. If that were true, being in a relationship would fix mental illness.
  17. I'm asking you what those methods are be sure the article doesn't say it.
  18. Lara_C

    Lara_C SF Supporter

    Loving without judgement is unconditional love - and compassion for another's pain is loving them without judging them for their faults. Most relationships aren't based on unconditional love, and even if we were fortunate enough to be loved unconditionally, there could be obstructions in our own minds which prevent us from receiving it. We need to experience love within ourselves to heal ourselves of fear and pain, but the mind can cling on to long standing dysfunctional patterns and habits of thinking, resisting letting go. In which case, these need to be brought to the light of reason and vigorously challenged.
  19. Lara_C

    Lara_C SF Supporter

    Last edited: Mar 1, 2018
  20. Lara_C

    Lara_C SF Supporter

    Kristen Neff's homepage with links for anyone interested in recent research, techniques, and testing their current level of self-compassion: http://self-compassion.org