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The Adult Child Tolerance of Unacceptable Behavior
Treatment that most people would consider “unacceptable”, adult children, who have grown up with alcoholism, para-alcoholism and dysfunction, not only tolerate, but expect.
“Adult children are dependent individuals who perceive abuse and inappropriate behavior as normal,” according to the textbook “Adult Children of Alcoholics” (World Service Organization, 2006, p. 18). “Or, if they complain about the abuse, they feel powerless to do anything about it.”
Both incarcerated and powerless, such children are forced into hardship and, in extreme cases, abuse, which can take verbal, non-verbal, emotional, physical, psychological, religious, sexual and manipulative forms from the parents or primary caregivers they seek out and with whom they lay trust. To treat them in an inappropriate way that they don’t deserve is an ill-considered concept. The treatment, they believe, is justified either because of their offenses or simply because they are unworthy, inadequate or unlikable.
Instead of being built up with confidence, self-esteem and self-esteem, they are undermined and progressively reduced to what can be both overtly and subtly demoralizing.
“We believe that hitting, threats, projection, belittling, and indifference are the delivery mechanisms that drive the disease of family dysfunction deep into us,” continues the textbook “Adult Children of Alcoholics” (Ibid., p. 27).
Although verbal abuse does not leave physical scars, it can be just as damaging as its physical form, as it leaves a scar on the psyche and soul. Unable, at times, to achieve parental approval, acceptance, and validation, the adult child is unable to acquire a meaningful or consistent sense of self-worth, deluding him into believing that he is less than and not equal or worth-par with his peer group.
It equally creates toxic shame – that is, he is ashamed of what he mistakenly believes to be at his core – a flawed being.
While trouble and unacceptable behavior may be temporary in others later in life, children have no recourse and no ability, in their still developing state, to walk away from what becomes the cumulative effects of some two decades of exposure. “Scars” can only be revealed through behavioral manifestations, such as isolation, fear of authority, unhealthy or meaningless relationships, fears, insecurities, phobias, codependency, hypervigilance, dissociation, compulsions and addictions.
Mildly unpleasant at one end of the spectrum to function – unbearable at the other, these manifestations are what Freud called “repetition compulsions,” or the brain’s need to repeat, and even repeat, what it couldn’t fully process the first time and will continue to do. go through it until it deletes it. Because of its difficulty, a person most likely won’t be able to do it on their own without some degree of therapy or twelve-step intervention.
They certainly impair a person’s quality of life, if not completely limit his participation in some parts of life, since he has one foot in the present and the other in the past, which he has not resolved, which results in the dichotomous “adult” and “child”. the nature of the adult child syndrome.
“We are adults who suffer from the consequences of alcoholism and dysfunctional families,” advises the textbook “Adult Children of Alcoholics” (ibid, p. 71). “Childhood abuse and our adult lives have created intolerable living conditions in body, mind and spirit for us as adults. Adult children have been described as ‘walking wounded’, floundering in a state of emotional and spiritual bankruptcy while claiming to be ‘fine'”
Prepared and prepared, thick-skinned and possessing a high degree of tolerance for unacceptable behavior, they cross the threshold into adulthood, transferring the experiences of their homes to the outside world and fully expecting their repetition from others.
Logic would dictate that they would reject similar circumstances as adults with significant others or spouses, but the opposite, ironically and paradoxically, turns out to be true, as they attract those who exhibit similar personality traits because they are familiar. Like a garment that is uncomfortable and doesn’t “fit,” this relationship matches the parenting they experienced and, over time, its discomfort is transformed and stretched into something that becomes adjustably tolerable, thus setting them up for a “second round” of endurance. . harmful behavior.
“We constantly choose unsafe relationships because they correspond to our childhood relationship with alcoholics or dysfunctional parents,” the textbook “Adult Children of Alcoholics” points out (ibid, p. 589).
Regressed, they may again assume the submissive role, subconsciously substituting their partners for their parents and trying to “make it right this time” by pleasing and appeasing them. Countless adult children have realized, after significant recovery, that they ended up marrying surrogate mothers and fathers, thus repeating the cycle of childhood into adulthood. The late John Bradshaw often expressed this dynamic with the statement, “When you don’t know your history, you’re doomed to repeat it.”
Behavioral modeling, chronic exposure to such treatment, and the belief that they deserved it in childhood were many of the factors that led to tolerance.
“I firmly believe that these difficulties have a lot to do with my growing up with alcoholism,” says one recovering member, writing in Al-Amon’s book, Hope for Today (Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., 2002, p 69). “Because I rarely experienced acceptable behavior, I considered unacceptable behavior to be normal.”
While these factors explain how this tolerant foundation is laid, they fail to identify why some refuse to end a relationship that could be violent or even dangerous. That element is the fear of abandonment, of being alone.
“We stay in violent relationships because they resemble how we were raised,” continues the textbook “Adult Children of Alcoholics” (op. cit., p. 197). “We are terrified of abandonment, so we tolerate high levels of abuse or neglect as adults. Abuse seems normal.”
It takes a significant amount of understanding and restorative work to even begin to dismantle the broken foundation upon which the grown child rests his life. But an effective method of minimizing such treatment once it has begun is to establish boundaries—invisible walls, built brick by brick, of acceptable and unacceptable behaviors that a person will tolerate.
“When I think about boundaries, it helps to think of a castle in a lake,” says another recovering member, writing in “Hope for Today” (op. cit., p. 286). “The borders are the drawbridge that connects the castle to the world. Normally, the drawbridge is lowered and people can walk back and forth freely. However, when danger is sensed, the drawbridge is raised to protect the castle.”
“One of the first things I heard in Al-Anon was that we didn’t have to accept unacceptable behavior,” according to the text “The Courage to Change” (Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., 1992, p. 51). “This idea helped me see that I don’t have to tolerate violence or abuse, and that I have choices I didn’t even recognize before. I set some boundaries, not to control others, but to offer myself guidance…”
Reducing or minimizing unacceptable interactions requires several steps. First, of course, is understanding the origins of tolerance. The second is to determine the degree, if any, of the other person’s rationality, stability, woundedness, and state of dependence at the time, whether due to alcohol or substance abuse. The third is the understanding that negative treatment may have little to do with the worth or worthiness of the other and everything to do with the lack of the giver. The fourth is the understanding that one who accepts this treatment can initiate and escalate it himself through denial and anger, causing instability. Ultimately, the only solution may be separation and separation to avoid what is most likely a repeat of countless previous episodes, none of which bore the fruit of a fix.
Take a walk in the park or work it out with a trusted friend or sponsor, and you end up concluding—all frustration to the contrary—that the other person can’t see or understand the consequences and effects it causes.
“Looking back, I can accept that a lot of the unacceptable behavior was directed at me,” according to a member of “Courage to Change” (op. cit., p. 36), “but I was the one who sat down and took it and often I went back for more. I was a willing participant in a dance that required two partners. I felt like a victim, but in many ways I was a volunteer.”
The right to respect others begins with self-respect. A person teaches others how to treat them through boundaries and acceptance or rejection of their actions, behaviors and interactions. And the more a person understands his childhood origins and regains a sense of self-esteem, the less likely he is to tolerate the negative.
“Adult children of alcoholics.” Torrance, California; World Service Organization, 2006.
“The courage to change.” Virginia Beach, Virginia: Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., 1992.
“Hope for today.” Virginia Beach, Virginia: Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., 2002.
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