We Have Guilty Feelings When We Stand Up For Ourselves Instead Of Giving In To Others.
When I say “yes” to another person and “no” to myself, I feel at ease. But when I say “no” to another and “yes” to me, I may become troubled by extreme feelings of guilt. This is not uncommon among ACoAs.
As a child I learned that my acceptance was conditional and based upon my willingness to do what my parents desired. To refuse them would bring harsh disapproval. My efforts to assert myself were always met with great resistance; and I learned that my personal agenda – my needs, my desires – did not matter. My parents did not respect my individuality, only my compliance.
Very early in my life I found that I could be overwhelmed by guilt when I tried to assert myself. To hold hast in my own best interests involved risking the anger, dissatisfaction and possible alienation of others. I was never taught that independence and sovereignty were healthy. In my alcoholic household the focus was always on the needs and desires of my alcoholic parents. In order to reduce the possibility of anger or some kind of confrontation, I chose to suppress my needs and always be available to them. Even now, after many years of ACoA, I must sometimes contend with old guilt feelings when I elect to do something I consider important to me rather than doing something my wife or children want. The more central the person is to my life, the more apt I am to have some feelings of guilt.
Excerpt from Chapter 4 – The Recovery Process in The Laundry List by Tony A. and Dan F.