Feeling Responsible for Reactions and OutcomesBy
I want peace on earth. I want peace in emerging from broken and before that I wanted peace in my family. I had been raised to believe that I was responsible for peace in my family or at the very least my actions either contributed to the peace or destroyed it.
As a child I was taught that there would be peace if I didn’t upset anyone. I was taught that if I complied and if I did what was expected of me; if I was quiet and polite and if I didn’t stand up for anything that went against what the adult in the situation deemed the “right way” to do things, that I would be loved and accepted.
My mother was fragile. She was prone to depressions and what she called nervous breakdowns. She made it very clear all of my childhood that if I upset her, she would have a “breakdown”. My mother ended up in the hospital when I was little with what was called “a nervous breakdown” back then. I am sure that this event had a major effect on me and that it settled somewhere in my belief system and added to my beliefs that if I upset someone they may end up in the hospital and everyone knows that people die in hospitals. Not only does a little mind wander all the way to “death” but think about the fear of abandonment and all that that implies. I could not survive without my mother. She was the source of all my basic needs.
And I was abused while she was away. So that added to the fear factor in my frame of reference about what happens when Mommy has a mental health breakdown.
Thoughts like “what would happen if my mother had a mental health breakdown and could never come home?” are not always conscious. Well I didn’t want to find out what would happen; I had enough information already, so I tried my hardest not to upset her. She reinforced my fear of upsetting her by reminding me all the time of how fragile she was. I can still hear her voice; “stop it Darlene. Stop pushing me. (Stop whatever it was we were doing that was upsetting her.) Stop it or I will have a breakdown”. And when I got older she told said “Stop it Darlene, Stop pushing me” whenever I wanted to defend myself or if I wanted to talk about the past. I never got to say anything that needed to be said in order for me to have value as an individual. I never got to have a side in anything. It was too dangerous; she might have a mental health breakdown and kill herself and it would be MY fault and on MY head forever.
Ultimately I believed that I would be responsible for her failure to cope as well as then my own failures and the demise of my entire family.
I can still remember my grandmother saying similar things and I remember my mother telling me that her mother threatened her with the same thing. “Stop it, just stop talking about it or I will have a hissy fit”. She had learned the same things from her mother that she taught me. Don’t rock the boat. Don’t mess with the consequences. Then when my mother grew up, she finally got her say ~ she got all her accusations or opinions in against me but I was not permitted to respond in case it rocked HER boat.
By the time I was a young adult, I had efficiently learned that I could not and should not tell my mother or ask her to face anything that she didn’t want to hear. I did not want to be responsible for her mental health breakdown. Even as an adult I was afraid of the consequences; that I would be to blame if she went back into her deep depression and worse than that I was afraid that I would be responsible if she committed suicide.
I was afraid that if my mother had a break down it would be my fault. She said it would be my fault. She taught me that her mental health was MY responsibility. And I believed it. That is why when she tore a strip off me when I was just out of the hospital with my newborn daughter, I took it. I sat there and took it although I had long since forgotten why I would sit through her accusations and judgements of me. The conditioning to fear the consequences of standing up to someone had become so deeply ingrained that I just reacted with silence and compliance without even thinking about why.
It was happening on my blog too. Some of the comments were triggering my mother’s voice begging me to stop saying what needed to be said. I wanted to be the voice of peace, love and understanding.
I wanted everyone to feel safe even if it meant that the truth would be sacrificed. I didn’t want to upset anyone. I was afraid that I would be abandoned and rejected if the truth that they heard hurt too much. I would sometimes hear my mother’s voice…. “stop it Darlene. Stop pushing me or I will fall apart.” And the (unheard) message that always meant “I will fall apart and it will be YOUR FAULT” My mother’s voice was still operating to dictate my actions and reactions to some of the comments and commenter’s in my website.
And I forgot how much the truth hurt in my own process and how valuable it was in spite of that pain.
PEACE and harmony do not always go hand in hand with the truth. There have been many times in my process of healing and personal growth where the truth made me very angry and many times when I rejected it because it hurt too much. Looking back many seeds were planted that I rejected and rebelled against at first. That is just part of the process. I am glad that I didn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. I am glad that I was (and still am) willing to persist seeking my recovery even when it scares the living daylights out of me.
I had to learn that sometimes the truth hurts but in the end it heals; if I had successfully avoided the truth I would not be where I am today; NOR would I have the message that I have to deliver. I had to reaffirm that I did not heal from my past when the truth was sugar coated for me and no one contributed to my healing by covering up their truth.
I had to realize that my mother’s voice was still interfering with my life (and in this case with my message) in a harmful way and in realizing this I have achieved another level of personal growth.
Please Note: It is important to remember that I had to learn the real truth first. Many people hurt me with their voice and their lies; there was a lot of sorting out to do before I figured out the real truth but when I did I began to soar, thrive and flourish.
Please share your thoughts with me and the readership here. The comment discussions are always very good and insightful. I share my healing for the benefit of your healing.
Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time
Founder of Emerging from Broken
Related Posts ~ My mother doesn’t love me and the process of grieving