The Roots of Self Blame and Blame SharingBy
I was reading one of my own quotes today about my willingness to share the blame in the past and thought that it deserved to be expanded upon because it is a popular subject here on Emerging from Broken. Blame sharing or willingness to share blame seems to be especially difficult if we are dealing with it within our own families. ‘Blame sharing’ and ‘blame sparing’ both seem to be part of the problem and are stick points in recovery from neglectful or abusive childhoods.
Here is the quote: “When I started to try to figure out why I was such a mess, I found that one of the stumbling blocks in my way was that I was and had been willing to share the blame for everything that happened to me. I had been told that acceptance was the answer, and I tried to accept that something must be WRONG with me because “I couldn’t accept,” and I concluded that I deserved to carry the responsibility for the mistreatment I had suffered.” Darlene Ouimet
I got thinking about the concept of “blame sharing”, where it comes from, how it starts and what it actually means, and how I could communicate that information more clearly by showing exactly the way that I overcame blame sharing in my own process of emotional healing. As always I have to show how it got there in the first place in order to show how I overcame it.
When I talk about my willingness to share the blame for the treatment that I received I am talking about specific things that should never have happened to a child that I was willing to actually take a share of the blame for. I was willing to share the blame for things that happened to me when I was powerless over my circumstances; things that I convinced myself that I was NOT actually powerless over. There is a chain of events when a child is damaged. There are consequences to the messages that children hear and accept as the truth when they are in survival mode.
For example, my willingness to believe that if I were not so “needy” in the first place that I would not have been neglected. I believed that I was too “needy” and also since I believed my needs were not actually valid, I believed I was only imagining that I was neglected.
Imagine a child being convinced that they were too needy and that expressing needs was actually manipulative to the adult in the situation. That believe starts somewhere;
I have heard countless parents express that children are manipulative especially since I became a parent myself. Parents will sit around talking about how babies will cry for attention for no reason. They say babies will cry just because they “don’t want to go to sleep”, they want to “stay up and be with the adults”. They believe babies will DO all these things for NO reason other than to manipulate parents! They believe that BABIES are crying for attention to manipulate parents into doing what the baby wants! The idea of this being true is insane to me. And if they believe mere infants are capable of manipulation, imagine what they think children are capable of.
The parental response or lack of response to the baby is the beginning of communication to that baby. That is where the baby first gets the message about self worth. I think about all the messages that were communicated to me as a child about my needs, my value and my importance.
Babies have no other way to communicate that something is wrong other than crying. It is their call for help. Perhaps they are wet, lonely, uncomfortable, or have a pain somewhere. Perhaps they are afraid, too hot or too cold. But the real point of this is that when a baby is taught that they are not going to be heard, the first damage is done. The message that they get is “your needs are not valid”. That is the beginning of broken self esteem.
I don’t remember being told in words that I was manipulative, but there are many ways to communicate besides verbally. In believing and accepting that my needs were exaggerated, I concluded that my needs were also not valid and therefore agreed with those who discounted them and agreed to discount them myself as well. And as I grew into a woman, I continued to discount myself because of the root belief that my needs were invalid.
These messages were the beginning of how I started believing that if I were not so unlovable then I would have been loved. These messages communicated that I would have been valued if I were only more whatever it was “they” wanted me to be. I didn’t know any other way to figure it out. I thought I would have been protected if not for whatever it was that was lacking in me. I believed that I had less worth than others. I “understood” why I was not protected because I believed my value was less than. I understood the pain of others and as I grew up I knew that child abuse was illegal, that neglect of a child was also illegal, but I didn’t apply those laws to me because I accepted that in MY case, I was unworthy as I had been defined by the actions of others, to be unworthy. But how could it have been my lack that caused me to be unprotected? How could I have deserved to be treated the way that I was? How was I convinced that I was less worthy than anyone else in the first place?
When I talk about sharing the blame with the perpetrators of child abuse, I am talking about my willingness to be accountable for having been sexually abused as a small child. It isn’t that it started with the sexual abuse, but I am trying to show the root of the false belief. There is a chain of events that takes place when a childs self worth is compromised when they are young; I am talking about that accountability and sharing the blame for having been abused leading me to believe that I was also responsible and fully to blame for being sexually assaulted in my own bedroom as a teenager. It becomes easier to accept blame when you are convinced young that you are unworthy. When my mother blamed me, actually indicating that I had done something to attract the man who assaulted me I knew I was not safe. I knew he could come back at any moment and my mother would not protect me; I never felt safe, but I believed that was my own fault. I lived for many years in a constant state of fear with a thick layer of self blame and self reprimand. Although I was deeply hurt and confused by my mothers response, I not only shared the responsibility for what had happened to me with the perpetrator, I was willing to take ALL the blame for it.
My belief system didn’t form all at once or from one event, but over time as a result of many events. Messages about me, verbal and non verbal all became part of the grid I saw my self worth through.
Did I need to live in survivor mode anymore?
Did I still need those coping methods; were they still serving me?
Was exactly was this “victim mentality” ~ how did it get there in the first place and did it still assist me or was it in my way?
And perhaps the most important question of all; Is it true that I share in the blame for any of the neglect, abuse, disregard, failure to protect and mistreatment that I had been subjected to as a child?
And the answer was a resounding “NO”. NO NO NO
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Exposing truth; one snapshot at a time
Update on Donations! I really hate to ask for help but I am short about $60.00 in meeting my September expenses for EFB. (It costs me $200.00 per month to keep this site running) I am extremely grateful to the three people who donate regularly! I am NOT asking you 3 for more! I did get a large donation this month, but a good part of it went to cover the August expenses. I spend a minimum of 30 hours per week on this site even when it looks like I am quiet! I spend up to 20 hours per week just reading comments. If you enjoy EFB and the community here and if you appreciate my efforts and are able to help, please consider making a donation through the button on the right side bar. Thank you so much. ~ Darlene