Yesterday I suddenly thought about how abusive this statement is when I think about it through the eyes of myself as a child! You reap what you sow, you get what you deserve. I was raised with this expression. I was raised to believe that whatever was in my life or NOT in my life was my fault. That if I had problems in my relationships with people then it was because I cultivated incorrectly and I had sown bad seed. I was willing to take that responsibility because I had been taught that it was all up to me in the first place. I believed that I deserved to be picked on because I thought I was dislikeable. I believed that if I could be likeable, that people would treat me differently. I thought that my mother would be happier if I was more what she wanted as a daughter. I thought my father would pay attention to me, that he would SEE me if I was different. I thought that I was doing something wrong. I thought that I would be loved when I figured out what others wanted. I thought it was all up to me and the seeds that I had sown.
When I was in my early twenties seeking some sort of life for myself I was never really happy, and it seemed like relationships were such a struggle, I believed that it was because “you reap what you sow” and once again I believed that it was me. I accepted that all relationship success was up to me. I accepted that all relationship failure was my fault. I believed as I had always believed as a child, that I had to try harder. If there was a problem, then it was within me.
And as a child I seemed to attract a lot of abuse. I had accepted that as my fault then too.
I don’t think that children have much choice in what they sow. Did I sow the seeds of deserving abuse? Did I do something to bring that on myself? Was I sexually abused because I had “sown bad seed?” Was I neglected because I had not sown the right seeds? I believed that I deserved the strap that I endured many times; I was told that I deserved it. I was literally brainwashed to accept that I had brought all abuse on myself. And I certainly believed that I did. You reap what you sow.
Because of this type of conditioning I received as a child as adult, I took this statement out of the context that it was intended to be said in.
One of my boyfriends was violent. I believed that I was provoking him somehow. I tried to be sweet and compliant so that he would not get mad at me, but when I look back my mistake was in taking the blame and responsibility for his temper. I thought that I reap what I sow… so I must have sown the seeds that triggered his temper. Just like I believed that I had sown the seeds that caused my mother to have such a temper.
When I was 17, I had a boyfriend with a serious drinking problem; I thought that I should be able to fill whatever void was in him so that he didn’t “need to drink”. I felt that his drinking problem reflected my failure. He got violent too and although I was deathly afraid of him, I was sure that I could help him by loving him. That if only I could sow the seeds of love, he would calm down. I left him out of fear but I still felt that the failure of our relationship was my fault.
Several married men hit on me before I was 20 years old. I honestly believed that I had done something to attract that. I was willing to accept the blame for their behaviour. I must have done “something” to reap what was sown.
In my early twenties I had a boyfriend who cheated on me with other women. I was devastated to realize that this was going on, but I was way more disappointed in myself then I was in him. I believed that I had done something wrong for him to feel the “need” to have sex with other women. I believed that I could to learn to love and accept him enough that he wouldn’t “have” to do that anymore.
People were very happy to let me take all this responsibility. Abusers will always blame someone else for their actions. And my mother would use this expression “you reap what you sow” to remind me that whatever was wrong in my life, must have been caused from some seed I had sown in the first place.
This was a way of life for me. I constantly searched for the seed I had sown. I constantly looked for what I had done wrong to CAUSE someone to treat me with disrespect and disregard. My definition of love was very wrong but I had never been taught anything different. I had been taught to be accountable for things that were not my fault. The saying “you reap what you sow” was like confirmation to me that it really was something I had done to deserve the grief and mistreatment in my life.
There is a bridge between childhood and adulthood that many survivors never cross. We go from being abused to being held accountable for all our results in life. In this case I abused myself with the statement “you reap what you sow” more than others abused me with it. Accepting the blame for my results as a child paved the way for others to come along and inflict more pain on me and get me to take the blame for it too.
The first time I connected that “it was my own fault” was when my mother’s boyfriend came into my room in the night when I was just a young teenager and he molested me. He was trying to get into bed with me when he was caught and stopped by my aunt who was visiting us and sleeping in the next room. My mother denied that it happened. She tried to convince me that I had misunderstood his intentions. She said he was drunk; he didn’t realize what he was doing.
But it was her final statements that did the most damage. She said “well Darlene, you do have a crush on him” in other words “You reap what you sow”
Please add your voice to these thoughts of mine. Were you conditioned to believe that you reap what you sow, in a negative way such as this?
Exposing Truth; one snapshot at a time
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This expression “you reap what you sow: comes from the bible verse Galatians 6:7 take note: It says “a man” not “a child”. Taken out of context, this verse is used to abuse.