Saturday, March 7, 2015

Blame versus Personal Responsibility

"blame" by Yuliya Nome

There's a balance to life and to everything.   Blame.   IT WAS HIS FAULT.   It wasn't my fault.   Our culture makes a religion of Personal Responsibility.   I would have been better off if I had blamed my husband more. A lot more.  Instead, I fell victim to the cult of personal responsibility.  The trap.   I would rush off to my feel-good personal responsibility sessions, and get enough juice to make it through another week with an abuser.

I thought I could "think and try" my way into a better relationship with him.  Or pray my way.  Or 12-Step Serenity Prayer my way through my children's childhood, and things would get better.  That's what all the women's magazines say.  You know, those periodicals that we pay for in order to be told what to wear, what to buy, what we should prefer, and generally, How To Live Our Lives.   Really?

General relationship advice mostly doesn't consider the fact that one may be involved with a disordered individual who aims to control, belittle and destroy the Other.   Relationship advice which fails to assess the Goodness of the Other is meaningless.  Worse: it is Harmful.

Because he wasn't the A Streetcar Named Desire, stereotypical, movie-version Obvious Abuser, I didn't know that I was in a hopeless situation.  He was slick.  He looked good in a suit.  He made lots of money in a profession that reeks with authority.  He spoke with excellent grammar.  He had an excellent education.  And when he wanted to, he could talk real nice.

I thought we could work it out.  I thought things would calm down.  Well, he never wanted things to calm down. I can see that so clearly now, outside of the relationship.  There was never a chance in hell that he was going to chill.  Drama is his middle name.  What's funny: I'm the one who looks dramatic.  Emphatic.  Funny.  Colorful.  Artistic.  You know, "out there".  He is the calm, ordered, tempered one.  HA HA HA HA HA.  Whatevs.  Without him, my life can return to its peaceful, former glory.  Of calm, quiet, serenity.

Looks can be so deceiving.

He looked really good, on paper.  He still does, I guess. Unless you know how to read between the lines.  Which I do.  Now.  But, back then, in the marriage, I bought the advice of giving 100% to the relationship.  Maybe that is good advice in a healthy marriage?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  I don't know.  After what I've lived through, giving 100% sounds like a really bad idea.  But, I didn't have a healthy marriage.  I didn't have a real relationship with the man I married.  It was false, because he was false.

I don't even consider myself to have been married, and this is a new idea for me.  It was like living with a ghost, or a character.  Is it a marriage if you never really knew your spouse?  If you were never really known?  If he wore a mask every single day of his life?  If, when the mask slipped, you were looking at a monster and you wanted desperately to get away, and never see him again?   That doesn't sound like marriage to me. That sounds like a horror story.

If we live in a world where I am 100% responsible for the outcome of the marriage, where one spouse is 100% responsible for the relationship?  Well, that is just the dumbest advice ever given.  And if I am 100% responsible for my mood, and my happiness?  Really?  If I have a monster screaming in my face and chasing me from room to room?  If I have lived with chronic stress for years, caused by living with an abuser, such that I self-medicate with substances or activities that are not helpful or healthy long-term?  Being subjected to chronic stress is my fault?  Really?  When the abuser isolates me from friends and family and work opportunities, it's my fault?  I should take responsibility for his abuse?   Seriously?

Clearly, blaming My Self does me no good.  Blaming Him, and Sitting In That Space of Muck and Yuck, also does me no good.  Nor does it do any of my relationships any good.   Nor does it do my children any good.   Moving On does us all a world of good.

processing the past,
understanding it,
framing it in some sort of positive light,
and letting it go....
this is the work that I am doing.

By AKA Rose Lee Mitchell

Did taking responsibility for the state of your relationship cause you trouble?  Does it still?
I would love to hear from you.

Please make up an alias when you comment, so that I can address you by a name other than Anonymous.  Thank you.


  1. Yep! Any time I apologized after a teeny tiny expression of anger.....he made me wear it like a hairshirt for years following. And incredibly, the story continued to grow and grow and worsen. So that loaf of bread that got chucked on the floor, no children present to see, after yet another rotten thing he did and refused to acknowledge or take responsibility for....eventually turned into a whopper of "she threw 15 things at me over the years, and finally I had enough and threw something back at her". Oy oy oy, what a sicko. But he truly believes his bullshit lies, and has used that professional PR and journalism training to spin doctor this incredible act that seems to get empathic females sucked into feeling sorry for him. He tries so hard to appear like he is the calm, and civil and rationale one....althewhile being completely out of touch with reality and living in a fantasy world that is so real to him that he can make it seem real to others - without a shred of evidence to support his claims. Some of the slimy lines he has tried to use on people in my support system have included, "please support her. She needs your support. I am concerned she is isolating herself. But please do not validate her stories of abuse, assault and drunkenness"

    Thankfully the supports that matterered saw right through the bullshit and recalled the actions that indicated it was all a crock of PR crap. The supports who I thought once mattered, don't matter and he has recruited them (gossipy judgemental yet empathic types (read - easily manipulated and fired up emotionally with his fake crocodile tears)....hmmm...does that smell like a flying monkey smear campaign strategy to make him look civil and not badmouthing, and let others do the dirty work?)

    Anyway, back to the question. He blamed me 100% for our marital problems - despite being the one caught with the pants almost down, getting drunk while caring for our kids, physically assaulting me while pregnant and later assaulting me while holding his baby in my arms, constant gaslighting and claiming "I never said that" (even in spite of a recording...and then later changing story).

    So yep. My fault. When I started to call him on it, he downgraded to 90% my fault (yes he actually said that and gave himself 10% responsibility!). Then once he mocked me and rolled his eyes and said it was half his fault. Uh huh.

  2. He laid on the "nice guy" act and led me to believe he was finally a man that honored woman and respected me. I told him all my secrets about past abusive relationships and how I self-destruct instead of rage. He used everything and everybody to mind fuck me into a servant. I worked from home and raised our two girls, did everything and he would never give me a break. Every three months it was the same argument that he never gives me time off or time alone. The insults and manipulation would be about "why do I feel like I need to be alone from my family", then when he would finally take the girls somewhere on the weekends it would never be more than 2 hours and he would call and say "have you had enough time yet". Straight shot into my guilt about not being 100% mother.

    I tried several times over the years to say that I did not love him and I was not happy. He told me that the abuse in my past was blocking me from loving him and if I would try for our the sake of our family he believed that I could love him. I totally bought that for YEARS!! And kept spirally down the depression whole, but I knew never to seek help for labeled disorders or he would use that to take my kids away. So, then I started to think what would make me leave someone (another HUGE mistake, as they do not think like normal people). So, I started messing around with a guy at work and it gave the ex so much ammunition. He could be the victim and be the altruistic hero for sticking by a messed up wife and seeing this marriage through.He didn't care that I had sex with someone else, didn't care that I had feelings for someone else in fact, because of all the leverage he got out of it, he was happy that it happened. And my poor naive self was trying to get out of this abusive marriage, was not stuck for another 6 years.