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,
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.