Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Distorted Relationships (Part 5 of 5)

Ron* called it the blame game.

“In our family, we had to find out who was wrong and then we moved on,”

Ron said and pointed out that the blame game had been ingrained in him and his siblings.

He began to date Darlene* (who became his wife), and “during her first visit to my family, she saw that in action. All of it over who left an empty glass on a wooden table.”

“I was stunned because I hadn’t realized what we did to each other.”

“It was like a criminal investigation you might see on TV,” Darlene commented. “Does it make any difference who did it? The effect is the same.”

Those words forced Ron to think about his life and particularly the molestation he went through. “It hit me: I blamed my uncle who abused me.” Finally, Ron stopped focusing on blaming and turned his attention to the effect. The problems were the same, no matter who perpetrated them.

“It sounds like a small thing to many,” he said, “but as long as I played the blame game, I focused my anger on who did it instead of what he did. And it wasn’t just abuse—it was anything that went wrong.”

The blame game diverts our attention so that we don’t try to cope with the results. And it’s the consequences that need examining. That doesn’t absolve the culprit, and forgiving him is another issue to face.

But Ron, like others, spent so much effort on pointing to the guilty, he had no insight into what had happened to him.

Isn’t that the way it sometimes works in our lives? We charge the wrongdoer and don’t move on to ask, “But what has this done to me?”


Andrew J. Schmutzer said...

I appreciate your observations. This touches on complexities of domestic chaos that enable abuse to go unaddressed.

Naming enables grieving, but does not guarantee that grieving ever occurs. This is a form of toxic relating that places so much capital on the social rituals of being "right" that there is little energy left for actual healing. Witnessing a hit-and-run is not the same as tending to the broken bones. I think this is done because it can be too dangerous to really FEEL in toxic environments. Drama can be valued more than closure.

Anonymous said...

I agree, drama is often a distraction so I didn't have to feel the pain, the shame and the misplaced guilt. It was so much easier to cope with. I had a cause and effect, a perp and a victim all named and neatly tied up tight. But nothing changed for decades.