The Blame Game

At certain points, I find that I take a more passive role in developing my pieces by simply taking a step back to practice some observation. It’s true that I can relate to many mental health topics out there. I can also identify with a number of experiences that are disclosed by other writers. I frequently encounter different faces of “the beast” that is mood disorder. My world has been flipped, flopped, and turned on its ear by the ceaseless roller coaster. My closet is also riddled with skeletons, and I dread the mere thought of even approaching that Pandora’s box gathering dust in the corner of my mind. Finally, in all truth, my childhood was quite troubled.

I too have been enticed to play the Blame Game. In fact, there was an enormous chunk of my life where that was all I knew. As a child, it was easy not to feel as if I had any control over my life. That being the case, it was logical to collect my woes and place blame on those who surrounded me. My parents were very distracted by their own issues and those of my brother. I grew accustomed to the role of being “good”, which often led to me sliding off the map entirely. I was a ghost in my own home.

Naturally, this resulted in a particularly turbulent adolescence. I asserted the blame onto my family for my emerging disorder, and the entire traumatic experience that occurred as a result of the way it was handled.

Others are also entangled in the Blame Game even more so that I was, because it can’t be a game without a certain number of players. Being that I was an idyllic child, the seemingly overnight transformation into that perpetual nightmare was determined to be my choice. All of the resulting behaviors were seen as awful deeds I intended to commit. The familial problems brewing in the past became volatile, all at my hand. According to them, I was hell-bent on destroying the entire family for some kind of personal gain.

I could blame my awful choices in my early adulthood on my parents. In the past, I did. I was convinced that I was entirely a product of my upbringing, and that I would always remain a damaged person.

We can choose not to play any mind game out there. Quitting the Blame Game does not mean forfeiture in any way. Actually, it means winning altogether. We win command of ourselves.

Addressing the skeptics, I’ll agree that it’s not as simple as walking away from the table. The table is infinite in its existence. There will always be people who will make the attempt to entice us back into the game. But, that’s all it is. Remember the old saying from childhood? It’s just a game.

Here are some steps to cashing out once and for all:

Grieve:

Mourn all that was and all that could have been. It’s not easy to let go of those painful emotions and memories. It might even be more difficult to release the ideals and expectations. But, we can understand that the past is in the past. We can’t change that. What we truly desire is not always feasible. The people who caused the hurt in the first place might just be incapable of providing the kind of closure and / or emotional nourishment we crave.

I mourned the warm, nurturing childhood that wasn’t mine. I allowed myself to feel the sorrow of a lonely child and a misunderstood teen. I truly suffered the continual disapproval in my young adulthood. And I grieved the absence of the parent / child relationship in my adulthood. I released all that was, all that could have been, and all there never was or will be.

And the emptiness inside of me closed in. The black hole that was seemingly infinite in my heart vanished. It felt like I could fully experience the very moment I existed in, through and through. I finally could just be.

Forgive:

Release the resentment, and the blame will lift with it. Try to see the other side of it, even if it’s speculation. It is not rationalizing their behavior, but granting pardon for their transgressions. It’s not about determining whether they are worthy, but making the conscious decision to permit ourselves the freedom of that burden. We are entitled to the right to live our lives.

I forgave each member of my family individually. Not because I determined that they shared no fault, but because I released myself from it. It was too cumbersome to allow the past to be my present. And it was unrealistic to hold onto the hope that the future would become something any different. I am worthy and my life is too precious to ensnare it in the unending Blame Game.

My shackles released, and I was freed. For the first time, I truly felt like I could do anything.

Rebuild:

Those persons with troubled youths are likely to have faulty foundations. Maybe there is something that wasn’t there or something that has rotted away. In any case, we are already painfully aware of the malfunctioning portions of our own structures. It’s time to do some inspection into our infrastructures to rebuild and repair from the bottom up.

Important note: It is not wise or even advised to “scrap it” and start new. I’ve watched a few close friends “reinvent” themselves dozens of times to end up in exactly the same condition, and probably worse for all the wear. In my formative years, I’ve even attempted it myself. In reality, all it does is condemn and identity and destabilize a personality. As a result, a whole new set of problems is piled upon the original, grander issues.

I cannot be summed up by my past and present roles, or by the quantity or quality of experience. I am simply me. And I strive to be the best me, each and every day.

Anyway, for me, it was a tangle of perused and outdated materials. My parents didn’t hesitate to impose their own values and beliefs on me, while denying my own perspectives and opinions. It became commonplace for me to assume I was “wrong”. Then, it was habitual to allow others to do the same.

It took a lot of self-examination to determine what was actually mine. And when I say “self-examination”, I don’t mean introspection. There was no judgment involved. Instead, there was a deep and lengthy determination between the parts that resonated with me and those that caused me harm. My goal was to be me, and only me, through and through. That’s not to say I discarded anything that didn’t originate with me. I integrated them as working parts of a fully-functional, but always perfectly imperfect system.

Refuse:

Refuse to return to the Blame Game. Decline any invitation, and be wary of any temptation. It’s easier than anticipated to return to the same habits. No one can use force in mind games, and that’s all the Blame Game is.

I have a temper, and I find it difficult to back down from a fight. I have to be vigilant with each interaction, especially with new people. But, that doesn’t mean I let it slip from my mind when engaging with those close to me. I don’t shut the people out who are prone to it. I simply refuse. If they want to win, then so be it.

What would they really win if there was no one to play with? Nothing. Not even the satisfaction.

Instead, I get to walk away with that satisfaction and everything functional and intact. And that is truly progress in this grandiose game we call “life”. Because in the end of that one, no one wins. We are all the same.

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I Want My Yellow Dress!

I am infamous for making pop culture references.  For those of you that don’t get the reference, I’ll break it down for you.  It comes from a scene in the move I’ll Do Anything (written by James L. Brooks, who does The Simpsons now), where the little girl, Jeannie and her estranged father are on an airplane.  Jeannie tells her father that she wants to wear her yellow dress.  He attempts to calmly explain to her that it’s in the luggage that’s under the plane.  Then, Jeannie starts throwing this epic temper tantrum, screaming and crying repeatedly, “I want my yellow dress!”  

Just to cause a bigger scene, Jeannie slaps herself to make it sound like her father did it.

There’s a point, I promise.  Today, my horoscope said this:

Here is your Daily Horoscope for Thursday, October 4

Your inner child is dominant today, so make the most of it and have fun! You should be able to get others energized and find new ways to do almost anything. If you’ve actually got kids, so much the better!

Inner child by Irene Majale

My immediate response?  What inner child?

I don’t feel childlike, in any respect.  I take absolutely no pleasure in children’s games or activities.  I often find it difficult to have a conversation with a child.  Not to say that I am unable to enjoy their company.  I am at a loss for what children like to do.

I have always done pretty adult activities, with the exception of playing with dolls, but even that was pretending to take care of a house, a husband, and a child.  I am drawn to solitary activities.  I write.  I doodle.  I read.  I craft, and have been called grandma as a result.  These have been the constants in my life.

That’s when I realized it.  I am childlike in a different way.  I throw temper tantrums.  I have obsessive wants and abandonment issues.  I have a desperate need for approval.  I fear authority figures, and I often find that I feel helpless.  This is helpless over my own behavior and helpless to fulfill my own wants and needs.  I am rebellious and conflicted.

My inner child is not very healthy.

I have had a retrospect of my childhood recently and came to several conclusions.

  • I grew up too fast.
    It didn’t start out as something I wanted to do.  I started out as something I needed to do.  As a sibling of autism, you are taught that you have to be adult about a lot of situations.  That means, when you have feelings of neglect and resentment, you have to repress them.  It’s the adult thing to do.I had a serious misconception.  At the time of adolescence, I made the decision to take on the freedom of an adult, since I had carried the burden of responsibility of an adult in childhood.  Perhaps it was due to bodily changes, or just coming-of-age.  Either way, I made some irresponsible choices to participate in grown-up activities in adult situations way too soon.
  • I was an overachiever.
    Achievement leaves little room for childlike activities.  It requires self-discipline the likes of which no ordinary kid could offer to themselves.  I practiced my music alone.  I became second chair, next to a girl who had lessons.  I became a second part section leader at the age of eleven.  I joined library club, just to put books away and spend my free time reading classic literature far above my head.I didn’t play sports.  I loathed gym and feared recess.  Most of the time, I would sit on the bleachers alone, staring into the vastness of the parking lot.  And there wasn’t a soul who was interested in having me join their game.
  • I was a sensitive child who needed to grow thicker skin.
    My preschool teacher was the first person to bring this to my mother’s attention.  What little girl doesn’t cry at the age of four?  What parent seems to think that crying is unhealthy?  Well, it was the 80’s after all.By the time I was in second grade, I started to develop panic attacks.  They landed me in the nurses office frequently, and I was deemed a hypochondriac at that time.

    Fourth grade was when I had the toughest teacher of them all.  I read her comment on the report card before my mother even had the chance.  “Does not take constructive criticism.”  After I work my little rear off, she has the gall to say that?!  Yes, I was discouraged that I wasn’t perfect at everything.  Maybe a little reassurance, you know?

My inner child seems to still be pretty angry about all of this stuff.

I get it, now.  I have spent a great deal of time and energy into satisfying the immediate demands of my inner child.  Or, on the opposite end, I have been denying my inner child completely.  I have really done nothing to nurture and attend to this internal being.

How do I go about doing that?

Astrology suggests looking at my Moon sign to determine the kind of soul food that I need.  However, it seems that, while astrology may have a clue as to where my interests lie, psychology appears to have a better grasp on the nature of the inner child.

Livestrong.com has a list of suggestions.  Here are the ones I like the best:

What nurturing messages can you give your “inner child”?
You can tell your “inner child” that it is OK to:
* Have the freedom to make choices for itself.
* Be “selfish” and do the things you want to do.
* Take the time to do the things you want to do.
* Associate only with the people you want to associate with.
* Accept some people and to reject others.
* Give and accept love from others.
* Allow someone else to care for you.
* Enjoy the fruits of your labor with no guilt feelings.
* Take time to play and have fun each day.
* Not to be so serious, intense and inflexible about life.
* Set limits on how you are going to relate to others.
* Not always “serve” others.
* Accept others “serving” you.
* Be in charge of your life and not let others dictate to you.
* Be honest with others about your thoughts and feelings.
* Take risks and to suffer the positive or negative consequences of such risks.
* Make mistakes, laugh at them and carry on.
* Let your imagination and creativity be set free and to soar with the eagles.
* Cry, hurt and to be in pain as long as you share your feelings; do not repress or suppress them.
* Be angry, to express your anger and to bring your anger to some resolution.
* Make decisions for yourself.
* Be a problem solver and come up with solutions with which everyone may not agree.
* Feel happiness, joy, excitement, pleasure and excitement about living.
* Feel down, blue, sad, anxious, upset and worried, as long as you share your feelings.
* Love and be loved by someone whom you cherish.
* Be your “inner child” and to let it grow up, accept love, share feelings and enjoy pleasure and play.