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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When We Get Knocked Down

A wealth of time has passed since my last entries. On numerous occasions, I became painfully aware of this fact. I yearned to continue my work, scribbling messages of inspiration for all of my loyal and hopeful readers to take in. Truly, the ambition of my life was to be able to recount my struggles for others who have inhabited those very same deep crevices to relate to. Very deep in my heart, I ached for those engulfed in that darkness and strife.

Honestly, I wanted to save lives. Doctors help to heal ailments of the body and mind. I had been committed to healing the spirit, which is the one thing no class could ever teach.

In the most recent months, I hesitated to write. Just as everyone else who lives with disorder, I am faced with my own challenges. In my darkest hours, I felt like a hypocrite. How could I possibly wax optimistic when I was having such difficulty practicing the very ideas that I had once embodied? The doubt set it when I read, and then reread all of the beautiful and uplifting posts I had written myself.

Was I ultimately a liar?

That very concept when heaped upon the challenges I found myself in the midst of was more than enough to seal my mind. But, that’s the trick of depression – to seal oneself off in the profound silence of isolation. I am upon my five year anniversary of seeking my initial treatment. And I found an even greater sense of shame and failure in my setback.

But that’s just it; it was a setback.

Even with the mental and emotional fortitude I had gained, I still got knocked down. All of the strength and stamina in the world cannot render any of us invincible. We are all susceptible to our own mental health concerns, with or without the coupling of difficult circumstance. We are not superheroes.

We are human.

Plain and simple, we are human, just men and women. Thought we are tempted to draw comparisons between oneself and another, there is truly no sense in it. We are apples, to oranges, to mangos, to pineapples – essentially all fruit, but otherwise dissimilar. We all grow from different trees in our own unique way with the resources that are provided to us.

That’s the point. We are all growing, perpetually and without fail. When we feel stuck and stymied in the singular moments that we inhabit, it can become difficult to grasp that our growth is universal.

For example, for the sake of my family, I had to take a job that was less than ideal. As a matter of fact, I once told my husband, “I’d rather starve and live in a cardboard box than go back to working retail.” (Note: It is not wise to tempt the universe with such statements). However, there I was, once again spending a portion of my life behind a register. But, I was still determined to prioritize it much lower than things in my life that truly mattered. I was set on having it remain as a means of income.

Six months later, I continued to struggle with the adjustment. I stood amongst a mob of people, loathing the very thought of waking up to yet another day of it. I saw myself in the distant future with my disgruntled co-workers mirroring my very fate. Fear and dread invaded the spaces where hope and optimism once inhabited. And the very idea of spinning my wheels indefinitely in the rat race of the workforce sent me reeling.

It was that precise disillusionment that generalized to each and every aspect of my life.

If it was always going to be this way, then why try?

It felt as if I had been running those exact same circles for my entire life, as brief as it has been. And the idea that I would continue to run them, despite my best intentions, led to my surrender. It was that resignation that abandoned all aspiration, hope, and passion I had ever contained.

I willingly gave up my life.

But, as I mentioned before, life goes on. We continue to grow, change, and progress, with or without permission or willingness. When that happens, we basically leave the driver’s seat empty to any entity eager to grab that wheel. In my case, it was depression.

Explaining depression and the resulting actions (or lack thereof) to a party who has been fortunate enough to have never experienced it firsthand is nearly impossible. I’ve often wondered why, but as I was attempting to drive the point home to my husband, I came to a profound realization. It sounds absolutely illogical. In truth, it is. It doesn’t make depression any less real, but it honestly seems nonsensical in a way. There is no why or how when it comes to the onset, thus, there is no why or how for the result. And as he sat there and contradicted many of the points I attempted to make, I came upon the realization I needed to shake this out of me.

This is my life.

Not his. Not my job’s. Not my boss’s. Not my son’s. Not anyone else’s.

And I’m going to take it back.

So when we get knocked down, it’s not enough to get back up again. We have the choice to just stand up and march on, or we can dust ourselves off and dance to the rhythm of our own song.