We hear a lot in the ‘spiritual’ community about forgiveness- ie - not blaming. That applies to the present - if you’re an adult. And that’s a discussion for another blog.
BUT this entry is about what happened TO US as children. A hallmark of alcoholic (& other emotionally unhealthy) families is the mistreatment of their children in all 4 of life’s aspects: Spiritual, Emotional, Mental, Physical.
➼ PARENTAL BLAME is abuse in the first 3 categories !
Please remember - abuse is NOT just physical, in its various forms. It encompasses ALL the ways people harm others - especially their children - by injuring another’s rights, self-esteem, mental clarity, sense of safety, emotional equilibrium & boundaries.
1. IN OUR CHILDHOOD
A damaged parent will BLAME their child for a variety of things, which :
a. are NOT the kid’s fault (difficulties because of a learning disability, like dyslexia or ADD; the illness or death of a parent; a parent being left by a lover or spouse...)
b. is a projection of what the parents are guilty of (being irresponsible, lazy, fearful, feeling unlovable, risk-averse...)
c. the child isn’t doing what they’re being accused of (being a ‘whore’ when she’s too young to have had sex at all OR seducing a parent’s lover/ spouse, when that adult is actually sexually abusing the child; using drugs, when the kid never has...)
d. child can’t do, especially without any instruction, & is accused of being stupid - when he/she legitimately can’t know something (fixing a car or other machinery, shopping by themselves, ‘getting; a hard school subject, expected to know how to fix a parent’s personal, sexual & financial problems or forced to take care of a drunk or crazy parent, alone...)
e. is actually no one’s fault (an act of God, getting sick or having an accident...)
f. one child is held responsible for something which another child actually did (starting a fight; stealing or breaking something; getting into trouble...)
g. parents are jealous of, because they can’t do something their child can (which is a natural skill or gift) & so they make that ability a bad thing
h. is actually (mostly) not true - like: always lying (“Kids always lie so we can’t believe anything they say”), being stubborn, selfish, too sensitive, difficult...
➼ This last category may be about some normal childhood characteristics which the parent cannot tolerate OR which occur sometimes as a defense in the child because of family abuse/ insensitivity/ neglect...OR happen occasionally because kids are human ie. imperfect -- but then get demonized.
➼ Parents BLAMING their children for ANYTHING is ABUSIVE
SOURCES of Parental Blame
a. Projecting their own self-hate, frustration & inadequacy onto the child
b. Copying what was done to them - without any self-awareness, thinking about the effect on their kids or questioning if their behavior makes any sense
c. Automatically reacting badly to normal child behaviors which trigger their own old pain (their emotional trauma which is denied & therefore unresolved)
d. Another way to take the focus off of themselves - parents making the kids responsible for their unhappiness, allowing them to keep their denial in tact, thus perpetuating the ‘disease’ of alcoholism & narcissism
e. Parental Narcissism - they see children as an extension of themselves, rather than as separate individuals, and need the children to be perfect - in order to maintain the parents’ illusion of their personal & family OK-ness.
Kids are too young & vulnerable to fight back, stand up for themselves or even understand exactly what’s being done to them - only that it HURTS! And when they’re old enough to try - if they dare - they’re punished without mercy !
➼ ‘Pushing down’ intense self-hate & shame ---> leads to the need to BLAME
2. IN THE PRESENT
Now when others blame us (those of us who were victimized that way as kids) :
a. we believe what that person is accusing us of (boss, parent, lover, friend...) because it agrees with our bad inner voice (the introjected abusive parents / older siblings/ teachers / caretakers).
b. we take that blame on, which feeds our self-hate. We feel terrible, & try to ‘be/do better’ BUT we may not have been at fault in the first place and one can never win, anyway, when dealing with a blamer!
c. we continue to choose (often unconsciously) those people as friends, lovers, bosses... who already have the habit of blaming others - in order to:
• keep us connected to / locked into our family system, from a sense of
loyalty, love AND denial about how much that system harmed us
• validate our self-hate: after all, if our family told us over & over that we’re fuck ups, and see, all these other people tell us that too - then it must be true !
➼ THAT WAY we never have to hold our parents responsible (see “They did the BEST they could” post, #2, b, ii.) for their verbal & emotional abuse, because it feels ‘safer’ to keep blaming ourselves, even though it’s self-destructive!
Parental blame leads to: GUILT, SHAME, REVENGE -- See other blogs
Q: Do you still believe everything that goes wrong, or that hurts you - is your fault?
DONNA M TORBICO
is a psychotherapist in private practice for 24 yrs in New York City,
specializing in ACoA RECOVERY (adult-children of alcoholics & other narcissists).
She has appeared on radio, television & at New Life Expo, created & presented ACoA / Al-Anon intensive weekend workshops & ran an ACoA therapy group for 6 years.
She was an instructor at the NY OPEN CENTER for 9 yrs, presenting her 12-week interactive lecture course “KNOWLEDGE Is POWER:
What makes an ACoA”
She works with individuals & couples/partners, in person and by phone & Skype. FREE Intro Session, to see if there is compatibility.
For Testimonials, go to www.acoarecovery.com ("About Me"