Guest writer and fellow blogger Pam Witzemann continues to bust through the fog with the conclusion of her two part article about living under constant judgment and disapproval. Pam is a regular participant in almost all the discussions here in EFB and has her own blog; “Boomer Back-beat ~ Talking bout our generation”. As always I am looking forward to the conversation~ please contribute your thoughts and insights! ~ Darlene Ouimet
How Judgmental People define other People by Pam Witzemann (this is Part 2 of Judgementalism: A Cloud of Disapproval and Condemnation)
“Bad things happen to good people.” This is a truth that a judgmental person can’t accept. They view the world through a simplified black and white lens and in that world, bad things only happen to bad people. Unless, of course, something bad happens to the one who passes judgment. In such a case, a scape-goat is needed and children are convenient scape-goats. Judgmental people can’t accept the random nature of life and what they fear most is becoming a victim because victims are unable to control what happens to them. By raising themselves above all others and passing judgment on them, they are able to explain away the randomness of evil. By this, they maintain a delusion of control that makes them feel safe. Of course, bad things happen to all of us and that is where the scape-goat comes in. When things go wrong, it is because the scape-goat did something to invite evil in. Blaming, shaming, and punishing the scape-goat enables judgmental abusers to see themselves as good and above bringing any disastrous consequences upon themselves. It also, prevents them from recognizing themselves as abusive because in their simplified black and white view of the world, there are those who deserve evil consequences and those who don’t. In this world view, according to the abusers, victims are those who deserve what they get. Disapproval keeps victims in their place, accepting the consequences that only they, deserve.
“Water finds its own level“. Judgmental parents raise children who are condemned to self-doubt and they are likely, to become perpetual victims, who accept the treatment they receive as deserved. I was one of those children. The cloud of disapproval that I grew up under robbed me of the ability to validate my thoughts, opinions, and decisions. I lacked self-direction and tended to do whatever my friends or the men in my life told me to do. It made me an easy target for abuse.
In my twenties, I began to see myself differently but it took decades to see myself apart from my mother’s disapproval of me. The rest of my family of origin, especially my sister, adopted this view from my mother and also, used disapproval as a way to manage and control me. Even when I didn’t see my family often, that cloud hung over my head and every decision I made was accompanied by wondering if my mother or sister would approve. I was a talented, intelligent, young woman but I had no confidence in myself. I couldn’t picture myself succeeding at anything. I loved to paint and for a time, pursued a career as an artist but the lack of support from my family, left me feeling that to do so was taking too much time from my husband and children. I was made to feel that the things I loved and aspired to do weren’t realistic and a waste of time. I was made to feel that it was bad for me to want personal success. I was comfortable with failure because that was the position my family of origin assigned to me. I was held in that assigned role by their judgments of me and my acceptance of their (and everyone else’s) superiority over me.
“Awww! Quit whining and sniveling about abuse!” I don’t think that most people would call judgmental behavior abuse. As adults, we all know to avoid judgmental people and to not take their judgments into ourselves. Children who grow up under the control of a judgmental person don’t have those defenses and the judgments passed against them are powerful. Growing up in a black and white world with no hope of ever measuring up is psychologically and emotionally damaging. There is no hope of receiving what is needed to thrive in the real world because overly judgmental parents are afraid of reality and create an alternate reality for themselves and their families. Growing up under constant disapproval robs a child of their true identity. Judgementalism creates the atmosphere of abuse by misapplying truths and making what is right, appear wrong and what’s wrong, appear right because the purpose of it is to keep the judging one safe from the reality that everyone is at some time in their life, a victim. What judgmental abusers fear most is becoming a victim and “getting what they deserve”
“The truth hurts, don’t it!” It took me a long time to admit that my mother didn’t like me even though, I always sensed it. Because of her disapproval, I grew up not liking myself. However, I didn’t understand how her disapproval ruled my life until the cloud of disapproval that hung constantly, over me was gone. That cloud dissipated when I told my mother that she would have to treat me with respect if we were to continue to have a relationship. She couldn’t meet the requirements I set as proof of that respect and we’ve not had contact for over a year. The cloud is gone because I was finally, able to validate my own thoughts, opinions, and reality about the events in my life. It no longer matters if my mother or my family of origin approve of me or not. I’m no longer a part of that black and white world in which, I was always to blame. It’s no longer my job to protect my mother from the reality of her own victimhood. I no longer carry or suffer the consequences of her actions even though, as far as I know, she still refuses to accept them as her own.
“The truth will set you free!” I understand now that I’m not the person my mother’s disapproval colored me to be. The cloud of disapproval she hung over me was simply, the reflection of those things she despised in herself. My mother’s judgments of me were never valid and only useful in creating an alternate reality that enabled my mother to dissociate from the reality of her life. As my mother’s evil daughter, I was the scape-goat that prevented my mother from having to take responsibility for her life. Without me, her harsh judgments can only be directed at herself, along with the condemnation that she too is sometimes, a victim. Sometimes, we get what we deserve and sometimes, we get what we don’t deserve. Lies only confuse things and in the long run, make life more painful. Judge-mentalism is another form of lying and the only way to break its spell is to find the truth and rightly, apply it.
I’m happy to be free and to know myself, as I really am. I’m someone that only a right-thinking mother could approve of but I don’t need a mom to give me the approval I need because I’ve learned to validate myself. I am the mother I dreamed of and I’m proud of the woman I grew up to be.
“I can see clearly now, the rain has gone. There are no obstacles in my way. Gone are the dark clouds that made me blind. It’s going to be a bright, bright, bright, sun-shiny day!”
Please share your thoughts with Pam and I about how living with judge-mentalism creates and atmosphere of abuse or about any of the other points Pam makes in this insightful article. Remember that you are free to use any name you wish in the comment form. Only the name you use will be seen by the public. Although EFB has a facebook page, your comments here will not be published there or linked to you in anyway. ~ Darlene
Pam Witzemann was born in Santa Fe, NM and is married, has raised two boys and has two grandsons. Pam and her husband have had their own business for over twenty years. Pam is a painter and a writer and hopes to make these pursuits more than a hobby in her later years. Pam authors the blog Boomer Back-Beat; a place where baby boomers find inspiration in the process of aging.
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