The Roots of Self Blame and Blame Sharing

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Blame sharing with PerpatratorI was reading one of my own quotes today about my willingness to share the blame in the past and thought that it deserved to be expanded upon because it is a popular subject here on Emerging from Broken. Blame sharing or willingness to share blame seems to be especially difficult if we are dealing with it within our own families. ‘Blame sharing’ and ‘blame sparing’ both seem to be part of the problem and are stick points in recovery from neglectful or abusive childhoods.

Here is the quote: “When I started to try to figure out why I was such a mess, I found that one of the stumbling blocks in my way was that I was and had been willing to share the blame for everything that happened to me.  I had been told that acceptance was the answer, and I tried to accept that something must be WRONG with me because “I couldn’t accept,” and I concluded that I deserved to carry the responsibility for the mistreatment I had suffered.”  Darlene Ouimet

I got thinking about the concept of “blame sharing”, where it comes from, how it starts and what it actually means, and how I could communicate that information more clearly by showing exactly the way that I overcame blame sharing in my own process of emotional healing. As always I have to show how it got there in the first place in order to show how I overcame it.

When I talk about my willingness to share the blame for the treatment that I received I am talking about specific things that should never have happened to a child that I was willing to actually take a share of the blame for. I was willing to share the blame for things that happened to me when I was powerless over my circumstances; things that I convinced myself that I was NOT actually powerless over. There is a chain of events when a child is damaged. There are consequences to the messages that children hear and accept as the truth when they are in survival mode.

For example, my willingness to believe that if I were not so “needy” in the first place that I would not have been neglected. I believed that I was too “needy” and also since I believed my needs were not actually valid, I believed I was only imagining that I was neglected.

Imagine a child being convinced that they were too needy and that expressing needs was actually manipulative to the adult in the situation.  That believe starts somewhere;

I have heard countless parents express that children are manipulative especially since I became a parent myself. Parents will sit around talking about how babies will cry for attention for no reason. They say babies will cry just because they “don’t want to go to sleep”, they want to “stay up and be with the adults”. They believe babies will DO all these things for NO reason other than to manipulate parents! They believe that BABIES are crying for attention to manipulate parents into doing what the baby wants! The idea of this being true is insane to me. And if they believe mere infants are capable of manipulation, imagine what they think children are capable of.

The parental response or lack of response to the baby is the beginning of communication to that baby. That is where the baby first gets the message about self worth. I think about all the messages that were communicated to me as a child about my needs, my value and my importance.

Babies have no other way to communicate that something is wrong other than crying. It is their call for help. Perhaps they are wet, lonely, uncomfortable, or have a pain somewhere. Perhaps they are afraid, too hot or too cold. But the real point of this is that when a baby is taught that they are not going to be heard, the first damage is done. The message that they get is “your needs are not valid”. That is the beginning of broken self esteem.

I don’t remember being told in words that I was manipulative, but there are many ways to communicate besides verbally. In believing and accepting that my needs were exaggerated, I concluded that my needs were also not valid and therefore agreed with those who discounted them and agreed to discount them myself as well. And as I grew into a woman, I continued to discount myself because of the root belief that my needs were invalid.

These messages were the beginning of how I started believing that if I were not so unlovable then I would have been loved. These messages communicated that I would have been valued if I were only more whatever it was “they” wanted me to be. I didn’t know any other way to figure it out. I thought I would have been protected if not for whatever it was that was lacking in me. I believed that I had less worth than others.  I “understood” why I was not protected because I believed my value was less than. I understood the pain of others and as I grew up I knew that child abuse was illegal, that neglect of a child was also illegal, but I didn’t apply those laws to me because I accepted that in MY case,  I was unworthy as I had been defined by the actions of others, to be unworthy.  But how could it have been my lack that caused me to be unprotected? How could I have deserved to be treated the way that I was? How was I convinced that I was less worthy than anyone else in the first place?  

When I talk about sharing the blame with the perpetrators of child abuse, I am talking about my willingness to be accountable for having been sexually abused as a small child. It isn’t that it started with the sexual abuse, but I am trying to show the root of the false belief. There is a chain of events that takes place when a childs self worth is compromised when they are young; I am talking about that accountability and sharing the blame for having been abused leading me to believe that I was also responsible and fully to blame for being sexually assaulted in my own bedroom as a teenager. It becomes easier to accept blame when you are convinced young that you are unworthy. When my mother blamed me, actually indicating that I had done something to attract the man who assaulted me I knew I was not safe. I knew he could come back at any moment and my mother would not protect me; I never felt safe, but I believed that was my own fault. I lived for many years in a constant state of fear with a thick layer of self blame and self reprimand. Although I was deeply hurt and confused by my mothers response, I not only shared the responsibility for what had happened to me with the perpetrator, I was willing to take ALL the blame for it.

My belief system didn’t form all at once or from one event, but over time as a result of many events. Messages about me, verbal and non verbal all became part of the grid I saw my self worth through.

Part of accepting the blame is simply survival mode and coping methods. Part of it is the learned victim mentality that I lived in. I had to look more deeply at both those things.

Did I need to live in survivor mode anymore?

Did I still need those coping methods; were they still serving me?

Was exactly was this “victim mentality” ~ how did it get there in the first place and did it still assist me or was it in my way?

 And perhaps the most important question of all; Is it true that I share in the blame for any of the neglect, abuse, disregard, failure to protect and mistreatment that I had been subjected to as a child?

 And the answer was a resounding “NO”. NO NO NO

Please share your thoughts. As always you may use any name you wish to use in the comment form. Your identity is safe unless you choose to make it public by using your full name. Although EFB has a facebook page, your comments here are not connected to your facebook profile.  See the highlighted phrases for related posts.

Exposing truth; one snapshot at a time

Darlene Ouimet

Are you aware my of my e-book “Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing”? If you find that the subject matter I am writing about resonates with you and you would like to find out “HOW” I broke out of the oppression I lived in, this 197 page, downloadable, printable, live linked e-book will put you on the fast track to busting out of the fog and to healing. I’ve received hundreds of thank you notes from people that have bought my book. Get yours here for 9.97 through the upper right side bar or click this link~ Emerging from Broken The Beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing

196 response to "The Roots of Self Blame and Blame Sharing"

  1. By: Jeanne Posted: 29th October 2017

    This is me. I overblame. I always thought it was because it at least gave me control. I was drugged and raped at 18 and didn’t tell anyone for 27 years. But I was like this before. Guilt, shame and being at fault and always being wrong are my earliest memory. I don’t know of an event that caused it like abuse. Should I try to find out or does it matter? I was surviving but our house caught fire and I can’t get it back together.

  2. By: maja Posted: 30th August 2016

    taking on the blame seemd natural – my mmother blamed us for being born in the first place and ruining her life, therefore everything she did was justified

    for a long time i thought if i were dead she d be happy and i had ot do this as well – in a way she even expected this to happen –

    but as time went on i realised i actually have a huge lust for life dsepite the suicidal ideation and the guilt feelings of never being enough and of ruinin other people s lives

    that actually i am funn y and do have humour, and that the reason friendships did not work out was cause it was not safe to have people around me that liked me – they could be in danger or i could be in dagner for my mother could not bear to see m ehappy at most times –

    it was a huge effort and still is ot realise i was actually innocent andthat it s become harmful to share the resonpsibility of what happened-

    and a learning process to accept that what i truely was responsibel for in that situation was much much less – letting go of that, accepting i do not need to save my mother anymore and never needed to to begin with – and that i m aloowed to forgive myself and to leave what she was responsible for on her shoulders –

    has been a relief so far and strange too – as i ve lived my life as a servant almost apologising for breahting –
    and feeling worhthless

    to see my own worth is stilll hard cause i was told to be worthy i should hae a hwhole lists of things i do not have – i can see however that there is a light – which is valuable – i just need to see it again after all the hearthache

    and empower myself again without waiting for my family to do so – it would have been nice if they would ve seen me for who i am instead of who they liked me to be – but i can do that – i do not need to wait nor need to convince them – it s time – right now

    thx for sthairing these inspirational thoughts

  3. By: anon Posted: 26th July 2016

    Thanks for this, it makes sense now. My parents – especially Dad – used to act as if I was being manipulative if I had a problem. It hadn’t actually occurred to me that that’s why I blame myself all the time for everything. Im trying to learn how not to do that and to be able to see myself as…well…not omnipotent…because it’s really destroying my health. I also have to remind myself that IT is destroying my health, not ME. Because the thoughts now come from within rather than outside of me then I blame myself for my emotions too – “stop beating yourself up” or “everything would be ok if you could just sort your head out”.

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 28th July 2016

      Hi Anon
      Welcome~ Awesome breakthrough. Thanks for sharing!
      hugs, Darlene

  4. By: Diana Posted: 19th December 2014

    Darlene, I am so thankful for reading websites such as yours, because as you say, the programming I got was deep and from a young age! I often felt like I was in trouble and came believe I ‘was’ trouble and became trouble as well; and then troubled!! The validation you are giving yourself is resonating with me and well, thank you. It seems to be taking a mountain of the opposite kind of self talk, reading and recognition to undo it all. I would undermine myself and my own feelings when I fact I needed several great big hugs. wow.

  5. By: JC Posted: 21st January 2014

    GDW

    I read some of your experiences with your mother. NOT good. I am no expert but I have been through a LOT and have done extensive therapy and studied abusers. In my opinion it would be a good start for you to look up Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

    You have become a threat to your Mothers false image of herself and she WILL treat you as if YOU are the crazy, messed up one. If she is disordered… your complaints will go unheard and you will be looking for validation that will NEVER come and are setting yourself up for SO much pain. I SO feel for you. Been there.

    If you can learn to let go of the dream to get you mother to accept accountability.. and focus on YOUR own healing, you will be putting your precious energy and heart into something worthwhile… YOU.

    Please do not let your family define your worth or value. and Please do not allow yourself to finish yourself off.

    keep working on YOUR healing.

    JC

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 22nd January 2014

      Hi JC
      Welcome to EFB ~ thank you for your comments and for validating the importance of what I am doing here. I used journaling so much in my own process and it is such a valuable tool that I use it with my clients in the coaching process too!

      About what you posted to GDW ~ I ask that people don’t tell others what to do or tell them what we think the answers for them are; this website works because my work is about me and my discoveries and healing is about having the permission to make our own decisions and come to our own conclusions in our own time. I had a life time of being told what to do and what to think and it is so important that I learned to think for myself and to be empowered to make my own decisions.
      Thanks for understanding!
      hugs, Darlene

  6. By: JC Posted: 21st January 2014

    Darlene,

    I’ve been reading your articles and posts ever since I stumbled on this site.

    I think it is important to tell you how VERY Valuable your insights and guidance are.

    I began my journey of healing after my abusive husband of 20 years tried to kill me. THE shock left me in such a dark place of hopelessness,followed by my family and especially my mothers reaction to my needing help and support. In one instant, it was time for me to face reality and to find out how I got to this point in my life.

    I have been in trauma therapy and have studied and learned all i can about abusive people with personality disorders. I am feeling safer. I came here to begin the TRUE Healing of my childhood.I come here everyday and read one of your articles and let it sink in..

    I cannot tell you how helpful all of your words and experiences are to me.Such a blessed writer you are!

    There are so many of us looking for help and healing. I come across so many and offer what I can(what I have learned so far).

    I just wanted to say thank you, thank you, thank you!
    You have come so far and YOU are a sign of hope for so many of us. If you can do it…so can I.

    I began to break the code of silence by writing about my childhood experiences in a journal..getting to where the damage began.(after reading your articles) Somehow writing it ( the truth and not the version my mother wants me to recall) made me feel like a bad person.. as if I was betraying HER( them) the code of silence and keeping up the family image,… but at the same time I can feel the freeing and the healing beginning. It’s as if a load is being lifted off and the truth will lead to freeing me up to be ME and to let go of the less than, guilt and shame, servant messages/beliefs that I carried for so long. Changing what a good girl looks like and MOM’s influence is slipping away and a healthier one is slowly getting in.

    Thank YOU! Thank you! Thank you!
    I hope you write a book. THERE is a NEED for this.
    JC

  7. By: DarleneOuimet Posted: 29th August 2013

    Mimi
    It’s cool that you see this comment the way you do. My mother said stuff like that to me as well until I had kids. Then she just found a different way to discount me. I spent most of my life waiting to be valid. When my kids were small, I didn’t know anything because they were still small. (just wait Darlene… you will find out when they are older…)

    There is such FREEDOM in knowing that these kinds of comments were about her and never about me. She was a master at discounting and invalidating me at all stages of my life.
    hugs, Darlene

  8. By: Mimi Posted: 29th August 2013

    DXS,
    My mom has specialized in that comment as well….. “you don’t know because you don’t have children”.

    We don’t have to have children to know the difference between right and wrong. That is one of my mom’s “go to” comments when she couldn’t think of anything else, or when she just wanted to throw me off course with crazy making. Sometimes, like much of what she says, it wouldn’t even pertain to having children. Just some sideways comment to get my head reeling.

    My mother also apologized about a year ago in an email to my sisters and myself. In my humble opinion, it’s only meaningful and heartfelt if things change. Some things she flat out refused to acknowledge, let alone apologize for. She apologized for the things she knew there was no lying out of. One of them was badmouthing our dad. She’s done it for so many years and in front of so many people, she knew there was NO WAY to lie out of it. If she’d seen a way, she would have tried.

    I need more than this. I need a person to talk to me face to face, express some remorse, some sincere regret, and any little bit of effort toward making things better would be nice. Mother would NEVER reduce herself to that. I’m okay with it; it’s just more proof that she’s not a human being inside. More of an empty shell who doesn’t want to operate on any level of reality.

    Peace and love,
    Mimi

  9. By: DXS Posted: 27th August 2013

    Doren, re: the cycle rooted in your sister. Wow. Sorry to hear about that.

    I, too, am child free (by choice). I look at my two sibling’s children and see that they broke the cycle, because their children love them a lot. I have no issue with how they raised their children.

    My mom gave me the “you don’t know what it’s like because you don’t have children” stuff. Yeah, I don’t have children. But my mom could stop all this nonsense if she would just apologize to me. And it has to be “sincere.” My mom says she apologized, but her words were just jibber jabber with no feeling in them.

    I put this in another post, but I have the gift of “seeing what is” not what is “supposed to be.” When I tried to point out truths as a child, I got squashed.

    when I was in my 20’s, I was afraid to “go against my parents.” When I got a job 3,000 miles away, that was when I realized “who I was.”

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