For any of you who grew up in a dysfunctional home, where one or both parents suffered from some sort of an addiction, there’s a good chance you suffered from frequently being the recipient of blame, even when things weren’t your fault. There’s also a pretty good chance that as you got older, you started blaming yourself for everything that went wrong in your world, even when most of it probably wasn’t your fault either. I always feel sorry for those I meet in my 12 Step recovery world who are still strongly living out this pattern, especially if I learn their childhood was just like my own.
I’ve done my best to overcome this pattern, although I still struggle from time to time falling back into it. Kids in addict-based homes like the one I grew up in, tend to take the blame for things even when it’s not their fault solely out of fear, fear of being disciplined in harsher ways.
When my sister and I went back to our childhood home after our mother passed and were clearing out all that old stuff, we found a box of letters we had written our parents throughout our younger years where we apologized for one incident after another, consistently taking the blame, saying we’re sorry, that we’re bad kids, and will try harder to be better. I don’t remember writing those letters, but I can assume I wrote them out of fear. Fear of not being punished, yelled at, spanked, mouth washed out with soap, privileges taken away, or something worse. I always found that if I just took the blame, somehow the result was far less painful, as compared to if I didn’t. And, I often felt I was made out to be a liar when I didn’t take that ownership.
The fact is, my parents placed blame on my sister and I, because it was easier than looking at themselves and all their misery. As I grew older, I allowed this pattern to exist with most of my friends, partners, bosses, etc. What I realized in therapy though was that in most cases, I shouldn’t have been taking the blame at all and how toxic it was to my spirit each time I did. While I’m not perfect and do own a part in some of the negative things that happen in my life, I know now that more than not, I’m not the cause of everything people say of me and instead have been a magnet for this because I haven’t fully worked through it yet.
I often grow frustrated at how many try to blame me for things that have nothing to do with me whatsoever. My partner has done this with me many times, but I’m not innocent of it either. It’s taken a lot of work to identify this pattern and it happens most often with those I’m closest to, who I don’t want to lose. Because at the core of this pattern really is a little kid who just wanted his parents to love him unconditionally, who learned through their addiction that if he just owned what they were blaming him of, they seemed to love him better than if he didn’t.
Addicts love to blame the world for their problems. My parents were no exception in this and did this to my sister and I far too often, and so have I with others whenever a serious addiction has gotten a firm grip on me. I’m thankful I can identify this pattern far easier now when others are doing it with me, because at my core, I am a good person, who knows now that I’m not the blame for all the world’s problems, even though I was raised to feel like I was.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson