Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Estrangement - Setting the scapegoat free

14 Days of Self Appreciation Challenge:   Day 9

February 9th

The goal today my quest is to welcome appreciation and joy and love into my daily life.  By this I mean, to change the deep down feeling that these are qualities I actually deserve to experience!   I NEED, almost desperately, to escape from the negativity that because I have not been perfect and because I have made mistakes, I somehow don’t deserve to feel appreciated, joyful or loved. 

I own responsibility for all things that have gone wrong in my life to a detrimental degree.  I carry with me this huge burden of self-imposed guilt.  It is a burden that I took up as a child (not good enough) and it has been with me my whole life.   

I see every insufficiency in my life as a being the result of my not being good enough, doing good enough, being successful enough. And then I carry that guilt for “not being good enough” in my psyche!   I carry this burden with me into my daily life!  What a great burden to carry!

I should have let go of this burden a long time ago, but it was so ingrained in my nature that I never even stopped to think of the damage I was doing to myself by blaming “ME” for everything that did not go smoothly or did not turn out the way it was planned.  It was just somehow always “my fault”, and I never stopped to question the truth of that statement! 

I have been learning to question the veracity of that belief! 

Actually I have been forced to learn that lesson by events in my life.  The turning point came when I realized that I had taught my children to judge me as harshly as I judged myself!   I had taught them that is was okay for them to blame me for everything that was wrong in their lives.  They had the perfect scapegoat, MOM! 

When our eldest child estranged from the family she sent a letter and the message that resonates with me the most was this sentence:   “There are so many things wrong with my life and they are all your fault.”  

My world collapsed in the reading of that sentence!   I was guilty!  I was to blame.  I was a horrible person.  I was a horrible mother!  I was a horrible person.  How could I live with the knowledge that I was such a failure?!  That was May 2009. 

Looking back now I find it interesting that she did not take any responsibility upon herself!   And I allowed her to use me as a scapegoat!   I did not even question that it was my fault! I was ultimately the perfect scapegoat because I believed the accusation that I was at fault!

So there I was, shattered! 

First the good news, I survived!   I somehow picked up the pieces and spent the ensuing years trying to mend my broken heart and my broken life. I read, I attended therapy sessions, I joined support groups for estranged parents and I worked very hard at learning about myself, my unrealistic expectations, and what exactly I was and was not responsible for.  

Second the bad news; it has been an uphill battle that has seen me struggling with old concepts, outdated ideas, facing new knowledge and new understanding.  Rewiring thoughts about who I was and what I could and could not take responsibility for, has been like an emotional evisceration.  I was often left feeling raw and exposed and vulnerable.

I am now firmly on the path forward toward rebuilding with new and healthier foundation stones those parts of my life that I do continue to take responsibility for.  

I have left behind the baggage of making excuses for others and then shouldering their share of the blame as well as my own.  

I have stripped away guilt that was not mine to start with.  

I have removed shame for being inadequate.  I have learnt to embrace that being human and making mistakes is part of living and that this is not something to be ashamed of.

I am rebuilding those areas of my psyche that still need fortification.  This fourteen day self-appreciation challenge for example comes out of my need to remind myself that I deserve to feel good about who I am and what I have accomplished.  This challenge is to declare to myself that I deserve the good feelings that come with acknowledging my victories rather than drowning in my failings.  This challenge is about claiming my rights as a human being; to no longer be trapped in the role of the scapegoat.

Appreciation is one of the highest emotional states you can be in. I love writing my daily gratitude list.  It allows me time to reflect on the state of abundance in my outer life. Therefore, if I am capable of appreciating others then I should be able to learn to apply that skill towards appreciating myself.  The goal being to create an equal state of abundance in my inner life.

My Self Appreciation and Self Love Ritual

  •     Prepare a peaceful area for contemplation and reflection.  There is a mirror here and a picture of myself.
  •     Select something that I wish to be a physical token of my self-appreciation (ideas: a stone, a crystal or other small item that will be easy to carry with me as a reminder)
  •     As I gaze upon this item I will write down all the things that I appreciate about my abilities, my character, my strengths.
  •     I will write lists of the things I have done / accomplished in my life, the past year, the past week even yesterday
  •     I will acknowledge the small successes as well, not just the big ones.
  •     I will take a moment to appreciate my goal, intentions and aspirations.
  •     I will arrange the mirror and the picture of myself and the token of self-appreciation in a small triangle upon the work surface I am at. 
  •     I will read the lists that I have created out loud to myself in mirror and picture and to the crystal.
  •     As I see my face in the mirror I will say to myself  “You deserve to feel proud of what you have accomplished.”
  •     As I see my picture I will say “you deserve to feel good about what you have achieved”
  •     As I look at the crystal I will say;  “you are a reminder to me of that I deserve to be appreciative for my accomplishments and achievement.

Every time I look upon this crystal I will be reminded of my promises to myself.  I will stop and take a moment to remember and fully experience gratitude for all my good qualities. I will make daily self-appreciation a part of my daily gratitude practice and work on changing old conditioning patterns that no longer serve me.

Renate Dundys Marrello
2015 – 02 – 09

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