Thursday, July 21, 2016

Post estrangement: What lies beyond the blame game?

When we have been estranged we go through so many different emotions and stages of healing. Recently I saw a question addressing our need to label and blame. 

As I read various answers to this question I started hearing my inner voices pushing me in a different direction.

I believe that "blaming" and even "labeling" are ways of trying to make sense of something that feels beyond comprehension. Often comments about adult offspring that estrange, come from a place of deep confusion. The comments that keep being repeated are "I don't understand" or "if only I could understand".  The questions; "how could they" and "why do they", arise over and over again.   

The process of labeling our offspring in the aftermath of being thus rejected is a sign of us parents trying to justify the estranging offspring's actions. Because we feel the need to justify their actions we seek for ways to ameliorate them. Example; "they must be narcissist that is why they behave like that", now we have a reason, something to cling to to try to make sense of a situation that seems to make no sense.

When we start to see how widespread this phenomenon is, blaming outwards (e.g. society, the school system, religion, cults, the enabling therapists, the psycho babble etc) is a way of making sense of the phenomena we are surrounded by.  When we get to this place in our thought processes where we feel betrayed by those who gave us role models that we attempted to follow, when we feel that all our attempts to do a good job were still found to be unsatisfactory we feel a need to lash out, to get back, to justify.

We parents are labeled as crazy and inadequate and many other derogatory labels that are even much worse, leaving us suffocating under a mountain of guilt and shame.  Labeling and blaming are, in my opinion, ways we try to get through the pain of it all. To put the pieces into some kind of order that makes a twisted illogical kind of sense. We lash out and back at, a system that we feel contributed and even encouraged the trauma we are facing. 

Blame is not the same thing as judgment. Judgment is seeing an action for what it is, blame is transmitting our own pain onto an outside source.

For example our estranging offspring "blame" us for their unhappiness because they want to escape their reality. They want to escape their unhappiness by making us the source of their problems.  In doing so they don't have to face the issues that are in fact the source of their unhappiness.

If they were to work through their issues they would be able to judge us and they would be able to speak to us and tell us what it is they find fault with.

Blaming is easier because it transfers the energy outward, releasing the blamer of responsibility for their actions. Once blame is cast, it becomes simply a matter of saying "it is not my fault, I am not responsible".

Judgement comes from understanding, standing on a moral principle, having a willingness to state what one stands for and most importantly reflects back to the person making the judgement.  Once a judgement has been passed and expressed, they then have to judge themselves by the same standard and open themselves up to being judged by others based on those principles.

You can blame someone, and walk away safe within your controlled image of yourself.
When you judge someone, that judgement can come back to haunt you. I am starting to see a very clear difference.

I believe that we estranged parent, do go through stages of name calling, labeling, blaming etc. It is a defense mechanism to counteract the woundedness that we feel in the face of such complete and utter rejection and ostracism.

Looking outward for explanations and 
sources to blame, usually follows after complete and total self blame and the self hatred that goes with that emotion. Then when we start to heal and fight back we realize that such a burden of self debasement is unhealthy and further traumatizes us. We have to fight back and the first instinct is to ask; who can we blame and how can we justify actions taken by our children that we would not tolerate from any other person. This is when we look at societal changes to blame and character disorders to try to find some kind of twisted logic, to make sense of something we can't comprehend. 

But this too is only a stage.  It solves nothing, it changes nothing.  This path leads to bitterness and more anger, frustration and a sense of being stuck constantly looking back, seeking answers that don't fix anything. 

This stage of seeking answers  may possibly give us insight or understanding.  It might even lead to awareness and compassion. It allows us to re-evaluate our core values, process our own need to build better boundaries against implied blame and shame and feelings of guilt and insufficiency.  It allows us be become stronger and create better defenses against unjust accusations and defamation of our character. 

However, as time goes on, and we process the enormity of this situation, we have to come to terms with what and whom we are judging.  We have to become clear on our own core values, decide what kind of people we want to be even in the face of this trauma to our lives.

When we make judgments based on core values we recognize that we have been violated.  We then do not need to blame or place guilt, but simply to point out how these actions violate our principles. We are then able to separate the action from the person.  

When we follow our own code of morals and principles we can say; this action is wrong simply because it is wrong.  We no longer need to find "someone" or "something" to blame. We don't need to justify with "name calling or labeling".  An action is wrong because the action is wrong.

When viewed from this perspective we can then start to say, whatever it was that caused our estranging offspring to act this way, it is and always will be on their conscience, their responsibility, the situation they created.  
The "why" does not matter or change anything.   

They may even continue to go through the actions of blaming and labeling us for the rest of their lives if they wish to do so. They may continue to deflect and justify their actions by blaming us or any others that create obstacles in their lives. That is their right as autonomous humans.  

They may avoid anything that causes them to be introspective.  Again that is their right to choose.  

They won't find healing down that path, for healing comes from self awareness not from blaming others.  Healing comes from facing inner demons, and from not avoiding the pain of personal accountability.  

That is where I as a loving parent feel sadness, I feel sorrow for my offspring, I sorrow that she is stuck in the darkness of name calling and blame. I sorrow that she is raising her child in that atmosphere and that my grandson will learn this behaviour through watching her.

In my mind now, I am getting to a place where there is no blame, there are only consequences. I can judge the action more than I judge the person. An action can't change for it is in the past.  However, a person always has the ability to change and with that change comes a possibility for a different course of action in the future. Therein lies my hope.  

As always I appreciate your feedback dear reader, as I continue to try to evolve and change my perceptions on my road toward healing.  

Renate Dundys Marrello
2016 - 07 - 21   

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Monday, July 18, 2016

Healing the injuries of Estrangement

Estrangement has such far ranging emotional impact that I have come to believe that beyond the impact of being estranged we also come face to face with parts of our unresolved past.
I believe the trauma we experience in the face of being estranged triggers and reveals to us those unresolved emotional injuries we carry within us.  Being estranged is about so much more than just what was done to us but what we do to ourselves, within our own minds, in an attempt to deal with, understand and try to resolve what is happening in the present. 

Estrangement acts as a trigger and then we suffer the consequences of these various emotional injuries that we carry and we have to become aware that each of those injuries affects us differently.

I think that learning to differentiate between the injuries allows us to focus on each aspect of healing individually.  To heal the injury in our past and then to connect it to our healing in the present is vitally important if we are to resume life post estrangement with enthusiasm and joy.

It is relatively easy to get to a place where we want to "move on" post estrangement and yet in order to move beyond that place where we meet each day in survival mode with the 
drudgery of just getting through; we have to examine why certain aspects are so hard to resolve.  We need to start to understand why we get stuck in repeating certain actions even when we "KNOW" they are not good for us.  

These are some of the injuries (in no particular order) that I think we need to be clear on in order to be able to give the right attention to each one.

- the injury of emotional abuse / dealing with bullies, controllers and other manipulative people
- the injury of grieving a living child
- the injury of a lost relationship / changed relationship
- the injury of lost dreams and expected future
- the injury of abandonment and rejection
- the injury of being a victim / feeling like a victim
- the injury of self blame and self condemnation
- the injury of being shamed / living the guilt trip of not being good enough
- the injury of feeling worthless / loss of self esteem 
- the injury of people pleasing / feeling like a failure when your efforts are not appreciated 
- the injury of feeling the need to minimize the self (eg walking on egg shells to sooth them / being the peace keeper etc )
- the injury of ineffective boundaries / where do I end and they begin 
- the injury of being expected to be apologetic for their mistakes and their behaviour. We do this both towards the estranging children (making excuses for their behaviour) and to other people who don’t understand (internalizing that we are to blame and must atone)

I want to build on this list and would appreciate any input.
Are there other injuries that you experience?  

Over the next few months I want to reflect on these different injuries and how they affect our healing journey.  
  • I want to look at false core beliefs that keep us stuck in repetitive behaviours.  
  • I want to look at what we are doing to ourselves / how we are talking to ourselves; that prevent us from healing 
  • I want to look at what we can do to overcome those false core beliefs and how we can change those core beliefs freeing us to go in a new direction. 
  • I want to see if we can change or transform these false core beliefs to empower our healing 
  • I especially want to discover pathways out of the maze of repeating actions that are self harming and then focus on strategies for transformation. 

I look forward to hearing your ideas and input as I explore these issues. 

Renate Dundys Marrello
2016 - 07 - 18 

Link to my Facebook Reflections Page

photo credit - as marked or unknown

My journal blog entries are copyright.
I love when you share my page to spread the word.

If you want to quote me I kindly ask that you please provide a link back to my page.