Monday, October 13, 2008

Personal Responsibility and Being a Victim

If I had to narrow it down to one thing I could point to that kept me stuck as a victim, it would be lack of personal responsibility. Always having an excuse or a reason for why "I couldn't" kept me more trapped than any other single thing I can recall. It convinced me I had no power when I really did.

I was talking to my friend, Richard, at the horse show this weekend about that very subject in regards to my daughter and granddaughter. Trying to explain what the problem is between us all seems to boil down to this very subject. Anytime I want to talk to either of them about a problem somehow it always comes back to me. They are immediately defensive before any words even come out of my mouth.

The root of it all in their minds seems to come down to me. The answer to everything seems to be that I don't .........whatever. I don't listen, I don't see what she does do, I don't, I don't, I don't. Yet all the "I don't"s in the world don't change what they do. I know that but do they seems to be the question.

I know that anytime the problem gets blamed on someone else, then there's a problem with personal responsibility. I'll be the first one to stand here and say sometimes "I don't" whatever. I don't always give her credit, because I don't always see what she does do. Sometimes what she does, has no value to me because of the spirit in which it is given. It feels in genuine. I think anything done to manipulate is not worthy of praise. Those are my values and I will take responsibility for them.

I believe the source of our problems are rooted in my daughter's own behavior as a teenager. I think because she has never really taken responsibility for her "antics" then she can't see her daughter's responsibility. In my daughter's mind I think she believes she's still right and I'm still wrong and she didn't do anything wrong. I am not trustworthy because of those times.

How that makes sense about a drug addicted teenager's behavior I don't know but she can justify it in her mind somehow. I think as long as she's protecting those things about herself, she enables the same behavior in her daughter as well. That makes me the bad guy and them co-conspirators.

The problem isn't that it hurts my feelings (although it did before I put those walls back into place) it is that it keeps them both stuck. They are still victims caught in that behavior. It doesn't affect my personal power because they are affects them.

All of the "I can't"s or "I had no choice"s are what keeps them powerless to change their lives. If they can't admit they've made a mistake or could have done it differently nothing will change. Continuing to send themselves that message of powerlessness is a huge detriment to their self esteem. It's impossible to build one's self esteem while continually claiming to be powerless.The two things are at the opposite ends on the spectrum for self nurturing.

That's the really sad part about this. I'm ok here. I'm no longer powerless to control my own life. I have the courage to stand up for my convictions and follow my dreams. But my daughter and my granddaughter are still caught in that trap of their own making.

They might think they are protecting themselves against me but they are really protecting themselves from their own feelings. Not being personally accountable for their own behavior means they don't have to deal with the feelings they have when they feel like they have let someone down, name it. As a result they are both stuck in believing that they are powerless when they really do have power that they just refuse to use. All the while they are unhappy and pointing the finger blaming me for their discomfort.

It is so simple yet so difficult. Owning up to one's failures and mistakes can feel like it will kill you, but it won't. You'd be surprised how much lighter life can become once that burden of having to be perfect and prove that you are right is lifted. I sure wish that relief for my daughter and my granddaughter but I know that it's impossible as long as they are using me for their scapegoat.

Thankfully, I'm free of that burden of buying into their manipulations. I can see what is my part of this mess and what is theirs. Maybe sometimes I could handle things better, but even if I could have all the appropriate answer or behaviors all the time, nothing would change because it really isn't about me. I am grateful to have learned that. I wish I was able to pass that legacy on to them. Unfortunately for now, both of them are still caught up in their victim behavior.


Lady Of Chaos said...

I always tell my kids, that they alone are responsible for what comes out of their mouths or for what they do. NO ONE can MAKE them say or do anything. It's always their choice, they need to accept that, take responsibility for it, and pay the consequences. Even if those consequences are bad things or good things. It's their choice, not mine, not their friends, no one's but their own choice. (Keep in mind that my life, while not good, has been nothing like your's. So this fits.)

I hope I got it through to them. If not I'll keep trying. It's really all I can do. I don't want my babies to end up being a victim of anything.

When my oldest says "I hate you." when I punish him. I say, "That's fine. I'm your parent, not your friend, and right now I'm being your judge, jury, and your reality slap, you made the mistake, now you pay for it."

I know there will come a time when he's too old to do that too and I'm not too sure what I'll do then.

Family is often the hardest to deal with, the hardest to understand, and the hardest to get to see things from your point of view. They have this 'fixed' image of you in their head and nothing convinces them that maybe you've changed or that maybe you made the best choice you had to make etc... They see only what they are comfortable seeing. Sometimes I just give up and walk away...

Lily Strange said...

Addictions have two components, a physical one and a psychological one. The physical one can sometimes be held in check by psychological strength. I hope your granddaughter can learn to do this somehow. If she has people that enable her, which it sounds like your daughter does, it's hard to be able to find that strength.
I have an addictive personality too but I've managed to avoid the "hard" addictions because I don't like feeling out of control. It's "soft" addictions that I can't seem to kick. Like sugar. Really. It sounds stupid but it's true. I've cut way back on the amount that I eat but sometimes, especially late at night, I gotta have it. Having people tell me to "eat less and exercise more" does not help, it only makes me want to kill them!
The thing is, I suppose, that a soft addiction usually isn't directly life threatening. A "hard" addiction can be. I hope that your granddaughter comes to realize that feeling awful when the drugs wear off is not where she wants to be at and she gets help. People can't kick those addictions on their own.

Kahless said...


jumpinginpuddles said...

its a really ahrd subject isnt it. Responsibility or accountability. the prtoblem i see is that your daughter blames you for her trip into the things she doesnt like she did so therfor you as her mum is her easy target.
The problem with that thinking is when her daughter does the smae thing will it still be your issue?
hangi n there matie.

Angel said...

Good post. I'm glad you are protecting yourself emotionally now. You're right about all of it. For your daughter to criticize your granddaughter's actions or to admit they're wrong, she would have to admit she was wrong and accept responsibility--it's too threatening for her to do, apparently.