The illusion of self blame

It came up today in therapy again as it does the issue of self blame.  How when things are painful I blame myself for what really lay outside of my control from a young age and I had no power over.  When I first got into AA I came across a little pamphlet which I still have which says “Why will power won’t work” the crux of it is that we didn’t become addicts or drink or get damaged due to a lack of self will we were responding to things way outside of our control that we were powerless over. For many people an admission of powerlessness feels like a defeat but actually it is necessary form of surrender and involves a restoration to sanity, it is the only thing that will excavate us down to the bedrock of what formed us and formed our parents and their parent’s parents too.

I am not sure if this will make sense but a lot of what happened to us growing up we were powerless over.  For me I was powerless over my oldest sister leaving home when I was 3,  I was powerless over the disappointment and emptiness that brought into my life as my sister was a surrogate Mum, more present and vibrant and embodied and alive than my Mum could ever be.  I was powerless over the fact that I spent a lot of time alone.  I was powerless over making some very damaging choices in my life at a young age before I had the necessary wisdom to know the deeper impact of those choices and what they came out of.

The first true power I felt was when I got into the rooms of AA and admitted my powerlessness over alcohol.   I did not yet realise I lacked other skills to be effective and relate in a healthy way with others due to deficits from growing up with emotional neglect and with two parents who I could not really discuss things with.  I did my very best to cope, but I was often overwhelmed most particularly in the years following my car accident and my sisters cerebral bleed when I was struggling to find my way in the world.

In AA we say we are emotionally arrested at the age we picked up a drink but once we begin to do our inner child work and face our original pain we see we suffered from wounds and deficits from a long way back that often lay far beneath conscious awareness.  There was absolutely no way we could access this pain and the truth while using substances and sometimes even years into sobriety without undertaking a recovery path.  And even then there are times we can hide deeper incredibly painful emotional truths from ourselves, ways we can discount the full impact of others and turn around the blame upon ourselves and as long as we do this and don’t find compassion for the wounded child of the past we will never find true freedom.   Self blame often rests on the illusion we had control over things outside of our power, it truly can dog some of us for years.

Recognition of emotional abandonment means we must learn to champion our inner child.  As Charles Whitfield as pointed out in one of his books the inner child in us often goes deeply into hiding and the inner child is the soul in us, so as long as it is hiding and not being championed by us we are going to be in pain, feel disconnected and hurt and be on an often fruitless quest to find the missing love outside of ourselves.

For many of us it is a long way down into a well that we have to travel to excavate our inner child.  He or she may appear to us in dreams as a dark child or a neglected child, a child without clothing or any kind of protection.  Until we can have compassion for this one and give him or her the love we were missing as well as the validation from other loving people we are lost and alone.  Nothing outside of us will fill the deep void in our soul, which drives thousands to suicide.  Love, compassion and healing acceptance is the powerful antidote to a life of self blame in which deeper truths get hidden behind illusions : the mistake the mankind has chosen to sanctify.

D H

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