The other day, I went out with an old friend for an afternoon of lunch & shopping. It was a perfectly lovely day full of lots of fun & laughs.
For a normal person, this would be all there is to the story. I, however, am not normal, thanks to C-PTSD.
Driving to my friend’s home was nerve wracking. I was unable to drive much for about 18 months for various reasons, then add in the concussion I endured last February that has warped some of my perception, & I feel like I’m learning to drive all over again. Plus, being out in public makes me anxious, thanks to the agoraphobia. I also don’t do change in my regular routine well. And, the concussion made my already high anxiety levels worse & harder to control. All of these factors made my anxiety level really, really high.
After getting home, my husband asked how the afternoon went, & I told him all about it, including my awful anxiety. He told me he was proud of me for not only doing this but managing to enjoy myself in spite of the anxiety. I should have said “thank you” & gone on with my day, but ohhh noooo. I said, “I just did what anyone can do- I’m just the one stupid enough to have problems doing it.”
I realized two things as soon as I said those words…
- I blame myself for way too much that is beyond my control.
- I really don’t talk nicely to myself. In fact, I’m downright verbally abusive.
These issues need addressing, & I’m sure if I need to address them, other adult children of narcissistic parents do as well. So in this post, we’ll address self blame & the next one, how to talk to oneself.
Growing up with my narcissistic parents, I learned that I was responsible for pretty much everything. When my parents would fight, if I wasn’t in the same room, sometimes they would come into the room where I was so I could stop the fight. Both would talk to me about the other & the problems in their marriage (they still do today & I try to avoid it). If I had any problems with a friend, my mother always told me “to have a friend, you have to be one.” Basically she meant I wasn’t doing enough to make the friendship work. It was all my responsibility & the other person had zero responsibility. I was solely responsible for my grades in school- I wasn’t reminded to do my homework & not helped study once I got out of elementary school.
God showed me that being so overly responsible for pretty much everything led to me believing that if something is wrong, it’s my fault. I feel that I should’ve done something to prevent that, I should fix the damage, etc.
Plus my mother openly blames me for things that are beyond my control. For example, a few years ago, I got the flu 3 times in one winter. It’s never happened before or since. I assume it was because I was so stressed that winter that my immune system was very compromised. My mother, however, said I deserved it because I didn’t get a flu shot. A little over a year ago, I was helping my husband split wood with the wood splitter. A large log slipped from his grip, landing on & breaking my big toe. I tried to move but wasn’t fast enough. My mother said it was my fault for not being more careful.
Such abusive behavior towards me cemented the false belief in me that most things are my fault, even things beyond my control. Yesterday was proof of that.
I realized just how ridiculous this is. Not one thing about my anxiety being so bad was my fault, & I need to not take responsibility for it. So many other things aren’t my fault either that I have taken responsibility for.
Does this sound familiar to you? If so, it’s time for you to make changes too!
Since this is new territory for me I’m honestly not entirely sure how to go about it. I have some ideas that I believe should work though..
I plan to ask God to help me have a more appropriate sense of responsibility. Call my attention to blaming myself when it’s not my fault. Help me to assign blame to the one who is really responsible.
If I catch myself blaming myself, I think it’s a good idea to ask God if this is truly my fault. Should I accept responsibility for it or not? If not, please help me to shake feeling responsible for it.
And, when my mother (or anyone really) starts blaming me for something I know isn’t my fault, I will refuse to accept that blame. Whether that means standing up to the person or simply telling myself that I’m not to blame or both, I need to do it.
I hope these suggestions help you, Dear Reader. If you have any others, I’d love to hear them. Feel free to write in the comments or email me privately at CynthiaBaileyRug@aol.com