I’m really not too sure why it happens, I really wish I knew what it was that causes me to take the blame for things going wrong in my life. Yet it seems from early years I learnt to blame myself for the difficulties I encountered and it appears to have continued ever since. As a child I used to think people hurt me because I was bad, I’d disappointed them and it was all my fault. As an adult when I was losing time and struggling to keep my life on track I would feel a sense of shame at not coping, I’d blame myself and there would be lots of self critical words being spoken. In hospital it soon became the norm to be blamed for my behaviour, my reactions to situations and my self harm, people encouraged and proactively assisted me to keep on blaming myself.
Blame played a big part in my life, prior to being diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder I had a range of ill judged diagnoses, none of which turned out to be accurate. Yet in those years preceding the correct diagnosis the blame game continued, I was labelled and judged as a nuisance, dysfunctional, attention seeking and emotionally unstable. It appeared that the medical professionals were saying that I was to blame for my mental health problems, it was my fault I was losing time, my fault I was depressed, anxious, forgetful and confused. The healthcare professionals played the blame game with me for a number of years and sadly I wasn’t in any position to stop it.
Today with an accurate diagnosis there still exists a blame culture, many professionals don’t accept the diagnosis of D.I.D, they are sceptical about it. I’m aware of at least one psychiatrist who stated the fact I knew so much about D.I.D; which he didn’t believe in anyway, was indicative of me having a disorganised sense of self. In his opinion I was to blame for my carrying a teddy, for losing time and for changing personae. Of course I know it is he who was misguided and not me, but yet again medical staff placed blame were none was due, blame upon me.
This week in therapy I was undertaking some trauma work, it’s tough at times but I know it’s important too. As I spoke my psychologist made me stop and think, he made me reflect upon the words I was using because I was being self critical and negative. As I spoke of my past out poured the words ‘why didn’t I tell someone’ and ‘why didn’t I stop him’. Words such as ‘I let him’, ‘I never stopped him’, spewed forth as I continued to berate myself yet I wasn’t just berating me. In this case I was blaming the younger part of me who years ago took the abuse, of course at that time I had dissociated and so in reality I was blaming my poor alter.
My psychologist made me stop, made me think and I guess rationalise just how much I was blaming myself, and blaming my alters. He reminded it was a common theme in our work and that I do judge myself and my alters quite harshly. I couldn’t disagree with him because I knew he was right, I do judged them. I view my past and the memories of that time including the abuse I suffered through my adult eyes, I assume that I should have told someone, I should have hit out, screamed, shouted and fought to stop the abusers. Yet when I think of who I was at that time, a vulnerable frightened little girl who was being controlled through fear and betrayed by certain adults I ought to have been able to trust, I see things in a different light.
In truth at that time young me knew if I told I’d be in trouble, that no one would believe me, child abuse wasn’t talked about in my day it wasn’t recognised. The most safety advice I had received as a child was not to play with matches, and the green cross code. Younger me knew from experience that the aggression and violence that I had previously encountered would increase if I tried to fight back or stand up to my abusers. I had realised that it certainly wasn’t a safe option to object, or to tell, no in truth my alters did the best they could at the time. My alters, my younger me’s they took my pain and suffering so that I might survive to live another day.
Yet here I was blaming them for what happened to us, how unfair of me and how wrong. My psychologist enabled me to think about who was really to blame and slowly I began to understand were that blame lies, it’s with those adults who betrayed me. I’ve no doubt it will continue to take time for me to accept I couldn’t help what happened to me, to accept I wasn’t to blame. This is a work in progress and I have a lot of alters and a lot of me to forgive.
Blame is an inherent part of our culture, of our society and we judge and blame others far too easily, in my case I direct the blame at me, either myself or my alters. I’m learning that this blame is about forgiveness, it’s also about grief. Accepting it wasn’t my fault, that I’m not to blame means acknowledging I was helpless in these situations and that yes I was hurt. It means accepting I was abused and I couldn’t stop it, it means acknowledging that certain people betrayed me. It also means facing up to the harsh reality that I hold feelings of anger towards these abusive individuals and that yes I am angry at them.
It is hard to understand the blame game, to understand I am playing it too and that at times I have blamed my alters. But that is the reality I face right now, these parts of me who have enabled me to survive don’t deserve my blame, my judgement. They deserve a future and a future filled with hope, acceptance and understanding, in turn I deserve that as well. So I’m trying hard this week to end the blame game, to repair the damage done and to work better with my alters. I’m slowly learning to forgive myself and to accept that actually I did ok, I did more than ok. I survived to live another die.
Copyright DID Dispatches 2015