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If I Am Not Responsible, Why Does It Feel Like I Am?

Discussion in 'Discussion' started by Phoenix_Rising, Dec 24, 2011.

  1. Phoenix_Rising

    Phoenix_Rising Well-Known Member

    I had therapy today. Not anything heavy as I am worn out from all Xmas prep.

    But we had been previously talking about my feelings of being responsible, and feeling like it is my fault I was abused. This week my partner came scarily close to killing himself, and I somehow managed to help him out of it. He has been very depressed and suicidal lately but this is the first time I can recall being that scared, that he has ever been like that, where I really thought he would do it. If I had not said I did not have to go right away when he tried to send me off to do my errands, I would never have known and it is very possible he would have actually tried to hurt himself.

    But I ultimately was able to help him though by that point I could not stop crying and was thinking should I call 9-1-1, since he was saying that myself and his son were getting to the point it was not enough to keep him here, begging me to just please let him go, so he could go in peace, etc. But he has not done this before. I spent the whole time or most of it crying I was so afraid, and then finally somehow I helped him. He thanked me for that, later. Anyway so we were discussing how I felt like I was responsible for saving him, for his life, and how afraid I was later, thinking, if I had just said, ok, hon, talk to you later... And gone on my errands. There were no signs until I said I could stay then all this stuff just came out of him.

    Somehow she helped me realize that this was very similar to my father, where "I was the only one who could make a difference" and "I was responsible", somehow I was mixing up being a loving and supportive partner with feeling responsible for his life and self worth. She said it was OK to say it was too much for me, that he needed to get help from someone besides just me. So I have been feeling a lot of fear and helplessness over that, because I also want to be able to help him, but I can't. I just feel like saying that to him would be rejecting, not being loving and supportive. And he does that for me. I did feel OK about saying he should get some other help if he can't turn this around. Not the same thing as, I don't want to hear about your problems.

    It all comes back to the same thing. It is hard to look at it and realize this pattern I have stems from feeling like the abuse is my fault, but that is actually why.

    Tonight he brought up us moving in together and being a family. It causes me a lot of stress, for a lot of reasons, including that the place would be really small, and could be not very pleasant to live in for the next 5 years, especially with the amount of people we have. There are good reasons for doing it. But it causes me a lot of stress for a lot of reasons.

    He looks at it like what is most important is that we are together as a family and just accept the consequences. But I know what it could be like. And I have a lot of fear of change, the unknown, moving out, etc. None of which has anything to do with him. But we haven't even had our first "date" yet since we broke up and we are dealing with all this stress? This is not how I wanted it to be. But he was so upset when I didn't agree, when I said I wanted to know the information like what is the layout of the place, will it be better, the same, or worse as where he is now? Stuff like that. He got really upset and stopped talking and finally said simply "ok". Then I said please don't be angry with me, ok, this is about my own issues, not anything to do with you or wanting to be with you. He thinks because I am not leaping off the cliff without looking where I am going to land, that I do not want it like he does. I ended up feeling like I was hurting him and letting him down, while simultaneously feeling pressured to respond a certain way, because otherwise I don't love him or want us to be a family. My explaining to him that it was not him, it was my own issues, did not seem to satisfy him at all, he ended up saying he was too tired and stressed to talk any more and got off as quick as he could.

    I am so thankful we are online as in person I get even more confused, anxious, feel even more responsible etc.

    But I ended up apologizing to him for any stress/hurt I caused... that I didn't mean to, I am just afraid and anxious and, well, neurotic, I guess.

    But I realize from my appointment today, I am feeling responsible again, in fact if we were not on the computer my fix-it-at-all-costs and fear of abandonment would have kicked in.

    As it was, I ended up feeling responsible for his feelings and reactions to what I was saying. I felt so guilty I apologized to him for hurting/stressing him but it occurs to me I am really apologizing for having feelings, and it is not as if he apologized to me for my stress. (Don't really expect him to.) I was feeling pressured already now I feel even more so.

    He left me and it's like at first he was all trying to make up for it but now he's more sure of my love the dynamics have changed again and what I really need is to learn to trust him again. It is like that no longer exists and we are back to pre-breakup status. But if I say that now, I am more likely to just increase his point of view that I don't really want this as much as he does.

    I keep repeating in my head, I am not responsible, I am not responsible, I am not responsible. You would think not being responsible for a person's reactions to you would be not so difficult, especially since I tried to reassure him it was not about him. Yet I still FEEL very much responsible, I feel like I should be begging him to forgive me (even if I would not do it exactly like that).

    My therapist pointed out I cannot control how he reacts or what he does. But I know I have "influence" so that makes me feel responsible because I have something no one else does. Like with my dad. So I can't control him taking it how he does. But I still feel absolutely horrible for hurting him. I feel like it is my fault he is hurt by me. I feel responsible for the pain I have caused.

    Seems like lately I have been realizing how I feel like EVERYTHING is my fault or my responsibility. I've been this way so long I never thought there was anything not right about it. It just seemed normal. Now I see it isn't, but I don't know how to stop feeling this way. It is like I feel like I have to apologize for my very existence, my thoughts, my feelings, my reactions. I feel like it isn't even OK to be me.

    But it is easier to feel responsible and like it is my fault than to really feel like the fault lies with those that hurt me. It's the devil I know. And the alternative is a world of pain.

    But then, so is feeling responsible and wrong and to blame, and feeling afraid and pressured and guilty and bad about myself, feeling a sense of panic every time someone gets upset with me. Feeling wrong for existing and for feeling and for being. Being so terrified of being abandoned and having someone upset with me, I'll do pretty much anything to make it stop.

    I wish I could figure out how I am supposed to learn not to feel "responsible" when it is so deeply ingrained in me.

    Somehow, even my current life, all leads back to my being abused and the way that made me. And it made me wrong :(
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  2. maddog

    maddog VIP Member

    Oh Phoenix... damit, this post made me cry, I mean really, really cry.

    Your entire post, particularly your last 5 paragraphs, could be the story of my entire existence. I guess I knew others felt this way, but not to the extent that I do, which sounds silly and kind of egocentric, but truly I don't think I'd ever stopped to realise that others could actually feel it as I do.

    I'm so sorry... wish I knew what to say, but I am so deeply in the place that you are that I don't know that there is possibly anything, other than pure empathy and understanding, that I could offer.

    Of course it's easy for me, as an outsider to your situation who is always better at giving than taking advice, to emphasise that you are absolutely not responsible for his actions, or ultimately for his wellbeing. There is a line between support and responsibility, and while it's apparently difficult to find, it's clearly defined, and it's critical.

    But breaking those ingrained neural pathways that enforce our role as that of caretaker and protector is maybe one of the hardest battles we will ever wage. And yes, when you do in fact fulfil a function to the other person that apparently cannot be filled in any other way or by any other person, it's even harder to tell yourself that your ultimate responsibility is only to yourself.

    I was raised to believe that everything was my fault, that nothing I ever did for anyone else was good enough and that my two siblings, in particular, were my responsibility to protect. All these years later the burden of that belief feels insufferable, and yet is one which I cannot cast off

    I'm sorry Phoenix, I'm just rambling really, probably too upset to offer anything much else, but please know that I hear you, and ache with you, and wish there was an easy way clear.

    Sending you a hug, which is about all I have.

    Maddog
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  3. Meadowsweet

    Meadowsweet VIP Member Premium Member

    I relate to this alot. But sadly, I feel we put ourselves at risk from people who can use those guilt feelings to get their own way, or who need others to take responsibility for their actions.
  4. Eleanor

    Eleanor VIP Member Premium Member

    Maybe this will help:

    Lets make a distinction between
    being responsible (as in culpable)
    feeling guilt (which is a feeling that is appropriate when we've done something bad, to give us a wake up call that we should correct it.)
    feeling concern/worry (which is a feeling that makes sense when someone we care about is in distress)
    being response-able (as in having the power/skill/ability to deal with the situation effectively)
    and having control (being able to directly change something at will.)

    So first, you cannot be responsible for something you do not have control over.
    You do not have control over other people's feelings (just as they do not have control over yours) You cannot MAKE anyone feel anything (other than physical pain if you assault them.)

    Thus you cannot be responsible (culpable) for how other people feel in response to you/your actions. It just doesn't make any sense. Can you "make" someone fall in love with you? No. Can you "Make" someone angry? No. You could give them opportunities to respond in those ways, but whether they do or not is not up to you.

    Human beings are responsible for their own feelings. At our best we can be response-able to each other in ways that help each other be the best people we can. Lots of people get confused and come to believe they are responsible for other people's feelings -our language is misleading and sucks us into this as when we say things like "You made me angry when you..." But of course, anger is only one possible response to anything. The accurate thing to say would be "When you did X, I felt angry." What causes the anger is the belief that the angry person has - the context that he interprets X in. So it is just False to assert that "X made you angry". To the degree that you are in control of your thoughts - you are in control of your anger/feelings (provided you are not off on the involuntary rollercoaster ride of something like PTSD - which is part of what makes it an illness/disfunction!

    It is totally appropriate to feel concern or worry when our loved ones are upset - and to want to be able to respond to their feelings in a good way. It is right to cultivate the capacities to respond wisely and well. But none of that makes any guilt for their feelings appropriate. This is a major boundary issue - your responsibility for me stops where my own responsibility for me begins. Our ability to respond well and wisely to each other is proportional to each of our abilities to manage ourselves.

    We should be concerned about each other. We should strive to respond well, and to increase our capacity to do so. But those things are hampered when we muddle the boundaries and internalize a belief that we have control over things we do not have control over (e.g. other people's feelings).

    This is really tough stuff - especially when some demented evil person goes out of their way to teach a child to be confused about these things, and they internalize it. I am not sure how to re-route the emotional response - or if - if the conceptual stuff gets sorted out - the emotions just follow. I hope this made sense...I am totally certain it is true. And NONE OF YOU are in the least responsible for how anyone else feels. You are responsible for your thoughts and actions and THAT IS IT.

    End of sermon.:geek:
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  5. maddog

    maddog VIP Member

    Brilliant sermon Eleanor, couldn't imagine a better and truer way of saying it all.

    Thank you - it doesn't solve the problem of course to see it so clearly articulated, but somehow there is peace in knowing that it *can* be explained in some way.

    Maddog
  6. Phoenix_Rising

    Phoenix_Rising Well-Known Member

    Thank you Eleanor, that really does make so much sense. I find that very helpful. It's true as you say, because in my "family of origin" I was taught I WAS responsible for others' feelings, and you cannot believe one without believing that others' emotions or behaviours cause yours--which is probably why when someone else gets really upset and stressed, my mood is typically affected by theirs.

    Of course it gets muddled up a bit when you start talking about trauma and PTSD because I don't think (lol) anyone picks THAT.

    But I go through life with no idea what psychological, emotional, mental boundaries are, the others are much easier to identify.

    And I honestly wonder if he knows he does this. Because he is a very self responsible person, (I actually learned a lot from him in our relationship because whenever we got in a fight, he would be mad, but his response would be "what did I do? how did I contribute to this situation?" not blaming me.) He also does not use depression or being suicidal to guilt me into anything, that is just *my* response to it, that I feel responsible because only I in his life can "help".

    As for the other, the way he gets upset with me when he doesn't like what I have to say... and gets so hurt, I don't know. If I said anything, him being a lawyer, I am certain I would end up seeing his point, lol. If I had to guess I would say that he is willing to sacrifice for people whom he loves, and when others don't respond the same, he feels unloved and questions whether or not that person really loves him at all. Which yes, would be his stuff.

    I guess I have trouble drawing a line between what is his and what is mine--well, what is anybody's and what is mine, I just soak up everyone's else's psychological crap like a sponge. As if I do not have enough of my own :rolleyes: He has not messaged me today so I am guessing he is still upset and hurt. Which I will not lie, leaves me feeling very stressed.

    But clearly this is an issue I have to work on... and thank you for putting it out in a way that makes a lot of sense.

    ((((Maddog)))) Happy I'm not alone in this boat, but sorry you have to be in here with me. It helps a lot just to know someone else can relate and understands. You have a lot of compassion and empathy and that goes a long way when I am hurting and confused.

    Thank you also Meadowsweet, that is very true, although I can honestly say that I don't think I have "put myself" in any sense in any guilt inducing situations... But that is mainly because I have never gotten out of one so I have no comprehension what being out of one would be like... Which I'd need to know before I could make a choice about being IN one. I just wouldn't recognize it.

    But I don't *think* my partner is that way... He has his dysfunctional behaviours, and I have difficulty stopping "what is not ok for me" which is basically what you are talking about (I think), setting other types of boundaries, getting my needs met, and so on. But I don't think either of us guilt trips the other for the express purpose of trying to get what we want. Unfortunately, that just makes the situation more unclear, if he were the type of person to use this as a method of getting what he wants, (being suicidal) it would be easier for me to identify that as his dysfunctional behaviour.

    I am a little confused about his reactions to my reactions. Unfortunately THAT does work, and very well. I used to think it was because I was bad and wrong, now I am beginning to see that he has some issues at play here too. I'm just unsure of whether they are dysfunctional or not, or whether he is even aware of what he is doing (besides just being hurt, which you pretty much can't have a relationship without that happening, and most of the time, the hurt is non-intentional, unless you are a particularly unhealthy human being). So I'm not really sure there who is responsible for what or why.

    Like for instance, as I mentioned above, if it is that he sacrifices for those he loves, and can't understand why I would not want to do anything to be together, even if it is difficult, and wonders then if I really love him (because I handle things differently than he does) does that mean I have contributed to the problem by behaving in an unloving manner? I guess, Eleanor, that goes back to what you said about my not being able to control his own thoughts/feelings--but it still leaves me conflicted about whether or not I am contributing to the fact those thoughts and feelings are there. If that makes any sense at all, which at this point I am not even sure of that, LOL. Or is it a control thing? Or do I just experience it that way because of my own past? (Very controlling parents.) I just end up even more confused about mine vs. his.

    The only thing I am clear on, is, this is definitely something I have to work on in myself, because it is like some cancer eating away at my soul, and makes normal, healthy relationships impossible. (To my best understanding of what those are, lol).

    Anyway thank you all, everything you have said brings up some very good points.

    And thank you, Eleanor, for the well-written "sermon" LOL.
  7. LittleBear

    LittleBear New Member

    Pardon me for not reading all of this threads content as the season also compresses my time but your opening statement pretty much called a cake a cake, so to speak, and said it all. I have blamed myself also all my life until just recently for my Mom's death from cancer over forty years ago. It's an issue of anyone such as yourself and others that simply have the emotional sophistication to give a cat's scat about those around us, even strangers. By caring and feeling compelled to help you're not flawed you're closer to being the noble person lauded by poets and philosophers. Don't fault yourself because you're a rare and special person.

    LBear
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  8. Phoenix_Rising

    Phoenix_Rising Well-Known Member

    It's funny you should say that LittleBear... He tells me that same thing all the time--that I am the most amazing and compassionate woman he has ever met. And that if I had not gone through all I have gone through that I would not be the person I am today, a person capable of dealing with the issues he comes with (ie. kids with disabilities, both of us having chronic pain, him suffering from insomnia, fatigue, getting sick easily, having kidney stones... etc and so on).

    LOL I love your phrase "give a cat's scat" made me laugh, too funny.

    Thank you for another refreshing perspective :)

    It is good to be able to see a balance of the good and the bad when working through these things.
  9. sterre

    sterre VIP Member Premium Member

    Oh my, Eleanor and Rising Phoenix, you just solved something big here for me!!!
    ( now hopefully I can remember it when neccesary:oops:)

    I was taught too, that I was responsible for how others in my family felt.
    I was responible for the misery my mother felt.
    It was always a responsibility that was outside themselves, so therefor it was the responsibility of us, the kids, how my parents/mother felt.

    My mother still does that. She still blames other people for how she feels.

    It solves the mystery of why I feel guilty very quickly and I always feel responsible for almost everything that happens around me.


    Thanks for this insightfull thread!:tup:
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  10. LittleBear

    LittleBear New Member

    Michaelangelo considered every one of his most treasured works as complete failures. Many of the people that have blessed our World with their contributions only get momentary solace from their contributions and achievements but soon fall into a, "I could have done better." depression.

    Caring, consideration and compassion are double edged swords and the one thing I have started to learn going through the darkened forest of my personal PTSD journey is that perfection is rarely obtainable and certainly not 100% of the time. I've had to teach myself to try to be excellent and that the perfect way to go perfectly insane is to try to be perfectly perfect.

    This may sound strange but be very careful of the possible consequences of your caring. Don't quit caring and you won't because it's what makes you so special and loved by those who are unselfish enough to appreciate you. That said...appreciate and love yourself, too. That's the hardest thing it seems to learn.

    LBear
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  11. Maze

    Maze VIP Member Premium Member

    Wow, this is exactly the sort of stuff I am processing right now. It is hard to let go of the feeling you are responsible for other people's bad stuff. It is like an illusion. My family was a like a magic show, because they kept making believe I had some sort of magic to stop them from their abusive behavior.

    Responsibility can get drilled into you for years and years. It is like they blur the boundaries and it becomes unhealthy. They say "You can never let go of the responsiblity of being responsible for my bad behavior, because I could never take on the responsiblity I own for it or I would die and you would kill me." or something similar. Over and over and over again like a bad record.
    Eleanor likes this.
  12. Eleanor

    Eleanor VIP Member Premium Member

    The problem with PTSD (ok, ONE of the problems:)) is that it generates extremely strong emotions that are out of sync with time. They WERE appropriate - when the trauma happened - and now they are just banging around in people's heads, screwing up their lives when they are not called for. Or that's how it seems to me from the outside.

    Thank Heavens for that!!!!

    We all get upset at what other people say sometimes, and other times we don't, right? For myself, I only get upset when I am somehow "invested" in what they are saying - so when I feel like I have to be right, or that if they have a certain belief it effects our relationship or something like that. Other times - when someone I don't know says something bad about me - I just don't care. So? Occasionally when my husband is in an episode he will say something that is SO totally off base and detached from reality that it is just confusing - and not really hurtful. "You never listen to what I say!" Huh? I can be accused (with some justice) of many things - but this is a real stretch. So it doesn't "hit" me the same way. So this has turned out to be a very good (if decidedly painful) way of finding what my insecurities are. Sucks. But there is it. I'd prefer email.:D

    It is good to see other people's points. And it is necessary not to lose track of your own perspective. So "perspective switching" is a good skill to develop to a very high degree in my book.

    I also have had trouble figuring out what feelings are mine and what are other people's. I "pick up" other's feelings to a huge degree. I really only started sorting it out in my 30's. What helped a lot (in my 40's) was starting to do yoga and a meditation practice. I can't tell you WHY it helped - only that my-my feelings seemed different than my-other people's feelings.

    Sometimes - ok - always for me - if I name what I am feeling out loud - and then say what the belief is that is "driving" that feeling - it eases up. And I very often find I have extremely weird and out there ideas driving my feelings. I could do this more.

    If you are only "a little confused" you are way ahead of the game! The same rules apply here. You get to be responsible for your feelings (which you CAN do something about in the normal way of things - but it takes TIME. Like 20 minutes for a medium strong emotion to clear... in the absence of thoughts that retrigger it.) He gets to be responsible for his. The trick for me is to stay conscious of what I am feeling, and figure out if I am capable of handling what is happening now. If not - I'd best leave. "I'm sorry I can't talk to you right now. I am feeling overwhelmed, and I need to settle down before we continue." That's what I HOPE I say... sometimes it comes out pretty different tho :roflmao:.

    Here is my definition of sacrifice: trading the lesser good for the greater.

    So sacrifice and love are related, but not the same thing. If you feel you can't/don't want to do something - that is not, in itself, unloving. Love does not demand that we sacrifice (trade) our concern for ourselves! What could such a trade accomplish? And why would anyone who loved us knowingly ask such a thing? Love seeks to freely meet needs of the other person without doing injury to yourself and vice versa. It is, as my H says, a dance. If somebody's toes are getting stepped on... there is a problem!

    I have noticed that we have a culture which is super amazingly over the top oblivious to people's needs. Particularly their emotional needs. I have to look up lists on the internet to remember them :confused: Seriously. I
    can keep track of the basics (sleep, food, shelter, that kind of thing) but things like "affirmation" "connection" "beauty" or "fun" I can't recall... There are a lot. So part of the dance is figuring out what needs are "up" and how to get everyone's needs met in a willing, healthy way. I can't always do it, but it does help to figure out what needs are at play.

    So true. It is not sustainable. No one can be constantly worried about EVERYONE's feelings. It is too much. It just eats you up. And we know what comes after that....You get spit out. ick.

    The thing is that there are SO MANY opportunities to help others around us, and very often we get good results when it is a little thing - that we get fooled into continuing to believe we do have more control than we do AND we get rewarded for those little successes - so we miss the big picture and the ultimate cost until we are... spit-up. It IS a virtue to be concerned about others - but we can't fail to care for ourselves at the same time.
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  13. Eleanor

    Eleanor VIP Member Premium Member

    OMG LBear - what an awful burden to carry all those years. I am so relieved for you that you have put it down! As if anyone could give someone else cancer! And think of all the millions of dollars and people's whole professional lives spent just to try to get a cure for one kind of cancer... Forty years ago, no one had a clue. How horrible for you to have labored with this. And how wonderful you are now free of it!

    Well said!
    I'd rather say "strongly motivated" than "compelled" for literal meaning, but it Sounds much better your way!

    Can't figure out how to quote your next post too....

    Anyway, totally 100% well said in the next one too. "taking care of ourselves..." SOOO True.
  14. LittleBear

    LittleBear New Member

    Well, I did something nice for someone today and my scat stinking PTSD anxiety makes me feel like I am going to be punished horribly for it. Carp...carp...carp.

    LBear
  15. Eleanor

    Eleanor VIP Member Premium Member

    This kind of thing just won't do.....

    (Putting on my Doctor Of Philosophy and Master of Divinity hats) In a sonorous voice: "Carping Voices of LittleBear! I command you to be silent. Voices of gratitude and satisfaction: AWAKE! Do your job!"

    (Pant pant pant from effort.) Hope that helps:D!
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  16. LittleBear

    LittleBear New Member

    Thanks Eleanor.

    Trying to hang in there but last night was one long continuous nightmare video. Even after waking up a couple of times it was like walking back into the haunted house when I fell back to sleep. Getting through this is going to take a long time as things from my childhood past are now bubbling to the surface. I am hurting so badly and I am starting to think that there may never be a chance for me to recover from the beatings, neglect, and ridicule.

    Thank-you for your blessing but God abandoned me before I was born.

    LBear
  17. TLight

    TLight VIP Member

    I hear ya.
  18. kimba

    kimba Well-Known Member Premium Member

    Finding this thread helpful-thanks all!
  19. LittleBear

    LittleBear New Member

    I just had the living cat scat scared out of me. There's a drive-thru restaurant here I just came back from that the pedestrian sidewalk steps right into the drive-thru traffic. There's a pretty long run to get out of the parking lot and the sidewalk curb is the curb for the drive-thru. Thank-God I've learned a long time ago to drive with my foot on the brake when in a parking lot. This is an absolute blind corner. I was leaving and a woman carrying a baby steps out in front of me and God as my witness I stopped less than a foot and a half-from her. I had to go back thru the drive-thru for something else and told the attendants about the dangerous situation and they were all, "Not our problem; we have a sign that says "Watch for pedestrians."" They acted like I was an idiot for even caring. Then on the way home some "I gotta be first." personality flat ran through a stop sign because he would have had to wait for me if he had slowed down more than just touching his brakes.

    This is the second time something like this happened in the last month. A little girl ran out in front of me about a month ago from between two parked cars and if I hadn't had my foot on the brake I'd have hit her.

    Thing was I ran the errand for my Wife because I had to get out of the house because the 'cabin fever' was keeping me in a pre-occupied state of mind and keyed up.

    I want to move somewhere where they have to air drop the mail every other week.

    God I need some peace.

    LBear
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  20. Phoenix_Rising

    Phoenix_Rising Well-Known Member

    LittleBear,

    Well thank goodness for those children and people that are such a conscientious driver and person.

    That is terrible, and equally so is the fact that there are so many people in the world who lack basic compassion and thought for others. To me, it seems more and more that people simply do not see anyone beyond the scope of their own lives. If they are doing well, well, people who aren't, simply must have done something wrong along the way. And if it does not affect them, why should they care?

    I relate about your childhood and doing something nice as well. I was feeling the exact same way at Christmas, I tried to do the right thing, and be nice, and just ended up feeling horrible about myself for it.

    I just tried later, even though unfortunately it did not help so much with the emotional aspect of it, to remind myself, that regardless of how I felt or how other people reacted, I still did the right thing.

    As for the childhood stuff... wish I had the answer, every time I end up finding something out in therapy I didn't know before, it just makes me feel I have so much farther to go than I thought I did.

    But you aren't alone, ((((HUGS)))) if you want them. I hope you get some peace too... I wouldn't mind a little new year's peace myself.

    Hang in there, it will get better (I at least can tell you that, having gone through many periods of processing trauma in my life).

    Rising_Phoenix
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  21. LittleBear

    LittleBear New Member

    Thank-you Rising...Phoenix and a hug back. This type event and the majority of the events in my life that have more than several times turned out to be horribly tragic through no fault of my own have got me so goofy I'm getting terrified to even be hopeful to try and recover. I just want to hide but obviously that's not a life. Unfortunately, I was raised that all tragedies are a result of my carelessness even though I couldn't possibly have been at fault.

    The other and even more damnable aspect is that I was raised in a very strict and dominating religion that taught us that if we are suffering it's because God is punishing us for doing something wrong. My poor Brother is still trying to negotiate with God by going to church everyday and praying for several hours a day.

    I remember one of my second grade teachers, and that was 50 years ago, telling the class that we suffered because we hadn't suffered enough. The only way to relieve your own suffering was to sacrifice yourself for others.

    I am not trying to sound selfish or advocating that but I've got to develop a sense of real self-worth that was robbed from me as a child by ridicule and beatings for not being in a lock step with the rest of my human environment.

    Thanks again...

    LBear
  22. Phoenix_Rising

    Phoenix_Rising Well-Known Member

    I have some understanding of the religious issues you bring up (thankfully not my own, for once). My partner's abusive/alcoholic family was "saved" when he was 15 and his parents became, and still are to this day, devout Christians (I have lately come to see what the so-called most "devout" Christians in his family are like, and it sure does not strike me as how you should behave or treat others, he is the most compassionate one of the bunch of them). He was raised that way and believes in it.

    But he has had a lot of struggles, trauma, and tragedy in his life. His "Christian" family's attitude?

    Well, the bad things that have happened to him in his life are his own fault, because they made good decisions and he didn't. As a result, that is why bad things happened to him and not to them. They lived right, practiced their religion correctly, made the right choices, and as a result, God blessed them.

    That the things happened to him were his fault, are absolute nonsense. His mother's reaction, after this rejection and judgement from his other family members was, "well, if you really want things to change, you will start going to church."

    In other words, not only do they think his life is his fault, but God does, too, and is punishing him for it.

    I cannot believe the cruelty in that, and they do not see it. Now he is a mixed up mess between questioning his faith in God, his pain at their rejection and lack of recognition of how hard he has worked to be a better person, and wondering if it really is all his fault, because he wasn't a good enough Christian.

    He prays every day, and he is a good person, and helps others. He lives his life that way, the only thing he does not do is go to church. Yet he feels like a failure.

    Now he is afraid TO go to church, because, even if he wanted to, if things get better, it means it was his fault, and if it doesn't he has to question his faith entirely. Either way it shakes him down to his very foundation.

    THIS is what people use religion to do to their children? It's a double bind, the choices he made, such as to have his children, and as many as he had, were because "birth control is a sin", and he and his wife were trying to do the Christian thing. 2 of the 5 living children have autism and one died at birth from severe spina bifida. So because of that, it is all his fault whatever the consequences of that were. But if he & she had chosen to use birth control, or his wife have an abortion, well his parents would have had a stroke. You just can't win.

    My feeling on this is, if you are going to believe in God, believe in a loving and compassionate one. Because frankly, if there is one there, and he/she/it is punitive and hateful, and has no capacity for love and mercy, all of us humans are screwed anyway and hell is going to be one overpopulated place. It really will not matter whether we have gone to church (or whatever), if trying to be a good person and live a good life to the best of our ability is not enough. And I can't imagine how going TO church, but being heartless and judgemental and hurtful in life, is going to get you into the pearly gates, and if it does, do I really want to be there?

    So I understand how you and your brother can be struggling as a result of this. I think doing this to kids is despicable and cruel.
  23. Phoenix_Rising

    Phoenix_Rising Well-Known Member

    P.S. To anyone who is reading this and a practicing Christian, I am not saying ALL families, or Christians, are like this. My daughter's best friend comes from one such family, and I think they are a very good example of how to raise your children or practice your faith in your life.

    What I am saying is, if you are going to do it (raise your kids that way), you should do it right, and be able to practice that in a healthy way yourself.
  24. dmeadz

    dmeadz New Member

    I am going to speak to my therapist today about this very post. I have a real conflict with this particular question. Others aren't responsible for my feelings, I can get behind that on one level. However, when someone says something abusive or hurtful, especially someone you know intimately and they are in a place of trust in your perceptions, then their actions can at the very least greatly influence how I feel. Right? In my opinion, they are culpable for how I feel if they've said something that clearly pushes a button they know has not been addressed properly.

    Let's say someone tells me that my joking around about their current weight situation, even though they started the joking, is pushing a button for them. I've continually joked about it over a period of time. They let me know and I now know they are upset and pledge to make a better use of my actions. Now, let's say this joking is so well ingrained in our interactions that I forget and start to make the joke again. They get upset, again, and now I actually must take responsibility for making them feel bad/pushing their buttons. Is that not correct? I wasn't being response-able in handling the situation. And as a result, I'm responsible (culpable) for how that person now feels in response to what I said.
  25. Eleanor

    Eleanor VIP Member Premium Member

    dmeadz, your analysis sounds dead on to me. So the next step is to try to make up for the hurt in whatever way is possible and appropriate and to try to talk through supporting each other in not playing out this dynamic in the future. Changing habits is a process, and it takes several trials to get it right - that's just the reality. The upside is that it can be very affirming to have someone actively trying to change for You.

    The thing is that responsibility is not a zero sum game - that is, two people can EACH be 100% responsible for a situation. It's not a pie that gets divided up 60/40 or something. So the other person needs to be conscious of how they contributed to this situation, take responsibility for their response to the well intentioned teasing, and help break the pattern. Hope that doesn't muddy the waters too much...
    Junebug likes this.

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