I was his scapegoat.
Whenever anything in his life went wrong, he managed to twist it around in his head so that it was my fault. Even when it wasn’t. Even when it had absolutely nothing to do with me.
“I made this bad decision and it turned out to be a bad decision but it was all your fault because I asked you for advice, I asked you to tell me what to do and you wouldn’t and because you wouldn’t help me, I crumbled under the pressure and made a bad decision. This is all your fault!”
Of course, the alternative was much easier — “You told me to do that and I did it and now it went all wrong and it’s all your fault because I took your advice.” — but no matter which way the dice rolled, everything was my fault.
And when it wasn’t my fault, it was the kids’ fault. Yes, you heard that right. Every thing they damaged or broke, they did it on purpose just to make his life more difficult. Everything from Gina’s collision with a deer to the window risers breaking after eight-year-old Ricky closing the car door.
Yes, actually, he’s really SuperRicky and could, even at the age of 8, slam a car door so hard that the window would slide down and refuse to allow the car’s electronic motor to cause the window to slide back up! Clearly, I should have named him BamBam.
Looking back, it’s all pretty ridiculous. Not so much when you’re living right in the middle of it. Probably the best think I can say about my response to this ridiculousness is that I tried my best to protect my children from the damage of this stuff (with marginal success). Unfortunately, in protecting them, I often neglected myself.
Yesterday, betternotbroken asked:
So how has your life experience or escape from hell helped you assist others? How do you coach others find health and self-love? Or do you sit back and watch the show on the bench?
My answer: It hasn’t because I don’t.
Well, let me backpeddle a little. My life has helped me to acquire wisdom … some. On the other hand, I hesitate to call myself wise when I let That Man do what he did to me and my family, without me even realizing what was going on until after he was gone. And I think that most of my interpersonal insight doesn’t even come from him so much as it comes from the things I have learned about myself — because the most important thing I have learned about myself is that I’m not better than anybody and I’m not in a position to pass judgement.
That said …
It would be untrue for me to say that there is nobody in my entire world who couldn’t use a bit of run-screaming-from-the-room, anti-abuse coaching. But I also know that, if I shoved my oar in where it hadn’t been invited, then I’m not coaching. I’m fixing. And that means I’m being intrusive and managing and controlling and codependent and irresponsible.
Sometimes, it’s really hard for me to keep my mouth shut. But, if I’m honest, I can see that some people simply are not going to learn anything at all from me. If they’re lucky, they will learn it from life. If they’re not lucky, they won’t learn it at all and their lives will be trashed.
That’s not to say that I sit around thinking “pass the popcorn” when somebody I care about is letting themselves be abused. It’s just that I am aware of my limitations. Maybe I’ll get a chance to help down the road. Meanwhile, I’ll be here when they need me and I’ll be here when they think they don’t.
And I guess there’s something else, too.
I spent 27 years being his scapegoat. I’m not going to go there again, not if I can help it.