Friday, November 4, 2011

The Alphabet of Common Denominators - "B"

A reader asked "what would 'B' stand for?" in a list of shared characteristics of many of us in Al-Anon. First word that sprang to my mind was: blame. Right after that, boundaries. I've written quite a few posts on the subject of boundaries, they can be found in the topics list, so I'm going to write about blame today.

I grew up in a very blaming household, and I internalised the message that whenever you're unhappy, frustrated, angry, find someone on whom you can lay the blame, and if they are within earshot, let them have it! If not, berate them vigorously behind their back.

I have a friend who is going through some problems of her own making right now, and she can't see this, yet. She will rant and rave to me about it, and if I suggest that she has the choice of changing her attitude, since she can't change the situation without making some rather drastic choices, she will reply, starting each time with those two words (which when I utilise them, I've come to realise mean I'm justifying,) "Yes, but..."
She's becoming more and more unhappy with her blaming of another person, demonising them, sliding out from under any idea that she has control over how she deals with that which she doesn't want to change. She's starting to become rather annoyed with me continuing to suggest that she adjust her attitude. I remember how irritated I became when I was new to program, and people would offer the same suggestions, and I'm swept with a powerful feeling of gratitude that they continued to repeat themselves for my good, and I repeat myself to my friend, with lashings of love and encouragement.

When I'm blaming, I can't see clearly. As MrSponsorpants writes so beautifully today, I'm determined to be a victim. When I've been in that headspace, I've been in a box of detemined misery, crunched uncomfortably in there, yelling and screaming about how miserable I am, meanwhile, I'm the one who taped the box shut from the inside, with blame.

When I'm blaming, I am handing my power, and my very life, over to another person, and saying, in effect, "You decide whether or not I have a good day, I'll wait here for your decision."

Last night, I'd made new curtains for our livingroom window, and when I brought the first one upstairs from my sewing room, my husband said, "I broke two branches off your favourite plant." I said, "Doesn't matter in the slightest; can we hang this and see if it's okay for length?"  When I went back down and was working on the second curtain, I realised that at one point in my life, I'd have been really angry with him for breaking the branches off the plant - I'd have blamed him, labelled him careless for not thinking to move it out of the way, and ruined the evening for both of us. Over a plant. That confounds and amazes me, now. I felt almost gleeful to realise that what I'd said was nothing but the truth, it hadn't mattered one little bit - such freedom! The more I seek my Higher Power, the more I feel comfortable inside my own head.

It's a signpost of how far I've come with the help of this wonderful program. Let go of blaming. Pick up the reins of your own life, and take responsibility for it - only you can change your mood. Nobody "makes me feel" anything. I feel what I feel, and then I decide whether to nurse a grievance, lay blame and stew in that poisonous feeling, or let it all go, and be happy. Lighthearted, and content. Serene. If you can't let go on your own, ask your Higher Power to take it.

Blaming others kept me feeling victimised and desperately unhappy.  When I stepped back from that, looked at it, and decided to go another, more loving way, I was rewarded with serenity and peace. The more often I chose this way, the less of a choice it became.


  1. That's good. I like it. Blame, whether we blame others or blame ourselves we do get vision-impaired.

    Are you going to keep going down the alphabet? =)

  2. Your post is so timely. I've been in that victim space today and just got back from a meeting which helped me turn down the volume of the stories I tell in my head.

    If I could just really believe that I'm OK, just as I am. God grant me the serenity...

  3. I really have to work at not blaming or judging. Thankfully, I don't relapse much. I do my best to be compassionate and understanding.

  4. Wonderful comment about the broken plant. How refreshing it is to remember to think about what is really important today for today's sake. It's amazing how the old feelings of being lonely, bitter and a victim go away with the presence of a Higher Power and the Al Anon groups.