Blaming Ourselves for Our Loved Ones’ Addictions
Blaming ourselves for other people’s struggles and problems is a trap many of us fall into. We feel responsible for their happiness and wellness. We feel it must have been something we did or said, or something we didn’t do or say, that caused their issues. This is a very unhealthy thing we do, that can impact both us and the other person negatively. We take on responsibility that is not ours to shoulder, and we absolve them of taking that responsibility themselves.
We tend to blame ourselves for our loved ones’ pain because it’s so overwhelming, so debilitating that we feel we need to find a reason for it, a cause behind it, some way to explain or justify it. We’re desperate to make sense of it. We don’t know how to come to terms with it. We don’t want to believe that it’s an illness we had no control over or that there’s nothing we could have done, because that makes us feel powerless. When we feel powerless, we don’t know how to proceed. We don’t know how to shield our loved one from more hurt. We don’t know how to protect them.
Often this self-blame is subconscious. Consciously we know we can’t possibly be responsible for other people’s illnesses, behaviors and choices. Subconsciously, though, we fear we’re to blame. We think something we did wrong in raising our children caused them to go down this road. We think there must have been some way in which we neglected or harmed them. While it’s true our addictions and other emotional issues can be rooted in the traumas we experience, we can’t assign blame to any one person. It is usually a combination of factors that leads to addiction. It’s not only the traumatic experience but how we respond to it, or don’t respond to it, that causes us to develop the unhealthy coping mechanisms that can morph into addiction. Our addictive patterns can be the result of a combination of our environment and experiences, genetic factors, our emotional awareness, and our mental health. Trying to assign blame to ourselves for a loved one’s addiction is not seeing the whole picture of how an addiction can develop.
When we blame ourselves for a loved one’s addiction, at the root of that self-blame is often a sense of inadequacy and unworthiness in ourselves. We have to tackle these feelings head on, rather than distracting ourselves with self-blame. Also at the root of our self-blame are love, compassion and empathy. We care deeply. We can foster these feelings while shedding ourselves of our toxic, destructive, unhelpful tendencies towards blaming ourselves.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, The Beach House is here to support you. Call or text (310) 564-2761 today for more information.