Blame-shifting. Reversing cause and effect. Responsibility avoidance. Projecting. If you’ve chronically been the target of them, this one’s for you. My heart breaks for you.
I’ve seen how the simple can be made so complicated by the one who stands to gain from smoke and mirrors, so let’s be crystal clear about the justification of such shifty tactics….
WHEN THEY IMPLIED THEIR ONLY OPTION WAS TO:
Escalate to loudness, name-calling or character assassination when upset. It wasn’t.
Give you the silent treatment. It wasn’t.
Repeat childhood trauma patterns instead of overcome them. It wasn’t.
Lie. It wasn’t.
Throw an emotional or physical fit when they didn’t get their way. It wasn’t.
Never truly resolve disagreements, anger or episodes but, instead, insist you act like they never happened. It wasn’t.
Silence you when they didn’t like the content of your speech or mind. It wasn’t.
Look out for number one first (or only) while calling you selfish. It wasn’t.
Throw you a bone only when they didn’t care about that particular bone. It wasn’t.
Tell you they knew what your words meant better than you did. It wasn’t.
Interpret a harmless question as an attack and defend themself by attacking you. It wasn’t.
See virtually everything and everyone as a threat and live with a get-them-before-they-get-you posture. It wasn’t.
Be indifferent. It wasn’t.
Not care about the feedback that they were hurting you. It wasn’t.
Find a way to make you pay them back quadruple for any small kindness, yanking that attached string until it strangled your vibrancy. It wasn’t.
Remind you that you’re unbearable and cumbersome if you express valid needs. It wasn’t.
Never care to get to know your heart. It wasn’t.
Never pay voluntary attention to you unless something was in it for them. It wasn’t.
Fake and announce their own goodwill to cover ulterior motives. It wasn’t.
Avoid real accountability by maligning or shunning anyone trying to offer it. It wasn’t.
Stay stuck in old patterns. It wasn’t.
Turn on a dime to nastiness or punishment when displeased but be sweet as punch during a good mood or to get out of trouble. It wasn’t.
Hurt you to dull or avenge their own pain, even when it had nothing to do with you. It wasn’t.
IF THEY TRULY WANTED TO LOVE YOU, THEY COULD HAVE ACTUALLY:
Not done any of that with regularity and sans remorse (evidenced by no significant change over time). Absolutely none.
Asked clarifying questions instead of reacting aggressively. They could have done that.
Listened until they understood what you meant to say. Could’ve done that.
Done the work to find out why they feel like the world is against them. And that.
Talked problems through like an adult. Yep, that.
Controlled their emotions instead of being controlled by them. That, too.
Stayed calm. For example, that.
Handled the disappointments that come with life in productive, not destructive, ways. That.
Solved problems instead of thriving on drama. A relief, that.
Not violated your boundaries no matter what. Healthy, that.
Not degraded your value. Most importantly, that.
Not dismissed your existence. Essential, that.
Spoken to you even when they experienced something or felt a feeling they didn’t like. Definitely that.
Grown up. (It’s hard in today’s age but) yes, even that.
Not thought of themselves more highly than they ought. Very Biblical, that.
Given you preference sometimes, even if it was a sacrifice. Genuine love, that.
Given you more than the scraps from the table of their life. Since you’re not a dog, that.
Told the truth even when it’s hard. Such is life, that.
Recognized your right to be an individual with your own mind and mouth. Freedom, that.
Learned kindness. Not so hard, that.
Been willing to authentically question whether they were wrong about anything and change. Humility, that.
Researched empathy development. Learnable, that?
Felt and dealt with pain without taking it out on you. Only fair, that.
Testified to things that happened as they really did instead of how it was advantageous to remember them. Not bearing false witness, that.
And that and that and that…. There are so many possible that’s.
They could have chosen any of the that’s to handle life and you in a different way. Remember, dear soul, there are (the majority of) people who expect themselves at every moment of every day to do the that’s and never be cruel—big cruel or little cruel.
So the person coming to mind for you right now…they simply didn’t have to mistreat you. Just because they convinced you (or themself) that they couldn’t help it or it wasn’t wrong (and being convincing is the specialty of the responsibility avoidant), that doesn’t make it true. And just because someone told you that your only option was to stay in there close and try harder to stop them from doing what they never ever had to do in the first place (not once), that doesn’t mean you needed to. It just means that a lot of wrong ideas and actions will never add up to a right result, and some people misinterpret God and/or don’t believe in boundaries and/or get manipulated by these folks at the expense of the innocent and/or just get sidetracked trying to save the one who doesn’t want saving instead of offering real help to the victim.
Today, please be reminded and reinforced of what’s so easy to forget in the middle of a mental-manipulation storm. You can believe the evidence of real reality—not twisted accusations—when you’re accused of doing the very thing that’s, in fact, being done to you. You’re never to blame for anyone’s behavior but your own. You don’t need to provide a safe space for someone to carry out ongoing disregard for your safety. You can unapologetically wear your boldest boundary-setting hat so that natural consequences burden exactly the right back (namely, not yours, and that’s the loving thing to do for them and you). Each adult can reasonably be expected to be a responsible grown up without being repeatedly requested to do so by you.
Know confidently and thoroughly that each person has an equal opportunity to unpack their personal baggage instead of throwing the whole lot of it at your face (or worse, your heart) with the battle cry, “You deserved that!” And if you try to hand it back graciously, and they chuck it again harder with an even louder slur, you’ve definitely found yourself a dangerous one who’s unwilling to take responsibility for numero uno.
So today, declare with clarity: They didn’t have to do any of it, that oh-so-poor interpersonal behavior. They had a choice, like everyone else on earth. They had a choice all along. It was, in fact, always 100% optional.
With Hope & Heart in Hand,
Presented by Writer’s Block Prose, LLC