When I write down my stories and read them back to myself, they sound bad. If a different person somewhere in the world had stories exactly like mine and one day told her stories to me, I would feel sorry for her. I would understand if that person were sad or angry or had problems dealing with her life. But I don’t feel that way about myself. When I think of something that happened to me, something that still hurts and affects me, I tell myself impatiently, “it wasn’t that bad.”
My parents had a bad fight when I was nine. My brother and I snuck in to watch. They were in the living room. She was lying on the floor. He was sitting on her. His hands were around her neck, pushing down hard. The memory is fuzzy right after that. Maybe my dad noticed we were watching and decided to let her go. My mom got up and ran out. It was dark. It was raining. It was muddy outside. I felt guilty for being warm and dry when my mom was cold and wet, so I grabbed her coat and ran to her. I walked around in the rain for a long time trying to find her. When I found her, I gave her the coat and walked away. Taking her a coat was all I could do to fix it.
My mom and I had a bad fight years later. Before I knew what was happening, I was lying on the floor. She was sitting on me. Her hands were moving toward my neck and I thought back to that rainy night. This is what that must have felt like, I thought. She put her hands not around my neck, but a few inches higher. Her hands went around my chin and pushed down hard. My dad had given her something she didn’t know what to do with. She couldn’t keep it forever and she didn’t know how to get rid of it, so she tried to give it to me. The look in her eyes and the fury in her screams told me that more than anything at that moment; she wished she could kill me. If she could kill me she could be better; she could be happy and free. I felt guilty for being happy and free when my mom was burdened with so much pain. I didn’t want to die, but at that moment I wished the consequences would be removed from her so she could do it. So I took her pain and wrapped it up. I pushed it down deep inside myself and kept it for her. I still have it. Taking her pain was all I could do to fix it.
When you start keeping pain that belongs to other people, it’s hard to stop. When something goes wrong, I take the blame. It’s the game I play. I’ve gotten so used to it, that the pain almost feels good. At least it feels familiar. Blame feels like a burning on the skin of my arms and chest. It feels like a punch in the stomach. Not taking the blame feels scary and unpredictable. Taking the blame feels safe.
Now God wants me to stop playing the Blame game. He is asking too much of me. I don’t know how, and to be honest I’m not sure I want to. I don’t believe I can do it. It’s more than I have to give. I’m terrified of the pain inside of me. I want it safely wrapped away; pushed down where it can’t hurt anyone but me. I can handle it. I’m used to it. It’s no big deal. It’s not that bad.