SCAPEGOAT: a person or group made to bear the blame for others or to suffer in their place.
The truth is we all do it. Sometimes it is so painfully obvious and ludicrous. You know what I mean: as when a man shouts at his wife that “you made me do this” as he brutally beats her.
That had better not be any of us.
However, I think that in the majority of cases it is the very subtle scapegoating we do that can be the most dangerous.
I’ve realized recently that all of us can learn to be pretty good at it, which can make us pretty bad at everything else.
Being bipolar and mentally ill brings its own special level of spreading the blame.
With Nick home, I have the opportunity to see myself through his eyes. He and his mother walk cautiously through the house to not startle me into a heart attack. They make HUGE adjustments to their lives to accommodate me and the symptoms that are just a part of every day. In fact, I finally digested that they also watch closely what they say.
This last week, Nick said to his mother several times “Mom, you know you can’t say something like that to Dad, he’ll just obsess over it until he explodes.”
Long story short, I don’t want to be that guy.
We’re currently working our way through another medication adjustment. There is a subtle difference in the obsessiveness, and I like it. All of my life I have looked at others and wondered what it would be like to think and feel as they do – without all the squirrels spinning in their heads. Lately there have been glimpses where I feel like I taste bits of “normal” here and there.
I’d like to continue working on it.
Here’s my plan of attack: conscientiously work to differentiate the distractions from the demons.
Let me give you just one example out of MANY.
When I see something like a family member putting their heel on the edge of the recliner stool (which would make the leather wear out faster on the curved part and not be “forever new” as I think everything should be) my mind stops being able to focus on what we are doing and I’m overcome with the spin in my head of “move your foot, MOVE YOUR FOOT, MOVE YOUR FOOT.” My solution has been to hold out as long as I can and then, in what I think is niceness but more realistically is just whining, I ask them if they would put a pillow between their foot and the footrest.
Ann, in her infinite goodness and kindness makes the change and tries to remember in the future.
I actually used to think that was a good solution.
With Nick back home, seeing myself more through his eyes than my own has been very instructive.
Ann deserves to live in a home where she can say anything she feels like and not have to walk on eggshells around me.
And even where she can sit in the recliner in whatever way is the most comfortable for her.
So, I’m working on bringing the focus back to me rather than blaming it on the distraction (in this case, the imperceptible wear and tear on the footrest leather). With the quiet obsessive changes I’m noticing lately I can logically acknowledge that I’m just weird about that kind of stuff. I still notice it all, I still think my way is the right way to do it, and if wishes were fishes I’d like everyone to do it my way. BUT, I understand that others look at me and think it’s pretty bizarre.
That’s enough for me.
I’m going to work hard not to blame my mind screamers on whatever form the current distraction may appear, but to continue to tell myself that there is something wonky in my brain wiring – my own personal demons. Through inward focus I’ll reassure myself that I can outlast it, and that I love Ann and the kids more than I want to have things easier right now and to just get through today.
You know, going more for thriving and not just surviving.
In that way, I’m not just telling myself not to be bad, but am actually replacing the bad with something good to focus on doing, and doing well. That’s the motivation I need to keep trying.
It may sound like an exercise in futility, but I know that I create our tomorrow through my thoughts and actions today.
Or my inactions.
I want Alex and Nick to feel comfortable about bringing home “the one”, I want the grandchildren to run free through the house and laugh and play, and I want Ann to be completely relaxed around me.
Knowing me, it’s going to take a long time.
So I had better get started now.
Why bore you with this little pity party?
Take a close look at yourself in the mirror, or better yet, through the eyes of someone you trust completely.
Scapegoating is cowardice.
Brutal, I know.
You have your own demons. You know what they are.
What is distracting you from dealing with them head on?
Inactivity today will only mean that you are still that same guy tomorrow.
Be honest, is that what you want?