Fingers of Blame: Another round of Pithy Platitude Parser

There’s a saying about how one should consider when you’re pointing the finger of blame, there are 3 fingers pointing back at you.  While some of the sayings may make sense in their original context, such as the ones about resentment and grudges and have to be twisted & manipulated to be used against people, this one doesn’t even make any freakin’ sense. 

Sometimes people deserve blame.  Such as when they’ve done something wrong.  When I hold family members accountable for their emotional abuse of me, I don’t have 3 fingers pointing back at me.  And to suggest so is to evade responsibility and accountability for one’s own actions.  And it adds insult to injury, because under the guise of being more enlightened, the speaker of this pithy platitude is trying to shift accountability/responsibility to the wronged party.  Implying that the person calling for accountability is morally flawed to expect any sort of accountability.

13 thoughts on “Fingers of Blame: Another round of Pithy Platitude Parser

  1. So True!!!! Since I am on month five of LC….I’m the one that is being blamed for their bad behavior. My sister & my mom are blaming me for being tooooooo sensitive for mom’s lack of a filter on her mouth. The only thing that has changed is I finally called her out on her bad behavior after ignoring it for decades! Now, I’m the bad one???? It makes no sense. Thank God for sites like these so now my head can be on straight.!

    1. Wow…I’m in month six now of no contact. NM called the day after Thanksgiving to end the freeze out. i was at work & my husband talked to her & basically told her she hurt me very badly by her yet again unkind words last summer. She still can’t recall what she said that was so damaging this time. I have not called her back yet. I plan on doing so tomorrow. This week a letter should up from her stating that she was so hurt by my unkind remark after she slammed me yet again over my weight. She explained that is why she has kept her distance because “I hurt her”. Yet again, she takes no responsibility for what she did. I get it now. I didn’t before. We’ll see how it goes but I’m not going to get into tit for tat. I will state that she did her me & that’s why I said what I did. I know she’ll turn it around again that it’s my fault but now I won’t take it to heart. I just know she is one sick/mean spirited woman & my contact & interaction with her & my GC sister is forever changed. I can’t go back to the old me. She’s not there anymore.

      1. Yeah, they often like to use the holidays as an in to end a cut off without apologizing or taking responsibility for their actions. The first holiday season I was in cutoff was 2009. I was so on guard for that, the sadness of the holidays without a Family of Origin didn’t hit until the 2010 holiday season. This year is still tough, but better than last year.

        They rarely take responsibility for what they do. They either deny it, claim they don’t remember it or try to reverse the blame onto you. As for the denial/not remembering, I’ve read here and there that they can and do disossociate during a rage. So when they say they can’t remember or deny it, they may not be deliberately lying. Not that it makes it ok in any way, but just something to help us cope with the gaslighting/crazymaking.

  2. That’s a very common experience for people who decide to go Limited or No Contact. I’ve heard the term Flying Monkeys to describe the enablers/apologists who pressure the adult child to “get over it”, “be the bigger person”, etc. I think it’s an apt description and I love it!

    In a way, even though they’re not directly abusing us, they’re sending us the message that it’s ok for us to be abused. And that there’s something wrong with us for asserting ourselves and setting boundaries. It’s very isolating/crazy making.

    1. Just saw this… that’s pretty much my whole life. I was always told I was too sensitive, get over it, take the higher road etc… I didn’t realize it was permission for other abuse outside of my broken family life to happen. I would suck it up for everyone. No MORE!!!

  3. As a member of AA, I heard the pointing finger platitude a lot. I agree that it over simplifies abusive situations — can you imagining using this one on rape victims or abused children?

    How I try to take this alleged bit of wisdom is to consider that pointing a finger without recognizing how I might be contributing to my pain by not learning how to let go of it keeps me a victim of the original circumstance. What I mean is that I accept those three fingers pointing back as a way for me to take back my life away from those who wish to harm me. Just pointing at the person who hurt me is one step towards taking back responsibility for my life. The people who made me a victim are unlikely to make any meaningful restitution to me. They probably won’t even accept the blame. It’s on me to heal myself.

    So, point away! I can take my part in getting well despite being treated badly. It’s the abusers who can’t handle the responsibility.

    But I won’t be using the platitude any time soon. Definitely not the most helpful. In fact, platitudes irritate the heck out of me. 🙂

  4. I’m new here, but actually a lifelong scapegoat. :o) As a woman in her 50s, I just became hip to this information a few years ago. Not that I wasn’t aware of ‘issues’. I was well aware that I was ‘different’, a trouble maker and at the core, ‘just never good enough’. It’s hard to walk through life, head held high when you believe that you’ll never be as good as your sib s let alone any other person on the street.

    20 years ago we moved across the country (for employment reasons) with our 4 month old baby. Life became different than the one I’d known. We ate healthier, created our own parenting style and made our own traditions. Another child was born and as young adults, they are two of the best people I know. Two years ago we returned ‘home’ to care for my aging in-laws. You’d think that I’d been here for the last 20 years stirring up trouble as the family (parents and 5 siblings) are now, it would seem, divided into 2 groups. The ringleader (scapegoater) is the first-born of 5. She’s an unhealthy control freak who for some unknown reason, has made an audience of not only family or origin but extended family as well. So rather than just take responsibility for her own wicked actions is surgically removing me from the family.

    At first, I took it on, hoping to be accepted, extending invitations, yada, yada, yada. I was again the different one, the new kid on the block who needed to gain the acceptance of all. BULLSHIT!

    I have plenty of people in my life who love and accept me and – I’m a good person. It’s not that I never slip back into my stink n’ thinkin’ or as you say, listening to my inner heckler – and I regret most the spirit of yuck that dwells in my house when I go there.

    Today I’m following a new course. I’d contemplated therapy, but was angry that I would be paying (once again) to fix something, not that I did, but that happened to me. I’m working on focusing my energies in another place…..the place that I wish to be. My self-talk has now turned to ‘don’t think about what you don’t want’. In watching The Secret, listening to Will Smith (God love him) Zig Ziglar and others, I’m learning that I can’t control the bad behavior of others, but I can choose not to accept their lies as my truth. As we think, so we will become. Let the liars boil in their own juices. If they weren’t intimidated by the good in us, they’d not chosen us to bear the burden. We CAN overcome this. Thank God for kindred spirits. So glad to know I’m not alone.

  5. Okay, here’s my story: My parents were married because I was conceived. I was born in 1960, my brother 61, Poison Tongue (sis) 65, and Sweetie (sis) in 69. My father was an alcoholic womanizer and my mother a co-dependent avoider of issues. Both parents were workaholics. My father was a railroad man and mother studied accounting until she got a PhD. I was my father’s “Hero”, made all A’s (when I wanted to), played sports, girl scouts, majorette, you name it. As my mother grew out of the relationship she would take her frustra)tions out on me (physically). For example, when I was 11, I walked down the hall after a bath, my brother and cousin spyed on me. Mama beat me with a belt, and then yelled at my brother, “See what you made me do to Laura!” When I was 12, Poison Tongue (then 7 and very manipualtive, always fnding ways to set me up so for her enjoyment) was left at school. Mama was embarrased and had us lined up on the sofa. I was mouthy and she hit me with the belt causing my teeth to be pushed back and several stitches to my upper lip.

    The following year my father discovered his wife was having an affair and he beat her badly. Later that year they went to a Christmas Party and he attacked her at home that night. I called his father to come get him. He moved out but since Mama was gone all the time he would come to the door and I would reluctantly let him in. One night he waited for her and attacked her again. I made the call again and the next day my siblings were dispursed to various relatives. I believed it was I that broke the family up.

    Anyway, by the fall (first year in high school) my mom and the four siblings were in university housing. Daddy moved back into his house with his paramour and my mother (very attractive) had attracted and affluent freeloader. There were race riots at school, mom was never home and Daddy was calling me to get “the dirt”. I began smoking weed, cutting school and not going home. I then became the “identified patient”, a status offender. From 1974 thru 1977, I vacationed in five different institutions. My mother signed warrants on me at the police station and in 1975 had a judge declare me “incorrigible”. While in jail I was to testify for both parents in hand-cuffs for their divorce case. Neither of them visited me in jail.

    In my 20s I married a crazy man because I was pregnant but divorced quickly, got a job and my own place to live. Nobody noticed I was independent even after living on the street as a teenager. Mama referred to my house as “the dump”. My role was the responsible one if people needed it but otherwise viewed as the “Black sheep”. (Thank God!!) My brother and Poison Tongue rarely are asked favors because they are known not to follow through and when convenient they know I always keep my word.

    So, my grandmother left her house to me in her will, but she had written it on the will and that became an issue to contest after she died. my mother allowed me to live there and with zero high school educaton, I got a Bachelor’s Degree (Business Economics). My mother refused to acknoweldge I was on the Deans List and minized every single accomplishment I made. I got my degree at 34 and she said to my friends “finally, we thought this would never happen”. So, I start a job and Mom decides i should pay for the unemcumbered home. She created a mortgage for $35,000 with payments of $500 per month. I was already in dire straights due to previously messy financial decisions and I wasn’t able to pay her every month. Eventually, I created a new mortgaged and FedEx’d her a check for $35,000. Later I was laid off and the house was foreclosed on. (They say, it’s a shame we don’t have the house anymore – WTF? – they wanted me to SELL IT – they got paid, whatever)

    Now, fast forward – I’m estranged – 12/09 my father died. I slowly reunite with both sides of family to learn that (1) Poison Tongue had made friends with my old friends and told them and family members that I had turned to prostitution to afford my drug habit (how ridiculous). She had torchered Sweetie and my brother had sexually molested Sweetie. Poison Tongue bad mouthed me at the hospital to anyone who would listen with slanderous lies. And, my Mr. Fake (the freeloading stepfather) announced he did not trust me to come to Thanksgiving because I had stolen some rings in 1979 (no, Poison Tongue set me up). So, I asked questions about 73-77 and was told to “stop living in the past”. Apparently, I missed the statute of limitations.

    My mother brags about Poison Tongue’s success, however PT can’t even spell and my mother supports her financially (secretly of course). My mother told Sweetie that she “burried me” already. I sent my mother a truthful email and she labeled it “ridiculous”. I replied, PT’s slanderous lies are repeated verbatim while my lines are viewed as riduculous. It’s been that way for decades (no reply from her, of course).

    Thanks for letting me type this out here because the more I typed I began to laugh. How ludicrous it all is.

    Remember, the two main traits of the official Scapegoat: (1) We love the most; and, (2) We are the strongest; (And, don’t forget, we are emotionally honest and gifted. Their disdain is not for us but for themselves!! 🙂

    1. So sorry to hear about the hell your family put you through. I’m glad this helped you see how insane they’ve been. I find writing it all out helps tremendously.

    2. It’s still so fresh in our minds. I want to say be proud of what you have accomplished. You pulled yourself out even though they dug the hole & want to keep you there. BE PROUD! I just got done reading “box of daughter”. A must read for all of us. There was a line in the book that spoke volumes to me. They that habitually put you down to others in front of you or behind your back are extremely broken on the inside so they do this to make themselves feel better but it never happens. I have not spoken to my GC sis in over 6 months and I’m happier for it. She is going to die a lonely death. She is having marital problems again and more than likely will get divorced & my NM will let her back into the family home & more than likely give the house to her. It’s taken me a long time to be proud of my position but it takes work every day. I find myself still questioning myself at times about my strength & then I have to do a lot of positive self talk. It feels good to vent & I’m glad you feel good about doing it here. You still have a viable life ahead of you. Continue your work. It’s a life long feat. It just sucks that we didn’t choose to be on this path. Be proud!!! You have come so far!

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