Can you look at any one person and say they’re the reason for some difficult circumstance in your life? Can you pick out of a crowd, one person, that made your life challenging or painful or whatever you felt about it? Is there someone who stands out because you blame them for so much of what went wrong?
Yes, for me, there is one person I blame.
I call him, Dad.
I love my dad so much. I love him to the end of this world and then some.
But my dad is the one person that I’d pick out of a lineup and say, “Him. I blame him. That’s the person that fucked it all up. He’s the one that ruined me.”
Growing up, life for me was volatile.
I have a lot of happy memories as a kid. But mostly, when I think about my childhood days, I think of painful memories. So many come to mind right now.
I think about how my dad destroyed our big screen TV.
We were all excited to finally get it but when the screen started to glitch out and he couldn’t fix it, he decided to break it instead. He threw it off our back porch and smashed it with his fists.
I was always so scared when I saw him get that way. I was also really sad that we didn’t have a TV anymore.
I think about how I had a tendency to leave my backpack in the living room.
After school, I’d leave all 13 inches of it laying around the house somewhere. One day, in a rage, he picked it up, screamed at me to never leave it out again, then threw it out the front door. Everything in it came flying out onto the yard.
I cried as I went to pick everything up. I held my head down in embarrassment and shame while my neighbors looked on. After, I went to my room to hide. I hid a lot as a kid.
I think about how my mom loved Bingo.
She didn’t have a lot to do that made her happy – Bingo was on her very short list. My dad didn’t like that. One night, when he found out she went there without his permission, he went to pick her up and unleashed his anger.
In our truck, on the way home, I sat between the two of them. My dad reached above my head over to hers, grabbed her by her hair, and lifted her up. We drove that way for what felt like forever. And all I could do was just sit there by my mom’s side and she was being abused and crying.
That wasn’t the first time I saw him hurt her. It wasn’t the last time, either.
It never seemed to end. Even as a teenager, this volatility went on.
There was the time, at 15, when I realized that the reason we had no food, no gas or electricity, no water, and no money was because my dad was having an affair. He decided to use what little money he made to pay for her and her family’s bills rather than ours. He decided that they should have food in their house instead of us.
Or that time he ruined my high school graduation day. It was the proudest moment of my life up until that day. I was the first person in my family to walk the stage and all I wanted for it was to celebrate by eating out as a family at Olive Garden.
When we showed up, we were told the wait would be 45 minutes. Everyone else was fine with it, but my dad wasn’t. He screamed at me when I asked if we could just wait a little while – maybe they’d seat us sooner? He yelled at us to get in the car then drove us to a chinese buffet.
I held back tears as I sat at the table.
I mean, looking back on it, a chinese buffet isn’t far off from Olive Garden but at the time, it was the difference between a 5-star meal and the dollar menu. My day – the only day that I ever felt was worthy of celebrating – was ruined because my dad had no patience and a temper out of this world.
It’s no wonder why I hightailed it outta there days after turning 18.
In my home, there were so many fist-sized holes in the walls, lots of screaming, broken things, fistfights, cops called, and tears – so many tears.
I’m not saying my childhood was the worst there ever was. I know my trauma doesn’t even begin to touch what other people have been through. And I’m not trying to compare either. But what I am saying is that it’s a miracle I didn’t end up on a pole somewhere.
When I think about it all, my dad was at the center of nearly every single painful memory I have.
He’s the reason I learned to play small. In our household, there was no room for anyone else but him.
He was the reason I learned to shut my mouth and keep quiet. There was no voice loud enough to be heard over his. And if you tried, you’d reap the consequences.
He’s the reason I believed that physical violence was the answer to anything… or that money is hard to come by… or that two-story homes are reserved for rich white people.. Or that making it out of poverty meant that you were betraying your roots.
I blame him for so much. And it doesn’t end there.
My life today is very different from my childhood days.
I’m happy to report that there are no fist-sized holes in the walls of my home. I have plenty of food to keep me fed, I have money in my bank account and the bills are all paid.
There is love in my home too – so much of it! Rather than my home feeling like a prison I need to escape from, it feels like my safe haven.
And guess what, I blame my dad for too.
Tony Robbins said that If you’re going to blame someone for all the shit, then you better blame them for all the good too. He’s right.
My dad taught me to be strong and fight through anything. He equipped me with a stubbornness I’m not so sure my fiance fully appreciates.
Even though my dad is a very angry person – and even though he instilled in me anger issues of my own – he’s also a caring person. He’s the one that taught me to open doors for others – not just women and children – but or anyone. When I’d see the smile it brought to their face, it reinforced kindness in me.
But the most important thing I blame him for is my will.
Growing up, when my family encountered difficult situations – and if you can’t tell by now, there were many – he would always tell me the same thing.
“Where there’s a will there’s a way. And we will find our way.”
He said this so often I grew to believe it. It became the silent mantra I’d repeat in my head long after I left home.
When life seemed bleak and I wanted more, I’d go back to this saying. It was this belief that ushered me through the most difficult days. It was this idea that pushed me to always take one more step – just one more step in the direction of a better future and a better life.
The same man who planted my first seeds of self-doubt also equipped me with a headstrong mindset and a dogged belief that anything is possible.
To this day, not a lot has changed for my dad.
He lives in a small trailer and dances the fine line of poverty. His temper is still out of this world and out of control. He gets kicked out of restaurants, stores, and off property regularly. I’m shocked he hasn’t been arrested more times.
But he’s also just as caring as he always had been. He still says the same saying when things get hard. He still opens doors for everyone he sees.
Yes, I blame my dad for so much in my life. He taught me some things that, to this day, I am still trying to unlearn. He also taught me things that, without them, would have led me to a life similar to the one I lived as a kid.
He gave me a belief that there is hope. I only wished he believed it enough himself.
Many of us blame someone else.
We’re sitting back pointing our finger at someone else for things that have happened in our lives.
I totally understand that, too! Life is hard and sometimes it feels out of our control. Often, when it feels that way, we think it’s because of someone else’s doing.
But if we’re going to blame someone for something, let’s be sure to blame them for everything.
If you’re going to blame them for the bad ugly stuff you wish you never had to live through, then also blame them for the lessons they taught you and the perspective you gained.
Blame, in the way that we typically understand it, is anything but empowering.
But when we learn to use it fully – when we take a step back and see the story for all that it is – we can flip the script and change that shitty narrative. We can use it to move through life a little freer and a little less hurt.
Seeing the bigger picture is pivotal in taking back your control.
Is there someone who has made life for you especially challenging?
Did they leave you with trauma and pain that needs to be healed? If so, I encourage you to work through that. And don’t stop there! Look deeper at all they brought you. Is there anything of value they left with you? Then blame them for that too.
I know, it’s really fucking hard to do. Trust me, I get it. But you owe it to yourself to move through this. If you think you might need help accomplishing this, please reach out. It has been liberating for me, it can be for you too.
Relate to this? Send me a DM and tell me how. I’m here to listen and learn from you.