What masquerades and torments as self-blame is often, underneath it all, the placeholder for painful truths we are not ready to assimilate. How does this work?
Trauma comes in many forms, but what makes all trauma, trauma, is the encounter with an experience we are unable to assimilate. By assimilate, I mean, able to take in—physically, cognitively, emotionally—the full breadth and truth of an experience regardless of how disruptive, intrusive, or devastating it might be.
When we are unable to assimilate part or whole of an experience we must store it within ourselves, in some form, until the day we are ready to fully assimilate, or recapitulate, the experience.
The storing of traumatic experience creates a fragmentation within the self because one part of the self can no longer communicate with, or know about, another part of the self. However, some form of inter-self communication can occur in a traumatized self, if the traumatized part wears a disguise that doesn’t reveal the truth hidden within, the real trauma.
Self-blame is often a disguised trauma. How does that work?
Self-blame implies “criminal” activity. This criminal part of the self is seen and felt as bad, abusive, unworthy, lazy, unlovable, or inadequate. On some level we hold onto self-hate and loathing, and blame ourselves for all the misery in our lives.
We then get caught in a cycle of old guilt and compensatory intentions and efforts to improve the self, to reform the criminal. Inevitably we fail, and around and around we go on this vicious wheel of suffering and redemption as our inner criminal resurfaces over and over again.
But, what if this blamed self is actually hidden trauma? After all, isn’t a trauma itself actually a “criminal” who invades our stable lives? Isn’t the trauma actually bad and abusive? Isn’t there an aggressive intensity inherent in trauma equivalent to the punitive energy of self-blame? Perhaps self-blame is the perfect placeholder for trauma and the unrecapitulated self.
In order to discover the true culprit behind the mask of self-blame, we must avail ourselves of Carlos Castaneda’s number one intent: Suspend judgment! Suspending judgment, in the context of lifting the veil of self-blame, means assuming a perspective of detached objectivity. We are looking to both understand the energetic function of self-blame in our lives, as well as discover the true nature of the experiences we have carried under the guise of self-blame.
As I pondered the energetic influences this past week, I consulted The I Ching. I received the answer of The Marrying Maiden, hexagram #54. This hexagram selects the role of the concubine to illustrate being selected to play a part, not for personal reasons, but because of the impersonal needs of others. How do we navigate being acted upon, as in the role of the concubine, simply because we are there and can fill a need of others, however inappropriate? If this is the objective truth of it, however distasteful and unacceptable that situation may be or feel, the truth is: it is impersonal.
Accepting the reality of the impersonal in our lives is a daunting challenge. To hold onto the truth of the impersonal and not change it back into the personal and self-blame, as a means of holding onto some degree of control, is what suspending judgment is all about.
Perhaps for decades we’ve needed to disguise the truth of abuse in self-hate. Can we now allow ourselves to know the real facts of that abuse? Can we now allow ourselves to encounter the truth of the impersonal forces that acted upon us, totally for their own needs? Can we face that we had no control and did not matter, in any sense?
In another example of impersonal experience: Can we take in that we were not loved, but that it was completely not personal—it was simply not our fault? Can we let go of our illusions of those we loved, and needed to preserve as loving people, in order to feel safe and cared for? Are we ready to take down the defenses that protect our wounded selves and release our true innocence, or do we need to hold onto the shield of badness and self-blame? Can we accept our lovableness, though others could not? Or, again, must we continue to protect ourselves with a cloak of unworthiness and self-blame?
Are we ready to release ourselves from the illusions of badness we repeatedly uphold through compulsive, self-destructive behavior patterns that falsely substantiate our sense of unworthiness? This is how that criminal wheel of suffering and redemption keeps spinning. Perhaps, for instance, we hold onto laziness as an ancient means of protecting parents who didn’t love us. In this example, we carry our laziness as a way to blame ourselves for our parents rejecting behavior. In other words, we deserve rejection because we are lazy. This keeps us from being confronted with the impersonal reality that they may just have been incapable of loving, and it was not our fault. Are we ready to face this truth, allow ourselves to break the criminal hold of self-destructive behavior and release the parents we’ve held onto for some kind of security? Can we release ourselves from this ancient flawed perspective and accept our lovability? Are we ready to be the adult self that suspends judgment and frees our innocence, seeing clearly, and releasing all who crushed our hopefulness and joy?
Are we ready to not flip self-blame into blame? If we attach to blaming others we remain bound to a new criminal. This is not about having to forgive. This is about being an adult and an innocent self, ready to open to life with a new found wholeness. With the truth revealed, the self is no longer bound by old ideas and fragmentations. The criminals, once needed to house unrecapitulated events, can be released.
Are we ready to come out of the shell of the blamed self and allow fresh air to touch our innocence? Lifting the veil of self-blame takes great courage and may take a lifetime, but it promises fulfillment in this life and opens the door to new worlds of possibility.
If you wish to correspond, please feel free to post a comment below.
Until we meet again,