Do you ever feel like you can’t win? No matter what you do you’ll be blamed? You can be quiet, not express yourself, and you’ll be blamed for being unsupportive. You can choose to speak up and share your thoughts and you’ll be blamed for speaking out of turn. You can choose to agree with everything and be blamed because you aren’t sharing your real opinions. You can share your real opinions and be blamed when something goes wrong.
It’s like you can’t win for losing! It’s a catch 22 situation. Nothing you say, nothing you do, nothing you don’t say, nothing you don’t do, will put you in the position of being heard, respected or part of the team. The accusations directed toward you are put on you as though they are fact. Your intentions are dictated, usually negatively and your reactions are pre-decided for you. You find yourself in a situation where you are constantly trying to explain yourself to the other person. Your real actions and intentions do not line up with whatever the accuser is saying and you are put on the defensive trying to explain the truth. It doesn’t matter though, they have already assigned your role to you. No amount of arguing, defending or explaining will change it in their mind.
The fact is that no matter what you say, the abuser has already decided who you are and what motivates you. They have already assigned their own internal story to you and they will die believing their own story rather then admit that they were wrong in any way. This is projection and you cannot fix it by trying to explain yourself. No matter what you do, they already believe what they believe. Often, what they believe about you is more a reflection of who they are, rather then a true reflection of who you are.
So, what can you do in this situation? I have come to the conclusion that the only thing you can do is salvage your own integrity. Stay true to your own thoughts and beliefs inside yourself. You can’t be told what to think, so don’t be. Do what you know is right and true. Be aware of your intentions. Know your story. Be sure in your truth. Respond in such a way that you maintain your own internal integrity. It is really important that you are willing to discover yourself, identify yourself internally and refuse to allow the abusers dictation of who are to become your reality. If you can understand your real intentions, thoughts, ideas and own them, then you can identify their false belief and accept it as their story without making it your story. This is powerful! This is freedom!
There is a technique called ‘don’t engage’ and I think it can be very effective in this situation. If there is nothing you can or can’t do, then don’t. Don’t engage. Do not defend yourself as that opens you up to be attacked even more personally and more fiercely. Refuse to share your thoughts and opinions on the basis of your personal safety. You do not have to agree to set yourself up for arguing and blame. Come up with some vague, uninteresting responses that are neither agreeable nor disagreeable. Responses that do not accept responsibility, or accept blame or agree with the criticism leveled against you can help you negotiate a conversation with your abuser. Non committal words like; ‘I see’, ‘interesting’, ‘I’ll have to think about that’ and ‘I understand’ can be a great way to save your self image. These responses also let the other person know that you hear them but you aren’t committing to agreeing or disagreeing. You are sidestepping the drama as best you can by not engaging. Refuse to argue, state your position once, clearly and concisely. You can choose to protect yourself and your integrity without giving them further fuel for their attack.
Living with someone who chooses to constantly blame and project is emotionally tiresome. It will wear you down and eventually may lead you to wondering if you are crazy. You know you aren’t the kind of person they’ve identified you as, but they can’t seem to see you for who you are. This makes you doubt your own reality over time. It is important to care for your inner self; keep yourself sane. Journal your thoughts, listen to soothing music, talk to a friend who respects you, color! Do anything that will help you connect with your inner truth and will help you maintain your internal identity.
When you are ready, you’ll find that leaving the relationship is the healthiest thing you can do. You can’t live healthfully in a battle zone forever. God doesn’t call you to give up who you are as a way of enabling someone else’s sin toward you. There are many examples in the Bible of people who leave, get away from and flee dangerous emotional as well a physical situations. These examples are throughout the Bible and we can see that God provides a deliverance for His people when they are unsafe. If you can, spend some time researching and reading the stories of deliverance. This will help you understand that God wants to deliver you too!
By constantly blaming and projecting, an abuser is harming you. They are emotionally killing you. They are being manipulative, unkind and unloving. This is not how a believer in Jesus would act toward another person, especially their spouse. Being blamed for everything is no way to live. You can’t change the abuser, but you can take steps to get yourself safe. Use these techniques and any others you’ve learned to help put up an emotional boundary between you and the other person. Guard your heart and choose life.