As a child, I was often blamed for things that I didn’t do. Something would happen. Something might get broken. Someone might have been hurt. Someone might have lied, or done something that they weren’t supposed to, and I would be blamed.
I never understood where that came from. I could barely talk, and lies were not commonly something that came from my mouth. Yet I was often accused, and stood condemned before the one in judgment over me. I could neither defend, nor protect myself.
It wasn’t that I was always innocent. A relative encouraged me in stealing when I was very young, and while he was able to outgrow it, I struggled with the abstract thought that things in stores actually belonged to someone, and that it was wrong to take it. This took me years to overcome – however, I would never steal from an actual person. That I knew was wrong.
My younger brother, due to his disability and the medications he took for it, was a very aggressive child and teen. He terrified me, and as a result, I usually met with him in defense mode. Often our interactions would end up in fights, and some of them were my fault.
My older brother (J.) and I didn’t fight often, and when we did, it was often over the younger one (M.) There was that time, and I remember thinking at the time that it always happened that way. J. was babysitting, and was in the basement. I was on the main level, and was walking down the hallway towards the living room. M. was standing at the end of the hallway (around the corner, so I didn’t see him.)
When I came close to him, he screamed – yet I hadn’t touched him. J. came running up the stairs, blamed me for attacking M., and threw me into the table in anger. I tried to say I hadn’t done anything, but I wasn’t believed. I was rarely believed – though, as I have mentioned, lying was not my struggle. What could I do? I ran away. Again.
Then there was the friend I had in the later parts of grade school, and the first year of high school. She got into things such as smoking, drugs, and sex. Her parents determined that I was a bad influence on her (though aside from being molested during that time by my father, which no one knew about, I did none of those things.) They moved her to a new school, and didn’t want me around.
There was the time I was blamed for stealing the encyclopedia in Grade 8 – where the entire school blamed me. I admit, I did have trouble with stealing during those years, but from stores – not from libraries or people. I guess that made no difference to them, and I can understand that, but when they found I hadn’t done it, there was no apology made. An apology in that moment, I believe, would have had a very positive impact on my young self.
And then there was that time in the later part of Grade 11. I had a traumatic event happen to me, which set off a severe case of PTSD. It started with me smoking, which I had been completely against until the night before I started (when I dreamed of smoking, and began craving it.) I had only been smoking for a week, when a friend brought me along to her cottage with her.
She had been a smoker for years, but her parents didn’t know. We would walk down the street, away from view, to have a smoke. Then we would wait a while (to get the smell off of us) before returning. And then her parents went to play golf. She decided it was safe to smoke on her deck, which was where her father found us. She was terrified, so I said she could tell him I made her do it (though I didn’t.) Her parents refused to let us be friends after that.
And here we come to my children. I have written my part in the reasons that the child were taken, and according to the ministry, all was my fault. However, I was neither alone in this, nor were my methods secret from those close to us. Above that, there were things that happened in foster care, and in respite homes, that were both against the rules of the ministry – and I felt were worse than the moments of discipline with my children.
I don’t believe that the children were being abused in these cases, but I also do not believe it was fair to say that all was my fault. I took the blame. There was no reason to bring others in on it – but here, I am the one terrified of the judgment of others, yet being no worse than the rest of them. It isn’t right.
Scapegoat. Someone has to be blamed, it might as well go to the one who cannot defend herself… and besides, “it is always the silent ones,” isn’t it? But I am not so different in guilt than the rest of them, and it seems so wrong to lay all of this at my feet. Is it any wonder I fear the judgment of people?