I, like many patients at the onset of this workshop, thought to myself, “I don’t want to sit here blaming my parents all week. I’m in a really good place with each of them, and I don’t have the time to be annoyed at them right now.” As I progressed through the week and completed my training with the workshops I began to fully grasp the concept of accountability and how it differs from blame.
Blame vs. Accountability
I think that Pia Mellody says it best in Facing Codependence:
“Blaming handcuffs you to the person who abused you and leaves you dependent upon that person’s changing for you to have any recovery.”
To blame our abusers for our current circumstances or state of mind gives them further power and control over us and keeps us stuck in our illness, (i.e. codependence.) To blame is to say “I feel shi**y and it’s your fault, and I won’t feel better until you make amends and change.” As history has shown many of us, our abusers are not often likely to change or make amends, and we therefore continue to wait, and wait… and wait to feel better.
Accountability, on the other hand, means that you “acknowledge what happened, and who did it, but that you can do what you need to do to protect yourself and make changes necessary to recover” (Facing Codependence, p.123). Accountability allows you to regain that internal locus of control (vs. external- blame) and believe that “yes, you did these things and I acknowledge the effect it has had on me, but regardless if you ever change or not, I will heal.”
When the offenders are people that you deem appropriate to keep in your life—for instance, my parents whom I admire and love deeply—I personally view accountability as the essence of unconditional love. It allows us to say “I recognize these wrong doings, I recognize your flaws and I can love you for the perfectly imperfect person that you are.”
I once had a patient share that he realized blaming his abusers meant he was dragging them everywhere with them. I don’t know about you, but my handbag is pretty heavy as it is without carrying around all that!