As a survivor of abuse, I’ve always known I have an over developed sense of responsibility. My narcissistic parents made sure they were never at fault for their actions, and that I was somehow required to carry that burden for them. A sense of responsibility and independence carried me through adolescence, and ended up being a positive characteristic that allowed me to accomplish quite a bit. However, this over-developed sense of responsibility also eats at me. I become anxious and hypervigilant because it’s hard to shake the feeling, even being aware of where it comes from. I continue to struggle with internalizing things that aren’t my fault. I am realizing just how much effort I’ve exerted over the years to make sure I could not be blamed for something going wrong. It stems from an experience of being blamed for everything anyway. Even if it’s not my job, I will make sure it gets done. If someone is unhappy, I will make sure I do everything in my power to please them.
It’s this tendency that makes me so at-risk for narcissists and other cluster b people to take advantage of me. I mean, who wouldn’t want a friend or co-worker take on all the responsibility and do all the work? The same reason that made me excel at my job also made me bait for abusers. It’s a tendency that’s difficult to change. Once people are used to someone doing all the work, taking all the responsibility, and usually none of the credit, they will do just about anything to keep that arrangement going. That’s where the shame comes in. If I don’t hold up my unrealistic end of the bargain, I am bad and wrong. I am the lazy, selfish one. Shame on me for not being a better doormat.
My entire life I have been on a quest to free myself from these undue burdens. Sometimes it sneaks up on me. I will do everything in my power to be conscientious, honest, fair, and reasonable, and yet sometimes it still isn’t enough. I am learning how to find peace in my own sense of integrity, even when I can’t rely on anyone else’s. I am learning that I no longer need to be afraid of angry, irrational people. When someone tries to shift undue blame on to me, I don’t need to take it. When someone tries to put me down or talk behind my back because they don’t like my boundaries, so be it. I no longer need to feel ashamed of someone else’s false perception of me. Some days, I feel like I am making progress. Other days, I am barely managing the all-too-familiar symptoms. Overall, I see progress, and I hope this will soon be another aspect of abuse that I can put behind me.