Shifting from Blame to Responsibility

Here is why forgiveness is a hard concept to wrap my mind around in my recovery: Whose fault is it?

It wasn’t mine. I at least know this.

My father’s? Maybe. He made a lot of bad choices. He is an alcoholic. But he’s also in a lot of pain. Always has been. I remember hearing the stories about his father and his mother, the traumatic way his father died and the whispers of skeletons in some very deep closets. My father is a broken man; held together only by his love of music and his ability to play the guitar. My happy memories of my father include that music and that guitar. It is truly his salvation. So, is it his fault?

The line becomes even more blurry. What about his dad? Again, Maybe. He was also an alcoholic. And for what I know about my own father’s temper, it is only a sliver of what his father was capable of. There are ties to all things underground and illicit from what I understand of my heritage. My great-grandfather did time in prison for murder.

So…Do you see my dilemma? When I think of how my son triggers me and knowing it is not his fault for being a child, and feeling like I should take blame because … personal responsibility is still a thing; But knowing I really can’t, and that these impulses are older than me.

Older than my father. And his father. And his father.

A week ago there was an article published:

While the body of it centered more on Cultural PTSD and the refugees from war-torn countries; it went a little into Biological and Familial PTSD.

“Trans-generational transmission is when an older person unconsciously externalizes his traumatized self onto a developing child’s personality. A child then becomes a reservoir for the unwanted, troublesome parts of an older generation.” Vamik Volkan

Trauma becomes a second skin, second nature. Children pick up on these emotions, tones, fears in an almost psychic manner. The rest is filled in by us, telling them they “have it easy compared to what I grew up with!”

And I’m going to just say it. If you hit your child, even once. There has been trauma done to that child. Their normal brain functioning has been interrupted by extreme distress of either the threat of violence or violence itself. It’s done.

But if it’s habitual? If it’s “Discipline”? If the child has had limited or no time to recover emotionally from these acts…and how can they if the adult doing this either thinks it is right, or it is an unconscious attack born from their own deep, repressed, unhealed traumas?

Whose fault is it?

There is so much more research that needs to be done. Already it is shown in rats that trauma transmits to at least 3 generations of offspring starting from pregnancy.

Research is also showing the different ways trauma is passed down as it comes from the maternal or the paternal gene. For instance if it is passed down on the mother’s side, whether in womb or in early infancy, the anxiety is higher and it is harder to calm. When passed down on the father’s side, disassociation is more severe. Trauma even changes the epigenetics  of a male’s sperm.

So, Yes. PTSD is Bigger than any One of Us. But it is not bigger than All of us.

There are a lot of social changes that obviously need to take place. The Family is stressed out to capacity at this point. There is no real support for those with mental illnesses. Things like Maternity/Paternity leave need to enacted. Support and information need to be flooding over family violence–and while I hate the term “No Tolerance” There needs to be a social attitude that it is Not Okay to Hit. ANYBODY.  Woman, Man Or Child.

Women are diagnosed with PTSD twice as much as men. Violence’s against Women need to be a nasty taste in everybody’s mouth and a sight that is no longer ignored.


It’s a Big Fucking Problem. Take into account that these numbers are Vastly Under-Reported and It’s even bigger.

But it changes the moment you look at your child and realize this is a person who deserves and Needs kindness to thrive; That trauma of any kind is a game changer to who they were coming into this world.

That they are developmentally incapable of the things you accuse them of, psychologically.

That they are ripping open old wounds.

That it isn’t their fault.

And That it isn’t your fault.

So… Whose Fault is it?


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