What if opioids aren’t solely to blame? What if the family dynamic that has been passed down through generations, and the addict themselves aren’t solely to blame? What if the people an addict/alcoholic chooses to hang around aren’t solely to blame? What if all of these factors, and more, play an equal part in what is happening to the addict/alcoholic and their families?
When I was growing up my parents fought, most every night, blaming each other and their side of the family for any problems the family was dealing with. My mom and dad would fight until they were exhausted which led to both going to bed without resolving anything and leaving us siblings to figure out which one of us was the most to blame.
Actually, what if there is no one to blame? Then, what type of conversation would be happening in today’s society concerning the national crisis of addiction facing our nation?
In each area of the above mentioned, awareness and accountability is necessary for there to be a noticeable change from epidemic to resolution. When the immediate family unit is given attention as a whole, irritation and resistance will arise. Each one of us, within our own family unit, will know the role we have played in the family addiction scenario.
What is necessary is to learn what the family patterns are. It is then we become aware of what is being done to keep everything in place. For instance, most siblings have a pattern that was begun in the early days of childhood. The main two roles of ‘star child, hero child’ and ‘black sheep' or 'scapegoat’ are established. If there are other siblings the additional players are the ‘joker’, the ‘mediator’, the ‘lost child’ among several other choices. We take a look at how the ‘star child’ and ‘scapegoat’ begin the pattern of how the family, as a whole, behaves (or doesn’t).
The ‘star child’ is defined as the sibling who can be counted on to follow the rules of the family, implicit and explicit. These siblings seemingly go through life without much struggle or difficulties. These ‘star children’ become the sibling who gets the grades, makes the teams and gets the friends as well as the worth, value and approval from their family.
The scapegoat is quite the opposite. This is the sibling that can be counted on to struggle with high levels of anxiety, be unable to focus, seem to start all of the trouble within the siblings and cause the most pain and frustration in the family as a whole.
The other sibling members choose sides and the family grows up within the patterns of ‘who is to blame’. The advantage of blaming others is to make sure no one is looking at you as playing a part in the problem.
The scapegoat is so convenient to have around. His or her struggles will be a well-known fact within the family framework and no one need look elsewhere for someone to blame.
The ‘star children’ stays safe and well above all of the others in how they are treated and can be assured to keep that position in the family well into adulthood whether in their own family units as they marry and have families as well as in the work place.
The scapegoat will always be in their position as well, throughout their lives. These folks suffer from anxiety, are mostly very creative, live in an entirely different framework than the family unit allows. Well into their adulthood, they can be counted on to be addictive, rebels or anyone looking at life differently than the mainstream of the family and community.
The most powerful time of these intrinsic relationships is when siblings are young and attitudes toward one another as siblings are formed. We all have had these things happen. Even an only child can identify when he has played both roles.
Without blaming, each person in the family is able to identify how they were able to cope with how these roles played out in their own lives. For instance, each family
member must look at his or her own part in what is going on within the family as a unit.
The generational component to this is how some ‘star children’ grow up to marry a ‘scapegoat’. People continue to play out their respective roles from childhood until each person hits a bottom of his own.
Addicts/alcoholics, who are riddled with anxiety and self-hate, will seek out help from the person they think can save them. Respectively, ‘star children’ tend to marry the one they can ‘rescue’.
We have seen these situations play out through the annals of time. The prodigal son is one Bible story that can be pointed to where these sibling roles play out. It is generational and universal.
How freeing it is to realize there is no one to blame. Each person has a part to play as to why the addict/alcoholic continues to do the same things over and over. The flip side of freedom from blaming is the accountability each person is asked to consider. The ‘star children’ continue to play that role in their own family units and at their work places. The symptoms of a person accustomed to being correct most of the time is…well, they are accustomed to being right in someone’s eyes, most of the time.
Likewise, the ‘scapegoat’ is accustomed to giving up quickly to any idea that they might be right or even have anything to say that anyone will listen to. Each person can identify with the role they played and continue to play in their adult lives. Behaviors seen in adults are an indication to those knowledgeable in human behaviors and can be spotted within minutes of a family coming into a therapy session.
It is very difficult for any one person to transition from one role to another. What we look for as an ideal is finding balance in our own lives as far as how we behave and how we treat each other. Finding fault with another person in the family or workplace solves nothing. It only spins a web of resentment and blame that can last far into generations beyond ours.
Let’s talk about it. What if there is no one to blame?
Debra Whittam is the author of “I'm I Going to be Ok?" For any media inquiries or questions please contact: Contact@DebraWhittam.com