If I win a contest that is based on merit or skill, I get to take credit. If I were to win a beauty contest, I get to take credit. If I get straight A’s and make the Dean’s list, I get credit. Work hard, invest wisely and that’s all mine. Right? When I live a life that is…by societal standards….successful and beautiful, it is attributed to my effort, energy, vision and the skills I bring to bear.
But, if I lose the contest, fail the class, get fired from my job, have no savings and by societal standards, I am unsuccessful with my life…..its not my fault? When I share my lamentations with a confidant, they say “Stop blaming yourself.” I need to stop “blaming” myself? I am a catholic convert, coming to the church in elementary school. I admit to not truly coming to my faith until I also became a mother. So, I cannot be assign Catholic Guilt Syndrome. My mother jokes that it lies in some dormant, secreted Jewish DNA. I think that is all hogwash. But, feelings of guilt and self-blame are definitely familial behavior traits. We take the fall, we bear the burden, we shoulder the brunt of things when they go badly. Interestingly, we also divest and hesitate to claim responsibility for when we do well. Don’t brag. Don’t be a show off. It was framed as some kind of vanity or pride.
So, I am uncomfortable with achievements, yet I aim high. When I stick the landing, I am not one to be easily celebratory. Inside I am thrilled, but I won’t ever be extravagant in my display of joy. The converse is true. When something goes wrong, when I fail or fuck up, I might as well sign up for some monastic order that still wears hair shirts. It is all my fault. Who else am I to give it to? A friend said, just blame “them”. Blame the other parties involved. But 100% of this cannot be displaced to”them”. He says, “Sure it can, you can just put it on them.” Really? That seems insane, delusional, relative? So, in that equation, I will never be at fault. I can NEVER be blamed. I will never share in the failures. I get to lay claim to ALL accolades and trophies but NONE of the the screw ups. And…better yet, I get to never, ever feel badly about anything….because it is simply, purely never my fault?
This is not logical. It is not realistic. And I think I’d rather work on taking off a hair shirt than having to unlearn delusional relativism.