Self-blame came easy for me during my divorce. It strolled on in and settled down for a while just like an old familiar friend who knew all my childhood indiscretions.
Self-blame sat next to me throughout each step of the way, from initial relationship doubt to finalizing the divorce paperwork. I felt responsible for not being able to fix my marriage, for breaking up my family and for driving us into a life none of us wanted. Once the marriage ended, self-doubt had me believing that I was unlovable and not likely to find another life partner.
The perspective I held of myself at that time impacted my ability to be the best mom and person I could be. I thought I had to pick up the pieces for everyone. I had to hold it together at work. I had to make sure the kids were always happy. I had to figure out ways to make the holidays outstanding.
Unrealistic thinking perhaps, but I was convinced. I couldn’t make my marriage work, so I needed to make sure everything else was perfection. Otherwise, it would have been entirely true in my mind that I was, in fact, a failure. Everyone else’s lives seem so darned perfect, right? Thanks social media…
Taking on sole responsibility for the demise of a marriage presupposes a myopic view of how problems unfold and how we solve them.
Taking on sole responsibility for the demise of a marriage presupposes a myopic view of how problems unfold and how we solve them. A myriad of circumstances, factors and elements impact life choices and outcomes. We are influenced by what we ate for breakfast, how well we slept last night, whether our boss was in a good mood, what was modeled for us during our childhood, what religious beliefs we hold, where we live and whether our hormones are balanced.
There is no one single cause for any problem. We all come to a marriage with our own set of endless life factors. Imagine the intersection of all of your aspects and features and those of your ex. It gets complicated.
You alone are not exclusively to blame for your divorce. Your ex alone is not to blame. Blame lies in many places. It rests with the weather, your incomplete to-do list, your unfinished manuscript, the spoiled milk, the broken refrigerator, the unexpected hailstorm, the mosquito bite, the fruit that went bad, the empty cereal box left in the cupboard, the broken tail light, the hole in the screen, the crack in your windshield, the guy who cut you off on the highway, the important call you forgot to make and the bill you forgot to pay. Not to mention your physical health and the state of your emotional immune system.
We are complex beings. Our challenges are multifaceted and entangled. If you tend to blame yourself for the woes that befall you, I invite you to reconsider. Try to be aware of yourself in those moments when self-blame feels inevitable and pause. Take a breath. Exhale the belief that you need to identify a culprit for your discomfort and instead engage in self-care.
Take a bath. Get a chair massage, or a manicure. When you are driven to assign blame, you aren’t being your best self and you can’t access your ability to make outstanding decisions, or solve problems. Feeling the need to self-blame is a message that it’s time for you to refuel. Your job in that moment is to re-center and replenish your mind and body to become your strongest self.
Look at it this way.
What does a rose bush require to survive and flourish? She needs soil, air, water, sunlight, and pruning. With all these natural elements in balance, she is resilient to the odd dry spell, or overly heavy rainfall.
If you notice that her leaves become brittle, or her buds don’t fully open, then it’s simply a sign that she’s not having all her needs met. Investigate her core requirements to see what she needs more or less of. Consider the quality of the soil and how friendly the climate has been that year. Examine the surroundings for the presence of insects and animals in the area.
You are like a delicate and magnificent rose bush with endless potential. Your resilience is both strengthened and challenged by the ebb and flow of the elements around you. Throughout a lifetime, you accumulate experiences, memories, talents, fears, aversions, hopes and dreams. You have natural physical abilities and challenges. You hold certain spiritual beliefs and dismiss others.
And one day your leaves may turn a bit dry. Your buds may not bloom. Your soil may be disrupted by an overzealous puppy and caterpillars may find your leaves to be an irresistible treat.
If you seek to find fault in yourself, taking the entire portion of the blame for creating the mess of the moment, everyone loses.
Whatever the difficulty, there is not only one cause. There are an abundance of causes. If you seek to find fault in yourself, taking the entire portion of the blame for creating the mess of the moment, everyone loses. You’re taking away the potential for growth, for discovery, for building new and healthier pathways to optimal living.
One of the cool things about humanity is that every moment is a potential fresh start. It doesn’t matter that you used to engage in unhelpful ways of addressing difficulty because today you can choose another path. Choose to explore a new perspective today. Discover what you need to pursue to feel stronger. Instead of blaming yourself, take a step toward healing. Get more sun. Drink more water. Get your locks pruned.
You didn’t destroy your life. It’s just time to tend to your garden.
You’ve got this.
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