Self-Blame, Guilt and Blame-Shifting

It was a good thing that I had actually made the decision to go to CAPS on Wednesday. As I suspected, I started having a really bad transition into the weekend (I work Thursdays to Sunday so I often classify Thursday – Sunday as my weekend).

If I hadn’t seen the on-call therapist, J, when I did, I might have succumbed to my self-destructive desires. Like I’ve mentioned before, not only do I have art supplies like X-Acto knives (which are scalpel-like in their sharpness) and box cutters, I also have access to kitchen knives and steak knives at work. I am at a point in life where I can’t trust my own strength – I know I am stronger than I think I am but really, sometimes, my resolve can be a little weak especially when I feel like I’m overwhelmed.

Anyway, I have realized that I am quick to blame myself for everything and I perceive people’s reactions as more negative than they really are. And when I do, I quickly assume that I’ve done something wrong and that the other party now hates me.

Today, I had advised my husband to cook fish at a low temperature as the kitchen was starting to smoke and the inside of the fish was undercooked. I thought that the high heat must be causing the fish to sear on the outside and not cook thoroughly in the inside. Being the awesome husband he is, he took my advice and cooked the fish at a lower temperature. What ended up happening was the fish starting to fall apart and overcook as the low temperature didn’t help the fish come together as one single piece but to cook at an individual flake level. He ended up with a pretty disappointing piece of fish for lunch. I felt extremely bad because I knew that had he just worked with his own understanding of cooking, he’d have gotten the fish right. Instead, he had listened to me and now he had a lunch that he was forced to eat despite it not tasting right.

I felt guilty. I felt really bad – devastated would be a little too strong a word, but I felt close to that. Over a piece of fish.

If I were to tell this to someone that I am now withdrawing from my husband because I gave him advice that caused him to ruin a piece of fish, they would probably laugh. “You feel suicidal because of a piece of fish?” might be something they might say.

Sure, when you put it that way, it seems silly.

However, I realized just now that it wasn’t about the fish. It was about my advice – it was about how my husband had trusted me to give him good advice and he had trusted me to help him. Instead, I had let him down. It’s about how guilty I feel for letting him down. It’s about how quickly I judged myself and how much I blame myself for the tiniest thing. I realize that it isn’t the end of the world but at that moment, it seemed like it was.

Now I’ve projected all my own feelings of worthlessness on him and acted like I am the one who is mad at him when in reality, he should be the one mad at me. I realize now that I still can’t stop myself from feeling as my first reaction. I still can’t stop myself from reacting before I think.

If I had just stopped and thought about the matter, perhaps I wouldn’t be isolating myself now and acting like a puppy with its tail tucked between its legs. I know I need to acknowledge that yes, this feeling sucks; that yes, I made a mistake; that yes, I should’ve looked up more information online or something because I am no cook. I also know that I need to forgive myself for these things. I was trying to be helpful but I did so without first thinking. I know that I need to overcome that impulsivity that is inherent with my ADHD. And I know I need to stop beating myself up over things that others might not even really mind.

My husband is probably not mad at me but in my mind, I project that he is. That he must be in his office now being mad at me. I know these thoughts are probably lies my mind creates to keep me burdened and depressed. After all, J told me that I had created a fool-proof way to keep myself in a depressive loop. That I invalidate my own thoughts and thus destroy any semblance of self-confidence.

I told my husband a few days ago, “You know… I used to be more confident than this. I used to be able to stand up for a value or point that I believe in and not feel bad for believing what I do. Lately, I can’t even be confident that I’m good at trig when I know that I am. What happened?”

I think it’s starting to become clear to me that for the longest time, I’ve been blaming others for killing my confidence. “It’s their fault that I couldn’t do that…”, “It’s not my fault that the knowledge I got about that topic was flawed. The person who shared that knowledge with me was wrong… I just did as they did…”, “It’s my parents’ fault that I grew up not knowing how to deal with anger…” and so on and so forth. I am starting to realize that despite the anger turned inward that I experience in my self, I also experience blame-shifting.

Yes, I do blame myself for the tiniest things. But at the same time, I also blame others for a lot of things. I blame others for killing my confidence, for bringing me down, for not supporting me, for ignoring my pain etc. when really, I am the one who is killing my own confidence, I am bringing myself down, I am not self-caring, I am not self-empathetic, I am ignoring my own pain and I’m projecting all these thoughts and emotions towards others. It’s no wonder that I don’t have many friends. It’s no wonder that no one wants to interact with me anymore.

I find that it’s interesting that I sat down to write a little short post about how I find it ironic that even what is considered the “happiest” country in the world, Switzerland, has suicide rates. That despite being the happiest country in the world, they still have people who struggle with suicidal thoughts. Instead, this post turned into a self reflection on a deeper level – on a topic that I’ve not really allowed myself to contemplate because it’s too shameful and too painful to broach.

That I feel guilt, shame and self depreciation which I try to shift onto others through blame because to acknowledge that I’m doing these things to myself is far more difficult and painful than it is to blame others. Is this a breakthrough I need to move forward? Is this the breakthrough I need to stop the vicious cycle I’ve put myself in? Of finding answers, then invalidating the answers with self doubt and then slipping into depression again?

I don’t know these answers but I do know that this is probably the first step I need to take.

As for how I feel at the beginning of this post (how I felt extremely down because of my poor advice), I am actually feeling a lot better since I started writing this.

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