That time I played the blame game. And lost. To myself.
On any given week, I go to the gym 3 or 4 times. Usually, they are morning workouts, sometime between 7 and 9, followed by a quick shower and then off to clients.
Last Thursday was no exception — the only difference was that my first client wasn’t until 12:30, meaning that after my workout ended at 8:30, I would have several hours at home.
I was looking forward to those few hours. Indeed, I had them all planned out. I hadn’t had a free morning in ages and was excited about what I could accomplish in those 3 hours alone.
First, I would chop up the potatoes and carrots and celery for that night’s pot roast. Then, of course, I would brown the meat.
In the meantime, I would brew a pot of coffee and by the time it was ready, I would create a one-page document that I needed to give my client prior to the 12:30pm Healthy Conflict Workshop I was giving later that day.
Finally, I would jump in the shower and be out the door by 11:30. If I was lucky, I might even have time for an episode of Schitt’s Creek I had saved. It would be a wonderful morning, and I was looking forward to it.
As I walked home from the downtown YMCA back to my apartment in the West End, I finalized the details in my head. And as I got closer to my home, I added just one more task to my list — to use the washroom the second I got it the door. Too much hydration at the gym!
As my bladder filled and hopes for a productive morning came closer and closer to fruition with every footstep, I reached in my pocket only to realize that my house key had somehow fallen off of my keychain between my front door and the Y.
I was locked out of my apartment!
My hopes for a slow-paced morning were burst (much like what would happen any second with my bladder).
How am I going to get in? Worse, what am I going to do with my client? Not only was my computer inside with all of my supporting material for the training, I was in gym clothes. How could I possibly present dressed the way I was?
My thoughts raced. What about the meat I left out on the counter? If I didn’t get in it would certainly go bad. Did I leave the patio door open before I went to the gym? I must have! And now the house is going to get cold all day!
As a litany of worse case scenarios careened through my mind, what I did next defies all sanity and logical explanation: I blamed my husband for locking the door to the house.
Let me repeat that: I actually blamed my partner for the insensitivity of locking our home’s front door.
“UGH! How could he be so thoughtless?” I thought to myself.
“None of this would have happened if he had just left the door unlocked like I normally do when I leave the house,” I reasoned. “What was he thinking, knowing that I would be coming home after the gym, locking the door? What a jerk!”
What’s crazier about my internal rantings is that I didn’t even catch myself until just before the brink of total blaming melt down, right before I nearly sent a barrage of accusatory texts and messages to his phone.
The Nature Of Blame
Since then, I have gotten very curious about blame. Why was I so quick to do it?
It turns out, I’m not alone. Dr Brené Brown has been studying the nature of blame over the course of her career, and has come to identify two characteristics of this peculiar human behaviour.
First, blame serves as a mechanism for asserting control, certainly. But more precisely, blame serves as a way to discharge discomfort and pain.
The pain and discomfort of possibly having to reschedule my client, or worse, of having to give a course in gym clothes, of the pot roast, of not getting to watch a TV episode, of the open patio door, those all needed somewhere to go. And in my husband they found a very easy target (albeit entirely illogical one).
Dr. Brown also notes that blame by its nature is faster than accountability, which requires courage and time. “People who blame a lot seldom have the tenacity and grit needed to hold themselves and others accountable,” she says. “That’s because in their quest for finding someone or something to be wrong, they neglect to slow down and leave enough space for empathy to arise.”
So, to my husband, Rich, I owe you an apology: “I am sorry for being an A1 loser who, for a solid 15 seconds, actually believed that it was your fault for not taking preventative measures against me losing my own house key, and worse, that I blamed you for locking the door to your own house when you left.”
The absolute utter absurdity.