I missed my very first payment of rent at my new apartment. Imagine my surprise when I found a notice to vacate on my door. I quickly fixed the problem with the property managers; apparently the auto-pay system didn’t go through, despite my double-checking all the numbers. They forgave the late fee [“just this once!”] and moved on.
I didn’t move on, at least for twenty or so minutes. I felt mildly guilty and very embarrassed. What a way to start living in a new apartment complex! I was blaming myself for a mistake anyone could have made.
For what, exactly, am I blaming myself for, I had to ask? A typo? A computer glitch? Forgetting to check my calendar?
A lot of my sense of guilt has come from the sorts of experiences like these I’ve had in my past. In my mind’s eye, I grew up in a culture that was oriented toward blaming others for problems — and as a result, I gained the habit of blaming myself for the tiniest of infractions. If I blame myself, I reasoned, I won’t be blamed so often by others.
How wrong I’d been on that.