In parenting workshops I often consider how I have needed to learn the secrets of living beyond blame when my life was suddenly defined by the consequences of a decision I made.
Years ago, I woke in the middle of the night with a niggling sense of uncertainty. Unable to settle I slunk out of bed and sat in a dark, newly decorated nursery. The faint orange glow of a streetlight edged around the curtains of our box room, like an artificial sunrise. I sat in silence, surrounded by the lingering aroma of freshly covered paint and sense of new beginnings. Blanketed by the stillness of the midnight hour I stared at the cot opposite as it lay waiting for an inhabitant. My baby had kicked a Hot Chocolate resting on my bump a couple of hours earlier but now it lay silent and a seed of fear began to swell.
That night I chose not to seek medical advice until the morning. The midwife I called later reassured me, as did hearing my baby’s heart beat. Further delays ensued when I arrived on the antenatal ward until I gave birth to my firstborn son by caesarian just after 2pm. The surgeon had declared she was 90% sure our baby would be fine but he managed to shun the odds and was born limp and not breathing.
I have revisited that night many times and the truth afforded to me by hindsight is that I made a mistake. When I couldn’t feel my baby move I should have gone to the hospital. But there is another truth. I do not know to what extent I am to blame for the outcome.
A Blame Culture
When I qualified as a nurse it was fashionable to talk about the hospital not having a blame culture. Yet nursing today includes documenting and treating patients in such a way that anticipates litigation. It seems our society’s appetite for blame is insatiable. Have you tripped on a pavement? The adverts scream at you, “Someone must be to blame”. This together with our own perception that nothing bad should happen to us creates a heady cocktail of liability.
Now don’t get me wrong I am all for complaining and seeing improvements in practice. I have a whole folder in my filing cabinet marked Current Complaints’. But today each of the complaints I pursue are linked to making things better for the future not apportioning blame. I now realise that any perceived justice doesn’t change my feelings of bitterness. Only I can deal with emotions cultivated by a situation.
There have been other instances, and there will be in the future, when a choice I made had dire consequences.
Today, I live differently.
Simple truths that help to Live Beyond Blame
- I can only make a decision based on the information I have at the time. Retrospect and hindsight only happen after.
- I make mistakes and by definition these are not intentional.
- Everyone else makes mistakes and we can all learn from them.
- The consequence of a mistake does not indicate the severity of the error.
- Bad things happen even when no-one is to blame
Revisiting that night in the nursery is painful. I may never know the implications of the decision I made. I can choose to blame myself and others, allowing a cancerous anger to grow within me, or I can choose forgiveness. I made a choice to forgive myself and afford the same courtesy to the medical staff who cared for my son and me.
During Born at the Right Time parenting workshops I am reminded of the differences in the paths we take and the common emotional milestones. Recognising that no-one and nothing is perfect is a small step into the beauty of broken things. Be assured that I don’t think it is wrong to fight for compensation. I don’t think it is wrong to recognise mistakes and seek change. But I do think it is healthy to live beyond blame.
Although suing can dramatically improve your standard of living it may also be a hinderance to emotional wellbeing.
And God’s culpability in all of this? Well that’s another Blog entirely.
To join me in a Born at the Right Time Parenting workshop follow the link.
£20 for a 2-part workshop with heavy discounts available because we don’t want anyone to miss out.