Recently I was reading through the work of other bloggers and came across a post by Kendall F. Person, thepublicblogger. In an article from January 12th, he specifically cites the Murder of George Moscone and Harvey Milk by Dan White in 1978 and White’s attorney using expert testimony to shift the blame of the killings from the defendant to his dietary habits, which aided in White being convicted of the lesser crime of voluntary manslaughter. This later became known as “The Twinkie Defense” in the reporting of the trial. It is a very well written piece and I highly suggest reading his full editorial, The Dissection of Blame.
It was this passage from that article that gave me pause for an introspective moment:
“When our decisions and our choices, wreak havoc in our lives, we may tend to become more defensive, angry without knowing why. We are challenged in getting back on track, everything we do derails, and everything we try does fail. So we begin the dissection of blame, assigning each disappointment to a family member or friend.”
One of the things I find about my sobriety, is going back and facing all of the things that I had previously blamed on other people in my life. I walked away from the rest of my family when my parents died and later was angry at them for not being there; I watched my business fail from my inattention to the details and claimed my would be associates were accountable for not doing “their part”; I would hurt my friends and loved ones and blame them for being so fragile; I would shut people out and it was always their fault because, “they didn’t get me.”
On and on I shifted guilt for my short comings and failures onto others and eventually, as I fell into my alcoholism, I would cite job stress, relationship problems, and social aspects of bar life as the reasons why I drank. When all of that fell away I wound up blaming the alcohol for why I was so miserable all the time. It was, of course, very easy to claim that I couldn’t stop drinking because I was addicted.
Time has proved all of these notions to be utter crap and now, living sober and relatively clear-headed, I am left to take hold of the responsibility for my faults and mistakes. I have to say it is a liberating as well as, at times, frightening prospect.
Image Credit: ThePointer by Gabe Austin CC-BY-2.0 Thanks To: Kendall F. Persons for inspiring this post.