Monday, February 10, 2014

There's Enough Blame to Go Around...

Some people have a hard time admitting they are wrong, or have made mistakes.  I don’t have that affliction.  In fact, my tendency is in the opposite direction – I tend to blame myself for every problem that occurs in my life – boots don’t fit me?  There’s something wrong with my foot.  Something isn’t working – I’m probably using it wrong.  After an argument, I’m pretty much always the first to apologize, and usually I assume the brunt of the blame for starting it too.
 Now-some things really are my fault, so it’s a good thing, I think, that I can own up to it.  On the other hand, sometimes I end up blaming myself and feeling like a loser or (this is the worst) feeling guilty when it’s really not me causing the problem, and there is the rub, as they say.  I will blindly continue trying to use something or do something a certain way (as the instructions or whoever tells me to do it) and it turns out I’m not doing it wrong at all – I’m just suffering from faulty instructions! 
Take for example a recent revelation I had with the machine I use for quilting.  I inherited this machine from my excellent mother, who taught me how to use it and happily shared it with me when she was still on the planet.  Now I’m in my tenth year of quilting, and I’ve probably made at least fifty or more pieces, ranging from queen-sized bed covers to twenty-four by twenty four wall hangings.  I’ve done the majority of my quilting work on the old Brother, and I’ve always felt like I must be really uncoordinated, because I’ve never felt like I mastered the rhythm of the machine.  I secretly (or maybe not so secretly) have dreaded the quilting stage of a project because I feel like I’m really weak at it.  I’ve struggled to improve for ten years, and really have felt badly and even been sometimes even unsatisfied with some of my pieces because I thought I just couldn’t master the skill and the piece didn’t turn out exactly the way I wanted it to.  Not to mention my ripper and I are on frightening intimate terms, if you know what I mean. It may soon become a sixth finger for me.        
Turns out it’s not really me that is the problem at all – it’s the machine!  I discovered this when I decided to use my Bernina to quilt a small piece I was working on.  I figured it was small enough not to want to have to change machines, so I put on the free motion foot and practiced for a few minutes.  I couldn’t believe the control I had with it!  That piece was literally FUN to quilt!  That’s the first time I have enjoyed that step of the creation process so far, really.  I just felt so in control – amazing!  The reason it is so much more fun, I believe, is because I didn’t have to worry so much about the length of the stitches or how fast I was going – turns out this machine has a stitch regulator, and that, my friends, makes all the difference in the world!
Anyway, I learned something about myself, too - I’m afraid it’s an ego thing – whereas some people absolutely have to be right, I always believe I’m defective.  I hold myself to this high standard that I would never impose on anyone else – never!  But I don’t need to delve into the psychology of it, it doesn’t really matter – just making the connection – well, it may sound nuts, but ever since I made this realization, I’ve been able to stop myself from listening to that inner mean voice that always tells me I’m wrong and analyze the situation BEFORE I blame myself - that’s a good thing! 
Another good thing has come out of this situation, too.  When I told my husband the story of me and my machine and my great realization, he rubbed my back and said, “See you’re too hard on yourself – it’s not that you can’t do it, it’s just the machine.”   I cuddled up next to him and said, “You know, honey, you’re right – I need to not always assume that I’m the problem.  That machine I’ve been using just isn’t that great.  In fact, it stinks….that’s why I might need to get a new machine.  What do you think?” 

Hey, maybe I do blame myself too often, but I ain’t STUPID!