Placing Blame

I wrote this post last night when I was feeling far more optimistic than I am today. But rather than ditch the feelings of positivity and succumbing to my inner pissed-offed-ness, we’re going with it…

There are billions of different types of people in this world.

Today, I am here to discuss four of them.

OK, really only one of them. But first, let’s address the four types of people I’m pondering:

  1. Those who blame others for their problems.
  2. Those who blame themselves for their problems.
  3. Those who assess each situation and then place blame — either on others or on themselves — accordingly and appropriately.
  4. Those who do not concern themselves with thoughts of “blame” and instead merely acknowledge their problems, find solutions for them and move forward. These people are the world’s freaks of level-headed nature. Try as we may, some of us simply cannot understand the maturity of this Person Type #4.

For most of my life, I was Blame Person #2, as identified above. This person is also known as “The One Who Is Too Hard On Herself.”

No one wants to be on Team Ali 🙁 🙁 🙁
I went to a pep rally last week. A real one, at a high school, with cheerleaders and kids dressed up in overalls. I tried to sit in the section with the Wrestling team but later discovered that I wasn’t welcome there. So I sat on a bench with my coworker instead. Team Ali flying mostly solo.

I always saw myself as the root of any problem, in many cases simply because I loathe the thought of ever blaming someone else for my issues.

So when my stomach got really bad this week — yeah, Crohn’s bad — and I started thinking (OK, knowing) I was on the outer brink of a Crohn’s flare-up, my mind immediately went to myself.

What did I do wrong?

Which “bad” foods did I eat?

Why did I let this happen?

But as I laid in bed Sunday night pondering my little worries, I convinced myself to calm the crazy.

First, I am not 100% positive I’m experiencing a flare-up. I’m only like 99.6% sure, and that leaves, you know, a big margin for error. I have some very, very clear indications telling me this is a flare and I have spent the past two days feeling absolutely awful and trying to stay calm about it. But regardless of the obvious symptoms, I’m not going to fully diagnose this little setback myself. I’ll let Dreamy Dr. Shah do that this afternoon when I see him.

Secondly — and more importantly — I didn’t bring this on myself. I know I didn’t. So the self hate shit just had to come to an abrupt halt before it really started.

I haven’t necessarily been eating a balanced, healthy diet, but I continue to avoid my trigger foods. Corn-covered-fried chicken, get out of my face.

I SPY: Two cookies that appear to be chocolate chip-less. May as well throw them away. What a waste of dough.

My workouts have been less frequent and far less intense than they’ve been in years, and my stress level has been shockingly under control since the holidays passed.

I ran one whole time last week. It was on the hotel treadmill in the hotel “gym” in Louisville and it wasn’t pretty.

Work is busy. Work will always be busy. I love that it’s busy. And it’s nothing I can’t handle.

The teeny tiny plane that took my coworker and me from Charlotte, NC, to Louisville, KY, for a lovely 24-hour business trip last week.

I may not get exactly eight hours of sleep every night, but I’m hardly pulling all-nighters.

My life feels like it’s in good order — so why the digestive insanity?

I don’t know.

And I won’t concern myself with placing blame. I’m being Person #4.

Instead of pointing fingers at myself, at the people who make me crazy or at the sly piece of corn that could have snuck its way into my lunch salad, I will stay calm.

In fact, I’m weirdly chill about this right now considering I leave for vacation next week and I really do not want to be sick for that.

I can mostly handle being Sick In The City. I don’t think I can handle being Crohn’s On A Plane. I definitely can’t deal with being Crohn’s Wears Ski Pants In Colorado. Meanwhile, this is a photo of the sun setting over the Ohio River…which separates Kentucky and Indiana. I know, it doesn’t make any sense to me, either.

Again, I’m trying to learn from the mistakes I made last year. Freaking out and being crazy about a flare-up isn’t going to help anyone. It probably makes my body react in a harsher way and it pushes away the people I care about so deeply.

Maybe I’m in denial. Maybe, despite the psychotic bathroom runs, crazy pain and other ugly symptoms we’re not going to talk about this time around, I’ve just learned to be OK with this inconveniently unpredictable disease. Maybe I can take it in stride and just see what happens.

So don’t look for me on the Bridle Path this week, and you lucky wait-listers can have all my spin bikes. I’ll be doing my best to make it from my bed to the office and back.

Brian “made” me breakfast in bed this weekend. Am I a lucky girl or what? (Really what happened is I whine-yelled for him to make breakfast in bed, and as he was on his way to work he lovingly — I think — tossed a “granola bar” toward my head. I took it as a romantical gesture.)

I refuse to think that I’m having a true flare-up this early in 2013. And hey, if I am, I can handle it. I can handle anything…ish. I’m staying wildly optimistic about all this and I’m so glad I remembered to be thankful for my health every day for the past five (!!!) months.

So bring it, Crohn’s.

No, ew, I’m kidding.

Please don’t “bring it.”

Please stay away.

But just…I don’t know…let’s try to get along a little better this year, OK?

JUST BECAUSE I’M CURIOUS: Which person are you? Judgment-free zone here, as you know. But do you prefer to place blame, avoid blame or just be nasty to yourself because you’re crazy and it’s easier?



42 Responses

  1. I think (hope?) I’m shifting towards #3 from a #2 – #4 seems totally unattainable, but perhaps I’ll reach it when I’m 86 years old and have a better grip on life.
    In the meantime, I hope you feel better! Crohn’s sucks (that’s putting it mildly, huh?). But you’ve always been so strong and you have someone “making” you breakfast in bed, which always helps every situation 🙂 Rest up for your vacation and enjoy Colorado!
    Random, but I have to tell you I made beet juice this week and loved it (my GI tract is most definitely still stained…)

  2. Ali, I totally get you being person #2. I tend to be the same person, but like you said, with maturity, you can grow to be person #4. It takes a certain level of maturity and experience to get there. I just turned 30 and I must say, as the years pass, I’m becoming more of that #4. It gets to a point where you just say “screw it” and nothing really seems that bad. One learns to accept things they cannot change and they move forward. Because Ali, we ultimately cannot control everything. Take care…

  3. I flip between #1, #3 and #4, depending on things. Hah! Does that mean I’ve a multiple personality disorder? ;p

    Anyway, forget about things and enjoy the vacay Ali.

  4. I go between 2 and 3…and I hate to hear the ugly C word possible flare. My poor bf had a rough few days on our mini vaca and he handles it all with such grace.And we re-counted EVERYTHING we ate and nothing was new or different!! Oh the stories I could tell…but oh how I love him. Hang in there and I’m praying it all goes away!!

  5. Yikes – I know Crohns flares can be an awful hellish mess. I am sending positive vibes your way! I don’t know what on earth I’d do if I had to deal with something of that magnitude – probably throw myself a big old pity party and blame myself (yup – #2 blamer).

    On a happier note, I love that you use the word “romantical.” It is one of my favorite words of all time, and my boyfriend loves telling me that it isn’t a word like it’s going to stop me …;)

  6. B. Definitely B….
    I’m sorry you’re not feeling well.
    Crohn’s: BE GONE.
    (….or at least well-controlled/in remission)

  7. I really used to be a self blamer. But lately I have realized sometimes things just happen and blame wont help anything. It has changed my outlook on everything entirely. I still have relapses when i beat myself up but overall I have a much better attitude.

  8. Gotta give a shout out to Bowling Green, KY! We are about 1 & 1/2 hour south of Louisville 🙂 Love reading your blog, btw!

  9. Almost always my first instinct is to blame myself (#2) but lately I’m sometimes realizing it’s not always my fault (a #3) but I truly strive to be a #4 (which is so not easy).

    Stay positive!

  10. I am guessing you aren’t going to get a lot of people writing in to say they are a type 1:). I think we are generally really bad at figuring things like this about ourselves. I know plenty of people who would tell you there are a type 2 and then immediately explain why that is so sad because all of their problems are actually everyone else’s fault, but they just are super responsible/sensitive whatever. So I’m not going to try and answer your question, but I will say I’m striving to be a type 4.
    About the chronic disease thing, my personal mantra is, I have migraines because I have migraines. Something in my brain is broken. I do not because I did something wrong and didn’t follow the life plan every stranger I’ve ever met has tried to set up for me. I do my best to keep them under control, but seriously F you to anyone who acts as if I’m just not trying hard enough to take care of myself. (Obviously I do not say that to doctors when they are asking if I’m having more migraines than usual, but just the general ill informed public).

    1. Haha! So true. I didn’t even think of that — the people who are quick to blame others would obviously (probably) never admit that. Though I’d give credit to anyone who was like, “Hell yeah I blame others! Screw them! I’m amazing!” Hehe.

  11. What? No pictures of Tyler??! Just kidding — hang in there, girl, and do what works for you. Save the plan tix for vacation, not a guilt trip!

  12. So sorry to hear that you are having another flare-up. IBD sucks!!! I can completely relate to your post and to being a #2. My final flare of UC happened 2.5 years ago right after my much-loved dog died. I ended up in the hospital for a couple of weeks and eventually had surgery to remove my colon. I blamed myself thinking I must have grieved too hard and caused my flare and my surgery. Really? Who isn’t sad when their pet dies? My body should have been able to handle that. Since then I have tried to become a #4. Last month I found out I have avascular necrosis as a result of taking a high dose of prednisone during that same hospitalization. I went right back to being a #2. Maybe if I had done things differently and controlled every single flare with this or that magic diet or chose different treatments I never would have had to take such a high dose of that stuff. I was sure that getting this new disease was all my fault. What??? It isn’t my fault. It isn’t my doctor’s fault. We were all doing the best we could. The drug wasn’t taken or given excessively or unnecessarily and this was just an extremely rare side effect. When it comes to diseases, there are so many things that are completely out of our control. I am back to striving to be a #4. Best wishes with your appointment today and hope things get better soon—none of this is your fault. You did not bring it onto yourself. Keep up your great positive attitude and remember– cookies are a very, very important stress reliever.

  13. I am a #2. Unless it’s something my fiance messes up, then a #1 (bad, I know!)
    I have been on those teeny tiny planes. Multiple times. It makes me hate US Airways.
    If you ever go back to Louisville, there’s a great running path next to the river, both on the Kentucky side and the Indiana side of the Ohio River…which continues to flow from the Ohio-Kentucky border. It makes sense if you go an hour north!

  14. I’ll be on Team Ali!

    I’m a #2 all the way, even when it’s someone elses fault I like to try to think of ways I could have prevented the issue.

    I recently pulled an intercorsal muscle and have been sidelined for a week. I blamed myself for a couple days and then was able to change my mindset to #4. Blaming myself isn’t going to make me heal any faster.

    I hope you feel better soon!

  15. I blame myself all the time for stuff and can get really down on myself. It’s a long process to not doing it that I’m only at the beginning of but I guess the first step is being aware that you’re doing it.

  16. I happen to be working on a blog about placing blame vs taking responsibility. There is a fine line. Sometimes it IS another person’s or situation’s fault. That’s okay.

    Sometime’s it is our fault, and that’s okay, also

    The key is not to linger on it so much, the blaming/taking responsibility becomes a problem and creates inaction.

    Just my two cents.

  17. I am number 2. I hate when other play the blame game. It’s really frustrating to me. I think because I blame myself so for so much, and I take responsibility for my actions, I get frustrated when others don’t.

    I’m sorry you are getting hit with a flare up.

  18. I think I’m a bit of both #1 & #2. If I always placed blame perfectly, I’d be a #3, but sometimes I get it screwed up, and blame myself for things that are out of my control, and blame others for things that are my fault. I figure this makes me human….

    I am, however, married to a #4, which is alternately awesome, and incredibly frustrating (Since I WANT to be a #4! But I’ll probably NEVER be a #4!! Why can’t I make myself a #4!!!! —> Cue #2 behavior. :)]

    Kudos for the current positivity, though. It can be freeing, right? [Sort of but not at all like when I decided I refused to get stressed about delayed/canceled flights, because that was DEFINITELY not my fault, and everyone else would just have to deal. Made travel 10x less stressful!]

    Seriously, though – one day at a time, relax, rest, heal – and worry about tomorrow – tomorrow! *sends good colon thoughts*

  19. Hi Ali, I’m sorry to hear you were not feeling too well. After reading your blogs you have inspired me to start my own blog. My main goal is to inspire and provide advise to other runners Wheather it’s a question about back pain or barefoot running I am happy to answer them. Check out my blog, it would be amazing if you can make suggestions on how I can me it grow.

    The blog is

  20. 1) feel better! 2) I’d say I’m the #3 type of person… minus the “accordingly and appropriately” part. I just like placing blame. 3) My parent’s grew up along the Ohio River in southern Ohio (oddly enough, where the river separated Ohio and Kentucky) and my dad used to go on longs runs across the bridge to KY and my grandma (according my parents’ stories) would tell my dad he should stop running “so far” because he was going to “jar a kidney loose”. Your Ohio River pic reminded me of her running wisdom. 🙂

  21. I like to tell myself I’m a 3 or a 4, but in reality I’m probably more of a two. I put way to much on myself. I’m trying to be better about keeping things in perspective and being level headed, it doesn’t always work out that way.

  22. I think I oscillate between peoples #2, #3, and in rare moments, #4. Story to commisserate with you: A couple weeks ago I “cheated” and ate a couple gluten filled things thinking “what’s the harm?” Then had a 4 hour flight to Portland – lets just say things got bad and it may or may not have been one of my most embarrassing flights. Never. Again.

  23. Ali! I miss your outfit photos that you would take in the bathroom. When are you bringing those back? I need some fashion inspiration! (I’m serious, I’ve may or may not have gotten an idea from a few of those photos).

    I am a combo of #2 and #4.

  24. I had to giggle in sympathetic horror at the idea of Crohn’s in ski-pants!!! Unbearable. But that’s a long way away and you’ll be mended again by then! You have to be.

    That plane is TINY. Was it cool or terrifying?

    1. Terrifying at first because I was super sick from the flight before. I boarded and immediately felt claustrophobic. But once I got seated and we took off it was a surprisingly smooth flight. No fear!

  25. I hope you feel better soon, Ali! I am struggeling with the same things, even though I am not sure why my body does those weird things. I am definitely #1 when it comes to blaming the doctors on not finding out what I have. Otherwise, I am more person #2, which I don’t belive is too bad.

  26. I think I am generally bouncing from person 3 to person 4, but when it comes to my Crohn’s, forget it, I am a 2 all the way. I am struggling with the same thing, you are not alone. When it comes to your gut, it is hard not to automatically think that it had to have been something you ate, or the extra tough ab workout you did. On top of that I feel like people on the outside are constantly telling me I need to go gluten free or vegan.. ahhh! I like cake and cookies and cheese, OK, so be quiet.. is what I want to say…

    Sometimes I rise above my first reaction of, what the heck did you do now, and realize it is a disease, but man alive is it tough! Hang in there!

  27. I am definitely #2. I rarely blame others, even when they’re most certainly at fault. It’s hard to try and switch your mindset and become a #4. I am trying to do the same thing right now. Life is too short to blame yourself and live with regrets.

  28. You can definitely get through anything so try not to stress out too much!!! For it me depends on the situation, if I feel like I’m going to get in trouble I instantly think of how it is someone else’s fault (I always tried I avoid getting in trouble as a kid) if its something else that has to do with me, a failure or issue I always place blame on myself.

  29. i would say i skip around between putting blame on anyone and anything i can find, and being brutally hard on myself. then i come up with elaborate absurd plans to ‘fix’ things, and usually end up overwhelming myself and once again being hard on myself.

    vicious cycle. still working on breaking it.

  30. I would like to think I am person #4. But that might be having too high an opinion of my self. In truth, when there is an issue, I am #4 until the issue is resolved. Then I turn into #1. It makes me great in a crisis. I stay strong and forge ahead while others fall apart. But as soon as the crisis is over, it is my turn.

    The Kidless Kronicles

  31. Ok, so I know next to nothing about Crohn’s, and therefore correct me if I’m wrong: when you have a chronic illness, there’s very little blame to assign to yourself, right? It’s not like you made a mistake at work or didn’t train for a race, you know? Be kind to yourself, Ali. It sucks, and I hope you feel better soon!

    And, for the record, I’m a nasty combination of person 1 and 2. I can be a total bitch to other people OR myself, depending on the situation (so maybe I should smarten up and take my own advice? Maybe?)

    1. Ha, that age-old (or not…) question…Theoretically, YES, the disease is chronic, so it’s always in me and can “attack” at any time. But after it’s been dormant or “in remission” for a while, doctors typically ask you to think about anything that could have triggered the flare-up. Things like stress and certain foods can cause or ignite flare-ups. In other words…Who the hell knows…

      1. Yeah, that’s what I’ve gathered from reading here for a while. But like you said, stress seems like it’s own trigger, right? I think you’ve nailed it on the head that you cannot stress yourself out about this or else you’re just going to feel worse (physically AND mentally). Hope you’re feeling better soon, Ali.

  32. I blame myself for everything. I beat myself up and hate myself and make myself sick with my self-blame. I’ve had times where I was able to get a better hold on it, but it doesn’t usually last. I’m trying again now to let things go but it is very hard. I’m proud of you for being so levelheaded about not feeling well right now and for resting up. I hope this helps and you feel better soon, and learn that blaming yourself just adds to the stress.

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about ali

I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
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