Brenda’s Story – Playing the Blame Game

“Yourself to Blame.”

If things go bad for youBrenda's Story - Playing the Blame Game

And make you a bit ashamed

Often you will find out that

You have yourself to blame


Swiftly we ran to mischief

And then the bad luck came

Why do we fault others?

We have ourselves to blame


Whatever happens to us,

Here is what we say

“Had it not been for so-and-so

Things wouldn’t have gone that way.”


And if you are short of friends,

I’ll tell you what to do

Make an examination,

You’ll find the faults in you…


You’re the captain of your ship,

So agree with the same

If you travel downward

You have yourself to blame


Author: Mayme White Miller

Be inspired. Look beyond the blame and let no distract you from your goals, nor convince you otherwise.



Brenda was packing. She’d been at it all morning and had to leave in an hour; but her packing kept being interrupted by sometimes angry, always sad, and sometimes wistful thoughts that swirled through her mind.

She’d found herself sitting on the edge of the bed wondering why Marsha, her best friend from junior high had invited her back to the 40-year class reunion of the class in which she and Marsha would have graduated together had her father not dragged her away from the life she knew to a life that with which she never completely identified. She blamed her father, long dead, for the lifetime of pain that she had suffered because he wanted to start a new business 800 miles away from the town where she and Marsha had lived.

Brenda and Marsha had been Christmas-card and birth-announcement close for the past 45 years. Life had become too busy and too complicated to be any closer than that. She had little desire to see child-hood friends, but Marsha had been so insistent in her invitation and on the phone. “It would be so good to reconnect,” she’d encouraged.

There was an arrival drinks party on Thursday night. She’d need a nice slightly-more-than-casual pants and blouse outfit for that.

Brenda never quite got over blaming her father for his decision; and blaming her mother for being so weak as to let him put everything they owned on the line for his pipe dream. Hardly a day passed that she didn’t spend at least a few minutes in an emotional battle with her father, her mother, or both. Depending on what else was going on in her life, her emotions could range from smoldering hurt to outright rage.

Brenda had never made any real friends in high school and college. The town where they moved was so into Southern heritage and “being part of the right family” and Brenda had neither the heritage nor the family. So she spent a lot of time on the outside looking in.

Every party that she spent standing by the wall watching other kids have fun was the direct result of her father being so mean and stupid as to move the family without considering what it would do to all of them, especially Brenda.

She had no expectations that this reunion would be any different, but Marsha was so persuasive. And Brenda’s kids had thought she should go back home for the weekend, so here she was packing.

Friday’s events included a golf outing, shopping, and an informal dinner in the evening. So she needed to pack daytime casual and something a little dressy for the dinner. Brenda had no interest in the shopping, so when Marsha suggested renting a golf-cart and riding along as others played golf, she’d agreed to do that. Marsha said it would give them lots of time to “catch up.”

Robert had loved golf. Brenda had met Robert in college and married him 4 months out of college. She had no idea why he’d fallen in love with her. She’d never been really happy. She had blamed him secretly for her unhappiness. She didn’t understand why she had felt that way toward him. She was unhappy and it had to be somebody’s fault.  Robert had been totally devoted to her and had provided a good life for her and their son and daughter. He’d also been thoroughly entranced by their grandchildren. That had ended with his heart attack four years ago. So the golf outing with Marsha would be sort of a memorial to Robert, even though she blamed him for leaving her alone.

She’d often wondered why he stayed with her because her kids certainly didn’t. Well it wasn’t that bad, she thought. Both kids lived within an hour, just in different directions. They just didn’t visit her very often. It had always been Robert and Brenda visiting them instead of the other way around. The fact the she was often moody and bitchy (her choice of words) made life hard on her family. As soon as the kids left for college, time together became occasional weekends and holidays.

Robert had always gone to church, but Brenda seldom went. She didn’t think she fit in very well with the church crowd. They’d always gone to church when she was a child and she had lots of friends there. When they’d moved, they had tried church. She still remembered all the faces turning and looking at the weird people from up north as they walked in and took their seats.

That same “outside” feeling persisted throughout high school and college. There were times when she acknowledged that she could have been more friendly; but mostly, they didn’t want her there and she didn’t want to be there; and why did they have to be that away?

Her father’s business venture failed and they lost just about everything but their home. So there wasn’t any money to go back north for college, the out-of-state tuition and travel costs being prohibitive. So she went to an in-state school. It wasn’t too bad, but her shyness and moodiness made it easier for people to have other friends. The frustrating thing was that she had had lots of friends before they moved; and her father destroyed all that; and her mother had let him get away with it.

Robert and Brenda had done okay financially, but the memory of her father’s failure made her worry all the time about going broke. She shared her fears often with Robert and his assurances were never quite enough. She blamed Robert for her worries about money.

She’d told Marsha that she would really like to spend Saturday morning driving around and seeing the town she remembered. Marsha agreed with that and suggested some nice places for lunch. There was a tour of the old school scheduled for Saturday afternoon.

There was a dinner-dance scheduled for Saturday evening and she’d need to pack something dressy for that. She pulled open her lingerie drawer and decided that was absolutely no need to pack anything other than the white utility pieces. She certainly had no black-lace expectations about the dinner-dance.

Marsha met her at the airport about 5:30 and took her to her hotel. The cocktail party was at the hotel so they had a nice time visiting with a lot of old friends. Marsha apparently had prepped everyone about inviting Brenda because not one person asked why she was there since she was not actually part of the graduating class of 1970.

Marsha was twice-divorced and declared that her life was complete with her two daughters, handsome sons-in-law, and the five, delightful grandchildren. She had absolutely no interest in another romantic relationship at this stage of her life, she laughingly shared.

This attitude puzzled Brenda. How could Marsha be so light-hearted and happy considering her history?

Friday was a beautiful day and after lunch Marsha had driven them out to the country club where they arranged for a golf cart to follow the golfing crowd. Brenda was more and more intrigued how Marsha was so happy and jovial with everybody!

After an hour, Brenda steered the cart over to the little bluff overlooking the lake and they found some comfortable park benches and sat down for the talk Brenda had been planning to have all morning.

“How can you be so upbeat with your life: two divorces and everything else?” she asked.

Marsha’s quick reply was, “I just don’t think about it.”

“You don’t think about it! It happened to you, not once, but twice! How can you not think about it? I can’t help but think about the things people have done to me!”

“I have too many blessings to think about,” Marsha replied. “I don’t have time to mess up my life thinking about stuff that will only make me unhappy.”

Brenda didn’t reply, so Marsha asked her, “What do you think about most of the time.”

Thinking for a moment, Brenda answered, “When I’m busy, I think about what I’m doing. But when I have time on my hands, which I have a lot of these days, I tend to think about how my father destroyed my life by moving us away from here; and about how my mother let him do it. I think about Robert dying and leaving me alone. I think about worrying about money so much. I think about my kids not having any time for me anymore.”

“And how does all that thinking make you feel?” Marsha asked.

“It makes me miserable, to tell the truth. I sometimes get so worked up that I have to take a sleeping pill to get to sleep.” As if on a roll, she continued, “It causes me lots of anxiety and stress. I’m such a bitch sometimes that people don’t want to be around me. Then I blame them for being so stuck-up and judgmental. If they only knew how much I’ve suffered in life, they would be more sympathetic.”

“If thinking all those negative thoughts makes you so miserable, to use your word, then why do you think those thoughts?

Brenda shot back, more emotionally than she intended, “Why do I think about the negative thoughts? They’re the history of my life. How can I NOT think them?”

Marsha smiled warmly, “Whenever one of those negative thoughts pops into your mind, you can simply say “I will not think about that.”

Brenda almost shouted, “That’s the stupidest thing I ever heard!”

Marsha waited for Brenda to calm down and then said gently, “Let me tell you my story.”

“When my first husband walked out on me for a younger model after twenty-five years of marriage, two children and, at the time three grandchildren, I was furious and I made sure that everybody knew how furious and hurt I was. I was able to calm down after some years and during that time I met husband number two.”

“But every time I saw number one at a family event with yet another bimbo on his arm, I’d get furious all over again blaming him for all my pain.”

“After three years, husband number two told me that he had better things to do with his life than listen to a bitch complain about her first husband; so he left me. And he had the nerve to blame it on me.”

“So I became double trouble as a bitch. My girls stopped coming around, my friends at church deserted me, and I had nothing left but work and misery.”

“My Aunt Annie, since deceased, was in assisted living and I visited her one day. She was sharp as a tack; she just couldn’t walk and take care of herself any longer. I had just gotten off the phone trying to plan something with my daughters and they were using every excuse in the book to avoid being with me. I guess I was wearing my emotions on my sleeve when I walked in Aunt Annie’s door.”

“My ever-direct Aunt Annie nailed me after about five minutes. ‘I’ve known you since I changed your diapers all those years ago and I’ve never seen you this wrought up. Do you want to tell me what’s going on in your life?’”

“So I told her. When I’d finished, she asked me the same question I just asked you, ‘If those thoughts make you unhappy, why do you think them?’”

“I answered exactly the same way you did; ‘How can I not think about them?’”

Aunt Annie shared with me what she called a simple and effective Rule for Peace that she said had served her well for most of her ninety-two years.

She told me that whenever a negative thought pops into my mind, I should say out loud to myself, “I will not think about that.” Then I go ahead with what I’m doing. If the thought pops up again, I should say again, out loud, “I will not think about that.” I can say it softly, but I must say it out load to myself.

She told me that if I was in a social situation where it would be awkward to say it out loud, I could simply use my hand as if covering a cough and say it into my hand, “I will not think about that.”

She told me that I wouldn’t notice much difference at first. But she promised me that if I would dismiss my negative thoughts consistently, it will make all the difference in the world to me emotionally.

She then challenged me to keep a calendar of dismissing my thoughts. I should make a note on the calendar each day of how many times I had said, “I will not think about that.”

She also said that since she got lonely at the home, I should visit or call her at least once a week and tell her the numbers I’d written on my thought calendar.

“Skeptical, I left and had the opportunity to say the phrase in my car leaving the parking lot; and several other times before I got home. I made the notations in my calendar like Aunt Annie suggested.”

“Brenda, I have to tell you that I was amazed to see the numbers on my calendar. By the end of the first week, I was saying the phrase half as often as when I started. And more amazingly, I discovered that I was thinking more positive thoughts, not because I necessarily wanted to, but because I have the emotional peace where I could think about other things.”

“I faithfully reported to Aunt Annie every week but after about four weeks, we didn’t talk about my negative thoughts anymore. Each of my visits was filled with all sorts of stories about my family and the life that Aunt Annie had lived. What joy and peace!”

“When she died three years ago, I felt like I’d lost a dear friend, but more than that, I knew I have been given a priceless gift – the gift of personal peace.”

“Do you see why I wanted so much for you to come to this reunion? I had sensed that you were lacking peace and I wanted to share Aunt Annie’s Rule for Peace with you. I’ll tell you this, if you hadn’t come up here this weekend, I would have invited myself down to see you in a matter of weeks.”

“This is a fact, Brenda, You can experience personal peace in your life and it will make a world of difference to you!”

Marsha reached in her bag and gave me a card with Aunt Annie’s Rule for Peace and challenge on it.

“Brenda, I promise you this works because it worked for me. I predict that before I finish this sentence, you’ll be thinking to yourself, ‘This will never work for me. My problems are too bad.’ That needs to be the first time you say to yourself, ‘I will not think about that.’

At the dinner-dance that night, Brenda felt like a giddy teenager sharing a secret when she discovered how many times she discreetly covered a fake cough and said to herself, “I will not think about that.” She had a great time visiting with childhood friends and even sharing a few dances with some of the guys from the past. Each time she faked the cough, she would glance a Marsha and share a eye-smile.

At the Sunday brunch and later on the way to the airport, she thanked Marsha for caring enough to share Aunt Annie’s Rule for Peace. She truly felt optimism and hope for the first time in forty-five years; and that was a blessing.

The end.

This fictional story introduces a principle that has been around for thousands of years. In addition to the Bible, philosophers like Confucius, Marcus Aurelius, Shakespeare, and others have written or spoken about our wonderful capacity to train ourselves not to ruminate on negative thoughts and to minimize the effects of emotional or physical pain in our lives. The danger of ruminating on emotional pain is, in addition to more pain, stress, depression, anxiety, emotional issues, and worse.

Children as well as adults can easily understand the simple Rule for Peace that will work for many negative emotions that result from almost any negative thinking.

 This concept is explained fully in an online eCourse called Finding Personal Peace The course leads you through these life principles and also covers topics like making good decisions, and dealing with serious stuff like death, illness, abuse, and addiction.

The eCourse leads one through a process of turning the habits of negative emotions into the habits of peace and freedom. You can read other short stories on life issues by searching the category, Short Stories, at the right. You can start with the course today and begin to find more personal peace in your life immediately.

All the best.

Copyright 2014 Birmingham, Al USA. All rights reserved.