I'm Done Blaming Myself

**I'm writing this as a form of self discovery and in hopes that it helps someone. I haven't been myself for a while. I was worried that this would be my new normal, but I had a breakthrough at the recent Podfest conference.

I generally don't post about negativity or bad things in my life because I don't want to give them space, but in this case, I feel like I've gotten over it and I want to give credit and hope.**

Last year was really tough. It started when my dad passed away somewhat unexpectedly. He was sick and in a recovery facility due to some surgeries and other health issues that were beyond our ability to care for at home. However, the doctors had seemed optimistic that over the course of a few months, they'd be able to get him back into good enough health to come home.

Previous to this, I had frequently gone over to his house to drive him to and from dialysis, help him get to the doctor, or to family events. We replaced the stairs in the house my parents were renting so he could climb them and eventually ripped those out to put in a handicapped lift so we could get him into and out of his house in his wheelchair.

Because I'm self employed, I was the person who usually went over to his house when there was an emergency---he'd call me when he had fallen, for example---or to help him with any issues with his chair, TV, computer, or other things that made his life marginally better.

I didn't realize it at the time, but I began to take more and more ownership of his issues. I realized this last week that I had sort of developed the irrational belief that if I took good enough care of him, that he'd get better.

Yes, I know it's not rational. But I'm finding in many ways that we humans are not always rational in our beliefs.

This came to a head the day he passed.

My sister was getting married in the Provo City Center Temple. I had actually bought a handicapped van so I could load him into the van and take him to the wedding and any other family events that would come up.

Due to some issues with the fistula they used to hook him up to the dialyzer, he needed to go into surgery that morning. The plan was for him to get the surgery done, head into dialysis, and then I'd help him get into his church clothes so we could head to the temple in my van.

Instead, when I got to the dialysis center, he was in really bad shape. He told me he wasn't going to be able to the wedding. I decided to try to follow the van that was taking him back to the recover center where he was staying, but due to traffic, I turned around so I wouldn't miss the wedding as well.

We found out after the wedding while waiting for my sister and new brother-in-law to come out of the temple that when he got to the recovery center, he stopped breathing. They took him to the emergency room and performed CPR for over an hour before pronouncing him dead.

I felt like I had let him down.

I hadn't gotten him to the wedding.

If I had stuck with it and gone to the recover center, I would have been there when he stopped breathing.

I told myself that he wouldn't have wanted me to miss the wedding.

I told myself that he probably wouldn't have even known I was there.

The reality is that there was nothing I could have done.

But there was something nagging at me that I couldn't let go of.

Fast forward 10 months. By this point things were mostly back to normal. Not quite the same, but mostly back to normal.

I packed up my stuff and flew out to Orlando, Florida for the Podfest conference.

I fully expected that I'd meet a bunch of people and learn more about podcasting and pick up some things that would help grow my business.

What I didn't expect was that I'd confront some of these feelings a way that would help me heal them.

It wasn't any one thing in particular. Instead, it was the overall sense of things at the conference as I interacted with the other attendees.

They acted like I belonged there. I knew a few folks there, but for the most part, it was this treatment from complete strangers that did it.

Not only that, but they needed me and the skills and insights I offered.

The only thing I could do to let them down was failing to be myself.

That's when it really hit home. After 3 days of people demonstrating over and over that I was important, that I was a success, and that what I do really does make a difference, I started looking forward to what I could next for my extended podcasting and programming families instead of looking back at things I had failed to do that I had absolutely no control over.

It sounds cheesy to me to talk about a conference this way, but the truth is that most of the time I'm working from home. My family loves me, but family life is complicated and the things they need from me seem more routine.

At the conference Granny Pottymouth was giving out hugs just because you were there. Several people pitched software ideas my way. Other people were trying to expand their podcasts into podcast networks and wanted help formulating a plan. Others were looking for ways to get more sponsors. But even the folks I couldn't directly help out just wanted to be my friend.

So, I let myself be good enough.

I'm not sure if there's a moral to this story. I don't recommend that you go to Podfest every time you feel down. (It's only once per year anyway.) But, if you're struggling with being good enough, go find someplace where you can bask in some positivity for a few days and see if that doesn't change your outlook.

I'm also certain that someone is going to ask why I didn't state any of this during the gratitude ceremony at the end of the conference. Honestly, I was still figuring a lot of this out and wasn't sure how to say any of it on the stage. I do want to thank everyone who was there, though.

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