I am the original poster from this question on a new account. I tried registering the account, but for some reason it made me have a fresh account with no rep and did not acknowledge my original post, so I couldn't comment further.
Now, this is a question on the academia stack exchange, and I can absolutely understand if it is off-topic for this board. However, I just feel the commenters and answerers here being academics can provide a good appeal to authority for me (and seeking a professional is also something I am taking seriously about this as this is certainly something worth talking about). If it is thought this question should be posted somewhere else I'm perfectly happy to do so regardless.
The comments and answers in the thread have been very insightful and helpful for me, and have helped me get to the core of what was bothering me. People have been telling me that it's fine to forgive myself and move on with my life, but I've realized that this thought has been so gripping for me if I try and dig deep and understand the root of my worry: "You can forgive yourself, but it only matters if the institution that you've 'wronged' forgives you. That's the only forgiveness that can 'exonerate' you, because they're the institution that you have wronged in some way." In the same sense that if I've wronged someone in the past without them knowing that I have, it isn't good enough to forgive myself for it -- I need the person's forgiveness. Someone who has committed a crime but wasn't convicted for it can't simply forgive himself -- he needs to do his time! The previous sentence seems to encapsulate my psyche best -- particularly that last clause. To me, this is an almost objective idea (cautiously aware that 'objective ideas' are a fallacy in themselves) and blatantly true. I know my 'violation' (which many have said would simply be thrown out if I even mentioned it to the university) isn't comparable to a crime or anything, but it contains the core of my message.
So my question essentially is: do I even have the authority to pardon myself for not 'doing the time' for an academic wrongdoing, even if minor? Because a criminal surely doesn't have the authority to pardon himself for not 'doing time' for a crime he's committed. I anticipate that people will say I'm really reaching here and hyperbolizing. I am, but I do see a connection here that still sticks with me.
I understand this is probably a personal question, but I realize I may have a slightly warped or overly harsh moral compass. I anticipate some will say you can allow yourself to 'get away with it' for a violation this minor -- but doesn't this require some arbitrary line to be drawn? A declaration of 'this is not bad enough to feel one needs to punish himself if never punished'? One might get the sense that I wish to have a reason to feel like I don't need to report myself because it is objectively fine rather than I forgive myself and feel that it's fine because the latter still makes me feel like an unpunished wrongdoer. I hope this doesn't sound too much like I'm making the community my therapist, but the opinions of academia-minded people here are important to me. A therapist can help me get down to why I hold so much value in the idea that 'someone who has been unpunished needs to do his time' but this forum can serve as holding that idea's feet to the fire in academia.
The eponymous question remains: am I morally obliged, where are the lines drawn if the violation is minor and (to my example) nearly meaningless to pursue in practice, and how can one feel their academic integrity can remain in tact by giving oneself the authority to decide not to report themselves when surely it is incumbent upon the university to decide whether the violation is legimiate enough to be taken serious or not as the wronged party?