and yet… more guilt…

In a past life…  (okay, a past blog) I wrote quite frequently about guilt….  and feeling guilty…  often, and usually, for no real good reasons. Well, I’m sure I absolutely DO have a few good reasons…  but, #1) who doesn’t?  then again, what constitutes a “good reason” is also very debatable…  and #2) eventually, I discovered that this “guilt” thing was something that was ingrained in me… taught to me at a very early age.  I was made to feel responsible for not only myself, but all kinds of other things that really shouldn’t have been, and ultimately could not have been, and were NOT my responsibilities…  but, I believed they were.

I then carried that with me into adulthood, and developed a nasty habit of personalizing things.   Which was, of course, my fault.   I’m not trying to just blame my parents for all my problems.  I know that ultimately, we all grow up and chose our own lives and the ways we want to deal with things.  Still,  going  all the way back to my childhood helped me to better understand myself.  A few years back, I read a book about  the correlation between personalizing and growing up the way I did,  that made so much sense to me.  I wrote about this a while back… explaining it like this:

I have ALWAYS, for as long as I can remember, taken full responsibility (or blame) for not only my own actions, but often everyone around me too.  I do it so much that for years I have joked about it – telling my friends, “just tell (whomever) that it was all my fault”… and even though I said it half jokingly – the truth is, I always DID feel like whatever (bad) happened was usually “my fault”.   Like I had some invisible power over my friends or situations and I should have been able to do something to change them/things/whatever.

My closest friends have commented for years that I’m too hard on myself… or that I often over analyze and feel guilty over too many things.   I realized a huge part of that guilt comes from this “personalizing”.

When I was a child, I absolutely felt responsible for my mother’s mood swings and so much more.  I did try to do whatever I could to make her happy, to not set her off , to keep the peace, etc.  I was always on the “look out” – anticipating their anxieties, moods and needs…”.

Looking back, I realize, that this guilt factor has played such a huge part of my life for so long that despite my best efforts – it keeps resurfacing.  The last few years have been quite the journey for me, in a positive way.  Difficult, but undeniably leading to better things.  I feel like I finally grew up a lot… learned to forgive and let go of some things, and shed some much-needed light on myself.  I really opened up, and to my surprise – felt more accepted and truly loved than ever before.  I feel like I did a complete 180, a couple of times over, and that I’m still spinning a little – but, at least moving forward, even if in a swerving motion down the road.   I’m finally being more real and honest with myself and everyone around me (whether they like it or not) and it feels good.  A little scary sometimes, but, mostly damn good.

I guess, I was on such an up-swing that I thought  all these changes would  be enough to make all the “guilt” go away.  Finally.  But, I think, I might have thought wrong.  It seems, that old habits are hard to break.  I realized that the whole, “what is wrong with me” feeling is just  part of this old tradition.

I saw a poem that I wrote back in 2008, called “guilt ridden“, where the 2nd to last verse went,

Delusions of control,
Self inflicted responsibilities,
Always lead to the same question –
“What is wrong with ME?”

I also wrote several poems in this blog centered around the “guilt” theme…. (

I started thinking (look out) and realizing just how common this “theme” has been for me throughout my life.  Which was really quite depressing, when I really thought about it.  Now,  I know (because Google told me so, and because I can recall having deep,dark, 2am conversations with friends who felt the same way over the years) that I am not alone with this feeling.  Which is somewhat comforting, as I mentioned before, but, it’s also very disheartening.

It bothers me that so many of us have these feelings of guilt and stress.  It bothers me the extremes people will go through to basically punish themselves.  Now, I know that there is a time and place when we need to be responsible for our own actions and consequences, etc.   I’m not talking about that.  I’m talking about the feeling guilty for even smaller things that we really shouldn’t even feel guilty about, and/or the not being able to let it go of the bigger things…  to forgive ourselves, even after we’ve “done our time”.

I am grateful that guilt does not have nearly as strong of a role in my life as it has in the past…  but, do we ever hit a point where we really believe that we are “ok” as is?    Will *I* ever hit that point?  Man, that would be nice.  Why is it so easy to forgive others, and tell others that they should not feel bad about whatever…. and yet, so difficult to cut ourselves some slack?

We are all only human.

I am only human.

I know this.

So does Sarah…

“we are born innocent… believe me Adia, we are still innocent.  We all falter….  but, does it matter?.”

~ Sarah McLachlan – Adia (live, Storytellers, 1998)

8 Comments to “and yet… more guilt…”

  1. Wow…a post I could have written…sort of. I don’t believe anyone feels anything the same really. But it does remind me of this one time :-). I used to say my father could make me feel guilty for world war I if he decided to.
    I don’t believe the *wonderful as is* feeling will ever be permanent. The ones that do get there are probably on drugs. But it’s nice when it does happen.
    Your poetry is absolutely phenomenal, but it has been nice seeing these personal bits from you too. Thank you :-)

    • Raven – hmmmm….??? drugs, you say… ? got it. Thanks for advice! ;) Just kidding… but, thanks for the read and kind words. I wasn’t sure how my normal ranting would go over…
      Take care. =)

  2. Here’s my unrequested advice: Have a guilty purging party. Write everything you feel guilty about on pieces of paper. Then burn each piece of paper. Celebrate LETTING GO! If you involve others then let them include their “guilt” too. Or not. But after the ceremony of burning—celebrate in your favorite fashion.
    Just a suggestion.

    • 47WB – hey… cool idea… did you just think that up or have you actually done it? Sounds cleansing. I might have to give it a go… on a clear night, with no wind… so, no notes fly off into the wrong hands. LoL ;)

      • Hi. I did it–but not in regard to guilt–but to clear out another person. Someone else agreed to be a ‘witness’ and read A LOT of letters–which she declared “Amazingly weirdly totally egocentric!”–and then I burned each one in a fireplace. It took a long time. But, by the end–oh yeah–I’d set that weirdass monkey FREE for good!

  3. Eva (47whitebuffalo) has a good idea there, Sam. A ritual of some kind that tells your unconscious (which won’t know it’s ‘just’ a ritual but will think it’s the real thing) that things have been purged, is often very helpful. I’ve done this for all sorts of things. However, expect to have to do it at certain times in your life for different things that you need to purge from your self. My dad (a doctor) had a theory that I think is fairly accurate. He said that if there’s something within you that needs expression as a negative, for instance a phobia, fear or insecurity, then it will manifest somehow until it’s no longer needed, and if you get rid of one manifestation of it, it’ll come back as a different one. So, for instance a phobia of spiders that one gets rid of might come back as a phobia of snakes, or a feeling of guilt about one thing that you get rid of in one part of your life, might come back as a feeling of guilt about something else. That all sounds very disappointing, but I don’t think of it like that anymore (I did once) because it proves that there is still stuff inside you that needs your help to extricate.

    Personally, I think ageing often takes care of a lot of the negative feelings – they don’t have as much of a hold on the self, they begin to slide away. And changing one’s circumstances (if possible) helps too: it creates distraction and a new set of experiences.

    There are a couple of books by Robert A. Johnson called ‘Owning Your Own Shadow’ and ‘Inner Work’ that you might find helpful, that I’d really recommend.

    Be well, try not to be so hard on yourself. There’s nothing wrong with a little guilt, as long as it doesn’t hurt you so much that it stops you enjoying your life. If it does… you need to find some creative ways to tranform it.


    • Val – thank you for your very thoughtful response, and my apologies for not thanking you sooner. You made some great points…

      I love your Dad’s theory…

      “if there’s something within you that needs expression as a negative, for instance a phobia, fear or insecurity, then it will manifest somehow until it’s no longer needed, and if you get rid of one manifestation of it, it’ll come back as a different one.”

      That makes perfect sense! And, I’m sure age also helps… I don’t think I’m nearly as bad as I use to be… but, sometimes, it’s easy to fall back. I am not afriad of much… but, will beat myself up internally over who knows what… and feel guilty or anxious at times…

      I will have to look into the books you mention. They sound right up my alley. =)

      Thanks again, and take care.

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