I’m often tragically glib about my own issues with guilt: I know this. I’ll joke about how when I see a cop sitting on the side of the road my mind immediately believes that he will pull me over for any number of infractions: flagrant use of the color pink, inappropriate listening of Britney Spears, maybe I’m being recklessly garish with my choice of handbag. I can’t be sure.
I’ve been this way since I can remember, likely since Jesus was my classmate. I was born a guilty soul, I guess. Having a mentally ill parent only intensified this and I’m sure it only added to my Naturally Guilty ™ personality.
Now, I must first give you the disclaimer that the things that I do feel guilty about are mostly irrational. I don’t have a guilty conscience because I cheated on my husband, or because I secretly beat my kids or have a cat fetish. The guilt I have is much more ingrained than that. The guilt is irrational, completely so, and it’s become as much a part of me as my colorblindness or green thumb.
Thanks to my Online Degree from Google University, I’ve read up on excessive feelings of guilt, and while I can see where a lot of the symptoms fit other people, the only one that really is applicable to my situation is this: feelings of over-responsibility. I’ve been this way my whole life: I got a degree in a field I hate and graduated at the top of my class because I felt like I should, not because the coursework was fascinating to me.
The days when I can’t keep up and comment on the 300+ blogs in my reader? I feel terrible. It’s so stupid, I mean, 80 % of them don’t comment here and yet I bust my nuts to make sure to be Super-Aunt Becky, Overachiever, Esq? DOES NOT COMPUTE.
(to be clear so this doesn’t sound all whiny, wah wah wah, I don’t mind commenting and I enjoy the f-c-u-k out of connecting with other bloggers)
I know, I know, I need to cut myself a break now and again–I know I do–and I’m trying. I spent the whole weekend chanting (to myself. I’m still not THAT crazy) “I am not the potter, but the potter’s clay” and it sort of helped.
I mean, I still felt awful about not being able to see my friend Heather, I felt terrible that we needed a new dishwasher even though the thing has been limping along, spurting out half-clean dishes for years. I felt awful that we hadn’t found the dying fledgling robin sooner and had gotten him to the wildlife rehabilitation center before he was really, REALLY sick. The list is long and increasingly stupid.
I am not responsible for anything but the way I react to things.
It’s time to stop this. I know that I need to stop this. I’ve known it for ages, but I’ve been waiting for…something to push me in the right direction.
After months of ignoring it, I am going to meet with someone to help talk me through this. I need to come up with a way around the guilt and I’m confident that I’ll be able to find one after awhile.
I’ve waffled on posting about this, not because I don’t think you’ll be unfailingly kind (wait, did that double negative make sense?), but because it doesn’t really…go anywhere. It’s not something I want to stand up tall and proud in the soldiers uniform I picture myself in when I’m standing proud and tall and speaking my truth and admit to you: hey, Internet, I have issues! Pretend to act surprised!
I’m showing my vulnerability to you because I am hoping that maybe somewhere, sometime, someone will be able to look at this and say “Dude, if that crazy bitch can do it, so can I.”
I’m not the Potter, but the Potter’s clay.