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.

Comments = full of the awesome. Like gravy. I can haz an RSS RSS feed .

70 Responses to Guilty Until Proven Innocent

  • Sandy says:

    I think that mother’s have enough guilt to solve the energy crisis, if only they could figure out how to harness it. You know, like a hybrid car that runs on guilt. Wouldn’t that be the BEST?

    I feel guilty that I’m not reading the classics to Oscar. However, he prefers it when I eat his toes.

  • for what it’s worth… i’m really REALLY proud of you.

    best of luck.

  • Katie says:

    Oh, therapy is the bomb! With the right therapist, you’ll feel like a different person. I went when my anxiety reached levels comparable to the people you see on that OCD show, “Obsessed”…and I wondered why it took me so damn long to go. I know, know. Part of it is the Irish thing – what? talk about problems? Eh, go have a beer instead. The other part is fear but lemme tell ya…it helped me a ton and I hope it does the same for you. I’m all about it now. The slightest mood swing and I’m all, mommy needs therapy! And the funniest thing is I only went to get the “stop being crazy” drugs. Which they didn’t give me. I’m glad they didn’t and I stuck with the therapy despite their clear resistance to drugging me up because now I’m the poster child for being able to control anxiety.

  • Badass Geek says:

    I’m proud of you, too.

    *hug*

  • Kristina says:

    I think that everyone, at some point in their lives, should be required to go to therapy. Seriously, everyone is f-ed up at least a little bit, and maybe if we addressed our problems the world would be full of more flowers and bunnies and sunshine.

    Anyway, It’s not an easy decision, but it’s at least worth a shot, right? And for the record, it took me 4 (yes 4!) counselors before I found the right fit. Stick with it, you’ll be glad you did!

  • I’ve been trying to decide if I should go see my therapist again. Since school’s been out, I have been having crazy anxiety. Completely irrational anxiety, and I hate it. It’s like I know what to do, I try to redirect my thoughts, but damned if they don’t come right back.

  • Kim says:

    Who’s proud of you?

    That’s right…..ME.

    I have the EXACT same issues. I am the one who always “takes care” of those around me, I am the fixer-uper of all who come into my life. This fact only exaserbates my guilt issues. I will guilt myself into a mess over the fact that my friends boyfriend broke up with her and EYE could not make her feel better within half an hour.

    Jesus, we need to give ourselves a break, Aunt Becky. I’m very happy to hear that you are on the path to doing just that.

    Only the best of luck.

  • Minnie says:

    I’m amazed at what it must have taken for you to write this.

    Crazy (no strings attached) love to you.

  • Mimi says:

    Sometimes I fear you might be a mind-reader. I was thinking how I had guilt issues just LAST NIGHT. I’ve always been this way. I also overuse the words “I’m sorry.”

    But didn’t it feel good just to write it down? Therapy in and of itself.

  • Lindsey says:

    Dear Aunt Becky,

    I am new here and I already love you. I too am born with a massive guilt issue. I hope yours gets better. Maybe someday I will work on mine. It is a terrible little thing and I am GREAT at helping others with their guilt while doing NOTHING about my own. I wish you all the luck in the world!

    On a side note, I have an actual Aunt Becky. I like you better.

    Lindsey

  • choosy says:

    So you’re going to go to talk to someone who will be paid to listen to you AND give you helpful advice!!!!

    SWEEEEEEEETTTTT

    Now all you have to do is ensure that you don’t start to feel guilty about taking this time for yourself and you’re golden.

    Cause guilt over guilt counseling = suck.

  • Ms. Moon says:

    I think a lot of us probably have the same issues. Please keep us updated on how you’re dealing with this and how it works for you.
    (As in- we want free therapy. Help us. Please.)

  • sarah says:

    it’s SO hard to stand up to that nasty little voice inside you that tells you you’re bad for this or that. Good for you for doing what you have to to reclaim yourself from the guilt! And for sharing it with your readers.

  • fidget says:

    it will help

  • choosy says:

    oh and I voted for you again.
    3500+++
    Booyah!

  • Tina says:

    Thank you for opening up because it really does help all the other people out there who feel the same way. It helps to not feel alone.

    Good luck with the therapy. I hope that it helps you realize just how awesome you are and find your way around guilt!

    Tina

  • a says:

    I like to think I give back by posting only infrequently, but commenting often!

    I have no guilt issues – because I am the youngest child, and watched my sisters and my mom interact and saw the manipulation and stuff. So while I am pretty good at making other people feel guilty, I’m very averse to feeling it myself.

    I hope therapy helps – I would not be able to stand feeling responsible for the world. Although, I do appear to be in charge of the world, since I seem to get blamed for everything…

  • Amy D says:

    Good luck to you little mama. It’s not fair you should live with such torment. You deserve to be happy, so kuddos (I hate that term BTW) to you for taking a proactive step to fix it.

    I never experienced guilt until I became a mother. I feel guilty about EVERYTHING where Jack is concerned. I couldn’t imagine feeling that way all the time about just about everything.

    You’re amazing! And you’re strong enought to overcome this! Oh, and I voted for you today:)

  • Marie says:

    I love it! You helped me today missy. You are all about the awesome…just so you know.

  • Cassie says:

    Whenever we see a cop on the road, my husband always straightens up and yells, “Pretend it’s your car!” LOL. He always thinks he’s going to be falsely accused of something.

    Unfortunately I know just what you are talking about. I have huge guilt issues that I try not to let anyone, even my husband see. It’s usually ridiculous stuff too. Let us know how it goes.

  • Mrs Soup says:

    I am so proud of you. Please let us know how it goes….you can do this. I can’t speak for the rest of the world and your loyal fans, but I am here to help if you need me.

    My ears are nice and big and make great listeners.

  • I was raised Catholic, guilt is instilled from the moment of conception. I’m always sure the cops are about to pull me over. Global warming is my fault. My son’s slight speech impediment is my fault (they are MY genes after all) If I spend too much time thinking about it, it’s all my fault. Over the past 10 years I have gotten so good at letting it go I have probably gone a little too far in the opposite direction. Good luck with the therapy, it is a very freeing feeling to know things are out of your hands

  • Kristine says:

    Dude, I got laid off, and I feel guilty about the fact that I won’t be here for the next report that I would have issued, and i don’t think it will be done correctly, as if it’s somehow my fault when they decided a newbie would be cheaper than me to do my job…I totally understand your guilt complex.

  • Potty Mouth Mommy says:

    Just another post that makes me wonder if I have another me- who’s actually funny…

  • MK says:

    been thru this recently.

    WHY do we always feel the need to fix everything and everyone BUT ourselves???? I got the crazy-drugs, and some more, and am still working on the talking thing.

    Anyway – love the honesty, sharing WILL help someone.

  • kbrients says:

    oh man do I know what you are talking about. I feel guilty about things that are not my fault all the time. I feel like I am letting the wrold down if I don’t get the dishes done or if I cannot help someone out in whatever way they have requested. I seriously have a problem with this as well.

    Good for you for talking to someone about it… Let me know what they say– I will let you pay the bill… and teach me…kay ??

  • Suzy Voices says:

    Hey Aunt Becky! We all have issues! So don’t feel like you’re all alone on this one. I had awful anxiety (iincluding LOTS of guilt) for the longest time, and didn’t even really recognize for what it was it until last year. I didn’t go to therapy for it, just straight to the meds. They have helped tremedously!!! My outlook on life is so much sunnier, and things don’t get to me as easily. I still probably need therapy, however.

    I’m proud of you!!

  • april says:

    Delurking because this post made it impossible not to! I related to this in a punch-to-the-gut kind of way; thank you for saying it out loud.

    Good for you for seeking therapy, and thank you for giving me much to think about on this topic and its impact on my own life.

  • Mwa says:

    Good for you! (Here’s another recovering Catholic – we know about the guilt.)

    I also had lots of people to talk to. What also helped was Kabat-Zinn’s mindfulness training. (I’m evangelical about that stuff – I suppose it replaced the Catholicism.)

    Feel free not to reply. ;-)

  • Meg says:

    I’m still looking for the courage to go back and talk to mine..sometime soon when I have the time, make the time, yada, yada…..you gol. It helped me once when I needed it, maybe I should go back again…crap now you have me thinking again….GET OUT OF MY HEAD!!

    Or maybe it’s just the voices again???

  • again… you are fantastic.

  • lady lemon says:

    “I am not the potter, but the potter’s clay. – Is this a religious thing?? Aunty Becs… say it ain’t so!

    I know what you mean about the guilt. I had a baby bird that had fallen out of a tree once as a kid and it died eventually. I was convinced I killed it. Just thinking about it makes me choked up.

    If you figure out the cure to The Guilt, please do let me know.

  • lola says:

    I’m sure this won’t make you feel any better, since I’m no shining example of mental stability, but I’m exactly the same way. It’s always freaked me out how I feel guilt about things I cannot change. I think it’s because I secretly think I can fix anything.

    I will say that it gets better with age. Things you can’t fix start to stack up so high that you eventually give up and cut yourself some slack.

    Ahh, we’re all fucked up one way or another. Normal people don’t have blogs!

  • How to Party with an Infant says:

    Guilt sucks. Tell it to move over.

  • GingerB says:

    Yes, it is a religious thing, as in Christian theology, and I know because my parents had me at three church services each Sunday. As in, the potter is your maker.

    I know the guilt of which you speak. For example, I have just now, baby at ten months of age, decided to stop pumping milk in the middle of the night for my non nurser baby because I think I just must sleep more. And I feel guilty. Can I feel joy that I have been able to make so much milk for her that it is stored in two deep freezes?? NO, I feel guilt that my supply might drop by a few ounces. I feel guilty for things that haven’t happened!! I just don’t have fun if I can’t beat myself up some. And with my own kids with problems, like I bet you do I feel bucketloads of guilt about stuff I had no control over in case it might have given my daughter more issues to deal with.

    I hope you break the cycle and then share the secret. ‘Cause it sounds like a few of us could benefit!!

  • I think there’s a lot of people out there that feel the same way; look at some of these comments. Good for you for putting this out there and I hope talking to someone will help…

    …though I must say you ‘own’ feeling guilty with the Britney Spears thing, just sayin’.

  • Melanie says:

    My Mom always said I was born old, and perhaps its a firstborn thing, but I worried, I fretted and I fussed over my sisters..I felt guilt when THEY messed up!!!! I have been diagnosed with GAD, gone through periods of what i call remission, only to have it flare up a couple of years later (by the way I blame hormones in our food, milk etc for making us all nuts—doesnt it seem like EVERYONE you know is suffering one way or another)? I have always wished I had the resources to do therapy….I think I would benefit tremendously. Guilt, depression, anxiety can just be so damn crippling. Hugs to you

  • kalakly says:

    I hope you find a good listener, they really kick ass.
    xxoo

  • Kate C says:

    I just saw my therapist on Friday, and what did we talk about? Learning what I can control and what I can’t, and learning to accept that with grace and joy. I feel like my life is one big lesson in the implications of the serenity prayer — accepting what I cannot change and possessing the wisdom to recognize that. It’s a long, hard road, and one that I’m pretty sure doesn’t have an actual end, but is instead filled with run-down rest stops and crash courses in letting go.

    I’m really impressed that you’re tackling this. Good for you, and thank you for sharing. I, for one, am incredibly encouraged.

  • Kristin says:

    Asking for help is one of the toughest things one can do. I am proud of you.

  • Mama Bee says:

    First of all, I TOTALLY have your Nature Guilt thing. Secondly, you are TOTALLY awesome and admirable to be getting professional assistance with it! It takes a really big person to do that kind of thing.

    With that said, I am NOT that big of a person, so let me know what the shrink says! ;)

  • Kendra says:

    I have slightly more than the average amount of guilt. But to make up for it, I have other stupid brain problems: namely depression. I spent my teens and early 20s having panic attacks that came and went with no discernable pattern, dealing with questions that always boiled down to “just what the hell is wrong with me?” And “crazy” always seemed to figure in the answer somehow.

    Finally I was newly engaged and flying off the handle at many things, and my sweet fiance encourage me to see a professional. Truthfully, it was humiliating, like walking into an office and announcing, “Hi, I am unable to function like normal people because I am fundamentally deficient. Do I sign in here?” But I got help and have been so much better since then. And in the years since, my mom has talked a lot about her own depression and how she wishes she’d gotten help earlier because she would have been a better mom all those years.

    Though it’s really hard to battle your way through to admitting that maybe you need help and then to getting, it’s so worth it. Congratulations.

  • Hestias Gem says:

    *hits head via I coulda had a V8 style*

    Gulit! That’s it! Thanks for putting a name to it!

  • Wow, that’s interesting. I felt like that most of my life, but at some point (around mid-life) it just turned off. I don’t know what the trigger was, but it has left me. I’m sure that I could have saved myself three quarters of a lifetime of grief had I been smart enough to get help. You are clearly doing the right thing as opposed to waiting for the “magic” of your forties.

    Good luck.

  • SciFi Dad says:

    Personally, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with beating your kids with a cat, but to each their own.

    (What? You wanted something serious, like some e-hug crap or something? Fine.

    {{{{{{{{{{{hugs}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

    Happy now?)

  • Jessica says:

    Gee, how much to license your trademarked phrase (Naturally Guilty) for use on my own blog?

  • Lisa says:

    Ahh, Grasshopper, now you are talking.

    My Google Doctorate says that your cart is in front of your horse. Feelings of inadequacy cause guilt. You know that you feel guilt that is illogical (ie baby bird falls from nest and you feel responsible ), so you think you have a guilt problem. Actually, your inner feelings of inadequacy just manifest themselves as guilt so that you can process and deal with them.

    Since you are trying to treat the symptom (guilt), and not the problem (not feeling good enough), you never have been able to get rid of the guilt.

    Once you learn to love yourself the way we do, you will no longer find yourself feeling swamped with guilt.

    You totally rock.

  • Eva says:

    My mom feels guilty all the time about everything and it really wears her down. I wish you didn’t have that! I am almost the opposite. I have a justification for why everything isn’t my fault. Which is its own problem, though, uh, not really for me. Anyway, a lot of people talk about feeling guilty or having lots of complex emotions about commenting on blogs. I don’t get this. I comment when I have something to say.

  • Eva says:

    Oh, and I’ve had lots of therapy, if that’s what you’re doing, so keep in mind some therapists aren’t a good fit, and some are.

  • Dora says:

    You go, girl! So wise to get help in removing that millstone from around your neck!

  • eden says:

    Mate, even just READING your post made all the ridiculously high levels of my own guilt take a little nosedive. Thanks.

    I can so, so relate. I’d say the way we were parented plays a huge part in it … I really like that potters quote, have never heard it before, to me it just means letting go of trying to control the whole universe. Because that shit is HARD – and, impossible.

    Good luck with it.

  • “Thanks to my Online Degree from Google University . . .” THAT’s a great line. Oh, I am sooooo much a grad student in that university. Looking up my symptoms. For my assorted deadly and most likely fictional diseases.

    I am working very hard at being more zen-like in my life. Living in The Now. Because I, too, fret over things I shouldn’t. It is a waste of energy and it doesn’t help anything. But still I do it.

    More power to you. [fist bump]

  • Lippy says:

    An ex-boyfriend trained me to use the mirrors to look at cop cars, never directly look at them or they would know you had done something wrong. So what you’re saying is having dreams about things that make me feel guilty, and waking up in a panic is not normal. Shit, now I gotta feel guilty for being loonier than I thought. Good luck with with the therapy.

  • Reticent says:

    Good luck and God bless. I read your blog every day because you are a very interesting, good hearted person.

    I hope you get relief from your pain and give it to the people who believe nothing is ever their fault. :)

  • SCY says:

    Kudos to you Aunt Becky for recognising you need to break the cycle. That in my mind is the first step.

    xxx

  • Dot says:

    I’ve never heard anyone say what Katie said above, “…therapy is the BOMB!” but it is. Congratulations on making a great self-care decision, and good luck with the process.

  • sky says:

    Guilt is a woman’s thing I think. I hope that you find your way clear.

    I used to feel guilty about the comment thing but now I just do the best I can. I read most posts of most of my feeds but just can’t always comment.

  • sweetpeah says:

    What? This isn’t a natural part of being a wife & mother? wish somebody woulda told me that years ago. I learned the hard way. God love Prozac!!!!

  • Nancy says:

    Good for you, sweets! I hope it truly makes you feel better!

    xoxo

  • Swirl Girl says:

    welcome to the human condition…
    and buckle up and expect turbulence.

  • Betts says:

    You are my sister by guilt and I love you.

  • ryanandjoesmom
    Twitter: ryanandjoesmom
    says:

    so can you counsel me as you go because i seem to have the same infliction – thanks you’re the best!

  • Heather says:

    I’m there with you. I struggled for awhile to post about it on my blog and it’s the blog where almost no one I know IRL reads not even the one people I know read. It can be tough but admitting it is the first step to fixing it.

    Good luck!!

  • Fiddle1 says:

    I hear you. Therapy rocks. It’s a cliche, but life is too short to feel guilty. Seriously…it’s almost easier to be humble and feel guilty about everything b/c its seems so self-indulgent not to be. I always need people to tell me that I’m not the only one doing the things that make me feel guilty to feel better. But honestly, the fact that we are human simply assigns us all a certain amount of guilt. But it’s like the judge has waived the sentence for all of us. Not to get spiritual or anything, but that’s my belief anyway. Good luck sorting it all out. Let us know how you found a good counselor. I need to find one too,but there are too few women in my area, and I feel like I need a woman.

  • mumma boo says:

    Add me to the “proud of you” crew, Becks. You’re doing a good thing for yourself. Good luck finding the right set of ears. *smooches*

  • CLC says:

    I will be curious to hear what she says. I feel guilty about everything. I blame it on Catho.li.cism :)

  • Sara says:

    There is nothing wrong with therapy. And um, I freaking love you!

  • RJ Flamingo says:

    Wow! 68 freakin’ comments! So you’ll never see this one…:-) just want you to know that I understand completely. Please don’t feel compelled to visit my blog & comment, or anything… even if I could use your support, right about now…

  • White Knuckled Driver says:

    Hey! That cop is looking at ME, not YOU! When I see a cop, it’s normally because he’s riding closely behind me, blue lights flashing. I have more points on my poor record than I had on my ACT test, and a couple accidents (who knew a damn deer would be in the middle of town giving birth one warm, sunny May afternoon). None of this, of course, would explain why anytime I see the white and blue car and have a quasi-panic attack. (White knuckled, don’t dare to turn my head lest he zooms in on me, oh, and is it illegal yet to smoke in your car? Why, oh why, of all times, does my cigarette always seem to burn to the filter when I see a cop? I don’t have an ashtray in my car…so I hold the stinking burning filter until he turns off somewhere…lest I littler, for Christs-sake!) You, dear Aunt Becky, are the funniest girl I’ve ever heard of. If the book deal doesn’t come through, try stand-up. Broke people still need to laugh (but hopefully not so much we expel gassy particulates, Thank you, Alli!) So, go get a shrink, if you must, but please don’t change a thing! Oh and by the way, you TOTALLY ROCK!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

 

About Twitter Band Back Together Facebook Muschroom Printing Subscribe

blog advertising is good for you
wholesale kids clothing

Cheap and cool tutu dresses with readers

Buy Cool Toys for Your Children at Everbuying.com at a cheap price.
Helping students solve academic writing problems through guides and manuals. TheDailyWilton.com - college newspaper devoted to essay writing.

Archives

Marchin’ for Mimi!


blog advertising is good for you