Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Thoughts on Guilt

Guilt is one of those emotions that plagues everyone at some point.  Some more than others.  I fall into the more category.  Guilt has been my primary motivator most of my life.  This is not something I wanted people to figure out because I didn’t want to be taken advantage of for my strange weakness. 

Over time I like to believe my guilt has lessened.  Ok, maybe not but I like to believe I confront Guilt in a more productive way.  My latest encounter with Guilt has left me defiant.  I refuse to feel guilty!  It is my turn to be selfish, self centered, and to take care of myself before taking care of others. 

What brought on this new attempt at Guilt knocking on my mind’s door is a simmering pot of a lot of sludge. 

  • still trying to separate fantasy and reality after reading a very intense book in a short amount of time
  • starting a new book, the first by the same author, that is just crap.  It screams first novel with all the obvious formulated writing techniques and pervasive use of vulgarity.  There’s so much showing and not telling as well as cryptic foreshadowing mixed with flashbacks I have no idea what’s going on!  Should I feel guilty for not reading more than the first 50 or 60 pages?  No, clearly her writing improved exponentially by her second published novel. 
  • constant reminders of my battle with anxiety
  • wondering if I will ever get over Christmas Eve’s car accident then seeing our car insurance’s number on the caller ID with a flashing message about our pending lawsuit. 
  • frustration that family may not be able to attend Gavin’s baptism because we’re unable to switch dates
  • anxiety manifesting itself in inappropriate coping strategies
  • anxiety over this
  • anxiety over that
  • anxiety over not wanting to tell my doctor anything so he will just leave my dose alone and I’ll find a new doctor next month along with my new insurance
  • anxiety over church responsibilities

A waterfall of anxious emotions crashed over the dam of empty promises that I’m ok.  Panic attack.  Big time.  Crying big fat teardrops while texting Heath about avoiding the one issue I felt I could control.  Knocking Guilt was now pounding on the door of my mind. 

Guilt:  Guilt Police!  Open up!
Me:  No!  I’m right.  I have every right to take this break! 
Heath:  Take a chill pill.  You have my permission to take the hard stuff!  Smile

But I didn’t.  In hindsight it was probably because I was still trying to be my own hero.  I had made my decision to not go to a social event that the very thought of had pushed me to my breaking point.  All I wanted to do then was take the kids to Target to buy big enough plain white t-shirts for Gavin and my crafty ideas.  My intent was to take control of my anxiety and my life and get what I wanted then take the Xanax.  I didn’t want to take it before my shopping trip because the one and only time I had taken one I got an instant nauseating headache and I felt sleepy.  If I could just do one thing I could take my “chill pill” and sleep it off. 

The drive was nerve wracking.  I will be the first to admit I now drive with paranoia colored lenses, thanks to that “expletive” car accident.  Being in the throes of a pretty big panic attack was not helping!  By the time I got home I heaved a heavy sigh of relief and told the kids to rot their brains in front of the TV.  To Xanax or not to Xanax?  Guilt stuck a foot in my mind’s door with wondering what would happen if I took the pill after the fact.  No pill.  Just moving heavy furniture around my bedroom.  Which incidentally was the best self therapy session I could have had. 

Guilt and I argued a little but I could feel myself winning.  The last nail was pounded into Guilt’s coffin when my friend returned my frantic call about me not wanting to go to the social event that the idea of had pushed me over the edge.  She asked how I was.  I told her I was fine now that I had made my decision to not go.  She firmly said, “Good.”  That was all I needed.  An outside source to recognize my not going was more beneficial for me than going.  Heath agreed with me but he lives with me.  He knows how crazy I can be and how hard this stupid situation was.  My friend and I haven’t shared a lot of details with each other about our “craziness.”  We just both know that we each have issues. 

I’m still fragile today.  I decided to face the music and take my kids to the park.  A friend mentioned that I wasn’t at the social event last night.  I told her I didn’t go.  She said she noticed.  The topic was dropped at that point, as quickly as it had started.  The fact that she didn’t need to know why I was absent was empowering to me.  Internal sigh.  Self affirmation.  When I got home Heath called to ask us if we wanted to meet him for lunch.  Diet caffeinated beverage motivated me to suck up my lingering nerves and phobic fear of driving.  Again we lived.  Not that I want to make driving around all the time a new part of my daily routine.  It’s just that facing fears and coming off conqueror is a boost to confidence.  I may still be in a fragile state of mind today but I’m not broken.  And I don’t feel guilty!   

Guilt can be a powerful motivator.  This time Guilt was a force for good.  My room looks awesome!  Beyond that Guilt can force itself into someone else’s mind.  I refuse to feel guilty about my decisions.  This time . . .

5 thoughts:

Ray Colon said...

Hi Tristan,

I love reading about breakthroughs. Guilt can be a persuasive motivator, for good and bad, but if guilt signals us to do things that we have decided that we do not want to do it can lead to resentment. And the resentment is usually turned inward, making the situation worse.

I know that I've made lots of mistakes in life, but I don't find that I've had to confront guilt too often. I try to be honest with myself when I make a decision, so once the decision is made I'm not prone to having second thoughts. Down the road, if I decide that I did make a bad decision, I don't feel guilty because I did what I thought was right at the time.

At a moment of frustration, being given permission to take the "hard stuff" had to bring a smile to your face as well as a break in the tension.

There will be other social events and perhaps you may actually want to attend those. If not, you've now had practice at saying no, so the next time it will be easier.


The Piquant Storyteller said...

Hi Ray,

I should learn not to respond to comments on my laptop since I lost another one. Sheesh!

Ok, what did I say? Something about how I had posted about a specific situation in a really vague way making your general comment difficult to respond to. And then I did respond but I big fat lost it to my hungry laptop!

Then I said something to the effect of normally being black and white with decisions except when a choice doesn't really matter one way or another. That's when I see gray and second guess myself and feel guilt.

Let's see what else? Oh yeah, I did smile a little when Heath texted his permission for me to take the hard stuff. Of course my hot temper and overreactive personality was ticked when I read the words "take a chill pill" but then I saw the rest of the text and it was all good.

Then I ended with something about how we'll see if I have any more epiphanies next month at the activity I help plan. Or something to that effect. Good heavens! Nothing squashes eloquency faster than losing a well thought out response!


Sherron said...

"Great! Now I have guilt!" T-Rex
One of my all-time favorite quotations from Toy Story

The Piquant Storyteller said...

LOL! That's a great line, Sherron.

Ray Colon said...

I can relate, Tritan. I've been pretty active this week with my comments and I've lost a few too. I usually copy the comments in case something goes wrong, but that only works if the comment is finished before the glitch. Also, reading blogs on my iPad is great, but commenting on it can be a chore. Then I forgot to check the notify button on your post. Grrr. Aside from the technical problems, I've been afflicted with typo-itis. I've even had to delete some tweets because of it. I just can't leave those types of mistakes out there for the ages. :) Ray