Thoughts on guilt…

It’s a really nice day outside.  There is yard work to be done.  My house is in need of a good vacuuming and dusting.  There is laundry to do.  The Wii Fit hasn’t been used in about a month.  My dad’s birthday party needs planning.  There are a million things I could be doing…or really, should be doing.  But I’m not.  I’m sitting in my bedroom with all the blinds closed writing this.  When I’m done writing, I’m going to turn the TV on and watch some HGTV or some TLC or a movie that I’ve probably watched 100 times before.  And I refuse to feel guilty about it. 

Except I do feel a little guilty.

I’m Catholic and Italian, so guilt is a pretty familiar concept.  It’s been ingrained in me for pretty much as long as I can remember.  I’ve felt guilty about everything at some point or another…even things that were entirely out of my control or were someone else’s fault.  It’s crazy.

I’ve also realized that it’s inherited.  My mom called me on Friday night while she was driving home from work.  She felt guilty because she’d planned to get home early and take my grandfather out for a while.  But work got busy and she ended up leaving at her normal time.  He was disappointed that he hadn’t been able to get out of the house earlier.  So my mom felt guilty…like she should have been there earlier or taken the whole day off or something. 

That’s when I’d had enough with the guilt.  Because it’s ridiculous.  She wasn’t out getting a pedicure or shopping or having a liquid lunch.  She was working!  And she’d tried to make arrangements for him to take a taxi to go out, but he refused.  And you know what…if she was out getting a pedicure or shopping, that’s her right because she works damn hard and she deserves to pamper herself a little bit.  Also…my grandfather is hardly neglected.  My parents often change their plans around to accommodate him.  I told her all of this…loudly, because I was frustrated…and she realized I was right and she felt better.

After we hung up I started thinking about guilt and how often I feel guilty over stupid crap.  For example…I feel bad when I lay around in the house watching tv when it’s a nice day out.  I feel guilty when I discuss books with my friend E because she reads things like Anna Karenina for pleasure and I read things like Shopaholic and Sister.  I feel bad leaving J home alone to go hang out at my mom’s or my girlfriend’s. 

Those are pretty stupid things to feel guilty about.  Most of the time, I feel guilty over pretty stupid things like that.  So I made a decision.  I’m declaring a moratorium on guilt.  From now on, I will only feel guilty if that feeling is valid.  I refuse to feel bad for watching mindless television or wasting a beautiful day indoors.  I will not rush home because J is alone…he’s a big boy…he can live without me for a little while. 

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Comments

  1. Good for you!
    My Mother excelled at the guilt trip, and when she died my Dad picked right up where she left off.
    Last week he invited Wilzie and I to a lobster dinner and we declined because neither of us eat seafood – the way he reacted, you would have thought that we told him that we would rather go eat lobster with Hitler.
    I also made the decision to out the guilt aside, and its not easy but I feel that it is absolutely necessary.
    Good luck!

  2. Ha, I totally just read Shopaholic and Sister a couple months ago. Yeah I frequently fill guilty for not doing enough productive stuff on the weekends. I need to just chill out and enjoy them more.

  3. Good luck! I’ll try and do the same thing. I am a person who also feels guilty all the time for pretty much anything and everything. It just comes natural. I am a very “responsible” person so it’s easy to just take on the guilt as well. But it doesn’t help anyone for me to feel guilty. And people even tell me not to feel guilty for whatever it is I feel guilty for – but I still do it. I need to stop. Thanks for the post.

    – Melissa

    • That’s just it…most of my guilt is self-created. Because I’ll tell someone that I’m feeling guilty about something and they tell me I have no reason to feel guilty. Good luck in stopping.

  4. I’m a guilt sufferer, too. That is why I never, ever try to make anyone else feel guilty about anything.

    My MIL is a huge disher-outer and it drives me up a wall. There’s nothing more pathetic than a big, strong, capable man that can morph into a cowering-tail-between-it’s-legs puppy at the sound of tsk, tsk.

    That being said, I choose when to feel guilty (which is more often than I’d like), but I hate it when others try to make do it.

  5. AMEN, sistah. I was JUST thinking about this this past weekend because my dad happened to lay it on THICK regarding my recent decision to get a tattoo (though in all fairness, it’s an idea I first presented him with 10+ years ago). I love my parents dearly but hate when they use guilt so their argument holds more weight. It’s unfair and then I question things and it perpetuates a viscious cycle.

    You’re right to tell your mother those things and I’m sure you made her feel much better about her decision. We really need to put an end to this kind of behavior! You should also NEVER feel guilty for staying in and doing the things YOU want on the weekends. Our precious time is so limited these days; you should be able to spend it however you see fit :)

  6. I’m with you – I always feels guilty over dumb things. I have a feeling it’s the little bit of Italian in me. But every time I’m lazy, every time I eat something that’s bad for me, every day I just feel like driving for the sake of driving I feel guilt. So silly.

  7. So what did you end up watching? I love TLC and HGTV? Is it sad that next week my fiance is out of town for work and while I’ll miss him I’m looking forward to all the bad tv I can watch?

    • I watched House Hunters. I love that show. Then I watched Collateral Damage. Then I think some more House Hunters. Then Castle that I had DVR’d. Then Entourage.

      No, it’s not sad. I think alone time is really good. J goes out every Thursday and the last Tuesday of the month. Sometimes that Tuesday sneaks up on me and I get so excited when he says he’s going out. I’m happy when he comes back too, but I love that time to do whatever I want.

  8. So, I guess you realized that I hadn’t read this yet when I said “I don’t know if you’re Catholic or not…” I took a little moratorium from blogging over the weekend…mostly because it was SO crammed full of events with local friends. And you know what? I felt just a little guilty about that.

    What’s interesting about this is that before I met Neal, I apologized for EVERYTHING. I stepped on your toe? I’m sorry. Your mom’s car got a dent at the grocery store? I’m sorry. You all can’t stop and see me on your way through town? I’m sorry. Except that Neal doesn’t say “I’m sorry” ever. Well, hardly ever. I heard it today for the first time in about 3 years. He left his military ID in his computer at home and he needed me to bring it to him in Macon, about 40 minutes away, when he knew that my day was packed. He apologized. But even if he did something accidentally, he doesn’t say “I’m sorry” because he didn’t do it on purpose. While I’m still a girl and can’t take it to that extreme, I have stopped feeling guilty about a lot and stopped apologizing for things that have absolutely nothing to do with me. It is total re-training of my brain but it has increased my quality of life exponentially. I’m so glad you’re giving it a go. I really don’t think you’ll look back and regret it.

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