Guilt. What a powerful thing it is. Is it an emotion? Yeah...I guess it is because we feel it right? Is it a weapon? Oh hell yeah...in the right hands it is definitely a weapon. Can it be a tool? Yup - some think so. I'm not "some" though. I hate the damn thing...no matter what it is.
I was raised on guilt. Being the daughter of a mother and sister who had and have narcissistic personality disorder (i.e. it's all about them), unless I was doing everything they wanted I was taught to feel guilty. My husband always says that no one can make you feel any way - you choose to feel a certain way. That may be true for adults, but for an impressionable 5 year old with no defense system...um...not so much. And to have no matter what you do still not be good enough and to feel guilty about THAT. Well that's just sad.
The result of all that guilt laying is that I have raised all of my children in a "guilt free zone". I do not do guilt. My daughter and her children have several houses to attend on the holidays. She has to decide between her mom's house, her husband's mom's house, or our house. Since while she is choosing there is absolutely no guilt coming from our house - that's where she'd rather be. It's not where she actually ends up most of the time, but I'll settle for having her heart any day. If I had even thought about spending even part of a holiday anywhere except with my mother, I would hear about it...well...yeah...right up until the day she died I heard about it (among other things).
I've even taken to testing my kids. I'll throw some guilt out there and see if they call me on it. Recently my nephew came home to roost for a few months. He'd been out of our house for quite a while and was totally out of practice so guilt actually worked on him - my other boys made sure he was "fixed" and he's back to being a guilt free person again.
ME: "Hey M, you know if you loved me you'd go get me a soda."
HIM: "Okay...no...wait...was that guilt? Hold on a second - let's see. I do love you but you're closer to the fridge than I am so could you get it?"
ME: "Not bad kid. But next time feel free to say, 'Oh heck no, get it yourself and stop with the guilt.' You can call me on my bullshit any day. And by the way...I love you."
HIM: "I love you too."
I've done this consistently over the years because the thing about guilt is that once it has its claws sunk into your heart, it NEVER leaves. It may stop growing and may even shrink a little but it will never leave you.
I feel guilty about big things like the fact that my son has optic nerve hypoplasia which means he will likely never drive a car. Even though I know in my head that it's a random condition that can happen to anyone, I carry a tremendous amount of guilt around because I smoked during my pregnancy. I HATE admitting that but it's true. I keep doing research to see if I can find that one report that says, "Yes, you are a horrible and hateful woman because smoking DOES cause his condition." Haven't found it yet but that won't stop me from looking. Sick but true.
I feel guilty about my kids all of the time. If I'm spending time with one, I feel the others are neglected. If I'm spending time on myself I feel like they are all neglected. If I miss a baseball game or a concert I feel so guilty it usually ends up making me cry. Doesn't matter what it is, if it's about my kids (or grandkids), I feel guilty.
I feel guilty about drinking all those years and making my boys cry and worry about me. That one I deserve and will hopefully one day forgive myself for and move on...but I doubt it.
Those are the big things - what cracks me up is that I'm so ingrained with guilt, I feel guilty about small, irrational and totally crazy things as well.
I feel guilty for:
- Changing hairdressers. I hope I don't hurt her feelings even though she chopped my hair to pieces and I paid AND tipped her for the pleasure. (Of course I tipped her. I would have felt guilty if I didn't tip her.)
- Changing radio stations. Like there's someone on the wires going, "Hey, that lady just changed to a different station! Man that hurts my feelings..." Really?
- Loving on my Brittany more than the Beagle even though the Brittany craves attention and the Beagle only loves on you if you have food. Sometimes when I come up loving on her because I've spent so much time with the other one, she give me this look that says, "Why did you wake me? Unless you have food go away."
- I feel guilty about saying no to friends who ask me to do something. That's pretty normal I guess...isn't it?
- I feel guilty about missing TV shows. Thank goodness we have a DVR now so I don't have to think, "If I don't watch Castle tonight he might miss me." Again...really?
- I feel guilty for buying a book and then not reading it, or not reading it all. Like the world's economy rests on the $9.99 I spent on this one book that I didn't read.
Anyway, you get the picture. I don't really believe in satan as a red guy with a pitchfork hanging out "down there" somewhere but I know there is evil in the world. If it had a name, it would be Guilt and if I had superpowers, I would vanquish it.
But first I'd have to lose 50lbs because the spandex in those superhero costumes is very unforgiving.