Down with guilt, I say! Let that mighty tree be felled and burnt and each season that brings up new creepers into life again – let them be taken down! Guilt! How many times it has weakened us. A sickness, that ebbs the energy and confuses the mind. Often unrelated to deed or intent, in comes the uninvited guest. As in Mansfield Park, guilt is our own Henry Crawford courting Fanny Price. He may dress well – in church attire, in a business suit, or in a child who thinks she should spend more time with grandma.
Like lucifer’s apple, guilt brings knowledge that can’t be trusted. Swallow it and you’ll be looking for fig leaves. See if any good will come of guilt. I dare you. See when you plant it, what will grow. See when you hide it, how you are tethered. Let it educate you and notice that you grow smaller.
Today a friend asked me how things were. I remembered yesterdays. Wonderful with sunny emotions. A collection of connected moments. I wanted to say something about them. I was looking in at a shop window. Chocolates on the shelves behind the glass. But remembering today, I was denied.
I yelled from my darkened face. And then I yelled again. That was the morning. Then the kids went to school and I went to work. What a way to walk. I thought of this and out popped:
I yelled at the kids which I hated, but I don’t hate myself.
It even surprised me. Saying that to my friend, let me realize that today wasn’t an all-or-none parenting moment. Many earlier days that began much the same weren’t so forgiving. And because I didn’t forgive myself so easy, I didn’t forgive others so easy. The anger chases it’s ratty tail, you know until Guilt tires him out.
Because I didn’t spend the day guilty, the afternoon and evening had a chance. Down with guilt! Up with new chances! Hooray!
Self Care Tip #68 – Take the new chance! Be a friend to yourself.
Question: How have new chances redeemed you? Please tell me your story.
I am not sure, because I spend quite a bit of time feeling guilty. Guilt over wanting to drink my coffee for a moment before playing blocks with my daughter. Guilt over trying to nap when my husband is watching the children. Guilt over having one piece too many of chocolate. Guilt that I am not a better friend…and so on.
As I see it, guilt is the bridesmaid of perfectionism, an old friend I try to shake off. Knowing that no one can be perfect is the only thing that gives me a chance… That, and in age, a sense of humor. But perfectionism runs deep.
Mine is less about hubris and more about wanting to please: if I am perfect, there will be no conflict and no one will fight. If I am perfect, people will be happy. If I am perfect in school, teachers will like me. If I am perfect as a mom, my kids will grow up happy.
The problem is that I will never be perfect enough to prevent people from being unhappy. Being older I thought I understood that people have to make their ownselves happy—but having children has welled up the perfectionism thing again. I don’t want to make mistakes that give them cloudy days, but I know I already have. I have to have faith that they will be fine despite my mistakes…
Ah Sarah! Thank you for reading and for commenting. I remember when you 1st unveiled your talents at Toastmasters. It was like disclosing an immunity idol on Survivor! I couldn’t believe our luck. What a treasure u r. Keep it coming. We are all bettered and blessed.