Guilt By Dana

 

It is that time again! It is time for the second MOWer’s Blog Carnival. The title is “Guilt.”  Now, I just wrote about guilt not too long ago, but it is something that seems to enter the lives of someone with chronic illness/chronic pain quite often. Actually, being human, we are the only animals that are faced with the feeling of guilt.  When guilt surfaces, it eats at our soul and resurfaces over and over again. Many times the guilt can make the illness even harder to bear.

I am currently faced with the guilt of not being a good enough wife. We recently had visitors for 3 weeks in a row–friends, then a friend, then my parents, then my mother-in-law, and then the rest of the family. My friend and her hubby and 2 kids stayed with us a couple days, and then went home, then my friend came back by herself so we could go to a concert. Then she stayed for my son’s baptism since she is the Godmother. Then my mother-in-law also stayed with us, and the rest of the family stayed in hotels. So family from out of town and friends that live in town came for the baptism on Sunday. The baptism and celebration to follow turned out to be wonderful, but the planning and getting all the food, drink, cake, and decor together was a lot of work.  Also, getting everyone together, and knowing that everyone was traveling from out of town to get here, was very stressful.  Yes, it all got done, and it was a beautiful ceremony and a lovely celebration. But when it was all done, and everyone left, I literally collapsed!

I slept all day yesterday whenever Michael was taking his naps. When he wasn’t napping, I watched him play on the floor with his toys or in his pack ‘n play or his jumper. Today, I slept again all day!!! My hubby acted like he didn’t even understand why I was so tired/fatigued/in pain. He wondered why things weren’t done, and he wanted to know how I was able to take care of Michael if I couldn’t do anything but lie around all day.

Here is where the guilt comes in…

I know I need to do laundry. I have sheets and blankets because we made up places for guests to sleep. I have regular laundry to do that I didn’t do while guests were here. I have regular cleaning to do and dishes. Now I need to continue with the normal everyday stuff~make bottles, make dinner, change diapers, feed Michael, feed my hubby, take the dog out, feed the dog, walk the dog, etc.  I can hardly do the normal daily activities, let alone anything extra from having guests for 3 weeks. My housework is so far behind, and I have no energy!!!

I feel so guilty that I can’t be a normal wife and parent!!!

The use of guilt here is not referring to the fact of being guilty of something, but to seeing or projecting my mistakes, while not knowing what to do about them or refusing to correct them. In this definition, guilt is a negative, paralyzing emotion, based on non-acceptance of myself or the situation, and it leads to depression and frustration rather than change or improvement. Guilt is usually a negative focus on myself: I am a bad person. I can’t bear myself. I am not worthy.

What can I do about it?
1 – Reflect on responsibility. Often it is/was not my responsibility or fault! Blaming myself for everything negative that happens is a form of ignorance and self-centeredness. Of course, if I am careless and intended to cause problems, then I should take responsibility for my action and see to it that I will not repeat this regrettable action. Instead, maybe I can do something to make up for it.

2 – Reflect on motivation. An act done with positive intention and without self-interest is not negative, although other people may be harmed by it. The suffering experience of others is strictly speaking the result of their own actions. However, we may have made some mistakes like wrong communication or insufficient attention, etc. If this is the case, it should just be a reason to change our habits by improving our communication or mindfulness.

3 – Changing or accepting. If you can change yourself or the situation, change it! If you can’t change yourself or the situation for a good reason, accept it! Not acting where we can and could act can lead to frustration and guilt in the long run; just like acting where we actually cannot do anything.

4 – Analyze the use of feeling guilty.  It is based in the present; it is intelligently concerned with the future effects of your recent actions; and it leads to remedying the damage already done and to caution about repeating such an act.

5 – Forgiving. Making mistakes is an inherent human quality: if you don’t make mistakes you are definitely not a normal human being anymore. If we are unable to forgive ourselves, we will never be able to properly forgive others.

6 – Reality check with others. If you can overcome your feelings of guilt and shame somewhat, try to discuss these matters with others and see if your reasons for feeling guilty are really valid.

7 – Emptiness. An ultimate cure for all delusions, realizing emptiness will also rid our mind of guilt.

In summary, try to transform the lack of self-confidence, ignorance and mental paralysis with repentence, purification, forgiving yourself, love and compassion for yourself, openness, reality check with others, and wisdom into positive action, fearlessness, and self-confidence. Believe it or not, this is based on Buddhism! They don’t believe there is such a feeling or emotion as guilt. So this is how they explain the human experience of guilt and repentence.  For Buddhists, they believe that guilt has such a prominent place because of the Judeo/Christian background of our culture. The concept of being born onto the earth with “original sin” – for which you personally are not even responsible – easily puts a feeling of guilt in your minds (I am bad, even without doing anything wrong). Furthermore, the presentations in several Christian traditions can give you the impression that you should feel guilty and ashamed. I believe that this type of guilt is a socially learned emotion. Tibetans do not even have a word for it! If that is correct, it is not even a basic human emotion, but a culturally –  imposed type of mental frustration; which means that you can relatively easily overcome it by un-learning this artificial emotion.

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One Response to “Guilt By Dana”

  1. I just loved this, such a wonderful job.

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