I am so great about preaching to others around living a (at least almost) guilt-free life. I quote my therapist frequently when talking to my friends who feel guilty because they can’t be in three places at once for their kids or don’t call their MIL as much as they should or only make dinner four days a week instead of seven. I say, “Guilt serves no purpose.” But the truth is, just writing it makes me feel like a hypocrite.
It’s so easy to say, and hard to believe. And yet, I do deeply believe that if we work on self-care, forgiveness (not just of others, but of ourselves as well), express to our partners what we need and want, and actually take the time deserved to serve our own minds and bodies, we can slowly shed this guilt the way a snake sheds his skin. Did you know that sometimes snakes will even rub up against a rock or something else hard in order to shed that old skin? Maybe we need to do the same; go right up to whatever you’re feeling guilty about (work, kids, husband, money, food)—really get up in there, face it like a demon, and then scrub scrub scrub. Goodbye guilt!
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because I’m going on Day 10 of a cold, and my guilt lies in not being able to be there for SHL in any kind of “wifely way” (i.e. I haven’t made dinner let alone the bed in the last week and a half). I know my hubby; he would shake his head and tell me that I’m being crazy, but there’s this thing called wife guilt that I’ve been perfecting for the last five years, where despite what SHL tells me his needs or wants (and honestly making dinner or the bed is not high up on his list), I decide that whatever I can’t give to him is actually what he should need or want. This is an art, my friends.
The other piece of the guilt lays in just how much work I’ve had to miss over the last two weeks. I took time off to go down to Austin to visit my bestie and her family, which was time well spent, but then came back and was sick and missed a few days of work last week, plus I was out yesterday as well (sleeping all day). I dragged myself in to work this morning simply because I didn’t want people to whisper around the office that I’m a slacker, which makes little to no sense since everybody knows my work ethic combined with the fact that they can all hear me hacking in my office. I even caught myself apologizing to a co-worker for being out yesterday and hoped that she didn’t get slammed with work! So what if she did? I’M SICK! Oh Sam…
I can see it so clearly through the eyes of my friends, but when it comes to myself, it is much, much more difficult. And focusing on our own self-care, forgiveness, and living an authentic life sometimes takes a little push… Like, “I’ll focus on that someday. Today I have to… “(Fill in the blank). It’s only because of cancer, quite frankly, that I’ve given myself permission to really live FOR ME, and nobody else. Most of the time.
I for one desperately want to release the guilt that if I am sick, I am letting others down. This combined with the worry that my immune system is compromised and I’m living with cancer is enough to make me truly batty. I don’t need it. It’s time wasted, when really all I want is to be in the now and to be content with the present.
What do you feel guilty about? In what ways does feeling guilty serve us (if any), and in what ways does it work against us?