By Heather Evans
It’s the same old story that makes zero sense. You wake up grouchy because you didn’t sleep well, but feel guilty because you’re safe and healthy. It’s your day off and you want to garden and read, but your inner voice tells you that you’re lazy if you don’t do laundry. You’re home sick from work and all you can focus on is the massive guilt from missing a day. You’re doing everything for your partner and children, yet it’s never enough.
And then, in an epic battle of fail: you feel guilty for feeling guilty.
What is the deal?
Mailonline.com once reported some crazy results in regards to their guilt survey: “More than 96% of women feel guilty at least once a while, and for more than half of the women questioned: at least four times a day. It also discovered that almost half of respondents were kept awake at night by guilt, while three quarters said they had experienced more guilt since giving birth.”
Psychology Today Magazine says feelings of guilt can cause you to do some pretty damaging things, and behave in ways not normal for yourself. The most interesting thing they said? Most people try to do something to actually fix their self-imposed guilt.
Besides reading a bunch more information that just makes you feel worse, there’s the obvious ways you can go about halting the guilt train. You can tell yourself to just plain stop. You can think about something positive. You can deal with everything you’re feeling guilty about all at once and try to be perfect. But what if you did nothing? What if you just felt… guilty? What if you wrote down whatever you were feeling guilty at the moment and shared it with the world? Would you suddenly realize that all you really need is a little perspective and maybe some support?
I’ll go first with the sharing. Today I’m feeling guilty because I need to sing soul music for an hour before I can write. I’m feeling guilty because I somehow gained 5 lbs off of eating one (huge) cheeseburger with fried jalapenos. I feel guilty because I should’ve learned how to crochet from my grandmother before she died. I feel guilty because Martha Stewart would bitch slap me if she saw the disorganized, hoarder-esque state of my craft room.
This wasn’t THE cheeseburger, but it was just as good.
All of this sounds ridiculous when you write it out, yet somehow it runs rampantly legit when it’s in your head. I do wish I had learned to crochet from my grandmother. But just because she’s gone doesn’t mean I can’t look at her work and imitate it. I can use her hooks and yarn. I can make something in honor of her, even if I’m so terrible at it my crocheted potholder looks like a pair of underwear that caught on fire. I ate a cheeseburger, so what? It wasn’t just any cheeseburger! It was half beef, half bacon and it was held in place by a homemade bacon pretzel bun. Someone had to eat it, so I did it. I did it for the children, to tell the truth. And for America. And craft rooms? I call bullshit when it comes to craft rooms. Even they are subject to much of the image-issues glossy DIY media portrays. Ain’t nobody got a craft room that is as organized like the ones in the pages of Better Homes and Gardens. If you do then you must know I’m totally jealous. Mine kind of looks like a thrift store, same as my closet. But hey- that’s my flavor and style. When it comes to hearing about other people’s guilt I can’t believe what they’re going through! I can’t imagine my friends feeling guilty about feeding their kids stale Cheerios, or trying desperately to shower with a baby in tow. To me, they look like Wonder Women. But that’s the thing with guilt. Most of the time it doesn’t make any sense.
So if you’re feeling guilty, I challenge you to write it down. When you do, you’ll start to understand yourself. Did you lie to someone and still haven’t come clean? Stop feeling guilty and be honest. Deal with the situation. Feel terrible that you’re at home with the kids while your partner works all day? You should know the average stay at home mom works the equivalent of 80+ hours a week. Maybe you’ll read your guilt list and laugh about it, like I did. What you really should know is that you’re not alone. What you really need to hear is that you’re just like everyone else. So as soon as you’re done reading this, tweet @haveheartmag and tell us what you’re feeling guilty about. While you’re there, comment on someone else’s confession and give them some support. I can almost guarantee you’ll feel guilty if you don’t, so go ahead, guilt yourself into spreading some much needed love for a stranger. You’ll never know who will be there to support you in return.