Sunday, August 17, 2008

Guilty as charged.

I’m an Irish Catholic. We feel guilt. About everything. All the time. However, I've started to think about all the things I regularly feel guilty about, and I’ve realized how it’s all just too much. I’m too hard on myself, and I should cut Jen a break. AND stop talking about her in the third-person.

Below is a short list of the things I regularly feel guilty about. My friend Vrej always reminds me of my “first-world problems”. These are ALL things people only in the first-world countries would think to concern themselves with. I suppose in any other place, I’d be worrying about rape, disease, female circumcision, dictatorship, famine, etc. Of course, all this does is make me feel guilty that I even FEEL guilty about this petty shit in the first place. Thanks, Vrej.

Roll call of guilt:

-I have gone church twice during the summer. Of course the first thing I list would be Catholicism related. Naturally.

-When I’m on a date with a nice guy, and I’m not attracted to him, yet he’s into me. I beat myself up about this.

-I’m not taking enough time to understand all the current political issues in this election year. Sorry, but when your presidential candidate choices start to mirror the South Park episode when the kids have to vote between a Giant Douche and a Turd Sandwich, it’s hard to get inspired and bone up on the issues.

(**NOTE: I'm aware the South Park episode I linked above was made to make fun of the Bush/Kerry race 4 years ago, but I think it still holds true with the current race, where I honestly can't get behind either candidate. But that's a rant for another day.)

-I haven’t been to the gym in over a month.

-If I ever have to back out of plans with friends, I feel bad. REALLY bad.

-I owe at least 3 friends birthday presents.

-I’ve kept crappy contact with several of my friends lately. CLOSE friends. And in many cases, they haven’t bothered to call me either, yet I still feel bad.

-This guilt about not making contact extends to my family as well. Parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, and my nearly 99-year-old grandmother. Why can’t I just think to call them and check in?

-When I don’t work hard enough, or don’t care enough about my job.

-That I don’t spend enough time with my family. Or WORSE, that I want to spend less time with them, so I can get my own stuff done.

-Guilty that I haven’t been able to properly update this silly blog, even though it’s because I get Internet access once a week right now (which incidentally, is driving me to drink.). After all, my readership has skyrocketed from 1 to 3 readers. HOW can I let you people down?

These are the things that eat away at me EVERY DAY. Some of them are pretty small, but when you pile all of them up, I'm overwhelmed. And that’s just a sample…if I sat here long enough, I could let that list grow 5x. It’s ridiculous. How does my Eucharist-taking, confession-spilling, Catholic-baptized mind become reprogrammed to let it be ok to not feel guilty about everything?

I normally try not to spend my time dwelling on the negative, but making that list was therapeutic for me. It gave me some perspective, and made me realize that I can’t be so hard on myself, and that I have to learn to let it go. Not all of it, but some of it. After all, if I didn’t worry about this stuff, what kind of a heartless robot would I be? Guilt is a vicious circle we all deal with, but it’s all about keeping that vicious circle in check.

So I guess I don't have an answer on how to stop the guilt train from making regular stops at my station. But being aware of it is a good first step.

UPDATE: Sorry everyone, I have NO idea what's going on with the font on this post. I've tried and tried to get it to be the same, and every time I hit publish, something else goes wonky. So now it's staying this way. Stupid Blogger.


Cindy (and Brian) said...

font issues...this is something you can change when you're in HTML mode and not in COMPOSE mode. But I'd have to show you next time you are over.
You should feel really guilty about that.

The Shannon Monster said...

Oh Jen, amateur, you!!

You want guilt? I'll give you guilt. Good Irish Catholic guilt, too. Picture it...summer of 2000. Y2K fears behind us. Me, enjoying going home to my perfect apartment pets..2 well-trained rats.

My 84grandmother with intreatable lung cancer. And there I am, holding her hand while she has fluid drained from her lung so she doesn't drown. She squeezes my hand as she yelps in pain. Between squeezes, she says, "Shannon? Make me a promise. You must promise to do this after I die, but before the funeral". Thinking it was a major task, I teared up and said, "Of course, Grandma, anything!". She says, "You promise, right?" "Of course I do!" She tells me, "Get rid of your rats. I hate them. I don't want to be looking down on your from heaven and seeing your rats".

And THAT, my dear Jen, is some serious Irish Catholic guilt!!

Laura said...

Funny, I was just talking about this very issue with friends today. I think this is a problem with Christians - Catholic, Protestant, you name it - in general, and maybe religious people in general... but as one friend said today, "I've never had good guilt." As in, guilt has never done her any good. Sure, if I do something wrong I think it's good to feel convicted/ regretful and then do what I can to make amends, if I can... but then there's false guilt (not updating one's blog) which is never good... And I agree, guilt is a vicious cycle and wallowing in it does no good. And funnily enough, it seems like some of the best people in the world have hyper-sensitive consciences and struggle with guilt the most.

Funnier, Jesus tells us we're not guilty any more and guilt isn't his doing (Romans 8 is all about that). Well, maybe not funny, but ya know. Maybe that's the antidote... laughing away our self-induced guilt?

Just 2 cents from a fellow guilty-feeling girl.

Glad to know about your blog, btw! You're now in my links. :)