For a while now I’ve been really wanting to write a blogpost about guilt. Because it’s such a huge part of my life. I’ve spent most of my life feeling guilty.
I feel guilty for what I say, what I do, how I feel, where I go, what I look like, what I wear, what I eat.
I feel guilt at some point during every social interaction, during every working day, every time I cook, every time I get dressed. Every time I have a shower.
I feel guilt towards my family, towards my friends, towards my colleagues, towards strangers in the street. Customers. My partner.
I’ve got so used to the feeling of guilt that I hardly register it anymore. I’ve come to realise in the past few months that actually what I’m feeling is guilt for who I am. I have cultivated the conviction that I am not good enough, can never be good enough.
I’m not happy enough, I’m not interesting enough, I’m not pretty enough, I’m not tall enough, I’m not intelligent enough, I’m not caring enough, I’m not successful enough, I’m not fit enough, I’m not skinny enough, I’m not loving enough, I’m not feminist enough, I’m not bisexual enough, I’m not depressed enough, even.
And when I’m not thinking about things that I’m not enough of, I’m thinking about things that I am too much.
I’m too fat, I’m too sensitive, I’m too self-centred, I’m too loud, I’m too opinionated, I’m too passionate, I’m too agreeable, I’m too short, I’m too ugly, I’m too intense, I’m too introspective, I’m too scared, I’m too depressed, I’m too boring, I’m too patronising, I’m too much.
I don’t know what I think constitutes good enough. I don’t know how much would be enough. I know that I can never be the exact right degree of all of the things I want to be.
Maybe I should let go of everything that I think I should be, and just be myself. But these thoughts are constant. Right now, as I write, I struggle against the voice in my head that tells me that there’s no point writing this, because everything I write is trite and shit and no one will read it anyway. No one is interested in what I have to say. I am a nobody.
And simultaneous to that, I have other thoughts attacking my body, feeling my breasts touch my arms as I type and being actively disgusted by their size, that they are touching my arms as I type. If my breasts were smaller, they wouldn’t touch. My breasts are too big.
And simultaneous to that, I feel that I need the loo and I feel guilty, am actively berating myself for not going earlier, because I’m waiting for a phone call now so I can’t go, and I knew that, and why am I such an idiot? I’m so lazy I can’t even get up and go to the loo when I need to, I leave everything to the last minute and I’m always late for everything and I’m shit I’m shit I’m shit.
And simultaneous to that, I’m thinking about what I’ll eat for lunch, and what I ate for breakfast, and I’m mentally berating myself for eating earlier, because I’m so fat I didn’t need to eat, never need to eat really. One meal a day, maybe. Maybe I could eat one meal a day, but really I should just not eat, see how long I could go not eating, I don’t deserve food anyway, do I? Really?
And simultaneous to that, I’m thinking about cooking dinner this evening for myself and my partner, and the curry I want to cook, and how lazy I am because I haven’t looked up the recipe yet, and I’m mentally berating myself for how badly I will cook this dinner (in the future), even though I don’t even know that I’ll fuck it up.
And simultaneous to that, I’m feeling myself grind my teeth with stress a bit, and I’m telling myself off for doing it, because I know it could fuck up my jaw and because I know that all I need is a release, to calm my body down and keep me from grinding my teeth and being tense, and I’m obsessively thinking about that release, because that release would be cutting myself, and I know that I’m not allowed to do that, and I’m mentally berating myself for being so selfish, because I know that people in my life would be upset if I cut myself, and that would be like de facto cutting them, and I feel as much guilt for it as I’d have felt if I’d actually cut myself.
And simultaneous to that, I’m upset about the death of Robin Williams and I’m upset about the fucking mass murder happening in Gaza and I’m upset about the Yazidi people, huddling on a mountain while IS attack them because of who they are and what they believe, and I feel incredibly guilty that I’m thinking about my own problems and my own, silly, insignificant little life, when there are people dying and being raped and being mutilated and so on and so on, all over the world, and I have a nice little life, and why can’t I enjoy it? Why? Why?
Hmm. Maybe I can’t enjoy it because I am constantly stuck in a cycle of guilt. And I decide to try to work out why.
I grew up with a very strict moral code. We were C of E Christians, and of course the church has a lot of guilt in its rituals and rites.
But living with Christian morals, in my day-to-day life, I think has affected me a lot more than just the church stuff. The idea of, in every situation, in every conflict, in every social interaction, inspecting and judging my ‘performance’, and whether I’ve done anything wrong, definitely comes from the idea of treating others as you want to be treated. It’s a great message but I think we can easily become obsessed by it, picking apart everything we do for signs of doing wrong by other people.
It’s a shame because I think it’s a really great message, but the best part of it for me is when you flip it. ‘Treat others as you want be treated and remember that you deserve the same treatment. There’s no point in treating others well if you’re treating yourself badly.’ And I really want to try to get better at remembering that. I suppose, however badly I feel about myself, there’s no reason why I don’t deserve to be treated as well as anyone else does. There’s no reason why I don’t deserve the respect and love that I give to others.
Here’s hoping. Sorry if this post is rubbish*
*See what I mean with the guilt?