When I am not living my best life, it is not just me who suffers the fall downs and side effects. Those closest and most beloved to me get the worst hit. And then I get a hit of guilt. Guilt is the crappiest of emotions, and it turns me into a bit of a crappy person. I find it very hard to cope with the idea that people have been hurt, put out, inconvenienced or held back in some way due to my actions. So I will try to turn things around in any way I can to make me into the victim that others should feel sorry for and to distract from what I’ve actually done wrong.
Now, let’s roll that back a little bit. I should say that I do generally admit and take responsibility fairly quickly when I’m wrong. But woe betide anyone who doesn’t immediately forgive me. All my self-pitying manipulation will come to bear as I blend with the tragedy and hurt emotions of being the put upon person who tried their best and is now being unfairly victimised.
I’m finding it hard to put my thoughts about this into coherent form. I react when I feel guilty. It’s a powerful emotion and I think I get really blended with it and find it difficult to separate myself and my thoughts from the swirl of feelings that accompany it. I want the person /people that I’m interacting with to know that no punishment they could dream up could match what I am doing to myself inside my head. It can be an overwhelming feeling, and if I’m exposed to it for too long, I start to shut down.
I’ve noticed a few past interactions where I’ve not been able to resolve things with people I’ve hurt by actions, speech, whatever. And after trying and trying to resolve it, I will eventually give a big “Fuck. That. Shit.” in my head and cut off all emotions towards them. Fairly extreme, I admit, but it did save me from one hell of a toxic relationship once upon a time.
Anyway, I’m getting distracted and tangental. I started these pages this morning mired in a whole wodge of sticky, guilty feelings. You see, it was my husband’s turn for a lie-in this morning, but I stayed up way too late into the wee hours of the morning correcting papers, and I just couldn’t wake up properly when the children did. So I stole his lie-in. And because I felt guilty about it, I immediately started to try and change that into angry feelings about how I’m usually the one who gets up when they wake in the night and internal cries of “Patriarchy!” and the likes. When I got myself to accept that the anger was misplaced, I moved to self-pity and wanting to be told I deserved the lie-in coz I work hard, and I wasn’t up late faffing, but working, etc. etc.
But the fact is, we both deserved a lie-in. We both work hard. I was wrong to steal it, but the “less than best” choice actually came the previous evening when I stayed awake later than I knew was reasonable given that I knew I had to wake early. Or maybe it came even before that when I stayed out way later than reasonable at the party the previous night, and so had a bit of an exhaustion hang-over from then.
So, “Hi, husband!” (because I know he reads this) “This is me saying sorry. Sorry not just for the theft of your sleep and rest, but sorry for then trying to make my guilt about it your problem. I don’t think I externalised it all that much this time but I definitely thought it. So sorry. I will try to do better.”
My guilty feelings are my issue. They are so very powerful because I feel like I’ve betrayed the very essence of the type of person I want to be. But I need to trust that an apology and an attempt to do better will do their job. And when they don’t … well, maybe that detaching instinct is the right one. But maybe made as a conscious choice rather than a stroppy “Well screw you then!” reaction.
I can at least say that it’s all a lot easier to deal with these emotions without the added guilt and fear that alcohol and hangovers induce. And writing it all out helps too. Well, it helps me anyway, even if it’s just a tangled jumble of words to everyone else.