Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Guilty of Being Guilty!

The weirdest thing happened to me this morning.  I am following the program from The Artist's Way. So every morning before I get my day going, I write three longhand pages of whatever comes to my mind.  It has been great and I highly recommend checking out the book by Julia Cameron - or google some of her assignments.

The thing is - I bought a new journal to write in.  I do not know about other writers, but I am obsessed with notebooks, journals, paper, pens - anything that has to do with writing. So I make my journal and notebook selections very carefully.  This journal is a bit shorter than, but as wide as a regular sized spiral notebook. The paper is nice and thick, no bleeding if I decide to use a felt tip or rollerball.  It has an elastic band to keep it closed and a ribbon bookmark.  It is my favorite color  - deep red and most importantly, it fits in my big yellow hobo bag. 

So - I have been doing my "morning pages" religiously in my new journal since Saturday. My everyday journal  ( I use the Black n' Red spirals) has only been jotted in a few times.  Mostly notes to myself and my TODO TODAY list.  This morning, as I began writing I started thinking about my good old Black n' Red.  I thought, maybe I should go back and start writing in it again.  It was kinda unfair that I abandoned it for this beautiful spankin' new journal. I sighed at the image of it sitting on my desk forsaken and unused. How utterly sad.

Then I stopped - I interrupted that ridiculous train of thought and was shock to discover that I felt GUILTY! Within 15 seconds I had almost convinced myself my journal was offended and felt cast-off and  forgotten.  With a quickness I told my brain, "Listen here - that notebook is an inanimate object.  The only life it possesses is what I give it!"  I laughed to (and at) myself, moved on and finished my pages. I recognize that my moment was a result of a writer's mind taking liberties with reality.  But it did get me to thinking.

I operate on an auto-pilot guilt system.  If the house isn't all that clean, I am a terrible housekeeper.  If I scream at my kids, I am a bad mother. If I fail to give my husband a hug, I am a terrible wife.  You get the picture.  The truth is that I am pretty good at all those things.  We live in a fun, kinda cool, happy household that only stinks half the time. 

I think for many of us women, we are almost conditioned to second guess our abilities. Look at what images of womanhood are thrown at us everyday through print and TV.  You can't go anywhere without a call to BE BETTER!  You know what commercial I hate? The Glade commercial where the husband throws his gym bag on the living room chair and the air freshener just sucks away the funk.  I mean - if that is the worst of it -of course your Glade plug-in will work in your absolutely ridiculously clean and perfectly decorated home.  Try it in a room where your two sons pee the bed almost every night.  The truth is I hate that commercial because I really want a ridiculously clean, perfectly decorated house and for so long I stressed and felt terrible about myself because I couldn't achieve it.  I think we question our abilities because no matter how well we do - somewhere the impossible standard of perfection is looming way WAY above our current reality.

 It doesn't matter if we stay at home, work at home, or work at work.  It doesn't matter if we are single, married, partnered or childless.  Everywhere we turn there is a judge and jury just itching to show us our shortcomings and debate our life strategies and beliefs.  Someone is always in the shadows ready to tell us we are simply wrong.  Not just wrong about the BIG things like religion, parenting and TV watching. (Celebrity Apprentice anyone?) The shadow people let us know we are wrong about everything from the way we handled a conflict at work to our asinine choice of paper towels.

These shadow people who are ready to pounce can be friends, family, co-workers, bosses, and fellow bloggers.  (I won't even get into the blog commentors). But the worst of the worse is that person that lurks in the corners of our own minds that cause us to question even the little things we do.   Wrapped in those nagging second-guesses is guilt.  That pain we feel because we aren't doing "it" right. 

However, the great thing is we are aware.  I really believe that right in the core of who we are - we know the deal about all the guilt and self questioning. It may just take a little something to spark that face-off.  The good news is that Life always presents us with that something that makes you stand up and say, "What the hell am I thinking!"  Then we look at IT, the life that we feel we aren't doing right, and we realize, there is really nothing wrong with IT. IT may not be perfect - but IT is fine just the way IT is. 

And I can write in any flippin' notebook that I want!


  1. how very true... at times I wonder if we bring this guilt upon ourselves...

    I suppose so long as we know that we know, in our hearts, that we are raising a proper, ethical and morally sound family, we are doing a good job.. and i mean come on, you are accomodating everyone's needs and interest in YOUR 24 hrs.. that should be more than enough

  2. I just wanted to personally thank you for the comment you left on my blog! :)

  3. Thank you! I love this post! It is so true that, as mothers, we always have that nagging doubt about whether we are doing the right the right way....and you know what?! My kids are almost grown and I still don't know...All I know is that I am doing the best I know how. My kids (like most teenagers) have put me through the ringer. I could write an entire month's worth of posts on the past 2 years alone...and still leave a lot unsaid. But...I love my children unconditionally and always want the best for them...I listen to their problems, and most of the time, I think I give pretty good advice...and I care. So for all the little things I have probably done "wrong," I know in my heart that the things that count, I've done the best I can do. And will continue do always give my best.

    And those who do not like it? Well....Oh well...

    Thanks for visiting my page...I hope to see you around....I'll stop by here and see what you are up to as well!


  4. So, so true. A friend of mine said that "being a mom means feeling guilty about everything you do." Thank goodness for a little self-awareness and a sense of humor!

  5. We are not alone!

    I commented on a fellow writers blog, I think all parents screw their kids up one way or the I have a savings for thier therapy as adults! But the good most definitely outweighs the bad. I think what people remember most is the quality of time they spent with their parents and how thier parents loved them and made them feel special! Especially the mamas!

    Thank you guys for all the great comments!

  6. "I operate on an auto-pilot guilt system. If the house isn't all that clean, I am a terrible housekeeper. If I scream at my kids, I am a bad mother. If I fail to give my husband a hug, I am a terrible wife. You get the picture. The truth is that I am pretty good at all those things. We live in a fun, kinda cool, happy household that only stinks half the time."

    Um yeah. Me too, girl. I spend atleast 10% of each day thinking about what I'm not doing right and trying not to feel guilty about it and hoping that no one's found out that I'm not really qualified for this role I play.

    I remember a few weeks ago, our grass badly needed cut and everytime I saw the neighbors outside in passing, I felt like they were looking at me funny and secretly wishing they had better neighbors.

  7. The stories we make up in our head!! When you really think about it - it's kinda crazy...because in real life - people don't think about us as much as we think they do!

    I have discovered that we can turn the autopilot off. That doesn't mean we won't feel guilty...but it means that we know when we are acting a little wacky! I mean who feels guilty over choosing to write in a different notebook?

    It gives us a lot to write about, that's for sure.


  8. Boy is this a great article. First I must tell you I just adore your blog and this was great article. I'm now following and will also add you as a friend. Keep on writing ...
    ps: stop by and visit me at Living & A Balanced You.....

  9. Thanks Alicia,

    We must have been checking out each others blog at the same your blog and I am a follower!

  10. I am now following your blog. I stopped by from MBC and am so glad I did.

    This post really resonated with me. I get the guilt thing. With me, it's like I never feel I'm quite where I want to be - that I'm always "Getting there." I spend my life "getting there". But "there" is a forever moving bar that I'll never actually reach because I can never really be satisfied with where I am.

    Rational me knows this - that I keep moving my bar so I never reach it - but still I think, "if I can just do x, then ... THEN ... everything will be just as I want it and I will be satisfied."

    So I guess that is a mixture of guilt about not getting stuff I want done done (eg: little stuff like clean house, cooking, stuff other people seem to manage, as well as those larger life goals), and guilt about not enjoying life as it is now - because I'm still "getting there".

    So I'm working on letting that guilt go :)

    And yeah, great post.

    When you get a moment, hope you'll stop by my blog.

    Best - Louise

  11. Hi there! I'm sure that poor notebook wasn't offended at all! lol I'm the same as you though, if i don't do something perfect, I feel like a failure! BTW, I'm following you from MBL!