I never really thought of myself as living with any guilt but upon closer examination, I do. Then I thought, maybe it’s just a me thing. But I do remember lots of times hearing my friends talk about “mom guilt,” so I thought it must be a mom thing. Yet, I also know a lot of women without children that experience the weight of guilt. That got me thinking, maybe it’s a female thing. Now, I don’t mean to be exclusionary. Perhaps this is a human thing. Maybe men feel a lot of guilt, too, but anecdotally in my life, I haven’t witnessed or heard of it to the same extent. So, sorry guys if I’m leaving you out but I need to talk about this female guilt.
See, I feel guilty for excluding men! It starts. You know what else I’ve felt guilty about today? I haven’t done the dishes but I spent time working when I didn’t need to. Had I not done the extra work I would have had time for dishes. I feel guilty because I didn’t help pack the kids’ lunches this morning. In fact, school lunches have become an absolute joke. “Take 4 granola bars and a wrinkly apple!” Guilt. I felt guilty about playing a game on my computer before I did my morning devotional. Don’t get me started on getting ready this morning! Lord help me. I felt guilty that I bought an expensive organic skincare regime that often sits in the cupboard while I splash water on my face. Guilty because I’ve totally let myself go. Guilty because I haven’t exercised in probably a year so I have this sweet muffin top and maybe one pair of black tights that don’t make look like some overstuffed sausage. Guilt about trying to make a shirt look good with breasts that have fed four children (it’s near impossible). Children, by the way, who weren’t all born vaginally or without medication or in a birthing pool. The horror! There’s guilt because my kids don’t eat organic. I let them eat junk. They rarely eat their rainbow. Guilt because I’m loud, opinionated, I sneak naps, drink more coffee than seems healthy, and I’m not a great cook and guess what, I actually don’t want to be. Guilt because I spend too much time with my kids and not enough on myself, I don’t call my grandma enough and sometimes I think full sentences in expletives.
Are you getting the drift here? I just carry it around with me and I cannot remember ever feeling any different. Even when I was a child. That’s the thing with guilt, it tries to inform my decisions and be a part of my inner dialogue.
I’m not unstable or maladjusted. I function within society pretty darn well. Frankly, I don’t want to feel this way. I don’t really even think much of it stems from an internal belief system about myself. Quite the opposite really. I think this is how I’ve been taught by society to feel. It’s like society says, “You are all of these great things or you are nothing.”
I grew up with great and loving parents who still believe I can be and do whatever I set my mind to. Yet society leads women to believe all good and positive things are are either given to them or earned through hard work. So for all the things that you are not or don’t have, you should feel guilty because there is either some deficit in you our your work ethic.
I don’t want people to take this piece and use it to tell me I’m a great mom, friend, person, etc. What I want is for people to realize that they’re not their thoughts or feelings. I’m not a guilty person, I’m just a person who feels guilty or thinks guilty thoughts sometimes. There’s a difference. I can take my thoughts and feelings as information and decide whether or not they are true or whether the information is useful. If a thought of guilt is motivating to me to take care of my personal well-being, awesome. If feelings or thoughts of guilt push me to exercise to exhaustion because I might not fit into some skinny jeans, I’m checking the, “Not useful,” information box and I’ll thank my brain for the info and move along.
What I’ve come to realize after examining the thoughts and feelings I have surrounding guilt is that most don’t originate from me but from society telling me to feel guilty because I don’t measure up to some standard, which by the way, is not attainable unless there were three of me who had unlimited financial and time resources. So thanks but no thanks society.
I truly believe, in my inner being, that we are just the way we are supposed to be. In general, people do their best every day and that’s good enough for me.
I’m done holding myself up to ridiculously high standards and I promise, I’m not going to hold you up to them either. I think that until we give each other that same courtesy, guilt is going to plague femaleness. Let’s do away with the judging and the pedestaling of unattainable standards of beauty, success and happiness. Let’s do more encouraging, supporting and understanding. Examine the guilty thoughts and feelings as information and keep it if useful and discard it if not. You get to choose what you believe about yourself.
I’d love to hear what you think. Men, do you feel this way? Did I erroneously leave you out? Women, can you relate? Leave a comment in the section below or pop over to the forum (tab is on the Home page).