Spin Cycle: Guilt

GuiltJeez, this Sprite’s Keeper gal plays hardball, doesn’t she?  When she announced the subject of this week’s Spin Cycle, I felt a bit like Indiana Jones when he got his first good look at the Well of Souls:

Guilt…why’d it have to be guilt…

Of course, she had no idea what she was handing me with this task.  I’m a 46 year old woman who’s been married twice, divorced once, had a child with a man I was not married to, spent years raising my children – alone – in a neighborhood nestled between the gang-ravaged Barrio and the West Dallas housing projects (Oldest Son attended a high school nicknamed “Drive By High”), seen my credit score hit roughly around 400 (can we say “No child support?”), given room and board to a young man who immediately stole my next door neighbor’s car (he was involved with my sister at the time), eaten cold pizza, chocolate cake and diet Coke for breakfast, drank alcohol before 9 a.m., ingested substances of an, ahem, controlled nature, failed at more diets than most people have even heard of, and lived in sin off and on for roughly six years with my Beloved before making an honest man out of him.

I’ve not only lived with guilt, I’ve run the full version of Guilt 2.0 without so much as a glitch.

The years of my first marriage were the worst for guilt – my ex is The Grand Master Of The Guilt Trip.  For twelve years, literally everything was my fault – if he could have blamed me for the situation in the Middle East, he would have.  Not enough money for the things we needed, much less wanted?  My fault for not making enough money; never mind that he refused to get a job.  The kids got sick?  My fault for not taking better care of them; never mind that he was home with them all day (he, of course, was the perfect parent so it had to be something I’d done – or not done).  We didn’t have sex every day?  My fault for not whipping on a sexy outfit the minute the kids went to bed every night; never mind I worked 12 – 16 hours a day, 6 days a week at a job that required I stand on my feet every minute I was there and was completely whipped by 8 p.m. every night.  He chased anything that even looked like it might possess a vagina?  Well, see the last item – not only was it my fault he didn’t get enough sex, it was my fault that he flaunted his “friends” in my face, for I was his wife and the person he was supposed to talk to about everything.  And if I didn’t like it, well then I was just a prude.

The guilt trips continued even after the divorce, for it was my fault that he had little to nothing to do with our children – if I was concerned that he be involved in their lives, then I shouldn’t have divorced him.  One of the very last arguments I let myself be drawn into with him became a shouting match where I enumerated the many reasons we were divorced and ended with him telling me I should have MADE him behave.

Good times.  Oh, yeah.

I really didn’t mean for this to turn into a rant about my first marriage, but I can’t talk about guilt and not talk about that.  By the time it was all over with, my self-esteem was non-existent and it has taken me many years to recover it.  In the process, I’ve come to realize that guilt serves very little purpose.  There are undoubtedly many things I’ve failed at in the course of 46 years, but that does not make me a failure.  Dragging around a shitload of guilt about those past things I can’t change isn’t going to do anything but take time and energy away from the person I am now.  A person who, overall, has done more right than wrong in her life and is a pretty decent woman despite those past things – and because of them.

So fuck guilt.  I don’t do it anymore.

25 thoughts on “Spin Cycle: Guilt”

  1. Guilt is for the guilty! As you so well illustrate, these were things beyond your responsibility – funny how the guilty don’t feel guilty (right O.J.?) and are first to lay the guilt trip on others. While I’m sure that in retrospect you (or any of us) can look back and regret decisions, but IF they were made in good consciousness and with well meaning intent, we can’t feel guilty about wrong decisions. I’m sure you were younger once (har har) but I can’t imagine you ever doing something deliberately ill intended that should warrant much if any guilt – certainly not a guilt complex.

    Sure we all have some indiscretions to feel guilty about. But if we learn from our mistakes and take what actions we can to rectify them we need to leave the guilt behind. So you are right – FUCK guilt if not everyone is forgiving – or willing to share some responsibility!

  2. “Hurricane Jan rips through crowded confessional booth park; multiple casualties, film at 11”

    Wow. Bravo, Jan! (standing at computer desk, applauding) I was going to write a post about the guilt I feel about having broken up with the girl that first kissed me, but….well, let’s just say you’ve made me look like a piker!

    “True honesty involves risk”. Game, set, match to Jan!

    Irish Gumbos last blog post..She Blinded Me With (Pseudo) Science

  3. Be still my racing heart! I could hear you yelling in my ear! Or maybe that was my boss telling me to get back to work.. Sorry, but your ex? Is an ass. He probably would try to make you feel guilty about his life going down the tubes after you called off. I hate those people.
    You’re linked and I’m full of respect for you.
    I have been “forgiving” people for their guilt this week, but I can’t forgive you. You already kicked guilt’s ass!

    Sprite’s Keepers last blog post..HASAY: Weak Week

  4. Amen, Sistah! Fuck guilt. HOOOO RAH. Yah baby. Oh when you have kids, a whole buttload of guilt goes along with it. Even if you’re not divorced. Which I wouldn’t know. Because I’ve been divorced. Twice. Yeah, now THERE’S some guilt for ya.

    Your ex sounds like a real treasure. ::eye roll:: The perpectual victim — it’s always someone ELSE’s fault. Geesh. Been there, done that. Husband #2 was like that. Yeeesh.

  5. ONE MORE THING WE HAVE IN COMMON! Sorry I’m shouting, but I can’t help myself. My EX was also an Ass that made everything that ever happened from the creation of the Universe MY FAULT! I decided to leave him when he got mad at ME for having the audacity to get cancer, before he had purchased LIFE INSURANCE on me!!

    Gingers last blog post..My New Year Plan – To Enjoy

  6. As someone that has dealt with much guilt in my life over many of the same things, your words “fuck guilt” have much meaning to me. I need to say the same thing…I am working on it. I was married to someone much like your ex and how does it seem that they don’t ever seem to feel guilty? Is it because they are too busy blaming? I have learned that much of that guilt is false guilt…things we shouldn’t feel guilty about but for some reason we do.
    I am so happy that you aren’t married to that guy anymore and that you have come so far! Thank you for sharing your story…it has encouraged me today.

    Loris last blog post..Guest Post

  7. Janis, I have known you for almost 11 years and have lived with your for almost as many. I find it so funny how I really have just gotten to know you as a person over the last 2 years. You have worn off on me and I really like you as a person.

  8. YOU GO GIRL!!! Guilt? Who the “F” need’s it? I carried my share around for a few decades as well… when I turned 50 I just said Fuck It. Great post!

    The Blue Ridge Gal

    Dis last blog post..Home Sweet Home #1

  9. OMFG! This is my absolute FAVORITE post you’ve ever written. I love this post. I love that you feel this way and I want to hug you and share a bottle of wine and stand on Thistle’s chair and wave my fist right along with her. You’re one rather wonderful woman, and I am so glad you are who you are!

    tricias last blog post..Dad Knows Best

  10. Jan-

    I get this post. Because I married a man who was like your first husband. But I was fortunate enough to not have a kid with him. And I got out (four years later), but barely. I was a skeleton of the real me. Then I married another man, whom I certainly did not make enough money to suit. Things were his or mine. Never ours.

    This summer I realized that I made those choices; They were in the past and I was over feeling bad. I regress sometimes and go back to that guilt ridden feeling, because honestly that’s what I’ve known best for a long time. My best friend sat me down and said, you made those choices. Live with them. Move on and love where you are now. So that’s what I’m trying to do. Fuck guilt.

    Thanks for sharing. I’m glad I’m not alone.

    ~the south dakota cowgirl~s last blog post..Spinning in Guilt

  11. Oh my goodness. I think I love you! Great post! And I’m with you – fuck guilt. And for those that try and make us feel it – grow up and own it. Own your own shit. Don’t try and push it on to me.

    Kathys last blog post..A belated response

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