You know that whole thing about getting up and out of your head? Well, pardon me while I involve you in the process today. I’d apologize, but the truth is, if I’m writing this, I don’t feel guilty about it (please chuckle there, okay?). If I was going to feel guilty, I just wouldn’t do it.
I just typed a bit about guilt in a chapter I wrote and that’s one of those lessons I learned in the two weeks before Mom died. All of a sudden one evening, it occurred to me that for most of my life, guilt revolved around her. She is the one who caused me to feel guilty when I did something wrong … it was to her that I looked for moral guidance. And my goodness, she was really good at it. I’m sure it’s a mom-thing, but that woman was a master.
One evening my brother came home and was in trouble for something or other. He was maybe thirteen years old … much too old for her to spank. She was angry, but sent him up to his room. Then she took a deep breath and at the bottom of the stairs, said, “Watch this. It won’t take me five minutes and I’ll have him in tears.” She wasn’t wrong. I doubt it even took that long.
There was really no worse punishment in our lives than disappointing our parents. They were more than willing to point it out to us and rather than face that again, we straightened up.
Anyway, the night Mom told us she was going into the hospital and wouldn’t be coming home again, I realized that guilt needed to be over for me. It was time for me to grow up. I couldn’t rely on her any longer for that moral compass thing. I was responsible for my own behavior. If I was going to do something I’d feel guilty for, I needed to make a different decision. If I went ahead with it, then I needed to simply go for it because I was going in with my eyes wide open and a clear decision made.
Now, to be honest, I’ve screwed plenty of things up and had to face down serious guilt for those things … but the best way to deal with that is to face it, release the guilt, and move forward. I have more than enough fears, anxiety, stress (on and on and on) floating around in my head – I don’t need guilt taking up extra space.
For some reason, the last few days have been filled up with free-floating anxiety. I can’t identify it. Sure, I have plenty of people to worry about … friends have things going on, family members have things going on, even TB is growly for some reason. Is that what I do to myself, though? Do I take so much of their stuff on that it hovers just out of sight in my mind until the pressure builds inside?
Oh, probably. I’m a nut that way.
The first job I had out of college was at a church in Spencer – six hours away from home. Argh! Mom and I talked on the phone all the time. One night I called her and was a complete mess. I cried over everything. I hated my job, I missed my family, on and on. When we hung up, I felt much better and went to bed. I slept great, got up the next morning and the phone rang. It was Mom. She hadn’t slept at all. She had worried all night long for me and let me tell you, when I expressed confusion over her worry and told her how well I’d slept, she was ticked off! (yes, please laugh there)
Apparently, I’d transferred all of my worry to her. Once I’d said everything out loud, I was fine. But she took it all and had no way to release it. I’d gotten up and outside of my head, but she couldn’t see that. At least she waited until I was awake before calling me back, right?
Well, I’m my mother’s daughter. Do you worry out loud? Here, let me take that for you. Do you have some stress you’d like to lay out there? I’ve got it and I’ll keep a good eye on it. Are you randomly concerned about someone I don’t even know? Perfect. That fills in the blank spots in my worry calendar. Oh, and by the way, if you have an unsolved issue that we talked about five years ago, I’m still fretting over that too.
Martin Luther’s quote “Pray, and let God worry” has been showing up in my life a lot lately. All of this free-floating stuff I can’t specifically identify (even the stuff I can) is just like that guilt I decided to release. It isn’t worth the precious moments of my days. Those are much better spent doing something worthwhile … oh … like praying.
Now, if I could get the flies to stop buzzing around me, the squirrels to quit messing with my car, the cat to not hurt himself, this book to write itself and the temperature to drop about ten degrees, life would be pert-near perfect. Let it go Diane. Just let it go.
(By the way, if you’re reading this – I’m not looking for a fix or counseling. I just took care of that with a few words. A little humor from your own life or some commiseration (look it up) would be perfectly appropriate, though.)