Guilt is what I’m feeling.
I’m feeling guilty about nearly everything these days. Guilty about not doing more with my days. Guilty for not following through with ideas. Guilty for changing my mind. Guilty for not walking my dog daily. Guilty for giving my dog more attention than the cats. Guilty for struggling with being a parent. Guilty for not.doing.more.
As I write this, I can give advice to myself. I can say, “Amy, chill out. This is a product of your perfectionism. Guilt is a product of what you think you should do, and there are no shoulds. There just is.” And when I meditate, I feel that. When I teach yoga, I feel that.
Yet I’m in this strange in between stage where, while I know intellectually outside of yoga and meditation that there is nothing I should do, or a way that I should feel, I still feel that I should be doing everything differently.
Inherently, what this points to is my need for change. My need for routine, my need to feel productive and useful to our society. I believe what I do adds value, truly. Yet I feel that I have more to give, and it is laziness and discomfort in showing up in the world authentically, that stops me from giving more.
One of my goals has always been to be a writer. In the past several weeks, I have had several ideas of various books – some things very funny, some things not so funny. I got so excited about it I actually stopped blogging in order to focus on chapters of books, on collections of essays.
I told my husband about my ideas and he quickly brushed it off. While he supports me and my dreams, he thinks it’s just another vibrant idea of mine that quickly fades and loses my interest. Determined to prove him wrong this time, I set out to write daily… And yet, not even a week later, I’ve stopped.
Guilt. Will I ever finish anything of value? When will I stop taking the easy road?
It’s the same story with eating healthy. I’ve been toying with the idea of transitioning to a vegan diet for months, and yet… Avoidance.
And let’s not even talk about the emotional train wreck that is not only being a parent, but a stepparent. A not-even-real parent. Because of our living situation, we get our son for half of the summer and only a few more times throughout the year, essentially making us parents to a stranger. Kids change so fast at this age.
And I have no idea how to be a parent. I try to let Keith do the parenting while I just sidestep and offer support from all angles. No one gave me a degree in parenting. I have zero motherly instincts. I think I would work much better as a “cool aunt” than a parent.
[In retrospect, I see now that both of these guilt-laden subjects – my inability to work on a long term goal, like writing a book, daily; my struggles with parenting – are reflective of my deeper aversion to commitment. My deeper still aversion to failure. What if I write a book and it sucks? What if I parent and my stepson hates me? I’m avoiding responsibility. I’m avoid adding value in case I royally fuck up and add horseshit instead.]
And of course I love him. But saying these things make me feel so much guilt. What if he reads this one day and thinks I am a terrible person, or even worse – unwanted? What if someone else reads this and thinks I am a terrible parent or stepparent? I am already wracked with so much guilt. Throwing me under the weight of someone else’s expectations and then calling me out on it may crush me.
So I have been silent. But it feels like I need to talk about it. Yesterday I stepped up and “parented” for, really, the first time. And while I think that, ultimately, I did the right thing, it still feels bad. Under whose authority am I a parent? I feel guilty that I upset him. I feel guilty that he felt he had to lie to me. I feel guilty that it was two days before he leaves to go home. I feel guilty that I couldn’t brush it aside afterwards and wasn’t sure how to act “normal.”
I can look at it and know I did the right thing, but no matter what it doesn’t feel good. I know I am not as bad at this as I think. But when does the guilt stop?
When will I start following through on my ideas?
When will I start contributing the value I have to share and stop wasting my time feeling guilty?
What I know for sure, is that yoga and meditation makes me feel okay. Getting off of the computer and getting outside makes me feel okay. Daily practices of gratitude and prayer make me feel okay.
More of that, and less of everything else. Love to you and may your guilt and mine be dissipated further with each prayer.