A Boatload of Guilt

Pink lotus
Beautiful pink lotus

A lotus is a symbol of purity, self-regeneration or rebirth, which is why it can symbolize the human life. No matter how low in morals, self love, hate, racism or anything negative, we can grow out of it to a higher, purer, more loving nature; just as the lotus starts from muddy water and grows to the surface of the water, where it opens into an exquisite white, yellow, red, pink, or pastel orange flower. 

I have a life with much less guilt now. Let me explain. From early childhood through a large part of my adult life guilt has haunted me every day. No, I was never evil or did anything terrible to be ashamed of.

Often I guilted myself for some transgression or thought or feeling I had; thinking that through punishing myself by “mentally spanking” myself, I would learn not to commit the same mistake again. (I think this was a carry over from when I was a child: you do something wrong, you get punished to make you learn not to do it again.) I would worry that something I said might have been taken the wrong way and caused emotional pain to someone else.

The guilt and self recriminations continued after my husband became sick from progressive diabetes and mini strokes. He was always a bit OCD and later became emotionally abusive at times. I felt like I deserved to be punished for my mistakes because I had “screwed up royally!” I had disappointed him, or let him down.

The drive to be “good” became an all consuming passion when I was twelve snd found out there was a Bible verse that said, “Be ye perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” WOW! How could I ever do that?

Later I realized this was an impossible feat! Then as an adult I found out the word “perfect” according to some translations means “complete.” We are to grow spiritually to become complete with God. Finally it made sense.

Given the new understanding of this charge “to be complete” I relaxed and continued my quest to be a good, kind person growing spiritually but with less guilt. I still thought, said and did things I shouldn’t have; I still felt guilty for my failings for days after, depending on the severity of the faux pas I had committed.

As an adult I became wiser and less hard on my self after the first forty years of my life. I started learning to love myself. After all if you are a Christian, there is a verse where Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Hmm. That means we are important and should be kinder to ourselves. We should also be kinder to others too.

I finally healed from my self inflicted purgatory. I had finally realized that we all made mistakes, misjudgments, spontaneous boo-boos, even unintentionally said things that may hurt someone else’s feelings.

I still am that conscientious person I was as a child. I love people and would never knowingly hurt anyone’s feelings. I try to do what is right because I want to be a loving person and that love helps keep me behaving in a way that is loving.

I also came to the realization that if God can forgive me, shouldn’t I forgive myself? So let’s stop carrying guilt, feelings of unworthiness, or shame around to punish ourselves. There are better ways and healthier ways of learning from our mistakes. Besides we are all capable of so much and gifted with so many talents. It is healthier to search these parts of ourselves than to be overburdened with unnecessary guilt. Grow and fly!


12 thoughts on “A Boatload of Guilt

  1. Whoa… Did this resonate with me! You and I must have been twins separated a birth… I was the exact same way as a little girl. And so much of how you describe yourself as your former adult self was spot on. And like you Joyful, I’ve managed to come out on the other side pretty well. Still struggling with some things though… Thanks for your post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. AGMA, we may have known each other in a previous life. You never know. I am so happy and thankful for my life and all I have learned. I love myself now and appreciate my qualities. Hugs, Sister from different mother!!

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  2. Your experience was so common for we kids who grew up in the 50’s and 60’s. A simple stern look, or a few words was all the punishment I really needed. I was harder on myself than anyone else could ever be. Thanks for sharing, and expressing it so beautifully, Elaine.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Yes that resonated with me too. My mother parented with “the look.” She never hit but she didn’t have to. I dumped so much guilt on myself for letting her down. I started worrying less about what others thought when I was in my 30s but it takes work. I occasionally wonder if I hurt someone’s feelings but I’ve become more vocal about it, checking in with them rather than feeling bad. Communication isn’t perfect. Sometimes you are trying to be funny or light and it comes across wrong. Oh yes, 8 years of Catholic school with mostly brutal nuns who did hit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. WOW! I thought parents were good at guilt trips! I have heard tales about some of the Catholic School nuns. I can’t imagine how getting hit on the hands or butt with a ruler must have been! Many of my teachers wrote on my report cards: “Elaine is a conscientious student.” Part of that was trying to be a good girl so my parents would be proud of me! I got better as I got older but I did love to learn. Thank you, Kate for sharing with me.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful timing for this post for me! The pandemic and isolation has me ‘guilting’ myself on things I cannot change and I did my best under the circumstances. You have a gift of uplifting others with your messages.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mary Lou! You don’t know how much your words meant to me!!! My goal in writing is not to make money! I make no money from any of my posts. I write to teach, uplift, cheer, help, and/or raise awareness. I have been in painful situations and my friends helped me, sometimes just by letting me talk about the occurrences of pain. I am a retired nurse and still want to help and serve. You made my day and made my heart swell with joy!! Thank you!!

      Liked by 1 person

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