The Guilt

We never believe our own mothers.

She tells us the world is round, and we roll our eyes at the very idea that she would know anything about the size or shape of the world.  But when Mrs. Smith shows you a globe, you believe, and you run home to tell your mother what you learned that day.

She tells you that you’re beautiful.  And special.  But she’s your mom and so she has no credibility, not like the pimple faced 13 year old boy whose opinion defines your idea of beauty.

Moms don’t know anything, until the rest of the world finally confirms what she’s been telling you all along.

My mom has been telling me for years that I carry too much guilt.

“You are you’re sorry all the time,” she says.

“Stop apologizing,” she tells me.

“Oh, Baby,” she’ll say, “let it go.”

But, you know, she’s my mom, so she obviously knows nothing about nothing except trying to make me feel better.

Our marriage counselor suggested I might have a problem hanging on to guilt.

“Just for tonight, Britt, do you think you can set your guilt aside,” she mimes with her hands the action of setting luggage beside her chair, “and just put it over here so you can tell Jared what you’re feeling?”

I nod my head.

“Without the guilt,” she repeats.

And so I do.  Or at least I try.  I muddle through a few minutes of talking about how I feel and things that hurt or make me angry.

“You know,” I lean forward to put my hand on Jared’s knee, “I don’t always feel like this.  I don’t want you to think I walk around with this stuff all the time.”

She interrupts, which is kind of startling because she never interrupts.  “Yes, uh, that’s the guilt, Britt.  We’re putting that aside, OK?”

“Right, right,” I nod my head, “of course.”

“It’s a nice thought, but it doesn’t belong here.”

I push on.  He keeps asking me if there’s more, I keep trying to tell everyone “nope, that’s it,”, and she keeps using her prompts to make me keep talking.  “And so I tell myself…  and then I feel… what I want to feel is… “

It’s an agonizing hour.  When it’s over, we pay the lady and walk out holding hands the way we always do, and I stop him before we get to the car.

“Listen,” I tell him, “I really want you to know that I’m not mad at you all the time or anything, OK?  Really.  I mean, she wanted me to talk about that stuff and I did, but I’m not thinking about it all the time or anything, OK?”

He just kisses me.

On our way home, I’m talking to the windshield and suggest, “maybe I have an issue with guilt.”

“Ya think?”

“Yeah, maybe.  I mean, I don’t know,” I turn to him to see if he thinks it’s plausible and I see he’s smirking.  I swear I can actually see him holding back a snort.  “Were you being sarcastic?”  I’m still not sure and now I’m kind of embarrassed for not knowing.

He looks at me as if I’ve just asked if my name starts with the letter B.  “Um, yes.”  Emphasis on yes, duh.

And so I’ve been thinking about it for the last 12 hours.  The guilt.

People say “guilt is a useless emotion”, but I always thought that was a stupid adage.  Guilt isn’t useless.  It keeps us in check.  It stops us all from running around acting like selfish assholes to each other.

Right?

Except, I suppose, it doesn’t.  I suppose technically the guilt comes after the asshole.  Although I know I’ve said myself at least a hundred times that “then I would feel bad” as an explanation for why I don’t… you know… do whatever it is I would feel bad about doing.

I have preemptive guilt.

And guilt guilt, too, don’t get me wrong.  My guilt certainly hasn’t kept me blameless.  I guess my hope is that it keeps me humble.  Or less selfish.  And that’s not a bad thing, is it?

I should be concerned with how my actions affect other people.  But even in saying that, I feel like maybe I’m tapping at the window or the real reason I shroud myself in guilt.

Maybe it protects me from judgement.  Maybe I hope if people can see that I’m judging myself harshly enough, they’ll be less likely to judge me themselves.

I’m terrified of being unaware.  It scares me to think that someone would say I was a bad person, or annoying, or inconvenient.  I imagine my friends rolling their eyes at what a pain in the ass I am, and so I pull it in close so they won’t have to deal with it.  I think of my family talking amongst themselves about my childish behavior, scolding me when I’m not that for being reckless or immature.

It haunts me.

The idea of people I care about thinking poorly of me breaks my heart, and so, maybe, I cling to the guilt.

It keeps me in line.  It keeps me in check.  It keeps me from thinking that everything is OK and being surprised to find out that someone else thinks that I’m not.

It’s easier to stay aware of my faults and my missteps at all times, so I’m not embarrassed at having them pointed out to me by someone else.

Maybe that’s it; I don’t know.

But I can’t even begiin to imagine living without the guilt.

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  1. Hilly says:

    People who are living their lives the right way don’t have preemptive guilt. It’s a condition that we put upon ourselves because something that we are doing OR something that is going on in our lives is juuuust not quite right. We can’t always put our fingers on it but it could be one little thing that makes our guilt rage completely out of control thus causing us to do even worse damage trying to assuage that guilt.

    You made a mistake. A huge one. You have apologized and worn around your badge of shame for long enough. You are NOT one of those people living her life the wrong way. You stopped doing that. You made a conscious choice to be a better person and make whatever changes necessary to become the kind of woman you want to be.

    Do you see how many strides you’ve taken? Do you see that you are doing all that you can do in order to be that woman? You should wear no guilt on your insides or outsides because to be quite frank, you cannot fully begin to repair your damages until you do so. And sweetie, once you let that all go and you can repair things fully? It’s an amazing feeling.

    We all need to keep ourselves in check and follow our moral compasses but I don’t think guilt is the way to get there. You know me well and have asked me why I don’t seem to recoil in shame over some of my mistakes. You know what?

    They happened.
    I apologized,
    I changed.

    And that? Is all one can truly do.

    This comment brought to you by a person who loves you and wants your total happiness and there is only love behind my words, yanno in case I sound harsh and stuff. :)

    • Robin says:

      @Hilly, very true. It’s funny how our souls try and reel us back in when we’re not living our lives the way we’re wired to……

    • muskrat says:

      @Hilly, You and Britt don’t make mistakes. Stop trying to sound all human and stuff on the internet.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Hilly, “People who are living their lives the right way don’t have preemptive guilt.”

      Hm. Guess I’ve spent a long time living my life the wrong way then.

      And it’s not one mistake that makes me feel guilty.

      • Hilly says:

        @Miss Britt, I think maybe I didn’t explain “living your life the right way” clearly. I didn’t mean it like, “Stop living your life as a shitty person and you won’t have guilt”.

        When I say that, I mean that there are people out there who have managed to find comfort in their infallible natures. Even when they do make mistakes, big or small, they somehow manage to own up to them and move on sans guilt. They don’t let their insecurities (due to guilt) rage out of control, letting them become a shell of who they used to be.

        I’m not being judgy at all…I am speaking from experience as a reformed guiltaholic.

        • Dave2 says:

          Living your life on the right path to avoid distress in your own life and the lives of others is core to the beliefs I aspire to, so I knew exactly what you are talking about. When you are walking the path you’re meant to be on, then guilt, fear, anger, and other negative influences melt away. Finding the path is not always easy, and we all have to do what we have to do to stay on track.

          Very Buddha-esque of you, Hilly-Sue. I’m most impressed. :-)

  2. Robin says:

    This entry? Complete truth.

    Are you sure we didn’t come from the same womb? I know I am black and all, but it happened to a couple in England….

    I just feel like you and I are on the same wavelength in a shitload of ways.

    I am glad to see that you and Jared are doing better. ::hugs::

  3. Laurie says:

    I can SO relate to this. I also have “The Guilt.” I am pretty sure you just made me realize that I am so busy trying to be mindful of other people’s feelings that I am not getting the things I need to say out. Maybe that is what your counselor was trying to say? God, I really need to unload because things are really stacking up.

    Thank you for sharing, Britt. I think this post is exactly what I needed today.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Laurie, yeah, I think that was exactly what she was saying.

      And, at least in the way that it relates to marriages, when you don’t get things out, it turns into resentment and a big old wall between you and the person you’re trying not to hurt.

  4. man, that part about not believing mom until the rest of the world proves it right is SO fucking true. i thought i was the only one who did that! glad you wrote this.

    i am more of “worry is a useless emotion” kind of girl. well, i guess i’m not really qualified to talk about the guilt thing because i do tend to be in the “guilt is a useless emotion” camp. i can feel remorse for an action, i can fear an action, i can make an effort to not behave in a certain manner, but the only time i feel guilty is when i think about jesus dying for me (i’m so not worthy, why would he have done that?). other than the whole jesus on a cross thing, i don’t feel guilt so i can’t even begin to know how to leave a comment about this post.

    although i did just manage to leave a long ass comment that went nowhere. interesting how that works.

  5. Trueself says:

    OMG, I could’ve written this exact post. . . except not as eloquently.

    I understand The Guilt. I experience The Guilt. If you find a way to overcome The Guilt you’ll be so much better off. At least I think you will. At least it’s how I imagine it.

  6. muskrat says:

    It’s fashionable for celebrities and the like to say they don’t feel guilt, that it’s a useless emotion, etc., but I tend to agree with you and not with them.

    However, we shouldn’t let it preempt or detract from happiness once we’ve asked for forgiveness and gone on, right?

    • Miss Britt says:

      @muskrat, “However, we shouldn’t let it preempt or detract from happiness once we’ve asked for forgiveness and gone on, right?”

      *sigh*

      That’s what they tell me.

  7. bo says:

    Question: When are feeling guilt, and when are you feeling shame? Some of what you wrote sounds like guilt, some sounds like shame. Sorting that out may help.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @bo, hm. I’m not sure I’m clear on the difference between the two.

      • bo says:

        @Miss Britt,

        Guilt is regretting or feeling bad about something because of an external factor, usually the beliefs, perceptions, values and strictures of your community or communities.

        Shame is is regretting or feeling bad about something because of an internal factor, such as not holding to your own values and/or beliefs.

        Put another way: While someone else can have you feeling guilty, only you can make yourself feel ashamed.

        Feeling one or the other is not preferable, but being able to recognize which one your feeling helps you sort things out.

  8. Pop and Ice says:

    I can’t imagine carrying the heaviness of guilt that you do. I don’t think I would function well.

    I bet my family wishes I actually carried around some guilt. I absolutely cannot think of anything I feel guilty about. I am disappointed in some of my decisions and actions, but I don’t carry guilt around with me because of them. I just move forward.

    My family will make *potentially* hurtful comments and I usually feel little to nothing. My usual response is “and this affects me how?” or “was that supposed to be criticism and I care in what way?” So, yeah, I think my kids and hubby will all eventually be in therapy which is what they deserve for me putting up with them all these years. *eye roll*

  9. Lisa says:

    Wow, I do the same thing and never realized it came from guilt. Whenever I tell hubs something I think might hurt his feelings I always try to cushion it somehow, because I feel bad even though maybe he needs to hear it.

    This is really powerful stuff, Britt. Your writing, your emotional journey, everything.

    And Hilly is right – there comes a time when you have to let it go. Whatever it is, just let it go now. Otherwise it’s going to eat you alive.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Lisa, Yeah. I know. I’m at the point – and have been for a little bit – where I know I NEED to “let it go”, but I don’t have a freaking clue HOW.

      Is there an instruction manual for that somewhere?

  10. Hockeymandad says:

    When this post started, I wasn’t sure I would relate to it. When you started talking about the guilt though, you struck a nerve. I am so very much the same way, I even still feel guilty for not seeing the people seeking to cross the road in the rain at a stop sign this morning as I started to pull away. I saw the lady fussing at me, but it was too late. Now I feel bad. My guilt that I carry does not get limited by people I know. It carries to anyone I may come in contact with. It’s so severe that it often cripples my decision making abilities. I think being a manager at my work has helped me out as I have to make serious decisions at times that affect livelihoods.

    I hear what Hilly says in you have to let it go, but how? I can’t. It seems impossible for me to let things go. I don’t hold grudges on other people, only myself. I always blame myself for every situation that doesn’t go well. So if you do find any good strategies to get rid of some of that guilt, I hope you’ll share because it does eat you from the inside out.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Hockeymandad, I drove too quickly through a school crossing several months ago. I wasn’t doing 55 or anything, but I was going over the 20 limit. The crossing guard gave me a dirty look and arm shake.

      I feel bad every single morning I drive by him and wonder if he remembers me as the asshole who sped through the school crossing.

  11. Finn says:

    Guilt is a waste of energy. What’s done is done and all you can do is learn from your mistakes and move forward. You can feel guilty all you like but it won’t change the past and can mar the future.

    Being a good person means doing what is right because you know it’s right. Caring about others’ feelings is part of that.

    You are a good person. You are flawed, as we all are, but you have a wonderful capacity to reach out to other people, to share your experiences (the good, the bad and the ugly) and you are constantly working on being better. You want to grow and learn and change.

    Forgive yourself. It’s a hell of a lot easier if you’ve been forgiven by whomever you hurt, but even if you haven’t, forgive yourself. For everything. Take what lessons you can from the experience(s) and get rid of the rest.

    Life is too damn short.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Finn, getting rid of suggests you put it somewhere else.

      Where, do tell, does one put what they get rid of?

      • Finn says:

        @Miss Britt, In the past. Acknowledge it, own it and then leave behind you, with the incident. If you hold on to it, it becomes baggage that weighs you down.

        It takes practice.

        I love what Bo said about guilt and shame. They’re very much tied together.

  12. I’m pre-luding this by saying that I feel/have felt the same way about a lot of what you’ve been saying, and these are some conclusions that I’ve come to myself over the years:

    I think there’s a difference between feeling guilty and being considerate.

    “Guilt” really is useless. Yes. You see sometimes feeling guilty makes us feel like a better person. Yes I did x, y or z – but I feel badly/guilty about it – so I can’t be a BAD person. A BAD person wouldn’t feel crappy about it, right?

    I found that my guilt was really a selfish emotion. It was something that I felt for myself to make me feel simultaneously better about myself and victimized.

    Guilt did nothing for anyone but myself.

    So I decided to (attempt) to do something about it. I would try to behave in ways that simply wouldn’t make me feel guilty. I.e. I tried to just be a GOOD person. Not a “better” person, because I don’t know that I was ever “Bad” per se – I just made a conscious choice to do the best I could and find peace within myself for every choice I made.

    If I was genuinely OK with my own choices, then no one can MAKE me feel guilty about it right? Including myself.

    So yes, you can let go of your guilt Britt. You owe it to yourself to rise above it. It doesn’t help you.

    xoxo

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Princess of the Universe, I think I do that, too. Like I said, it’s almost like if I judge myself, I’m protecting myself from being judged by other people.

      It’s comforting to know you both understand AND have figured out a way to move past it. Surely that means there is hope for the rest of us, right?

  13. avitable says:

    Guilt-free pudding isn’t nearly as tasty as pudding loaded with sugar.

    I think life maybe sometimes tastes sweeter even if guilt rears its head occasionally.

      • avitable says:

        @Miss Britt, yeah, apparently my metaphors suck. Heh.

        What I mean is that living completely guilt-free isn’t preferable or even the right way to live. You need some guilt in your life. Guilt is your conscience telling you that you did something wrong. It has its benefits too.

        I failed Metaphor 101 in college.

  14. Nanna says:

    Reading this makes my heart ache. I hate it when people say “Let it go” referring to emotions, because I always say “Tell me PRECISELY how to do that.”

    You said that you don’t want your friends to think you’re selfish, annoying, inconvenient, blah blah blah. Baby darling, there will ALWAYS be people who think you are SOMETHING. It’s the way of things, and has a WHOLE lot more to do with them than with you.

    But I would think a perpetual hair shirt like the one you are describing perhaps comes from some fundamental idea within you that SOMETHING in you is WRONG.

    It’s not. You are a beautiful, talented, passionately loving and giving woman, painted in bright neon colors and celestial sounds. You’re not like other people, although God knows I know you wish you were sometimes.

    You were born – you were CREATED – to shine. That doesn’t diminish anyone else, baby. But you need to recognize who YOU are.

    I love you more than anything in this world. All I want for you on this planet is for you to be HAPPY. I have FAIZTH in you.

    Embrace YOU and perhaps the guilt will just fall away. And by that I mean, embrace the GOODNESS in you, the loving heart, the fierce loyalty, the bottomless capacity for hard work, the soft heart, the crazy silly sense of irreverent humor.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Nanna, “I hate it when people say “Let it go” referring to emotions, because I always say “Tell me PRECISELY how to do that.””

      EXACTLY.

      Also? I love you too.

  15. Bre says:

    I think it’s commendable when people try to change things about themselves, and I think it’s great that you’re acknowledging that the guilt lingers.
    I guess I don’t have any advice on how to rid yourself of that but I’ll tell ya this:
    My best friend is always telling me to “Live presently”. He urges me to think about today and what’s happening at the *present*. It’s hard to do, but each day I make a conscious effort and little by little “presently” becomes more tangible.
    I love you and I know you’re a good person.

  16. SuvvyGirl says:

    For me guilt goes hand in hand with worrying. It’s no wonder we women have more heart problems than men. As mothers, daughters, sisters, wives we were designed to withstand the weight of the world on our shoulders and part of that weight is the worry and the guilt we do not always live up to expectations. As burdensome as it can be it helps make us who we are.

  17. Dawn says:

    Even before your Mom commented, I thought you were going to break her heart by this post… and make yourself feel guilty for it.

    Listen to your Mommy. Always. I would if I could.

  18. Sybil Law says:

    God, I dread the day my kid doesn’t accept my word as complete truth, but I know it’s coming soon!
    As far as guilt, I pretty much tossed that emotion aside a long time ago. Like Hilly said, you apologize, do what you can to make amends, and move on. The reason people say it’s a useless emotion is because, mostly, it IS. Not in the beginning – I mean, it’s like a small slice of conscience that tells us we’ve done wrong or gone against our nature, or our mom would be ashamed of us – that’s when you fix it. Make amends; apologize. But beyond that, all it does it fester inside and make us feel less worthy than we are, which is stupid because we are all human beings and we are all going to do stupid shit now and then. There’s really no way around it! Being humble is not the same as being or feeling guilty. Being humble is knowing that in the end, we are better than no one and treating everyone with respect. Guilty as a constant emotion can prevent us from being better people, in fact – scared to shine, scared to hurt people, scared to do what needs to be done for ourselves.
    I agree with your mom -let it go.
    (Sorry I rambled so much!)

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Sybil Law, “Being humble is knowing that in the end, we are better than no one and treating everyone with respect.”

      That’s a really great, and helpful, clarification.

  19. Aunt Becky says:

    I’ve spent my life guilty until proven innocent and it’s not as simple as letting it go. I’ve tried and it’s a struggle.

    What I’m saying is that it’s hard, not that you can’t do it. You can. I work on it every day. I didn’t cause the bad mood that Dave is in or it’s not my fault that this bill didn’t get paid on time because I am not always responsible for everything.

    It’s a process for someone like me, not an event.

    xoxo

  20. Faiqa says:

    I think guilt can diminish and harm relationships that can otherwise be healthy. Guilt (and worry) may sometimes distract us from making amends and doing the right thing. I’m not saying that’s the case with you, at all. I’m just saying that feeling guilty takes up a lot of energy… it makes us feel like we’re doing something about a problem when we’re really not. That energy that can be directed at more positive action and can be used to achieve more positive results.

    I also think self awareness and guilt are mutually exclusive… meaning that you can most certainly have one without the other. Worrying about being a bad person doesn’t ensure that one is going to be a good person.

    On a more personal note, my most fervent hope is that you could see yourself with my eyes. You would be astounded at your beauty. You are an amazing person, full of life, honesty and goodness. The world needs more of you, and everyone should be as lucky as I am to call you a friend.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Faiqa, “it makes us feel like we’re doing something about a problem when we’re really not. That energy that can be directed at more positive action and can be used to achieve more positive results.”

      That’s a good point. I’ll try to keep that in mind.

      And, you know, the rest of the stuff you said too. xo ;-)

  21. Matt-Man says:

    Passing off passive aggresive behavior as guilt is bogus. Striking out pre-emptively towards others is not the same as reserving guilt for one’s self.

    I would look into getting a new marriage counselor as well as taking another, more accurate, myopic look at yourself. Cheers!!

    • avitable says:

      @Matt-Man, wow, you really are a douche, aren’t you?

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Matt-Man, I don’t want to be rude, but I think you have me confused with someone you think you know.

      To be clear… I’m not your ex-wife.

      Also?

      That wasn’t passive-aggressive. That was straight up aggressive. Much like this: fuck. off.

      • Matt-Man says:

        @Miss Britt, No, I know exactly who and what you are…You are all about you. Don’t give me this guilt thing. I have read you and seen you around for over a year on the internets, you’re all about you. Cheers!!

        • CP says:

          @Matt-Man, Lord have mercy are you one misguided soul. I don’t comment often on Britt’s blog. I do, however, read her everyday. And, if you have read her blog for the past year, you would know that what you are saying is absolutely false. Britt’s a big girl, and I sure as hell don’t need to take up for her…

          but fuck that, because I am going to.

          Ready?

          There is not a more loving, giving, self-sacrificing young woman around. She gives her time to her friends. She is a devoted and hard worker. She is a loving and gracious mother. She is a devoted daughter.

          She is also a work in progress. She is learning and growing constantly, trying to better herself in every way so she can be all things to all people. Actually, the last thing in the world I would categorize Britt as would be self-centered.

          I find it absolutely ridiculous that you would come to a persons blog to tell them that they are all about self. What a stupid thing to say. Of course it’s all about self on your blog, dumbass! That’s what our blogs are for! They are for our feelings, our introspections, our best laid plans, etc.

          What they aren’t for is entertainment for lanky, bald, ugly alcoholics with a desperate need for attention from a beautiful blonde because his own woman isn’t giving it to him at home.

          I read that on YOUR blog! Tee Hee!

          CHEERS!

          • Schmoop says:

            @CP,
            First of all, I have read Miss Brit’s website on and off over time. Second, she is very self serving. Her husband paints her toenails? For real? Tell me she’s not controlling. Is he allowed to breathe without asking?? A work in progress? Oh for God’s sake. She’s just a self absorbed bitch, just like the rest of the female population. As far as the bald, ugly, alchohlic that you speak of? He’s wonderful, and a tiger in the sack. Suck it!

          • Miss Britt says:

            @Schmoop, wait – my husband is the only man in the world who paints his wife’s toenails??

            HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHA

            Yeah, um, Ok.

          • Schmoop says:

            @Miss Britt, True, but I don’t expect it. Nightie-Nite!!

          • CP says:

            My husband paints my toenails! LMAO What the hell is wrong with that? That is what defines a woman as controlling in your book? You aren’t used to be treated like a lady obviously. Jesus, your man talks about you like a total pig, like you are worth nothing more than a whore’s pittance. Unfortunately, you seem to feel your self-worth is measured by how hard your “tiger” screws you. I am completely unimpressed.

            Oh, and sidebar? Your breasts need a lift VERY badly. See if Tiger will put down the bottle long enough to pay for one for you…either that, or find a more flattering picture of yourself.

            No more crosstalk from me on Britt’s blog. You want to continue this further, bring it on over to MY house. Blog address is under my name. I have minimally fifty different theories as to why your self-esteem is so low that you have mistaken a loving relationship for one of control and dominance.

            I’m happy to help.

    • CP says:

      @Matt-Man, I think you think that being passive-aggressive and feeling guilt are exclusive of one another. Fact of the matter is, you can act in a passive aggressive manner and feel guilt for doing so.

      Then, you also have the option of doing what YOU just did, which is make a passive-aggressive post on someones blog and feel no guilt in doing so. Why was your post passive-aggressive? You came here under the guise of giving advice with the intent of slamming the author. In other words, you had an agenda. In debate we call this a “stick and run”. It’s a shoddy and pathetic attempt to get a point across that really doesn’t quite hit the mark or address the subject at hand.

      Methinks you can use a good hour on a couch under the microscope. Oh, and a dictionary for you to look up the word “histrionic”.

      No need to thank me. Consider it a gift.

      • Finn says:

        @CP, *snort*

        Well played, darlin’.

      • Matt-Man says:

        @CP, First of all, I wasn’t being passive aggressive at all; I think Britt is a selfish person who is rationalizing her guilt. I make no passive aggressive bones about that.

        I have no guilt at all for making that assertion. See, on my site, over the years, I have had no problem calling myself out and calling myself an asshole. As for blogs being a self-centered thing?

        I wasn’t talking about Brit making her blog about herself, of course they are personal. I was talking about what she appreciates and what she was saying being utterly self-centered. Cheers!!

    • Nanna says:

      @Matt-Man, having KNOWN Britt for her entire life, I can tell you that the ONE thing she is NOT is all about her. Please be careful making assumptions based on what you read three times a week. They can turn out to be pitiably false and off base.

  22. “Except, I suppose, it doesn’t. I suppose technically the guilt comes after the asshole.”

    Wow. This is my life right this very moment. I too carry guilt around with me at all times. I too only stop doing things because I worry that I might feel guilty, and in the end, guilt isn’t enough to change, it isn’t heavy enough to help me actually be a better person. It is only a nagging reminder to be good, instead of simply learning to be good to those around me.

    Thank you.

    You just opened my eyes a little more to my own behavior.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Ashley, the Accidental Olympian, mmm.. I wouldn’t say I ONLY stop doing things because I feel guilty. But there are definitely times when I don’t do or say things because I’m afraid of feeling guilty – and that’s not always a good thing, because sometimes those things need to be done or said.

  23. Issa says:

    It’s very easy for others (well meaning others) to say, let it go. Don’t say sorry. You apologize too often. Stop feeling guilty. Yet none of them can tell me HOW exactly to do that.

    I try, but I’m horrible at it. I think I’m afraid to fail. Afraid to be…shrug. Afraid. Just plain afraid. And guilty. ;)

    I rarely comment, because your posts are a bit too similar to what is in my head right now. Just wanted you to know that I am reading. Your words have helped me in the past few months to not feel quite so alone.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Issa, “Your words have helped me in the past few months to not feel quite so alone.”

      And if you’re not alone, then neither am I. So thanks you.

  24. AJ says:

    As someone who also has trouble with worrying what other people think about me, here are a few things I do.

    Fake it. Tell yourself it doesn’t bother you and don’t let yourself analyze it to death. Have a ‘default’ thought ready for when that nagging thought of ‘what if they’re still mad at me’ pops into your head.

    Put yourself in their shoes. Consider if you really stay mad about such a trivial thing? Most of the time, you probably wouldn’t.

    Ask for forgiveness and then ask for help letting it go. Not sure how religious you are, but if you do pray, pray for those things. It helps.

    Apologize and then tell yourself there’s nothing more you can do at that point. In the future, you will try not to make that mistake again, and you will try to be more considerate to that person next time.

    Don’t ‘what if.’ There are always a million options. YOu have no way of knowing which ‘what if’ could have or would have happened. So don’t try.

    Good luck. You’re a sweet person. The fact that you feel bad about feeling guilty shows that your heart is in the right place:)

    • Miss Britt says:

      @AJ, wow, that is AWESOME that you actually took the time to lay out some specific steps.

      Thank you, on behalf of all of us who struggle with this.

  25. Maria says:

    I feel like you ripped this out of my brain.

  26. Poppy says:

    I have about 10 months of zero guilt. It happened during a time when I really needed to not feel guilty for the choices I had to make in order to live a happier life.

    To me guilt indicates a lack of trust in oneself.

    I still don’t trust me so the guilt has returned.

    Do you trust you? Maybe you need to work on that.

    Me too.

    • Poppy says:

      ahem, *have=HAD 10 months. I don’t currently have zero guilt.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Poppy, I’m like you in this in that I worked really hard at letting go of a lot of guilt in order to make some tough decisions in the past. And now I’m all “WTF?!?! WHERE DID YOU COME FROM?!?! I GOT RID OF YOU!!!”

  27. MB says:

    It’s hard not living your life with guilt. I grew up up in a big Italian family and where our mothers are famous for making us feel guilty for almost everything we do.

    My step-monster is Jewish and my father converted so in addition to the Italian mother guilt I also had the Jewish step-monster guilt. It’s hard to outgrow but eventually you have to give yourself a break and let it go.

    accept your actions or inactions, apologize if necessary, and let go of it.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @MB, did I mention I’m Catholic?

      • MB says:

        @Miss Britt, Oh yeah, that explains allot. It’s hard to know which guilt is worst – the Italian/Catholic guilt or the Jewish step-monster guilt or just the guilt we put upon ourselves.

        If you pour yourself a nice strong martini the guilt goes away pretty quickly. ;)

  28. Becca says:

    Oh my, it looks like I walked into the party too late. Seems a troll found you…

    Anyway, the thing with guilt is that it really doesn’t help us. Like Aunt Becky said, “it isn’t my fault…” whatever is going on, because 9 times out of 10 it isn’t your fault.

    I have agonizing guilt issues that I am just now starting to go through and sort out, and leave behind. You know many, many people love you (even the ones who don’t know you personally), and now I am rambling so I’ll stop. Except that sometimes, you have to realize that the guilt you are taking on belongs on someone else’s shoulders and not yours.

  29. Tonz says:

    “Maybe I hope if people can see that I’m judging myself harshly enough, they’ll be less likely to judge me themselves.”

    I think this is a big reason why I feel guilty. I want to jump in and feel the guilt before someone else can say anything.

  30. Chibi Jeebs says:

    Chebbar calls me a martyr. The first few times, I got pissed off at him, but after thinking about it for awhile, I realized that it’s (at least partially) true. The Guilt in me is so strong that, when I am legitimately upset with him, I will come up with reasons/excuses/explanations on his behalf, effectively negating my reason for being upset. It’s ridiculous. I’m also a serial apologizer and it annoys the hell out of people.

    • Miss Britt says:

      @Chibi Jeebs, I was thinking the other day maybe I feel guilty to avoid being a martyr. Martyrs are, by definition, not guilty.

      And you know how it ends for them, right?

  31. Susie says:

    I am SOOOO with you on this one.

  32. Colleen says:

    Someone I follow shared this post in her Google Reader tonight and I just want to tell you that it made me cry. Because someone else gets it, is it, and I’m not alone. I jokingly blame my guilt on being raised Roman Catholic. But honestly, I just want people to like me, to not judge me, for everyone to be happy. I play peacekeeper (which sounds so funny to say out loud given that I am outspoken and blunt a lot too). I try to out think every argument and conversation and waaaay to often get caught up in how I think my words or actions *might* make someone else feel. Sometimes it consumes me. Anyways – thanks for echoing my brain. I was feeling really alone today and now that feeling isn’t as much anymore.

  33. Elizabeth says:

    I hate to tell Bravo but I just realized we have had this “Real Housewives of Whatever” shit rocking for a lot longer than them! Seriously, you would be my number 1 vote for Real Housewives of the Blogosphere! You’re writing and self expression is so honest and beautiful, I love it! Keep it up!

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