Has it ever occurred to you, that sudden moment when you think of all the bad things you’ve done in your life, and then it all comes out of the blue, in a titanic wave of memories that leaves you blushing?
What is it that causes such a sudden flood of suppressed and embarrassing thoughts?
You can be at work and a co-worker comes up to you, slightly alarmed, and asks, “Is everything ok? You seem a little flushed.”
And you respond with some lame excuse, even though it feels like you were caught with hand in cookie jar—or worse.
Does this ever happen to you?
Why? What is the point of this dredging from the devilish archives of your memory banks? For what purpose? What does it serve?
If one is of a religious bent, then one can say it is God looking down on you, reminding you of your misdeeds, His attempt to make things right in your world.
That is, if you believe what any religion throws at you.
But what if you aren’t religious? What is it that rears its ugly and blushing visage that mirrors your own? What sundry demons lie within you that need, on occasion, such unwanted purging?
For me, well, the list is plentiful. And over the years I have, with gained knowledge, tried hard to rectify my past indiscretions.
I am in my fifth decade of existence on this spinning blue orb and yet, at times, these strange and bizarre visitations descend. Like the time I was six and knocked over a dresser on the second floor and when my Dad appeared at the threshold and asked, “What the Christ is going on?”, I immediately pointed to my brother Jim and spurted,” He did it!”
Boy, the whupping he got. Jesus. Or the time I worked at The Fair, and stole some hideous orange hot pants for my sister and hid them inside a grocery bag and buried them in the back yard. I was caught, red-handed. I told my employer I was sorry, that I didn’t want them to tell my Dad. I even had to go to court with my Mum for this pathetically minor infraction. Of course she told Dad. But I never—not once—heard a word about it from him.
Or, when younger, still living in Connecticut, my brother and I walked to Grand Union and stole cigarettes (mind you, I was about seven and Jim, he of the welted butt, was eight) and we smoked them (unfiltered, disgusting!) in the woods and went home to Friday dinner of eggs over toast with baked beans, my Mum never the wiser. (Or maybe she was, but chose to say nothing.)
But then we got caught. And boy, the lecture we received from our Dad! Christ, he gave the best Clint Eastwood approach; quiet and soft, his words spitted between clenched teeth. He walked up and down, surveying his thieving offspring. And then he paused.
The only sentence he kept repeating after that was, “Who can tell me what they did wrong?” We were petrified, shaking where we stood, wondering what ghastly punishment awaited us. We elected to say nothing.
My Dad kept repeating this phrase, over and over. Still, no response from his quavering sons. Finally he stopped and turned to us. He looked us in the eye and said, in a very soft voice, “I am very disappointed in you.”
That was it. It had the desired effect. We never smoked cigarettes after that.
Years later there were, of course, instances that came back to haunt me, decades that produced the same flushed cheeks.
And it does happen out of the blue. You can be having the time of your life. But then suddenly this overwhelming sense of a guilt trip grips you and drowns you in a quicksand pit of untold self-loathing, making you wonder how anyone in the world could possibly find you attractive, let alone keep company with you.
Guilt trips. Not fun, and certainly not recommended. But where the hell do they come from? Jesus, it’s enough to make one wonder, in hindsight, about their own choices in life.
In a secular way, of course.
Do you, too, suffer from these occasional onslaughts of guilt? It’s a trip not savored, but it would be nice to know if there are others out there who suffer from such unwanted visitations.
Feel free to drop me a line, if perchance you, too, have these pesky and painful mind intrusions.
©Paul Grignon-2013. All Rights Reserved.