Guilt Trips…

Guilt: the gift that keeps on giving. – Erma Bombeck.

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.

Big mistake.

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.

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4 responses to “Guilt Trips…

  1. Recently I tend to have these thankfully brief, waves of guilt wash over me when I am disciplining one of my kids or talking to them about something they have done good or bad – something they do or say makes me think of when I was their age and did either the exact same thing or I think of other things related to such a thing and before I know it I am remembering everything shameful event of my childhood, every wrong I committed and a handful of other terrible things.

    • Hello!

      And thank you for enjoying my post. Well, maybe not. After all, who wants to be reminded of terrible things we did in our lives? : )

      I liked your post, about fireflies and dreamland, and you’re quite right; that it remains the simple, tender, everyday things that makes you marvel at life and all that surrounds us.

      Your comment about kissing your hubby goodbye reminds me of when my wife and I arise, the first thing I do is cross over to her side of the bed and give her a kiss. And then we descend to make coffee and let the dog out. Morning rituals can be quite soothing.

      And even though the ride to school with my 12 year old boy is held in utter silence, it is nice to know that we are near each other, that I am responsible for this dear child, that he will soon blossom into a man. But not too soon. We want to still witness what innocence remains.

      A lovely comment at the end of your post, about wondering where fireflies go after leaving your backyard. Those few lines certainly painted vivid pictures, and it makes me appreciate good writing.

      Thanks again for stopping by to read my words. I am thus honored.

      Have a great holiday week, replete with laughter and pleasing banter over a comforting repast.

      Take care, Paul     Paul Grignon Artist/Writer/Model/Mentor http://www.grignongallery.com Blog LinkedIn https://twitter.com/#!/paulgrignon1

  2. Yes, I’ve always had guilt trips, as you call them, my dear friend.

    I used to shy away, bury them in the deepest recesses of my mind and heart. But they usually burst out in the most inappropriate of times and quite often when I’m about to enjoy a lovely moment: be it a nice meal, a movie or getting ready to receive someone I particularly love.

    Therefore, many years ago, I teased out these thoughts at/on my time, when I’m primed and ready – when I started taking long walks. I grapple the demons and put them to rest. They continue to reappear but always waned in strength and endurance.

    Now over the years, they bother me but very little. I posted about this here > Pain Therapy > http://wp.me/p1YE83-ey

    Because, I’ve forgiven myself and moved on – leaving them increasingly further and further from my life. Forgive yourself and love what you’ve learned – that’s what I counsel myself.

    All good wishes my friend,
    Eric

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