|Guilt masked as love.|
Lying in a hotel bed in Mobile, Alabama a new reality fell a million feet from heaven and struck me hard where I was resting. I picked up "Kindred Spirit" for the first time after having heard Joel's best bud talk about it for a while. He was raving about it and I finally had a moment alone on vacation to poke around skeptically. I flipped through the colored pages, rolling my eyes, judging the vegan inks. Then my gaze was drawn to a page that had a list of words I consider very negative which essentially caught my attention. Each word had a definition unlike ones I have ever encountered. I skimmed the page until I came to the word that pulled me at me the hardest- Guilt.
The definition read:
- I have violated one of my own highest values.
- I think that I am responsible for someone else.
|Photo by Jacki Harp|
I would feel guilty.
The "I" in that phrase stood out to me most. Doing anything motivated by guilt is the most selfish thing I could possibly consider. When I do something out of guilt I am saying that I believe I can solve your problems. I have the power to make you feel a certain way. I know I am so important that if I don't do this things will fall apart; people will fall apart. What an insult! How is this love?
There was only one thing to do- I wept. I laid in that bed and I mourned all the time I wasted. I wept for all the people I could not empower, that I cheated from experiencing real love. I cried for myself and for all the well intended, guilty gestures that I agonized over. I cried for all the times that I did not love myself because I chose guilt.
After a good period of mourning, I buried that behavior and laid it to rest. With that step my life changed over night. I experienced a holistic purging of guilty relationships. Several friends parted ways with me, sometimes with understanding, sometimes with deep pain. My work life changed. My marriage changed. My health changed. I began to grow again. I felt the breath of life climb into my lungs as grief lifted from my chest. I knew I was healing.
How would you live differently if you chose stop being motivated by guilt?