Guilt: The Body Shaming of Emotions
You know how when you get that big promotion at work, or when you fit into those size-6 jeans (finally!), you don't feel guilty right? Because feeling guilty over these things would be silly. Or that's what society tells us to think. Yesterday, I started seeing a therapist for too many reasons to list here, but the mains are for excoriation and PTSD. Two very serious mental health issues that no one wants to talk about because they are uncomfortable. For those of you that don't know what excoriation is it's a picking disorder when one picks their skin uncontrollably. I've struggled with it most of my life and I've promised myself that the year I turned 30 would be the year I stop. So here I am in May of 2017 seeing a therapist. I did not have the best childhood growing up, so I'm also going to therapy for all of those things, and that list is more than one blog post can handle.
My therapist asked me all kinds of questions yesterday since it was our first session, it's considered the "getting to know you session". I an open book and I have absolutely no issue opening up to people and I think that shocked her a little bit. Right off the bat, I was telling her everything, so much so, that I could feel her energy go from uplifting to being overwhelmed. She asked me several questions and decided that I have "general anxiety disorder." General huh? It feels a lot more than just general. She also says I most likely struggle with PTSD but there will be many more appointments and tests before we can know for sure. She asked me about my family relationships and I was completely honest with her about my relationship with my mom. I told her my mom is a functioning alcoholic and my relationship with her is tumultuous at best. She asked me to give her several examples of what it was like growing up with here and I did.
I told her about the time my mother threw a wine glass at my head when I was 10-years-old for wanting to decorate the Christmas tree. I told her about the time my mother sent me to the hospital on the eve of Thanksgiving when I was 8-years-old and convinced me I had a flesh eating disease in order to get me to stop picking. I told her about the time my mother left me with her crazy boyfriend and he and his son proceeded to yell and belittle me for two and half hours, among other things. I told her about the multiple times my mother left me at the elementary school until 9:00 at night, with no phone call or reason why she forgot to pick me up. There are many more examples, but I'll leave it at these for now.
After telling my therapist all of these things, she was very quiet for what felt like a very long time. I sat there uncomfortably and just waited. And waited. And waited. I started to fidget and looked at all of the items in her office. You can tell a lot about a person by what they have in their office. I noticed family photos, Chinese proverbs on the walls, and a ton of books about anxiety. In the middle of my looking around her office, she said: "Why do you continue to have a relationship with your mother?" Her words knocked the wind right out of me. I literally almost fell off my chair. "Why do I continue to have a relationship with with your mother?" Her sentence just repeated over and over and over again in my brain until I felt dizzy and light headed. She asked if I was okay and needed some water and I said: "I'm fine, I'm just stunned you would ask that." And she said: "Why are you stunned? I mean, you've done a really amazing job of getting rid of all of the other toxic people in your life, why do you still continue a relationship with the most toxic one of them all?"
I didn't have an answer for her. It was the first time in a long time that a person was able to make me quiet. I had nothing to say and that question has been rolling around in my head since the session. The only thing I could say to my therapist was that I still talk to her because I feel guilty. She asked me why I felt guilty and I told her because my mom doesn't have anyone else. Most of her friends stopped speaking to her because of her drinking and she only has her brother and sister left.....and me. My therapist explained to me that there is no reason to feel guilty if the person you are dealing with on a regular basis completely drags you down. I kept insisting that the reason why I feel so guilty is because she is my mom. This isn't just a friend or an aunt, this is my mom. The woman who gave birth to me! She said it doesn't matter if they're friends or blood or family or whatever if they drag you down and make you feel worthless then they are not worth it.
She's right. It shocks me and it may take a few days for the shock to wear off, but ultimately she is right. Why do we feel so guilty over letting certain people go? I'm constantly preaching to my audience to get rid of and walk away from anything or anyone that no longer serves you and yet I cannot do it myself. My mom breaks my heart on a daily basis and takes over my brain space and it's not worth it anymore. Yet, I continue to talk to her and let her slide on everything. Why? I guess I'm hoping that one day will have that "normal" mother/daughter relationship that I've always longed for. I suppose though if it hasn't happened yet, it's most likely not going to happen now. I need to get to the root of why I feel guilty about this. And an even bigger question I ask all of you is why do we guilty over certain things? Why do we feel guilty about wanting a bigger home, a bigger car, a smaller ribcage, better abs? Since when did it become cool and normal to feel guilty? Do you know how guilt weighs us down emotionally? It's like walking through quicksand all of the time. It's not healthy and it doesn't serve us in any way shape or form so why do we feel it all of the time? Mom's feel it, daughters feel it, teachers feel it, parents feel it, everyone feels guilty. Guilt is the body shaming on emotions. It's the norm to call women skinny, fat, heavy, too tall, too short, and it's now normal to feel guilty over things we should never feel guilty over. I live on 15-acres and I have a wonderful home and yet I want a bigger one. I find myself feeling guilty about this. Why? It's human nature to always want more so why do we feel guilty about it? And why do I feel so guilty about breaking up with my relationship with my mom?
Guilt does absolutely nothing but bring us down and make us feel useless. It's time we stop placing guilt on ourselves about everything and start taking a different approach. Instead of feeling guilty, let's feel empowered. Instead of wading in the quicksand let's go dive in the ocean.
Now, I don't have all of the answers and it's going to take me some time to figure out what to do about my relationship with my mom, but in the interim, I'm done feeling guilty about all of it. I'm freeing myself from guilt and breaking out of the brain jail I've locked myself in for so many years.
How do you deal with guilt? Do you feel it's a waste of time? What the point of guilt?