Thursday, May 29, 2008

Guilt

There are a lot of us that feel guilty about what we have done. Guilt is an awful feeling. It is like a dark cloud hovering over us.

I used to feel guilty about something I did or said, sometimes two or three days after. With recovery, my feeling of guilt may last into the next day. As I go further into recovery I learn not to say the things that might make me feel guilty . . . with the help of the slogans like; "how important is this," or "easy does it," or "one day at a time," I can stop and think and probably best of all, say or do nothing.

I have found - through my thinking on the subject - that guilt is very much like harboring a resentment against some one else - except that guilt is a resentment turned inward toward yourself. What a terrible feeling this thing guilt is.

I read somewhere, we should not feel guilty about anything. You might ask, "Anything?!" And so we begin to feel guilty about not feeling guilty.

So what if we can eliminate guilt? Start off by not doing anything that will make you feel guilty. HA! Like that is so easy - right?

Okay. So we do something stupid . . . realize we are human. We are perfect (I believe this to be true) but what we do, (do is the operative word), is not so perfect. Because . . . we are human!

Give yourself a break. If you feel you want to say or do something out of a reaction, do these things first;
1. Call your sponsor and talk it through with him or her. What a fabulous idea. Could it be so simple? Absolutely!
2. Sleep on it. We've all heard this one. But very few of us (me) do this.
3. Journal about it. Think on paper. Reread what you are writing. It will tell you a lot
4. Write a letter to the person. Don't mail it. Just hang onto it until the next day.

But . . .

If you do something stupid . . . call your sponsor. Talk it through with him or her. Determine if you owe apologies or if an apology will just make it worse. It's hard to believe that an apology could make things worse. But I have found that others may not be sophisticated enough to accept an apology and instead use it a means to extract guilt and feel righteous.

If you do something stupid, let it simmer and then sooner rather than later, let it go. You are HUMAN!

7 comments:

TraceyBaby said...

I too am much better about thinking before I speak since working the Alanon program. I honestly do not feel I have a guilt issue with regards to my addicted son. (Although I can certainly relate to guilt over my food issues, overeating, etc.).

I have noticed though that I am much more sarcastic than I ever knew. Thinking before reacting and speaking keeps me from saying something I will regret later.

Anonymous said...

You know what I am still having a hard time with not feeling guilty about? Marrying and alcoholic and bringing a child into the world with him.

I know nobody is perfect (or everybody is perfect, its the things we DO that are imperfect, right Joe?) and that whomever I married would have some kind of flaws. And I really AM learning how to just let things go.

But for some reason I find it very difficult to simply LET GO of 100% of this particular load of guilt. I think mostly its because my daughter is stuck with this burden for the rest of her life. And I can't help but feel a little bit responsible for that because I picked him as a partner, even though I know I didn't cause his disease.

I am happy as a pig in mud that he has been sober for a while now (not keeping track of how long, its not my job). However, the immaturity issues still rear their head occasionally. And I have to constantly be on my guard to not be obsessing that he is going to start acting like a twelve year old again or start drinking again. (So I am obessing about not obsessing about his drinking...everybody got that?)

In other words, just because he is not drinking anymore, does not mean he suddenly exhibits no more alcoholic thought patterns, and actions. And my daughter is growing up around this. So I feel some guilt about this.

But I guess there are far worse problems other people in this world have, and I use that thought to keep my small amount of guilt in perspective.

Suzanne

Julia said...

I'm incredibly guilty that I can't force my mom to get ahold of her life. Why wasn't I enough to want to make her live a moral life for her only child? Alcohol has destroyed her reasoning and left her a selfish, egocentric with little thought about whats its doing to her family.She always tell me that i am the best thing that ever happened to her yet she continues to destroy me with her destructive behavior.
Today was the worst day of my life.I checked my mom into the hospital for detox and her sickness scared me. I have never seen her like that and she was alo put on suicide watch. I was able to keep it together only because I knew I was the one in charge and acting as her guardian so being a crying mess wouldn't be productive.
Please say a prayer for her, she is so sick. She would have died if she didn't go today. I think prayer has helped me alot today.
THanks for listening.

Catherine said...

Thanks for sharing, Julia. If your mom's caregivers didn't recommend attending AlAnon meetings then I will. It was a great relief to hear that I didn't cause my boyfriend's alcoholism, I cannot cure him, and most importantly, I cannot control its effects. Unfortunately, his love for his children is not enough to stop him from drinking. His disease is not my fault and I am not the reason he drinks (even if he says so). I've learned a lot.

On the topic, I sometimes feel guilty that I am not more compassionate and patient with my qualifier. (And with people in general.) I also feel somewhat guilty that I have gossiped about him to mutual friends. Several have sort of turned their backs on us. And I don't feel guilty at all about occasionally fantasizing that I have a different boyfriend. ;)

Anonymous said...

I felt guilty when I was with her.

I felt guilty when she had to go it alone without me.

I felt guilty that I could not "fix" her.

I came to grips that the fact is, it is only her that can choose to stop, and begin a road of recovery.

I no longer feel guilty.

I feel free this morning.

Damn it feels good.

Peace this Monday.

KevinB.

Syd said...

I've heard lots of people in Al-Anon say "Screw guilt". I no longer feel guilty about so much. I'm not perfect. I know that and it has eased a lot of the guilt. I don't feel guilty for enjoying my life my way. It feels really good.

Julia said...

Thank you for your comment Catherine. I was very surprised to see you had written to me, it was nice to be acknowledged.
Wow, its been the worst 5 days of my life. My mom is so sick(although she gets better every day from the withdrawal symptom). She is now in rehab after being on the medical floor for 4 days. She has a 5 day lock-down period before anyone can talk to her, which is a relief because I need a break! I prayed every day multiple times a day to get the strength I needed from God to get through this. I have just started praying every day and I know God is hearing me. I guess it took desperation to ask for help, which upsets me but I guess that was His plan.
I am going to an Alanon meeting on Friday evening. My first of many I am sure. I know I will be a mess through the whole thing. I hope I don't embarass myself! I have been non-stop crying since last week. I am sure everyone will understand.
Its just so hard to watch someone you love kill themselves. She has so many health problems due to alcohol, she is only 52! What a waste of a precious gift. I just hope she has the strength and conviction TO NEVER PICK UP A DRINK AGAIN! If she fails, she will surely die.
Thanks for the support, its really needed right now.
Best,
Julia