episode 44: catholic guilt (or just regular guilt)

does anybody else suffer from sudden, immense pangs of guilt from decisions that you made with your own best interests in mind?
like, all you’re doing is doing something for yourself, not anything crazy or illegal, you’re just making a mildly selfish decision. we all do this.

but then i do it, and i hear that voice in the back of my head talkin shit.

this happens to me all the time.

i feel guilt when i tell my dog bye in the morning even though i know i have to earn money, and it’s not like he’s at a kennel. he’s hanging out in an air conditioned apartment with a couple cats a human.

i feel guilt when i don’t see my mom as often as she wants to be seen even though i work 6 out of 7 days and i do my best but also she has a car too? and she can come see me too if she wants to.

i feel guilt for not going straight to my brother’s apartment to see my dog right after work even though i rarely go anywhere else because i’m constantly concerned about my dog.

i feel guilt when my family says, “your dog deserves better” even though i do the best i can and also wtf i don’t hear anyone telling a subpar parent “hey, your daughter deserves better” because why would you even say that to someone unless they asked?

i feel guilt when i tell my family about my plans to travel, and their response is, “you’re just gonna leave your animal here?” EVEN THOUGH i literally never go anywhere and i hadn’t even asked them if they would watch him yet but now i know how they feel so i end up not going anywhere at all because the heat is too much for my dog sometimes and maybe they’re right.

maybe catholic guilt isn’t the right phrase. maybe it’s more “familial guilt” because no one gets me into my head like family does.

the guilt thing does stem from a semi-religious background though, for me at least. sexuality was a huge guilt factor for me growing up. believing that being gay was a sin, or at least a slap in the face to your mother, led me to instead be ashamed of it, hide it, lie about it, as if those aren’t supposed to be “sins” in themselves.

when it came to sex in general, we were told we had to wait until marriage, even that wasn’t the precedent set for us by our own parents. but it was an easy line to repeat to straight boys who didn’t understand i wasn’t interested in them, not even a little bit. “i’m saving myself for marriage, sorry” i’d say.

damn, i can’t believe i actually used that line. another layer of shame.

truthfully, i don’t do things to please people anymore, not like i used to when i was a kid. i desperately wanted to be the “good” kid or the “smart” kid, at least to my mom and other adults in authority, but it was honestly counter-intuitive to my innate need to do hoodrat shit with friends, kids my own age.

in secret, i was following crowds of bad kids, seeking their approval because i just wanted to be accepted wherever i could. it was a confusing time, setting small fires, hacking teacher’s emails, committing “terrorist threats,” shoplifting and opening a candy store in between classes in middle school.

AND i was gay. and that was what everyone focused on. who cares what i do for their approval. in 1999, it wasn’t okay to be gay, especially not in my neighborhood, EVEN THOUGH i’ve come across so many hispanic families that have at least ONE butch aunt who is still pretending they’re just bisexual.

so when i was home with my mom, i put all that stuff on hold, and played the role of good daughter by reading a book on the front porch or cooking my little brothers mac and cheese, and just being a generally good kid.

when my mom finally found out what kind of shit i’d gotten myself into, the amount of disappointment and anger was palpable. i decided that i would continue to hide whatever parts of me i needed to just to never disappoint my mom again.

i think i stopped giving a shit after my cousin died. i felt like much of his unhappiness stemmed from also having to hide who he was, and the family circumstances he was trapped in only exacerbated that depression that led to the end of his life.

you wanna talk about shame? it’s a shame that a boy couldn’t live a complete life because of the enormity of guilt we feel trying to please our parents, our family. you don’t wanna let anyone down.

the shame is that he wasn’t allowed to live for himself. and i can’t let history repeat itself.

battling depression is hard. you really have to force yourself to get out of your own way, and it doesn’t work that way for everyone, especially when they’re not given the proper tools.

life is hard enough without worrying about whether your decisions are making someone else happy.

all right blue, so what’s the problem? if you’re looking out for you, then why are you even doing this episode?

because no matter how much self-talk i do, meditating, mindfulness, self medication and healing, the pang creeps in every so often out of nowhere. even when i don’t think that i can doa any more than what i’ve done, all it takes is someone bringing up my dog to knock me down several pegs.

it’s usually family, and the guilt usually stems from my dog.

maybe it’s because i know dove could probably be happier with the right people, but i could never give him up because of the chance that he might be worse off. and at least i know i’ll love on my bub and i won’t take out my bad day on him. he is a good boy and my only friend. i’m not perfect, but he doesn’t go without. and once he’s gone, i’ll never have another dog because once again, to me, getting another dog would mean replacing him, and i’d never do that.

fuck. he really is a good boy.

i’m doing the best i can for him. those who have something to say typically aren’t contributing to his wellbeing, so i’m not sure what the purpose of speaking up and not doing anything about it is.

hey guys new rule. if you think dover deserves a better life, i’ll give you my venmo so you can send money to the cause. that way you can speak with your money and not your mouth.

sorry everyone. this isn’t meant to be a rant about my dog. i think some of you can probably relate in that we wear ourselves thin to provide the best quality of life to ourselves and the ones we love, so when we’re told it’s not enough, it feels personal.

i mean, it is personal because if that person knows the entire situation and feels that way, they’re speaking on you and what kind of person you are. whether that’s intentional or not, you have to determine whether or not what they’re saying has any truth to it. if it does, maybe that’s where the guilt comes from. but do you need to feel guilt in the first place?

i feel like that kind of guilt is embedded in me. i’m a pretty selfish person. i have no kids because i love money more, and i’ve never met a dollar i didn’t like.

i live a very free life. i answer to very few people, i spend my nights and days and weekends however i choose, for the most part. i can’t imagine having to plan my trips to outer space around a babysitter. that sounds pretty lame.

maybe your family’s opinion of you doesn’t come from truth at all; maybe they’re speaking to you from a place of bitterness or jealousy. you have to be able to decipher that and react appropriately.

i haven’t yet gotten to a point where i can misdirect that guilt other than to stop actively thinking about it. maybe it’s a work in progress. my hope is that i learn to stop second guessing my decisions because maybe my family isn’t at the same place i am in life, and this is where they want to be and can’t.

and honestly, that’s not my problem.

anyways, rate and subscribe por favor. i can probably use a couple more positive reviews on itunes. also, if you wanna listen to awesome music, listen to me, this podcast and way way way more 24/7 over on my baby ramblinvanradio.com. set a bookmark. tell your friends.

i love all of you. get at me.

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