Wednesday, October 9, 2013


I work with a Jewish guy.  Over the course of the 18 months or so that I've been working where I currently work we've gotten to be friends.  I've told him more than once that our mothers must be sisters.  Mine is a good Irish Catholic woman and his is a good Jewish woman - both in many ways wonderful, but also very good at throwing guilt. 

Even though that I have long ago walked away from Catholicism I still am a guilt-catcher - if there is guilt in the air I get it, even if no one is throwing it in my direction.  It seems to be in the DNA - my son can do much the same.  We're working on it with him.

Right now I am not quite paralyzed by, but certainly affected by guilt.  C is, of course, in a good bit of pain.  Her marriage of 27 years is coming to an end.  And I've been a good husband to her and for her.  Not perfect, but we've been good with and for each other.

My reaction the seeing the pain is to feel guilty.  The guilt and not wanting to see C in pain lead me to wondering if we can somehow stay together.  C's pain would be alleviated as would my guilt.  A couple of things came together in the past half day or so.  The first is that I realized last night that C will be okay.  This is big and painful.  But in the end it will not destroy her.  My guilt and shame over the past few years blew all that up to be significantly out of proportion with reality.

The second thing is a re-re-realization that I cannot stay together sanely.  And thus separation is better for C and better for the kids as well as myself.  I cannot be if we are together.

Both were confirmed by C this morning.  Last night she had texted saying she was sad.  I feel responsible for that sadness - she is not throwing guilt; she is letting me know what is going on.  C noted this morning that her feelings were all over the map.  That at times it was all overwhelming and at times she thinks we can do this.  I noted that I feel responsible for her pain.  She noted that in my action there is no reason for this feeling.  She is right.  The responsibility and guilt I feel is misplaced; it is inappropriate to the situation. 

Guilt is a wasted emotion.

In my case here guilt has and could lead to staying married and continuing on the cycle of depression I've been on. 

I have a friend, who I think would be shocked and dismayed to know I'm gay, who likes to say guilt is a wasted emotion.  He is right.  If I have done something wrong, it needs to be rectified; I need to do something to change it, to make it right.  Guilt may be helpful in initiating that process, but that is about it.  In my experience it quickly gets in the way.  If I didn't do anything wrong, then guilt is inappropriate.  It may indicate something in me or something in someone else, but it is not an appropriate emotion.

  1. Breathe
  2. Remember guilt is a wasted emotion
  3. Remember C will be ok - you are not the be all and end all
  4. Remember the cycle - avoid repetition of it

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