On guilt (and a litany of confessions)

The last few months have brought a lot of tears.

I left a job I loved for a job that I also love, in different ways. I cried a lot about that. I carried a fair bit of guilt about it. But when it comes to career moves, I’ve never regretted saying yes, even though at the time I never felt quite ready to move on just yet. I feel so stupidly lucky to have had not 1, not 2, not 3 but 4 dream jobs in a row, and to tick off working in two areas I really wanted to try.

I’ve realised I’m perhaps not the best at judging others based on first impressions. (Ironic, since I give off a terrible first impression myself.) I feel a little guilty for pigeonholing a few people so quickly, whom I now have lots of affection for.

I couldn’t stop comparing myself (and coming up short) against a couple of peers who I can’t help but feel a bit of rivalry with. I would always feel guilty for feeling a bit smug when they stumbled or came up against hurdles.

I’ve spent so much time pondering what I want and need from a partner. I felt a lot of guilt around balancing my own needs with our needs.

I developed the most inconvenient crush. I felt crippling guilt about this one. I’ve had them before – a guy at uni, a former boss – but in this instance things were different for many reasons. Not to the point I would ever have acted, obviously, but this one just kept growing for some time.

I realised I should have opened up more to friends. I can’t help but feel some guilt for being so selfish, and realising now that we were all separately, quietly, struggling. Maybe we would all have benefited from sharing.

I’m now in the phase of life where people around me are starting to divorce. I feel a little guilty for still being married and also, conversely, for the envy I feel – how much simpler in some ways a single life would be.

I feel guilty for the small, buried part of me that for the longest time conflated divorce with failing. As firmly as I am against staying married when things aren’t right – and hell, so many times I wasn’t sure I was going to make it myself – deep down I would have considered it a personal failure. But I’m glad to be able to say that this is one judgemental quirk I’ve now managed to put to rest, even if the catalyst for this is a sad one.

Bit by by, I’ve let go of all this guilt. It is exhausting to carry around. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

17 thoughts on “On guilt (and a litany of confessions)

  • Reply Amanda @ Move Love Eat November 11, 2015 at 09:33

    Ain’t nobody got time for that for sure! There are so many things we as humans (and even more so I believe as females) feel guilty for that we really shouldn’t! I’m trying to let go of the guilt for things like this as well, as soon as you do it’s like a massive weight off your shoulders but it’s so difficult to do and you have to keep practicing at it.

  • Reply Stephany November 11, 2015 at 10:58

    “I couldn’t stop comparing myself (and coming up short) against a couple of peers who I can’t help but feel a bit of rivalry with. I would always feel guilty for feeling a bit smug when they stumbled or came up against hurdles.”

    THIS THIS THIS. I struggle with this so much. Having trouble celebrating their successes (why not meeee?) and also secretly feeling a little… satisfied?… when they stumbled. Maybe because it made me feel less alone in my struggles, knowing everything doesn’t come perfectly to them. I’m still trying to work on this.

  • Reply Anya November 11, 2015 at 14:44

    You’ve managed to express my own crazy thoughts more eloquently than I ever could. The comparison games accompanied by a feeling of schadenfreude, contemplations of divorce, the crushes, the guilt – things I’ve struggled with for years and I still find it hard to accept that others feel these things, too. I’ve been married for 10 years and while I have a great marriage, I often times can’t help but wonder what it must be like to be single and free. This feeling particularly arises when I compare myself to peers who have achieved what I consider to be success or when an unexpected crush happens. A lot of this has to do with getting married at a young age. I never got a chance to experience adulthood completely on my own. But the conclusion I keep arriving at is I’m human, I’m not dead. I can be attracted to others, I can have fantasies, I can take pleasure in others misfortunes. These feelings are all part of the human experience. So I say let go of the guilt because what you’re doing, thinking, feeling is not unique to you. It’s universal.

  • Reply dee November 11, 2015 at 21:34

    Forgive me but i feel like from this and some other posts that a separation is approaching and i hope it’s not true! It’s a hard road and i wish you peace.

  • Reply Abigail @ipickuppennies November 12, 2015 at 06:48

    I totally get the divorce envy — and then feeling guilty about it. The sheer weight of Tim’s expenses and his inability to work feel like a huge burden from time to time. I love him, but there are definitely times when I long for the savings I could manage if I were single. How much less I’d have to deal with someone else’s needs/demands/different outlook.

    I feel bad for it, and of course it’d leave him in penury. Not that that’s the only reason I stay, but it’s a good, quick way to snap myself out of the situation. Not to mention that all the ease I picture — how much less I’d have to do for someone else — doesn’t take into account what Tim does do. He runs almost every errand for me. He does take care of me. It’s just hard to see when it doesn’t revolve around work and a paycheck.

    Still, especially while he’s struggling with depression, I find myself being wistful more often than I’d like. Things are getting better now that he has meds, which help both his mood and slightly help the pain. Hopefully, they’ll get even better once he’s in therapy.

  • Reply Leigh November 12, 2015 at 15:25

    So many jobs you love! I’m happy for you for that, though I wish I could say the same about myself.

  • Reply Amber November 12, 2015 at 18:18

    So awesome you’ve had 4 jobs you absolutely love! I’ve also been lucky enough to always love my job and I know not everyone is so lucky.

    I agree with you that divorce does not have to = failure. It’s hard to shake that feeling though. But we don’t look at ending long friendships as failure and just because a relationship, or a marriage, comes to an end does not mean there was no good or happiness in it and it doesn’t have to be a failure, in fact it can be a celebration of the time you were together and the special memories and love you shared!

    • Reply Linda December 1, 2015 at 06:17

      “…we don’t look at ending long friendships as failure…” Yes! I was having a discussion about this recently with a long-time friend. I’ve been trying to figure out what I did “wrong” in my marriage and past relationships so I could avoid the same mistakes as I’m starting to date again. This exact realization came to me and it really helped me feel less paralyzed by doubt, guilt, and indecision. Sometimes, people just change in ways that makes them less able to stay together, whether that be as friends or a spouse.

  • Reply Swissie3 November 13, 2015 at 05:45

    I’m so glad that you were able to express your feelings on this. I don’t think it’s possible to love someone to bits every minute of every day. I was married for 26 years when my husband left me – actually that was the worst time of my life but for very different reasons. I was so relieved when the violent, alcoholic, spendthrift moved out but he and his tart were like two kids so every couple of weeks he moved back in “because it’s still my home”. And that time was awful until the divorce went through and I was able to buy him out. The tart dumped him BTW and he is now making someone else’s life a misery – can’t live on his own you see, whereas me, I love it. I envy people who (to me) appear to me to be happily married, but the more I talk about it I find that so many people are either just “bored/trapped married” or unhappily married. The relief I feel now that he has buggered off back to the States is palpable. So many years of fear and sleepless nights, but worrying about the debts he was running up (he’s bipolar – it’s one of the symptoms). But I cannot believe how happy I am out of that marriage, and yes I have a new mortgage to buy him out so I will be retiring later rather than sooner but it’s so totally worth it. A colleague told me not all men are like that and I totally get that, and in fact have a lovely Dutch other half who I will not live with and will not marry – sounds just perfect to me – love him to bits when I see him but make all my own decisions. And frankly, I think all young girls should be taught to be financially independent so they can truly appreciate the men in their lives.

  • Reply Cat@BudgetBlonde November 13, 2015 at 11:58

    Guilt is a hard one to let go of. But once you do, you’ll feel so much better about everything in life.

  • Reply Amanda November 14, 2015 at 05:50

    Ain’t nobody got time for any of this shit… but I’m sure that we all struggle with these guilts and envies, and it’s nice to read about someone being upfront about it for a change. I’m glad that I wasn’t at high school when instagram and snapchat were around — I think I would have come off second best for sure!

    • Reply Amanda November 14, 2015 at 05:51

      (I kind of amalgamated my replies to two posts into one here)

      Also, re divorce — my parents will finally get one when they’re in the same country together for my graduation next year. I’m strangely looking forward to it. I think it’s far more cowardly and detrimental to everyone’s health and happiness to stay “together” when miserable, than to slog through it.

  • Reply Richard November 14, 2015 at 21:55

    I’ve been meaning to ask for years: does your partner read your blog? If I knew my wife had a crush I would be anxious.

    • Reply Leigh November 15, 2015 at 07:01

      Really? Crushes are perfectly normal and healthy in a long term relationship. It’s only letting them go too far that is problematic. I would be upset with you being anxious over me having a simple crush if I was your wife.

    • Reply eemusings November 16, 2015 at 12:02

      Don’t know, doubt it. Could quite easily, if so desired.

  • Reply Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank November 15, 2015 at 09:40

    Guilt is manageable. You just have to be satisfied and feel good about what you have and what you are. And, I think you can be guilt free if you decide and plan on it.

  • Reply Funny about Money December 8, 2015 at 03:20

    Oh, lordie! I haven’t visited your precincts for awhile, having been a) sick on and off for a year or more and b) overwhelmed with the work of starting a new business enterprise. So have missed your exploits over a while.

    None of this sounds good. Are you seeing a counselor? If you’re unhappy in your marriage, you might want to consider seeking outside, professional advice on how to handle and assess your feelings — and his. If you’re depressed because of a marital situation, this may help your outlook, or at least help in getting a grip on the facts and your future. If you’re clinically depressed, then you need to see a doctor ASAP.

    If you really should leave but are not leaving because you’re afraid: be assured, you can make it. You’re a young, competent and smart woman — and you’re the one with the job.

    I left my (high-earning!) husband after 25 years of marriage. Was convinced I would be living under the Seventh Avenue Overpass. But no. Landed a great job within a few months. Bought a house, which I managed to pay off. Had enough sense not to marry the new boyfriend. And, to my surprise, lived happily ever after.

    And, my friend…crushes are normal. Extended monogamy is not normal — remember, when marriage was invented as an institution, life expectancy was much shorter. Thus “until death do us part” was not an intolerably long period. Everyone experiences the occasional crush. Some people act on them. The world has not ended yet.

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