Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Uncertain guilt...J.P. Bowie

Lisabet's post made me dig deep into my memory of the many years past since I lived with my parents. Does guilt always revolve around parents? Is the fact that perhaps you didn't live up to their expectations enough to make you feel guilt? I really don't know because I have no idea what my parents ever expected of me. It was never discussed, and so when I left home at nineteen and made my way into show business and toured the UK and hardly ever went home again, there was never a shred of guilt to give me pause. I was young and carefree, living my life the way I wanted to live it...no boundaries, no shame, no guilt.

That's not to say that I was out there doing drugs - maybe a little pot now and then. Getting hammered every night? No, couldn't handle it after the first godawful hangover. Having sex at the drop of someone's pants? Well, I was young and eager to explore all the possibilities. Breaking hearts? Ah, maybe one or two...and even today that can bring a twinge of remorse. The look of despair, the hurt expression, the slumped shoulders, I can remember well, and yes, I feel guilty. Of course, those I hurt went on and found someone more worthwhile,so why when I cast my mind back to those times, does it still make me feel ashamed?

Perhaps guilt is just part of the human psyche, something we inherit biologically, some primitive part of our Id that pokes at our brain now and then to make us do better, behave better, curb our tongues, stop us from lashing out, then feeling guilty.

When my parents grew old, and I was still not really part of the family unit, I did feel guilty. Guilty perhaps, for not being more available, for not doing more to ease them into their old age - ridiculous really, because no one can do that - but the fact remains that as the years went by and they had long since passed, those feelings of being remote, somehow outside the family circle have proved to be my burden.

I'm just not sure if it's really guilt, or just simply sorrow.


  1. I'm positive you're right about parents teaching us about guilt. I just don't know if it's always intentional, or just a part of parenting. I should ask my kids when they're all home for Thanksgiving. I tried very hard NOT to give them the same crushing guilt I've always felt about disappointing my parents...by not getting better grades, by not getting a more "useful' college degree and hence wasting their money...by getting married and staying home with the babies instead of maintaining a career Mom could brag about and live vicariously through...etc.

    But I used to joke with the kids when they were younger, telling them that all moms put a "guilt knob" in their kids' heads and that only WE know where it is and just how to put our fingers into their heads and twiddle the knob, making them cringe with overwhelming guilt over something they weren't even aware they had done, but which they now would do anything to atone for, just to make the pain stop.

    I'm loving this discussion! I'm sure my family will be pissed when I ask them to discuss, since they all blame my English-major over-analyzation for ruining things, by making them think too hard about things. C'est la vie! Parents! Can't be born without them, but sure as hell can't live with them!

    1. Hi, Fiona,

      Lots of parents would give you a guilt trip if you had NOT gotten married and had kids.

      Just can't please them...;^)

  2. Short but intense, J.P.

    I think you should be grateful for living your life mostly guilt-free.

  3. I don't harbor much guilt, as much as my parents tried it instill it in us kids. Guilt took well in my siblings, but not me. I think it was part of my teenage rebellion. When I discarded their values, I guess the guilt went right along with it. It sure seems a non-productive emotion. Of course, I never had to be bailed out, I didn't run with gangs, didn't kill anybody. But I guess those people who go around married to misery would find something to obsess about.

  4. We certainly get guilt instilled by our parents, but they got it from theirs, too, pretty much ad infinitum. I have some ideas about that, but I think I'll muse on them until it's time for my post.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.