I’m good at feeling guilty.

It turned out that I can’t be on the note for the house we’re buying because of the financial mess (and foreclosure) my ex left me with. The broker we’re working with was awesome about breaking the news and Brock’s been great about it on his end (“I know it’s not because of anything you did. You got hosed.”) Even though I did get screwed, even though I am paying my share of the house and even though I’m the one primarily responsible for painting and packing, I still feel guilty.

Related: Marital Fraud

We are in the midst of the paperwork hell that is home-buying. And, since the note is in his name, most of the work falls to him. Now, this stuff is tedious and obnoxious for anyone, but for someone who hates paperwork and endless details, it’s even worse. While I’m enjoying my next-to-last day of summer freedom, he is writing letters, checking accounts and filling out forms that seem to reproduce faster than the common cold. He came back home (arms filled with more paperwork) from a visit to the accountant’s office just as the internet died. There is some utility work (or a dig to China, I’m not quite sure) going on down the street and they accidentally cut the phone line. Even though I’ve helped where I can, even though there are plenty of times where he is lazing while I am working and even though I am not a construction foreman, I still feel guilty.

Guilt can play an important role when it is rational. It can keep us from makes poor choices again or prevent us from making them in the first place. It keeps people honest and urges them to take responsibility.

But when guilt is irrational, when it is for things that we cannot control, it serves no useful function. So why is it that some people seem to feel too much guilt why others seem to be immune to its effects?

One of my favorite podcasts to listen to on runs is the Adam and Dr Drew Show (it’s like Loveline all over again!). Dr Drew has stated several times that a person’s self esteem is relatively fixed and innate; there is not much that can be done to alter someone’s self esteem drastically over a lifetime. Dr Drew, who identifies himself as having low self esteem, talks about how those with lower confidence tend to blame themselves when things go wrong while people on the other end of the esteem spectrum look outward for responsibility. Basically, when something doesn’t jive with our world or self view, we seek a way to explain it.


So if Dr Drew’s right, this is pretty much my default (get it?:) ) setting and that low self esteem leads me to carry blame.

Hmmm… but what about the idea that it’s actually ego projecting the guilt? Maybe I see myself as too central in all of this when, in reality, it has nothing to do with me. Maybe the guilt is the ego’s way of asking for attention. After all, I know I seek validation through hard work, so when I can’t work hard at something, there is no validation.


So if that idea is right, I can learn to release the guilt by learning to let go ego (leggo my ego?). Not easy, but not set in stone either.

Related: Pardon Me Ego, I Need to Get Through

I like that idea better. It seems like a healthy way of taking responsibility.

As for today, I can’t take Brock’s load off his shoulders but I can be patient and understanding. Both with him and with me.



Thank you for sharing!

9 thoughts on “Guiltwashed

  1. Be sure that you record a legal document through the court and with the recorder’s office regarding your share of the house, even though you won’t have your name on the loan…

  2. Personally, I like the idea that an emotion exists in the form of an energy, simply seeking to be acknowledged then sent on its merry way. Acknowleding only recognizes its existence with giving it no more or no less power than any other emotion.
    I think holding on to an emotion allows it to morph into something it was never meant or needs to be and gives it more power than it deserves.
    I guess I’ve come to accept that I need not own what is not mine to carry.
    I am quite sure that deriving personal pacifiers from others responsibilities moved me along the codependency trail all too easily.
    Either way, stay strong. It sounds like you have gleaned as much personal growth from this experience as you have from every other adversity you have faced.

  3. elizabeth2560 – ABOUT ALMOST SPRING Two and a half years ago my 37 year marriage ended suddenly through no choice of my own. I survived the heartache. I have taken control of my present. I am planning my own destiny, which is moving onwards to a life of purpose and meaning. This is my journey.
    elizabeth2560 says:

    What is meant by a ‘note’? Is that the loan? I presume and hope that you will still be legal part-owner of the house. Tricky situation about the loan, but one I am sure that you will get through.
    Interesting point on the esteem. I had read elsewhere that optimistic people see events as causing catastrophes and themselves as being responsible for any good in their lives; whereas pessimists always blame themselves for the catastrophes and sit and wait for something else to make good things happen to them.
    I for one think you are an optimist as you have striven for a better life and worked at your physical fitness etc. Good health for instance does not just ‘happen’.

    1. Interesting. I had not thought of it that way. I see myself as a realistic optimist:) I definitely believe that I seek out (and work my but off for!) positive change.

      Yes, the note is the loan. There’s a little bit we can do legally at this point but the longer term goal is to refi in a couple years and put me on the loan too.Until a certain amount of time has passed, the banks pretty much treat me as a leper.

  4. I am a guilt carrier, myself. I will have to look up that podcast, it sounds like a good one. The nice thing about the hassle of paperwork and buying a house is that once it’s over, it’s over. At least you have something to look forward to!

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