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.