Tag Archives: guilt

A Conversation without Words

Her arms are crossed tight over her chest. Her eyes flash. He takes a step back. His eyes dart from side to side. Her lip is curled back so her teeth are bared. I take a step back too even though I know she can’t see me.

The wind takes up her hair before whipping it back into her face. She brushes it away with her knuckles. He tries to speak but his mouth remains a perfect O as she raises her hand and smacks him across the face. He watches the ground. He doesn’t turn the other cheek. A single tear spills. I want to hold him, to tell him I love him, that everything will be okay, that it couldn’t be helped, that we never intended to hurt her. But I shouldn’t be here so I watch on in silence.

Her hands fly up to her mouth and she begins to shake and sob. He moves towards her. She utters one word, which freezes him in place. Finally, she allows him to speak. He talks and talks, streams of words I wish I could hear. She sinks down on the step and lowers her face to her hands. He looks around before gently sitting beside her. She doesn’t look up. Is she crying? I can’t tell.

He edges slightly closer. Soon, his thigh is pressing against hers and he puts his arm around her. Her head falls onto his chest. Her whole body shakes. Her face is wet and red and all scrunched up. I feel upset for her, at what we’ve done, at the line we’ve dared to cross. But it will all work out for the best. You can’t help who you fall in love with.

My eyes are drawn to his fingers as he moves them towards her face. He tilts up her chin with his big hand. He says something. She won’t look at him. He says something else. There is an urgency in the set of his face, in his eyes, his eyebrows, his mouth. She looks up slowly, then his face is on hers. Their mouths clash and push open. Their hands are in each other’s hair, on each other’s faces, in each other’s clothes.

It ends as suddenly as it’s begun. She pushes him, gets up and runs. This time, it is he who puts his face in his hands. I don’t move towards him. I cannot embrace him now. I walk away.

Sometime later – it could be an hour or a quarter of a day – he lets himself into my apartment. I hear him trudging up the hallway. My breath locks. He enters the living room, eyes downcast. “How did it go,” I can’t help asking. “It was hard but it’ll be okay. She’ll get over it.”

I stare into his face. I look at his lips – the ones that have kissed hers and mine and hers again. His left cheek is redder than his right. I stare and stare. I have nothing more to say to him.

Co-dependency

I had a rather interesting awareness today. I was needy. Up until very recently, I had been behaving in a needy, co-dependent manner. Throughout my life, I had a number of co-dependent relationships (not all romantic), which were safe and sweet when they were good and devastatingly painful when they weren’t.

I became unreasonably annoyed when a boyfriend didn’t contact me for a whole day. And I felt justified in my anger. He mustn’t care, I thought. If it had been a friend or family member, it wouldn’t have cost me a thought. But because he was my boyfriend, the rules changed. Boyfriends should contact their girlfriends every day. Otherwise, it’s a sign that they’re not interested. Can we take this deeper? If he’s not interested, it probably means that there’s something wrong with me. That I don’t deserve to be loved. No wonder I was angry! Which made him frustrated. And not long afterwards, he left me. My heart broke. And then it healed. I now know that he did me a huge favour. I’m glad it’s over. That’s not to say that he’s a bad guy. We just weren’t suited. Deep down, I’d always known this. I’d just become too attached to the idea of being attached that it hurt too much to detach myself.

I only realise now that I’d been acting needy. I needed constant reminders of his love. I needed to be reassured. To be held and rocked and stroked like a screaming baby, terrified of being left alone. To be left alone as an infant means certain death. But we forget that we are adults. That we are strong. Capable. Loveable. Enough. So, we wail and cry and demand attention. We get attention all right. Just not the type of attention we’d been hoping for.

The core feeling in co-dependency is a fear of being left alone. We long for connection. Because when we feel connected, we feel safe. The delusion is that we are disconnected. Separate. Alone. So, we cling to others. To the people who show us affection; to the ones who look after us, and make us feel good about ourselves. When we fear they might be slipping away; the love, security and trust that we associated with that person disappear with them. And we are left vulnerable and scared and angry that they could make us feel this way. They didn’t make us feel anything. They didn’t make us feel hurt or betrayed. They didn’t even make us feel happy or in love. We did it all by ourselves.

When you love someone so much that you can’t live without them, that’s when you’ve got to live without them. Live your life to the fullest. Believe in your power and potential. Love yourself exactly as you are, where you are. And when you feel strong enough to be compassionate, independent enough to feel connected; and when you’ve got so much love for yourself that you can accept somebody else’s love for you, then, and only then, will you be ready to enter into a healthy partnership.

favim.com/image/27261/

From the Depths of December

I wander downtown to buy Christmas cards, in the hope that it will assuage my guilt at not yet having begun shopping for presents. There is no escaping the swift approach of Yuletide on this brisk December day.

Fairy lights wind their way up tree trunks, like magic ivy. A middle-aged couple carries plastic bags and an air of exasperation. A Norway Spruce leans up against a wall, naked but on the brink of fulfilling its life purpose.

I pop in my iPod buds and drown out the world with the sounds of Video Games and VillagersA teenager rushes out of a pound shop, her face full of freckles and anticipation. I enter. A mother slaps her children’s hands away from sweets and toys. A man in dirty work clothes holds a basket brimming with tinsel.

I buy two packets of sparkly Santa cards and continue down the main street. A young boy bolts into the library. I follow. As I enquire after a Heather O’Neill novel, which is currently MIA, an elderly woman breezes up to the desk.

“It’s getting cold out there, Mrs O’Brien,” the male librarian tries.

“We’re all ageing,” the woman retorts.

He changes the subject.

“What do you think of the Budget?”

The woman doesn’t respond.

“WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE BUDGET?” the librarian bellows. Children look up in disbelief.

“I heard you the first time,” the old lady announces. “I just don’t bother with all that shite!”

I leave without a book, but not without a story.

I take a detour home along the Liffey. The river is full and fast. The moon clings to the cobwebs of the morning sky. Drizzle settles on nettles. A reluctant dog is pulled toward the nonchalant swans. Ducks fly close to the water, their necks straining forwards.

Reeds clump together and float to the surface, like dead bodies. A leafless tree bends over the water, like a nude diver frozen in time. A woman jogs by, barely lifting her legs. A man in a track suit practises Tai Chi in the wet grass. I wonder if he’s crazy and try not to stare.

As I huddle on a park bench, ignoring the cold and blowing on a Biro, I decide that I am a writer and that there is nothing I’d rather be.

“It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment?” Vita Sackville-West

And for all you budding writers out there, click here.

Images: http://gallery.hd.org/_c/art/_more2004/_more12/baubles-glass-and-wire-shiny-tinsel-blue-and-silver-star-for-top-of-tree-decorations-ornaments-JR.jpg.html; http://weheartit.com/entry/18871955;

http://laetificus.tumblr.com/page/8; http://weheartit.com/entry/9454974

Guilty pleasures…

Today’s post is inspired by this year’s dose of The Late Late Toy Show because it got me thinking about a plethora of other pleasures, in which I regularly (albeit guiltily) indulge…

Starbucks…                                                              Red wine…

Lady Gaga videos…                                                     One Direction…

I won't divulge why I like them. For legal reasons...

Reruns of The Holiday and Bridget Jones’ Diary…    

Gazing at cupcakes that are too pretty to eat… Eating them.

Sun holidays – I know I could be sight-seeing but even applying sun lotion is EFFORT…

Skipping class and taking my little sister to the seaside instead…

Reality TV…                                                 Duvet days…

Losing myself in a novel when I really should be studying…

Blabbing about all this even though I’m A) embarrassing myself on an international public forum and B) denying myself some much-needed beauty sleep… So come on, make a girl feel better and fill us in on some of your guilty pleasures…

Wasting the day googling random images is another one...

Images: http://www.graphicshunt.com/wallpapers/images/hearts-7037.htm; http://favim.com/image/218958/; http://thegloss.com/tag/cupcakes/; http://weheartit.com/entry/18685599; www.flickr.compiccsy.com

Guilt: pleasure’s predictable sequel

From the colourful spectrum of human emotions, guilt is one of the darkest, most uncomfortable, and most destructive. Guilt sneaks up on you like the ghost of an uneasy dream but you’ll sense its presence in the way your chest flounders beneath its heavy weight.

Much like worry, guilt is a pretty superfluous emotion. Maybe it’ll stop you from performing a certain guilt-inducing activity again but, more than likely, like some masochistic idiot, you will do these things again, thus welcoming guilt back into your life like a bittersweet drug habit. Guilt sure makes you feel bad but it doesn’t stop you from snapping at your loved ones, reaching for that large bag of Maltesers, or, instead of going to college, lounging in your pyjamas all day as you consume an entire season of Grey’s Anatomy.

“Unhealthy guilt is an autoimmune disease of the soul that causes us to literally reject our own worth as human beings.” Joan Borysenko

Guilt is a sticky subject. Should we discuss how to deal with guilt or should we simply avoid the activities that lead to this unwelcome emotion? If you have a propensity towards feeling guilty, then most anything you do will cause you some level of this ugly emotion. So, when guilt comes knocking at your door, here’s what to do:

1) Don’t punish yourself further

Okay, so you cheated on your partner/skipped class/ate all the pies/drank too much, but this awful feeling should be enough punishment. Guilt affects you physically and robs you of any enjoyment. You have two options: you can decide never to do these things again, or you can accept that what’s done is done and that feeling guilty about it isn’t going to change anything. So, make peace with yourself and with anyone you may have hurt along the way.

2) Accept it

Accept that this is how you’re feeling right now. It will pass. Don’t fight it or it will tighten its grasp over you. If you stand still with it, you’ll simply slip out of its clutches, relatively unharmed.

3) Don’t run from it

Confront this cunning emotion head on. As it sprays you with its familiar but overpowering perfume, inhale it. Pick out the individual scents and explore how they make you feel. If you do this, you’ll be able to work out why you’re feeling this way and what you can do about it.

4) Question it

Now’s the time to interrogate this crafty mofo. Why are you here? What do you want from me? More than likely, it’ll give you the info you’re seeking. And then you can throw it by the wayside. If you cheated on your beautiful, caring wife, ask yourself why. If you can’t stop your late night bingeing, consider the emotions you’re trying to bury. If you continue with your Call of Duty marathons instead of attending class, maybe this course isn’t for you. Or maybe you can’t get over the label of “lazy so-and-so” your mother attached to you. Or you’re terrified of failure. The only reason we feel bad is to direct us towards change. But it’s too easy to get stuck in the emotion. So, allow it to wash over you, then ask why it’s there.

5) Ignore it

If, after accepting and questioning it, the guilt still persists, ignore it. Like an attention-seeking toddler, it just wants you to fuss over it. But if you ignore it, it’ll get bored, stop its fake wails, and move on to some other poor sucker.

Guilt is one of those bad feelings that will eat away at your insides if you allow it to do so. If you dwell on the “shoulds” or “shouldn’t haves”, you’re just feeding it, giving it more energy, and allowing it to grow. Treat guilt like an important but annoying visitor. Be polite, hand it a cuppa, and chat to it for a while, but if you make the mistake of offering it a meal, a bed, and your undivided attention, no wonder it’s not going to want to leave.

Guilt doesn’t have to be useless. Use it to learn more about yourself. It’s only when you dwell on the guilt that it’ll immobilise you. And recognise when you’re feeling guilty over something that’s not worth worrying about. Don’t take life so seriously. Give yourself permission to indulge in your guilty pleasures. Just don’t wallow in the guilt.

Lady Gaga music videos are just one of my guilty pleasures: