Guilt

All posts in the Guilt category

Euthanasia Forgiven

Published January 6, 2020 by Nan Mykel

I’ll never euthanize another pet.  Maybe that’s an overstatement, but the need would have to be extreme.

We were sitting comfortably in a circle in my living room at the time, each with our own glass of wine, as usual. It was our weekly consciousness-raising group, and the mood was mellow until a spunky friend I admired said, “Pet owners are being cruel when they let their pets suffer rather than have them put down!”

She wasn’t talking about me, but I let the remark fester until I saw myself through her eyes, a cruel mistress to my aging cat Lucky, a misnomer if there was ever one.

At the time, Lucky had become both deaf and blind, but living in my bedroom he could find his food, water, litter box, and accurately jump up into the darkness to find his own place of comfort on our shared bed. I now believe that I over-reacted when he started losing weight and I had him euthanized. He trusted me kept going through my mind.

I missed him, felt guilty, and overall miserable. I had allowed someone else’s opinion to bully myself into “putting him down,” and yes I do think I was protecting my own feelings.

Two weeks of loneliness passed before my muscles twitched and while lying on my bed  I felt the mattress jostle gently and a soft knot of pressure lay against my back. That night I fell asleep with a smile on my lips.

Lucky chose a different spot to occupy each night, but his warm presence continued to soothe until the morning I felt his soft paws tapping on my face. That wasn’t a surprise; he knew how to wake me when he was ready for company.  So familiar were the gentle pats that I reached out for him, half asleep, and found myself with a fistful of empty air. And noticed a thin veil of smoke and the acrid smell of scorching.

The smell led to an outlet in the living room that was sparking and snapping and ready to combust. Between a 911 call, the power box, a raincoat lying nearby and the arrival of the fire department, the danger was over within minutes.

I returned to bed, sensitized myself to reconnect with Lucky’s presence, but he was gone, mission accomplished I supposed. Also gone were my pangs of guilt.

The following week scorch had been replaced by the odor of blooming honeysuckle just outside the open window, and after pulling my hair into a pony tail I headed out.  Would today be my own lucky day?  I wondered as I pulled into the Animal Rescue Center’s parking lot. Sure enough, there they were, a playful pair or young brother and sister kittens. They seemed to have been waiting for me.

 

c. nan mykel

Why Shame and Guilt?

Published January 12, 2019 by Nan Mykel

Some point out that guilty feelings keep our conscience in shape. But does excessive wallowing in feelings of guilt or shame help anything? How can making myself miserable make sense? Perhaps a masochist might try it, but believe me there’s no pleasure in it, sexual or otherwise.
Perhaps feeling pain over one’s thoughtlessness is a Shadow concept–it may help us avoid our own feelings of rage at being ignored, discounted, ridiculed or mistreated. Are guilt feelings more acceptable than rageful anger to some folks? Like me?
I reported myself for chewing gum while on safety patrol duty in the sixth grade. I don’t feel guilty about it now, possibly because I got a demerit for it at the time. I can tell I’m wandering into la la land but if that’s so, then so be it. Losing psychic energy in an irrational manner is la la, and detracts from energy that could be used constructively, even for helping others.
I have some defense mechanisms that explain or almost excuse my behavior, but I can’t utter these because they sound so much like excuses (such as a very slight habit to briefly dissociate).
It’s obviously rooted in my unconscious. I was not allowed to ask for what I wanted–not even to hint, and was told that I didn’t feel what I felt, often. I wonder what it means in actual terms that I introjected my Pig Parent (per transactional analysis)? I do recall that in therapy I once Gestalted my Pig Parent and didn’t get back in my own skin until later in the day. I do remember that I couldn’t do a Gestalt “goodbye” to my abusing father because I felt there would be nothing left inside me. (I was able to much later, however.)
Empathy runs too deep in me (unless it’s just a defense against rage.) If you lurked silently around me for very long you would hear me muttering “I’m sorry. I’m sorry” when one of my much earlier thoughtless behaviors come to mind.
I’ve begun re-reading Ernest Becker’s “The Denial of Death” again, and come across the following: “Man does not seem able to ‘help’ his selfishness…If we care about anyone it is usually ourselves first of all…In man a working level of narcissism* is inseparable from self esteem, from a basic sense of self-worth. (p 2,3) So, maybe I think more highly of me for apologizing constantly than being puffed up. I probably respect myself more (secretly) than if I were more blase and felt more positive about myself. (This blog posting is probably an attempt to puff myself up.)
Maybe I should return to identifying with “The Watcher” part of me again. Funny how I make a discovery and then it eludes me.

*Note: There’s a great difference between narcissism and Narcissistic Personality Disorder

I Feel Guilty When…

Published December 4, 2018 by Nan Mykel

I feel guilty when I write about Trump, because I’m contributing nothing but despair.  And I feel guilty when I don’t write about him, because how life-threatening he is to America. So today I’ll just submit a little poemette, entitled

WILL I STILL BE ME?

I want to know

most terribly so.

While rooming in the womb,

on the stage behind the curtains,

overhearing intimations

of change. Whose screams?

I arrive, a piece of ignited clay

presenting with my backside,

bringing pain on opening day.

 

 

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