Writer’s Note: This is not directed at anyone; any person who wishes to take this as a personal attack will receive the shoe. Like this one…
I enjoy people-watching so long as I don’t get all stalkerish or nosy. Most times, I am pretty casual. I’ll notice something, watch for a moment, and then go about my business. If anything, it gives me ideas for how to write dialogue without sounding like an English major. Trust me…this is a problem. And, no, none of you are showing up in my novels except for Cameron Scott Butler who has already given me permission because he is amazing and knows that I will write nothing defamatory and I’m only documenting the Ravioli-Incident. After that, Mary will see her nickname show up because the second novel in the Cameron Scott Butler saga will be about Cameron Scott Butler meeting Hairy Mary. But Mary won’t have to worry because she isn’t Hairy. And she isn’t crazy…or that crazy.
Anyhow, back to the topic….
The other day, I was at the beach with my family and I was grabbing a cup of ice water. As I’m waiting my turn at the ice-water fountain, the man who was ahead of me was peacefully filling up his own cups. Suddenly, a woman (obviously his wife, partner, nagging-harpy) came up and started castigating him for leaving her behind.
“I’m sorry,” he said. And it sounded (to me) like he meant it.
But she continued. She scolded him because he didn’t wait for her and he didn’t say that he was leaving her side and
“I’m sorry,” he repeated.
But wait, she kept on going. She went on about she was waiting for him and something and something and something (I really have no idea what she was saying. I think, at this point, that she was on repeat)…
“I’m sorry,” he said for the third time.
Get this….she kept on fussing at him. She never actually raised her voice. But she still went on and on about how he left her behind and hadn’t told her anything and she was something or other because…yup. You guessed it…
“I’m sorry,” he said for the fourth time.
At this point, he had finished filling up his chalice of I’m-sorry-water (it’s what you drink when the holy water hasn’t been sanctified) and moved on. I assumed his position at the water fountain of joy because I was happy that I didn’t have a scolding spouse fussing at me so I could say ad nauseum “I’m sorry.”
I’m good at guilt. Guilt and I go back a long way; it’s almost like we’re best friends. I’m great at using guilt on my children (I’m trying to stop…but it’s like an addiction. “Hello. I’m me and I’m a guiltaholic.”). Most of all, I hold on to guilt like my butt holds on to those extra pounds that I would love to shed. I still feel guilty for behaviors thirty years ago.
My biological family, in-laws, husband, and friends all tell me that I’m too sensitive.
“I know,” I’ll say. “I’m sorry.”
I don’t mean to be so guilty sounding, but I know that my sensitivity can be quite aggravating and I really actually want to be a nice person because nice people don’t cause pain and I really don’t want to cause pain.
But it’s hard to let go of feeling guilty from my stupid actions from when I was a stupid teenager who didn’t quite understand that she was being stupid because I was too busy being a stupid teenager. Come on…between hormones and angst and the eighties…what else could you expect? I mean…really…The Breakfast Club was so totally my movie. I could, like, quote most of the lines that weren’t, like, censored by TBS..or TNT….or CBS….whatever channel it came on that I then recorded so I could watch that movie ad nauseum.
I watched how guilt was smeared across that man much like the slime that clings to my hands after I remove a trout from my fishing line. I see, so often, how I’ll just bathe myself in guilt because, for some stupid reason, I need to feel guilty again for all of my past mis-deeds.
I’ve been told I would make a great Catholic.
My children are great at using guilt. They’ll remind me of all the promises that I have made that I haven’t fulfilled and I’ll feel my soul just curl into a fetal position of pain and agony….I feel so guilty.
Sometimes, my husband will remind me of how I used to act twenty years ago when I was still a bit of a stupid teenager….and I feel so guilty.
I don’t get my papers graded on time….I feel so guilty.
Every now and then, I’ll remember that great line from My Big Fat Greek Wedding about how the main character’s mother would make incredible dishes and would serve them up “with a steaming hot side of guilt.”
Yup…welcome to my life.
And I don’t need anyone to help me feel guilty. I do that to myself just fine, thank you very much.
I keep on thinking about that man, how if his wife/harpy/nag would just stop talking and listen, she would have heard him say “I’m sorry” the first time and would have dropped it.
One thing I have learned in my marriage (through lots of tough times) is to shut up and walk away when I’m mad. Sometimes, it works and I keep from saying things that I’ll later regret. Next to my guilt-complex and my sensitive skin, I have a blazing-hot-temper which loves to be ignited. If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to close my mouth and just hide my possibly wounded feelings (remember…stupid sensitivity) and never admit to the stupid emotions that I’m feeling because….maybe I’m just being sensitive and the person never meant to cause harm.
I’ve learned, though, that when I’m upset at a person that walking away is good and so that I can process my emotions and make sure that my emotional response is based on a logical reason, as in the person truly was rude due to tone or wording. Also, by giving myself that little bit of a buffer, by the time I respond to the person’s potential rudeness, I am usually no longer enraged which means that I will sound reasonable and unemotional. Which means that if the person apologizes, I’ll hear it the first time.
Sometimes this works. Not too well with my son, though. He’s too much like me and his father. He’ll get all emotional and then start blaming someone else. I’ll let you figure out which parent has which attribute. If you get it wrong, though, you might be made to feel guilty since you obviously was not paying attention.
Today, I texted my husband that daily I appreciate him more and more. He worried that I was upset, which I’m not.
I just know that he doesn’t make me feel guilty all the time for my mistakes. Yeah, we still get into fights and I’ll still screw things up…come on…I’m a jinx.
But forgiveness is a whole lot more palatable than guilt.