This title is catchy, huh? And, I’m wondering how many of you clicked on it assuming it’s going to be a naughty post? Hmmmmm… 🙂
So, a good friend and I were messaging back and forth this morning and had a discussion on whether or not bad acts in our life make us undeserving of happiness, or if bad things happen to us because we deserve the punishment. I’ve actually thought about this a lot over the years.
First, I have a very hard time with guilt. You name it, and I feel guilty over it. Big things…little things, it doesn’t matter. With me, guilt is guilt. Now, I do come by this ‘naturally’ so to speak: when a bipolar is in a depressive state, we tend to ruminate on situations and feel a great amount of guilt for them (even if it wasn’t our fault), and some researchers are saying that women might do this more than men. I am also a STRONG feeler (I do put stock into the Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and those of us who are, feel lots of guilt for things “simply” because we personalize situations which forces us to take blame for them as well. Unfortunately, these tendencies lead people like me to apologize often for situations that are completely out of my control. Having a bad day…my fault, I’m sorry! Neighborhood dog bit you…I’m sorry! Work not going well…I’m sorry! And we aren’t just saying ‘I’m sorry’ to show sympathy for the situation, we actually feel a sense of responsibility in some shape or way. Trust me when I say this, Grasshoppers…it’s exhausting!
As we all have, I’ve done things in my life I’m not proud of at all. In other words, I’ve fucked up royally at times. Bad decisions, bad actions, bad thoughts. And even though I didn’t really think about these moments as being wicked at the time I did them, but the remorse I felt afterwards was overwhelming.
Now I’m not saying that we shouldn’t feel remorse or guilt; if we didn’t, we’d be psychopathic! But I am saying that an over abundance of these feelings that last for years and years is a tad too much.
During the breakdown I experienced a couple of summers ago, I told my mom over and over I deserved everything that was happening to me. I was being punished for my sins. Me having precancerous cells was my payback for not doing quite enough for friends and family who have had full blown cancer. The man who stalked and threatened me for a period of time? Of course I was blamed (which I was) because I must have egged it on. The abuse I experienced in a relationship was because of my own behavior. Guilt. Guilt. Guilt.
So, I was punished. I got what I deserved during that time. “You reap what you sow” right? All of my transgressions were saved up for this one big bout of retribution. Hmmm. Maybe my bipolar is a punishment too.
As illogical as this sounds (and I know it does), emotionally I can’t help feeling this way. Look at this quote from Warren Buffett. I GET what he’s saying, but I also KNOW how this isn’t fully possible for me. I can’t wish my emotions away. I can’t just turn off the ‘sensitive’ side of me (I hate that term because it’s used so negatively in our society…why is it a bad thing to be sensitive?) and click on the logical. It’s akin to asking Warren to change his eye color from green to brown.
Maybe I feel like I’m punished for my misdeeds because I want the consequences. Do they relieve me of my guilt? Pay for things I did? Balance out my scales of good and bad? No.
When I’m depressed, I ruminate on my life and feel that guilt still. Things I did decades ago still haunt me, and I’m a sucker for saying to myself “What if.” What if I had been better to O’s dad?. Would we still be a family together? Or what if I would have stayed with O’s dad no matter what?. Would O have had a better life? (The guilt I feel over putting O through a divorce at such a confusing age anyway will haunt me forever). What if I absolutely accepted all aspects of Hubby 3’s outlaw motorcycle club? Maybe he wouldn’t have found someone who did. What if I had given J even more of myself? Maybe he would have stayed faithful to me. These questions swirl around in my mind.
So, I’ve learned to deal with that. I’m a Christian, and as such, I totally understand that Jesus has paid for my sins and I’ll reach heaven someday. But I also believe that justice can be meted out on earth too. How do I stop regretting the past, so I can move into the future with less burden to carry? Maybe that’s just something I’ll always have to deal with because of my lovely (sarcastically said) bouts of depression and tendency towards sensitivity. But maybe as I learn to love myself more, I’ll cut myself more slack, like I’d do for any other person I care about. Maybe this is just one more battle to fight in dealing with bipolar.
And if that’s the case, there’s going to be a brawl.