Guilt – why do we put up with it?

This morning when I woke up, I randomly thought, ‘Oh no, it’s three weeks since I wrote my last blog post! I have to write another one – and SOON!’

I jumped out of bed in guilt-ridden panic. And then I stopped. And thought to myself, ‘Hang on a minute. Why exactly am I feeling guilty about not having written a blog post in three weeks?’

So why am I feeling guilty about it? It’s not as if it’s my job. It’s not as if anyone’s paying me for it. It’s not as if I’m a school student, with blog posts being a homework assignment set by the strictest teacher in the world, who threatens ten thousand lines to all culprits who do not hand their homework in on time. And it’s not as if I’ve signed any contract to write blog posts. It’s my own blog. My own choice. I can write it once a day if I so choose, or once a year, or not at all. Right?

Okay, so no need to feel guilty. Phew!

Duly relieved, I jumped back into bed, re-tucked myself into my soft, downy quilt, and closed my eyes.

But then I got thinking again. And re-opened my eyes. How could I possibly have been worrying about a silly little blog post, when in fact it’s my real job that I should be worrying about? All those trillions of emails to write and reply to; all those recruitment needs to be seen to, those teaching candidates to be contacted, interviews to be arranged, references to be sent off for, work permit enquiries to be made … and there I was, worrying about a blog post?

I sat up in bed with a start. OMG, what was becoming of me? How could I have prioritised so badly? Blog post before work needs? What a low, unprofessional, totally bad person I was! I should be ashamed of myself!

I leapt out of bed again, so quickly, my brain jangled. I had to get to work! See to all those emails! Immediately!

And then I stopped again, mid-way between bedroom and bathroom.

No, it wasn’t work-related-guilt that made my brain jangle. It was my dog that did it – yelping and whining at full decibel level from the hallway downstairs, telling me it was time to get up. My bloody Belgian Malinois, who I somehow ended up adopting from an animal shelter a year and a half ago, and to this day have not been able to remember exactly why I did that. But never mind that; the salient point is that the dog had now become my responsibility, and I had a care of duty to it.

So what was I doing still dithering, when my poor neglected animal was in desperate need of a pee in the garden? Come to think of it, he’d been whining for quite a while now, and I’d completely ignored him due to being so consumed with guilt about not having written a blog post in three weeks, and then worrying about work emails and other things. How could I have put the needs of blog and work before the physiological needs of a real live, yelping animal?

“Coming, sweetheart!” I called out to him, and his whining temporarily ceased.

After completing all bathroom ablutions, I returned to my bedroom, checked the time on my mobile, and noticed that there was a message from my eldest daughter in Liverpool. And then I realised in horror that it wasn’t a new message, it was one she’d written a whole two days ago! And I still hadn’t replied! What kind of a mother was I if I couldn’t even reply to a daughter in need? What a bad, uncaring, truly horrible person I had become!

Just as I was about to double-check my daughter’s message to remind myself what advice it was that she needed (something to do with a gruesome child rash, I seem to remember – probably cured by now), my dog’s demented barking jerked me back to the present. Oh, God – I still hadn’t taken him out in the garden for a wee … What a bad, neglectful, truly awful dog owner I was!

Tripping up in haste as I tugged on my socks and jeans and threw a T-shirt over my head, I hurried downstairs. “Who’s a good doggie, then?” I crooned, tickling his Scooby Doo ears and cuddling him in order to assuage my guilt. He turned his head away in disdain. And barked again. I took him out in the garden.

Five minutes later we were back inside. I fed the ravenous hound, switched on my laptop, and checked my email. Oh, no …… There were precisely twelve thousand, five hundred and twenty-two emails to reply to! Or maybe not precisely. I groaned louder.

In the meantime, my dog had wolfed down his food in five seconds flat and was now needing a walk. But …

My daughter was still awaiting her neglectful mummy’s advice, and I hadn’t even re-read her message yet.

My teaching candidates were still awaiting replies to their applications.

My business partners were still awaiting replies to their emails.

My youngest daughter was still needing more attention than I’d been giving her of late, thanks to work, dog walks, and writing a new novel.

And my graphic designer son in London – I’d almost forgotten about him – had messaged me to ask if we could have a chat, but that was several days ago, and I’d forgotten all about it! I still haven’t got back to the poor needy soul, due to all those other tasks I feel so guilty about not having completed.

And on top of all that, I haven’t even played the piano in over a week, now that I’ve started writing a new novel, which I’m trying to squeeze in amid the pressures of dog, work, children, blog, ex-hubby …

Ah, yes, there’s him as well. Ex-hubby. I worry about him being all on his own in these mad Corona times, and I feel guilty that I don’t phone him more often, just to check that he’s still alive and not festering. After all, although he may not yet have passed his sell-by date, he is still considerably older than me.

AH, guilt! Why does it have to exist? Why can’t we just get on with what we really want to do, and leave alone what we really don’t want to do, and enjoy life without the added pressure of guilt? Who invented it, anyway? Was it God? If so, could I kindly ask Him to un-invent it? Like right now, please?

Anyway, as you can see, I have now written my blog post assignment for this week. So at least I can tick one thing off my guilt-list. Phew!

The dog’s whining again. Time for his second walk … unless I just quickly reply to my son first? Or my daughter? Or my business partners? But no, they can wait. My dog can’t.

Hope I’ve made the right decision. I feel so guilty about keeping all the others waiting …

Apologies to everyone I’ve ever neglected. Truly sorry. Mea culpa, mea culpa …

6 thoughts on “Guilt – why do we put up with it?

  1. This is one of THE BEST posts I have read ALL MONTH, Wendy! Like, how did you do it – transporting me in the midst of your guilt-ridden memories? I stood there – right next to you – as you were second-guessing writing that blog post, as you were feeding your blog, as you got irritated by those thousands of emails you had to reply to – HOW???!!!??! It feels surreal being back to where I was before your writing sucked me in – sitting in front of my computer, mesmerized by this utterly beautiful and thought-0provoking blog post! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you SO much for that! You really have inspired me to persist with my blog, which at times recently I have come close to giving up on – you know, amid all those thousands of emails I have to reply to, and the dog and children to see to, hahaha!! But I’m definitely going to persist now. Just one comment like yours is enough to make me believe that my posts might also be giving pleasure to others who just haven’t got round to commenting … maybe they’re also too busy replying to trillions of work emails! Thank you again! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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