Tuesday, October 20, 2009


"Perhaps the most severe damage to those who have shared some part of life with an alcoholic comes in the form of the nagging belief that they are somehow at fault; they were not up to it all, not attractive enough, not clever enough to have solved this problem for the one they love. They think it was something they did or did not do. These are their feelings of guilt." from Understanding Ourselves and Alcoholism

The meeting topic last night was on guilt. I'm feeling spectacularly guilt free these days. But I haven't always felt that way and every now and then there will be that nagging little feeling of guilt that starts to creep into my head.

I can remember a friend in graduate school who apologized for everything. He said "I'm sorry" about 100 times a day. He said it so much that it became meaningless.

I don't have a desire to hoard up guilt. But like my friend in graduate school, I still have a tendency to take the guilt from someone else to make sure that they don't have any. And sometimes I don't realize what I'm doing. It seems like an automatic response when someone hurts my feelings. I seem to revert back to that little boy who wants to make sure the other person feels okay, so I take their guilt.

But I'm learning in the program to pay attention and notice when I start to pick up something that isn't mine, like guilt. I've heard to "screw guilt". Another good one that I read is "guilt is like herpes: its the gift that keeps on giving."

I don't want guilt to cloud my vision of the facts. I don't want to become enmeshed with my own emotions to the point that I lose the true motive of guilt which is to remind me of wrong and right and the humanity of each of us. I know that in spite of my character defects, I'm one of God's creatures.

In this program, I've learned that I can acknowledge my wrongs (Step Four) and set the wrong right by making an amends (Step Nine). I also know that through the second and third steps that I can surrender to my Higher Power all of my guilt, earned and unearned.

Here are some questions that I can ask myself if I feel the need to have a guilty moment:

Is this guilt I am feeling about a direct action of mine?
Did I do something out of spite, revenge, meanness or cruel intent?
Did I not do something because I simply forgot or was otherwise occupied?

If I answer NO to these questions, then I am probably taking on guilt that I don't own. I might need to look at my sense of over responsibility and seek guidance from my HP for healing and letting that go.

If I answered YES to these questions, then I can seek my HP's guidance in what amends need to be made. Holding onto guilt isn't going to solve anything. Ultimately, I need to remember to "Learn the Lesson, Let go of the guilt".


  1. For us with addicted children, the guilt always falls on mom. Or I should say, mom always takes it on.

    Letting go of the guilt (for the most part) was one of the most valuable lessons I have gotten out of AlAnon.

  2. Beautiful Syd. As always...I am inspired.

  3. Well said. Sometimes I've used my guilt to absolve me of responsibility.

    Blessings and aloha...

  4. Wow, this really speaks to me, Syd. I'm going to copy this and remind myself of this daily for a while. I have struggled so much with guilt through out my life. I will also share this with both of my sons. Thank you!

  5. it's strange how much guilt sneaks into my life...for everything in and around those i love.

  6. i struggle with guilt. i used to say sorry like your freind. today, not so much.
    we have "A's" sweet 16 coming up, she is my halloween baby. last year we got her this bike, this $400.00 bike and it took her 10 months to actually like it. my sister gave her an autographed Cd and she cried like a baby.
    this year i wanted to do something special, we got her this digital camera, and i wanted to get one of those specialty cakes, but the price was $400.00 so that was out, so i thought about getting her some midnight movie tickets to the new moon vampire yawn coming out. she is in love with these book. but because of our expenses we cannot afford anything else, so i asked my sister to buy them.
    i was envisioning a scene from last years birthday and tried to talk to Wes about this and he got mad at me.
    i think we just think differently. i know our gift is the bomb, but my daughter is a butt-head and i want her to be happy with me. i know my motives here and you know it really made me angry that i was interrupted and not allowed to finish what i was saying. we have counseling on the 27th. that is birthday night so i will change it but we really need to start getting on the same page here.
    i think with the guilt thing, maybe he is feeling guilty because he thinks he is not able to provide for us as much as he wants to, i don't know i know he is the bread winner and we are not in debt and he is teaching me how to make very healthy financial choices i just know i feel less then when he cuts me off like that. i know my part is i feel guilt and want to give "A" more, as she is so deserving, and i know it is OK not to give her everything. i guess i just wanted to share my thoughts with him and just to listen you know.
    anyway look at this!! great post, you got me ranting on and on!!

  7. A wonderful, thoughtful post, Syd; thanks for this.

  8. 4. Did I simply choose not to help when I could've have made a difference.

    Beautiful post today syd. I had to work hard in therapy to lay guilt down. Now, I no the value of the word no and the power of the word yes.


  9. With all that I am going through now, Syd, I needed to hear this. Another brilliant lesson on letting go of what isn't ours.

  10. We'd make a hell of a pair of friends--you feel too much guilt, and I feel hardly any ever.


  11. Indeed, I am guilty of bearing the guilt of others. I am learning to change that. Great post... a lesson to me. Thanks, Syd.

  12. It's the otherwise occupied I get caught up with sometimes. I find that I am spread thin at times and some people's expectations cannot be met in favor of other people's needs.

    I cannot meet everyone's expectations, especially when the set expectations that I am unaware of.

    I do understand expectations happening though. I find that if I have behaved in a manner that is predictable for a long period of time, when I move outside of the predictable pattern (arrive home at 6:45 instead of 6:30 without warning) it throws my husband into a place where his expectations were not met. And I have to accept my part in that, I am usually quite prompt and when I'm moving outside the standard format, the kind thing to do is let him know.

  13. I know that this subject is no laughing matter; but, I can't help chuckling at how much one single little word - 'guilt' - can provoke (or I should say prompt) such honest sharing. Over the years, I have learned that keeping things simple such as the program you described on 'guilt' really helps recovering folks face their truths and begin to be honest. I really feel that these types of meetings are prompted by a Higher Power! Thanks, Syd. Good job.

    Love, Anonymous #1

  14. Really great post, Syd. Such an important and powerful topic!

  15. Guilt is a useless emotion, to me, because it paralyzes. Regret can be a tool to help me see where I need to look at my own part, thereby giving me the opportunity to learn and grow. GREAT POST!


  16. I'm not guilty, but somebody must be. That's where my mind wanders in the moments I forget that this is a disease.

  17. I think you said it all - and you said it so well. I am no longer a victim to my guilt. Thank God.

    Great post as always.


  18. Another great post that spoke to me. Look how many followers you have on your blog! I totally understand why. Its inspiring, educational and important!!! Thanks

  19. You Alanons (yes, PG is one!) sure have things nailed down. I realize that it takes more energy to walk instead of talk.

    You cover all bases when you write Syd, and you almost can direct our thoughts from a captain's chair...

  20. This post brings up so much for me too -- thanks Syd. It is all about discernment and proportion.

  21. great questions you ask yourself there. i'm gonna remember them...

  22. I have a co-worker who say's "I'm sorry" about 100 times a day, and it too is meaningless, because by her actions we all know she isn't sorry at all. It's a weird verbal reflex to her passive/agressive nature. To me, very strange behavior.

  23. Great post on guilt, especially the series of questions you've provided as to not take on guilt that really doesn't belong to us. :)

  24. Oh wow.....I have always had a problem with guilt, since a child. I blame myself for everything. My counsellor keeps a note of how many times I say sorry in a session. Do you mind if I keep a note of those questions? I have a particular heavy weight of guilt on my shoulders today, I feel guilty for something my son can't do when I could change my plans to accomodate him even though he is in the care of his father this weekend(very rare) and it is his father (the addict) who should be doing it.


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