"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".