Just for Moms: The Guilt Series, Part 1
I never really thought of myself as a negative thinking sort of person. I always thought I was laid back, low key, extremely patient, and relaxed. But then I suddenly found myself as a mother to multiple children, over night it seemed, as well as a wife, daughter, sister, friend, housekeeper, cook, shopper, teacher, home business owner, and everything else you can think of.
My third child was still an infant when I realized that I had become a stressed out mother. My husband had just started become a full time student, as well as working full time. I had two toddlers, a baby, a bit of post partum issues, and was going through a very difficult and dark situation. Simply put, I was overwhelmed.
I was both surprised and amazed at my inability to turn off the constant feeling of stress. It was more than emotional; it was physical. I could feel it in every part of my body. But I figured it would go away when circumstances changed. It hasn't... completely. I felt guilty for it then and feel guilty about it now.
Fast forward to the current stage in my life. The stress remains. Guilt is a constant thought, feeling, and pressure. I feel guilty when I raise my voice with the kids. I feel guilty when my house isn't clean and spotless. I feel guilty when I haven't called my mom in over a month.
These seem like good things to feel guilty about - perhaps. But I'm pretty crazy. I feel guilty about stupid stuff. I feel guilty for doing dishes because I'm not cleaning the bathroom. I feel guilty for decluttering my house because I'm not spending time with my kids. I feel guilty for playing with the kids because I'm not picking up the giant mess all over the floor.
I lay in bed at the end of everyday, feeling guilty for the things I did and for the things I didn't. Where did this come from? How did I become this person? What is true consciencious guilt and what is negative false guilt? How do I turn it off?
Because this thought pattern affects so much of my life, I am striking out on a journey to find its source, weed out the bad, and strive to live a guilt-free life. You're welcome to join me here every Monday for a few weeks, if you wish.
Do you struggle with thoughts of guilt? Do you think there is a difference in types of guilt?
A friend of mine recently said, "I didn't know it was possible to feel this much guilt every day until I became a mother." (and she has one child that is 6 months old)
I'm looking forward to reading your posts and how you are dealing with this. One thing I started last week (the same day I made the counseling appointment) was to write in my journal every day 3 things that went well today.
I've tried keeping a gratitude journal, etc. and although I love the idea, I always fizzle out because, well, after a while it just starts to seem the same. I'm hoping this will be more successful, we'll see. So far, it has helped.
It's nice to hear someone else struggles with these things, though, because it feels like no one else does.
I think the thing that has been most beneficial to me was realizing the root of the problem. For me, it was that I feared other people's opinions of me. It's hard for me, but I have to keep reminding myself that I have to do what I know is God's desires for my family, and everyone else can just shove it. Yep, they can just shove it. And I totally have to pep talk myself like that, because I want people to like me so much that it's hard to feel like their opinions don't matter as much as I think they do! The thing is, it's ok if I haven't washed the dishes in two days if I know that what I did instead was worth it.
Now, people's opinions of us do matter, and we want to work to be at peace with everyone, but I want to be more worried about what God thinks about my plan for my day instead of what my friends or my mom thinks.
The root of your guilt may be completely different, and if it is, I hope you find it soon! When you know what the issue is, you can work on it, and that'll be blessing.
I'm sure there is a root problem here. I'm just not sure exactly what yet. I do not *think* it is fear of public opinion. I seriously could care less what others think. So, I'm still searching it out. :)
I'm wondering if it's "perceived" expectations of what a wife and mother is supposed to be??? Especially having grown up in a very conservative "women are keepers of the home" sort of enviroment. But I don't know.
Homeschooling my own kids now, I'm around another group of seemingly "perfect" moms. Maybe it's just ingrained in my mind to keep up appearances? That's definitely what I was taught to do.
It was nice to come across your blog and get to talk to you, and kudos to you for opening up with your struggles, I know that has to be hard to do sometimes.