Over that last two or three years, there are many different ways in which I have gotten to know myself better, and ways in which I have learned to be more kind and loving toward myself. One of the biggest ways in which I have loved myself more, is by learning to let go of guilt.
Guilt is a real imprisonment when we grip onto it, for whatever our reasons are that we think make sense. The big, juicy guilt triggers for me are food, alcohol, family, parenting. With food, my guilt is not only about the amount of food I eat, but what I choose. I love to guilt myself the most about chips, fried foods, and desserts. Alcohol? Well, that just speaks for itself; the desire to drink, and to become impaired, leaves traces of guilt all around, especially when I consider spending three years in AA. My favorite guilt trips I like to take in relation to family and motherhood, are related to spending enough time with family members, staying in touch with them or not, and whether I am parenting my daughter in the right way. The guilts are all just lying in wait for me, when they seem most appropriate to call up.
I still have my share of guilt ridden moments in my mind, although the frequency has been reduced a great deal in my life in the last few years. I have discovered, gratefully, that holding onto guilt destroys my soul, and never allows me to look at myself, or others for that matter, with a heart open with love. When I seize myself up with guilt, about what I consume or who I am with, or with any other version of guilt, I am definitely not loving myself. And, I am more likely to judge the world around me, and the people in it, more harshly. So, if my flavor of guilt today is one related to the foods I am eating, it is a sure fire guarantee that any person around me who seems to be eating in a similar way will be judged.
Guilt creates a prison of sorts for me, that when I am in it, I find it hard to see the light on the other side. I use it to stay trapped in a loop of self loathing and judgment, toward myself and others. So, in my ability to let go of guilt, more and more in my life, I am finding such a feeling of freedom. When I stop feeling guilty about enjoying foods of any kind, having a couple of glasses of wine, or not calling my family members or friends, I am free to enjoy whatever it is I am partaking in. I am free to love myself, just as I am.
There has been a part of me in the past that believed that guilt was the self imposed way to keep myself from just going completely over the edge, and drinking wildly, eating rich foods every day, and isolating myself from the world at large. I saw guilt as a way to keep my wild behaviors in check. I know now that is just a myth that doesn’t really exist, and guilt doesn’t do anything to build me up; it is meant to destroy anything that is alive, spontaneous and in the moment.
I used to think that my purpose on this earth was to live in, and help to pass along love in the world. That is there for me, for sure. However, I believe even more deeply than that, that I am here to let go of guilt, love myself more deeply, and to be peaceful. Because on the other side of guilt, there is always freedom and peace.