While talking to my therapist recently, she asked if I felt a little proud about a certain situation. I said, “Well, I kind of feel guilty.” She said, “Yeah, that’s a common thing for you. Feeling guilty when you don’t need to.” Well, I guess she knows me well! I guess my therapy might be helping a little bit.
I think I have always struggled with irrational guilt, but it definitely became worse after I became a mom. I have felt guilty about not cooking dinner. I have felt guilty about letting M.J. watch too much T.V. I have felt guilty about not wanting to play with my son. I have felt guilty for wanting time to myself. I have felt guilty I don’t normally do crafts with my son. The list goes on. I know I’m not the only one. I know a lot of moms struggle with irrational mom guilt. Remember, our kids don’t want us to be perfect, they just want us to be ourselves. M.J. loves me so much just because I’m his mom. He wants me to be with him because I’m his mom. He doesn’t care that I hate cooking. I mean, I know he used to love having pouches for dinner. He does miss me when I have time to myself, but that’s because I am a good mom. I mean, if I wasn’t, he probably wouldn’t miss me, right? There aren’t any moms who are good at everything. Just because your friends love doing crafts with their kids doesn’t mean you have to. Maybe you can send your child to their house to do crafts (this sounds like an idea). You don’t have to be a good cook to be a good mom. Different moms have different strengths. This is okay. No one is good at everything.
“I stood there alongside all of these parents whose kids were parading around in perfect store-bought costumes or elaborate homemade costumes, stewing in my own shame. But then Luka walked by, and I could see him searching the crowd of parents, looking at every face. And as soon as he saw me, his eyes lit up with joy and a huge smile spread across his little face. He wasn’t searching the crowd for the perfect mom. He was searching for me, just me. Nothing more. Nothing better. Nothing different. Just me.”- Hold On, But Don’t Hold Still by Kristina Kuzmic
I have felt extreme guilt and shame about my intrusive thoughts. This is why I didn’t tell anyone about them for ten years. Honestly, I sometimes still feel guilt and shame when I have them. Thankfully, I don’t have them as often as I used to. And when I do, I have become better at dealing with them. But it is still hard. I need to remind myself I can’t control my thoughts, but I can control my actions. I know I won’t act on these horrible thoughts, but what if I do? One of the hardest parts of OCD is being comfortable with uncertainty. You just have to accept the thoughts without judgment and move on. Does this sound extremely hard to you? Well, you would be correct, it is. If you struggle with intrusive thoughts, you don’t need to feel guilty. Your mental illness does not define you. I don’t think people feel guilty for struggling with physical illness so there is no reason to feel guilty for struggling with mental illness. Remember to be kind to yourself.
“God never called us to be enough. Not for him and not for our kids. Not for our spouse and not for our church. He calls us to be loved. To be His beloved. This title has been gifted to us and can never be taken away from us. All because of Jesus. So, we can stop trying to be enough because Jesus was, and is, our more than enough.”- Mom Set Free by Jeannie Cunnion
I think feeling irrationally guilty might be common for people who struggle with Anxiety. I have felt guilty about cancelling play dates because M.J. or I were sick. I mean, I would also feel guilty if we had gotten other people sick, but I mean who uses that kind of logic? I have felt guilty about mistakes I have made in the past. Obviously, there are some things we should feel guilty about, but mistakes we made ten years ago don’t qualify. I have felt guilty about saying no. I have to say yes to every volunteer opportunity. Even, if I am not asked, I feel like I have to volunteer for everything. If I am asked I definitely feel like I have to volunteer. Although, I have gotten a little better at this. I have learned it is not possible to volunteer for everything. I have to figure out what my passions are and go from there. I sometimes need to remind myself that self-care is important. If I volunteer for everything I will not be able to give my all to everything I am volunteering for. If I don’t take care of myself I will probably have a breakdown eventually. I mean, it took me 30 years to realize self-care isn’t selfish. Although, I do sometimes still feel selfish when I have time to myself. Oh, this might be this irrational guilt thing again. I want to remind you that you don’t need to feel guilty about everything. It’s okay if you don’t cook dinner every night. It’s okay if you don’t remember the last time your kid had a bath. It’s okay if you struggle with a mood disorder. No one is perfect. Have grace with yourself. We are all human. We don’t need to feel guilty about it. Be kind to yourself.
“He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.” Psalms 103: 12-13 NLT