Thursday, January 24, 2013

Embracing my Guilt

Isn't it ridiculous that I spend, let's see, 24 hours of my day feeling guilty about pretty much everything that I do or don't do, think or don't think or feel or don't feel?  It's pretty much a full-time profession for this ambitious gal.

Last night I dreamt that I had set up a small bedroom in a busy mall next to a dimsum restaurant, and I got caught with a futon, a closet-worth of clothes, enough crackers and cheese to feed a dinner party and a bucketful of pee.  The mall manager, all business in her red power dress and pumps, was incensed and threatening to call the police over me in my plaid pajamas and matching bandana (really!), so I told her I was dying of cancer and I needed this "hangout" at the mall so the rest of my family could shop in peace without worrying about me.  Upon waking, I was bathed in a guilt perspiration bath and my heart was palpitating like the marathon runner I have never aspired to be.

It took me a good half hour to "come down" from my dream so I could go back to sleep and dream about how I was renting a mini mansion next to a potato field and how I told the thousands of migrant workers that, no, they couldn't use my bathroom with the SOLID gold shower stall and the heated Japanese toilet, but they would need to use the outhouse instead that was still under construction so really they would just have to squat next to the potato plants and do their business.  But first I was sure to give them a tour and show them the toilet's built-in iPad and the extraordinary water pressure the rainforest shower head exerted.

I believe I was hiring armed guards to protect me from their wrath when I shook myself out of sleep, realizing that sleeping-in was in no way relaxing or rejuvenating.  I knew it was time to get up and get on with the "real" guilt of living rather than just the dream guilt.

(One must wonder, based on these dreams, whether I should have just gotten up and gone to the bathroom and my dreams would have changed their focus.)

Unlike me, these gals sleep like babies!

Since I am taking time off work for a back surgery, I crutched my way downstairs and worked on a very challenging jigsaw puzzle for the better part of an hour whilst sipping my coffee.  This had the effect of calling forth a great deal more guilt because: a) I had woken up at 8:40 instead of my usual 6:11 (?); b) I should have been doing something more productive like actually going to work even though I'd need to install a bed in front of the classroom to make it possible; and c) shouldn't I at least be able to shove in 10 pieces of this damn puzzle?  Aren't three year olds able to do puzzles of this caliber?

Alright, there's a d), too: What right did I have to be doing a jigsaw puzzle midmorning when every self-respecting person and their dog was out bringing home the bacon or at least on a treadmill somewhere running as if their lives depended on it?

Most of my day-to-day visceral reactions revolve around guilt about what COULD happen if I don't get my ass into gear, guilt about what has ALREADY happened due to my sloth, and guilt about what IS happening or not happening at this very moment due to my torpor.

Right now I am sitting with the sun shining through the French doors, tapping away on the keyboard, thinking that I will probably never publish this because a) it isn't even funny and b) I shouldn't talk about urination in blogs, even if it's in my dreams.  I am (out of guilt) trying to be mindful and notice what is happening in my space right now:  I am smelling the fruity volumizer in my hair (because guilt overcame me and I actually took a shower this morning AND washed my hair); I am feeling shame because I am sipping vegetable broth instead of green tea fortified with anti-oxidants that I should be using as a chaser for the niacin, glucosamine, vitamin C and whole laundry list of vitamins and minerals that I should be taking, but am not.  (Let's face it, if I can't just lick a salt block, I'll happily consume it in a hot beverage.  More guilt, of course, about my over-consumption of salt.)

Add to the guilt?  I'm not above taking a chewable Fruity Pebbles to meet my nutritional requirements or a prescription strength pain killer to alleviate pain.  (How dare I?) Seriously folks, I should be grateful I'm not hammering down the codeine tablets with a red wine chaser at 10 in the morning.  I am really FAR TOO down on myself.  At this point, I'm actually feeling embarrassed to be writing this.  But let's carry on, shall we?

What else do I have to feel guilty about?  My public pledge to be vegan has fallen on my own deaf ears: I am a vegan until Petra brings me her homemade cinnamon buns (It would be rude to say no!), until I have a craving for chocolate or McDonalds cones (Is there really ANY dairy in those cones anyway?), or I order the egg noodles at the hole-in-the-wall Chinese joint because they're probably not really egg noodles, just dyed yellow.  Nothing wrong with a little toxic dye, after all.

Oh, and then there's the weight gain.  After a spinal and pelvic fusion and two months of virtual immobility is it any wonder my pants don't fit and I've relegated myself to my uniform of black yoga pants and black long sleeved tee shirts? How dare I gain any weight after taking all this time off work?  I should be coming back with six-pack abs and a new lycra wardrobe.  To feel guilty about this is seriously not okay.  Perhaps I don't feel guilty: just ugly.

Believe me, the corset is SLIMMING!
(And this was at the beginning of my recovery.)

But that's another matter: this age thing.  It doesn't tend to make one more attractive, does it?  (Unless you're a man.)  I feel guilty for not taking better care of my skin, for my wrinkles and sagging skin and for the ways my eyes kind of triangulate toward their corners and my eye folds are all crepey.  And I won't even bring up my neck because Nora Ephron has already done that to death.  Aging is a bear at the best of times, but feeling guilty about aging on top of it?  That must add another 10 years!
 I probably look like a retiree at 47!

Wrinkles AND crutches: not a youthful recipe.

This is just the beginning of my guilt laundry list, folks: the tip of the iceberg that is in no way affected by global warming.  I haven't even mentioned my nagging parenting style, the way I criticize my husband's hair almost every morning, the fact that I don't religiously put on sunscreen EVERY SINGLE day or how I ignore emails for weeks on end because I'd rather watch The Kardashians or spy on my "friends" on facebook.  So what to do?

AND I let my kids drink pop once a month!
Bad, bad mama!

At the moment I'm thinking: embrace it, blog about it, make funny with it.  Stand up comedy is my on-the-horizon goal and I think there is a whole lot of material there.

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