Strange instruction

I do a lot. I work a lot. I socialize a lot. I read a lot. I write a lot. I travel a lot.

I’ve always been like this. A school friend once told me I was the first non-adult she knew that had a filofax and appeared to actually need one to keep track of my extracurricular life.

This is nothing to be proud of — though people often think it is. We use “busyness” to fake status … “hey, look how busy I am, I must be very important.”

I bring up my compulsion to keep busy during this weekend’s theme of guilt because I’ve a confession to make that connects the two. I reckon the only reason I’m aware of what I’m about to tell you, is because I’m a diarist. I write a lot of things down. Things that seem normal in my head but very odd on paper.

Confession Part A
Lately I’ve been tired. Tired in my bed but also tired in my heart.

Confession Part B
But I don’t feel I have the earned the right to rest.


Confession Part C
People with real lives – people who are parents and have properly obligatory obligations like raising small humans — these people deserve to rest. I don’t. With no one to take care of but myself – there’s no excuse for my tiredness.

* * *

The C part of this confession suggests I see people who have children as morally superior to me. And I do. It might also suggest that I look down upon all of us who do not. But I really, really don’t I promise — my personal logic (if that’s what it can be called!) doesn’t come into my judgement of you. Only my judgement of me.

This confession is an algorithm for near-constant personal guilt. Sure, this guilt has a big upside. I get a lot done. But the down side is that I’m never satisfied. Which is a real shame and something else to feel guilty about.

If my confession is twisted and a bit mad that doesn’t make me special. Most of us are tuning into equally weird self-assumptions that taken together create the story that we have about ourselves. The reason why these messages are hard to confess, is that they’re very hard to notice in the first place. These are our Ghost Guilts. The invisible “Should’s” that traipse around in our heads. And we all have them. This is why guilt is such a hard thing to track down and dispel.



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8 responses to “Strange instruction

  1. Sam

    I still think about our guilt conversation…………..

  2. Max

    Would looking after someone else’s children for a day(or longer..) make you feel any less guilty about feeling tired?…

  3. I very much feel this kind of guilt but it’s unrelated to people with kids. Its more like I always need to be getting work done and I am never getting enough done. Like you say I don’t judge others by the same hard standards I judge myself. It means I’m always productive but never happy. Always guilty that I should be doing more and doing better.

    Or at least I was for my teens and twenties. I currently seem to have shifted and the guilt has gone away. I take things a bit easier and enjoy them much more. Don’t know how long it’ll last!

    Thanks for your honest post. Am really enjoying Panic Station at the moment.

  4. I love the post and your thoughts too Dave. What stands out for me is Confession A of being ‘Tired in my bed but also tired in my heart.’ This seems to be less about guilt and ‘busy-ness’ but more about this big dark void that propels us to do more and more, but never gets fully fed. What is that thing?

    A tired heart does not get rest by doing and achieving more, but by getting nourished. The thing is, the path to getting nourished is so not clear, nor is the thing we’re trying to fill. Maybe if we could figure out either one of these we would be less tired, guilty and doing more of the right kind of things.

    But these are pretty heavy questions for a Sunday morning. I might go take action and have another cup of coffee!

  5. nathaliehourihan

    PS Blog loves being fed with comments __ thanks to you all for your time & thoughts

  6. Ghost Guilts: what a lovely image. I have them, definitely. But trying to find the words to explain what exactly they are, that’s hard. Ghost Guilts is the perfect description.

  7. Pingback: Me vs. Boredom | Panic Station

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