Letting go of the guilt

(Warning – long, pictureless post ahead – read at your own risk ;))

So I have just completed my first weekend as a part-time student.  And to be honest, I couldn’t be happier. The professors are mostly the same as the ones I studied under full time, and since I was a good student they were very helpful and understanding. The new ones that I hadn’t met yet were also pretty easy going – so that made things pretty easy.

My fellow students are probably one of the most welcoming bunch of people I’ve met. Considering they didn’t know me from Adam and were meeting me for the first time they were extremely thoughtful, friendly and patient. Of course they were all somewhat surprised by my sudden appearance, but they never made me feel unwelcome in any way. Strangly I feel more comfortable with them then I did with my classmates from full time studies, which I saw day in and day out for over 6 months.

The biggest change is – I am happy. I actually ENJOYED my classes, enjoyed the lectures, enjoyed learning. I haven’t felt that way in a long time. Although I’ve always been classed as the studious type – somewhere along the way I lost my passion for learning. But I think it might be making a comeback 😉

Of course there are still details that need fine tuning and tuition fee’s that need to be raised, but overall I’m super optimistic about what lies ahead.

The question that keeps coming to my mind is – why didn’t I do this sooner? Why did I keep pushing myself to do something I honestly loathed instead of making the change? The answer is amazingly simple and straightforward – fear and guilt.

Fear – because I feared the unknown. I was so set in my “unhappy ways” that I was afraid to change. My life had become and endless cycle of dread and unhealthy coping mechanism that, although they made me extremely miserable ,were in my “safe zone” . I figured this was as good as it was gonna get, so I might as well keep a stiff upper lip and try to suffer through it.

This same attitude was what made me suffer through an abusive relationship, which is why having it spelled out in this way sends alarm bells ringing in my head. But the fear of the unknown is very real for me, and it’s something I have to fight to get over.

Another major stumbling block for me was guilt. Why did I feel guilty? Well there was a number of reasons:

  1. I felt guilty of not being “strong enough” to stick it out like everyone else around me.
  2. I felt guilty because I wasn’t “normal” like everybody else.
  3. I felt guilty because I would need to move back home and I knew my parents would feel obligated to help me with part of the tuition fee till I found a steady job.

I think it’s a guilt that many people (especially ED recoverers) struggle with. We don’t want to be a burden, we are willing to look after everyone else but ourselves. But what we need to realize more then anything else is that this guilty is totally irrational, and by giving into this guilt we are hurting ourselves and others around us.

I’m currently helping my parents run the “family buisness” they own. One evening I was hit with a particularly strong feeling of worthlessness, because I didn’t do more to pull “my share of the load”. I must have made a comment to that effect, because when I got home from work my dad pulled me aside and said possibly the sweetest thing he ever has : “Even if you didn’t work at all, and sat around all day in the house being a lazy slob, you’d still be worth the tuition fee simply for being you, just because we love you”.

This hit home with me, because so often I feel the need to “earn” my worth, to do something to make up for any inconvenience I might cause. Those few words made me realize that I am worth certain thing “just because”, just like there are people in my life who love me “just because”. They don’t love me because I do or don’t do something – they love me because of who I am. And I’m sure glad they do.

So next time you are hit with guilt for being a “burden” on others, remember the people in your life who love you “just because” and let them help you. Let them be there for you to lean on, let them spoil you a little, let them do what they need to so you can be happy. Because wouldn’t you do the same in their shoes….?

Do you struggle with guilt? How do you deal with it?

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2 comments

  1. Oh man that guilt can be so consuming, I can totally relate. You find yourself wishing your mind would have some kind of an ‘off switch’. But I’m so happy that the part time schooling is going so well for you! How exciting!!! 🙂 In time I’m sure your guilt feelings about the past will subside and you’ll be able to fully embrace your decision, I think it was totally the right one to make! 🙂

  2. I want to thank you for writing this, I really needed to read something like this. Firstly can I just say I am so so pleased for you that your part time studies are already going well for you 😀 I really hope it continues to go well and that you get back your passion! I needed to read this because I’ve been feeling guilty for not being ‘normal’ like everyone else too and also because I always feel like a burden to both my family and my boyfriend. I hope you’re doing well lovely!


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