"On the plains of Oklahoma, with a windshield sunset in your eyes like a watercolor painted sky, you'd think heavens doors have opened."
Fly Over States

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Twisted Path of the Anti-Sociopath

CAUTION: Tedious navel gazing to follow.  Skip if you don't want to read about my pitiful, internal, angst-ridden, self inflicted, shallow, dysfunctional, emotional wallowings.  One of the main reasons I have not been blogging is to spare everyone that horror. 

You have been warned.

Guilt can be, among other things, a vigorous motivator, an unhealthy and dysfunctional joythief, an out of date roadmap for life and relationships, helpful curbs on the road less traveled, a distraction from important matters calling for attention, or an honest reflection of the need for introspection and correction.

 I am well acquainted with guilt. 
Over the course of my life, I've become aware that I too often ignore guilt's quiet words of caution but snap to when it snarls and whines.  Like many, I then find myself flailing about like a brash young husband desperate to sooth his beloved bride who has finally erupted when his cluelessness presses her beyond all patience.  That is to say, when faced with some types of guilt, I generally do things that won't help and, in fact, only make things worse.  
Quilting and blogging, in moderation, are healthy endeavors but I've done neither for weeks.  And why is that?  Well, in part, it is because I feel too guilty to indulge myself since I have been busy doing other things that are time consuming and expensive.  It isn't as if I couldn't also quilt and blog, mind you.  It is as if I am restricted to a small sack of pleasures and only a set amount is allowed at a time.  And when I engage in things that I enjoy, I find myself seeking a counter balance of misery so that things don't get out of whack. 
Now, I don't necessarily think that is an unhealthy objective, in the abstract, because balance is healthy.  All play and no work is just as lopsided as all work and no play.  But a healthy person understands time management and adjusts her day to prioritize and include those priorities in a healthy manner.   I haven't been doing that.  And let's face it, going out of your way to insert misery in your life is not the same thing as balancing playtime with making the bed or mowing the grass when it needs it.
When I am working, I tend to overdo the work part, admittedly, but I still find ways to cram in creative outlets in the small amount of time leftover.  I think most busy people are that way.  Afterall, they say if you want something done, ask a busy person. 
On the flip side, with time on my hands, I've managed to transform myself into Scarlet O'Hara (sans tiny waist and green curtain dress) and put off until tomorrow those things I don't want to face, today.  And after a few days of avoidance of what needs to be done, I then feel so guilty that I don't indulge myself in creative outlets, either.  Because that would be wrong and self indulgent.  At that point, it goes beyond feeling guilty for doing something creative and fun instead of chores.  You start feeling guilty that you aren't doing either of those things.  You're just sitting there growing a butt. 
No, I am not bi-polar.  I can't swear I am not otherwise mentally ill, however.  Clearly. 
So while in guilt inspired freeze mode, I end up missing deadlines; having a cluttered sewing room (which is so vexing I avoid going in there); letting my chores pile up; neglecting my relationships (because why should I enjoy them when I am such a useless person?); skipping opportunities to have fun; and wasting my time and life instead of simply rolling up my sleeves and getting back in charge.
Okay, so what have I been up to that has caused me to neglect my quilting and blogging?  Well, they aren't really unhealthy reasons (so why do I feel guilty and dysfunctional?).  

To begin with, I decided I wanted a new camera.  And since I am not working, I felt incredibly guilty to think about spending money on it.  That meant that I spent an inordinate time looking for good prices and trying to educate myself so that I didn't spend money I didn't have for something I didn't need.  This, of course, was guaranteed to create an ethical quandry since I didn't NEED a new camera to begin with.
I felt guilty to even think about buying a new camera.  And feeling like I was robbing the family of time and money was so excruciating that I began doing an active job search to bring things back in balance.  Which is not a bad thing but it takes a lot more time than people may realize to find suitable openings; educate yourself on what is needed for a particular job; apply; go to interviews; seek professional contacts, etc.  Plus, there is an emotional toll - the stress of applying and interviewing coupled with concerns of how your life will change if you are hired - or not hired.  I've also been considering other employment options a bit outside my comfort zone that might be a better fit.  All of this has been stressful, time consuming and difficult.  And guilt inspiring.
I also started watching the first season of The Tudors on Wednesday nights.  That would have to be classified as a guilty pleasure, I guess.  I don't watch much television and don't actually feel guilty about watching the show other than that I know it has been changed to better fit a British costume drama at the expense of historical accuracy.  Which is wrong but I can live with that so long as I look up what ACTUALLY happened on the internet.  So that HAS taken up some time that I could have been using to blog or quilt.  Okay, so it is just an hour or so week.  See how crazy this is making me? 

I don't handle guilt very well.  I start emotionally flailing about and over/under reacting.  Truly, I become a pain to live with. 

But back to the camera.  I looked and looked and looked, and thought and thought and thought but didn't buy it.  Just couldn't bring myself to pull that trigger.  I wanted a new camera but was consumed with guilt over being so self centered and lazy.   Emotionally and actually spinning my wheels.

Yes, I realise that there was just a horrible earthquake/tsunami/radiation leak in Japan and people in the middle east are getting slaughtered.  I also realise that I am healthy and just got a wonderful new grandson.  I have a lovely home, a loving husband, fantastic children, dogs that are housetrained and money in the bank - and all of that makes my angst all the more ridiculous and dysfunctional. 

It is probably to the point of being sinful.  What is wrong with me?

Then Husband announced that he'd gotten a good performance review with a nice bonus and he was buying me a camera with it.  Too much joy - which meant I had to dig up more misery to balance it.  Started really stressing on finding a job to pay him back (self imposed - this wasn't coming from him).  No quilting because I really should be in on the computer looking for a job.  No blogging because I haven't done anything to blog about unless it was to categorize my sins.
Once the camera arrived, I had to justify spending the money on it by spending an inordinate amount of time learning to use it. 

This eventually aggravated my husband and the dogs began avoiding me (I finally turned off the sound on the camera and that has helped - I think the beeps were as annoying to them as when the battery goes low in the smoke detector).


Two days ago, Husband put his foot down.  Per Mr. Wonderful, I am NOT to take a job I don't want just because I feel guilty.  In fact, he suggested I consider getting a job at Hobby Lobby.  For minimum wage if that is what I want.  Or not.   Then he lied to me and said it doesn't look like I have gained any weight.  He also said he is glad I am watching The Tudors because he is happy to see me have a favorite television show.  I don't even understand that last but am making an accurate report.
The man's opinion means far too much to me, clearly. 

Yesterday, I washed windows and felt so good about it that I made time to blog, today.  And when I finish, I am going to go clean my sewing room.
I better get to it.  I have spent the morning blogging and it is ridiculous to be that self indulgent writing about feeling guilty about being self indulgent.

Happy Quilting, Penny, Evelyn and Pearl


Terri said...

ughh I totally understand this post! I, too, suffer from this affliction. I get so wrapped up in the guilt (and like yours, mostly self-induced) that I'm completely overwhelmed and shut down. Then NOTHING gets done. But I'm glad to see you back, I've missed your gorgeous quilting and pics of those beautiful girls.

Penny said...

Thank you, Terri. I figured I wasn't the only crazy one. It is just too bad that I am not a heavy drinker because I could self medicate.

swooze said...

So what kind of camera did you get? LOL

Penny said...

Canon EOS 60D with an 18-200 EF-S zoom with image stabilizer, and a 50 mm ES fixed lens with IS.

And a remote shutter is the greatest invention since sunglasses.

Florida Farm Girl said...

Oh, girlfriend. You just haven't let the working world go yet. And thinking you have to earn everything for yourself. I've been dealing with that same quandary since we got married 15 years ago, but I never felt guilty enough to actually give up my cushy life to get a job!!!! I'm having too much fun, and you will too if you just say "Penny, you've worked hard all your life. You deserve this respite and you deserve to have fun." Now, go on, do something outrageous and use that new camera to document it so we can see, too!!!!! :)

Penny said...

FFG, you are a temptress...

tisme said...

Penny I so understand this posting! I have looked at cars for two years!!
I always think, kids need this, house needs that, etc. AND, my kids have everything, so I am not taking anything away from anyone.
Went out last week and bought myself a 2008 Mustang convertable, with only 12000 miles on it. Drove about 1 hour to look at it, bought it, came home and showed hubby. He was amazed I actually bought it. He loved it, was just amazed. My old car is a 1995, so it was time. lol
be well, be happy, you DO deserve it!

Anonymous said...

I'm just happy to read about your angst and look at all the pretty pictures. Thank you.

Penny said...

Aw, you guys! Janet, that is sweet.

GOOD FOR YOU, Tisme!! How exciting is that to get a car? What color is your ride?

Anonymous said...

OH, Penny, I"m so glad to hear that you are ok! Despite that you have been suffering, at least you are alive and more-or-less well (and so are the girls:).

I completely understand the guilt and avoidance issues. I _am_ bipolar and the depression is easy to sink into - it take effort of will to stay active.

Please talk to us when you are feeling guilty - we can take it!

:) linda

Linda said...

So happy to hear from you! Maybe this whole guilt swing started cause you were so happy to be a new grandma? You were balancing out Charlie. In any case, however it started, I'm glad you're coming back! Missed ya! I, too, am just coming out of a no sew zone! In my case suffering from a miserable snow bound time that just really took it out of me this year! It's so nice to see sunshine again. I look forward to reading you daily again and seeing your lovely creations. Enjoy! Lurking Linda

Anonymous said...

Penny, I have missed your blogging, pretty much checked everyday for a long time. Then saw yours posts on HGTV forum.

Happy for you and your family for the new Grandson, such a cutie.

You will find the right fit for you place in your life. Having a good head on your shoulders helps.

(((( hugs for you ))))

tisme said...

Penny, my new car is a medium blue, if it ever quits snowing here, I will get it out and take some pics and post on my blog. Looks like you had a good day outside with your new camera, good for you!

Stephanie D. said...

The disturbing part of this is, I could have written this post myself, though not as eloquently.
Substitute Kindle, DVD player, taxes, housework, and Christmas tree in the appropriate spots, and you've just written my next blog post for me. Minus the great pics, of course.

Glad to see you again!

Marija said...

Oh my...I thought: is she reading my mind or what?? You are so not alone in this! And good news for me - neither am I, LOL! And I thought I was... Just didn't have guts to blog about it. But in my (somewhat) defense, and maybe as a suggestion for you - I am doing my Morning Pages and A LOT of these guilt issues, twisted, self-inflicted sabotages are SLOWLY sorting themselves out...Highly recommend it! (it all comes from Julia Cameron's book The Artist's Way - if you didn't already, READ IT! and work through it (I am only mid-way through) - it really does help tremendously!) Now if that would mean you won't post any more of those amazingly beautiful dog pictures - then I take it back! LOL LOVE your dogs (have a Malamute and admit to be somewhat partial to Northern breeds!) Looking forward to your next post!