I’m not feeling particularly guilty, but I wanted to write about something that is not my story and not Step Six. No doubt this will come in handy if I make it around the steps and back for Step Four. I found this on a list of prompts to help with Step Four. Is guilt a character defect? Probably. The question that was asked as a prompt is looking back over your life, what do you feel particularly guilty about?
My adult life has been spent in AA. I have not, since I’ve been sober, done things like drive drunk, steal, cheat, lie on a big scale. I’m trying to think of things that bring to mind guilt from before I was sober. The essence of guilt, I think, is feeling that I’ve done something wrong while knowing better, having caused harm even though I knew it was harmful, or having been very negligent. I’m coming up empty for thoughts from before sobriety. That may just be where my head is, or it may be that a lifetime of AA plus raising my own children has made me see most of what befell me as normal and fallible.
The biggest guilts of my sober life have to do with my children. They are minor, really, but they effect me. AA has given me such an excellent platform to stand on. It’s given good people to turn to and rules to live by that have made for a good life experience.
I have to give more thoughts to writing the particulars about what I feel I’ve done wrong regarding the children. A few instances come to mind that would probably invade their privacy. As I said, though, these aren’t huge things. Today when I feel guilty it’s usually because I’m trying to help and support two people at once, or because there are certain helping aspects of my job that I’ve abandoned, more as a way to keep going than anything else.
As I was writing that, a good example of my current state of guilt came to mind.
This is Xandra. She is my death row doggie. Carole and I adopted her last year from a kill shelter. Xandra was four years old (So they said, but they also called her a labradoodle. Um, no), unspayed, filthy, with awful teeth. She sat in the corner of the pen barking nonstop. We were out to find a different doggie. Through circumstances I’ll have to write about at some point, we were looking for a dog to add to the household (which had another dog and three cats – still does). I set criteria at 30 pounds or less (Xandra weighs 64), between 3 and 5 years old (she was 4, so that worked), female (yes) and from a shelter (yes). One way that Carole and I are often bad for each other is that neither one of us can say no often enough to the animals, and we end up having just one too many, just enough to make things unmanageable.
I will come back to this topic because it has sent my mind sort of racing. My character defects do come into play big time around this dog.
For now, I think that considering what are the things we feel guilty about can show us either where we need to improve our conduct, or where we need to shrink our ego and be our right size concerning what we can and should do in situations, or both.