Monday morning pages: Shame & guilt edition

by Rebecca A. Watson on February 17, 2014

in Germany, JC, Monday Morning Pages, religion

Sante and I went to a Fasnacht parade yesterday with a few friends. For those of you who aren’t hip to Fasnacht, it’s a pagan holiday that starts on 11:11 on November 11th and runs until Ash Wednesday. The festivities really ramp up in the month before, with parades, witches, goblins and fire. So, right up my alley.

As my friend Amy predicted, I was the target of much of the parade participants harassment. I was thrown over one Hexe’s shoulder (witch in German = hexe = awesome), tossed in a baby carriage, rolled around and dumped into the street. I was given eskimo kisses with black greased faces, blessed with a penne noodle and sprayed with confetti. And that was just one parade.

hexe fasnacht rebecca

What can I say? We recognize our own.

Apparently there’s one in pretty much every village around, and Basel is hugely famous for theirs. Might have to head there for the 4 a.m. Morgestraich. More likely we’ll hit up the Sunday night bonfire parade in Liestal, which is supposed to be insane.

Aside from participating in a cool regional (it’s a German, Swiss and apparently Austrian) event, we had the opportunity to meet some new people, which is always good when you’re new in town. After the parade we had snack dinner and sat around and talked about how black face wasn’t seen as inherently racist in Germany (no minstrel shows) and how fascinating the beginnings of Mormonism were, among other things. It was great to be social.

But when I got home I immediately began picking apart everything I did and said. I talked about myself too much. Why did I ask about dude’s commute? How lame of a question was that!?! My mind wandered at one point when she was talking … I’m a terrible listener.

I would often feel this way when I’d come home from a party while I still drank. It was something I had hoped would go away once I quit, but no dice. And as I was reading through my journal from 2012, I realized why.

“So talking to Ann [my therapist in California] was good yesterday. I told her about the dream and cried about Claude [my old cat I gave away]. And she observed that I have a big piece of guilt in me — that I think I’m bad no matter what I do because of how I grew up. And when I feel bad about one thing, it connects to that guilt and then it’s this big feeling of oblivion because I can’t recognize that I’m feeling bad for something that has nothing to do with the current situation. This guilt and shame isn’t real … I’ve been raise on guilt. It’s at my very core. So I guess being aware of it is the first step like Ann said.”

When I read that, I decided to look at the evening through different eyes. I asked a lot of questions and listened intently. I know about how excited she is to see her father and future father-in-law celebrating her nuptials. The story about a wedding on an acre-wide island warmed my heart. And yes, I talked about myself. It’s called getting to know each other, and who wants to hang out with someone who doesn’t want to know anything about you?

two way street

Friendship: It’s a two-way street.

Interestingly, yesterday we talked about how religion (specifically Catholicism and Christianity) tends to be all about guilt. Well, not all of it. There are good things too: compassion, kindness, all the things J.C. was into. But the organization, the corporation of religion tends to be more into feeding the guilt machine. What with original sin and all. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who feels bad about just being.

The cool thing is that I know people who don’t have this feeling. My husband doesn’t have someone gnawing away at every action he chooses. My girlfriend can tell me about her latest home purchase without a hint of shame or worry that she’s bragging. So why not me?

Yes I realize changing something that’s so close to my core will take work, but i think I’m up for the challenge. Besides, now that I know about it, I’m sure my inner critic will find a way to make me feel ashamed about it if I don’t. And I’m pretty that shit ages you, makes you sick and probably causes the weird pain in the right side of my jaw. And as I wrote around this time in 2013:

“I’ve had enough and I want change!”

I know that my quest for self-love will help in this endeavor, but I’m wondering what else could do the trick. I have a therapeutic meditation practice from my brilliant friend Tanya I’ll have to try. Anyone out there deal with this too? What works for you? Suggestions are very welcome.

Wondering what this Monday Morning Pages thing is all about? Read how it started. Or check out all the archives.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy February 19, 2014 at 7:46 am

Ugh. Sounds just like my journal pages Monday morning. I wish I had an answer too. Just have patience with yourself, you’ve been taught for so many years to hear these things about yourself. It’ll take time to change that underlying voice.
and as someone looking in, I can tell you everyone around you thinks you are amazing!


Rebecca A. Watson February 19, 2014 at 8:48 am

Thanks girlie 🙂 You are so sweet!


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