Nobody Can Make You Feel Guilty
I read this article – Why I Refuse to Feel Guilty About Mum Guilt by Emily Hawker and I relate to every. Single. Word. of it. I knew I would from the title alone.
As sick of feeling irrationally guilty about motherhood, I’m more sick of being told I need to stop feeling guilty. It doesn’t work. It’s just as helpful as telling someone with anxiety (like myself) to calm down.
IF CALMING DOWN WAS AN OPTION DON’T YOU THINK I’D HAVE DONE THAT BY NOW?!?
I can’t stop myself feeling guilty. I’ve tried. It’s usually counter productive and results in exactly what Emily Hawker wrote about – I end up feeling guilty about feeling guilty.
Which made me think about when people say “Nobody can make you feel guilty” and realise that it’s true. Guilt really does come from within. Whether you want it to or not. It doesn’t come from other people – which is why being told “Don’t feel guilty” doesn’t actually help.
I absolutely think there are shitty people out there who do TRY to make you feel guilty, but the guilt still comes from you.
You can’t always control how you feel
When my son was born by emergency csection after a 45 hour induction I was completely devastated and felt as though I’d failed – despite obviously having a bloody good go at getting him out of my vagina. A couple of weeks after he was born a family member sat at my dining table and smugly announced that SHE would NEVER have a csection. She openly bragged about the fact that she’d ONLY had vaginal births.
It made me feel guilty.
But did it?
Let’s try an experiment…. How about you tell me right now that a c-section is the easy way out, or that I failed to give birth to my child, or that I did the wrong thing by not having a vaginal birth… go ahead… say it…
You’re wrong. The end.
I don’t feel guilty about it anymore. I know I did absolutely nothing wrong.
If the guilt isn’t there to begin with – I can’t be made to feel guilty
The only thing other people can do is trigger your guilt. Guilt you’re already experiencing – which is also not your fault either, as above, you may not actually be able to control your guilt.
But to a degree you can control how you react to your own guilt and step one would be recognising that it is your own and nobody else is causing it.
To be clear – just because you’re feeling guilty does not mean you have done something you should feel guilty about, it just means maybe you have some unresolved pain around the thing you feel guilty about. So I say this with all the empathy in the world as a fellow guilt-sufferer…..
Stop Making Mums Feel Guilty
There are certain topics where people tend to react with something along the lines of “Stop trying to make mums feel guilty” when that’s clearly not the intention at allo.
When someone talks about breastfeeding – they are not making mums who formula feed feel guilty.
When someone talks about natural birth – they are not making mums who have csections feel guilty.
When someone talks about cosleeping – they are not making parents who sleep apart feel guilty.
When someone shares a study, or research they’ve read – they’re not making anyone feel anything.
They’re not making anyone feel anything.
That feeling comes from you and rather than essentially saying “You’re not allowed to talk about this because I feel bad” take a moment to work out if that’s what they’re actually trying to achieve.
If someone is sharing information that might be helpful – or sharing their experience – are they REALLY trying to insult mothers who don’t do the thing they’re talking about? Is that really their intention? Is that what they’re actually saying? Or is that just how you feel?
If they are – then they’re being a jerk. Feel free to call them out on it.
If they’re not, if they’re just having a conversation that actually has nothing to do with you then you need to be the one who takes care of yourself. They can’t fix your guilt. You may not be able to fix your guilt, but at least you might be able to give yourself a little bit love and care.
And if it’s intense, you might actually need to seek some professional advice.
Because guilt sucks. It really does. From one guilty person to another, it’s really one of the worst in the range of shitty feelings.