I wrote a post around guilt and shame a few weeks ago. I have discovered how important it is to know the difference between the two. I have also discovered a power in untangling my worth from their tight clutches. While shame is destructive, guilt has a different story -- I have been able to get more perspective on guilt and how it can be a useful tool if my worth is not attached to it.
This recent revelation has allowed me to pick up some guilt I've had in my life, turn it around in my hands, hold it, peer into it, learn and discover more about it, and come to an enlightening conclusion.
It has been a really beautiful thing, learning to pick up my emotions, rather than rebuke them or stuff them down; to pick them up as though they are diamonds, and let the light shine through to bring clarity and perspective. I have learnt much about myself and why I feel the way I do, as I allow myself to endure when anger, guilt, pride, jealousy, joy come knocking at my door. Instead of sitting in shame because guilt knocks, I now know to simply open the door, pick up the visitor in my hands, turn them around, learn about them, discover more about me, and then place them in the appropriate place - in my heart, or on the shelf, or turn them into words on a page, or colours on a canvas; take action.
When I invited guilt in on its most recent visit, I realised that I was feeling shame around my own capacity as a mum. I then saw a way to take back my power. I was feeling guilty for not being more engaged and present in my childrens' lives. I was running around trying to escape the shame by keeping everything right; cleaning, correcting, excusing my disconnected mothering through tired and fear-based escapisms.
Because I detached my worth from the guilt, the shame easily disappeared and I was able to take action. I stopped in my tracks, put the cleaning tools down, took out the bark of corrections from my mouth, silenced the fears that had no place in my mind and I just sat down. I played with my kids. I cried, I laughed, I didn't shower until they were in bed, I didn't brush my hair, I just played, engaged, scooped them up and kissed them and told myself that this season had to be about grace and nourishment.
It turned everything around. My kids were happier instantly. I was happier and felt so satisfied at the end of each day. I waited until they were in bed to straighten the house, do the dishes and put the washing away. And some nights I didn't even straighten. I just rested. My worth is not dictated by any of these things. So therefore I can leave them, let go and be ok.
I am slowly learning how to balance this new discovery well. It is OK to get things done, and it is OK to clean. But 'when' is the important question. At what cost? Making good decisions, mindful decisions is what it is about. Pick up what is bothering you, turn it around in your hands. Allow yourself to feel its weight, then choose what action will be most helpful from that point. Take a mindful approach to guilt rather than escapism that ends in shame.
I am now discovering a new level of joy in the play, the mundane, the gentle nudge from my children that pleads with me to sit, to engage, to be. They love me exactly as I am, disheveled, unwashed, unkept. It has been beautiful to also let things just happen. Letting a surge of creativity and inspiration take over, and the kids join me on the ride rather than being pushed aside for fear of my creative expression being 'tainted' by their little nudges. But it is their little nudges that make it all so wonderful. Those little hands that appear in my photos - they are the delight I need in my day-to-day.
This guilt also taught me another thing about my escapism. I learnt I was not being responsible for my own happiness. I was trying to escape reality and just survive through each moment, rather than accept it, be present, but also be proactive to take time out for me. Last night I went to a workshop where I learnt how to make my own organic skincare. It was so refreshing. It was so satisfying. And I felt no guilt while I was taking time for me, because I am so happy and fulfilled in the daily sacrifice of putting my kids first and being present during the day. Taking myself on a date is such a compliment now, rather than a guilty pleasure. Grace and nourishment.